“In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took.”
Forgotten Hollow Grainger Hall
Reluctantly, KC had agreed to at least take a look at Grainger Hall to see the remodel job Caitlin and Heath were offering him and to decide if he wanted to take it after all. At least that was the official story. In reality, KC had no inclination whatsoever to take the job, but curiosity had brought him here, wanting to see where Cait and Heath were moving to before blowing them off with a white lie about not being able to fit them into his schedule.
While walking the property, taking a few measurements here and there, a young woman walked up behind him.
“Excuse me. Sorry to bother you, but are you by any chance a handyman? I saw you carrying a toolkit.”
“I am a man, can be very handy, and know how to handle my tools. Whatcha need, darlin’?” KC smirked, while looking into deep ocean blue eyes that instantly mesmerized him, while realizing she couldn’t help staring a little longer than necessary into his sky-blue ones.
“Ha – how funny with a hint of deviance. Interesting accent, too. A Southerner in this neck of the woods. Not something you see a lot.” she giggled.
“Yes Ma’am, Oasis Springs born and raised. What’s givin’ you grief? If it’s broken wood or something leaky or squeaky I can probably fix it. I can certainly take a look at it.” KC said, when the girl laughed up briefly.
“Hee hee hee …. Usually, people come to me for that sort of thing. Ahem … sorry, never mind.” she said, giggled briefly, then just looked slightly guilty.
“Beg yer pardon?” KC wondered, confused, looking the young woman over, noticing for the first time that she was wearing nursing scrubs, when she now pointed up and down herself.
“Sorry, got carried away with your naughty sense of humor. I am a nursing student, you see. Currently on a rotation in the urology department. Hence my misplaced joke, broken wood … leaky things …” she giggled, blushing, while after a moment of shock, KC burst into hearty laughter.
“HA HA HA! Funniest thing I heard in a long time, especially coming out of a cute lil thing like yourself. You can’t be from around this place then. I think humor is a rare commodity here.”
“Well, you’d be wrong. I am from around here all right. That house right across the street there behind you would be my childhood home, where I still live with my parents. We have a fluke on the fireplace that sticks, which makes for rough times if one of us lights it, thinking it was all the way open, but getting someone out here to look at such a sort of thing is next to impossible. I am Annaleigh by the way. And you are?”
“KC McCoy’s the name, woodwork’s my game, but I do other stuff too and I’d be happy to look at that fluke, some other day though, not to be too forward, but it’s startin’ to get dark, which means this guy is gettin’ the hell out of dodge. I am enjoying talking with ya, so, would you maybe by any chance wanna go to dinner with me so we can talk some more?”
“Oh, I am sorry, nothing personal, but I don’t really do dinners with people I just met …”
“Oh, right. Of course. What was I thinking? Pretty girl like you has a man. Probably something better than this guy.”
“No, that’s not it at all. I am as single as they come. My work hours are crazy, not much time for dating and even if I were to try, I am not really the clubbing type. I am pretty much what they would call a homebody. This will shock you but turns out you don’t meet a lot of single guys you’re not related to in your parents’ living room.”
“Ha Ha Ha, yeah, I get that, the market ain’t great for meeting single women in your parents’ kitchen either, I haven’t found the one for me in the supermarket cereal aisle and I ain’t much for clubbing myself, just can’t see myself twitching around a dancefloor in some sort of mating ritual like a damn fool to some awful music looking like I was standing barefoot in a pool filled with piranhas and gators.”
Annaleigh burst into laughter.
“Oh my God you are hysterical! I am really sorry, KC. I am just not comfortable just going out with someone I just met.” Annaleigh smiled apologetically, feeling tempted, but too hesitant.
“No biggie, I get it, I could be some hobby serial killer and wouldn’t like my little sister to just go out with randos either. Well, was nice meetin’ you, Annaleigh. Gotta pack up my stuff and snuggle Cait and Heath goodbye for the day, then make like a baby and head on out.”
“Oh, you’re friends with Cait and Heath?” Annaleigh’s face lit up.
“Yup, known them since we all were kids. Old pals, the three of us.” KC embellished reality a little.
“Oh! I didn’t realize that! In that case, you’re not really a stranger, I guess. Caitlin and I are about the same age and used to play together all the time when she was here for visits. KC, if your offer still stands, I would love to go to dinner with you.”
“Oh really? Well yeah, offer’s definitely still on the table.” KC quickly said, thinking ‘thank you Cait!’
“Pick me up in 15 minutes at my door? That way I can make myself a little more presentable.” Annaleigh giggled nervously, pointing at her scrubs, while thinking ‘and take that elixir that let’s me keep down food so I don’t come across like the weird vamp right away’
“Oh, darlin’ you are plenty presentable and whatcha see here is as good as it’s gonna get, but whatever you like.” KC smiled and was still smiling after watching her walk across the plaza to her door, where she turned and waved back at him before disappearing inside.
“Holy hell! Well, McCoy, you got yourself a date with a cute-as-hell-girl. Guess we won’t be blowing off Cait for that remodel gig after all, even though it’s only to see where things could go with lil Miss bluest-eyes-I’ve-ever-seen. Gorgeous AND an actual sense of humor – yeah, that lil nurse is just what the doctor ordered for me after all the BS I have been through!” KC mumbled to himself while gathering his tools and placing them into his truck.
Forgotten Hollow Vatore Manor
Fifteen minutes later on the dot, KC was knocking on the door.
It didn’t take very long until a woman opened, clearly Annaleigh’s mother, as she looked like a few decades older version of her daughter.
“Evenin’ Ma’am. Here to pick up Annaleigh. Is she ready?”
“Oh, hello there! You are the young man my daughter mentioned? Oh wow, I mean, I am sure she’ll be right down. Why don’t you come inside? Come, come. I am Layla, by the way, Anna’s mom.” Layla stepped aside to invite KC in, and it was obvious she didn’t dislike her daughter’s taste.
Reluctantly, but bemused, KC entered, his eyes growing big at the pompous entrance, feeling like he stepped into another century, everything was golden, looking invaluable, when a man came into view, tall, slender, head to toe dressed in black, donning a long leather coat, wearing a bunch of rings, earrings and a rather modern haircut. The entitlement with which he moved made it obvious that he had to be someone important and was the man of the house.
‘What kinda Goth-dude is this bruh now?’ KC thought.
“Oh, a young man in my home. How curious.” the man said, looking at Layla with a definite question in his eyes.
“Yes, honey, this is KC, he is here to take our Annaleigh to dinner. KC, meet my husband Riordan, Annaleigh’s father.”
“Pleasure Sir.” KC said, offering his hand, which Riordan shook politely, then stepped backwards, looking the young man over.
“So, dinner, huh?” Riordan repeated, obviously trying to figure out if KC was worthy of his little girl. KC had seen his own father do this a million times when KC’s little sister was being picked up for a date.
KC was about to respond when there were footsteps on the stairs right next to them, and Annaleigh appeared in a pretty dress, deep blue, frilly, sparkly heels, her hair in a half-up and wearing some makeup. beaming.
KC’s eyes got big as his mouth fell open. She had looked cute in her scrubs and ponytail, but looking the way she did now, KC would have never dared to be so forward about asking her out. He would have choked on his words, then fallen over his own feet for nervousness. WOW!
“Oh? It’s a little black dress kinda occasion. I see …” Riordan raised an eyebrow, just like any other father would realizing his daughter was about to go on a date with a new young man, then gave KC a warning glare.
“Sir, I promise I will have your daughter back home safe and sound right after dinner.” KC mumbled, feeling completely underdressed now.
“I believe you will! And in the exact same condition you left with her as well.” Annaleigh’s father said firmly, generating horrified stares from mother and daughter.
“Riordan! I am sure you meant to tell your daughter how pretty she looks and both of them to have fun, didn’t you, love?” Annaleigh’s mother, Layla, gave her husband a warning glance, embellished with a sweet smile for KC. KC almost had to laugh out loud as that was probably the exact thing his mom would do. And win. Every time. Just like Anna’s mom did.
“Right. Absolutely. You look very pretty, Anna honey. Have fun then, kids.” Riordan said, politely, with an almost believable smile.
Annaleigh touched KC’s arm, the touch alone sent electricity through him, and they walked to his truck parked out front.
Oasis Springs Casual Diner
The dinner was simple, but fun, both laughed a lot, each learned a lot about the other. Annaleigh learned that KC was 22 years old, a woodworker, like his father, both running the McCoy shop together, even though Martin McCoy was mostly limited to planning and office work due to his frail health. KC learned that Annaleigh was 19 and in her second semester of nursing school, with plans to maybe enroll in med school to study to become a real doctor. Both still lived at home, KC with his parents and younger sister who was about to graduate high school, Annaleigh’s older brother Colton was a musician and had long moved out and was married now. Conversation was casual until things suddenly took a different turn.
“Ah, Annaleigh … I don’t know how to ask this, but … I know I just saw you eat, but … you are … I mean, your dad is … I think I remember now why he looked so familiar. I think I have seen him on TV. Back when all that vampire business started, I think he and some other guy were on almost every channel ranting about stuff.”
“Oh. Yes, that was my dad with Caleb Vatore doing damage control and informing people. So, yes, he is, and I am. So is my mom. Is that a problem?” Annaleigh looked uncomfortable.
“Oh. Uh. No.” KC said, but his facial expression belied his words.
“Are you sure? Your mouth says no, but your face tells a different story. I thought you said you were Cait and Heath’s friend! I thought you were cool with all that.” Annaleigh looked confused.
“I am … well … technically I was her friend. We kinda fell out of touch … long story. We only recently reconnected and I found out about her and Heath’s condition on TV when her family went on about all that, honestly, I am still trying to wrap my head around all that weirdness. I’d’ve never guessed YOU would be a fang. I mean .. one of those. You know.” KC was very uncomfortable. Of course that girl was too good to be true. A fang. Hm.
“Weirdness?! Fang?! One of those?! Okay, that’s it! Stick a fork in me, I am so DONE!” Annaleigh looked hurt, then jumped up, tossed some money on the table before storming out without another word for KC.
“Shit!” KC exclaimed, dug out money as well, tossed it on the table while grabbing hers, then followed her.
He spotted her hurrying down the street and ran after her.
“Annaleigh … wait! The truck’s parked the other way!” he hollered.
“I am not getting into any trucks with you moron!”
He caught up with her and stepped in her way, handing her her money back. Or tried to.
“I am sorry, Annaleigh, I misspoke. Here, take your money, I invited you out. Not letting you pay.”
“You keep it. I don’t want to be invited. Inviting implies a date. This was a disaster! You are just like the other boys, thinking I am some sort of freak or novelty! Just go away and leave me be! I should have listened to my gut feeling!”
“Is this gonna be another urology department joke now?” KC tried to lighten the mood with a joke, it failed miserably, Annaleigh didn’t look amused in the slightest.
“If you have a problem with my kind, KC, why did you even try to flirt with a girl in Forgotten Hollow of all places? Don’t you know that all residents have to be vampires, unless they are a spouse of one? So how is this a surprise?”
“I guess I didn’t know that, and I just didn’t think someone like you could be … that. You don’t look it at all.”
“I don’t look it?! WOW! Is that supposed to be a compliment or something? So, you think one glance at one of my kind and you could tell? Because that makes sense, since we have managed to hide in plain sight for centuries. Really? I’d love to hear what we normally look like then by your logic. Pale freaks with the fangs hanging out to here, blood dripping down and bright yellow eyes, plus huge bat wings or something? You’re an idiot!”
“No! Look, I admit, I know absolutely nothing about your kind other than what’s been in movies and such and even I know most of that is BS. I kinda never paid attention to your dad and the other dude when they were on TV, cos I just didn’t care then. It’s just surreal to me.”
“Surreal? I am surreal? Well, thank you very much for that. How charming! Goodbye!”
“Please stop leaving! That is NOT what I meant. I mean … look, like I said, I know nothing about vampires, especially when I realized Caitlin was one, I just wanted no part of it, I was pissed that she had never told me, and on top of all I am still screwed up because I literally just got broken up with by my girlfriend few days ago, one of her many reasons was that I am too poor and too simple for her, seeing how your parents are obviously not poor so I am just wondering if this wouldn’t turn into the same type of KC & Leeora drama eventually anyway when you realize all the things I am not, and now the vampire thing too. I am just confused.”
“Leeora? As in Leeora Latimer? You are Leeora’s ex?! Oh my God, just when I thought this evening can’t tank any worse!”
“You know Leeora?”
“Everyone in Forgotten Hollow knows Leeora. Nobody likes her, except maybe Caitlin and obviously Leeora’s father, but he is as odd as they come. The rest of us hide when that one approaches, or at least we want to. Ugh. You dating that one says a lot about you, none of it good. No thank you!”
“Yeah, no argument there. I clearly didn’t have my priorities straight.”
“I’ll say! Clearly not! You really have no room to act like a prissy about vampires, my friend, if you dated THAT bitchy witch!”
“Couldn’t agree more. I really am sorry. Can I please have a chance to make this right?”
“Why? You sound like your mind is made up and we literally just met so why even bother? This is clearly NOT working for either of us.”
KC felt hot and cold, she was right, they just met, but something about her just wouldn’t let him walk away, made him hope she’d take pity on him, while at the same time he felt guilty for not being willing to give Caitlin the second chance she begged him for. In his mind, he pleaded with the powers there be, that if Annaleigh would give him a chance, he would give Cait hers.
“Purdy please with sugar on top, darlin’ … I need your nursin’ bad, I suffer from a terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease and also head-up-ass-eritis. Please, please help me, Nurse Annaleigh.” he tried the first thing that came to mind, smiled a boyish smile at Annaleigh, whose anger gave way to a laugh.
“Oh my God, this just keeps getting worse and worse, you are laying the pathetic on extra-thick now. I am still in nursing school, silly! You are clearly a very complicated case, and I am no magician.” she giggled, somehow that made KC feel like a winner.
“Well, pathetic is definitely my middle name. Should probably be my first too. Please beautiful maiden, take mercy on this here fool. One more chance, I’ll make it worth your while. This guy you’re looking at had a rough couple of years and could really use a break. Please. I swear I am not usually the douchebag you think I am.”
Annaleigh just looked at him, their eyes met, hers seemed to read in his, leaving him to wonder if that was a vampire thing or just an Annaleigh thing.
“Well, my dad likes to say that – and I quote – ‘Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.'”
“Sounds like one of them Greek philosophers. I like it, they were always the smartest.”
“You could not be any farther off! That was actually Jackie Chan who said that. My dad’s quite the fan.” giggled Annaleigh.
“Oops. Oh well, but does that mean I get another chance?” KC gave Annaleigh a pleading look, smiling she shook her head, then shrugged and sighed.
“Fine, KC, you get another chance. But I have really had enough for tonight. We’ll try again fresh some other day. Can you take me home, please?”
Smiling, and feeling like a winner, KC offered her his arm, she linked hers into it, and they walked back to his truck. On the way back to Forgotten Hollow, both kept catching each other sneaking glances at the other, both blushing every time.
After he delivered her to her door and watched her disappear inside, he went straight across the street, knocking on the door of Grainger Hall.
After a while, the porch light turned on, Caitlin answered and without a single word, KC grabbed her and pulled the surprised girl into a tight bear hug.
“I am sorry, Caity Cat! If you still want to be friends, we’ll be friends again! I forgot how good a second chance can feel, and how much not getting one hurts!”