Finding out that Vampires were real and that I was being hunted by one made me rethink how I was living my life. I realized that I had allowed what Jack did to me to undermine my confidence in myself. I had let it consume me so much that I had forgotten my self worth. I was drinking and partying my problems away, but it only made me feel worse about myself. It had to stop.
Katrina promised me that Merrick would not be hunting me anymore. She said that she may not be as powerful as him, but she wasn’t without allies. I would be safe, she swore. But I wasn’t as confident in her ability to protect me as she was. So I looked up all of the information I could find on Vampires, vampirism and this thing she called Plasma Fruit.
Information was the only weapon I really had against Merrick and others like him. I began to see them everywhere in Bridgeport…even little children vampires. I couldn’t keep me from being hunted, but I could prevent them from being successful.
My life was looking up. I got another promotion in short order. Suddenly people in the world of business knew my name. It was odd to be recognized by people. I got invited to corporate parties in the Bridgeport Heights. However, I didn’t let my new celebrity go to my head. I was determined to put my party girl image behind me. Even though I attended the parties, I made sure I kept things professional.
And then the unexpected happened. My brother and his band mates arrived at my doorstep. Literally, they came to my apartment and asked to be buzzed in. Maybe I wouldn’t have let them in if I had known that they would suddenly be a permanent addition to my household.
“Kindra!” my little brother Ronald came in and gave me a huge hug. He had gotten so manly and big! And his hair! I was shocked to see how much he had changed.
“Ron! My goodness your hair is blue! Dad must have had little pink kittens when he saw it.”
“He wasn’t speaking to me, so I wouldn’t know. I moved out after I decided to become a musician. Dad didn’t approve.” I could imagine. I knew Dad wasn’t going to be happy with Ron’s decision.
I turned to Ron’s friends. I was actually happy to see Caleb. I had forgotten how much he had also grown before I left Twinbrook. I knew that he had become a musician, too, but I had been so caught up in my own life that I hadn’t really seen the sort of man he had turned out to be.
“Thanks for inviting us up, Kindra. You’ve got a nice little apartment here,” Caleb said. He looked around at my cramped little studio. It was clean, but it was definitely small.
“Hello Alana,” I greeted Ronald’s girlfriend. We hadn’t gotten along much before I moved. I was civil to her, but we weren’t friendly.
“Kindra,” she said. She looked around at my living area, too. I could see her assessing the space—my love seat, my thrift-store bed separated from the living area by a small screen. She noted the small kitchen and old tables.
“This isn’t going to work,” she said.
“Hush, Alana,” Caleb admonished her.
“What’s not going to work?” I asked.
“Well,” Ronald tugged at the ridiculous collar he had around his neck. “Remember when you said I could come stay with you in Bridgeport if Dad kicked me out?”
I remembered. I laughed. “Sure. But you can’t be serious. Alana is right. This isn’t going to work.”
“It will work at least for a few nights though, wouldn’t it?” Caleb asked. He rubbed at the back of his neck. “We haven’t got a place to stay and barely any money,” he said. “We hocked everything but our instruments just to get here.”
Reluctantly I agreed to let them crash with me until they had found work and started earning money. A week, maybe three, was all I thought it would be.
Sleeping arrangements were the hardest. There was only one bed and a very small couch. We took turns using the bed and rotated who slept with whom and who got the couch. I found out that Ronald and Alana were engaged. The two of them slept together. I also slept with my brother occasionally and so did Caleb. Caleb was often the odd man out. Ron wouldn’t let him sleep with Alana or me, which I thought was ridiculous, but I was sort of uncomfortable sleeping with Caleb, so I didn’t argue.
The three of them called themselves the ARC, which was the combination of the initials of their first names. They all had jobs at the theatre within a few days, but they also went out on the street to try to raise extra money and to try and gain a little fame.
I got to know Alana a little better and I found out that she wasn’t going to marry my brother unless they had a hit song. As an ambitious person myself, I could only admire her zeal. I thought they were pretty good. Chances were that here in Bridgeport they probably would make a name for themselves.
Weeks turned into a month, though, and the band wasn’t getting any gigs. They often had a lot of people stop and listen to them, but no one wanted to hire them. Ron and Alana changed their looks to try to be more hip, but the electric blue Mohawk and her pink streaked braids did not bring in more recognition.
Pretty soon a month turned into two and we were all pretty comfortable living in such tight quarters. It wasn’t unusual to see one or more of us walking around in our night clothes. We also didn’t care who we slept with. Whoever got to the bed first got it. None of us ever seemed to get a full night’s rest.
Of course there were benefits to having more people in the house. For example, I no longer had to eat burned waffles. Ronald was a pretty good cook. Dad and Mom had both encouraged him to learn. I had never really bothered, so it was nice not to have to suffer through my attempts. Also, Caleb was pretty handy. He was able to fix both the sink and the shower which saved us a lot of money since we didn’t have to call a repair person.
There were also some downsides besides the cramped sleeping arrangements. We were all a little sexually frustrated. You couldn’t really be intimate in the apartment. This frustrated Ron and Alana a lot more than it did me, though. They figured out ways to be together, however. Alana told me of a steamy incident in the elevator of our building, for example. It was more than I wanted to know about my baby brother.
Even though I had sworn off men, it was getting a bit difficult living with two of them…especially one that I used to like back when I was in high school. Spending so much time with Caleb—especially sleeping with him—I couldn’t help but notice him as a man. He was always there, you know? I’d walk into the kitchen and see him fiddling with the computer. I’d grab breakfast and he’d get his own a plate and sit across from me. He’d do nice things for me like fix my computer when I broke it.
I’m not sure when friendship became attraction, but suddenly I was wildly attracted to my roommate, and I didn’t know what to do about it. He didn’t act the slightest bit interested in me. Everything we did together was always just friends.
I also had another reason to be worried about an attraction to Caleb. Two reasons, actually. One was Charlie. I’m sure that Caleb and Ron both knew about him, but they probably just thought that Mina and Kris had adopted a baby. They didn’t know that the baby was mine. The second reason was Barry and Buster and Merrick and all of the rest of the men that I had been with before my brother and his band showed up at my door. I was pretty sure that Caleb wouldn’t like the girl that I was during that time.
I found myself paralyzed with fear and indecision when it came to Caleb. I wanted him, but I was afraid that he didn’t or wouldn’t want me back.
Caleb’s point of view:
Caleb was worried that he and the band had made a huge mistake in coming to Bridgeport. Kindra’s small apartment would be too cramped for them to live in. But he had little choice now but to live with his error and hope that Kindra wouldn’t think badly of him.
He was surprised when Kindra didn’t seem to mind having them all in her small apartment. After awhile, they all sort of got used to living together and sleeping together. At first Caleb had a hard time. He wanted to sleep next to Kindra, but he was afraid that he would give himself away if he did. But they were just friends. He learned to mask his feelings for her and even almost convinced himself that he didn’t want her more than anything.
The hardest part about lying next to her was waking up. In the morning when she was all soft and sleep-tussled, he had to fight his body’s response to her. It was even harder if one or the other of them had rolled over and cuddled while they were asleep. Caleb felt like they fit together perfectly and wished that Kindra felt the same way. But he made himself roll away from her so she wouldn’t notice his desire.
Things with the band hadn’t gone as easily as he had hoped, either. They worked for months before they got their first gig. At least at the theatre they were getting promoted. Caleb hoped that it was just a matter of time before someone noticed them as more than just a roadie or stagehand.
One night Kindra came down to the theatre to watch Caleb jam outside with Ron, Alana and another guy from work, Buster Rounds. Alana wanted to consider asking Buster to join their group.
Kindra showed up wearing this sexy little strapless dress that Caleb had never seen before. He nearly broke rhythm when he saw her in it. Buster did break rhythm. He stopped playing altogether and approached Kindra in a very familiar way.
“Kindra! Hey Babe, long time no see,” Buster said to her. He leaned in as if for a hug or an air kiss. Kindra leaned away from him, though.
“Buster. What are you doing here?”
“Jamming with ARC…hey, Ronald Fields…are you guys related?”
“He’s my brother.” Kindra’s responses were short and her body language showed that she didn’t want to be talking to Buster. She looked very uncomfortable and slightly angry.
“We should get together some time, Babe. I’ll take you out somewhere,” Buster said. Again, Caleb nearly lost his rhythm. He suddenly wanted to smash Buster’s face. But clearly Kindra was just as annoyed.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere with you Buster if you were the last man on earth! You had your chance, but you were seeing someone else.”
“Hey, now! You know how it is. It was my career, Babe.”
“Don’t call me Babe. I don’t see that you’ve made that much of yourself since we last saw each other, Buster,” Kindra poked Buster in the chest. Caleb loved seeing her get angry and changed the tune he was playing to provide a sort of counterpoint to the argument. He saw that both Ron and Alana were just as curious as he was.
“In fact,” Kindra continued, “I think my name is more well-known than yours and I’m not even some fancy musician or actor. I’m just a business woman.”
Buster tried to defend himself against Kindra, but she just insulted him some more and then told him to get lost. Caleb knew that ARC would not be adding Buster to the band any time soon. It would have been nice to have a fourth, but not that man. Now all Caleb wanted to know was how Buster and Kindra knew each other and what had happened. If Buster had treated her badly, Caleb was prepared to beat him up. Ron would join in, too.
The next day Ronald and Alana stayed late at the theatre and then went out to dinner. They were feeling a little cramped in the apartment. Ron had told Caleb that he was getting a little frustrated at having no privacy. He and Alana needed to reconnect, if Caleb caught his drift. Caleb decided to take the opportunity of being alone with Kindra to ask her about Buster.
“So, what happened between you and Rounds, Kindra? We all saw you bust his chops last night. Did he stand you up for a date or something?” Caleb asked.
Kindra looked uncomfortable. She hesitated before she answered. “We went out once,” Kindra said. Then she shook her head. “No, that’s not quite right. We got trapped in an elevator,” she corrected.
“You had elevator sex with him!?” Caleb was shocked.
“But he came back here with me and we talked for a few hours. It got so late that we were both tired. I told him he could stay the night.”
“So you didn’t…” Caleb’s voice trailed off.
“We didn’t that night, no. But the next day…” Kindra’s head drooped. Caleb could tell she was really embarrassed.
“Don’t judge me, ok? I liked him. I thought he was sweet. We were sleeping and spooning and when we woke up we sort of drifted together. You know how mornings are…” This time Kindra’s voice trailed off. “Or maybe you don’t.”
Caleb couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Kindra and Buster. He wanted to go kick the guy’s ass. He wanted to shake her. She had been with Buster! He loved her and she had been with that jerk.
“Caleb. It was nothing. Really.”
“You slept with him. That’s not nothing.”
“It was one night…morning. He had a girlfriend. He only slept with me to ‘thank me’ or so he said. It was humiliating.”
Caleb really wanted to beat the guy into a pulp. The next time he saw Buster he was going to kill him. Kindra looked so devastated. He couldn’t take it.
“God, I’m sorry Kindra. I will beat him up for you. Then I’ll let Ron kill him.”
“Do you hate me?”
“No. I couldn’t ever hate you.”
Caleb ran his hands through his hair. Then he remembered something else Kindra had said. “Maybe I don’t what?” He asked her. She looked confused.
“You said something about mornings and that I wouldn’t understand…”
“Oh, that.” Kindra actually blushed. “You know. Mornings. When we’re together in bed. You don’t seem to be…um…affected by that.” She waved her hand in the general area of his middle. Caleb looked down and then comprehension dawned on him.
“You think I…” He stared into her eyes for a second and then he yanked her towards him and kissed her with all of the pent up passion he had held back for years.