DEL SOL VALLEY
Mirage Park Neighborhood
After exiting the car, Fallon looked around the area, at a public playground to one side, which made her cringe as she hated kids, with maybe the exception of those by immediate family, which she tolerated, but still preferably avoided. Public playgrounds however were comparable to medieval torture chambers to Fallon.
On the opposite side a long alleyway, lined with a colorful, mismatched row of small and simple houses opposite rows of garages all the way down to the main road.
They were parked in front of an obviously vacant home, with a ‘sold’ sign by the door.
Surprisingly upbeat and unusually chatty, ‘Bear’ now smiled at her.
“I know what you are thinking, all those windows, what a security nightmare, but you’d be surprised if I told you they are extra-strength and ….” he rambled on, when Fallon cut him off.
“You think I am worried about windows?! Not even close! That didn’t even make my list! What is this? You have GOT to be shitting me! I let my guard down for one minute and see the same guy for a while and here we are, you wanting to play house with me in a shitty neighborhood?! That is EXACTLY what I did NOT want!” Fallon ranted angrily, causing ‘Bear’ to take a small step away from her, drawing his eyebrows.
“This may not be the Del Sol Valley hills, but it’s not shitty. Has a pretty good security rating by the …”
“I don’t even care. Nope! Just NOPE!” Fallon stated, shaking her head, then turned to leave.
“Fallon – wait! Please wait and hear me out, and at least let me give you the tour. I won’t make you decide right away, but at least think about it.” ‘Bear’ gently held her back.
“I don’t have to; I don’t care about real estate. I don’t give two shits what’s behind that door. None, whatsoever. This isn’t happening, whatever this is! Not interested!”
“Why not? What is wrong with me? Just because I am not a celebrity? Not wealthy? You’d be surprised but personal security doesn’t pay too shabby. I am nowhere near where your parents are, but I do all right for myself. I have plans, ideas, and I was hoping to share them with you.”
“I have my own ideas and plans, thank you very much! No offense, but no way!”
“What plans? Living with your parents for the rest of your life – or better put – for eternity? Without a job, a task, anything? You think THAT will keep you happy long-term? You already seem miserable most of the time.”
Fallon glared at him, angry at him for his perceived insolence, then disappeared, leaving behind a disappointed ‘Bear’.
DEL SOL VALLEY Villa ViVa
Later that same day, Fallon appeared behind the garage of Villa ViVa, while she walked around to the front door, ‘Bear’ stepped out of the dark.
Fallon walked up to him, looked at him, then kissed him, intensely, which he allowed.
Once they separated, Fallon looked up at him with her best ‘I’m Sorry’ face.
“To cut through the chase, I had a long – mandatory – talk with my mom. She sat me straight in a very unceremonious way after I snapped at my brother. So, I told her what happened, and she told me that my failure to launch into a life of my own is getting old to her and dad, and that I need to start realizing I can’t squat at my parents’ home forever just living into the day without even as much as an attempt at a career. I know I was kind of a bitch to you, I want to apologize, and if your offer still stands, I would like to accept it. Sorry, ‘Teddy Bear’.”
‘Bear’ chuckled briefly, creating fine lines around his eyes, reminding Fallon that he was quite a bit older than her.
“I told you my real name in confidence, yet, here you are apologizing while breaking my trust using some silly pet version of it, even though I don’t see whatever relationship you allow for us to have to involve cutesy terms of endearment. And you don’t even know what my offer was. You just assumed things.”
“What’s there to assume? You showed me a house you bought wanting me to move in with you, kinda obvious, right?!”
“Wrong. I did buy that house. For myself. And of course, for us to have a place to retreat to, one your father might find more agreeable that a guest room in your sister’s house or a hotel room. I hate to admit this, but he has a point.”
“Oh. I thought … oh.” Fallon blushed deeply.
‘Bear’ smirked devilishly, turning Fallon’s cheeks red-hot. Making her uncomfortable, or even blush, wasn’t easy.
“You thought – WHAT?” ‘Bear’ probed.
“Nothing. Forget it. I am an idiot. A very humiliated one. Yikes.”
“Well, whatever you DIDN’T assume, Fallon, you were wrong. As I said earlier, we are not at the comfort level in our relationship to call each other pet names, so we most certainly are not in any position for me to even dream about suggesting anything along the lines of what you DIDN’T assume. Not to mention that much like you, I like my personal space to retreat to. Alone. As you put it, no offense, but no way. You are a great girl, Fallon, very smart, so much potential, but too many foolish hang-ups and infantile ideas, you have a lot of growing up to do before I would consider you capable of a real relationship.”
“Wow, ouch, guess it’s beat up on Fallon day, but my mom already cut me down to size so what’s some more blows, right. All you said is duly noted and all hints received. I am well aware that I suck are this stuff, cos I normally do not do relationships at all, ‘Bear’ for the very plain and simple reason that I just don’t want to. I don’t know what it is about you that keeps me around, you can be so incredibly great, but also so aggravating, to be honest, I have thought a million times about ending it with you – and then I realize I would miss you too much. I don’t know how I got here, I don’t like it, but I guess it’s all part of growing up. Mom had a lot to say about that too. Here I am, a 24-year-old woman getting reprimanded by mommy, then again, she was quick to point out that I am also a 24-year-old woman with no job, squatting at home, mooching of mom and dad, sooo … yeah, she had the better arguments. Great day to be me.”
“I have nothing to add to that, except to ask that you make up your mind about me before too long. I am no ‘fuckboi’, as you father called me, among other, unflattering things. It upset me then, until it dawned on me that he wasn’t all that wrong about it either. I am not really the type for something like that, so my patience is running out to level up to something feasible with you. In a way, with very few exceptions here and there, that ‘fuckboi’ is the level you keep me at, but I am not that. Question that remains is for how long I can live with it, as this maybe your idea of a relationship, but it’s not mine, and definitely not long-term. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my fair share of meaningless no-strings-attached affairs, I am not judging that or above it, but this, to me, isn’t something like that. If that is all you offer, I may have to walk away from it. I don’t want to, but I am not sure how much longer I want to do what we have been doing.”
“Oh wow! You are pulling out the big guns, no pun intended. Okay, definitely gave me some food for thought there. I think you can tell by me being here, crawling back to you that evidently we both are out of our no-strings-attached comfort zone here, and this obviously is not one of those easy walk away from situations anymore. So, what DID you want with me at that house if it wasn’t for what I thought it was?”
“Well, we’re doing a form of dating, for better or worse, means we both have some level of importance with each other, so I wanted to show you the place, even though it’s being remodeled. I am excited about it. Most of all I wanted to show you my office, or better, where it will be once remodeling is done. A place I will be operating my business out of when not handling a client on site personally. In order to have more time for you, I decided to delegate more and act like an owner and boss rather than one of my employees. I wanted to offer you to be a part of that. I was thinking that you would be perfect as my right hand, you’re not shy or easily impressed, you have no problem standing your ground, I could train you, show you the ropes. Maybe eventually you could help me screen and train potential new employees, meet with new clients, such things. It would help me, and it would give you a real opportunity for a career with a never-ending demand in this town. If this goes well on a trial basis, I could let you buy in as an equal partner. You’d be part-owner of a very well reputed and established personal security business. It may not give you international fame and a fanbase, but if you wanted that, you’d have done it by now.” ‘Bear’ said in a matter-of-fact way.
“Business partner? I thought you … oh …OH!” Fallon exclaimed.
“You thought what, Fallon?” ‘Bear’ drilled down.
“Nothing, forget it. I jumped to conclusions. When do you need to know my answer by?”
“After you came to the house and looked at everything, I wanted to show you the setup, the dungeon – that’s what we call our training room – maybe few training videos and such, and maybe you could accompany me on a client visit, just as a silent observer, then to a training session with new hires. After you looked at all that, then I want you to tell me if you are in or out.” ‘Bear’ laid out his take.
“So, just so we’re playing with an open deck here, if I were to say no, would that mean we are over too?”
“Not necessarily. I keep business and pleasure separate. But it would be an answer to another question going around in my head, about where I rank with you. You see, Fallon, me offering this to you may mean nothing to you but is a grand gesture on my part. The security business is my baby, I built it from the ground up, took a lot of sweat, all my money, which I made back and then some, and it takes up the majority of my time. I told you I am doing well for myself now, but the beginning was very rough, I lived in my car for almost a year when I first founded it until the first big contracts rolled in. Sharing this with you is big to me, and I am starting to wonder if I should. Part of me being successful and as good as I am at what I do is my ability to read people and situations – but I am wondering if I misread this. Us.”
“Oh … I didn’t … I mean … please let me have that shot. I didn’t come here looking for a career opportunity or some long-term commitment, but the more I hear about it, the more interesting it sounds. If you look past the irony of having a Vampire in a security business for mortals, you’d have to admit that there are few people better suited for that job than Vampires. I mean, we already learned a lot of the things you probably teach, just so we can exist in the shadows, and Vampires can’t afford to be shy pushovers. I’d like to see it. I promise I won’t embarrass you and I will be honest once you showed me all you wanted to show.”
“Oh, I never had a doubt about you giving me honest opinions. I have been seeing you for almost a year now … All right, but keep this in mind, Fallon, if we do this, I am the boss. Are you sure you can live with that?”