First things first: This is NOT the sequel to Hand of Grace. This isn't a sequel to anything. If you are a first time reader of my writing, then have at it! If you aren't, then I have a couple comments:

I wrote this story a very long time ago when I was finishing up school. I would post it all as a one-shot, but it's a little too long for that so it'll probably be a six-shot. Anyway, a long time ago, I stumbled across a vampire book that both intrigued and repulsed me (drinking blood ain't my thing) and somehow I ended up writing this story. It was my very first foray into figuring out my incubi mythos. As you read this you'll see some similarities here and there between the characters and the characters in Hand of Grace. You might even see a couple details (not being able to dance without alcohol and the mark around the lower abdomen, for example), but it should be different enough to interest you. It's definitely more explicit. You'll probably see the characters mention something here and there that you'll never see again – yeah, that's because this was supposed to be a Real Story and somewhere along the way, I stopped and started with a different iteration with slightly modified details. This story will only focus on the relationship/dynamics of the main characters, nothing else so it'll be pretty short. Oh, and once upon a time I was obsessed with First Person. I think this was probably the last story I ever wrote from First Person. Wanting to tell the guy's POV without being silly in my writing is what convinced me to go to Third Person.

If you read and review, I'll consider posting the other failed iterations of stories that I have lying about. I'm not trying to procrastinate from the HoG sequel, but it's a daunting task and this is going to be super quick for me to do.

1/16 - Okay, so the comments above aren't exactly true anymore. I've decided that this story is going to exist in the same universe as Hand of Grace and there is a cameo.

Also, you guys! The story summary I wrote is so CHEESY! I can barely stand it!

I was a self-proclaimed introvert, a nerd even. Well, more like a nerd for sure. So that evening, I think I surprised mostly myself when I decided to go clubbing with my coworkers. But I think I had finally gotten sick of coming home to a house empty of all but my two cats and my dog. I was one of the first people to admit that I needed people in my life after my months of social solitude, but I think I had been expecting myself to go on a church retreat with a bunch of strangers before I expected myself to say yes to go to a club, and yet, here I was, wearing my black dress sheath (I had taken off my suit jacket) and walking into a club. At least it was a nice club, I told myself as I crossed the threshold.

The music was blaring loud enough to be heard from outside yet that didn't deter my friends in the least; it really should have deterred me since I couldn't dance to save my life. Maybe if I had a few drinks, I told myself as I took a few more steps in. I gave my eyes a few moments to adjust to the dim lighting before I rushed after my friends to order drinks at the bar as we waited for a table.

After we snagged a table, we spent a few minutes making small talk about work. We were halfway through our second drinks when almost as one our gaze went to the dance floor. I'm not so sure about the reaction of my companions, but my breath instantly caught when I saw him. It's hard to describe him; my first impression was that of sex. Not having sex, mind you, but that the person who I saw dancing was the absolute epitome of a sexual being. Everything about him oozed sex. His long hair, his eyes, the way he even moved. His tight clothes... I could see his muscles rippling as he danced. He held the girl in front of him, pressing her hips against him. He leaned forward and brushed his lips along her neck. Then he turned and began dancing just as provocatively with the person behind him, a man who I could tell a million miles away was gay.

Someone at the table cussed. ''Figures that he's not straight!"

"Bi, I think," I said mildly, but I shared her bitterness in that I was not about to get involved with a man who was attracted to other men no matter how good he looked. There were plenty of other girls who didn't share my prejudices. I'd just leave him to them and look for someone who fit my own criteria. But in the meantime, it was hard not to watch him; he really was quite gorgeous.

Soon he danced out of view and almost magically, we were shaken from a stupor and went to the dance floor ourselves. Dancing really wasn't my thing, but still I danced a little bit if only to confirm the fact that I couldn't dance with or without alcohol. Rather than continue to hurt my ego, I went to the bar and watched from a perched stool.

This actually wasn't too bad, I told myself as I looked around. This wasn't my ideal way to spend the night, but it really wasn't that bad. For once I didn't feel as if I was completely alone. Being with people, more like around people, helped. I sat there for quite some time as I contemplated my universe. A few people came and made small talk, but mostly I was content to sit and watch.

Some time into the night, I turned around on the stool so I could order another drink. I hadn't thought that anyone was near me, so I took a sharp intake of air when noticed that someone was standing not merely beside me, but was only inches away from me. Then I found I recognized him as sex icon from before. He was casually leaning back against the bar as he surveyed the room and taking sips from his drink. He turned his elegant head toward me when he heard me gasp, his brows lifted in silent inquiry.

''I didn't see you standing there. You startled me," I said truthfully, though I could feel my cheeks burning.

He didn't comment on my jumpiness; he merely smiled kindly and returned to monitoring the crowd. Sitting not even half a foot away from him, I found myself giving him another, far more careful inspection.

For some reason, the oozing sexiness that I had sensed as he had danced was gone. He was still attractive, there was no denying that, but he no long radiated sex appeal. It were as if he had turned it off so he could stand here in anonymity. Now his attractiveness was a fact for an observer to make on their own. The way he was leaning against the bar made me wonder why this was so; his position had caused his tight shirt to ride up, revealing more than half of his perfectly washboard flat, tightly muscled, abdomens. His pants, so low that they were at the hairline, hinted at what they barely covered. He shifted slightly, putting pressure on only his left leg allowing the light to illuminate the area and allowing me to notice a rather large detail that I had overlooked; a large reddish tattoo encircled his navel and dipped toward his groin, partially covered by his pants, (which actually surprised me given how low they were). It was an intricate design, reminding me of many Celtic designs that I had seen, and yet, definitely wasn't Celtic.

I gazed at his face again. He seemed nice, I thought to myself. He had smiled at me after all; he could have rolled his eyes in disgust or laughed mockingly at me, but he had simply smiled. I suppose I could talk to him, I suddenly realized, even if he didn't like girls. No one said you couldn't make friends at a club. No one said you could only talk to people you were interested in taking home. I thought about a million things to say to him, everything from, where are you from, to wanna discuss philosophy, but when I opened my mouth, I heard myself say, "I like your tattoo."

Okay, I suppose that was a decent comment. I waited for a response.

Nothing. His eyes never stopped surveying the crowd. At one point, he lifted his hand to wave at someone across the way. He gave no indication that he had heard me.

The classic cold shoulder. Well, I suppose I'll go crawl underneath my rock and cry since a pretty boy ignored me. I took an angry sip of my drink and began searching the dance floor for my friends. I was ready to leave. Now. If they didn't want to come, I would take a cab by myself. I angrily gulped my drink when I felt someone looking at me. I threw a tentative glance beside me.

His eyes were firmly locked onto me. There was nothing casual about this glance. I had wanted his attention and now I had it. He was evidently waiting for me to look back at him because it was only when he had fully captured my eyes that he said softly, "Thank you." His voice held the slightest trace of an accent, but hearing only two words it was impossible for me to decipher what it was. He continued gazing at me, waiting.

Waiting for what? I wondered as I gazed back into his eyes and noticed that he had eyeliner on. It shocked me for a moment, but then again, eyeliner was made to accentuate the eyes and his green eyes were definitely accentuated by the eyeliner. Wow, a guy who dresses to impress people. Then I blinked.

My response. He was waiting for my response to his answer. Was there a set response that I was supposed to make? No. Last I checked there was no response to the tattoo compliment exchange other than "You're welcome." Was he waiting for me to say something else?

"Does it mean anything?" I asked not a second later. (I could think fast after all.)


But this time, with his eyes directly locked onto mine, I could see his inner mind churning away as he thought of an appropriate answer. The silence was prolonged, but this time I knew he wasn't ignoring me at all. "When I was a teenager," he finally began to tell me, "one of my classmates informed me that this mark was one of the angelic symbols of power, given to mankind by the Archangel Gabriel to aid in the control of demons. I was young and foolish so I naively joined him and his family every evening so that I could learn more about the powers of darkness that the symbols were supposed to control." He paused a moment, his eyes boring into mine with an intensity I had never felt before.

Was he evil? Was he a pawn of darkness? He was admitting as much to me, wasn't he? If this were true, then why couldn't I sense it? Why did I only sense…not goodness, but…righteousness? This was so weird, I told myself. No, this was ridiculous, of course he was aligned with darkness! Look at him! God didn't enlist people who were sex maniacs; he wanted pure, holy followers. Why was I still here then? Why was I still waiting for him to continue? Why did I want to hear what he had to say? So I silently waited.

He broke eye contact with me so he could take a sip of his drink. When he lifted his eyes back to mine, he continued, "My strength over the demons was tremendous. Even the ones that my teachers dared not summon, I controlled with ease. Where they would fight for control with my teachers, I would make them dance and cry for release. I have been told that once the demonic gain control of a man's heart, he begins to think suicidal, insane thoughts, but it was not so with me. My heart grew black and I lusted for power. I could control demons while even their adversaries in heaven were at their mercy. What then, were the concerns of other humans to me? I cared not for another human being. And then," he paused for a moment to take another sip while I practically fell from my stool, listening as intently as I was. "On the night I was to dedicate my entire being to this dark art, my father interrupted our ceremony." He paused again to finish his drink and then look at his empty cup in disgust. "What are you drinking?" he asked me.

"Scotch and ginger ale," I reflexively answered. I had naively thought that it was a casual question, but he twisted about and flagged down the bartender, ordering my drink and a cranberry and vodka for himself.

Turning back to me, my companion's expression, heretofore unmarred by the emotion of his story, was touched by a small, wry smile. "Several of my friends at school were more than a little concerned by my change in behavior. They were so concerned, in fact, that they dared to actually approach my father and tell him of their worries and more importantly, relate to him what I myself had told them about my activities. It was a group effort, I was told; my father isn't exactly the most congenial person to have graced this planet." He stopped when the bartender approached us and set the drinks before us.

I grabbed the nearest drink, but didn't pay it any mind. I wasn't about to wait for him to start back up again at his own pace. "What did your dad do?" I blurted out and then covered my eagerness with an ever so casual sip of my drink.

My companion shrugged nonchalantly as he too sipped. "Proved to me that the gates of Hell can't prevail against a praying man, even when said gates are commanded by a disillusioned teen wearing an angelic symbol." And he smiled a self-mocking smile as he brooded over his drink. There was a long silence, during which I had absolutely no idea what to say to him and he didn't seem inclined to talk. Finally, he said, "I've once again found my path since then, in case you're wondering. My father all but locked me in a church and we had a very, very long talk. Who would have thought that such a sissy religion such as Christianity would be so powerful? A shame most self-professed believers are not true followers of the Way. But then again," he lifted his gaze from his drink and again I felt the full impact of his gaze. "Did I really have to tell you that?" He bowed his head to look at his abdomen as his right hand traced the round symbol. "It is an angelic symbol of power. It represents righteousness, purity and above all, steadfastness of heart."

"But you had it before you met…" I tried to remember a name, but realized that he had never mentioned one so I tried again. "Before you started… summoning."

"It's a birthmark," he answered. "Hereditary. My father has it too. Normally, only other demon hunters can see it because they are usually the only ones with the requisite faith. Most people only see a blob."

I opened my mouth to exclaim in surprise that he was a demon hunter, but he abruptly straightened. "And there is my prey. Excuse me."

I was staring at him open-mouthed as he walked away. I recovered enough to say, "Wait, you never even told me your name!"

He was already through the first bit of the crowd, but he heard me and turned toward me and said with a confident smile, "Don't worry. We'll meet again soon."

I continued watching him until the crowd swallowed him up. I took a longer drink from my glass as my mind began to churn and process everything that I had just heard. A demon hunter? Angelic symbols? Hereditary, invisible symbols?

I took another gulp from my glass and then stared at it in surprise. This was my drink? I looked around me, saw no other drinks in sight and inspected the glass. Yup, my lip prints were all over it and no, this was not my scotch and ginger ale. Feelings like an idiot for not having noticed it sooner, I waved down the bartender and ordered another vodka and cranberry juice. Once I had it in my hand, I carefully, made my way across the dance floor to where I had seen my companion disappear. Surprisingly, it didn't take me very long to find him, even though he was in a remote corner booth. On second thought, I think I would have preferred not having found him; he was snuggling with the man and woman that I had seen him dancing with earlier.

I sighed to myself as I considered what I should be doing. I could just leave. But now, I was just standing here like an idiot with an extra drink. More than a little peeved, I gulped down the last bit of my drink and then approached the table. I was feeling slightly sick. My eyes didn't seem to want to focus.

"Oh, look! Another fan," the woman tittered. For a moment, I saw only black, but the next moment, I found myself gazing at the trio in disgust. I was not fangirling!

My…friend, (I think), slowly pulled away from the duo's embrace and looked at me expectantly. "Yes?"

"Your drink. We switched. I got you another one," I said shortly and slid the glass to him.

He caught it and smiled, but the woman's face paled. My friend glared at her from the corner of his eye and scooted around the table and took my hand. "Sit down for a bit, love," he said gently. I didn't feel up to arguing.

There was music in the background; a man was singing. That's what awoke me. I had to turn off my radio. But I didn't open my eyes. Not yet. I sensed something else. There was something large and warm sleeping against my leg. I smiled in my state of half-awareness, half-drowsiness and carefully turned to my side so that I would not disturb the creature beside me. I freed an arm from underneath the blanket and sought the animal's soft fur. Hmm… which one was this? Lena or Malachi? My fingers found soft, luxurious fur. Malachi. I wondered where Lena had gone off to. She usually liked sleeping next to me too. Malachi began to purr a deep, rumbling purr.

But Malachi didn't sound like that at all. Hearing a purr that didn't belong to my cat, I sat straight up in bed. "You aren't Malachi!" I exclaimed and for the first time opened my eyes. I first saw that the cat sleeping beside me was forty-pound animal decorated with fist sized rosettes along its body. The creature twisted about and gently began kneading my thigh through the blankets, purring as it did so. Without warning it snatched out one of its paws, caught my hand and drew it to its mouth so it could groom me with its tongue. Then it placed its head on my knee and waited.

"Gooooood kitty," I softly crooned and placed my hand on its head. It blinked in contentment. Then it abruptly jumped onto the floor, arched its back and meowed as it paced back and forth. My breath caught as I started looking around the room. Richly decorated in vibrant colors, and expensive wood furniture that actually matched, I knew that this place didn't belong to any of my colleagues who had just graduated from law school as well.

Oh my God, was I wearing clothes? My hands and my gaze immediately went to my chest.

I was wearing clothes, but they weren't mine. On the other hand, they didn't belong to a man either. I was wearing a silk night gown that was clearly brand new.

My clothes…I began to look frantically around for my clothes. On a nearby chair, I saw a matching robe draped along it. I continued searching the room with my eyes. The cat meowed. I automatically turned toward it. It was to my left. It rose up on its hind legs and used the nightstand to stretch. My eyes drifted to the contents of the little table. A gun, holster, and an I.D. holder. I didn't want to touch the gun. But I snatched the I.D. and flipped it open.

FEDERAL AGENT, it proclaimed in bold letters. FBI. Badge number 828629376. I read it three times, committing it to memory, then gazed at the name and the picture. Caleb Wix. Beneath it was a jovial picture of my demon hunting companion. So either I was in a really expensive hotel or… I looked around, saw the dresser full of accessories and clothes neatly folded in the corner. Or he had brought me to his place for some unknown reason. I took a deep breath, pivoted out of bed and wrapped the robe around me. Then I walked out of the bedroom.

He was cooking. He was in the kitchenette, wearing a pair of lounge pants, again dangerously low, and, aside from the towel towering on his head, nothing else. He darted in and out of the area, twisting between the stove, countertop, sink, oven, microwave and fridge, all the while singing in one of the most melodious voices I had ever heard before.

The cat trotted into the kitchen, meowed loudly and began rubbing against the fridge door.

Hearing it, the man stopped singing and said, "Ah, so you got hungry and left your post? Well, here you go." And he turned, snatched a bowl from the top of the microwave and put it on the ground.

The cat meowed again, this time angrier. He studied the cat for a moment as it continued making throaty noises and then he slowly lifted his head from the ground and looked around. He grinned broadly when he saw me. "Twelve hours on the dot, I couldn't possibly ask for more. Are you hungry?" And he turned back to the food without waiting for an answer.

"Why the hell am I here?" I demanded. "Where are my clothes?"

"I had to hand-wash your dress. I figured you probably didn't want to wait for it to be dry-cleaned. It's drying in the bathroom now. I didn't touch your undergarments. I'm sure my mother put them somewhere in the bedroom."

"Mother? Where's your boyfriend and girlfriend?"

"In jail," he said gleefully. Then he actually had the nerve to laugh at me. "Honestly, I know you might find this hard to believe, but it was just part of the cover. You," he pointed at me with a spatula, "Drank the concoction that was meant for me and blacked out. Our doctor said you just needed to sleep it off under supervision, but there was no need to hospitalize you. So," he shrugged, "I brought you here. My mother was kind enough to come undress you. She bought you clothes to wear other than the nightgown. It's hanging in the closet if you want to shower and change."

I found a stool and found myself angrily sitting down. "I was drugged?"

"Yeah, it's a new type of date-rape drug."

"Who put it in my drink? It was just you and me! Your friends weren't anywhere nearby!"

"They paid the bartender. Just like everyone else these past few months."

"So…" I rubbed my forehead. "You were undercover?" I repeated.

He nodded. "The first reports were of robberies, but it's progressed to rape and finally the last victim was murdered. I volunteered to be bait."

"And all that talk about demons and your," I pointed at his abdomen. I was about to say tattoo, but remembered that he had said it wasn't artificial. "Mark?"

He tensed when I had started to ask about it. There was no hiding that, not when he wasn't wearing a shirt. "That," he said slowly, "That was unexpected."

"What you told me last night was unexpected?"

"No." He turned off the range and transferred the contents of the skillet to a serving dish. He placed the skillet in the sink and grabbed a kitchen towel, opened the oven door and removed a large casserole dish and a steaming loaf of bread. He checked the contents of another pan, stirred and turned everything off. "The fact that you could see my mark was unexpected. Especially when we were in the middle of executing a bust. I think if I were in a church, I wouldn't have been so surprised, but in a dance club?" He lifted a disbelieving brow in my direction.

"You were there." I knew he was going to use his job as a defense, so I added, "And don't tell me you learned to put on eyeliner and how to dance like that just for this bust."

His eyes twinkled in amusement. "Saw me dance, did you? I suppose I have picked up a few naughty things these past years."

Just thinking about watching him dance last night made me blush and I looked at the ground. I felt his hand cup my chin and lift my face up. "What?" I asked angrily.

But he just continued gazing into my eyes. "I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like you before." I was about to make some scathing remark about the quality of his previous companions, but he released me and said, "I don't think we've quite formally met. My name's Caleb."

"Maddie," I replied and I held out my hand.

He shook it and again smiled. "I told you we would meet again. I wasn't expecting it to be this soon though."

"Yeah," I agreed quietly. "What happened to my friends?" I suddenly asked, feeling stupid for not thinking about it earlier.

"Take some food. I'll tell you everything soon enough."

I was rather hungry so I meekly did as he told, putting steaming piles of food on my plate as he set down two crystal goblets of water and cut the still hot loaf of bread. He still wasn't saying anything so I started to take the initiative by trying the bread. Before it reached my mouth, he said in a mild voice, "Blessing?"

Turning red, I dropped the food and bowed my head and closed my eyes. A silent prayer, I thought to myself, or did he want me to say something? I jumped when I felt a warm hand gently clasp mine. "Sorry," he softly apologized and closed his eyes. "Father God, I thank thee for sustaining the two of us thus far in our journey and I thank thee for bringing the two of us together so that we might share a meal. Bless the food that we are about to eat and continue to hold us in your hand. In Christ's name, Amen." He released my hand so he could serve himself.

I stared and stared and stared at him. He wears makeup. He dances so provocatively. He just reeks of sex. How could he be an actual believer? How could he be so strong in the Faith?

"Maddie," he suddenly said my name without looking in my direction. "Have you ever considered how strongly sex rules a person's thoughts? How a normally rationally human can no longer function properly when an attractive member of the opposite sex is around?"

"Yes," I said neutrally.

He directed his eyes to me and said, "When I was younger, I made the rather unfortunate discovery that I could make people extremely uncomfortable with my presence so I exploited my ability." There was a pregnant pause. "Some people use their charm, others their money. I manipulate people with my sex appeal. It doesn't mean I'm a man-whore." He took an angry jab at the potato on his plate. "My father told me he would emasculate me if he ever found out I was screwing around. Why do you think I joined a cult? I needed some type of outlet."

"You're a virgin?" I exclaimed.

He didn't say anything. In fact, he directed his entire attention to a broccoli on his plate, but his blush told me everything I needed to know.

"Emasculate you?" I repeated softly.

"With a blunt object," he replied and a moment later his wry smile was back.

"How'd you know what I was thinking?" I asked in puzzlement.

"The expression on your face. It wasn't hard to read, especially if you've seen it before. Of course, I normally don't explain myself to people."

"Well, that's very considerate of you," I murmured.

As he tipped his head back to sip his water, his eyes rotated upward. The pleasant expression on his face changed into a mockingly grin. "Why didn't you say something about the towel?" he asked as he excused himself from the table so he could remove the turban. He tossed it on the sofa and upturned his head. He ran his fingers through his long strands, washing his hands, and returned to the table. The cat came as he was cutting the chicken. It brushed up against his leg and meowed.

"Sing, that's very impolite and you know that," he told the cat sternly.

The cat trilled and its ears flickered back and forth. Caleb watched him very closely. He lifted his shoulders in a slight shrug and gave the cat the piece that he had cut for himself. The cat ate it and obediently lay down on the floor and waited.

"He thinks he deserves a reward because he watched you last night," Caleb explained as he cut more chicken for himself.

"His name is Sing?" I asked curiously as I tried the meal he had prepared.

Caleb chuckled. "Van Helsing, actually."

"Vampire hunter," I murmured. "Here, Van Helsing," I called softly. I offered the cat the meat. It purred as it slowly took it from my hand and returned to its place. "He's a bit large for a domesticated cat, isn't he?"

"He's a clouded leopard. His kin is one of the reasons why my family like to live in the former colonies. No one seems to have the same reverence for a special dispensation from the Queen as a Commonwealth." Seeing my puzzled expression, he said, "My family has cared for Van Helsing's ancestors for hundreds of years. In the 1600's one of my many times removed grandmothers had the foresight to obtain a document from Queen Elizabeth I, stating that we were permitted to keep the cats as house pets. Virginia honored the proclamation when we moved here in the 1700's and has continued to do so. It's a good thing, too. Sing's far too domesticated to survive on his own," Caleb added loftily. At this personal jab, the cat hissed, baring its incredibly long fangs. It rose, rubbed against my legs and sat down close to me. "I think he was afraid I had some ungentlemanly intentions for you. He refused to leave your side all night and would swat at me if I came too close."

That deserved another piece of chicken.

"So…your family keeps clouded leopards as pets?"

Again, I saw him visibly tense, although this time it was evident in the way that he suddenly, and very quickly, clenched his teeth. "Something like that," he said. I could have pressed him. My desire to cross-examine a witness urged me to continue this line of questioning until he broke, but I stifled the urge. He wasn't a witness after all.

"Well, he's very sweet," I declared as I gave him a friendly scratch.

"You're used to sleeping with animals," Caleb stated. "You instantly relaxed when he curled up next to you last night and you started to murmur some names. I couldn't quite make them out."

I nodded. "I have two cats, Lena and Malachi. They sleep with me when it's not too hot outside. Talen's too big to sleep with me. She's the dog. And she smells so she sleeps on the floor." Suddenly, I froze and I abruptly stood. "I-I have to get home. They're by themselves. No one's there to feed them or take them outside or anything." My only sense of relief was that the cats were in fact indoors. They had actually come to me when I had come home from work so I had been able to keep them safely inside before I left with my friends. Talen was outside, luckily, but she still needed food.

"Finish your meal, Maddie," Caleb said soothingly. "We'll leave after you eat."

"Why didn't you just take me home?" I asked belligerently. "Where were my friends? Why didn't you call someone?"

Caleb grew very quiet and said in a low voice, "I did. I tried all the numbers in your cellphone that looked like they were relatives."

And no one answered, he left unsaid. And he knew why.

I took several deep, calming breaths, willing myself not to become overwhelmed again.

"Your friends did try, Maddie," he said. "They saw me carry you out to the paramedics, but the police officers wouldn't let anyone go until they had been questioned and when that was over, the agents told them to go home. I found your ID and keys so I suppose I could have taken you home, but," he shrugged. "I live only a few blocks away from the club and I didn't know where your car was. And, you'd just been drugged. Here we're only a hop and a skip away from the university hospital. Why drive out to the West End?"

I shook my head to myself, if only to realize that he actually had legitimate points. "My car's at home. Michelle drove," I told him softly.

"I did actually consider setting off your alarm with your keychain and following the noise," he said.

I smiled half-heartedly at this comment. I absently wiped at my nose. "So, your mother came by?"

"Mom and Dad came by. Mom's a doctor. Or was a doctor. She hasn't practiced in years. I figured she wouldn't mind playing nurse."

"Do they live near here?"

Caleb shook his head. "They travel around, but they were in Richmond for a little bit so I called them. Mom made sure you were comfortable and then they left."

"That was very kind of her."

Caleb merely shrugged at the comment and changed the subject to food.

An hour later found me in a new Camaro riding to my house. We were mostly silent. He started by asking me a few questions about my work, but after giving my pithy responses, I didn't follow-up with him. Eventually, the only sound was the rumble of the engine, the soft murmuring of the radio and my terse directions. When we stopped in front of my house, Caleb turned off the car.

"Thanks," I said simply and started to open the car door. It was locked.

"Sorry," he instantly apologized as he unlocked them.

I started to open the door again when he stopped me by saying my name. He handed me his business card with a number scratched on it with blue ink. "Call me," he said. "I don't really know too many people in this city and I get pretty bored. Just give me a ring whenever you feel up to it, I have a surprising amount of free time."

I stared at the numbers and then stared at him. He's so got to be kidding. There is NO way he wants to date someone like you. "Okay," I said softly. "'Bye."

"Good-bye, Maddie," he said congenially. He started the engine and put the car in reverse. "Call me," he repeated. I watched him pull out and drive away.

I like guyliner.

That is all.