Chapter Seventeen

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Note from IReen: HEY! I remember you. I hope you remember me. I'm almost finished writing this story. Thank goodness. I was trying to finish it before I began posting again, but it's almost done so I think it might be safe. Knock wood.

Also - I changed Kaitlyn's last name, so hopefully that isn't confusing.

Now, where were we?

You used to walk like you had a gun strapped to each thigh. Now you just sit there and stare at me with those gunslinger's eyes. – Jack Killian

Chapter Seventeen

Gravel scrabbled in the driveway. I brushed back the curtain and peeked out the window to see the mail truck making a three-point turn. I caught Ivan's eye and waved. He waved back.

Originally the mailbox had been at the end of the driveway, but after a few thefts, my mailman agreed to drive my deliveries up to the house. I'd relocated the old fashioned, flip-front box to right outside my carport.

"Getting the mail," I tossed back over my shoulder.

"I'll come with you."

Devin stood and followed me out. Quinn ignored us, busy using his fist to hammer playdough into the kitchen floor. Red and blue splats blended, not into purple, but rather a toxic, rusty tan. A frantic morning breeze pushed the door in as I opened it, scattered dirt along the gravel, and bent the shrubs against the carport. It rippled Devin's soft t-shirt and blew strands of his hair away from the knot behind his head.

I squinted up at him with a smile. "What's up with the... what is that, a man-bun?"

"Oh, not you too, Katie."

"No, I like it. It's... kinda..."

He wore a contrived annoyance. "Here we go."

"Hipster? Is it hipster? I have no idea."

Devin rolled his eyes. "You're more hipster than I am."

I looked down at myself. I wore the daily uniform of my high school days-faded denim and an over-laundered blue flannel with sleeves cuffed at my forearms. "How can you tell?"

He scoffed.

"That's not an answer, young man."

"I don't know what you are. Just you, I guess. But that's all I am, too. Just me." He shrugged, watching his feet. Something about the gesture struck me as incredibly existential. That, and his plea to just be. The angst of my own adolescence was echoed there.

"I didn't mean anything. I'm not even sure what a hipster is, exactly."

"When I buy plastic frames even though my vision is perfect, then you can call me a hipster. When I stop wearing socks... then you can call me a hipster. If I ever have the ability to grow facial hair... Until then, just call me Devin. I don't like labels."

"Okay, Devin."

Green things pushed determinedly up out of the gravel here and there, a mass of them going gangbusters up the mailbox stand. The door of the box came grudgingly open, and I pulled out the small stack of envelopes waiting inside. I flipped quickly through and stopped suddenly at an envelope with several stamps bearing Her Majesty's profile. I'd immediately recognized the perfect script, clean and blue and slanted neatly right, but it was the name that caught my heart and tugged it down. It was addressed to Kaitlyn Killian. As if Carolyn couldn't remember my maiden name.

I stared at it. At her name in the corner matching mine in the center. What had it felt like for her, inking me as a Killian? What did that mean to her? She had to know my maiden name. She'd received tons of post from Kaitlyn Garen. It was nonsensical, her using the name we'd once shared. The name I was sure she'd resented my taking.

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