"Too many futures."Three days of being stuck at home alone was all that Brenna could take. Her father had his work and Amy filling his time. Grace kept busy working two jobs to raise money for her move to LA and reading ahead for her fall classes while still juggling time with her friends. Her visiting family left for home Sunday evening, leaving the house quiet again. With her van crushed, Brenna couldn't leave the house without bothering Missy. Even her sewing starting to be tedious, especially with no way to get out to a craft show or a small convention to sell the results. Joni hadn't reappeared after the fight, worrying Brenna a bit, but without being able to get to Bert Stanford's building, she couldn't just assume her mother had finally moved on. She also didn't want to know if her mother was getting friendly with Bert; it was bad enough that Brenna's own sex drive was overactive, she didn't want to know that her mother's was still working.
"Get off me, fluff."
"Get out of my body!"
"What part of 'No one dies,' did you not get?"
Brenna read over the same set of instructions for an intricate dress for a fashion doll for what felt like the hundredth time. She compared the photo on her print out to her work in progress, trying to see what went wrong this time around. Somehow, her dress came out looking lopsided. Before she could throw the dress down in disgust, the doorbell rang. Brenna set down her sewing before running to the door. "Missy, you got my--" She cut herself off on seeing Matt on the front porch. "Matt! I was, well, um, you're not, no, this is a surprise and . . . hi!"
Matt gave Brenna a warm smile. "Hi, Bren. Are you busy?"
Brenna felt her cheeks grow warm. "I was just sewing but no. No, not busy. At all."
"I owe you a proper dinner out still."
"Dinner?" Brenna looked down at her t-shirt and skirt. "I'm not dressed properly for dinner. And it's not even two."
"I finally got some time off work." Matt shrugged. "But if you're busy, I can call later."
"No, not busy! I just, gah!"
"It's nothing fancy, just a pub I like, and it'll be quiet right now."
Brenna slipped on her shoes. "Sure! Um, I need my purse." She dashed up to her room, leaving Matt at the door. Her purse was where she left it, on her nightstand. Brenna grabbed it and a pill from her prescription. She downed the pill without water before running back downstairs. "Sorry."
Matt laughed. "Don't worry, Bren. There's no need to rush."
"I just need to get out. I miss my van."
"We can talk about it at the pub, okay? Along with everything else that we need to discuss."
Brenna followed Matt to his car. He opened the door for her, closing it once she had settled into her seat. Brenna reached out and felt the dashboard through her cotton gloves. Part of her wanted to learn more about Matt through the car; that part was shouted down by saner portions that wanted to keep Matt's secrets his until he shared them with her.
After a quiet twenty minute ride through town, Matt slowed to a stop outside Nellie's, a small bar taking up the last unit of a short strip mall. Brenna hopped out of the car before Matt could open the door for her. He led her inside. Soft Top 40 music greeted Brenna and Matt as they approached the hostess, who just gestured for them to choose a table. There wasn't much of a crowd; the early afternoon meant that the regulars would still be working.
Matt led Brenna to a table for two along the wall. They made idle chit-chat while waiting for the waitress to take their order. Brenna ordered a veggie wrap with the soup of the day while Matt decided on fish and chips. Once the waitress left, Matt leaned closer. "Well."
"Well?" Brenna tried to meet Matt's eyes with her own.
"How are you feeling? I mean, after what happened, are you okay?"
"Yeah. I mean, Saturday was nowhere near normal for anyone, but I'm good." Brenna shrugged. "Aunt Dawn helped. A lot."
"What about your sister?"
"Grace is fine. Aura healed her after what I did to her."
Matt took Brenna's hands into his. "But you weren't you."
"Still my body and my Blade." Brenna gave Matt's hands a soft squeeze. "I shouldn't be that easy to possess."
"Just like at the haunted fort?"
"Yeah. It's not fun being a passenger in your own body. I should've been able to fight back."
"But you did."
"Only because of you." Brenna's cheeks started turning pink.
"I just did what your cousins said. I guess I have an affect on you?"
Brenna's blush deepened. She ducked her head. "Well, yeah. Look, Matt, my family, we're not what anyone would call normal. You saw, right?"
Matt nodded. "That doesn't matter, Bren."
"Oh? Grace sees the future. It's why she stepped in to fight me. She said that I would've killed everyone else."
"Bren, I know you too well. You couldn't dissect anything in biology class. And you fought back."
"Only because I knew my body better."
The waitress returned with the orders. Brenna and Matt sat up to let the server put down the plates. She winked at Matt before returning to her other duties. Brenna arched an eyebrow. "Okay, what was that?"
"What was what?"
"She winked at you."
Matt laughed, a little nervous. "That's just Tillie."
"I saw her name tag."
"I come here often while she's working."
Brenna folded her arms across her chest. "I see."
"It's not like that." Matt picked up the bottle of vinegar. "First, I'm not her type. Second, she's already in a complicated relationship. Third, she's not my type."
"Then why the wink?"
Matt splashed some vinegar on his fries. "Because I asked her for advice. About you. About how to not come on too strong so I don't frighten you away."
"Oh." Brenna stared at her veggie wrap. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"I didn't think you were the jealous type."
"I didn't think so, either." Brenna picked up a spoon.
"Brenna, it's okay, you know? We still have to learn about each other, right?"
"And, I'll admit, I really have no idea of you and your abilities and what you're expected to do with them. But I'm willing to listen." Matt popped a fry into his mouth.
"And you won't think it's weird?"
Matt laughed. "Oh, no, it's weird, even after those skeletons. But I won't think you're weird."
Brenna smiled. "Okay, then." Her smile disappeared as a stern look replaced it. "But if I tell you not to kill someone, listen to me."
"I'll listen to the expert, definitely."
"Good." Brenna ate a spoonful of her soup. "That nornally doesn't come up. I work with ghosts, not possessed evil businesswomen."
"So what did that thing want, anyway?"
Brenna shrugged. "He never told me. Grace said that she saw him summoning his own army and creating a kingdom of demons here in San Diego. Aunt Dawn said that was impossible, though. Then the arguing got loud so Rae and I disappeared."
"Disappeared? Like, turned invisible?"
"I borrowed Dad's car and got away from the rest of the family. Rae might be visiting again in July. If she does, we may have to be careful. She picks up on emotions easily."
Matt nodded. "I'll keep that in mind."
"And until I can get a new car or van, I'm kinda stuck at home. Dad's dealing with the insurance, but 'crushed by an evil sorceress' isn't the sort of thing that's easily explained. And the van had so much space, enough to--" Brenna sputtered as she realized where her train of thought was going. "Yeah, getting ahead of myself." Her cheeks turned crimson.
Matt's own face became flushed as well. "Maybe a little. Let's try a movie night first, okay? No need to rush."
"Thanks." Brenna struggled to regain her composure. "Just remind me of that, okay?"
Matt reached over to hold Brenna's free hand. "We'll make this work. I promise." He felt the fabric of Brenna's glove. "I've always wondered why you wore gloves. In high school, it seemed like a fashion statement, but I don't think I've seen you without them."
"One of my abilities is to pick up impressions of anything I touch. The more intense the emotions involved, the easier it is to read. So, I cover up the best I can. Even a casual brush can get awkward. I have to bring my own bedding to hotels just to be able to sleep."
"At Gettysburg, I brushed against an item on display with my bare arm and saw a few minutes of the battle."
Matt's eyes widened. "That intense."
Brenna stared at Matt. "Regular laundry helps."
"Gotcha." Matt took back his hand. "We've got a lot to learn about each other."
"I haven't scared you off yet?"
Matt smiled. "If Saturday didn't scare me, nothing will."