“We would never become friends with most if not all of the people with whom we have been friends for many years, if we had met them only a few weeks ago.”― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Oasis Springs McCoy Residence
Cait felt strange as she stepped past the threshold as offered by the friendly woman who had opened the door for her. Had to be KC’s mom. Cait realized she had never met her before. Only his dad. KC visually favored the latter, but had his mother’s piercing sky-blue eyes, contrasting his year-round tan.
With a sigh, Caitlin entered, as the woman now yelled up the stairs in her slow Southern drawl that sounded incredibly charming to Caitlin.
“KC, honey, come down please, there is someone here to see you. A girl! Pretty one.”
She turned around to Caitlin, offering a beverage with Caitlin declined as KC appeared on the stairs, his face instantly saying more than words could, but he came down anyway.
“You? Oh crap. Let’s go out back.” he grumbled.
“Oh KC, honey, don’t be rude! It is 103 degrees out there, stuffy and dusty. Mind your manners and take this lovely lady to sit in the living room, offer her a beverage like the gentleman your daddy and I raised you as.”
“Mom, seriously, no need.” KC frowned.
“I don’t mind, Mrs. McCoy.” Caitlin said politely.
“Aren’t you a pretty little thing. With that alabaster skin of yours, you’d be red like a crawdaddy in no time. KC always was a magnet for pretty girls, ever since he was yay high. He got a really pretty girlfriend too, lovely girl, pretty as a picture, just like you, a redhead, but she can stand some sun. That’s rare!”
“I know, Mrs. McCoy, Leeora’s my cousin, actually. On my mom’s side.” Caitlin politely replied.
“Oh, I’ll be darned! Small world. KC, you never mentioned that. How come we never met this pretty creature here? Where do you hail from, hun? What did you say your name was?”
“It’s Caitlin. Caitlin Cameron, Mrs. McCoy.”
“Oh. OH. OH MY! You are Caitlin. THE Caitlin. Oh well, how about that. I think I’ll leave you both to it then. Got to get to it myself. A pleasure to finally meet you.” suddenly Mrs. McCoy couldn’t seem to leave fast enough.
“Not awkward at all. What did you tell her about me?” Caitlin whispered at KC once his mother was out of hearing distance.
“Nothing that wasn’t true. We can talk in my dad’s shop. It’s air conditioned and definitely private. Assume that’s why you’re here. Oh, and your shadow can come too, wherever he’s hiding.” KC replied unenthused about Caitlin’s visit.
“Heath isn’t here, just me. And yes, you are right, I am here because we desperately need to talk.”
“Dreamy. Fine. Come, gotta go ’round front.”
She followed him to the shop, briefly admired all the work, some of it partially finished, then told KC why she had come.
“Look KC, I know I am not your favorite person at the moment, haven’t been for a while. I never meant to hurt you. Not then, not now, not ever. I never broke up with you for any other reason but because I thought I saw something that wasn’t there, and I was too young, too immature to know how to deal with it properly. I didn’t dump you because of any of those things you think about me. I really am not like that. I swear.”
KC looked at her, then looked away, then walked over to a workbench, played with a few things on it, before he finally turned back around, swallowed hard and talked.
“You hurt me more than I ever thought anyone could hurt me, Caitlin. I know we were young, dumb, immature, both of us, but you were everything to me. I loved you so much. As a friend, but also in every other way, and that made me vulnerable. You see, what hurt the most wasn’t even that you dumped me. The poor boy getting dumped by the rich girl isn’t a new story. But the friend part did, especially at a time I needed you the most, thinking I was losing my father, my family almost losing the house, facing homelessness over and over again, my mom and sister crying themselves to sleep every night, while still worrying that my father’s health could take another turn again, like it did several times. I had big dreams of goin’ to college, making something of myself, and those dreams died right there, even though my dad lived. I never needed you more than I did then, needed my best friend, the one I could confide everything in, cry like a baby in front of, without being laughed at or called a wimp like all my male friends would have – and you weren’t there. Just gone. Punishing me for something I never did. The rug was pulled from underneath me completely. I never felt so alone, Cait. And then to find out years later, on TV, that you are a vampire, your whole family was, and I never knew, I felt like I never knew you at all. All that changed me forever.”
“I am so very sorry, KC. Please forgive me. Please.” Caitlin walked towards KC, to hug him, but he raised his hands, shaking his head, stopping her in her tracks.
“Don’t know if I can, Cait. I think I want to, but I really don’t know how. Or why, really. I cannot see us ever be besties again, not with Heath in the picture and all that other stuff. Maybe we’re too old to try and start a friendship over. If that’s even a thing at all.”
“We’re 19, well, I am, you’re just a couple years older. That’s not that old. Definitely not too old to not give up on a friend. All I need is a second chance. Please try. Look, if you want to, I will explain everything, answer every question you have, about me, my family, vampires. I couldn’t tell you back then. We had rules, still do, but obviously they changed since. Nobody knew back then, most of our more distant family didn’t know what we really were, especially since most of them knew my dad as a mortal still. It wasn’t a lie, it was a secret, and not mine to tell. I feel like shit, KC. I wish I could undo all that happened, but I can’t. You were my best friend for so long. I miss you. A lot. You always made me laugh so much. Such a great guy. I’d do whatever it takes to be your friend again.”
“Yeah, until Heath came into your life. That’s when I took second chair, became an afterthought. I mean, he was right there, conveniently living with you, while I could only visit whenever someone hired in my dad. Maybe that was meant to be. Maybe you and I never were.”
“KC … I’ll say it again, I really would like to be your friend again. I won’t abandon you ever again. But I need you to know that I love Heath. Really and fully. Friend is all you and I can ever be, but if that’s okay with you, I’ll be the best friend I know how to be to you.”
“Yeah, I got that Heath memo a long time ago. What happened at the shoot was out of desperation, everything in my life is a mess again, I had just found out that Leeora had been going on dates with guys that weren’t me, according to her totally harmless, but it was enough to make me wanna be drunk that night and I just screwed up. Caitlin … where do we stand now? This feels like a goodbye even though you make it sound like you want a do-over, which is hella confusin’, and I am not sure I want to invest myself in something like that. And even if I did want to try, do you really think Heath would want you and me to be friends again, after everything?”
Caitlin gestured around herself.
“Looks like he would. He knows I am here, as a matter of fact, this was actually his idea. And yes, KC, ideally, I would like to be friends with you again. Like we used to be. I know that will take time, but I am willing to give it my best effort. Man, we spent so much time together growing up. I miss that. I miss you. The real KC. Not the snarky bastard.”
“Well, so here is the next hitch in that giddyup. I am just some guy from your past, Leeora is your family, she ain’t going nowhere, but she and I – let’s call it – we decided to part ways and not in the amicable, calm way. It was a shitshow of the wall-shakin’ kind. I guess you could say ending it was a sort of mutual decision. She decided I was a goddamn useless asshole, I decided she was a fucking bitch, and we’re just tired of each other’s bullshit. She and I are history for good this time. Haven’t updated my family yet, knowing that will be another discussion I am not feeling like havin’.”
“I would be lying if I didn’t think it was probably for the better. I think she has been using you, KC. Really, Leeora is my cousin, but I know first-hand she is not easy to get along with and the entire family knows that she does everything she can to get what she wants. Look, I don’t know how else to tell you, but Heath and I are moving in together, I mean, a different town, different place and just him and me this time, we’re both over Leeora too. I kinda wanted to offer you and Leeora the penthouse. But if you want it … I’ll give you first dibs. She still gets the boutique; I am pulling out of that too.”
“Ha – you overestimate the wealth a man can shovel in as the carpenter’s son. I can’t afford a hoity-toity place like that, even if I had that sort of Dineros I cannot leave here, nor would I want to move to San Myshuno. The shop’s here, dad needs me here, he can’t work very hard and I can’t leave him hanging with the business, which is going shitty already, we’re barely making bills each month. I can’t drive back and forth between here and the big city ev’ry day. Nah, that penthouse is more Leeora’s style anyway. Her vain ass can have it. Maybe that will help her reel in the type of Mr. Moneybags she really wants. I don’t know why she even bothered with me at all. Clearly, I wasn’t the man for her. And I need a simple girl, one with a good heart, not some fancy chick where even the best is never good enough.”
“OMG – I totally forgot you are a carpenter! We can totally help each other here! I mean, Heath and I, our new place needs a lot of TLC, and we’d pay you – and your dad – really well too! Do you do home remodels and repairs and such stuff?”
“What do you think we make a living with? Carving cute horses out of wood ain’t gonna pay the bills. I am not sure I am quite ready to fix up your happy home with Heath though, not to mention I can’t see Heath wantin’ me there in the first place.”
Caitlin did manage to convince KC to at least tentatively agree to come out to Forgotten Hollow in a few days to look at the house, see what all is needed and decide then if he wanted to take on the job.
TO BE CONTINUED