Seth crunched to a stop in front of his house, spraying snow in a wide arc over the sidewalk. He cut the engine and stared up at the silent structure. The driveway was empty and he sighed knowing Kitty had gone off in a mood.
“I hope she has the good sense to pull over if she gets too upset,” he muttered, kick-starting the bike again and roaring up into the garage using his powers to open and shut the door.
He dismounted and walked into the house calling out for the hell of it, “Honey, I’m home!”
The silence seemed to press in on him and Seth rolled his neck to rid him of the thick feeling. “I need a drink.”
He headed to the kitchen to forage in the liquor cabinet. Pulling out a bottle of Scotch whiskey he poured himself a generous glass, ignoring the ice and water and drinking it neat.
A folded piece of paper fluttered on the refrigerator door as he was replacing the bottle. It bore his name on the front in Kitty’s messy handwriting. He slid the note out from under the magnet and took it and the whiskey to the living room.
Sprawling on the couch he shook open the paper and started to read:
I’m staying at my mom’s for awhile. I think we need some time apart to…get our heads straight. It’s a lot to take in you know and I need a break. I’ll see you in a few days. Please take care of yourself and don’t do anything stupid.
He smiled a little at the closing phrase and how she scratched out her nickname in favor of the name he liked. Pushing his head back against a throw pillow he stared at the ceiling. The silence was starting to get to him in the worst way. Normally he loved being alone. The one thing he’d wanted since being tasked with watching over Katherine was her out of the house. Now that he had it…
Seth retrieved his phone from his back pocket and scrolled through his contacts list. Selecting an entry he hit send, taking a drink of whiskey as he did. He placed his arm behind his head and listened as the phone went straight to voicemail. Hanging up with a frustrated sigh, Seth moved to another entry and punched send again.
This time the phone was picked up after two rings, “Hello?”
“Hello, Elise? It’s Seth. Is Katherine there?”
“She doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Seth clenched his jaw knowing Kitty had said no such thing, “I just want to make sure she’s alright. Her phone is off and I can’t reach her.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to tell himself it would be a bad thing to materialize in Elise’s living room and strangle her. He calmed somewhat when he heard, “Mom, give me the phone.”
“But you don’t want to talk to him.”
“I never said that. Now please hand me the phone.”
There was a brief pause and then, “Hi.”
After an even longer pause Kitty giggled on the other end, “You’re the last of the great conversationalists.”
Seth cleared his throat, “I tried to call but your phone’s off.”
“Yeah, I know. The battery died and I forgot my charger. I think I can survive though.”
“It’s very…quiet here.”
Another soft giggle, “You must be in your element, then. No ah…no young kid chattering in your ear.”
“You’re not a kid.”
“I am compared to you and to tell the truth I don’t feel very grown-up at the moment. I feel like my head is imploding.”
“That’s why I left. I think it would be a good idea if-”
Kitty nodded even though he couldn’t see, “Okay. I’ll be home in a little while.”
Seth smiled at Elise’s indignant voice as he hung up the phone, “Home? What do you mean, home? You are home!”
* * * *
Kitty pushed open the front door while she removed her key from the lock and dropped it into her dark gray duffle bag. She could still hear her mother’s voice in her head, “Why are you going back? You came here to get away from him!”
The truth was she’d never really wanted to leave in the first place. Leaving had seemed right at the time. It was what people did when things bothered them. Give themselves some space and let things settle. But, nobody else in the world understood what she was going through…except for Seth. And so she came back.
Her ears pricked up at the sound of a guitar and a man singing. She recognized the guitar and the song… Dropping the duffle bag in the middle of the foyer Kitty raced to the living room.
Seth was sitting on the edge of the couch with the guitar balanced in his lap playing and singing for all he was worth. He never even looked around as his charge panted breathlessly at the outside of the living room. In fact, he didn’t turn to look at her until the song was done.
“James used to sing that all the time. He said it reminded him of me.” She swallowed against the thickness in her voice, “I didn’t know you could play.”
“You don’t live seventy-five years without picking up a thing or two,” he shrugged, looking down and running his thumb over the carved initials on the back. “Thank you.”
“For coming back. I know Elise wasn’t happy about it.”
Kitty moved across the room and sat down next to him, “She’ll get over it. I’m just shocked you even asked me.”
He snorted, “What can I say, I’ve finally gotten used to you. The house was too damn quiet with you gone.”
The young woman stared hard at his profile, “Was that the only reason?”
Seth refused to look at her, “Do I need another one?”
“No, I guess not. It just would have been nice if there was one.” She gazed out the window looking up at the night sky.
Seth turned out the light and leaned the guitar against the arm of the couch, shifting to look out the window as well, “Make a wish.”
“Wish on what? There aren’t any stars.”
“Sure there are. There’s one right there.”
Kitty smiled and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, “That’s not a star. That’s an airplane.”
“Make a wish anyway,” he insisted.
She sighed and closed her eyes wondering what had gotten into him. And then she felt his lips on hers and she forgot everything…