It was the night before my brother’s wedding and I couldn’t sleep. My body was physically exhausted but my mind was swarming with taunting memories. It was like a horrible nightmare replaying itself in my mind like a movie. What was he trying to say? That people with sins don’t deserve a second chance? We all make mistakes. We acknowledge our sins, confess them, ask for forgiveness, and try our best to never do them again. She just needed a second chance. Oh God, it was all my fault. I should have stopped him. I was so stupid. I should have known he would try and harm her, I mean after all he did stab me.
I pounded my fist into the punching bag and groaned. She was dead because of me.
“Its two in the morning.” Pierce’s voice out of the dark shadow in the room.
“I know.” I kicked the bag and it swung in the air.
“Can’t sleep?” He was closer now.
I shook my head. “Nope.”
Pierce came up behind the bag and held it as still as he could while I went ham on it.
“Laken what happened at the warehouse?” He was sincerely concerned.
How could I explain it to him? I refused to tell him about my stupid imaginary friend that was following me around and ruining my sleep schedule. It was humiliating. Killing demons was a part of our life; it was like tying our shoe. How could I let a demon, or whatever he is, haunt me for this long? And now he’s even compromising the lives were supposed to he saving. I was too ashamed to tell my family.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” I was growing fumes just thinking about it.
My brother frowned. It was eating at me not telling him but I could handle it on my own.
“Everyone’s probably going to be up in a few hours. You should shower and try to get some sleep. Tomorrow’s a big day.” He was worried.
I nodded and Pierce walked away. I took his advice and after a shower I was able to sleep a bit. I woke up to the sound of my mother making a commission in my closet.
“Laken wake up. We only have two hours till the wedding. You need to get dressed.”
Two hours? What? I over slept. That was weird. My mother took out my dress and pointed to the cup by my bedstand.
“There’s some coffee. Now get up so Miriam can do your hair.”
I wiped the rest of sleep off my eyes and prepared myself for a hellish morning. It took Miriam 30 to curl my hair into nice lustrous waves and 10 minutes to throw on some makeup. Then she helped me laced up the blue floor length dress and I was finished.
“Wow I’m a miracle worker.” Miriam gushed as she examined me.
I rolled my eyes. “You had plenty of beauty to work with from the beginning.”
She giggled and headed for the door. “I’m gonna go see how Gabe is doing.”
Once alone I gathered up my courage and faced the full length mirror. The dress was gorgeous and fit me like a glove. I guess the corset bodice was a good idea. The blue went extremely well with my ivory skin that it even made me glow. My long chocolate brown wavy hair cascaded beautifully over my shoulders and ended mid way to my stomach. I should probably get it cut soon. Yet it was my dark brown almost black eyes that took the cake. The eyeliner encircling my eyes surprisingly didn’t make me look like a raccoon. It was perfect and my skin seemed flawless. It was crazy what makeup could do.
I grabbed my cherry chapstick and applied it to my full lips. My sister often made fun of my big lips. My theory was she was just jealously. My lips were my best feature. I took a deep breath and walked out into the chaotic sense that was my life.
The wedding ceremony was beautiful and everything Paige wanted. So many people made it that it almost made me claustrophobic. I walked down the aisle with one of Gabe’s very energetic Russian friends. I about laughed when he almost tripped on my train. I composed myself quickly and watched my brother marry the woman of his dreams. They both looked so happy and so in love. I prayed one day I’d feel that way too. The vows were spoken and they were now standing as man and wife.
Cheers were directed from every corner of the church. Then everyone was shown to the reception area that had a view of the lake outside. Lights were hung in every which way and ultimately everything looked out of a fairytale story. Guests were seated but I needed some air. I wasn’t sure what came over me but I rushed to the exit. The cool breeze was exactly what I needed to calm myself. I walked to the bridge and gazed at the glistening lake.
“Are you feeling a little blue or just antisocial?” His cynical voice was so familiar to me it made me sick.
“A little vengeful actually.” I turned to face the dark angel who was screwing with my life.
My imaginary friend was wearing a sleek black Armani suit that was tailored perfectly over his every muscle. His purple button up shirt and skinny black tie were just accessories compared to his overly cocky smirk.
“Should we hug it out?” He teased.
I bit my tongue. I couldn’t explain how hot and attractive he was in that suit. The temptation to wrap my arms around his tight 8 pack torso was worse than the forbidden fruit. Oh, goodness. I needed to control my hormones and fast.
I shrugged my shoulders, to act like I wasn’t effected by his gorgeousness. “Depends, are you going to snap my neck too?”
He scratched his chin. “Not if I get to sneak a feel up.” His glowing blue eyes openly devoured my body.
I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks. Oh gosh, why was he teasing me? Honestly I should feel disgusted by him; he kills innocent people for goodness sakes. Why couldn’t I just stop or turn off my girlish hormones just this once?
“Dream on.” I hope my voice wasn’t giving me away.
He chuckled and moved a little closer. “Oh I will but I’m sure you are too. Your little tough act doesn’t fool me.” His finger curled into my hair. “I know you want to ripe my clothes off and have your dirty little way with me.”
Puhhhfffttt. Play it cool, Laken. Play. It. Cool. “If having my way with you means ripping out your heart and feeding it to a pack of lions then yeah, sure. I want my way with you.”
He leaned in even closer and I subconsciously held my breath. I did not need to be intoxicated by his sweet smelling cologne.
“Oh baby, you know I love it when you talk filthy to me.” His voice lowered to a deep sultry seduction.
I took a step back and to my disappointment hit the railing of the bridge. “What do you want?” I growled.
“For you to bend me over and spank me while you tell me what a bad boy I’ve been.” His playful humor was leaving me with nothing but a red face.
Oh how I hated his sick sense of humor. “I can’t make any promises you’ll live to enjoy the end of it.”
His hand snaked its way to my throat and my heart sped up. “Same goes for you too cupcake.”
The pressure he was applying ultimately stopped the oxygen going to my lungs. I placed my hands over his to try clawing it apart but there was no use. He was abnormally strong.
“What are you?” I choked out.
“A fairy,” he snickered.
I concentrated on breathing. “I know you’re lying cause your lips are moving.”
He dug his sharp nails into my neck and hoisted me up. My feet were dangling pathetically as he leveled our faces. He was possibly more than a foot taller than me so you could imagine the strength he possessed. He was making it look so effortless too like I weight only 10 pounds. I can assure you I eat like a football player.
His scary blue eyes were passed murderous and straight to serial killer. “I’m an angel. Honest.” His voice was liquidy sweet. “The horns are just there to hold the halo straight.”
If he didn’t let me go soon I was bound to pass out from lack of oxygen. I took the only measure a girl had in this situation. I kneed him in the family jewels. And to my genius thinking he let me go and crumbled in pain.
I heaved to fill my lungs with air. Man, that was a close one. My imaginary friend growled like a savaged beast. Serves him right for choking me.
“I’m going to gauge your eyes out,” he panted in revenge. “Nice and slowly.”
I slapped his cheek since he was still bent down to my level. “Baby you know I love it when you sarinate me.”
“Laken! Are you out here?” Miriam called out for me.
I pretty much expected my imaginary friend to disappear but once he didn’t I panicked. What was he up to? By the time my sister found us on the bridge he was standing straight again. He was standing right freaking behind me and once his hand landed on my shoulder I gulped. I had every intention to ripe his arm off me but Miriam was smiling as she approached us.
Her eyes literally popped out of their sockets as she assessed us. I could only imagine what it looked like. I had a random guy casually standing behind me. Wait, maybe she didn’t see him. After all he was MY imaginary friend. Nope definitely not invisible. My sister was gawking at him like he was made out of gold and candy. I was sure he was used to women undressing him with their eyes.
“Laken, who is this?” She pointed a finger at the chairman of my misery. And of course he was throwing her his irresistible boyish smile.
Did she want the truth cause I could easily tell her he was the spawn of Satan? Well I wasn’t 100% sure about that but he was cutting it close.
Before I could answer he opened his manipulating little mouth and said, “I’m Cal, Laken’s date for this evening.”
My mouth was wider than my sister’s. Did he just? What? Wait, what? My sister and I were both at a loss for words. He placed one of his hands on my hip and I almost lost it. What was going on?
“I have to admit you’re more beautiful than she described.” Cal, imaginary friend, demon, angel, whatever he was pulled me closer to his chest. The warmth of his body reluctantly calmed my nervous. Darn, my betraying body.
Miriam blushed like a schoolgirl for a second before collecting herself. I bet he’s done that to a lot of women. A lot.
“Well I’m sorry. Laken never mentioned you before.” She gave me a scolding look. I was sure to get it from her later.
Cal playfully pressed his lips to my neck, giving me a gentle kiss. I was positive that if my sister wasn’t here he would have bitten me and taken off a big chuck of my flesh. At the moment he was just putting on a show for my sister. And to my repulse she was falling for it. She tilted her head with her big dorky googly eyes and all but whispered ‘awwwwww’.
“She hasn’t. Well that about breaks my heart. And here I thought we were getting off to a good start. Are you ashamed of me?”
Oh. My. Gosh. Is he for real? He was going to make a spectacle here, now at my brother’s wedding? Miriam was loving it though. She was staring at us back and forth like we were a soap opera or something. Okay time to put my acting face on.
I shifted a little in his arms so I could face him. “Of course not pooky bear. I just didn’t want my family to scary you away. My brothers are very intimidating and they have guns,” I exaggerated to get my point across, “a lot of big guns.”
“She’s right. Our brothers are likely to shoot you and make it look like an accident.” Miriam agreed with me. She knew first hand all the guys who ran away at the sight of my brothers.
Cal only grinned and tightened his hold on me. “Then it’s a good thing I’m invincible.”
The scary thing was I actually believed him.
Miriam giggled a little. “You’re cute and funny. I sure hope you last. Well come on,” she waved. “Come meet the rest of the family.”
No, no, no, no. I was giving him the death stare. He better not even think about going and ruining this family event.
His wicked smile spoke wonders. “I’d love to.”
He had to practically push me by my waist to get me to move. We followed closely behind Miriam as she led us to the canopy reception area where the rest of the world was waiting. Oh God. Oh God. What do I do?
“Are you having a heart attack? Your heart’s racing.” He was enjoying my anxiety; I could heard it in his stupid voice.
Wouldn’t that be convenient for him? “Don’t flatter yourself. I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction of one.”
We finally made it to the table where the rest of my family was seated at except for Gabe and Paige who were greeting guests. The deep curious stares they were giving us was sure to haunt me later. I sat down next to Rob and Cal took the seat to my right. My family’s stares were starting to burn wholes through me.
“Everyone this is Cal, Laken’s date.” Miriam introduced.
Oh gosh. I had to roll my eyes for that one. When I scanned their faces I wasn’t surprised to see Pierce’s doubtful expression. He wasn’t buying it. I guess he knew me too well.
“So how long have you known each other?” Pierce’s question was directed to Cal.
Cal’s cool exterior was very believable. “Awhile.” His vague answer was only going to keep the questions coming.
“What do you do for a living?” Pierce was nowhere near the end of his interrogation.
“Sale your body,” I muffled into my hand.
Cal’s hand conspicuously landed on my thigh and he squeezed till the pinching motion numbed half my leg. Ouch.
“I’m a lawyer,” he said smoothly. BS... but my parents seemed to buy it.
My father put his glass down and asked, “How do you know my daughter?”
“Yes, how did you meet?” My sister added.
I took a deep breath, trying to think of something off the top of my head but Cal beat me to the punch.
“It’s a funny story, isn’t it cupcake?”
Cal was only pissing me off with those horrible nicknames. I just gave him my best smile as he continued his little explanation.
“We were both at the same restaurant and Laken here really had to go to the restroom. And in her haste to location a toilet she walked into the man’s room.”
Was he really going with this story? Oh he’s going to get it.
“Yup that sounds like her.” My little brother commented, completely betraying me.
“I didn’t try and stop her once I saw how desperate she was to do her business.” Cal had every intention to humiliate me.
“You got to make an impressive; besides,” I slapped Cal on his cheek. Oh yes revenge was sweet. His eyes blazed but I knew he wouldn’t try anything in front of an audience. “I got you didn’t I?”
His forced smile was making me laugh inside. Then his hand cupped my cheek. “That’s right kitten, and I’m not going anywhere for a very long time.”
I felt my insides twist suddenly. A very long time? Oh, this was not good.
“Who’s this guy?” Gabe interrupted our heated stare. My brother was looking at Cal like he had a death warrant on his back.
Cal stretched out his hand towards Gabe, very bravely I might add. “I’m Cal, Laken’s boyfriend.”
I almost choked on my spit. Boy...boyfriend. What? When did this happen? Since when did boyfriends what to gauge their girlfriend’s eyes out?
Gabe’s jaw tightened and dismissed Cal outstretched hand. “Boyfriend?” He repeated.
Cal nodded and took my hand in his. Our fingers interlaced and my body began to melt. This weird strange feeling was not as bad as I expected it to be. In some form it felt right holding his hand. Man, I was one messed up person.
Gabe turned to me for the truth. “Is he lying?”
I scanned the other faces of family. They were all anxiously awaiting my answer. What do I say? My parents seemed okay, my sister was probably just happy I was dating, Rob didn’t look like he cared, and Pierce was on pins and needles. I instinctively turned to the bringer of my misery. My devious imaginary friend was warning me with his eyes to choose my words wisely. I was surely going to regret this.
“No,” I leaned in and kissed Cal’s baby smooth jaw. I had to ignore the ridiculous tingles my lips had for touching his skin. “He’s telling the truth. He’s my boy...boyfriend.”
Gabe shook his head not believing me. “How’s that even possible? If he’s your boyfriend then why did you go on that date with that other punk?” Now it was his turn to interrogate.
“We broke up for a little bit.” What other reason did I have?
“Why haven’t you introduced him till now?”
I understood the concern my brothers had for me. It just made me feel lucky to have such carefully siblings.
Cal ended up taking this one away. “She knew how protective of her you were so she didn’t want me to get scared off.”
Pierce narrowed his eyes. “How’s that working out so far?”
Cal was showing no signs of retreat. I could even bet he was enjoying the little spectacle.
“Alright you two. Leave him alone. This is my wedding and you won’t be shedding any blood tonight.” Paige came to the rescue.
The rest of the dinner went a bit more smooth. Cal lied through his teeth as he answered all the bombarding questions from the family. I was just trying to keep all my nerves jarred up. I hated lying to my family. Eventually they would figure it out and it was only going to hurt them.
“How about we go for a walk?” Cal whispered in my ear.
Sure, anything to get him away from my family. We got up and my mother quickly added, “It was lovely meeting you Cal. Please do come over for dinner sometime this week.”
Cal smiled. “I’d love to. Thank you all for the hospitality.”
He didn’t have to thank my brothers. Once we were out of their view and in the parking lot I decided to release my anger.
“What was that? I thought imaginary friends were supposed be to invisible.”
Cal crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Yeah well I’m no ordinary imaginary friend.”
“Yeah I noticed,” I scuffed. “You just need to stay the hell away from me.”
“Not going to happen sweetheart. Like I said, I’m going to be a part of your life for a very long time.”
“Why? What is it you want?” I was livid.
“You’ll know soon enough.” He bent down and tantalizingly kissed my cheek. “Bye bye girlfriend.”