I was on my third patient at work when I noticed Hannah wasn’t coming. Could I blame her though? She needed time to rest, to think. She texted me her apology and I was thankful for even that. At least she wasn’t shutting me out again.
“Laken dear can you get me my purse?”
I smiled at Mrs. Swanson and got up to retrieve her purse from the China cabinet she randomly had in her living room.
“Thank you dear. Mr. Banks is coming by later to see me. I’ve got to look my best.” She winked at me flirtatiously.
Mrs. Swanson lost her husband five years ago but she amazed me still. She had lost the love of her life and survived leukemia on her own. She deserved happiness in whatever form she could get. Why live the rest of her life alone? We all need companionship.
“I was wondering why you looked twenty years younger today. You look extremely gorgeous Mrs. Swanson.”
“Awwww,” she giggled while pulling out her pink lipstick from the purse. She raised the stick in the air once she finished using it. “This is every girl’s weapon. Any girl can cause a man to go weak at the knees with the right lipstick.”
I was sure back in her day that was true but now a days guys were too dumb to notice the simple things we do to get their attention.
“Well go easy on him. He’s going to need help getting back up.” Old age did that to people.
She giggled again like a school girl making me laugh as well. I hope I stay that young forever.
I felt my phone vibrate and I scrambled to rip it out of my pocket. “Hello?”
“Oh honey I’m so glad you answered.” I recognized my mother’s voice without having to look at the ID.
“Yeah what’s up mom?”
“Caleb’s school called. They held him after class for misbehaving. I would go personally but I’m quite busy. Honey do you think you could go get him?” She sounded desperate.
“Misbehaving?” That was hard to believe. Caleb was a complete angel.
“Yes. I know. Do you think you can go?”
“Yes of course. I’m on my way.” I hung up and grabbed my bag. “Alright that should be it. I’ll see you soon Mrs. Swanson.
“Alright dear. Wish me luck on my date.”
I winked. “You don’t need it.”
I drove in a rush because it sounded urgent. Technically school was let out an hour ago. Poor kid was probably homesick. I remembered I hated staying at school longer than necessary. I was still in my purple scrubs when I entered the eerie abandoned school. Man, everyone was gone. It looked like a ghost town, no person in sight.
Ok this was bizarre and seriously creepy. It brought flashback of my younger school days that I disliked with a passion. School years were not my fondest moments. Even the front desk lady was nowhere to be found. Good thing I already knew where Caleb’s classroom was. I had a lunch date with him a few times so I didn’t have to roam the halls aimlessly.
I walked into the classroom and was a little shocked to see a new teacher. A substitute perhaps. Caleb was in a desk with his backpack lying on top. He smiled nervously once he spotted me.
“Laken!” His sweet voice shouted like I was his lifesaver.
School was prison for me too, buddy.
“I’m here baby. I’ll take you home as soon as I talk to your teacher.” I reassured him before turning to give his semi decent looking teacher the death stare. “What is this all about?”
The handsome teacher who looked to be in his early thirty got up to walk in front of his desk. Wasting my time in fact.
“Caleb here pushed one of his classmates.” His deep voice lingered throughout the small room.
I turned my back on him to stare at Caleb, who was innocently watching a bird outside the window.
I raised a curious brow back towards the teacher. “Who are you exactly? Where’s Mrs. Elliott?”
“She felt a bit ill today. I’m the new substitute, Mr. Ross.” He curled his arms over his impressive chest.
This teacher looked more like a bodybuilder than an educator of the public. I would bet anything he lifted, like really, really heavy weights. His muscles were practically popping out of his button up shirt and he was about two feet taller than me.
“I understand you’re doing your job but I know Caleb. He wouldn’t push another person without good reason. He wouldn’t start a fight. The other classmate must have pushed him first.” But even then I wouldn’t believe Caleb would hurt another kid.
We taught him better. Violence wasn’t always the answer.
“Are you insinuating that Caleb should response back to violence with violence?”
Just the snobby sophisticated way he was trying to reverse this and blame my little Caleb was unfair. Oh yeah, he was exactly the substitute teachers I hated in school. The ones who that thought they knew everything and took a small thing and turned it into a pandemic colossal.
“If the child doesn’t stop Caleb needs to defend himself somehow. Where is this other kid? Why isn’t he here? Are you sure you have the whole story?” I was not going to let this elementary substitute accuse Caleb without good hard advice.
“I saw the whole incident with my own eyes. The other student is innocent therefore I sent him home.” His words were set in stone like there was no proving Caleb was not at fault.
This irritated me to no end. I knew teachers like him, always picking on one kid for no apparent reason. Caleb just happened to be his victim for the day. I was not going to let this ridiculous excuse for an educator bully my little cousin.
“Did you also happen to see his straight A average? Caleb is an excellent student and couldn’t harm a fly. It’s funny how Mrs. Elliott never had a problem with him before but of course you do. Very peculiar.” My jaw tightened through frustration.
“Mrs. Elliott is also 60 years old. You can’t exactly expect her to keep up with all her students.” Mr. Snotnose sat on his desk and his sickly pale green eyes leveled to mine.
My brows knitted together and I was sure to give him the most heated stare down of his life. “Caleb baby,” I softened my voice to a sweet caress as I addressed him. “Could you please wait for me outside the room? I need to talk to Mr. Moss-”
“Ross,” the arrogant jerk tried to correct me.
“For a moment. I’ll take you home very soon.” I smiled at Caleb while he tossed his book bag onto his back.
“Ok.” His tiny sketchers squeaked as he headed for the exit.
As soon as the door slammed shut my game face was on. “Listen muscles, Caleb is a very good boy. I honestly don’t believe you. He would never hurt anyone.”
The jerk’s stern, composed face morphed to a chilling grin. Why the heck was he smiling like that? Ewww, it gave me the creeps. Maybe I had a strange phobia for teachers. It would explain a lot.
“But it runs in the family doesn’t it?”
The intention he said it in made me believe there was a double meaning.
“What?” I played dumb.
“Violence, survival, death; they are all qualities you share.”
This was getting weird. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure you do.” His voice went lethal, like psycho killer lethal. “I can smell it, practically taste it, and see it run through your veins.”
There was no mistaking it. This guy knew what I did for a living. He had to have known I was a demon killer.
“What do you want? We both know you’re not a loving elementary teacher. You don’t even look like you passed community college.”
He flexed his biceps, probably to remind me he was triple my size.
“Who needs school with a face like this?” He said far too smugly.
I had seen better. “Was that your gym’s motto?”
His eyes darkened to a musty shade of unnatural green. No human could change their eye color like that. He was definitely one big bad evil something. He also must be one advanced demon for me to not detect anything fishy from the beginning.
“Ready to die oh chosen one?” He said confidently like it was actually going to happen.
Chosen one was also another name we were called. We were chosen to see the evil in physical form.
I smirked. “You really shouldn’t make threats you can’t keep.”
He released his arms and lunged towards me. I ducked, positioned my hands just below his abdominals and tossed him into the air. He was as heavy as a car and would have easily snapped my wrists if I wasn’t freakishly blessed with strength. He flipped over like a flapjack and crushed two desks with his back.
“I think you need a time out princess.” I teased to aggravate him.
He growled, like how an actual dog would do. Seconds later he was up again and flexing his bulky muscles in order to tear his shirt off. Was that supposed to scare me?
“I’m going to kill you.”
How many times have I heard that one? Sadly, too many times to count. His gorilla fists came swinging at me but I ducked each time. I had to be quick in order to have survived this long.
His muscular horse leg came flying at me but I was anticipating the move. I jumped onto the desk behind me missing the fatal blow completely. I full on karate kicked him in the chest causing him to fall to the ground. I even felt the ground vibrate due to his tumble.
“Did someone skip leg day?” This gymrat was too easy to make fun of.
I think me being a lot smaller was a good advantage on my part. He blurred in front of me in seconds like a freaking vampire, catching me off guard. Black veins coiled down his face like vindictive roots. His massive hand curled around my neck and hoisted me up in the air before I could even take a last breath. His grip choked me as if a snake was actually wrapping around my throat and blocking my windpipe. I was losing oxygen quickly.
This was pathetic. Really Laken? How could you not see this? Now you’re hanging from this beast’s hands like a wet piece of bologna.
“I think I’ll rip out your intestines first,” he grinned viciously. “And wear them like a necklace. Then I’ll eat your liver, you know for iron. Mmmm then I’ll save your heart for last. I’ve never had a chosen’s heart before. I’m dying to try one.”
I kicked his side torso a few times with all the force I had left. He grunted but that was about it. My hands clawed at the restraint about my neck. Nothing would loosen his ridiculous anaconda hold.
I was starting to black out from the lack of oxygen when we heard Caleb’s high pitched scream screech into the classroom. I used the distraction to kick the evil creature in the one spot I knew most men couldn’t handle, the groin. I somehow pushed his hand back and escaped while he tried to protect his manhood.
I gasped for air as I headed towards Caleb’s horrified face. I took his hand and we ran down the hall, cutting a few corners. I needed to get him somewhere safe while I dealt with the demon. I checked random doors but most of them were locked eventually I hit an open one. I kept the light off and dragged Caleb’s trembling body under the teacher’s desk. Honestly it was the only shelter in the room.
“Laken what happened? Why was Mr. Ross trying to hurt you?” He sounded so frightened.
I didn’t blame him. I was a little scared myself, for his safety the most.
“Mr. Ross is a bad man.” I hugged him for the briefest second. “I need to go back.”
“Noooo,” he cried holding onto me tighter. “Don’t go. Don’t leave me.”
I sighed. I wish I didn’t have to but if I didn’t go that nasty creature would find us and no doubt kill Caleb right after me. I needed to hide Caleb and steer the demon away.
“Listen to me baby.” I cupped his face affectionately. He had tears in his eyes. “I have to go for a moment but I promise I’ll come right back. I need you to be brave. Can you do that? Can you be brave for me?”
I could tell he wanted to say no but instead nodded. I kissed his forehead and got up.
“Stay under the desk. Don’t come out until I get you, ok? No matter what, you don’t move until I get back.”
Again he nodded despite his true feelings. I regretted leaving him there alone but I needed to deal with this thing. I tried calling for back up but suddenly my brothers were too busy to pick up their phones.
“Come out, come out wherever you are.” The demon’s husky voice rang down the hallway like a siren.
It almost sounded like he was right next to me but I knew that was impossible. Right?
“Boo,” he whispered into my ear before banging me against some lockers.
Ouch. He brought his fist down towards my face but again I ducked barely missing his tremendous punch. He bent half the locker in with his imprint.
I jabbed my fist into his jaw forcing him back. My knuckles were throbbing because hitting him was like hitting a steel pole. I pushed back off the lockers and jumped up to wrap my legs around his neck. I squeezed my thighs to cut off some circulation then twisted back to flip him over again. I had to use every ounce of my body and forceful muscle to balance out his weight. He fell backwards like I intended and I landed on my knees.
I heard him grunt but once I tried getting on my feet he grabbed my ankles. My chin hit the tiled floor. Ouch!!! I better not have busted a tooth. He dragged me towards him and I kicked his face, hopeful to bash his head in. Once I was close enough I jabbed him with my elbow, hard. He let me go and I ran. Well stumbled at first but eventually I gained a decent pace.
Honestly I was scared. I didn’t have my weapons with me. I wasn’t prepared to go up against a guy of this magnitude. The halls were dark. I wondered who turned them off. I could easily hear his heavy footsteps; he sounded so close. How was that even possible?
Suddenly a gush of wind danced around me as someone pulled me into a hidden corridor. I wanted to scream but knew better than to draw attention plus a large hand was pressed tightly over my mouth.
“Shhhh,” his velvet voice soothed.
My heartbeats were on steroids due to all the adrenaline but immediately they calmed once I saw his beautiful blue eyes.
“Miss me?” He grinned devilishly to the desperate sound of my voice.
I pushed him away from me, outraged. “Did you send that thing after me?” I was turning red with rage at the simple possibility.
“No,” he spoke truthfully. “No,” he said more gently moving closer to me.
The warmth of his body was regretfully soothing my nerves. Cal cradled my face and pushed back the random hair from my perspired forehead. It was an adorable gesture but incredibly embarrassing. He had my sweat in his hands.
“You weren’t home so your mom told me where you’d be.”
Even his cool mint breath was making me forget my name let alone my predicament. Then I remembered our last encounter. Cal pretended to be Alan and kissed me. I just needed to let that go for now I guess. Wait why was he here?
“Are you here to feed me to him?” I held back my bitter thoughts.
He shook his head. “I’m here to save you.”
I scrunched my nose. “Since when did you add knight in shining armor to your resume?”
He chuckled. “Since you needed one.”
I evened my breathing to his slow rising chest. It helped tremendously. “Where were you 10 minutes ago when he was choking me to death?”
The next thing he did completely made me think I was in a dream or something. Cal leaned in and kissed my bruised neck. Tiny tingles trickled down my spine at the simple touch of his warm lips on my skin.
“I’ll make it up to you but first,” his eyes glazed over with distinct hatred. “It’s time to make him pay.”
Cal looked over his shoulder and walked into the middle of the hallway. I guess he heard something I didn’t. Cal fixed his eyes solely on the beast directly in front of him. The beast roared, charging Cal’s way. Cal smiled like he enjoyed the sight, loved the kill. The stampede of just one man never sounded louder.
Cal pivoted his body last minute and surprise punched the beast who slammed into the lockers. The bashing of metal echoed throughout the empty hallways. They went at each other for a while, rough punching and upper cut jabs. Something told me Cal could have easily ended this little horse play a long time ago. Maybe he liked getting his aggression out on something more mobile instead of a punching bag. This sort of scared me too. His behavior was always on edge and I could hardly tell his moods apart.
Cal didn’t even break a sweat when he finally decided to pull out his sword. It was attached to his back and in one swift motion he sliced the demon completely in half. This strength was beyond comprehension to even attempt such a task. I mean who the heck could really do that.
The demon’s body was perfectly cut down the middle like a tomato. Blood sprayed out everywhere as the body halves fell to the floor. I watched as the organs quickly shut down, something I had never seen in my life before. Besides movies.
Cal walked over the reassembled body as it bust to ash and took my hand. “Are you okay?”
I think I was still a little awestruck. He actually saved me. Callias, the man who swore to kill me, had actually rescued me from death. I was sure I would have found a way to destroy the demon somehow. I wasn’t a complete damsel in distress.
“Yeah. I need to go get Caleb.”
Cal followed right behind me the whole way. Caleb was a little shaken up but I was sure a good nap would cure a few of his goose bumps. Cal disappeared as soon as I started my car to go home. It was strange. I actually wanted him to come with me. I drove Caleb to my house and explained to my family what happened; except for the whole Cal showing up part. My mother quickly took to Caleb’s needs and made sure he wasn’t traumatized for life. I on the other hand needed a shower.
Twenty five minutes later I walked out of my bathroom dressed in clean clothes and a damp mess of hair on my head. A dark tall shadow near my window made me jump. Which was weird because I never freaked out this easily.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you.” Cal’s sweet voice sounded so foreign.
I wasn’t used to this kind of kindness from him. “Why did you come help me today?”
He dropped his gaze to his fumbling feet. It was actually really cute. I had never thought I’d ever seen anything remotely close to bashful coming from him. “I’m not sure.”
I took a bold move and stood directly inches from him. This way he couldn’t avoid me. I traced my fingertips over his scarred cheek. For a second he welcomed my touch but then realized his situation and took a step back.
I was used to rejection but I wasn’t letting him get away that easily. I felt something, something stronger than our own dislikes. There was this connection holding us in place, in this moment in time. Cal must feel it too. He must.
“Some people suppress themselves from the desires of their hearts because they are afraid of the unknown.” I whispered while bravely cupping his tight jaw.
I didn’t care if I was making him uncomfortable. I was going to get some truth come out of his mouth. I had to admit sparks were running down my hand.
“Afraid?” He repeated.
I nodded getting up on my tippy toes. “Are you one of those people Cal?”
His blues eyes had finally opened up and I could see the slight vulnerability he was trying so hard to hide from me.
I wasn’t sure what possessed me to lean closer but soon enough I had my lips pressed to his. For a few seconds he was still, probably from shock but eventually warmed up to my touch. This soft gentle kiss was out of this world. I felt like I was on a cloud. When Cal snaked his arms around my waist to pull me closer I couldn’t help but moan his name.
“Callias,” I breathed momentarily before covering his tempting lips again.
We were swept away by the moment. All I could focus on was the taste of his soul and the way he was holding on to me. He was a beautiful troubled soul and by the look of it Cal was conflicted with the feelings he had for me. He was holding me as if he would die without the comfort of my arms. He could deny it all he wanted but I know there was more between us than he would ever admit.
Our lips parted and I gasped for air. In fact both of our breathing was incredibly abnormal.
“Callias...” I whispered way too heavily.
His lips slowly pressed to my forehead. “Do you kiss every man that saves your life?”
He was joking, right? I humored him anyway. “It doesn’t happen often.”
I felt his smile against my skin. “That’s good to know.”
This was not the Cal I was used to. This was an alternative Cal I could quickly get used to.
I pulled him into a hug. Maybe I was high from his toxic kiss or something. Maybe he was my drug because I couldn’t explain my unusual behavior. What would possess me to hold on to him tighter? This man professed to want to kill me how many times?
I rested my head on his warm chest. “You should stay.” I was sure he was really shocked to hear that coming from my mouth. “Cal is an awful person. Please Callias...stay with me.”
That was how I was going to distinguish his two split personalities. Cal was the evil meany trying to ruin my life and kill me. Callias was the gentle one always trying to protect me and hold me closer like he needed me.
“Good things never last,” he replied.
I dropped my hands from around his torso and took a step back. I had never felt more cold and alone than in that moment.
“This could have been good, you and I.” I walked away and crawled into bed, not caring what he did with himself. The stupid ache in my heart would hopefully dull in the morning.