Leslie didn’t have much in the way of a yard. A left turn off the main drive formed a loop at the front of the house that enclosed a wide oval of dormant grass. The main drive led to the back “vampire” entrance, as I started to think of it, and connected with the loop on the other side of the house. Between the drive and the forest, the oval of grass was the only area large enough for training.
Since the front of the house had a northern exposure and it was late autumn, the wide covered porch provided shade all day. This allowed the vampires to be outside in daylight. It was around ten o’clock when I made it out to the yard, and the sun was well risen.
Selene and Kyler weren’t resting today. They sat in rocking chairs and held large mugs. Selene’s eyes followed Justin as he instructed the others. I laughed to myself as I watched Kiera watching Santiago as he focused on Justin.
I stepped out onto the porch and stopped beside the vampires. “Enjoying your morning coffee?” When we could get it, coffee was one of the few luxuries my parents allowed themselves. I didn’t care for it, but they certainly did.
“Something like that,” Selene said and smiled at me. Her lips and teeth were red.
I shivered, and she and Kyler smiled in appreciation of my reaction. “If you don’t mind my asking, Selene, how are you? Did you work out your problems with Justin?”
“I don’t mind you asking. I think this is all outside of what he thought was possible, you know?” She looked up at me. “He doesn’t understand vampires any better than he does people, even though he is usually very good at handling both.”
I cast my eyes into the yard. “Some things you just can’t handle.”
“Like you,” she said. “He’s so frustrated that you don’t act or feel how he thinks you should, and it frustrates me that he holds on to his love for you.”
I walked over and hopped up to sit on the railing. It felt as though Justin and I had come to some sort of understanding, not that I would ever understand why he loved me. He had admitted that he knew I didn’t return his feelings, and I couldn’t help but be glad that he didn’t hate me for it.
“I know you’re angry that I tried to send him away.”
I searched her face, but she only waved a hand at me as she sipped at her mug. Leslie came out with his mug of vampire “coffee” and leaned against the railing next to me. I swallowed hard and tried not to look at it.
After swallowing, Selene said, “You were trying to protect your family. I understand, even if it was against my wishes. Still, he didn’t go. I may not like the reason for it, but I’ll take it.” She took a moment to give Leslie a long look. “Nice of you to join us today, sir. Feeling better now that you’ve thrown a tantrum?”
I turned to look at Leslie. He had one of his polite smiles in place, but his eyes were chilly. “You’re one to talk about tantrums,” was his response. “And, you know how trips down memory lane can be bumpy.” She grunted in agreement.
“Hey, Cami-girl?” Jay called, which drew the attention of everyone. “You going to sit up there all day in the shade with the fangedfolk or are you going to come down here and fight me?”
I snickered at his nickname for the vampires. “You’ll get your chance, Jay,” I called back to him.
“Bloody right, I will. I’m going to catch you today, you’ll see. Then, it’ll be kisses for Jay.”
Bubbling with laughter, I said, “You must be an idealist.”
“A dreamer,” he said loftily, putting his hand over his heart. “A man’s got to have his dreams, hasn’t he?”
I laughed and turned back to the vampires who were looking at me oddly. “A kiss,” I explained, “to the man strong and fast enough to take me down. My incentive?” I looked meaningfully at Leslie.
“That’s your incentive?” He looked first at Jay and then at me. “They’re easy.”
I smacked him on the arm, and he laughed. I noticed a look pass between Selene and Kyler. I was sure people didn’t go around slapping Leslie in any way. Perhaps, the amount of my antics he tolerated amused them. I skipped down the stairs and took my place next to Justin.
“I’ll get warmed up. We’re following you today,” I said to Justin and began stretching.
“That’s a Rosegarten for you folks. Always taking charge. It doesn’t matter that the rest of us have been out here for almost two hours. She just shows up whenever and then puts me in charge.”
I looked wide-eyed at Justin and then around at the faces of Leslie’s family. I wished that I could crawl in a hole. Justin, on the other hand, whooped with laughter.
“Oh, you should see your face. Ha,” he hooted. “I was kidding, Cami. You have inherited your dad’s bossiness.”
“I like to think of it as taking and delegating responsibility,” I snarled. My face flamed, and everyone smiled at me.
“I’m sure you do. Well, now that I’ve had a good laugh to get me fully awake, let’s get started.”
END CH15 P2