Previously: Claire remembered Manuela, the kind nurse lady, from years before, and we were briefly told about Claire's life with her mother. Meanwhile, Derrick caught Dannica after her shift and offered to help in any way possible, giving her his number if there was any way he could assist her.
The next few days passed in a blur for young Claire. Uncle Victor had shown her the route to and from school, and so she walked everyday with her new friend Duncan. Slowly, she was catching up on school work and, much to Aunt Elaine's happiness, wasn't looking so skinny and frail anymore. Her porcelain skin had regained a cherry glow, her ivory locks shinning. After a chase around the house, Dannica was finally able to play with Claire's hair, arranging it into a plethora of hairstyles she had found online, finally deciding on a bun with half the hair up and half the hair down. The brunette was positively exhilarated with having a little sister to play makeover with.
Things had settled down nicely, and Claire was happy. The nightmares were less and less now, and when she did have an uneasy rest, Dannica was always there for her. Things were looking pretty good, Claire thought one day, walking to school alongside Duncan in companionable silence. As they walked up and down the streets, Claire looked at the houses.
Almost overnight, spider webs and tombstones had popped up all over town. Skeletons hung from the trees, ghosts and goblins in windows, and smiling pumpkins on the porches. Some houses had gone so far as to make creepy looking figures with old clothes and dollar store body parts, leaving Claire to wonder if they were real people or not.
"Decorations amusing you, Claire?" Duncan asked, smirking.
"There's so many of them, it's weird."
"Nawh, not weird, perfectly normal. Halloween is a big thing here because most of the population is kids. Actually, since we're talking 'bout it, you gonna come out with us tomorrow night? It'll be loads fun!"
Claire was silent for a moment, wondering if her Aunt and Uncle would let her. It would be night time, and dark, and creepy...
"It won't be creepy or anything, it'll be you, me, The Swans, Ellie, and maybe the Rivers' twins," he said, as if he'd been reading her thoughts.
Claire thought for a moment and looked at Duncan. "I'll think 'bout it," she said, smiling. Grinning, Duncan whopped and the two kids continued their chilly walk to school.
Lunchtime rolled around, and as usual, the six kids sat at a table eating their lunches. Likewise, as usual, Ellie was chatting up a storm.
"Anyway, I have no clue what to be tomorrow night. It's between a princess, zombie, softball player, or fairy. I can't decide," she said, biting into her apple with a huff.
"Well, you can't be a fairy princess. I'm going to be a fairy princess," Trena replied.
"We are going to go together as something so awesome," Evan began, grinning manically with his brother.
"Something so mind blowing-" Aran continued.
"That you won't believe your eyes."
Ellie held on to every word, Trena rolling her eyes.
"The duffouses are going to be Frankenstein's monster and Dr. Frankenstein."
"Way to ruin it, sis!"
"Yeah, no fair."
"That's sick!" Ellie exploded, jumping in her seat.
Excitedly, both boys began to tell Ellie about their costumes in vivid detail. Smiling, Duncan winked at Claire, about to bite her sandwich when Ellie turned her nonstop chatter to him.
"Hey, Duncan, what about you?"
"I'm going to be a vampire," he said, munching on his pizza.
"That's not shocking at all," Trena sniffed, looking at her nails.
"He goes as a vampire every year," Aran said to Claire, winking.
Chaos was the proper way to describe the lunch table today, Claire noticed, as she ate her sandwich. Everyone was a buzz about Halloween. She didn't even remember the last time she went out for Halloween, let alone had she even thought about a costume. As the kids chatted, a short brunette and a slightly taller raven haired girl sat down at their table.
"Planning for Halloween, I see?" Amber said, her green eyes smiling at Ellie.
"Of course. I'm not sure what I should be..."
"Go with all four, Ellie," Ariana replied, stealing some of Evan's gushers.
"That's...BRILLIANT!" Ellie replied.
"What are the two of you going as?" Trena asked.
"Ghost," said Ariana.
"Witch," said Amber.
"Oh oh oh, Claire, are you joining us this year?" Ariana asked, eager to get the silent girl talking.
"Well," she began, glancing at Duncan, "I don't know. Maybe, but I don't know what to be."
"Be my vampiress?" Duncan asked.
"OHMIGOSH, THAT'D BE SO CUTE! YOU'D MATCH, GUYS!"
"Ellie, chill, you're probably scaring Claire...Again." Amber looked at the violet eyed girl, who was smiling shyly behind her hair.
"Nawh, she's totally used to me by now, duhhhh. Anyway, will you two be joining us tonight?"
"Maybe, we'll probably meet up with you. Where's your route?"
"Well, Evan and I worked hard, so we could achieve ultimate candy sacks."
"Like, we're talking two and a half pillow cases, if our costumes are mind blowing enough." Aran and Evan pulled out a crudely drawn map, rolling it out on the table.
As the rest of her new friends began to pour over the map, Claire zoned out, thinking about the coming night.
When Claire got home that afternoon, she walked up the pathway of her Aunt and Uncle's cheerful yellow house to see Dannica standing on a ladder, hanging lights from the veranda roof. Upon closer inspection, Claire realized that the lights were pumpkin shaped. The brunette was so concentrated that she didn't hear Claire walk up the steps.
"Hey Dannica!" she shouted, startling her cousin, who nearly fell off of the ladder.
"Claire...you startled me," she said, climbing down, dollar store garland wrapped around her neck, lights caught on her stripped sweater.
"No worries, how was school today?"
"Everyone was talking about Halloween," Claire began, "And everyone has costumes and stuff and Duncan said I should be his vampire buddy, I think, and Evan and Aran even have a route planned out so they can get lotsa candies. They said two and a half pillowcases, maybe even MORE!"
"That's interesting," Dannica said, walking down the steps. She rummaged through a bin and pulled out some bones, throwing them into the yard, covered with tombstones. Placing her bag by the door, Claire picked up some bones and threw them on the opposite side of the stone pathway.
"And then they asked me if I could go with them trick-or-treating."
"I thought you were going to go with them, anyways!" Dannica said, surprised as she pulled goblins and ghouls out of the bin. "All little kids trick-or-treat. It's a given, silly. If I were still in my teens, I'd be going out and getting candy, too."
"I don't have a costume, though."
"Well, I can fix that for you!" Having heard Claire's fashion related statement, Fran came around the tree, her smile huge under her black and fuchsia witch's hat.
"Fran! You startled me!" Dannica said, holding her heart. "My gosh, you weren't supposed to be here for another half hour."
"My fashion senses were tingling," Fran said, her goal achieved when Claire giggled. "No, but seriously, I wanted to scare you. However, Claire's problem here seems a little more pressing then my need to scare the crap out of you. I have all night for that." Grinning maniacally, she rubbed her hands together in a crazy scientist fashion. Claire thought it was very out of character, since she was dressed as a witch.
"Fran likes to bug me on Halloween. She helps hand out candy and cause chaos down the street, attracting the kids here."
"But Fran, who gives candy at your house?" Claire asked, confused.
"I live in a garage apartment."
"It's a type of apartment that's a house on top of a garage."
Laughing, Fran grinned. "Nawh, it's nice! I have my own room, kitchen, bathroom, and a workspace. It's attached to three other apartments' just like mine! And we don't hand out candy there because the man who owns the houses does it himself. Nice guy. But it's fun seeing costumes, so I bug Dannica every Halloween."
Rolling her eyes and smiling, Dannica nodded. "Without fail, she's always here. I'm surprised you haven't moved in yet, Fran."
"I'm like a wall fixture by now! Well, we have business to attend to! Dannica was a Vampiress once for Halloween. I'm sure with a little hemming and some nicer accents, we could have an awesome costume ready for you in no time. To the basement!" Fran declared, marching up the walkway, pulling Claire with her.
"Fran, how long were you back there?" Dannica asked, jogging behind them.
"Eh, long enough."
Grinning, Fran stomped through the front door, pulling Claire along with Dannica following close behind. They entered the living room, the door slamming. Startled, Victor looked up from the mess of newspapers and old clothes on the floor.
"Hey, Victor! Nice dead guy there. Where's it going this year?"
"Oh. Fran. You're early. Hello to you too! As for this guy, I'm hanging him from the trees this year," he said, grinning evilly. "What're you three up to?"
"Claire lacks a costume, so we're going to rummage through the basement and find one of my old ones for her to use tonight," Dannica said, as Fran gleefully ran down to the basement.
"How's the front looking?" He asked, stuffing the dead body's left arm.
"Pretty much finished, all we need are the pumpkins Claire and I did last night, spider webs, and Mr. Doe there."
Elaine scurried from the kitchen, the scent of pumpkin pie about her and two pumpkins in her hands. "I'll take care of the pumpkins and spider webs. As soon as Victor finishes playing with his toy and hanging it up, we'll put the finishing touches up and grab the candy."
"It is not a toy, Elaine," Victor said, pouting. Smiling, she pet his head and walked away, stopping near the two girls.
"I thought I heard Fran."
"She ran to the basement alone. That wasn't very smart though, there could be monsters," Claire said, nodding wisely. Laughing, Dannica followed Fran's path to the basement.
"Just a moment, Claire, dear." Stopping Claire in her tracks, Elaine gave her a big hug, balancing the pumpkins at the same time.
"I'm glad you're going out with your friends, Claire. Have a wonderful night, but be safe," she said smiling. "No go on and find your costume."
Swatting at her back playfully, Elaine ran outside, as her giggling niece ran to join the other two girls downstairs. Walking down the creaky stairs, Claire assessed the damage Fran had already done.
A bin was open, costumes all over the floor. Beside the bin, an old chair sat with a small battered table beside it. Fran's small tailoring to-go case sat on the table, along with some old items from an ancient sowing basket. Fran held up a tiny pumpkin costume and, grinning, turned to Dannica, holding it up.
"Awwwwh, look! Wittle Ica's first costume. It's so cute, Dannica!" Laughing at Dannica's face palm, Fran put it beside the rest of the already discarded costumes, searching the bin vigorously. Meanwhile, Dannica searched around the basement. Old furniture stood everywhere, along with stacks of boxes and trunks wedged into corners. Dannica noticed an old bookcase in the corner.
"Hey, Claire. We needed a bookcase in your room. Remind me to get your uncle to bring it up later-"
"AHA! FOUND IT!" Grinning, Fran pulled out what looked to be a pile of black and red materials. Shaking it out, it turned out to be a very pretty vampire costume. The skirt was red, a black overlay on top. The sleeves draped down, dark in contrast to the red bodice. Plastic chains zigzagged up the front of the bodice, instead of strings.
"It's perfect! Just some hemming here, some lace there. Oh, I bet there's some material floating around down here we could use for a cape!"
And once more, Claire was standing on a stool and playing guinea pig to Fran's muse.
Meanwhile, in the slowly rebuilding Swim City, in a dimly lit diner, Melthore sat nursing his fifth drink, waiting for his accomplice to join him.
After having jumped on the bus the other day, Melthore had smirked and laughed about his amazing performance. Heck, he should've been an actor! When he arrived home, ego at an all time high, he found one of his lovers lounging on his couch, quite seductively, might he add. Licking his lips at the memory of the fun he had that evening, he sipped his drink.
He had spent the majority of the day with her, and that evening as she lay in his arms, her body pressed against his, all female curves, her lipstick smudged and dark hair messy, he began to hatch his plan.
Knowing the social workers, they probably found someone from his family to take care of her. Seeing as how her mother didn't have any family in the area, it was most likely someone from his side. His mother was currently in Mimosa, the elderly home in Swan Valley, which left his two aunts, seeing as how his brothers lived in the states.
Both those aunts lived in the area, one happily married with an older daughter, the other a widow with two kids. Either way, he knew that the girl would be in Swan Valley, since both aunts couldn't afford a house in Posh Heights. Money issues seemed to run in the family.
The residential part of Swan Valley, he knew, was quite large, with most of the kids living near the Elementary School. So, that evening, Mel had narrowed down the girl's location to that specific area.
But he knew he couldn't just waltz into the school, take the girl, and bring her to the farthest away bank and get the money. No, and there was also the trust issue to deal with. He looked at the calendar on the wall, and smirked when he saw that Halloween was fast approaching.
That night, all the children would be out running amuck, playing dress up and stuffing their faces with candy the chipper citizens were more than happy to give them. His daughter wouldn't be hard to find among the crowds, and so, he created the perfect plan, texting Ed to meet him in a few days time in the remote diner.
Snapping back to the present, he watched as finally, the blond man came into the diner. Spotting Mel at the bar, he took a stool next to him and sat down.
"Nice of you to finally show up," Mel said, drowning his drink and motioning to the young bartender for two more beers.
"My mother called."
The man didn't even have to say anything more, as Melthore nodded in apparent understanding. Putting on his best scared face, he looked at his companion.
"I know where my daughter is now," he began.
"She is living with my aunt. One of them. I know that she'll be going out tonight, like all the other children." He didn't mention that the reason she'd be going out was because of his neglect to not let her go out on Halloween when she was with him.
"Are you going to ask your aunt if you can chaperone them?" the man asked. How naive is this guy? Mel thought, plotting his next move.
"I would...but my aunt hasn't talked to me in years. Nor has any of my family, actually."
The man laughed, "except for your mother," he replied, trying to make a joke.
Laughing outside and flinching on the inside, Melthore turned to Eduardo.
"Yes, well, you can see my problem. That's where you come in, though. See, I'm afraid to confront my daughter. And I have a plan. Here's what you're going to do. She doesn't know her way around the area, and always got lost on Riverdale Crescent and Forest Avenue. Wait near that street that evening, and when she does get lost, help her find her way back to the group she'll be out with."
"Well, it sounds harmless enough, but how does this help you gain her trust?"
Thinking fast, Mel replied, "It helps you gain her trust, so you can tell me what she's like." It was crappy, but it had to do, Mel thought, almost praying for the gullible man to believe him.
"Ah, I see. And when do I tell you what I found out?"
Trying not to let his victory show on his face, he replied, "I'll be down Forest Avenue, waiting by the bus stop."
"Perfect, senor Melthore! My sister will be so happy."
Smirking, Mel downed his drink, put some cash on the table, and nodded his head goodbye to Ed, leaving in a rush.
Once outside, he grinned. What Eduardo didn't know was that despite his revoked licence, he still had a car. And he planned to use that car to separate the girl from the group. And if all went well, he could leave then and there with the girl and get the money. Yes, his plan was fool proof.
Smirking as he went to the bus stop, he grinned. Everything would go as planned.
I should celebrate, he thought, pulling out his phone and calling his bold lover from last week.
A/N Chapter 11 has arrived! I apologize for the long absence. Next one will be up sooner rather than later. Also, I changed my penname. I got so used to SafyreSky on dA that ghostliyprincess seemed odd xD
Any who comments are appreciated! Me gusta them :)