"Let me show you our latest blade."When Brenna woke up again, the sun had long set. Her room caught some of the soft glow of the street light. Brenna rolled out of bed feeling a little better than earlier. She changed clothes, putting on a cream linen skirt and a long-sleeved black blouse, then returned downstairs. From the living room, she heard Grace laughing at some sitcom on TV.
"Gracie, you've always been the outgoing one while I hid beside Dad."
"What did Brenna call you this time, Grace?"
Brenna walked into the kitchen, wanting a bit of privacy. She checked the time on the microwave's clock; a little past nine o'clock. The young brunette sighed; she had wanted up earlier. She didn't like the idea of calling Matt while he was on duty, but she really felt the need to talk to him. With reluctance, she dialled Matt's cell phone number.
Matt's phone rang once, twice before he picked up. "Hello?"
"Hi, Matt, it's Brenna."
"Hey, Bren. I'm on duty, so I can't talk long. What's up?"
Brenna felt her heart beat faster. "I know, Matt. I was wondering when your dinner break was. Maybe I could meet you during it and maybe chat for a bit?"
"Are you sure, Bren? My break, if I'm lucky, will be around one in the morning. Won't that be late for you?"
"Not really. It's not like I have work in the morning. And," Brenna paused, building up her nerve. "And, I'd really like to see you again."
"Sure, okay. I was going to hit a drive-through somewhere anyway. Do you remember where I pulled you over?"
"Near the freeway exit, yes."
"Just a little further down from there is a White Castle. I should be there around one. If not, wait for me. I'll probably be on a call if I'm late. I'll call you if I can't make it."
"White Castle, at one. I can't wait to see you again, Matt."
"I better go. Traffic's picking up. See you later tonight, Bren." Matt hung up.
Brenna set the handset down. She smiled, something went her way. She heard applause behind her. The young brunette whirled around. Grace stood at the kitchen doorway, clapping with enthusiasm. "What?" Brenna demanded. She felt her cheeks grow warm.
"My tiny sister's growing up." Grace swept Brenna into a hug. "I am so proud of you!"
"Get off!" Brenna struggled to escape. "Gracie, get off!"
"Soon, you will be a woman." Grace kissed the top of Brenna's head. "Should we have The Talk now?"
"Let go of me! Damn it, Grace!"
Grace gave her sister one final squeeze before letting her go. "I think we're even, now."
Brenna re-adjusted her shirt, then gave her younger sister a glare. "How much did you hear?"
"Enough to know that you have no idea of what a romantic dining experience is." Grace sat down on a stool. "Really, White Castle? Do I have to teach you everything?"
"It's none of your business."
"Until you call me in the middle of the night weeping because you either had sex with Officer Matt or got so flustered you ran away."
Brenna rolled her eyes. "None of that is going to happen, Grace."
Grace stood back up. "Better not. I want to sleep through the night. And don't think about waking up Dad, either."
"Nothing's going to go wrong tonight, Grace. I just want to talk to Matt." Brenna pulled open the fridge. "What's so flipping special about that?"
"Nothing, apparently. I have to wonder if it's nothing big then why are you yelling at me?"
"I don't know!" Brenna turned to face her sister. "Maybe because I don't like people prying into what little love life I have."
"I'm only prying because I don't want to see you hurt!"
"I'm not going to get hurt!" Brenna slammed the fridge door closed.
"Good!" Grace turned on her heel. "I don't know why I bother."
Brenna closed her eyes. "Gracie, wait."
"What?" Grace snarled.
"Thank you. You know, for putting up with me. You really deserve a different sister."
"Yes, I do. And so do you, but we have each other." Grace shrugged. "What can you do? Other than get me a Pepsi when you're done." She left the kitchen. Brenna shook her head at her sister's audacity. She reopened the fridge and grabbed two cans of cola, successfully fighting the temptation to get the wrong type for Grace.
Grace went to bed shortly before midnight. The girls' father still hadn't returned home despite having work in the morning. Brenna shoved her misgivings out of her mind. She was the child, not him. What he did was his business. Thoroughly unconvinced and now annoyed with herself, Brenna grabbed her car keys and a jacket, and left.
In the Savana, she took the last of the samples Dr. Womack had given her. Brenna gave the pill a moment to settle before she started the engine. With plenty of time to kill before she had to be at the White Castle, the young brunette took the scenic route, driving down to the beach to see if the crowds were still out. Gnarly's Boards still had a few people hanging around outside it despite it supposed to have closed hours ago.
As one o`clock approached, Brenna started heading to her rendezvous. She giggled as she tried to think of the meeting as illicit. The young brunette arrived at the White Castle with time to spare. She maneuvered her van around the building and into the drive-through. At the window, Brenna ordered a large coffee. She paid, then parked the van in the middle of the restaurant's parking lot, thinking that Matt should be able to see her there when he came in.
Brenna sipped her coffee, keeping an eye on the digital clock on the Savana's dashboard. One AM came and went with Brenna still the only sign of life around. She reminded herself that Matt was on duty, that he was probably helping someone and got caught up in his work. He wouldn't forget. Five minutes after one, a car zoomed past, a hatchback of some sort. Ten minutes after and a empty cup of coffee, another car came down the street. It slowed to turn into the drive-through. Brenna sat up. She watched for the vehicle to come around the corner of the building. The car's nose poked around; Brenna recognized the police markings on it and brightened.
The cruiser stopped at the window while its occupant received his order. After a minute or two, the clerk handed a bag and a large drink to the officer. The police car pulled away, only to turn into the parking lot and stop beside Brenna's van. "Hi, Bren," Matt said.
Brenna opened her door. "Hi, Matt."
"Sorry I'm late." Matt got out of his cruiser. "I had to help some tourists who got lost find their way to their hotel. Have you been waiting long?"
"No, not at all." Brenna beamed a smile. "I really wanted to see you again." She swung her legs out so they dangled outside.
Matt returned the smile. "Again, not quite the dinner I had in mind. Bren, I promise, once I'm off this shift again, I'll take you out for a proper dinner."
Brenna looked around. "This has its charms. Not many people around."
"Hard to have candlelight on the hood of a car, though."
Matt unwrapped his hamburger. "Aren't intimate dinners supposed to have candles and soft music?"
"I guess. I never really thought about it." Brenna slipped off her seat and landed on the ground. "Matt, I know this is really too soon to be talking about some of this stuff, but I need it out in the open."
"It's about what happened to you in high school, right?" Matt took a bite of his burger.
Brenna shrugged. "I guess you could say that."
"Did someone hurt you?"
"No, nothing like that."
"Are you sure, Brenna? You changed in Grade 10. I remember you starting to sit in the corner, surrounded by Krista and Missy."
"I'm sure, Matt. It's just that when Mom died, she left me something that took me time to adjust to."
Matt set his food down. "You lost your mom, Bren. I imagine it's still affecting you."
"Not the way you're thinking." Brenna leaned against her Savana. "Matt, do you believe in ghosts?"
"Ghosts? I suppose. Especially after some of those class field trips were on. When we went to Gettysburg, I saw you having conversations with thin air. Then there's that one time at the old haunted fort when you started acting weird and your mother took you aside."
Brenna blushed, hoping the dim lighting hid her reaction from Matt. "Yeah, I remember those. Well, I remember Gettysburg."
"Things like that make sense if you believe ghosts were involved. Otherwise, someone would think you were crazy, and I don't believe you are, Bren." Matt took a long sip of his soft drink. "Why? What does this have to do with what happened in high school? Is your mother haunting you?"
"It's what she left for me, Matt." Brenna took a deep breath. "I'm the latest in a line of ghost hunters. Everyone in the family gets some stupid power that's supposed to help."
"And you got the ability to see ghosts?" Brenna couldn't hear any note of disbelief in Matt's tone.
"Does this mean the school was haunted and that's why you acted strangely?"
"There's more, Matt. I don't know if I should tell you or show you."
Matt stood up. "Show me? Show me what, Bren?"
Brenna pushed herself away from her van. She held her right arm out to her side, away from Matt. "Watch." She concentrated for a moment. The Soul Blade appeared, a soft glow lighting the shadows.
Matt took a couple of steps towards Brenna. "What is that? Bren, how long have you been able to do that?"
"Since Mom died." Brenna pointed the Blade at the ground. "Mom called it the Soul Blade, because her mom also called it that. Careful. It affects living people, too."
Matt held his hands up. "Not going to touch it."
"Anyway, I get this even though Mom thought Gracie would. It comes with the responsibility to help ghosts move along to wherever they're supposed to. But, since I can talk to ghosts already, I usually don't need the Blade. It's only when they forget why they're still around that I use it."
"Cool. But why are you showing me?"
Brenna dismissed the Blade, its light fading into the darkness. "The Blade is usually passed mother to daughter, and it, well, how can I put it?"
"It wants heirs. From what I've read and from what Mom and Grace have told me, the Blade prefers that a mother prepare her daughters to receive it."
"Heirs? As in children?" Matt shook his head. "How?"
"The usual way, Matt. A man and a woman and all that."
"No, Bren, I mean, how can it demand?"
Brenna shrugged. "I don't know. It's not like it's alive and living in me. It's more like having a little more me in me. For whatever reason, I have two settings to it. One just shocks people."
"Like a taser?" Matt suggested, trying to find a way to relate.
"Sure. Like a taser. Strong-willed people, like Gracie, tend to feel it but aren't stunned by it."
"And the other setting?"
"Lethal. The Blade even turns blood red. But Mom only had the one colour, an electric blue."
Matt smiled. "You never liked violence, Bren. Maybe that's why the Blade has two settings for you."
"That's what I think, too." Brenna rested against her van. "It makes the most sense, really. Assuming any of this makes any sense to you."
"You'd be surprised, Bren."
"Anyway, the heirs. The Blade will give not so subtle nudges when someone suitable is around. It makes going out in public interesting."
"Do you know the feeling you get when you see someone incredibly attractive? Multiply that by ten." Brenna looked down at the ground. "Then add being incredibly shy and withdrawn and mix in all the crap of high school."
"Geez, Bren. I didn't know."
"No one did, really. Right now, only Dad and Grace, Krista and Missy, my doctor, and now you know about it."
Matt nodded as he absorbed the information. "I'm just wondering one thing now, though. If you have to be careful around guys so you don't have your way with them, why are you standing over there?" The young officer smirked. "Should I feel complimented or insulted?"
Brenna flushed red. "Oh, well, um, my doctor, she found something that kind of helps. A little. It's not that I wouldn't-- I mean, I'd like to, but, not here, of course, but, you know." She cut herself off and breathed deeply. "I've got medication. A prescription. From my doctor."
"It's okay, Bren. Though it explains the kiss the last time I drove you home."
"Not really. I mean, the pill was wearing off by then, but I had some control, sort of. I wanted to kiss you. I just got carried away. Sorry."
"Don't apologize, Brenna. I wasn't exactly complaining."
"I know. But Matt, and I know this is too early to even think about, if we start dating, things are going to be weird around me. I don't want to scare you off, but it's something that needs to be said. And," Brenna sighed, "I like you. A lot." She tried to smile.
"I like you, too, Brenna." Matt walked over to stand beside the brunette. "We don't have to rush into anything, okay?"
"Thanks, Matt." Brenna stood on her tiptoes and kissed Matt's cheek. "I should let you go back to work so you don't get into trouble over me."
"Don't worry about it Bren." He gave his former classmate a quick hug. "Some things are worth the trouble." Matt returned to his cruiser. "You, however, should get to bed. You probably have a busy day tomorrow and it is late."
Brenna climbed back into her van. "See you again?"
"I'll call you."
Brenna returned straight home and went right to bed. She curled up under her covers, enjoying the warmth. Meeting with Matt left her smiling as sleep overcame her.
"Bren, half of the people here are going to disappear at the merest whiff of the police around and never come back."
"I don't suppose you know how long it takes to remove all the bones from a fresh corpse, do you?"
"Your 'totally hot' friend has the book."
"The long term potential from the bitch's death is incalculable."