“WELCOME TO HARPER NORTH CAROLINA” read the sign my uncle and I were driving past. He had just picked me up from the airport. My parents died three weeks ago and he was all the family I had left so I’m moving in with him. I have been to his house before but it has been years since we saw each other. My parents and I lived in Savannah, Georgia not the busiest place but anything was better than Harper. It is a quiet town with at most 400 people and maybe I’m stretching it a little. My uncle lives in a small early 20th century beach house. Only positive thing from that is it is right on the beach and the next neighbor was a few miles away. I never understood why he liked being so far away from everything. He wasn’t married, had no kids, I would get so lonely out here. But I guess that is what I have to look forward to. We pulled up to the old house and it was just as I remembered it. Blue shuttered windows a white porch surrounding the whole house and an off red roof that seemed to be rotting away. He grabbed my things and I followed him inside. He showed me to my room and I dropped onto the bed feeling the springs under me bounce up and down.
“I guess I’ll leave you alone to start unpacking, I’ll be downstairs if you need me.”
“No problem.” He said as he shut the door.
The room was nothing out of the ordinary. Sam seemed to have cleaned it up before I got here. The walls were painted a sea blue and some of it was chipped off. I walked over to the balcony and opened the French doors to the ocean, the cool breeze of the salty air hitting my face. I shut my eyes and breathed in and out slowly. I can already feel the tears starting to form behind my eyes. Before I could let myself start sobbing uncontrollably again I grabbed my purse and decided to go into town and see what there was to do to keep myself busy. I walked down the stairs to see Sam in the kitchen making dinner.
“Where are you off to Emma?”
“Just going into town to have a look around”
”Alright, the car keys are on the table. Be careful.”
I grabbed the keys from the table and headed outside. The car was a 1984 F-150. A little raggedy but it had some character. The drive to get into town took me about 20 minutes. Everything was the same as it had been before. Joe’s Burger Joint, Adrian’s bookstore, a Wal-Mart, and a movie theater. Anything else like a mall would probably take me an hour to get to. I pulled into Adrian’s Bookstore. My mom usually took me there whenever we came up here. I love to get lost in a new book and now is the perfect time for that. As I walked through the door a little bell rang. It was pretty empty, only the cashier and two other people from what I could see. The store had an old oak scent that was warm and inviting. The old wooden shelves looked aged and the chairs were worn down. But everything about it gave me comfort and I knew where I was going to be spending most of my time. I went into the fiction section hoping to find something I haven’t read yet. I was looking up and down the aisle when I bumped into someone, their body was as hard as a rock and I almost stumbled back but he grabbed me.
“Sorry I didn’t see you-“
“It’s okay, the aisles aren’t exactly wide enough for two people.”
I looked up to see it was a boy my age. Dark black hair and crystal blue eyes. His jaw line set straight and firm. I must’ve been staring at him longer than I should have because he interrupted my thoughts.
“Are you alright?” he asked with a gentle voice.
“Yeah sorry just startled, I’ll move out of your way.”
”I’m Tristan Wells, are you new around here? I would’ve remembered a face like yours.”
As the blood rushed toward my face I looked away.
“Yeah, uh, I’m Emma Clare I just moved here with my uncle.”
“Nice to meet you, Emma, so what are you looking for?” he said as he smiled.
“I don’t really know actually, just looking around. You work here?”
“No, but I come in here a lot. Sort of my sanctuary you could say.”
When I looked up at him again I noticed we were only inches apart and I stood back a little.
“Well I should get going; it was nice to meet you.”
“It was nice to meet you too Emma, I’ll see you around?”
“Yeah, I’ll see you around.”
I turned around and headed for the door. I could feel his eyes burning on the back of my head but I didn’t look back.
Sam and I had a quiet dinner. After I washed up the dishes I went upstairs and opened my laptop to check my e-mail for anything exciting. I had a message from my best friend Angie.
“Emma! How’s everything up there??? When can I visit?? Call me or email me when you can! I miss you already!!!!!”
I replied trying to sound with the same enthusiasm she gave in her email but nothing seemed to come up. I figured it was already late and she probably wouldn’t be up at this time so I’ll give it a try tomorrow. I lay in bed letting all my emotions run wild and couldn’t help but start to cry. My parents shouldn’t have left the house that night I should have gone with them and died too. There is nothing left for me here. Besides my uncle whom I rarely know anyway what is there to live for. I wanted to feel warmth again I wanted the bear hugs my father used to give me and the kisses to my forehead my mother would give me. Nothing will ever be the same. My whole world was just crumbling piece by piece. I cried myself to sleep and woke up with seagulls on the balcony screeching and the smell of bacon and eggs coming in my room from downstairs. As I was starting to walk down the stairs I heard Sam talking to another male voice.
“She doesn’t know about any of this and David would have wanted it that way.” said Sam. Were they talking about my dad?
“She has to know Samuel. You can’t keep her in the dark forever she needs to be able to defend herself. The battle is getting worse and worse.”
”Don’t you think I know that? Just give me some time. I’ll get back to you.”
”I hope you know what you are doing Samuel. I’d hate to lose another-”
”I do. Now leave.” Sam’s voice sounded hoarse and with disgust.
The man left the house quietly without a fight and I went downstairs.
“Is everything okay, Sam?”
”Yes everything’s fine Emma. How do you like your eggs?” He was trying to change the subject.
“Good. Me too” he said smiling. I think that was the first time I’ve seen him smile since I got here. He had crow’s feet on the edges of his eyes and dark hair with a few gray lines. He was younger than my dad which was his brother.
“So what do you have in mind today?”
“I was thinking about going to see a movie”
“That’s good I don’t know anything they are playing though”
”That’s alright I’ll figure it out when I get there” He placed the food on my plate and it reminded me of home. I know Sam was trying to do the best he could and his efforts were appreciated but I wanted to bring up what I had heard earlier. I just didn’t know how.
“Sam, can I ask you something?”
”Sure, anything sweetie”
I paused for a moment looking down at my food but the words wouldn’t come out.
“Yeah dumb question” I said brushing it off. I needed to think about what it was I really wanted to know. If Sam said it wasn’t the right time to tell me then maybe I really didn’t want to know.
I finished eating and went back upstairs to get dressed. It was a breezy day outside so I wore the gray jacket my father gave me for Christmas, our last Christmas together. I pushed the thought out of my head and went outside where Sam was waiting in the truck.
“I’m going to have to do some errands so just walk around and enjoy the day. I’ll call you when I’m nearby to pick you up”
”Sounds good to me” I said with a fake smile.
The movie theater looked like the newest part of town. It had a bright board with the movies listed on with their times. Since it was Tuesday, they were playing old movies. I got my ticket and went inside to watch Casablanca. As I walked inside I noticed the theater was empty. Does nobody appreciate the oldies anymore? I sat in the middle of the theater as the movie began. I heard the door open as someone else came in. Guess I was wrong about that. They came up and sat right next to me. Out of all the seats in a completely empty theater they had to sit next to me. The scent of him was familiar.
“Good movie huh?”
I turned my head to notice it was Tristan.
“Are you stalking me?” I said whispering.
“We’re the only ones here I don’t think you need to be whispering and no I just came to see the movie.”
I stared at him with disbelief written all over my face.
“What? It is!”
I looked back at the screen to pretend to ignore him but I could feel he was still staring at me. I turned to face him again and our gaze was caught in sync.
“Nothing, I’m distracted I can’t concentrate on the movie with you here.”
“Are you picking me up?”
“Maybe, is it working?”
“No.” I said flatly lying. Of course it was working he’s gorgeous who wouldn’t want to get picked up by him, but why me? I’m guessing he’s bored of the other girls in town and he’s intrigued that I’m new here.
“Well how about after the movie ends we go have something to eat?”
”Are you asking me out on a date after I told you your charm isn’t working on me?”
“Yes.” He said smiling.
“You are extremely confident and persistent.”
“Yes I am and I know you’ll learn to like me”
“We’ll see about that.”
“So is that a yes?”
“Okay good, I’ll meet you a Joe’s” He said getting up.
“You’re not going to finish the movie?”
“I can’t while you’re in the room”
I rolled my eyes. Can you believe this guy? He doesn’t even know me! Probably trying to get in my pants but we’ll see how confident he really is.
I turned back around and I heard the door shut behind him. I was sitting in the empty movie theater contemplating whether I should just sell him out and go home or go have lunch with him. I could just go to lunch with him as a friend I don’t know anyone else here. Trying to convince myself about the pros and cons of meeting with Tristan took up the rest of the movie by the time I realized I was sitting through the credits. When I walked outside the sun hurt my eyes. Putting my hand over my eyes shielding it from the sun I could focus better and saw Tristan sitting outside Joe’s casually leaning back on one of the metal chairs. He noticed me and waved at me to walk over. I crossed the empty street and sat in the chair in front of him. Joe’s burger was a small diner that looked like it has been there for ages. The outside of the diner was painted white with Joe’s Burger in bright red letters. It had tables with umbrellas and four chairs on each table. Heartbreak Hotel was blaring through the speakers.
“How was the movie?” He asked as I approached him. I took a seat in front of him and grabbed a menu.
“It gets better every time I watch it again” I said smiling at him.
“Wow, first time I see you smile since I met you.”
“Don’t get too excited” I looked down at the menu to hide my face. The menu looked the same as the ones back home, burger, fries and hotdogs.
The waitress approached us and asked us what we would like to drink. She was tall with fiery red curls wrapping around her head.
“Water is okay for me” I said.
“And the usual for you, Tristan” She said as she looked at him smiling. I guess they must’ve known each other for a while. The waitress looked like she was my age and I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy as they smiled at each other.
“You know me well Monica, this is my friend Emma. She is new in town”
“Nice to meet you Emma”
She had a charm to her I’ll give her that. After she left to put in our orders Tristan looked back at me.
“So tell me something Emma, you and you’re parents just moved here?”
Sadness came over me at the word parents. I wanted to run away just at that moment. He probably had a happy family, everyone in tact, a brother a sister, a mother and father.
“No, I’m living with my uncle Samuel Clare”
“Oh Sam, him and my father have been friends for a while. They work together at the shop”
Of course they do. That’s probably the only place any man here in town works at.
“You’re really hard to crack aren’t you?”
“I don’t know what you mean”
“Well I’ll do the talking if you don’t want to talk” He looked at me with glowing eyes. Why was he so interested in me? Did he just feel bad that I was the new girl in town? Something was off.
“I live with my dad. I never knew my mother. I’ve lived here since I was born, my favorite color is blue and I like long walks on the beach. Am I boring you?”
“No not at all. Tell me more.”
I did want to know more about him. I already knew he was stubborn and sarcastic but there has to be something deeper than that and I wanted to know what it was.
“I bus here on the weekends for some extra cash, now tell me something”
”Are we going to play 21 questions now?”
“That wouldn’t be such a bad idea since I can only get two words at a time out of you”
“Okay you start”
We sat there asking questions back and forth about each other. What was our favorite book, instruments we play. Our food came shortly after and we ate in silence. It wasn’t awkward silence which I liked.
“You want to walk around the park after this?” he asked breaking our beautiful silence.
“There’s a park here?”
“Yeah just around the corner”
”You’re not going to drag me into a dark corner and kidnap me are you?”
”Only if you refuse to take a walk with me” He said laughing.
His laugh seemed like something so casual. He was so laid back I wish I could be more like him.
Tristan paid for the bill and we started walking towards the park. It was a sunny day but it was breezy. The trees were towering over us as we walked down a gravel path with benches every couple of feet. It was one of the most beautiful parks I’ve seen and it reminded me a little of the ones we had back home in Savannah.
“You’ve been really quiet Emma is something wrong or are you always so silent?”
”I used to be talkative.” I can’t believe I was about to tell him this. This is so not like me but what the hell it was going to come out sooner or later.
“My parents passed away three weeks ago in a car accident. That’s why I’m living here with Sam and that’s why I’ve been moody and quiet.”
“I-I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean- Ah” he was at a loss for words. For the first time since I met him he didn’t know what to say.
“It’s okay Tristan you don’t have to feel bad for me. I’ve had enough of that from friends and Sam I don’t need it from another.”
”Okay so we won’t talk about it. Let’s talk about something else. So do you have a boyfriend back home?”
“No. No boyfriend” I kicked a rock ahead of us as we were walking trying to distract myself before bursting into more tears.
“Good. No competition for me”
We both laughed. I was getting used to him trying to pursue me and honestly I liked it. The different type of attention I was receiving besides the one for my parent’s loss was good.
He put his arm in front of me and stopped walking. His smile faded and his eyebrows crunched in with a worried face.
”We have to go.” He grabbed my arm and started pulling me in the other direction. I turned around but I couldn’t see anyone or anything so I stopped.
“Tristan what’s going on?”
”I’ll explain later right now we have to leave”
”There’s nobody here! Are you crazy?”
”Just trust me Emma.”
Just as he said that I heard a voice coming from behind me.
“Trying to take her away already? We haven’t been properly introduced”
”Maybe some other time”
”No I think now is a good time”
I turned to face the voice and it was a tall man built heavily with dark hair and eyes completely black. I gasped at his eyes and my mind told me to run but I couldn’t move.
“My name is Elijah, what might yours be?”
”Emma” I said as I stared into his black eyes. What kind of human deformity is that? And where did he come from? It seemed like he just popped up here out of thin air.
“What a beautiful name Emma” He held out his hand to shake it and I didn’t want to be rude but just as I held up my hand Tristan stood in front of me blocking Elijah from my sight.
“Leave, Elijah. Don’t do this now.”
”Oh I’m not going to do anything. I just wanted to meet your new friend. Don’t be rude Tristan.”
I stayed hiding behind Tristan. Elijah’s crooked smile was creeping me out and I felt safer with Tristan in between us.
“Move, boy” He flicked his fingers forward and sent Tristan ramming against a bench.
“Tristan!” As I went to go after him Elijah grabbed my arm.
“Let me go!” I protested but he would not let his tight grip any looser.
“I’ll be seeing you around Emma.” He whispered in my ear and then disappeared into thin air. I ran over to Tristan who was getting up from behind the now broken bench.
”What the hell was that Tristan?”
”I’ll explain everything later lets just get you home.”
”No. I need an explanation now.”
”I’ll explain at home now lets go”
He put a hand on my back but I moved away and we walked silently back to Joe’s.
“I’ll call my uncle. Just go home.”
”No, I don’t want to see you anymore. Just leave me alone.”
His face made a frown.
“At least let me give you my number. In case you want to talk.”
He scribbled on a piece of paper anyway and laid it in front of me. I reached for my phone and dialed Sam’s number. The images of Elijah’s black eyes were imprinted in my mind even after I got home and was safe with Sam. I had to know this had to have been something connected with what the man was telling Sam earlier this morning. I took a shower and headed back downstairs to talk to him.
“Sam we need to talk”
”What’s up?” he asked casually, even though this was no casual situation.
“I met someone”
”Oh really, who?”
”Well I met two people actually. First I met Tristan Wells. He says his father works with you at the shop.”
”Yeah he does. Nice boy. But why are you telling me this.”
”Well this is where it starts to get weird. We had lunch at Joe’s and then took a walk down the park. And we met a man named Elijah”
His face lit up with alarm.
“Did he tell you anything? Did he hurt you?”
”No, and why would he want to hurt me? What are you guys keeping from me?”
”Emma. This is going to sound strange to you and you might not believe me at first but you have to for your own safety”
He led me into the living room and we sat down on the couch facing each other.
“Elijah is what we call a demon”
”A what?” my eyes couldn’t have gotten any wider. “Those don’t exist. Is this some kind of sick joke?”
”No Emma I wish it was but it’s not. It’s hard to explain but you have to let me.”
”This is ridiculous”
“It sounds that way but you need to know the truth. Whether you decide to believe it or not. You come from a long family of hunters. Demon hunters that work side by side with Angels to send them back to-“
”Hell?” I finished his sentence.
”Yes. Your father and I started hunting after one of them killed our mother.”
”Was that what-“
”Killed your parents? Yes”
I couldn’t believe it. I had been lied to. Everyone lied to me.
“So everyone lied to me?” I couldn’t sit down anymore. I stood up and walked across the room.
”Emma they died protecting you from Elijah.”
“That’s a demon?!”
“He’s one of many. We were going to tell you sooner but you were so distraught with the death of your parents I wanted to give you some time to adjust. Elijah was not supposed to find you here but it seems you and Tristan stepped out of the boundaries we set on the town.”
”You set a boundary to keep Elijah out?”
“Yes. Us, hunters know certain spells to keep the Dark ones out”
”Is that what you call them, The Dark ones?”
“It’s a name we’ve come up with in the community of other hunters.”
”Is Tristan a hunter?”
“No, I’m an angel.” Tristan’s voice came from the door way.
“How did you get in here?” This was all happening to fast. My whole life has been a huge lie. Now all of a sudden angels and demons exist? I could feel my palms begin to sweat and dark spots began to cloud my vision.
“As an angel he can instantly pop up anywhere as Elijah I’m sure popped up too”
I couldn’t stand up anymore and I started stumbling back. Tristan grabbed me and steadied me.
“I think this is enough for one day Sam”
”No, I’m fine” I reached for the couch and sat down next to Sam again.
“Tell me the rest.” Tristan and Sam looked at each other hesitantly before Tristan began again.
“My kind has been fighting them off for centuries but they keep