Keeper

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Chapter 12

Cassidie moved about her house, getting ready for bed. She had been crying silently in the living room, thinking about Alex. But then she realized that she had to start her worship early in the morning so she dragged herself from the couch and was now fixing herself a meal of medium rare steak and extra-cheesy mac and cheese. Reading a vampire novel as she ate, Cassidie had mostly forgotten about Alex. Turning off all of her lights with a flick of her finger, Cassidie walked up the stairs to her room and buried beneath her comforter, slowly drifting to sleep.

Everything was black, but Cassidie heard someone talking. Listening closely, she realized it was Alex and she was talking to someone. There was a scratching sound and some sort of purring.

Suddenly, there was a flash and Cassidie saw Alex getting ice scream with that same swamp girl. There was another flash and the image showed Alex sitting at the park, with the girl. Cassidie thought it was ok until the swamp girl leaned over and kissed Alex again. Cassidie stared in horror and felt like screaming, until a flashback that was not her own came to her. She must have been seeing it through Alex’s eyes because she was chasing a butterfly just before her eighth birthday. Alex had tackled her and they were very close to each other with Alex straddling her and her hands on Alex’s legs. Even then, they had fit like wings on an angel.

Cassidie knew that was when she had first acknowledged her love of her best fiend. But now… Alex was kissing that mucky… thing. This is a REAL nightmare! Cassidie watched for a moment longer before she couldn’t take anymore.

“Stop!” she screamed. Her eyes flew open and she sat up in her bed. “No,” the pale girl moaned sadly. “No! Alex!”

Cassidie stayed awake for the rest of the night, dreading falling asleep in case the dream came back worse than before. The next day, after she had finished worship of the Goddess, Cassidie went to work at Voodoo and Witchcraft with Mrs. Harris even though she had the day off.

“Cassidie, you don’t have to be here…” Mrs. Harris told her.

Cassidie shrugged, too used to seeing monsters by now to be unnerved by Mrs. Harris’ yellow eyes. “I don’t mind. I just need something to do today.”

Mrs. Harris nodded and continued her tasks. Though the bags under her eyes were nearly invisible, Cassidie’s eyes were extremely bloodshot. Yawning most of the day, the purple-eyed girl could barely keep her eyes open. Luckily, there had only been six customers today and they were forgiving of Cassidie’s lack of energy.

Cassidie was just about to take her break when the City Council came in. Cassidie’s eyes widened in shock for a moment, but Mrs. Harris’ voice brought her back. “Cassidie, could you postpone your break for another half an hour while I speak to my brothers and sisters?”

Cassidie shrugged. Waiting for more customers, Cassidie’s eyelids began drooping and her head dropped to the counter. Just as she was about to drift off to sleep, the bell over the door rang. Cassidie’s head shot up and she looked to the entrance. Her frown deepened when she saw black chest fur and purple-rimmed, red eyes.

“Well, you look good.” Alex chuckled. “Aren’t you depressed to see me?”

“Not now, Alex,” Cassidie growled. “I’m working.”

Alex looked hurt. “That never stopped you before…”

“How was your date?” Cassidie hoped Alex hadn’t heard the edge in her voice, but she took that thought back at the smile that appeared on Alex’s face.

“It was terrible!” Alex exclaimed. “Amber’s really chiller and we ate at Medium Raw. She got me to sing for the crowd of people and then we got ice scream and sat in the park.”

Now it was Cassidie’s turn to look hurt. She’d sing for a complete stranger, but she wouldn’t make a peep whenever I requested it? That’s cold!

“So how was your night, Cass?” Alex seemed oblivious to Cassidie’s mood and was A-positively boiling.

“Fine,” Cassidie replied coolly. “I went home and did some stuff to help me remember what we’d learned last school year, since school is only a few weeks away. Then I stayed up all night reading, since I only got an hour of sleep thanks to the dreams.” As soon as the words left her mouth, Cassidie regretted saying them.

“You mean you didn’t have any nightmares?” Alex gasped in shock.

“No, the dream was so beautiful I couldn’t get back to sleep.” Cassidie knew what was coming next, no matter how much she wished it wouldn’t.

“Well, let’s talk about it.” Alex suggested. “That usually helps.”

“Don’t sound so puffball, Alex.” Cassidie sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Why not?” demanded the suddenly infuriated purple wolf. “We talk about everything.” Alex’s eyes now became hurt and Cassidie sighed.

“Alex,” she tried. “I just don’t want to talk about it.”

Alex’s eyes grew hard and she crossed her arms. “You’re talking to someone else about it, aren’t you?”

“No, Alex, I’m not.”

“Then why won’t you talk about it? I thought I was your best fiend!”

“Alex, you are my best fiend! I just don’t want to talk about it!”

“Why!”

“Because I saw you!” Cassidie snapped. “I saw you and your girlfriend at the park. I know what you did, Alex. I just love you too much to embarrass you!”

After her tirade, Cassidie turned her back on Alex and put two fingers to her forehead to calm down before turning back. City Council members surrounded Alex and the black-chested girl looked close to tears.

“What… what did you just say?” the red-eyed wolf asked thickly.

“I-I said that I didn’t want to embarrass you.” Cassidie stammered, looking at all of the City Council members who had started moving for the door.

“No before that, about you loving me. Is that true?”

“Well, of course I love you, Allie. You’re my best fiend.”

Alex seemed to deflate slightly. “You know what? I’m gonna just... go.” Alex sighed and headed out the door, her tail drooping. Cassidie stared after her in confusion, wondering what just happened. The rest of the day passed in a blur and before she knew it, Cassidie was leaving for home.

As she walked, the young Goth’s mind wandered. Why did Alex freak when I said I loved her? She looked kind of hopeful, like she thought I’d meant it a different way. But she couldn’t possibly love me; she jumped into her new relationship pretty quickly. Maybe I’m just going puffball…

Cassidie shook her head and sat down on the curb. I need to talk to Kate, but she’d call me crazy. Tartarus, if I were a puffball, they’d call me weird. But if I go to a Goth, they’d tell me I was worried over nothing. Maybe I should just-. Something hard slammed into the back of her head and Cassidie cried out in both surprise and pain.

“Ow!” Cassidie rubbed her soft spot and moved to the side to avoid another blow. “What in Tartarus was-!” She stopped when she saw Vincent. “Oh, it’s you. What do you want?”

We want the-.

“Yeah, yeah, you want the book. So what? I don’t have it and I am not in a grueling mood right now. So why don’t you run back to your little pack and leave me alone?”

The other wolf raised the hard object again, but when he swung, Cassidie’s hand shot out and smacked it out of his paws. “I said that I’m not in the mood.” Cassidie closed her eyes and began chanting. “Run, slip, whimper, whine; moved by forces more divine. Served your purpose, right or wrong, now you furies of the damned be gone. Run if you have courage or chills, turn your tail and head for the hills.”

Vincent and the big wolf swiftly turned away from her and ran as fast as they could.

We’ll be back, child! Vincent called as he ran.

Cassidie sighed and slowly made her way to her house, collapsing on her bed and falling asleep almost immediately.

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