Kayla held open the door to let Bailey inside Dilly's Diner. She was easily taller than the young woman and Bailey didn't even have to duck her head to pass.
Hefting her canvas bag on her shoulder, Bailey headed for the table at the end.
Kayla followed, sitting down opposite of her.
Bailey sighed as she set her bag on the table. “I always take this with me. For some reason, I half expect my dad is going to come after me with a gun or something and I have to run.”
The muscles in Kayla's jaws tightened. It wasn't healthy to live that way.
Bailey tugged her still-damp hair over her ear. Her face fell as she flipped open the bag. “It's being silly, but everything important to me is in here.”
She pulled out a small box about the size of her fist. It had a clear top and what appeared to be a wilted flower inside it. “My mom gave this to me for junior prom. She was so happy I went out with Kurt. At the time, I thought she was just happy for me.” Tears gathered in her eyes. “She still talks to Kurt, you know. Invites him over for dinner, treats him like family, like he's… more important than me.”
Mabel came up with her notebook out. She had a look of disapproval on her face as she looked at Kayla. “Breakfast? Coffee?”
Kayla gestured to Bailey. “Whatever she wants.”
A little grunt.
“And a coffee…,” Kayla considered the last few days and the need to eat again. After her hunting, her stomach reminded her that she wasn't impervious to a good meal. “A stack of pancakes and some bacon would be nice.”
Bailey glanced at Kayla and then up to Mabel. “Pancakes, sausage, and eggs. Sunny-side up, please. And orange juice.”
The older woman wrote it down, her lips pursed together. Then she used her pen to wave between the two women. “Is this going to be a thing?”
Kayla decided just to stare at Mabel until the meddling woman went away.
It took only fifteen seconds.
“That must be your superpower.” Bailey giggled.
Kayla shrugged. “It works. I'm tall, strong, and most people don't really know how to handle a hard stare.”
But Bailey didn't response. Instead, she stroked the small box with the wilted corsage inside it.
Kayla sighed and reached out. She didn't want to touch Bailey, but it was important. Resting her hand on the younger woman's wrist, she cleared her throat. “Just enjoy the good memories but don't let the bad ones take over. That's what makes ghosts you know.”
Bailey sniffed and wiped a tear from her eye. Then she smiled. “You'd probably date me then.”
One of Kayla's old memories rose up, of claws reaching out for her from behind a pile of boxes in her old house. The eyes, pitch black, still burned despite the years that had passed. She turned away to look toward the kitchen.
“What's wrong?” asked Bailey.
“I… I'd rather…” Then she forced a smile on her face. “Things don't always work out with our parents. Sooner or later, you have to leave. You have to be your own person. I remember when I went to prom. My mother was proud of me too. But then…” More memories rose up, bringing up the stench of blood. She tried not to think about what followed.
Bailey pulled away. “You said your mother died when you were six.”
Kayla cringed; she had forgotten that Bailey was almost as observant as herself. She glanced at Bailey. “She did.”
Bailey's eyes flashed back and forth for a moment. She was thinking.
Realizing that she revealed something that only a few people knew, Kayla pulled her hand back and folded her fingers together. She looked back at the diner. The cook was working on their meal. Mabel was on the phone with someone, staring straight at them. When their eyes met, the older woman turned her back.
Concern prickled the back of Kayla's. Mabel's body language suggested the old woman was talking to someone she didn't want either Kayla or Bailey to know about. Comments Bailey made suggested that her parents may have been looking for her.
Bailey still hadn't said anything.
Kayla looked back at her as Bailey put the box back into her bag.
The younger woman didn't look up at her.
They said nothing until Mabel delivered food. Setting it down, the waitress made another grunting noise before walking away.
“Mabel is acting strange,” Bailey said in a low voice.
“She called someone.”
Bailey tightened her grip on her bag. “Probably my p-parents.”
Kayla sighed. “What do you think they are going to do?”
“I'm legal age, so they can't drag me home. The worse they could do is probably claim I stole the car and ran off. I wouldn't put it past him to have me charged with grand theft or something.”
Tears welled up again. “Damn it. I was hoping he wouldn't do it. But Scott, the guy who owns this place, and my dad watch football together. Scott never liked me, but he tolerated because I worked for free and cleaned dishes. Probably got his rocks off knowing he was treating me like a slave.”
An idea rose but it was a terrible one. Bailey could be a hunter. Not in Appleton but maybe with Kayla? But how would their relationship work out? Would Bailey be happy without sex? With the same life Kayla had? She sighed and dug into her food, moving mechanically as she lost herself in her thoughts.
“When did your mother possess your father?”
Kayla froze. The tines of her fork quivered with her thoughts. “When I was ten. It took her that long to figure out how to affect the world. It starts that way.”
Slowly, she looked up to see Bailey watching her with concern.
“You said your father died when you were twenty-three.”
Kayla gave a short laugh. “You have a great attention to detail. You would make a great—” She froze.
Bailey smirked. “A great hunter?”
Kayla shrugged. No reason to deny it.
Inhaling, Bailey straightened. “Could I do it? Could I actually do it?”
“You have talent. Anyone could help you, At The… Gary or someone else.”
“You?” The question was pointed.
Kayla cringed. She didn't want to talk about how she was having feeling for the young hunter-to-be. Not romantic, but possessive and protecting. She wanted to see Bailey blossom. Frightened at the unfamiliar emotions, she stared at Bailey as she struggled with herself.
Bailey stared back.
Kayla held herself still, boring her eyes into the young blonde.
“You know, when you look at me like that, I just get horny.” Bailey smirked.
Startled, Kayla broke her stare.
Bailey giggled. “It's true. You are beautiful, sexy, and dominating. You are… everything I wanted. What I always wanted.”
“But I can't… satisfy you.”
Bailey grinned and rolled her eyes. “You say that, one ghost banishing and I'm lesbian.”
“Please? All I have is a car filled with crap, a town that hates me, and no future. I promise, I'll only try to feel you up after we defeat a monster and always respect when you say no. I'll… I'll make dinner and clean, if you want, just a subby little—”
“No, I don't need a slave.”
Bailey grinned. “What if I want to act like one?”
A flicker of heat washed over Kayla.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a truck drive up. Turning slightly, she saw it was a tow truck. It pulled past Kayla's van and stopped behind Bailey's car. Lights flashed as it backed up. Bailey's father was taking back the car and didn't even have the courage to face his own daughter.
Kayla looked toward the kitchen.
Mabel took one look at her and ducked back behind the counter.
Bailey really didn't have anything in the town. If Kayla left, she could too easily see things going horribly wrong. It could go wrong if Kayla brought Bailey home also, but maybe it would give her a chance. If anything, she could find work in a bigger city if she needed to go off on her own.
Kayla looked down at her half-finished meal. Knowing Mabel had betrayed Bailey made it unappetizing. She pushed it aside.
“Kayla?” Bailey started to say but then she turned to look out the window.
The sharp inhalation broke Kayla's heart.
She watched as naked emotions washed over the young woman's face: shock, fear, anger, and then just sadness. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
It was the last straw. Kayla may not be into humans but she knew what the real monsters were. She stood up and held out her hand. “Come on.”
Bailey looked away, her eyes shimmering.
“Let's go hunting.”