A Denver Monday

So I woke up Monday morning to the sounds of Denver and Miles screaming at each other in the great hall. It was so loud I heard it up two flights of stairs and through a solid oak door. When I checked the clock, it was 5 am. Plenty pissed off because of the time; I got out of bed, stormed down the stairs and promptly threw the nearest pair of shoes at both of them.

“If you two screaming cats don’t stop screaming I’m going to lock the two of you in the nearest bedroom until you either kill each other or have sex. The noise you’re making is enough to offend the dead.” I shouted at the both of them.

I got glares in return, so I glared back.

“I don’t give two flying shits whether the two of you think I should not have gotten involved, but I got sick of the moping.” I pointed a finger at Denver. “You, I’m goddamn sick of with your superior attitude towards my cousin. For some reason he seems to think the world of you and I’m not fucking convinced. Especially after this little temper-tantrum you’ve disguised as hurt over an imagined affair. If you’d been more honest with how you were feeling, this wouldn’t have happened.”

I sucked in a breath and jabbed a finger at Miles. “Where do I begin with you? You didn’t tell Denver the truth about what you were doing with your time. You told him nothing. This left everything you were doing open to interpretation. I may not have the best track record for relationships in this house, but fuck the two of you if you think you’re going to get away with this idiotic display of two people who are in love with each other and determined to hurt each other over an imagined wrong.”

I glared the both of them down and watched both sets of eyes drop down to the floor. “Silly geese. You’re in love with each other. Now act like it or so help me, I’ll knock the two of your stupid heads together until you’ve figured out why it is I’m so pissed at you.” 

With that I stormed back up the stairs to get ready for the day. Ben was wise enough to stay out of my way when I was that angry. He stayed even further out of my way when he brought coffee in to the bathroom and I bent the spoon in to a knot without looking at it. Even the shower stall doors were trembling. 

I do not get that angry often. The last time I totally lost my temper I trashed an entire cemetery’s iron fence while I was inside because my cousin started trashing my parents at their funeral. Losing my temper is not something I normally do.

So when I marched down the stairs I heard the whispering in the Great Hall go silent. I was still so angry with the two of them that I made the fireplace tools and the mesh screen rattle. Oh yeah, I’m scary.

I took myself in to my shop and spent the morning venting out my anger by pulling the Nash back in to its proper form and spot welding where I couldn’t get it to bed back without breaking the frame. By noon I’d spent my anger and the Nash frame was back to where it was before the accident. I was cleaning up that side of the shop and putting my tools back so I could start on other cars when Steve Miller walked in, drunk as two skunks. 

“Well, this day is just getting better. Go away, Steve. I don’t have time to play with you today.” I said as I avoided him.

“You stupid, Bitch. I’m not here to play. I’m here to make you pay for ruining my life!” He shouted at me.

I was really getting tired of people shouting today.

“You almost ended mine, Steve. I consider the fact that you’ll never get your license back small comfort for the pain I had to endure because of your idiotic driving.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted poking at him. I don’t make smart decisions when I’m angry or have been angry. So when Steve shouted at me and picked up a monkey wrench, I knew I was in trouble. I launched in to survival mode and used my gift to yank the tool out of his grasp. There was a roll of heavy gauge wire hanging on the wall, so I controlled it to wrap around Steve before he could get to me. I anchored it to the metal guard rail that was on the steps leading down to the shop from the office. He glared at me as I  called the Sheriff and told him what was going on. 

“Bitch. Stupid Bitch.” He growled when I got off the phone. 

“Oh no. I’m not stupid. That’s why I called the Sheriff. I’ve made it a point to stay away from you, Steve. Do you know why?”

“Because you’re afraid of me.” He sneered.

“No, because everyone in this town knows I have an intense dislike for you and your father hates me because I’m the one who finally made his little boy pay for his bratty ways.”

There was more cursing when I called him a brat. I parked myself on a stool across the shop and waited. I wanted to make sure that I was nowhere near the man when the Sheriff walked in. I didn’t have to wait long, because he was there with his lights on about five minutes later. When he walked through the main garage doors and saw Steve, he laughed. 

“Oh, Marlowe. I do like your way of saying ‘The situation’s been handled.’ I do believe that’s the best thing I’ve seen all day.” Sheriff Stiers said. 

There was more cursing from Steve and him calling me all manner of names that I won’t repeat here. He stopped when the Sheriff cuffed him on the head. 

“You’ve just ruined your chance at staying outside jail, boy. You were ordered to stay away from her by the Judge and you disobeyed an order.” The Sheriff said as he motioned me to undo the wire. 

I controlled it so that it was up and off while the Sheriff was handcuffing Steve. As I floated the roll of wire back to the shelf it normally say on, the Sheriff was frisking Steve and hauling him back to his car. 

“I’ll never get used to the freaky shit you do with metal.” He said as he came up behind me while I was using my gift to straighten out a bent axle. 

I laughed. “Eric it’s no different from your powers. It’s just a part of me. I just chose not to use it to become the world’s greatest criminal.”

“God help the world if you do that.” He said with a laugh.

“Agreed. God help the world.” I snickered. I sobered up a little and looked at the car. “What’s going to happen to him now?”

“Oh, for him? Jail. He tried to attack you. That’s attempted assault with a deadly weapon.” 

“Poor man. With a father like his, I’m not surprised he turned out the way he did. Do you think if I asked the court for it they’d force him into counseling?”

The Sheriff blinked and then looked at his car. “They might. Do you really want that?”

“Yes. He needs jail, a good spanking and counseling to see why his way is the wrong way.”

“Do you always have so much hope for everyone?”

I laughed. “I try. It doesn’t always work.”

“If I was in your place I’d be pissed off.”

“I was pissed off this morning. Now I’m just sad. I think I’ll go steal my boyfriend and take him to dinner. After my trip to the station, of course.” 

“You should call Ben. He could drive you. You shouldn’t be driving yourself after this.” 

“I promise I’ll call Ben as soon as I get all the doors locked.” 

“I’ll stay outside until I see the doors go down.”

“Thanks, Sheriff.” I kissed his forehead and went to go lock the front door. 

I never got the chance to tell him about the bomb. It went off as soon as I walked in to the office.

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Denver

So the Twins went home the day after we got the letter from Ben’s mother. I say we because when I finally got to read the letter, it was addressed to both Ben and myself. That was a surprise to both of us. I know Ben told her about us dating, but I’m still a little leery of her and Ben’s father. I really want to like her, but Ben’s father is putting up a huge wall that I’m struggling to get over. I really don’t like him as a person.

I was brooding about the letter in to my coffee on Sunday morning when Miles came in to the kitchen. The man was clearly moping about something and on the fifth sigh he made as he was getting coffee, I finally shook out of my brood and asked him what was going on.

“Denver.”

“Ah, this would be your on-again off-again boyfriend who kicked you out because he thought you were cheating on him?”

“That’s the one.”

“…and were you?”

“NO!” Miles shouted.

“What were you doing with the time that he says you were gone?”

Miles shuffled his feet, blushing as he looked down. He mumbled something and I couldn’t hear him so I asked him to say it again.

“I was taking dance lessons.”

That brought me up short and I couldn’t say anything for a minute. “Dance… lessons?”

Miles nodded.

“Why?” I asked.

Miles sighed. “I was going to take Denver out to dinner at The Watch. They have dancing there and he likes to dance.”

“So?”

“I don’t know how.”

I was confused by this because Miles was always the first one on the dance floor. Then it dawned on me.

“You can’t do a traditional dance, can you?”

Miles brooded in to his coffee. “No. I can’t waltz or any of the things Denver can do with his eyes closed. So I was taking dance lessons to please him.”

I smacked the back of his head as I walked by to get a refill on my coffee.

“So why haven’t you told him, you goose?”

“He’s not taking my calls. At all. He refuses to talk to me when I go into The Bookstore. Mary Anne has to take my order for books or ring me out.”

I sighed. Grown men could be so damn childish.

“The Bookstore is opened today, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I need to pick up some things for Ben.”

“Oh. I’m not going for you. He won’t talk to me.”

I patted his hand. “It’ll be okay.”

Miles looked at me, eyes narrowing. “What are you planning on doing?”

I blinked at him and tried my best to pull off an innocent look. “Getting Ben’s order. What else would I be doing?”

“I dunno, but whatever it is that you’re thinking about doing: don’t do it.”

I didn’t answer Miles as he walked out of the kitchen with his coffee. It was better that he didn’t know anyway. That way Denver couldn’t use it against him. I followed Miles out of the kitchen and walked up to the master bedroom. Now that Ben was back at work, he was already out of the house to catch up on paperwork. I could shower and get out of the house now in less than an hour. If he’s here, it’s more like two before I get out the door. He can be very persuasive.

It was twenty minutes before I could find a parking spot outside of The Bookstore and get inside. I was greeted by Mary Anne at the counter and made loud noises over her belly. She’s expecting in January.

“Ooh my gosh you’re so ready for the little one, aren’t you?” I exclaimed.

Mary Anne laughed. “That’s one way of putting it, Marlowe. I’m so ready to have him so I can pee normally again.”

“I bet. Poor thing. You haven’t sat down all day, have you?” I said as  I came around the counter and steered her towards a chair.

“You know Denver, he saw you coming and took off to the stockroom to avoid you. He thinks you’re here to talk to him about Miles.”

“Oh I’m here to talk about Miles, but not to him. If I tell you what’s going on, you’ll hit him for me.” I grinned.

“Oh really now? What’d Miles do now?” Mary Anne said, leaning forward.

“You know he was planning on proposing to Denver? It seems that the whole thing last month has to him pretty shaken. Mark losing Max so soon and all.” No one needed to know what I’d seen when I picked up the spoon Miles used in his coffee. Especially Miles.

“No!” Mary Anne exclaimed. “So he really was working all those hours?”

I nodded and leaned closer. “and he was taking dancing lessons. Poor thing can’t slow dance, but he sure can club dance.”

Mary Ann laughed. “Ain’t that the truth. The man is wonderful with those hips of his.”

“But he can’t slow dance to save his life.”

“Oh that’s so sad. So that’s what he was doing with the rest of his time?” Mary Anne asked as she stared off in to space.

“I called the dance studio on the way over. They confirmed he was a student there. Poor Denver just lost himself a chance with my cousin, who’s still pretty damn torn up about the whole thing.” I nodded sympathetically at her and she sighed.

“Oh, that’s so sad.” She paused at that. “Wait, what do you mean ‘lost his chance?’ Miles hasn’t met someone new, has he?”

“You know, I don’t know. He has been going out a lot lately and he comes home with a smile on his face. I think he might have.”

“Oh dear, Denver’s not going to like that at all.” Mary Anne said with a frown.

“Well it’s too bad for him. He kicked Miles out without asking him and won’t let Miles explain.” I said as I stood up. I placed enough of the story into her pretty head to have her pretty steamed at Denver for making a mess of things. “That jealousy of his is ended the best thing to happen to him.”

I walked over to the orders stack and plucked up Ben’s order, placed it on the counter while Mary Anne thought over what I said. She stood up when I tapped my fingers on the stack and rang me out.

“This could cause problems.” She said finally.

“Oh, I’m sure of it. Those two silly headed geese.” I made frustrated noises but inside I was smiling. I knew I had her.

“If Denver should find out what Miles has been doing with his time?”

“Either one hell of a bout of make up sex or a huge fight. Either way, it’ll be better for the both of them. Don’t you think?”

“Oh, I do like you Marlowe. I like your brain.”

“So you’ll help?”

“Leave it to me. That man’s stubbornness is matched only by my own. I do love my brother but honestly.”

“Honestly.” I said.

She nodded back at me. “I’ll call you tonight.”

“I look forward to hearing from you.” I said with a grin. I got a smile in return.

I waved and walked out with Ben’s order. Whatever happened from here, it’d be up to them. I’d done all I could do. I passed by The Indulgence Bakery as I walked back to my car and stopped in for a cherry torte for dessert tonight. Ben’s favorite. While I was standing there, I let it slip to Miss Maggie about the dance lessons Miles had been taking. He wasn’t the only one who knew how to manipulate the grapevine. She tossed in a mixed berry cheesecake from the previous day and gave me wink, telling me that she’d take care of it.

“You know he was going to propose? Had the ring and everything. such a shame.”

Miss Maggie made sympathetic noises but I could see the wheels in her head turning. I bid her goodbye and walked back to my car, placing my packages in the trunk. driving back to the house I smiled and sang along with the radio. As I pulled in to the driveway, Ben was just getting out of his car.

“Just where have you been?” Ben asked with a smile as he leaned down to kiss me though the window.

“Town to stir up trouble.”

“With you that can mean many things.” Ben said as he opened my door and I climbed out.

“Good things though. I stopped by The Bookstore.”

I watched Ben’s face as my words sank in to his head. He started laughing.

“Let me guess? You dropped hints to Mary Anne about what Miles was up to?”

“There and at The Indulgence Bakery.” I said as I went to the back and got my packages out.

I handed Ben his books, but kept the pastries. If I gave them to him, he’d have them inhaled before we got through the kitchen door.

“Oh, that’s clever. Miss Maggie is almost as fast a gossip as Miles.”

“For this, she’d be faster.”

“I love you mind, but aren’t you worried about this backfiring?”

“Either way they’ll have it out and we’ll be done with Moping Miles.”

Ben thought about this as we walked in to the kitchen and I put things away.

“That’s true. We’ll just have to make sure we’re around if Denver comes for Miles. That way he won’t be alone.”

“Speaking of alone… We’ve the whole house to ourselves.” I said and wiggled my eyebrows.

Ben grinned and set the stack of books aside. I took off running for the stairs, Ben following me. I was laughing when he hauled me up and tossed me over his shoulder.

I really do love that man.

-Marlowe

The Shop

It was hard pulling myself away from Ben yesterday morning.

We’d spent all weekend relaxing and just taking it easy, but it was Monday and I finally got the go head from the Doctor and the Physio-therapist to go back to work. I was excited to get back under the hood. Ben was not as pleased as I was to get out of the house. He was still stuck in it for a few more days.

I’d only been at work five minutes when Miles sent me the first photo of Ben hanging upside down. The rain gutter had him by the leg and put him within reach of Miles so that he could bring him back inside. I received two more as I went through the motions of opening up for the day.

Ben outside being held by a gargoyle.

Ben outside being chased back inside by the stone lions at the doors.

I finally gave in and called home at noon when I got the one of Ben, covered in dirt and being dragged back inside by Mark.

“This place is a prison and I can’t take it anymore.”

“You can and you will. The Doctor’s orders say rest, Ben. The photos I’ve been getting are not rest. They are the exact opposite.”

“Come home. I’ll rest with you.”

I sighed and tapped my forehead against the wall. I got a brilliant plan when I heard him whine that he was bored.

“Come to the shop. I need someone to go over my books.”

There was silence on the other end, then Ben cleared his throat. “On second thought, maybe I’m not that bored.”

I started laughing. “Ben, I know how much you love your work and I know this is killing you being stuck at home, but I’m not letting anything happen to you again. I need you to say there.”

Ben sighed. “One more day, then I have to go back to work.”

“One more day. We’ll go out to dinner tonight. Just you and me.”

“You’re on.”

“I’ll see you at home.” I was about to hand up when I thought of something wicked. “Oh and Ben?”

“Yeah, Lowe?”

“I’m out of underwear. Can  you do laundry today? I had to go without.”

I heard cursing on the other end as I hung up. That would keep him busy. I turned my phone on silent and tucked it into my back pocket. The Judge had brought in his hearse for a tune up and I wanted to get my hands dirty.

I picked up a socket wrench and was halfway through changing spark plugs when I heard the shop door open and someone shout my name. I shouted out for them to come to the back and grunted when the Sheriff came around the side.

“Hello, Eric. Any news?” I asked as I pulled a plug and chucked it in to the bin of used parts that couldn’t be reused.

“Yeah. Every single one of the dragons homes had Hex Bags and all 13 of them changed.”

“You said that before.”

“Now I’m sure. I was just guessing before.”

“You do an awful lot of guessing these days. Is there something that you’re not telling me that I can not tell Ben?”

“We still don’t know what’s going on and who’s doing all the incidents. The best we can do is call a specialist.”

I stopped what I was doing and looked up at the Sheriff. He looked like he hadn’t had any sleep in a few days.

“Bonnie keeping you up at night, Eric?” I said, trying to keep the mood light.

The Sheriff smiled. “No and neither is Peter. Both sleeping like angels now. It’s easier now that I have help at night.”

“I was sorry to hear about Sue being caught in that mess back in October. Is her sister helping out?”

He rubbed a hand over his face and looked at me. “Yeah, though she blames me for what happened. Like I could have known Sue was going in to work that day.”

“If you need a break from her and the twins, bring them over to me and Ben. We’ll watch them for an evening. The whole evening.”

“You’d take on twin eight-year-olds? For me?” The look on his face was priceless.

“Think of it as a trade. I’m plenty angry about what happened to Ben. Someone could have been hurt, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it and I’ve come up with a deal. I’ll babysit for information. You keep me in the loop, I’ll make sure your twin witches don’t go turning people in to toads again or making the dog fly around the house.”

I watched the Sheriff consider my offer for all of five seconds. “Done. Tomorrow night okay? I need a break and so does Sandy.”

“Done.” I said. “You have my phone number, call when you’re ready to bring them over.”

“Thanks, Marlowe.”

“You’re welcome. Now about your car..”

He laughed. “I’ll bring it in next week. I know I’m behind on my oil changes.”

“You also need new brakes.” I pointed out and smiled when the Sheriff sighed.

“Next week. I promise.”

I nodded. I was about to ask him if he remembered to change his wiper blades when his phone rang. He nodded at me and then stepped outside to take his call. I went back to changing spark plugs. I didn’t notice when the Sheriff stepped back in.

“I might have to take you up on your offer to sit earlier than tomorrow night, Marlowe.”

I jerked and slammed my head against the hood. Cursing, I pulled myself out of the car’s guts and looked up at the Sheriff.

“What happened?”

“Sandy’s in the hospital. Heart attack. It seems the twins made her fly.”

I coughed to hide a giggle and that got me a look from the Sheriff. “I’ll close up early and pick them up. Who’s watching them now?”

“Miss Maggie. She says to pick them up at five. No rush.”

I snorted. Miss Maggie obviously didn’t know how long it took to get grease out of my hands. “Okay. Five it is. I’ll pick them up.”

“I hope I didn’t ruin any plans for you this evening.”

I thought about Ben and what I’d promised earlier. I really hoped he wouldn’t be angry. “Nothing that couldn’t be changed.”

The Sheriff left then and l went back to work on the Judge’s hearse. I worked steadily, letting my mind cycle through of all the memories that came with touching the metal that old. I was deep in the memory of a woman who pressed herself up against the hearse, begging to be taken with her husband when I felt a hand grab my shoulder. For the second time that day, I slammed my head against the roof so hard I saw stars.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I tried calling your name but you weren’t paying attention.”

I pulled myself out from under the hood and glared at the person who interrupted my day. It was Sally Kolodney from the ice cream parlor. I nearly lost my temper, but reined it in. I kept telling her there was no hope for her car, but she kept insisting I try to fix it the poor thing.

“Hey Sally. How can I help you?”

She looked down and well, bashful. “Well, I finally took your advice and got another car.  I was hoping you could give it a tune up this week.”

If anything would surprise me yesterday, that’s all it would have taken. “What’d you buy, Sally?”

“Oh, that little Geo you said would be great for me. You were right. It’s perfect. Between that and the van, I’m all set for cars.” she was babbling, but I let her.

I was stunned someone in this town actually took my advice about cars. Sure, they’d let me fix them. Take my advice about what to buy? Not until today.

“Sure, Sally. I can tune her up for you. You’ll need to replace those breaks before we get too deep in to winter though.”

“Oh I’m sure. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you sooner, Marlowe. You were right about that car. We’re perfect for each other.”

I smiled. “Come back on Thursday. I’ll give you the whole morning.”

“Thanks!”

I watched her scoot out of the shop and then saw the clock. Swearing, I pulled off my coveralls and made my way around to close the doors. It was nearly four thirty. I had to hurry to get over to the Sheriff’s place to get the twins before five. I hurried through the motions, managing to close up shop in fifteen minutes. I broke every speed limit to get to the house and was only five minutes late.

Miss Maggie came out of the house with Bonnie and Peter, who ran up to the car, laughing.

“Miss Marlowe! Dad told us we’re going to your castle for the night because Aunt Sandy is sick!”

“All true poppets. In the back with you. Maybe the two of you eight year old terrors can tire my puppy out.”

They laughed and climbed in to the back with their bags, buckling themselves in before I could tell them to do so.

Miss Maggie coughed then and when I looked at her, she smiled. I knew that smile.

“No hints. Not even for you.”

“But haven’t put anything in to the pot yet on the date!”

“If you don’t know your own adopted grandson by now, then I can’t help you.” I said with a laugh.

“Now you’re just being mean.” She said as she put her hands on her hips.

“I am.” I replied with a laugh. I dropped my voice and leaned out of the car window as the two in the back started to squabble. “How is she?”

“Fine, fine. I saw her collapse when I was walking by. They didn’t see a thing. She’d started that movie about the talking things that look like Twinkies for them.”

“Ah, That one. I like that one. I’m glad she’s okay and that they didn’t see anything.”

“Me too. They’ve already been through enough.” When I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Peter raise a hand to his sister I raised an eyebrow and made the middle seat belt wrap around his arms so he couldn’t hit her.

“Hey! No fair!” He shouted. “You promised!”

“It’s not me!” She said and looked at me in the mirror.

“That’s right. It was me. You don’t hit each other, understand?”

They both looked down and sullenly replied, “yes, ma’am.”

Miss Maggie chuckled and patted my arm. “You’ll be just fine.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow night. Ben and I will need a night out.”

“I look forward to it. See you then.” She said as she stepped back from the curb and waved good-bye to me and the twins.

I headed home with the twins in the back and prayed that Ben wouldn’t be too angry about not getting his night out just yet. When I pulled in to the drive, he met me at the garage and got a look at what was in the back seat.

“Well, well. Where’d you get these two?”

“Jail birds. I broke them out for fun in a haunted castle and to tire out Gibbs.” I replied as he kissed me. There was gagging sounds from the back that made Ben pull back, laughing.

“That’s enough, you two. Inside.” He smiled when they got out of the car with their bags and ran for the door.

I got out of the car and as I locked it, I found myself turned around and pressed against the door.

“That was a naughty thing you did this morning, Marlowe.” He said.

“Did you do laundry?” I asked as I nipped his lower lip.

“Yes.” He said as he kissed me.

“Then it worked.” I said against his lips.

“Still dirty.” He said with another kiss and pulled back. Taking my hand in his, we walked in to the house together.

-Marlowe