"What do I have to be afraid of?"Matt let his car coast to a stop in front of Brenna's home. Brenna unbuckled her seat belt and turned to face him. "Thanks for dinner again, Matt. It was nice spending time with you."
"I know what I want and will do anything to go after it."
"Oh, Tiger, that's too long to wait."
"It's going to be a surprise."
"It's great seeing you again, Bren. We need to do this again. Maybe next time you can show me the dress you bought."
"I'd like that." Brenna smiled at the thought.
Matt leaned over and kissed Brenna on the cheek. Seeing her shocked look, he said, "Not what you were expecting."
"No." Brenna reached with her left arm, taking Matt by the shoulder. As she pulled him closer, she said, "I was hoping for something more like this." She kissed him hungrily on the lips, allowing her wants to consume her. She felt Matt's arms wrap around her, holding her in a tight but gentle hug. His tongue probed along her lips; she let his meet hers. Matt's hands slipped under her t-shirt, caressing her skin. Brenna shivered under his touch.
She finally broke away from Matt to catch her breath. Her chest heaved as she gasped for air. "Oh, God, Matt." Brenna looked up into his eyes. "Matt, I--"
"Still waters, huh, Bren?"
Brenna giggled nervously. "I guess that was unexpected."
"I should go. I have work in the morning and I have this feeling that if I stayed any longer, I'd never leave. Not that it'd be a bad thing." Matt kissed Brenna lightly. "I'll call you."
Brenna got out of the young officer's Accord. "I'll be here." She closed the door and stepped back. As Matt drove away well below the limit, Brenna watched until he was out of sight. She sighed.
Hearing the front door close, Brenna turned around. Her father walked across the manicured lawn. "I thought I heard a car pull up."
"Matt just left, Daddy."
"I know, sweetie," Gary said. "I also heard him drive away."
"We were just saying goodbye, Daddy."
Gary reached out and adjusted his daughter's t-shirt, pulling it down at the back. "I see."
Brenna blushed. "I can explain, Daddy."
"So can I, Brenna. I've been in Matt's place before."
"Are you going to see him again?"
"I hope so." Brenna felt a wistfulness for Matt growing in her.
Gary smiled. He wrapped an arm around Brenna and led her to the house. "My little girl's growing up."
"Does this mean I have to get my own ice cream now?"
"I think it means you have to get me ice cream."
Father and daughter entered the house. "Okay, Daddy," Brenna said. "And then you can tell me about your new girlfriend."
"My new what?"
Brenna led her father into the kitchen. "Daddy, you don't have to hide her from me." She got out the ice cream and two bowls and spoons. "I heard her laughing when I called you, remember?"
Gary sat down at the table. "She's a friend from work."
"Kiss friends from work much?" Brenna scooped ice cream into the bowls.
Brenna brought the bowls of ice cream to the table, setting one in front of her father. "I saw you kissing her when she brought you home a few days ago."
Gary blushed. "I didn't know you were watching."
"I heard the car stop outside." Brenna smiled as she sat down. "Daddy, it's okay. I understand, kind of. You've got Gracie and me, but we're your girls. You deserve someone special in your life."
"And here I thought you were going to be the more difficult between you two." Gary started eating his ice cream.
Brenna shrugged. "Does Gracie know about her?"
"You were the first to notice."
"Daddy!" Brenna leveled a stare at her father. "Keeping secrets, really. You really have to introduce your girlfriend to us. Before Gracie's graduation."
"Yes, dear. Speaking of the graduation, you're going, right?"
"Of course. Gracie's worked so hard. I wouldn't miss it."
"And what about the family party afterward? Even Dawn and her family are coming down."
"I'll be there, Daddy. Don't worry."
The next morning found Brenna waking up early. She dashed downstairs, hoping to see her father off to work. Her father sat at the kitchen table, dressed for work in a polo shirt and khaki pants, finishing a piece of toast. Grace sat in a red UC San Diego t-shirt and black sweatpants across from him, poking at a bowl of cereal. Gary looked up as Brenna took a seat. "Oh, good, everyone's up." He looked over at Grace. "Mostly."
"Morning, Bren," Grace mumbled.
"What's up, Daddy?" Brenna asked.
"I'd like the two of you to be here when I get home today," Gary said. "And then I want you both to find somewhere else to go for a few hours."
Grace raised her head. "Huh?"
"No problem, Daddy."
"Wait, Bren, yes there is a problem. Dad, you're kicking us out of the house?"
"Only for the evening, Gracie. Besides, you've been out past midnight all this week. What's one more day?"
Grace set down her spoon. "I was going to stay home, though."
"And do what?" Brenna grabbed an orange from the fruit bowl on the table. "Paint your toenails?"
"Me, Piper, and Yesi, we were going to head out early to head up the coast tomorrow. You can't just kick me out."
"Gracie, how often do I ask you to get out of the house?"
"Well, when can we come back home, Daddy?" Brenna asked, hoping to broker a peace.
"Can you girls give me until eleven tonight?"
Brenna turned to her sister. "Gracie?"
Grace glared at Brenna. "Sure. Eleven. I can do that."
"Sure, Daddy. I'll find something to do."
Gary glanced at the microwave's clock. "I better go. You girls be good today, okay?"
"Yes, Daddy," Brenna said. Grace only huffed.
Gary grabbed the last piece of his toast, then left the table. A few moments later, the front door closed. Grace fumed in silence for a couple of minutes before exploding. "I can't believe you, Brenna."
"What?" Brenna started removing the rind off her orange.
"Maybe I wanted to invite people over tonight?"
"I didn't know. Why didn't you say anything?"
"Because you jumped in and asked when we could come back home. Daddy's Princess much?"
Brenna rolled her eyes. "Grace, you said you wanted an early night. Where are you going?"
"Why?" Brenna shuddered.
"Don't tell Dad. Or anyone else."
"I won't. I promise."
"We, me and Yesi and Piper, are looking for an apartment to share for the fall."
Brenna cocked her head. "But I thought you . . . no way!"
Grace grinned. "Yep!"
Brenna squealed. She got up and ran around the table to hug her baby sister. "Congrats, Gracie! I knew you could do it. Oh, wow, this . . . this is amazing!"
"But you can't tell anyone. Not until I make the announcement at Dad's party."
Letting her sister free, Brenna crossed her heart. "Not a word. To anyone. I promise."
"Good." Grace picked up her spoon again. "Have you told Dad about the attack yesterday?"
"No, and I'm not going to." Brenna returned to her chair. "It'll just worry him for no reason."
"Didn't he ask where your van was when you got home?"
"No. I had a ride."
"You still didn't have the van, Bren. How did you get home?"
"I had a ride," Brenna repeated. "Matt brought me home after dinner."
"Ooh, Matt." Grace leaned forward over her cereal bowl. "So, did you, you know . . .?"
Brenna flushed a little. "We kissed."
"Kissed? That's it? Not even a little groping?
"There wasn't much room in his front seat for that. We kissed. A lot."
Grace sat back. "You made out. Wow, Brenna. Way to keep it family friendly."
"There wasn't enough space to do anything else. And Matt had to go home so he could get into work today."
Brenna picked up her orange. "Believe what you want. I'm going to get dressed." She left the kitchen and returned to her room. Like Gracie knew what happened last night, Brenna thought. She wasn't there, she didn't see anything, and, damn, could Matt kiss. And the Blade . . . the Blade's need to an heir wasn't affecting her last night. The kiss, the poor attempt at flirting, all that was purely her, purely Brenna. If only she could figure out what she was supposed to do.
Pushing the thoughts aside, Brenna picked out her clothes for the day. Her favourite jean skirt sat hung over the back of a chair, the long gash in it mocking the young brunette. Brenna changed out of her bed clothes into a linen blouse and a pair of faded blue jeans. She grabbed the skirt and examined the tear. The edges showed signs of fraying already. Brenna decided that she'd have to patch the skirt before she could wear it again.
A knock came from her door. Brenna tossed the torn skirt on her bed before answering the door. Grace stood in the hall. "Visitor for you." She turned to leave.
Brenna reached out to grab her sister's shoulder. "Oh no you don't. Not this time."
"Who is it, Grace?"
The younger blonde shook out of her sister's grip. "Matt. Something about your van."
Brenna pushed her sister aside and ran downstairs. "Matt!" she said on seeing the young officer in uniform standing in the door frame. "Hi!" She rushed to the front door.
"Hey, Bren." Matt took his hat off before coming further inside. "Just got word that your van can be picked up. I can drive you there if you want."
"Sure! Let me get my pur-- Never mind, it's in the van, too. I'll let Grace know I'm going out." Brenna returned to the foot of the stairs. "Grace!" she called upstairs. "I'm going out for a bit."
"Okay," Grace yelled back. "Don't be late tonight!"
"I won't!" Brenna walked back to Matt. "Sorry."
Matt smiled. "No problem. Sounds like being back home."
Brenna ushered Matt, closing the door behind her. "You have brothers and sisters?"
"One of each. There's always someone yelling like that."
"Do you still live at home?"
Matt shook his head. "I've got a small apartment. I go home time to time, help the folks out, work with Dad on what should be my car, but, really? I love the quiet of my own place." He opened the patrol cruiser's passenger door for Brenna.
"Thanks." Brenna slipped inside.
Matt closed the door, then walked around the cruiser to get in on the driver's side. He set his hat on the dashboard. "Bren, I don't ever remember seeing you wear jeans before."
Brenna glanced down at her legs. "No?"
"No. In school, you always had those long skirts on, except for gym class."
"I guess." Brenna shrugged.
Matt put the car into gear. "Those look good on you."
"Thanks." Brenna felt the cruiser's interior. "This isn't what I imagined a police car to be like."
"I blame The Blues Brothers."
"You've seen The Blues Brothers?"
Brenna nodded. "I love the music."
"I have it on DVD if you ever want to come over to see it."
"I'd love to!"
"It might not be right away, though. Next week, my shift switches back to nights."
"That's okay, Matt. You've got my number, right?"
"I do, yes." Matt turned into the impound year. He stopped to show the guard his ID. "She's here to pick up her van, the purple GMC Savana."
The guard nodded, then hit the switch to open the gate. Matt drove through to park the cruiser. "Bren, you have your keys?"
Brenna patted her pocket. "I've got my spare."
"Good. I'll go track down the van. Stay here. And watch out for Killer."
"What have I told you about driving while looking for ghosts?"
"Excuse me for being busy trying not to get stabbed at the time."
"My partner, however, would like to talk to your sister again."
"Gory death left local man boneless."