Chapter 36: Restoration

I spent most of the next week holed up in the master bedroom at the safe house, refusing visitors. I didn't want to talk to anyone, because no one else on planet Earth had ever gone through this. Keel and I were an anomaly, and only we understood the true gravity of that. The promise, the allure and the danger. But now that Keel was full-blown Nosferatu, I had no idea what he'd do with that knowledge. Would the blood contract be enough to stop him from doing anything unsavory? Only time would tell.

The crazy part was I lived half in fear of him, and half in hope that he'd turn up, in any state. It was as if the emptiness left by his absence was devouring me from the inside out. Was it the bond? Heartbreak? Grief? All of the above?

I felt heavy, impossibly tired, and more alone than I'd ever felt in my life. An alien in my own world. Something that didn't belong.

I slept lots, sometimes whole days, and I cried.

From time to time, Bruce demanded I push the chair aside and open the door. "If you don't," he threatened, "I'll break it down and you won't be getting another one." I always let him in when he said that. I wanted to be alone, and having privacy to be alone was a big part of that.

He always stuck around to make sure I actually ate, and didn't flush the food he brought down the toilet.

Sometimes he tried to talk to me, but I wasn't interested in opening up.

When Bruce came with the contract from the sorcerers, I read it dutifully and signed it. He served as my witness. And just like that, I scribbled away my right to magic, to consorting with supernaturals of any kind, outside of my immediate family. That piece of paper stripped me of my sense of belonging in a way I hadn't expected it to, and my depression became a volatile storm.

I still hadn't healed my wounds from the guest house, though after much persuasion I'd relented and allowed Bruce to clean and treat them.

I wanted to feel that pain. It dampened a bit of the unbearable feeling inside.

***

During the second week, Bruce brought me a black canvas duffle bag. He'd wrapped a pink ribbon around it and pinned a giant sparkly bow smack dab in the middle. It looked so ridiculous, I couldn't help but smile. "What's this for?" I asked, initiating conversation for the first time since Bruce had picked me up from the motel and brought me back to the safe house. I'd been expecting Ephraim, but he'd sent Bruce instead.

"You're going to have to leave here sometime, and when that time comes you're going to need something to put that stuff under the bed in."

I wasn't able to keep the surprise off my face. I didn't think Bruce had got a good look at what I'd carried out of the demolished house, or where I'd stashed it. Before he'd arrived on the scene, I dug out the ritual materials and the book with the transition passages in it. It was scorched, but parts of it were still legible. I'd stuffed it all into a disintegrating bag; he must have caught a glimpse of the contents through the holes in the sides.

"It's my job to know," he said, offering up his favourite phrase before I even asked the question. "And Mr. Sayre doesn't, and this is so he won't." He passed me the bag, which was much heavier than I expected. I pulled open the zipper and peered inside. It was just under half-full of dark and comfy-looking clothes. "You needed those. I wanted to replace the dress too, but I didn't know what kind you'd like, so I put some money in the front pocket. You can get yourself one later."

"Why?" I said, a little choked up. I wasn't sure what I did to deserve this kindness. All I'd been was all kinds of miserable.

"Because life is going to continue whether you like it or not, and it's easier to pick yourself up when you have a few things to get you started. But I want something in return."

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