Short Story Sunday: Lucky Me

“I took the bus from Los Angeles to Sacramento. At the station I saw an old chum of my brother’s from High School. He said he’d give me a ride, but then he got fresh. I wasn’t going to, you know, I have cash to pay for gas. I’m not… so he dumped me here. I figured if I walked…”

“Get in. You’ll be safe. I promise,” he said. It had just started to rain. “I have a house by the lake. You can stay the night. Where are you going?”

“Reno,” she told him. “I have a teaching job waiting for me. It starts in two weeks.”

He found out she’d left a short abusive marriage. Out of the fire into the frying pan. She was too trusting of people, all bright eyed and perky, even after being left on the side of the road by a creepy pervert.

“I’m Val,” he said holding out his hand.

“Eve,” she said. “Your hand is colder than mine. You’re freezing.”

He smiled. She felt safe for the first time in a long time.

“Val. I like that. Is it short for Valentino?”

“Valentine.”

“I like that better,” said Eve.

They drove for another half hour to a large cabin by the edge of a lake. Cabin was an understatement, this was a 3,000 square foot luxury home.

“Go change,” Val told her. “I have something to show you.”

She went into one of the bedrooms, feeling as if she’d been there before.

When Eve returned, in drawstring pajama pants and a comfy sweatshirt, she found Val sitting on the couch in the main living area with his laptop on the coffee table in front of him. A glass of red wine was in his hand.

“I feel better. Thanks for picking me up again,” said Eve, as she sat down next to Val.

“It’s what I do Eve. Did anyone else pick you up this week?”

“A couple from San Francisco picked me up on Thursday. I had them drop me off in Truckee. Oh and last Saturday a trucker picked me up. He was hauling a load of furniture to Salt Lake City. I went all the way to Reno with him. Nice guy. He told me about his wedding plans. What did you want to tell me?”

Val turned to the laptop. “Your body was found last week by some Cal Trans workers getting the road ready for winter. They found your suitcase. There were also two other young women, both killed and dumped within a couple weeks of you. Both disappeared from the Sacramento Gray Hound station in October of 1987.”

“What about Tom?”

“Tom Turner was arrested last night. He wallet was found under the body of one of the other women. He’d also kept souvenirs. Your purse and heart shaped locket were found in his house.”

“Wow. I didn’t know about the others. Oh Val. Thank God it is over. What happened to the other two women?”

“They didn’t stay,” Val said turning back to the computer. “After the bodies were found reports came in of a hitchhiker in a red leather jacket, with long blonde hair. She’d been seen on the highway for the past thirty years.”

“You know, I don’t remember when I go out at night. Not until they drop me off.”

“I know Eve. It’s ok.”

“I’m glad they arrested the sick bastard.”

“So am I. If you’d told me his name earlier I would have taken care of him myself.”

“I didn’t remember it until now. Val, do you think I’ll go out again?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think I’ll move on? I guess see the light?”

“I can’t answer that, but you know you can stay here as long as you want.”

“I saw some other ghosts out tonight. They’re so lost.”

“Donner Party folks?”

“How’d you know.”

“They’re always out there.”

“What if you go away? Will I have to wonder around with them?”

“I won’t go away. I’ll always be here for you Eve.”

“Lucky me being picked up by a Vampire.”

Val smiled. “Lucky you.”

 

 

Short Story Sunday: When You Grow Old

I have to go to the Drive In Theater to get my daughter’s car. She was there last night with her boyfriend and the starter on the car went out. After watching “IT” for the third time the kids were still waiting for the tow truck. Service is not a priority these days with AAA. They got home just before sunrise. Anyway, we’re taking care of that today. Needless to say I didn’t write a short story this morning.

I’m posting one of my all time favorites, first posted in 2013. I hope you enjoy it. xoxo 
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

When You Grow Old

A short story by Juliette Kings

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked my brother’s caretaker Josh.

My brother Bob is 90 years old. A former screenwriter and movie producer, he lives in a modern glass and polished wood mansion on the Central Coast of California.

I’d been at Bob’s for six months.

“Your grandmother would have been 101 this year,” Bob told me. I was going to turn 101 this year, at the end of October. What Bob doesn’t know is that I am his sister Valentina. He doesn’t know I’m a vampire either. He thinks I’m a great niece who is the spitting image of his older sister who passed away in 1935.

I walked the beach in the evenings with Bob. He leaned my arm and told me about the cycles of the tide and the migration of the whales.

Arriving home we found that my brother’s caretaker Josh had fixed dinner.  A beautiful salad and fresh rockfish. Josh, a tall skinny but muscular blonde in his 30’s had been with Bob for about 3 years. He divided his time between helping Bob and two other elderly folks near by, and when he wasn’t with his old folks he was surfing.

I asked Josh why he worked with old people. “They’re exceptional creatures,” he told me, “with the knowledge of lost times. They have wisdom and humor that needs to be honored. You can’t always get that out of old people, but if you work them just so and LISTEN they’ll give you the secrets of the universe. And the weird thing is, no not weird, I the magic of it, is that they don’t even know they have that knowledge.”

The next morning we had a visitor. It was Stephen, one of my brother’s neighbors.  “You’ve been good to your brother,” he whispered in my ear. He was also a Vampire, something I’d known for a while, but never talked to him about. Our paths crossed but this was the first time we had made a social call since I’d been there.

It seems Stephen and Bob have been friends for the past 10 years, since Stephen purchased the run down house next door and restored it to the former glory of its past. Until today, he only visited Bob when I was out. They spend the evenings talking, watching movies and playing cards with Josh. There was a bond of friendship that was so real and close, the kind that never ends, even with age and differences of opinion.

A few night later Stephen and I walked the beach.

“How long have you been a Vampire?” I asked him. It was a common question Vampires ask each other.

“Since the summer of 1802. Funny it seems like yesterday.”

“So hows it working out for you? I mean, the Vampire thing and all?” I had to ask.

“Good. It’s all good. You know it isn’t for everyone.”

“I wonder about Bob.” I had wondered about my brother and if I made him into a Vampire if I’d restore his youth and keep him in my life.

“Bob is happy where he is.”

“I think you’re right.”

We walked more and listened to the waves. Then he kissed me under that stars. That was a surprise. A nice surprise.

The next morning after Josh had helped Bob with his shower and getting dressed I visited with him over coffee. Josh was such a caring free spirit, loving his work with the elderly and his relationship with the waves.

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked Josh.

He smiled. “I’ll ride out on the surf and become one with the sea.”

“Who will listen to your words of wisdom?”

“You and Stephen can pass it on. You’ll still be here. You’ll always be here. So will Bob, not in body but his spirit is strong. He’ll be around as long as the stars over the surf.” Then he winked at me. “Valentina, I know all about you. Your kind is all over the coast down here. I grew up with Vampires. It’s cool.”

And so it was.

Short Story Sunday: Sunday Coffee

I saw something on YouTube in a church where little children were speaking in tongues. I’d love to see that. Seriously. I can hear them saying, “Mama I spoke in tongues, can we go to Dairy Queen now?” or “Daddy, I rolled my eyes back real far. Can I play with the rattle snakes now?”

Delilah sat with a glass of unsweetened iced coffee, listening to people who sat around her. She loved eavesdropping.

“Sandy said her daughter Kylee called her everyday from college and cried. Kylee is so lonely. I asked her if any of her daughter’s friends from high school were there and she said no.”

“Oh my God, that sounds like something Kylee would do. She has been posting all over social media pictures with friends. She’s having a great time in college. “

Be it a coffee shop, a church, or any public place, Delilah would sit and listen, and wait.

There are so many homeless camps by the river this summer. They’re ruining the area around Gateway Park.

Delilah listened. There was an opportunity, then again she would only go there if she was desperate. She texted a friend who liked things a little rougher than she did.

She smiled at a nice looking man who got up to leave, with his book and coffee-to-go refill. He smiled back. She’d seen him there before. It was an opportunity. She knew he’d walked. She knew he lived close by, in a neat little Victorian house, with a cat, and nobody else. They chatted. She walked with him. Fall was coming soon. She could smell the pumpkin spice in his coffee. He was telling her about his garden. She said she’d love to see it. Then she smiled and thought of the taste of pumpkin spice. Maybe. When one was a vampire you never knew what you’d hear or taste next.

~ end

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Short Story Sunday: College Daze

Ninety percent of my time as an undergrad was spent in weird Dr. Harrison’s biochemistry lab. The other ten percent of my time was living vicariously through my roommate Tony, who partied and got laid enough for an entire frat house full of horny guys.

Mavis stood up and stepped away from the keyboard. Earlier in the week she’d dropped her eighteen year old son Axel off at college – the same college she’d gone to. Now she was starting notes for her seventeenth novel in the popular Detective Star Landers Mystery Series.

She didn’t want her son to be like either one of the characters in her novel. She knew he wouldn’t be like Tony, but then again you never really knew what your kids were up to when they weren’t with you.

Axel was the youngest of her three kids. Jared and Zoe were also in college at opposite ends of the state. Axel was in the middle. She went outside with her coffee cup and looked at the backyard the kids had played in for years. Two dogs of unknown breeds were sleeping under the shade of the trees. Both animals were from the county shelter. The kids were helped pick them out. A lot of memories were in that yard and with those dogs.

After making more coffee Mavis sat down at her laptop again. She looked outside through the window and thought of her own college days. She didn’t think about it much. She didn’t keep in touch with anyone. After taking a sip of coffee she started to write again.

He did make time for Darcie. All he had to do was show up at her door and she’d screw him silly. She never expected love. Just friendship and sex. He was always up for that. One night he’d shown up at the little house she’d rented behind a bigger house. It was really more of a shed with a kitchen and bathroom added on to it. Anyway, it was 2:00 a.m. and Darcie was wearing a robe. Her face was red and swollen. It looked like her hands were covered in blood. 

She told him that she’d been attacked by a guy named Clayton Jones. Sure everyone knew Clay. He thought he was God’s gift to women, but slutty Darcie would never sleep with him. Clay called her a whore. She shrugged. 

Darcie had been to a party that night. Clay had tried to get her to fuck him. As always she said no. About twenty minutes after she got home Clay came to call. He beat her up and raped her. When he was done she hit him on the head with a lamp. 

Mavis looked up and rubbed her eyes. Then she started in on her notes again.

He was bleeding. He called her a bitch. She said she’d take him to the hospital. Down the road, behind a warehouse, she covered his car with lighter fluid and dropped a match on it. Poof. It with up in flames with Clay in the passenger seat. She walked home, and that is where I found her, sitting in her robe, covered in blood. 

Mavis saved the file. Then she deleted it.

She sipped her coffee again. Earlier in the week Axel had asked her about her college years. She’d told him it was sort of boring. She liked the classes but didn’t get into the social life part. Then her youngest son asked her if she knew that guy Clay who’d been murdered. She told him no. She didn’t know anything about it.

“You met dad in college. Did he know that guy Clay?” Axel had asked.

“He might have,” said Mavis, then she changed the subject.

She started a new page.

I never told anyone what Mavis did. 

Then she erased that line, and called her husband. Not for any reason. Just to tell him that she loved him. That was all

 

~ end

 

 

 

Demons

I’ve had several posts mentioning Demons, especially concerning my brother Max. A few years ago I visited him at his house in San Francisco. Our parents and brother Andy, also live in the City by the Bay. I’m the one everyone calls when things get weird. Max is single and lives alone, and I’m also married to Teddy, his best friend since childhood.

Anyway, this is why we don’t like Demons around, at least one of the reasons.

strangereyes

My eldest brother Max, for those of you who don’t know, is one of those alpha Vampires who hunts Vampire Hunters, Rogue Vampires and all sorts of nasty evil and just plain annoying creatures and things that go bump in the night. He is a hunter and sometimes a killer – that said, he and his associates protect us all from things we shouldn’t need to deal with.

Max looked like Hell warmed over. He’d been out on a call and found himself up against a group of Demons. Yes, that kind of Demon – nasty and evil, no doubt straight from Hell and running rampant trying to cause problems anywhere it could.

Teddy still has the cold hard fear of Demons. That isn’t a bad thing. We don’t like them. They’re creatures that don’t derive from humanity but like goblins, have no problems pretending they derive from humans.

A long nasty deep pair of scratches ran across Max’s arm. There was no sign of healing on the ugly red marks. He’d been cornered and put up a fight before his back-up team arrived. The Demons were taken care of but not first without doing damage to Max and who knows who or what else.

Late into the night we talked over several bottles of wine and blood. Our brother Andy came by as well for a few hours to visit. Max was restless the entire night. Just before dawn we all retired to spend a rare day sleeping (Teddy and I live during the daylight due to school hours.)

I was awake before dusk. It was a beautiful clear day. From the back window I could see a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay going out into the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. No wonder Max loved living here so much.

In the kitchen making tea I discovered Max’s old friend Celeste. She was beautiful beyond compare, wearing nothing but a pair of black lace panties and a magnificent seal skin coat. That wasn’t unusual because Celeste is a Selkie. On the land she is a women and in the ocean a seal. I was and wasn’t surprised to find her there. Max says he won’t mingle with those who aren’t like him, but I know who his friends are. I have no problems with Celeste or her kind.

Celeste rolled her shoulders and told me about my brother. “He called me last night. Said he needed some distraction. You know how Max is. His brain just gets full or he gets bothered and doesn’t know what to do about it. You know, Juliette we’re just friends with benefits. I just fuck him and talk. Nothing else. You think I’d be crazy enough to fall in love with a Vampire? Not on your life. Just friends. Always just friends.

Celeste then put a wedge of lemon in her tea and continued, “There is someone else, a Vampire girl he has a strange sort of bond with, but he doesn’t want any emotional entanglements with her. He was afraid she’d be too much for him, for his heart. I’ve never seen a guy try to logic and think his way out of falling in love like Max has this time.”

I saw a long burn along Celeste’s arm. “Oh that. I brushed against Max’s arm where the demon scratched him. Damned if it didn’t burn me too. The salt water will heal it. But you need to check in on him. He’s in pretty bad shape. The Demons really got to him this time and not just physically. They really fucked with him big time,” she told me in her whiskey and silk voice.

I took her arm and looked at the burn. It was hot to the touch. I spit on my finger and rubbed it along the burn.

“It stopped hurting. Thanks,” she said with a smile full of sharp white teeth. It was a smile that she won’t show a Regular Human. I have to admit I was flattered.

After a bit more small talk she left and no doubt went back into the Pacific Ocean and turned back into a seal.

I went upstairs to Max’s room. He was asleep, curled in soft gray blankets wearing a black silk robe. I took his arm and looked at the deep scratches that had turned an angry blackish red.

He opened his eyes. The usual blue gray hazel had turned dark, almost a dull black. I could tell he wasn’t well.

“I saw Celeste. She is worried about you.”

He gave me a “join the club” look. He didn’t need to say it out loud.

Taking his arm, I put my hand over the poisoned gashes and saw the ugly face of the Demon who clawed him.

“Don’t little sister. You’ll get sick,” Max said.

Ignoring him pricked my finger with the tip of my fang and let a drop of blood fall on his wounds. I put my hand back on his arm and willed the poison away.

Yes, I did end up making it to the bathroom before I threw up and almost fell over from my head spinning, but I was fine after a few minutes (ok hours). The poison wasn’t meant for me so I was fine – bothered but fine. It could have stayed with Max for weeks or even months. It could have set him back into a spiral of depression and hopelessness that if not taken care of could have done permanent damage. Demons are like that. They’re horrible evil things.

I kissed his cold cheek and left my brother to sleep.

When someone you love is poisoned by Demons you need to help them get through it – no matter what kind of Demons. They do a lot of damage, but it can be fixed. Demons hate any kind of love or understanding and will poison us against it. So we fight them. And those like Max fight them so they can’t hurt anyone else.

Like I’ve said, when you’re a Modern Vampire every single day has the potential of being weird, but we do what we can do avoid it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales: Lighthouse

1880

He’d been found in the ocean, wearing a formal jacket with tails and clinging to the top of a grand piano. Underneath the man was a large gray wolfhound.

The captain of the ship that had picked him up said that he didn’t seem to remember much, or maybe did not want to remember. The dog, named Delilah, wouldn’t leave the side of her master.

At first they thought it was a ship wreck but it ended up being a complicated and strange mystery. The ship, a 200 ton brigantine had left Port of Talcahuano, in Chile three months before the mysterious man had been found in the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. Not a soul was on the ship, except the Captain who’d been found with a gun in his hand and what looked like a fatal self-inflicted bullet wound in his head. The life boats were still on the ship, as well as a cargo of wine and explosives, and the personal belongings of the few passengers and crew.

A break in an unusually strong and violent series of storms allowed them to dock and drop the man on the piano lid and his wolfhound off at the home of the lighthouse keeper’s family.

The lighthouse keeper checked in on the man who was sleeping in his guest room, dog curled by the bed. He could tell the stranger was wealthy by the quality of his clothing, the expensive watch and ring, and the formal refined way he’d spoken. His locked trunk had been recovered from the abandoned ship and now was at the foot of the bed.

The stranger said his name was Maxwell. He told them to call him Max. The first night there he’d drawn exquisite pictures for the light keeper’s wife of palm trees, and of beautiful women in fashionable dresses, and native women of South America with unusual hats and full colorful skirts. Over brandy he told them that he was 31 years old, born in 1849 when his pregnant mother had come out with his father for the California Gold Rush. Now he resided in San Francisco.

“What is your occupation? “The lighthouse keeper’s daughter Jayne asked the stranger,  fully well expecting him to say he was involved in a rich family business, or lived off of the wealth of his forebears.

He looked at her with hazel eyes, that she would have sworn were dark brown earlier that evening. “I am in law enforcement of a sorts, like detective, or a marshal. I seek out those who are particularly evil. I had apprehended a ruthless and violent fiend in South America and was on my way home. Unfortunately on the ship…” he paused and glanced up for a second, then back at the family of the lighthouse keeper. “On the ship I found myself taken by surprise and overwhelmed. It is a story I will tell you later, but now I must sleep, or I’ll end up under the table here.”

So he retired for the night. That was two days ago. He still slept as quiet and cold as death, but not dead. The dog lay by the foot of the bed thumping her tail whenever anyone came near.

A storm raged outside. The weather didn’t allow anyone to go get a doctor. His wife assured him that the man called Max just needed to rest. It made sense considering the man had been clinging to a piano lid and floating in the freezing ocean for days before he was picked up.

Despite the storm Lighthouse Keeper’s wife climbed up a ladder to fix a shutter that was almost ready to fly away with the wind. As she reached the window the ladder fell and she crashed to the ground below. All went black except the feeling of being carried inside.

Max put her down in a large chair by the fire and took her broken arm in his icy hands. “Close your eyes,” he whispered. She could feel his hands heat up and warm her wrist. The pain turned to numbness. She opened her eyes and could see a look of pain on his face, then he smiled and kissed her forehead.

“You’re arm is still broken, but the bones have started to mend enough for you not to need a splint.”

“You? You healed me,” she said.

“Yes. It is a gift. Keep the knowledge to yourself or people will think we are both insane.” He then touched a forming bruise on her forehead, making that pain, along with the bruise go away as well.

During the night the storm broke up. Sunshine came out between the clouds. Jayne convinced Max to walk down to the docks to pick up some fish for the night’s dinner.

She held his arm as they strolled along the road.

“Your glasses are so dark. I noticed your eyes turned from hazel to brown when we went outside,” said Jayne.

“My eyes are sensitive to the sun. I have three younger brothers, and a younger sister. Two of them have eyes that do the same as mine, that is change color,” he said, then changed the subject. “Do you like living here Jayne.”

“I love my family. I love the ocean. I don’t being in a small town with nothing but fish and lumber. I’d like to see more of the world before I’m expected to find a husband.”

“Do you want to be married Jayne?”

“Maybe,” said Jayne, “I can move to Utah and take two husbands. Women can vote in Utah and Wyoming. Why not here?”

“Because men are ignorant and barbaric my dear Jayne. They’re afraid that if you vote you’ll be smarter and more just than they are. The don’t want to give up their power to someone who might do a better job. By the way, men of a certain faith may have more than one wife but I do not believe a woman is allowed two husbands in Utah. You would have to go to Tibet for that.”

Jayne laughed. “To be truthful, even one husband would be too many for me right now. I don’t need anyone to own me right now.” She tugged on his arm. “You’re so different.”

“How am I different? I’m just like any other man.”

“You healed my mother’s arm. You survived almost a week in the icy ocean’s water hanging onto a piano top with nothing but the clothes on your back and a dog. Your eyes change color. Your skin feels like ice. You are unbelievably attractive. I am stating a fact about your looks. But I only want your friendship. Even with the oddness I like you. I feel as if we have been friends for a long long time. Where are you really from Maxwell? Who are your people?”

He smiled and took off his glasses. His eyes were hazel again. “Where I come from men and women are equal. We live quietly. We live honestly among each other. What I am about to tell you will sound strange, but we live on the edge between life and death. We walk in the world of sunlight, but also walk in the land of the shadows and do not fear death or God.”

“I would like to go there with you. I would earn my way. I could be a lady detective.”

“It is not easy to live in my world Jayne.”

“No world is easy Max,” she said then smiled and pulled the comb out of her hair letting it blow in the wind. “Do you have a sweetheart at home?”

Max hesitated then spoke. “There is a woman I have a strong connection with, but I will never love her.”

“Is she married?”

“No. It isn’t like that. We met when I was at the University. So was she, which is odd unto itself. She knows my thoughts. She knows my desires. But she is not the one. What about you Jayne?”

“I was engaged to a man who knew neither my thoughts or desires, and had no intention on learning either. He thought I belonged to him body and soul, not in the way of love, but as property to be owned and controlled. He was jealous to the point of rage if I would speak with another man. He was even jealous of the boys I teach at the school and demanded I quit my teaching job. I would rather die than live a life where someone else controlled my body, my thoughts, my job, and my every whim. That is why I am no longer engaged to him.” Then laughed and ran to the end of the pier and let the wind blow through her hair and laughed some more.

Max marveled at the way she was so free thinking and full of life. He saw so much death and sorrow in his line of work that now with Jayne he felt renewed. She was sunshine in his dark world of shadows and night.

Hours later in the quiet of the night, the wind died own, and the moon hung in a thin crescent in the sky. Max walked along the beach with his dog Delilah. The taste of fresh blood and wine was in his mouth and the cold comfort of the night had settled into his soul. Delilah ran ahead, then the dog started to bark. Ahead of him Max saw a bloody figure crumpled on the rocks. His heart sank. It was Jayne.

Max picked her up and carried her home. He knew what had happened. She’d gone out to look at the stars and was attacked by a man she’d jilted. She’d spoken briefly about it when they’d walked earlier in the day. She had turned away the advances of a hot headed man who wanted her as his own. In the afternoon the man had walked past them, giving Jayne a look like a mad dog when he saw her holding Max’s arm.

He put her on her bed as her parents and brothers gathered around. As still as death, and as cold as the sea, they watched life drained out of her.

Jayne’s mother put her hand on Max’s arm. “Can you heal her, like you healed me?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “If I do she will never be the same, not like she was before. She won’t be crippled or lose herself, she will be… she will be like me.”

“Save her, then find the man who did this to her,” said the Lighthouse Keeper.

“You do not know what you ask,” said Max.

“You put a spark back in her eyes I have not seen in ages. Please save her if you can.”

“Let me be alone with her and she will not die.”

In the morning a man’s body washed up on the beach. It looked as if dogs had torn out his throat. His face was a mask of fear.

Two weeks later Jayne kissed her family good-by and went with Max on the next ship to San Francisco.

2017

Max stood in his living room with a glass of wine in his hand as he looked at the view of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. He couldn’t imagine getting tired of it. He glanced over to see Jayne, wearing a short black dress and looking gorgeous as always, coming towards him. He kissed her cool cheek. She smiled with just a touch of fang showing.

“Are you staying with Pierce tonight?” Max asked.

“Of course I am. I take it Mehitabel is staying here,” said Jayne.

Max glanced at a small pretty woman across the room. He suddenly thought of what he’d told Jayne about her so many years ago on the walk to the docks. Odd that when he was out in the ocean, clinging onto a piano top of all things, he had thought of Mehitabel. He might ask but he was never sure what she would say. No, he wouldn’t ask, he’d just wait to see what would happen, but he was sure she’d stay.

“I’m sure she’ll stay,” he told Jayne.

They talked for a while longer, about work, about friends, and about how the sunset sparkled on the ocean. Max wasn’t always one for words, but he knew that Jayne knew that they’d always be friends. Maybe even before they had ever met.

Then Jayne laughed. “I still can’t believe you were clinging to a piano lid.”

And Max had to laugh along.

~ End