The day after the fires journalists started pouring into Pacifica. Some people said that they’d heard the sound of tanks firing, or helicopters and planes. Others said that they’d seen men in trucks driving around at night. But in the end, the police cleared it as a forest fire. Some policemen had gone to help out with the fire, their cars had been found burnt and crushed, policemen had died. No firemen had been sent out. It was all too fishy.
The last of the smoke drifted in the wind to San Francisco and the beaches were covered in light blankets of ash.
A week passed, slowly. The news was posted in all the newspapers all over America, journalists were arriving, taking pictures then moving on. No one knew how the fire had started, how long it had burnt for, how it suddenly went out. Some people kept claiming to have heard screams and gunshots, but they were quickly laughed at. Besides the police officers, no bodies were found.
The murders had stopped. For a week now. No mysterious deaths at night, no more missing people. The murderer seemed to have disappeared, maybe he started the fire and didn’t make it out. But there seemed to be more deaths, Pam told me that there had been a very bad accident killing over twenty people in the Rocky Mountains.
It was odd, but it wouldn't deter me from my studies. Nor from my curiosity of the three beautiful girls living upstairs.
It was late in the afternoon that I gathered my courage and went up to the penthouse, carrying a box full of torches and batteries. I also added some food. I had no idea how they were living.
As I arrived in front of the door, I could hear shouting from inside. I couldn't make out the words, but I distinctly heard the sound of something shattering. Then I knocked, loudly.
The shouts immediately died down and I heard the sound of the locks unlocking on the door.
The door opened just slightly and I recognised Concordia, wide-eyed and wearing the most outrageous pink jumpsuit.
"I brought you these," I held up my back. "And, I wanted to know when you wanted to start lessons?"
"Now!" a voice barked and I glanced up in surprise to see Eris, standing in the middle of the room, wearing a short summer dress that hugged her curves too much for my comfort.
"Eris!" Concordia hissed, but the white-haired triplet was already marching towards me, her gaze boring into mine.
"We can start my lesson outside today," she informed me, casting a glare at her colourful sister.
"Okay," I agreed, unable to hide the smile on my face.
"Eris no! Don't do it!" I heard Vidgis snap, she appeared behind Concordia, her eyes seemed to flash completely black for a second.
"You don't get to tell me what to do," Eris snarled at her.
"Maybe I should, maybe someone should! You're completely uncontrollable!" Vigdis hissed. Eris bristled, but she turned to me, her expression softening.
"Caleb, do you mind us doing our class somewhere else?" her voice was suddenly a lot softer.
"Thank you," she actually looked relieved, she grabbed my bag, handed it quickly to Concordia then slipped out of the apartment. She slammed the door shut and turned to me, her face inches from mine, I could smell her coconut shampoo. Her dark eyes studied my face for a second, then I saw her composer drop. She suddenly looked tired.
"Do you want to go get some coffee?" I suggested.
"Yeah," she nodded.
Eris headed straight for the stairs. I followed behind then frowned.
“Are you sure you want to take the stairs?” I asked. She paused and looked up at me.
“You want to take your elevator?” she asked, I shrugged.
“It’s faster,” I answered. She nodded slowly, her eyes wide then followed me into the waiting elevator. I pressed the ground floor button. She peered around the elevator, looking at the buttons, in the mirror. She gasp when it started moving down.
“Caleb it’s moving!” she cried.
“I should hope so,” I murmured. She spun towards me, her eyes shining brightly. When the doors slid open she jumped back against the glass. Then like a wild animal, she crept out onto the ground floor. She grinned at me.
“It’s so fast,” she breathed.
“I guess,” I shrugged.
We walked down the crowded streets in silence. People bustled around us, laughing, talking about their holidays. We stayed silent. We walked down to the beach.
“Where are you from?” she asked finally when we arrived on the beach. The sun shone warmly making her hair shine. I couldn’t move my eyes off of her, I couldn’t even look at the ocean. The noise from the tourists playing in the sand with their dogs seemed to disappear.
“Uh here,” I breathed. She smiled, just slightly.
“I mean,” she pointed at my face. “Your origins, I have never seen anyone like you before."
"Oh!" I arched my brows in surprise. “Japan."
She dug her feet into the sand, shoes and all. "That's in Asia isn't it?"
"Yes, it is."
"I would like to go so far away," she said. Her gaze was fixed on the lapping water. She pursed her lips and gave me a small smile. "I'm not very welcome here."
"I'm happy to have you here," I answered quickly. She gave me the smallest smile, I swore I saw a hint of a blush on her fair cheeks.
"That's because you don't know me yet," she whispered.
I was quiet, watching her, the soft arching on her throat, the pink tinge to her cheeks, the pale translucency of her skin. She was definitely kept locked up inside somewhere.
“Where are you from Eris?" I asked. She glanced at me.
“My great-great-grandmother was from Florida. Near Miami. That’s all I know.”
“Miami. The other side of the country. Is that where you ran from?”
She pursed her lips, shaking her head quickly.
"You ask too many questions, Caleb," she breathed.
"Sorry," I gave her a small smile and to my utter delight, she smiled back.
"Your sisters, and you, do you get in fights a lot?"
"Caleb, that's another question," she giggled. The sound was like music to my ears, I had never seen her giggle before.
"Ah damn," I snapped my thigh. "I can't help myself. I wanted to know everything about you," I grinned at her.
Her smile wavered a little, but mostly she blushed, hard. I loved the effect her smile had on me. I loved the effect I seemed to have on her blush.
"We fight a lot," she admitted. "We're not used to spending so much time together," she scoffed, then shrugged one shoulder. "And we don't have the same opinions. We're triplets, but we're very different. I'm different."
I watched as she sat down and lay in the sand. I sat next to her watching the sunlight on her face.
I reached my hand out and grasped hers. Her skin was warm, soft. She looked up at me with wide eyes but she didn't pull away. She stared at our interlocked fingers.
“You know, you don’t have to be afraid anymore. Eris, if you ever need me, I’m here. I’ll protect you,” I told her. She held my gaze for a few long seconds then bowed her head.
“No one has ever wanted to protect me before,” she whispered. I watched her fingers lacing with mine. She moved a little closer.
“You can trust me,” I replied. She nodded.