Kitty cautiously approached the living room where she could hear the television blaring loudly. She peeked around the corner and saw Seth sprawled on the couch pretending to watch whatever show happened to be playing. The light from the screen reflected off of the silver in his eyes making them glow. Her gaze strayed to the discarded sunglasses on the coffee table. Assuming the man wanted some privacy she started to withdraw.
“Did you need something?” he asked gruffly, startling her.
“No,” she whispered, shaking her head.
“You shouldn’t lie,” he replied, without changing the tone of his voice or looking at her. “You don’t have the face for it.”
“It’s just…” Kitty began, taking a step into the room. Her heart spasmed strangely and painfully when she saw him replace his glasses. “You seem to take it for granted that I’ll stay with you.”
“Do you have anywhere else to go?”
“I fail to see the problem then,” finished Seth, returning his attention once again to the t.v.
“You don’t like me,” she murmured, bunching something in her fist. “And I don’t really know you. Thank you for saving me and taking care of me but I need some normalcy in my life right now. I’m going to stay with my mom.”
As she finished her speech Kitty placed what she had bunched in her hand on top of the coffee table, “Thank you again.”
Seth watched her walk out of the room before retrieving his rosary from the table. He spoke while he twisted it around his wrist, “Don’t say a word.”
“I wasn’t going to,” replied Gabriel, leaning against the mantle.
“I can’t force her to stay if she wants to leave.”
“No, you can’t.”
“You want me to talk to her?” asked Seth, leaning forward and resting his forearms on his knees.
Gabriel remained silent but raised an eyebrow.
“You want me to talk to her,” he sighed noisily. “She won’t listen.”
“She might not, but she’ll hear and most of the time that’s enough,” said the angel disappearing.
“Not in my experience,” muttered Seth, turning off the t.v. and walking out of the room.
* * * *
“Come in!” yelled Kitty, attempting to wipe her grimy shirt with her hands.
Seth frowned when he saw the girl in the same clothes she’d been wearing at the apartment, “Why are you in those?”
“Because the other things aren’t mine,” she said, indicating the pile of discarded clothes on the bed.
“They are yours. I gave them to you,” he insisted, gathering them up and trying to hand them to her.
“Yes, and eventually you’ll want something for them. Thanks but no thanks.” Kitty pushed past him and reached for the angel figurine on the dresser. In her haste it slipped from her fingers.
Seth caught the battered piece before it could hit the carpet, “Why did you choose to save this?”
“He’s my…guardian angel. I’ve always had him,” she explained, holding out her hand.
“And you named it, Seth?” he asked, looking at the base before giving it back.
“I named him Seth,” she nodded, tucking the angel in her pocket.
“Look,” Seth began, pausing to gather his thoughts. “I don’t dislike you. I’m bad tempered with just about everyone. I’m not used to people who are…”
“Underfoot,” Kitty supplied, scanning the room for her guitar.
“No, would you let me finish?” asked Seth exasperatedly. “Just sit down!”
Kitty shrugged and made herself comfortable on the edge of the bed. She watched him struggle to frame what he was about to say.
“I live alone for several reasons of which I won’t go into…” He pushed his sunglasses farther up on his nose. “But, I really don’t mind you staying here. My bark is almost always worse than my bite. I have to get used to having you around so, if you decide to stay you’ll have to be patient with me.”
Seth looked at a loss for a moment. He cocked his head as if listening to something she couldn’t hear and then continued on with a stubborn frown, “I can’t force you. The guitar is under the bed if you still want to leave.”
Kitty knelt on the floor and dragged the instrument out from its hiding place.
“Oh,” he said, pausing on his way out the door. “I don’t expect sexual favors when I give things to people. If I did…well, let’s just say there wouldn’t be much left of me after Michael got through blasting me into oblivion.”
“Who’s Michael?” Kitty found herself asking.
“One of my scarier friends. I’m a pussycat compared to him.” Seth chuckled at the expression on her face. “He doesn’t come around that often. Actually, it’s been almost two years since I’ve seen him.”
“Why?” she asked, trying to disguise her relief.
Seth shrugged, “He has better things to do than manage me and my affairs. I only see him when I’ve majorly screwed up.”
“Are you a drug dealer?” Kitty bit her lip and frowned, tightening her hold on the neck of the guitar.
“Yes,” replied Seth, leaning against the doorframe and crossing his arms. “Michael is my supplier and when I don’t turn a good enough profit he lays me out. Anything else you want to know?”
The young girl narrowed her eyes and stared hard at the man in front of her, “Please tell me you’re joking.”
“Of course,” he said, returning her stare over the top of his glasses. “I have countless faults but dealing in drugs isn’t one of them. Have I given you reason to mistrust me?’
“No…but I don’t understand you,” she replied, twisting the guitar strap in her fingers.
“Good,” said the young man, leaving without another word.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” she murmured, borrowing a quote from ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
Much like the story’s heroine, Kitty felt herself falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. But unlike Alice, she wouldn’t awake in a thicket of wildflowers. As strange as events now were they were anything but a dream.
Seth acted oddly but he did manage to keep her safe. And whatever bad luck was following her around she did not want to bring it to her mother’s front door.
“I suppose I’ll stay,” she sighed, slowly rising to her feet and following her protector out of the door. “Seth, can I use your phone again?”