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"Hey, boys. Glad to see you two could make it as soon as you did." she said. Her voice had huskiness to it, but was still nicely toned and womanly.
The second she spoke, a strange feeling came up inside me. For some reason it came to my mind that I either knew or had heard somebody who had the same or a similar voice to the lady in front of me. I didn't know where, and I didn't know when. But I couldn't shake the feeling that her voice was familiar for some reason.
She looked to me.
"You must be Evan."
"Yes ma'am." I answered.
She nodded, giving Tim a quick impressed look,
then looking back at me.
"Mmmm, and a proper young man at that. But please do me one favor, sweetheart."
"Don't call me ma'am. That's reserved for little old ladies and nuns. I know I'll never qualify for a nun, but I'm hoping I have at least a few more years before I'm little or old."
Michael and Tim both chuckled at her response.
I figured she meant what she'd said to be funny, but seeing them laugh
was reassurance, so I smiled too.
"Okay." I said.
She nodded again once, still smiling, and said,
"Okay." before turning and going to her desk.
"I called the both of you here because I've got some questions I need to ask you, Evan. I thought it would be a good idea if a familiar face came out here with you, so that's why I asked Eze to bring Michael too. I know how strange and crazy the world can be for a Sleeper, so better to make things as normal and comfortable as possible.
And I'm sure she knew how right she was.
Eze was a nice guy and everything, but I was glad Michael was there with
me. If Eze would've come to get just me, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't
have gone willingly.
"Thanks." I said.
"You're welcome. Since you just recently woke up, we'll give The Welcoming a few more days until you make the decision on whether or not you want to get yourself situated with a Family, or you become a Roamer."
"He's made the decision to stay with my Family. We just need the approval of the others first." Michael spoke up.
"Well I hope you get those approvals. Mike has himself a pretty good Family. One of the few good young ones that don't go around here acting like their heads aren't screwed on straight." Miss E said.
"I hope so too."
"Well, let's get this show on the road. Evan, if you could have a seat right here in front of the desk. Mike, if I could have you go with Tim and wait in his office for me please?"
I started to get a little bit worried with her making Michael leave the room. What was she about to ask me? Was it that deep that Michael couldn't be in the room to hear it? I hoped I wasn't in trouble. Please don't let me be in trouble.
It only took a couple of seconds for Tim and Michael to leave me and Miss E alone. I took a seat in front of the desk, like she'd asked me to, in the left chair. It was leather just like the couches and was super comfortable. It felt like it was molding itself to perfectly fit my frame.
I tried to stay relaxed, but the second I saw her
lips get ready to move, panic started rising.
"All right, little man. Some of these questions might sound strange and out of whack, but after I've asked all of them, I'll let you know why I asked them." she started.
Trying to keep up my "no I'm not stressin'"
front up, I tried to swallow down the huge lump currently forming in my
throat, and said,
"What are the names of your mother and father?"
For some reason, I didn't want to answer that. It was like one second I was on the offensive and the next second I was on the defensive. I didn't know this lady and I didn't know why she was asking the questions she was going to ask me. Yeah, she said she'd tell me why afterward. But with me not knowing her (and not having any trust in her), or why she needed the information she was asking about, I wasn't too sure if I should tell her or not.
I only had seconds to figure out if I was going
to tell her or not. For some reason, something told me to tell her
and see what she had to say. Maybe what she'd ask next would let
me know whether it was cool to keep answering, or lock it down and ask
"Dennis and Cheryl Woods." I answered.
"Mother's maiden name?" she asked next, again making me cautious, but I decided to go ahead and tell the truth.
She smiled a bit and sat back in her chair.
The look in her eyes told me something had just happened, but I had no
idea what that "something" was. That started to worry me.
"You don't remember me, do you?" she asked, catching me completely off guard. Was I supposed to know who she was? Had we met before? Maybe we did and I didn't know it. Maybe that was why her voice kept seeming like it was familiar to me.
I shook my head.
"Sorry, I don't think I do."
That was the best answer I could go with, instead
of trying to lie and say I did.
"It was a long time ago. You were just graduating kindergarten the last time I saw you. I remember Mr. Dennis used to call you "Mouse" because when you cried it was so high pitched it sounded like you were squeaking." she said, shocking the hell out of me.
When something does that to me, I react one of two ways. If it's out of fear, my mouth does the whole dropping open thing and my eyes bug out. When it came to something like this, though, my reaction is completely different. I get still and incredibly quiet. The only people who know about that name are my mother, father, and those who were close friends of our family. I'd never told any of my friends about that name because I was too embarrassed.
My mind went to work trying to place her face. It was obvious now why her voice was familiar to me, but the rest of her still wasn't. Let's see...kindergarten. I would've been five then. Was she one of my teachers? No. None of the ladies who taught at the school were black from what I can remember. Okay, completely lost. "Nobody knows that except for close friends and family." I said, hoping to get her to say how exactly she knew me and my parents.
She looked a little surprised at me.
"You honestly don't remember, do you?"
I shook my head no.
"Well, it was awhile ago, so I can't really knock you. I'll drop you some hints, though. Do you remember Marshall Eddington?"
Marshall Eddington? Marshall Eddington. Thinking...thinking...yes! Yes, I did! Damn, how in the world did I forget that name? He's the first best friend I remember having. How could I forget the friend I was so tight with that when I caught chicken pox, he tried to catch them too so I wouldn't have to be stuck with them all by myself?
I nodded as I started to remember.
"Yes, I do." I answered, and then encouraged her to continue, "What about him?"
"Let's just put it this way. There was an incident involving you, him, some baby frogs, a glass of green Kool-Aide, and my boyfriend at the time."
Like a lightning bolt it hit me. The
face I was looking for in my mind finally came out from where it was hiding,
and I knew who I was looking at now.
"Melissa?" I was pretty sure I was right.
She smiled and nodded, letting me know that
I was right.
"I knew you couldn't have totally forgotten. After all the times I used to have to keep an eye on you two little bad butts."
I had to laugh. Now that I was thinking about it, I started to wonder how in the world she put up with me and him. I probably would've been okay by myself, but with both of us together...that was an accident waiting to happen. Both of us were at that age where girls were our sworn enemy, especially when they came in the form of big sisters. Any chance we got to cause trouble, we took it. One of the times was when she'd been allowed to let her boyfriend come over for a little bit to help her study for a test. She made me and Marshall stay in the room, because she knew we'd be bad. Marshall's older cousin had given him some baby frogs he'd caught from a pond and he'd always bring them over whenever he came to my house. We knew Melissa hated those baby frogs, and we were always using them to mess with her. Both of us wanted to get her boyfriend because to us, he was a traitor. He was friends with a girl.
The concept didn't come up until Melissa came
in and asked us if we wanted something to drink and we said yes and followed
her to the kitchen. It was Marshall's idea to put the baby frogs
into the glass. He got it after Melissa asked us to take hers and her boyfriend's
drinks into the front room while she put the Kool-Aide into the fridge
and put the packages she'd used to make it in the trash and put the sugar
up. We took all the cups into my room and we caught two frogs each and
put them into one of the cups. They were the kind of cups that weren't
see through, so he never knew what hit him until after we took the cups
back into the front room and sat hers down on the table and gave him the
one with the frogs. Melissa was just sitting down after finishing in the
kitchen when he took a drink and one of the babies swam up and leapt into
his face. Both of us laughed so hard because it totally freaked him out.
He screamed and green Kool-Aide was flying all over the place. We had to
lock ourselves in the bathroom and stay there until my mother got home
from work, because Melissa wanted to kill both of us.
"I'm so sorry about that. It was Marshall's idea." I said, feeling bad for doing it, but not being able to keep a straight face at all.
"Don't worry. Both of you tried to apologize then, but I was still ready to beat each of you down for it." she said, still chuckling at the memory herself.
I nodded and said,
"Oh I bet."
I got my smiles and giggles under control before
I spoke again.
"It's good to see you again. It's been a long time."
"Yes, it has. It's good to see you too." she said, then sighed. Her smile went to a more serious expression and she went on, "I just wish the circumstances for us seeing each other again were different."
Honestly, so did I. But...
"At least I have a familiar face to look at." I said.
"Yeah. That's definitely a plus when it comes to crossing over to this side of the fence." she agreed.
"So...you're...a..." it was still hard to get myself to say it out loud.
"Yes, I am. But let's not get any more further off the topic than we already are. First, though, I want to say I'm really very sorry about your parents."
I couldn't help the little bit of sadness that came
back to me when she said that. It always came back whenever someone
"Thank you." I accepted.
"That happened after my little transition, so I couldn't make it to the funeral. I visited them that night, though. Left some of those lilac flowers that Mrs. Cheryl used to liked so much."
For the first couple of weeks after my parents'
died, I went to their grave every day. I remembered seeing a vase
with a small group of lilac flowers sitting in front of the grave where
the headstone was going to eventually get put. For some crazy reason
I kept thinking that my mother had put those there, so that I'd know where
her and my father were. Now I knew how they'd really gotten there.
"I always wondered how those got there." I said.
"Well, mystery solved. But anyway, business face back on." Melissa said, looking down at the papers on her desk and filing through them until she found what she was looking for. "Now, you got warded to the state after all of that and got adopted by a Bill and Sharon Sahlye, right?"
"Now I need you to think on this before you answer. Did you ever see them do anything out of the ordinary while you were in their care or notice anything out of the ordinary?"
"Out of the ordinary like...?" I inquired, not sure what she was meaning by that. What might seem normal to me might be not normal to someone else.
"Such as one or both of them leaving the house late at night for no reason. Phone calls to the house where when you picked up the phone and answered it, the phone made two quick beeping sounds before it hung up. Any one of them having to go out of town for their job for two to three days. Any one of them talking about something having to do with S.T.A.R.S." she explained.
"Well..." I thought for a moment. "I've never seen them leave the house late at night, unless Bill got a call and had to run to the hospital."
I thought a little harder and came up with a few
"I never really answered the phone a lot. But a couple of times when I did the phone would make this beeping sound and then hang up. I always thought it was a fax machine that had accidentally dialed the wrong number. And...Bill had to go out of town and help cover during shortages at other hospitals a couple of times. If I remember right, it was for two days both times. And..."
My mind flashed back to the moment when I decided
I was going to run away.
"I know they were talking about something the night I..."
I tried to remember exactly what I heard, but it
was fuzzy. I pushed a little harder and tried to focus, but all I
could remember were bits and pieces.
"They said things like: "Maybe he's not the person we thought he was", and "We've been as patient as possible and nothing has changed with him", and "Maybe they made a mistake and us along with them." I thought that meant they were going to give me back to The State." I told her what I could still remember. It didn't sound strange to me, but maybe it was something she needed to know.
It must've been because she nodded a couple
of times and said,
"Good. Very good. And that, my friend, concludes the Q&A session. Now the reason why I asked you those questions about your foster parents is because the last couple of Sleepers we've found have all been in the care of foster families. All of these foster families have shared some or all of the characteristics that I mentioned before. We're just keeping a record of all of these occurrences."
"Can I ask why? I mean...was something wrong with them?" I was curious now.
"Oh no...not at all. It's just a normal procedure we go through with all of our Newbloods. That way if a search ever gets started, or the police get involved, we'll always be one step ahead so that we can keep the fact that you're still among the living a secret."
Oh, okay. For a second there I was starting to think something might've been wrong with Sharon and Bill.
Melissa looked through a few more of the papers
she had on her desk, before she organized them and put them neatly into
a brown folder and closed it. She looked back at me and smiled.
"And that's all. Now, if you don't get up and come give me a hug, I'll have to go back on my word and beat you down!" she said, lightening up the mood.
We both got up and met each other on the right side
of the desk and hugged. It really felt good to hug her. I felt
safer now and not quite as lost. This was somebody who'd been a part
of my life before I changed, and now she was with me afterward. She'd
probably gone through a lot of the same things I was currently going through.
It felt comforting to know I wasn't completely alone in this.
"I really am glad to see you again, Melissa. It's cool to know somebody who was part of my life before all of this is a part of it now." I told her as our hug ended.
"And I'm glad I get to be here for you." she said before she looked off to the right and seemed to be thinking about something. When her eyes came back to me, I could tell it was something deep.
"You know, so many times I've wished I could have something from my old life. Anything that would remind me of my family. I know you know what its like to suddenly have your family taken away from you and there being nothing you can do about it." she said before was quiet for a moment, again looking away from me.
I hadn't thought about her situation being that similar to mine until she said that. Actually...it was worse than mine. Maybe she was a Sleeper like me, or she was made into a vampire for whatever reason. Whichever it was, it sounded like she was alone in the process. Even if things had been better with Sharon and Bill, I wouldn't have been able to go back to them as I am now. At least they were foster guardians and not my real parents. Unless the situation was otherwise, Melissa's real parents and real family were still out there. Missing her. And she could never go back to them. If that isn't considered torture, then I can't begin to even think about what is.
Melissa looked back at me, smiling warmly.
"With you being here...its...just so much, you know? I mean, it's not often that one of our kind gets a person from their old life back. But here you are. And I feel like I've gotten a piece of my brother back right now...and a piece of my family. Because even though you used to work my nerves like nobody's business sometime, I still loved you and cared about you like you were my own little brother."
Her saying that to me, it went straight to my heart. To know I meant as much as I did to her, and that I was giving her something as important as the feeling of family back. As her words started to hit home I realized that she was the same thing for me. Even though my family was gone, I remembered that even though Melissa was a girl and got on my nerves as much as I got onto hers, I'd taken to her and started to love her like she was my real sister. That love was still there.
I don't know how a person is supposed to follow up after something like what was just said is said, and it didn't look like Melissa did either. So we just hugged again. This one was tighter and a lot longer than the first. I felt a few tears trying to build up, but I willed them to stay back. I didn't need to turn into a sobbing freak right now, because that's exactly what I knew would happen.
Melissa didn't mind the tears. When our
hug was over, I could see a few had gotten free from her eyes. But...they
weren't tears. Unless for some reason the color clear to me appeared
as the color red. Quickly, Melissa reached over to her desk and took
a Kleenex from the box that was sitting on it and wiped the red tears away.
"Don't worry, you're not seeing wrong. The tears are red." she said.
"Why?" I was...concerned to say the least.
"When we were human, water composed the majority of our bodies. As vampires, blood composes the majority of our bodies. That includes the tears."
"So...when a vampire cries, they cry blood?"
That was...a trip. So if I would've let the tears flow, I would've cried blood too? Not to say it didn't make sense with the whole blood composing the majority of my body now. It was just a surprise to know what other things it affected.
Melissa made sure she cleared all the traces
of the tears off her face and shook her head at me.
"Look at ya, got me tearin' up and everything." she said, making me laugh a little.
"Sorry." I said.
She rolled her eyes and smiled.
"Mmm-hmm. Anyway, I better get back to my business. There's a lot to be done tonight. But if you need anything, and I mean anything, you know where I am. And you better come through here and visit me every now and then, `cause you don't want me to come lookin' for you."
"I promise I will." I said, laughing again. "Thanks, Melissa."
Melissa walked around back to the chair behind
the desk and sat down, tossing into the Kleenex into the trash can beside
"No problem, Mouse." she said, making me smile even more.
* * * * * *