Monday, June 9, 2415, C.E. | Sunset Valley, Valverde
“Tell me something, Kassiopeia.”
Kass leaned forward and rested her chin on her hand as Davis tightened her pink laces on her roller skates. There was something oddly romantic about the act. They were rentals. Hundreds of people probably had worn the skates before her. She didn’t have socks, but Davis apparently had a spare pair in his truck. Again, it was a simple gesture, but a kind one.
At first she wasn’t sure she wanted to go skating with him with her grandparents around. She still wasn’t sure how she felt about Davis, nor how they would react if they knew she was dating “the help.” Once in the eighth grade, she had sneaked over to the apartment above the garage to watch a movie with the chauffeur’s son. Luis was sort-of cute with crooked teeth and a baseball cap.
They settled onto the lower bunk of his stacked beds that he shared with his little sister. Her dad had just left and Kass was moody. Luis tried to make her feel better by giving her a hug. As she leaned into his shoulder during the middle of some Bella Goth film, she was surprised when Luis kissed her. He was wet and sloppy like a fish out of water, gasping for air. It was the most disgusting thing she could imagine. She was horrified. Her first kiss was unwanted and humiliating because Nonno had walked in, looking for a tool for one of his many antique cars. He expressed his “sincere disappointment.” Nonna threw a fit and said she could never be with someone whose last name is “Garcia.” The next day, she found out the Garcia family was fired and asked to leave. The casual racism was so painfully wrong to her, but she was young and didn’t know how to protest to her grandparents, and it wasn’t like she really wanted to date Luis in the first place.
Cari assured, in a tone most annoyed, that Nonno and Nonna had left for home and Kass’s “secret” was safe. Davis had gone to his car to get the socks. Kass wondered if she needed to be more careful, debating about telling Davis she had to finish her essay, but Cari cut her off.
“You’re an adult, Kass,” Cari said, casually, as she shook her head deliberately, her large hoop earrings dancing wildly. “Do what you want. Who cares?”
“But…” Kass protested.
“Oh did I say you were an ah-dult?” Cari rolled her eyes. “I think I meant to say dolt if you don’t go get ’em.”
Kass reddened, even now recalling Cari’s words ten minutes later. Her sister bounced off with Lisa Bunch and the twins, Ashley and Candy Dale, all of whom heard Cari and giggled at Kass’ expense. They were heading to the Jolt for an espresso and some salsa dance class night. Cari wanted to bum ten Simoleons off her older sister for the cover charge. Kass forked it over without objection and she hadn’t even bothered to remind Cari about curfew because she had been embarrassed.
“Yes, what?” she returned her attention to the moment and to Davis, the nice, beach tanned, blonde guy who looked more like a surfer than a Southern gentleman.
Cari’s right. I am a dolt if I don’t go out with this guy.
He looked up, a grin on his face as he patted her ankle. “Do you like haunted houses?”
“What?” she crinkled her face and laughed. “Why do you ask?”
“You can tell a lot about a person by their ability to hold it together in a haunted house,” he replied.
“Uh… I’m not particularly thrilled with things jumping out at me,” Kass giggled nervously as they stood and she wavered a little as they treked across the lawn to the roller rink. “But it’s the sounds that get me paranoid.”
“Note to self,” Davis remarked. “No haunted house at the festival this fall.”
Kass beamed. He said fall. Is he thinking about dating me still in the fall? I guess I will be in Edgewater, his home territory. Maybe there’s a haunted house there he wants to take me too. She decided to try her hand at flirting as they skated around the rink.
“I guess I could be persuaded if I had the arm of a nice guy around me,” she tilted her head coyly.
“The Old Freitag Place in Crescent City,” Davis said. “Worth checking out. It’s the estate Bella lived at when she lived in the Willow Creek neighborhood. People say it’s haunted.” He wiggled his eyebrows as he skated closer.
“Stop that,” she made a face . “You’ll make me laugh.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” he asked, then continued. “Since you’re a Bella aficionado.”
“Yeah, she lived there with her husband. It’s Mortimer’s family estate. You know why it’s called Freitag?” she inquired. “It’s Bergish for Friday. They bought the house on Good Friday, his parents that is.”
“That’s it. We’re going there,” he determined. “I hear they do a famous blood punch from the outdoor water pump.”
“Gross,” she shuddered. “And I have to get into uni first.”
“What? You’re already in, aren’t you?” he replied, surprise registering in his tone.
“Yeah, but I’m angling for a scholarship,” she sighed. “One I won’t get if I don’t finish my essay on time.”
“But your grandparents. They obviously have money,” he said and then winced. “Oh I’m sorry. That was indiscreet.”
“No,” she shook her head. “They do, but I’m trying to do this on my own and pay my own way through college.”
“That’s admirable,” he remarked. “Tell me something else about yourself. Something random.”
“Random?” she bit her lower lip. “Are we playing the ‘get-to-know-you’ game? Because I feel like you already know a lot about me and I don’t know much about you.”
“I’m the reigning disc golf champion at Edgewater,” he grinned proudly. “Don’t you dare think about beating my score when you make it there.”
“Oh really?” she quirked a brow. “I can be pretty competitive. I don’t know. I may surprise you. I might be pretty good.”
“I’d like to see you try,” he said, cockily, and then teetered trying to keep his balance.
“Someone is getting knocked down a peg,” she teased.
“Pride comes before a fall.”
“Oh you’re loving this!”
“Maybe…” she spun around and skated backward.
“You just said you’re the reigning champion of disc golf. Maybe I’m a champion at skating.”
He skated over next to her. “It might help if I have a pretty lady to help me balance. May I?” he asked politely.
“Sure,” she took his hands. “Don’t focus so much on your feet.”
“What do you mean?” he laughed uncomfortably.
“I mean, think about where you’re holding your head. It’ll help you balance.”
“So just hold my head up high and I won’t fall.”
“That, and maybe gaze deeply into my brown eyes,” Kass giggled.
“I can do that,” he said, all too seriously.
She swallowed hard as they circled inches from each other’s faces. Her heart began beating wildly. His hands felt nice and warm. She squeezed his hand, and smiled. He matched her smile with one of his own, and then she felt him slipping. Davis yanked on her arm, desperately trying to stay upright, failing miserably as she doubled over and he fell onto his backside.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
He winced. “Only my pride. But you were just talkin’ about that.”
“I was,” she crinkled her forehead. “Sorry.”
“Sorry for yanking your arm outta your socket,” Davis apologized as he rolled over to stand again. “I should stick to my own two feet rather than wheels.”
“We can go,” she said.
“I’ll drive you back,” he offered.
“Thanks,” she replied, skating for the edge.
Davis helped her into his car. She hugged her arms as he pulled away from the curb.
“Strawberry jelly,” she said, staring straight ahead.
“Jelly?” he repeated, turning the corner.
“Yeah, you said to tell you something about me. Once I had a dish of strawberry jelly and I…” she continued, smoothing the edge of her skirt, recalling the sweet smell vividly. “…was supposed to carry it to the table, but instead I was distracted by this beautiful spiral staircase,” she leaned her head back against the seat.
Davis appeared confused as he drove up the hill.
“I’m serious,” she said, tilting her head from side to side so as to crack her neck. “Nonna told me to carry the jelly to the table for breakfast. We were at a hotel for some holiday. And their suite had a spiral staircase. I was curious. I climbed it and I fell.”
“Is this supposed to make me feel better?” he grimaced, driving onto her grandparent’s winding street.
“Nonna thought I was bleeding to death when I came back to the kitchen. She nearly called zero-zero-zero.”
“Did the paramedics come?”
“Nope,” she grinned. “Mac came and licked off the jelly and she realized what had happened.”
Davis dropped his head back, his deep-bellied laugh pleasing to her ears as he pulled into the long brick driveway. “Distracted by a spiral staircase. That’s a new one.”
“Is it doltish?”
His eyes widened. “No it’s not stupid,” he put the car into park. “It’s kinda cute in a childlike wonder kind-of way. You were a curious kid.”
“I still am,” she said, putting on her own sandals again.
“I like that about you, Kassiopeia,” he said, slipping out of the driver’s seat and walking around to open her door.
“Thank you,” she flushed, shyly.
Her grandparents’ dog came running to greet them with a happy bark. Davis leaned down to pet the animal as Kass frowned, noticing her mother’s boyfriend standing near the front door. For once, he didn’t have a beanie cap on his head. He was dressed more casually than normal also.
“Clark?” she greeted, stiffly.
“Kass,” he said, his s’s sounding more like z’s. “Your mamma wondered when you’re coming home.”
“I am home,” she narrowed her eyes, her insult veiled, but present.
“Your mamma made dinner tonight,” Clark continued. “Waffles. Like you like.”
“Tell her thank you,” Kass nodded.
Amy’s Monday night tradition had completely slipped her mind.
“Will…” he began, his ‘w’ sounding like a ‘v’. “You at least call her?”
Kass hesitated. “I’ll consider it,” she said, and waved to her evening’s escort. “Good night, Davis. Thank you.”
She turned, wishing Clark wasn’t there, and wishing he hadn’t so rudely interrupted her good night. As she slid the key into her grandparent’s front door, she heard Davis open his car door.
“Haunted house,” he called out.
She smiled to herself, catching Clark’s bewildered look out of the corner of her eye. She pushed the door in.
“It’s a date.”
Author Notes: Thanks for reading. This chapter grew longer than I anticipated. I kinda write until it seems right. This chapter was created via a writing prompt – “Write about a haunted house in summer.” Well, that was interesting. I had these images of Davis and Kass roller skating at the summer festival in Central Park and decided to roll with it as they get to know one another, plus I threw in another bit about Bella. TS4’s Bella lives in Willow Creek, and it seems a little New Orleans-ish to me, not to mention, I had it in my outline that Mortimer’s family had an estate in Bayou. And I wanted to throw in a little back story for Kass’ first kiss as minor contrast for her current crush, and insight into the Riviera family. Hope you enjoyed.