Chapter Four – Peek In, Sneak About
Don't think Stassy, don't think, do not think.
Stassy kept repeating the words over and over again to herself silently. An inner mantra to block out the screams of her indignant voice of reason.
Fold the jeans. Lay them in the suitcase, but don't think, don't think.
Put all the toiletries in one bag. Put all the make-up in the other. But don't think, don't think.
It was pointless though. Telling herself not to think was like telling herself not to breathe. If she could stop then she would, but the urge was too powerful to deny. Margot was sat on her bed watching with an air of melancholy as her roommate packed up to leave.
"You know Stass, when you said you were going to get out of here I never in a million years thought that you meant you were going up to Griffins apartment."
Stassy balled up the t-shirt in her hands and flung it into the suitcase carelessly. Did she have to rub it in? Did she have to point out the ludicrous turn events had taken? After her son had unexpectedly and viciously attacked, Stassy and said son were now going to be moving in with the man he attacked. A man who only that very morning Stassy hadn't even wanted to acknowledge in the breakfast queue.
Life was cruel, she knew that, but Stassy wished it would take its twisted sense of humour and go and get it's jollies from torturing someone else for a while. Felix was still 'calming down' with Mr Morrigon. It was Mr Morrigon who had finally persuaded Stassy that staying with Griffin would be best all around.
"My nurses are complaining," he had told her. "They keep saying you're harassing them around the clock, trying to get access to Felix."
Stassy had explained to him that if the nurses didn't like it then they could give Felix back to her once and for all and they'd never have to see either of them again. Cue Mr Morrigon's rousing speech about how Stassy and Felix's welfare was of paramount importance to him and how he could not in good conscience let them leave the Manor until a water tight, hundred percent safe plan of action had been formulated and set in motion.
Like Griffin, he had told her that if she was patient they'd work out a way for her and Felix to function on their own again. For the time being, moving up to Griffin's apartment was the only way she could get to keep Felix with her all the time on account of the strict segregation rules.
Reluctantly, she had finally agreed. Her whole life seemed to be nothing more than one painful compromise after another, but if this compromise meant that she and Felix got to be together with immediate effect then she would do her best not to complain.
Her willingness to go along with their suggestion had been a bargaining tool to keep Felix out of solitary. If she could show that she was willing to work things out their way then she would be trusted to keep Felix from lashing out again. That seemed to be more like a convenient form of blackmail rather than a fair and sound act of logic, but if it got her what she wanted then she'd take it no matter how they wanted to dress it up.
There was a quick, light knock on the door and Stassy knew it would be the porter coming to help carry all her stuff up to the sixth floor. Her new home. Nausea washed through her at the thought. What a cosy little set up it was going to be. A grieving-leech-lover (a name one of the sweet, kind-hearted guests at the manor had given her), a blood-craving, tantrum-throwing toddler, and Mr-Grey-Skys-Are-Gonna-Clear-Up-Put-On-A-Happy-Face. Yeah, life was cruel all right.
"So this is it, " Margot said sadly, helping Stassy to the door with her bags. "We're no longer roomies." That sentence should have filled Stassy with joy, but it didn't. Yeah, Margot was an annoyance, a jealousy inducing pain, but she was way more appealing as a roomie than that imbecile counsellor.
"Stay in touch?" the teary eyed blonde asked hopefully.
"Margot, we still live in the same building, just on different floors," Stassy replied with a roll of her eyes. "We'll still see each other every single, soul-destroying day."
Margot nodded and stepped forward to give Stassy a tentative hug. "You're right. Good luck."
Stassy felt obligated to hug her back, so with a terse attempt she wrapped her arms around Margot and released her again quickly. "Can I go now?" she asked with discomfort.
"Yes," Margot smiled. "And remember, it'll all work out. You'll see."
With those empty, hollow words ringing in her ears Stassy followed the porter in silence. The sixth floor was far more relaxed than her old abode on the fourth floor. It looked a lot more like a residential housing complex rather than an impersonal hotel. An upmarket housing complex at that. The porter stopped when he reached a door with the number 12A on it.
"I believe this is Mr Petersons new apartment," The porter said with an efficient nod of his head.
"So…? What do you want me to do about it?" Stassy asked dryly.
"Unlock the door and let us in perhaps?"
"I don't have a key."
With a petulant sigh, Stassy hammered on the door quickly. She felt like kicking it, punching it too maybe. But why cause trouble when there was probably already a lifetimes worth of the stuff just waiting to pounce on her right behind that very door? Far quicker than she had expected it to, the door swung inwards and Griffin appeared looking refreshed in a clean shirt, with a bandage secured at the puncture wounds on his neck.
"Stassy," he smiled. "Welcome. Let me take your bags." He took all the luggage off the porter and with a polite thank you and goodbye, sent him on his way.
"I was just talking to Mr Morrigon," he told her, making room for her to pass through into the apartment. "He says he'll be up in the next half hour or so."
"And he's bringing Felix with him?" Stassy asked, her voice full of suspicion.
"Of course," Griffin nodded.
Stassy stayed rooted to the spot even though Griffin kept motioning with his head for her to go through. It didn't feel right. It didn't feel right at all. What exactly did Griffin think he was doing she wondered. Okay, so he was her caseworker, but that didn't mean he had to invite her into his home. That seemed well and truly above and beyond the call of duty.
As he stood there in the doorway, holding onto all her luggage with a welcoming smile, Stassy let the unease she was feeling show on her face. If he thought he could play the part of the big protector, the hero, then he was wrong.
"Are we going to stand out here all day?" Griffin asked finally.
"I guess not," Stassy mumbled.
Making her way inside, the scent of freshly brewed coffee hit her. She took a glance around at the open plan apartment and tried to hide how impressed she was. It was nice. There was a big old-fashioned fire, complete with an antique grate and mantle piece. An oversized sofa with lots of warm, inviting looking cushions was just a few feet away from the fire facing a widescreen TV and DVD player.
Stassy began to imagine Sunday evenings with just her and Felix cuddled up on the sofa, watching cartoons and eating ice cream. Griffin wasn't part of the picture, she was sure he'd be far too busy trying to make his mark at work to hang around and do nothing but laze about.
Of it's own accord, the daydream went a little further… and Benny appeared, snuggled up beside them both, laughing, and telling his lame jokes. Stassy had to stop the daydream there. Everyday she had to remind herself that she'd never see Benny again, and it never got any easier.
"You're room's this way," Griffin said, leading her to a door right at the back of the apartment. "You and Felix have to share, is that okay?"
"Of course it is," Stassy nodded. It was better than okay. It was perfect.
"Great," Griffin beamed. "Well I'll let you get settled. I thought I'd make us some lunch seeing as neither of us really got to eat much this morning."
Stassy just shrugged. "Whatever."
Griffin left the luggage at the foot of her bed, before leaving her to her own devices for a while. Seeing as it seemed the only logical thing to do Stassy began to unpack. She didn't have much so it didn't take very long. At the very bottom of the suitcase was a small frame with a picture of Benny in it. Back in her old room she'd never taken it out and displayed it because she couldn't take the questions that Margot would have undoubtedly asked.
But here she had privacy, so here it would be okay. Sitting at the end of the bed she stared at the photograph in her hands and let her eyes fill with tears. Benny had had the most soulful brown eyes she'd ever seen. He'd had the sweetest smile and the warmest skin. All contradictions to what he really was. But then, to her, that was who Benny really was…. Soulful, sweet, and warm. No one had ever loved her the way he did.
No one had held her hand so frequently, kissed her so softly, listened to her so intently and effortlessly. No one had made her feel so glad to be alive as Benny did.
The tears made their way down her cheeks as she remembered the day Benny had been killed. They had been at his parent's house. Catherine, his mother, had sat Stassy down against Benny's wishes and told her all about who – what – they really were. She said they were all in danger, and that Felix was too, and so to protect him she wanted Stassy to hand him over to them so they could take him away somewhere safe.
That alone had been too much to take in, but what happened next was beyond comprehension. Ten masked men – vampire hunters – stormed the house and attacked Benny. The last she saw of him was as he was being kicked to the floor. His brother Jace had rushed her and Felix out to safety, and later it was Jace who had visited her home to tell her Benny had been killed. There was no body, he explained. Once they're staked vampires are nothing more than a pile of dust.
Most days that memory just seemed like a terrible nightmare, but at moments like these when Stassy really let herself think back, the pain and grief was as fresh as ever. Sobs were mounting within her, desperate to escape but she wouldn't let them.
Good job too, she thought to herself as her door creaked open. Griffin poked his head into the room and Stassy hurriedly wiped at her tear stained face with the cuff of her sleeve.
"Try knocking next time," she whispered. A whisper was all she could manage.
"Oh… sorry," Griffin cringed. "I should have thought."
Stassy ignored him, continuing to cling onto the photo frame and gaze at it as if transfixed.
"Is that Felix's Dad?" Griffin asked, nodding to the photograph.
Stassy nodded. "Benny. Yeah."
"Looks like he was a nice guy," Griffin noted.
Stassy let out a short sigh. "Yeah. Well, he was a vampire."
"I know," Griffin replied. "That doesn't mean to say that he wasn't a nice guy though does it."
Stassy was too fatigued by her sadness to get on Griffins case about all the analytical shrink stuff. Once she had the strength she would make sure he knew that any attempts to get her to talk about her feelings would result in pain, anger, and if that mornings events had anything to go by, a lot of blood. And it would all be his.
"I'll leave you," he said.
"Whatever, I'm finished unpacking my stuff."
There was another knock at the front door. Stassy jumped to her feet and pushed past Griffin. "That'll be Felix!"
But it wasn't. When Stassy opened the door she came face to face with another one of the counsellors who had come by to see Griffin. She left the two of them at the door to chat and wandered over to kitchen table where Griffin had made a plateful of sandwiches and a huge pot of coffee for them both to share. But Stassy didn't feel like it.
Sitting down, she began tapping her fingers on the tabletop. What were they going to talk about? Stassy had no idea. Griffin had left his phone on the table, and suddenly it began to vibrate with an incoming call. Stassy glanced down at it,and froze. The name flashing up on the display screen was Jace.
Later that evening Stassy was sat in her room with Felix. Mr Morrigon had finally brought him back about two hours later than he said he would. Now the two of them were sat on Stassy's bed playing with the crayons and colouring book that Griffin had bought them earlier that day when he'd gone into town to run some errands.
Errands that suddenly seemed incredibly important right after he got that phone-call, Stassy thought to herself. She kept on telling herself that it was just a coincidence. There were probably a lot of people called Jace, so what if Griffin did happen to know one of them. Seeing the name of Benny's brother flashing on the phone like that had just freaked her out a little bit. It didn't mean it was the same person.
Stassy hadn't questioned him about it. She didn't want to make him think that she was paranoid. But she just couldn't shake the curiosity. While she and Felix hid away in the bedroom, Griffin was in the kitchen cooking them all dinner. She'd told him she wasn't hungry, but he'd insisted that she eat something saying he knew she hadn't eaten all day.
That was yet another bad point – having him keep tabs on her like some over-bearing mother. The only upside to the whole thing was getting to be with Felix. Luckily, since he'd been back in the apartment with her and Griffin he hadn't showed any signs of wanting to attack again. In fact, he and Griffin were getting on so well it was if the scene in the dining hall earlier hadn't even happened.
As the scents of Griffins cooking drifted under her door, Stassy checked her watch and realized that everyone would be piling into the dining hall right about now. There'd be an empty spot at her table and everyone would wonder where she was. No doubt Margot would fill them in when they asked. Stassy didn't even want to think what their reaction would be. Kim and Cara would probably be green with envy. But Schylar? He'd feel betrayed. He'd see it as Stassy siding with the enemy.
There was a gentle knock at her door, shaking her out of her thoughts. "Stassy?" Griffin called. "Dinners ready."
This is just like being back at home again, she thought reminiscently. Hiding away in my room so I can avoid the people who are 'trying to take care of me,' or 'do what's best.'
"Come on," she said to Felix, picking him up and carrying him to the door. "Time to go and behave like nice, normal people."
Griffin was already sat at the table when Stassy joined him. As usual Felix didn't seem at all interested in anything that was on his plate, but Stassy didn't want to force him and make a big issue out of it. Hopefully, he'd see Griffin and Stassy eating and follow their example.
"I hope you like Chinese food," Griffin said, passing Stassy a bowl of prawn crackers.
Stassy just wanted the ground to swallow her up. She hated having to sit there, trying to act normal, knowing that Griffin just saw her as some pitiful charity case. If she had disliked him before, then it was fair to say she was starting to hate him now. Funny how people trying to help you usually end up doing the exact opposite, she thought.
Stassy forced herself to endure the next half hour as Griffin talked and talked. And talked and talked. Felix ate a little bit of rice, which was better than nothing, so at least there was something positive. As soon as they were finished Stassy grabbed Felix and headed straight back to her room
"We're going to have an early night," she told him over her shoulder. "See you in the morning."
Stassy had no intention of sleeping though. The whole time she'd been sat at the table she couldn't get the memory of seeing Jace's name on Griffin's phone out of her head. Surely it wouldn't hurt to check it out just once, she pondered. For my own peace of mind if nothing else.
Quickly, she got Felix changed and settled him down in bed. They didn't have any books she could read to him, so she just made up a story, using the pictures they had coloured in earlier to illustrate what she was saying. It wasn't long before he drifted off to sleep, dozing peacefully like a little angel.
A tremor of happiness ran through Stassy as she looked down at him. It was the first time she'd gotten to put him to bed in months. She was sure those waste-of-space nurses never bothered to tell him bedtime stories. As she bent down to kiss him softly on the forehead, for the first time Stassy realized that she was grateful to Griffin. If it hadn't been for him, her and Felix would have been spending another night apart.
That didn't change the fact that she was about to invade his privacy and betray his trust though. She had to do it. She had to know that the Jace on Griffin's phone was not the same Jace that she knew. So she waited. She waited until all the lights in the apartment were off and she was sure that Griffin was asleep.
One of the good things about dating someone who your parent's severely disapproved of was that you got to be great at creeping around. Stassy was confident enough in her silent creeping abilities to go into Griffins room and get hold of his phone.
Standing outside the room for a moment or two, she listened for any sounds of him stirring. "Griffin," she called softly. "Griffin, are you awake?"
Perfect. If he had been awake he definitely would have answered. Slowly, she pushed the door open and crept inside. Griffin was in bed sprawled out on his back, breathing lightly and dead to the world. It only took a second for Stassy's eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room, and as soon as they did she spotted his phone right there on the cabinet by his bed.
Softly, she tiptoed across the room and picked it up. In a matter of seconds she was out of the room and making herself comfortable on the sofa Bringing up the last dialled number, she saw that it was Jace.
Okay, she thought. If I'm going to do this I may as well get it over with.
After a slow, deep breath she hit the call number button and held the phone up to her ear.
Stassy froze. The voice made a million icy pinpricks race over her skin. That voice was Jace Siegers.
"Hello?" Jace repeated. "Griffin, is that you?"
Suddenly the overhead light came on. Stassy whipped around in shock, and right there behind her was Griffin.
"Stassy? What are you doing?"
"Griffin, are you there?"
Stassy looked from the phone in her hands, then back up to Griffin staring down at her. How was she going to explain this. More importantly, how was he?
murfdurf22 – thanks for the review and the adding :) This chapter's dedicated to you, hehe… and I enabled anonymous reviews, thanks for letting me know, I didn't realize.
Hope you enjoyed! Another update, coming soon!