I’ve had trouble sleeping this week, which makes me forgetful, well, more than usual. This means I forgot that I was going to share more of Charlie and Natalia’s past this week. Well, it’s still the same week! Here is more of the odd couple. Enjoy!
ps: this is not heavily edited. There will be mistakes and references to things that are no longer in the book.
Cut scenes from The Grey House:
As the months progressed after the Zechariah incident, Natalia found herself calling Vanessa, her sponsor more and more, until she was calling her every day. She had not needed to call her in a long time, but the Zechariah situation was bad. The police could not locate him, but kept assuring Natalia that he would be found. Natalia knew better. People like Zechariah were found when they wanted to be found. She was feeling restless and paranoid. Vanessa suggested a part time job dealing with the public to reconnect with the better world. Natalia was skeptical at first but relented after a week of pacing her house like a caged tiger.
Natalia knew she could call up TechnoArt and start commuting the two hours to work each day, to sit in a cubicle and stare at a computer screen for right hours. Working on site at her full-time job meant she wouldn’t have time for research. Natalia wanted a part time job that didn’t take up too much of her time. She applied for and got a job as a waitress in a gourmet diner not too far from her house. The Silver Spoon was family run, and located in North Beach, not far from the financial district and China Town. The owners were friendly and for the most part, so were the customers. She enjoyed the job: it made her feel normal.
A few months after starting, her boss called her in the early morning, pleading for her to come in. Normally Natalia didn’t mind going in on a day off, but today was the anniversary of her mother’s death. She had told the owner, Susan why she needed the day off, and it was Susan that called her pleading that if there was anyone else to call, she would have. Natalia went. She had been contemplating a neighborhood bar when Susan called; so figured going into work was probably a good deterrent.
It was a horrible idea. It was halfway to the end of her shift, and all she wanted to do was cry. It had been a harder day then usual: customers were crabby, the coffee makers were turning coffee into sludge, and the usual cook was out sick. And she couldn’t leave when Susan originally told her because two more people called off. In total she would be working an eight-hour shift when Susan had promised to have her out in three.
Natalia crept out the back door on a ten-minute break. The kitchen door was propped open, so she could still hear the chaos. Looking down the alley she could just see the park across the street and the church beyond. Maybe she should go pray for her mom after work. Churches were peaceful, and in the middle of the week, not usually crowded. Something fell in the kitchen and Susan started yelling. Natalia looked down the alley again and wondered why she was so damned responsible. She didn’t need the job; she could just walk away. But she couldn’t do that to Susan. She took a deep breath and walked back inside, being careful of the spillage.
The end of the day did not come quick enough. An hour ago, a regular asked her out for drinks, and that sounded rather nice to Natalia. She declined quickly and stayed away from him. She did not want to give in to temptation. When her shift was over she changed from her pseudo uniform of black skirt and white shirt to jeans and baby tee in the bathroom and walked out the kitchen door, into the fading sun. It was six o’clock and had been a very long day.
Once outside, she headed for the church. She needed peace, and didn’t want to go home. Crossing the well-lit park, she looked around, out of paranoia, for Zechariah. Halfway through the park, she noticed someone watching her. He was leaning against a tree, hands in his jean pockets. His shirt was stark white and fit tight on his chest. His hair was shaggy brown and hung down over his ears. He was watching her intently. She hoped it wasn’t one of Zechariah’s buddies.
Natalia continued on to the church and hurried inside. She sat in one of the benches along the back wall of the narthex. There was a basin for holy water, which made for great cover. She waited ten minutes and when her watcher didn’t come in she calmed down and went to one of the front pews. She knelt and repeated the prayer that Pastor Martin had said the night Marnia died. Natalia had committed it to memory almost accidentally. Once done, she sat in the pew and listened to the soft echoes of the nuns praying close to her. Feeling out of place she got up, lit a candle and left.
The world outside had gotten darker. She breathed deep and looked around for her watcher. No one was around. Feeling silly, Natalia decided to walk home. It wasn’t that far, but it was almost all up hill, so it was great exercise. She had walked a block when she heard some suspicious noise coming from an alley. Unzipping her backpack Natalia pulled out the garlic coated silver dagger Judith had given her. She pulled both straps of the backpack onto her shoulders and crept closer, spying two men further down the alley. One had his back to her and was dressed in a suit. He was spouting scripture. The voice was a dead give away. She quietly and quickly called 911, telling them where to find Zechariah Haynes. She hung up then looked at the other man. The other man was her watcher: same hair, same outfit. And this time, she recognized him. She tried not to gasp as she looked around for a blunt object.
The man had ambushed Charlie while he was watching the waitress cross the park. He started in on the holiness of the Word of God and Charlie humored him. After two minutes, it dawned on the Man of God that he was talking to a Hellspawn, and things took a turn for the worse. Giving up on the waitress, Charlie headed for Union Street, knowing there was an alley or two he could lead the Slayer down and take care of the situation.
The woman still held most of his attention though. He had seen her in the restaurant. His boss had suggested it, saying it had the best steak in San Francisco. Daniel was right. Had he not seen the waitress on the other side of the restaurant, his meal would have been perfect. He was not in her area, so he couldn’t start up a conversation with her. And when he asked his waitress for the woman’s name, it did not trigger any better memories. Natalie looked very familiar, but he had no idea where from.
Charlie waited for her in the park, wanting to follow her home. He needed to know who she was. But now the Slayer had him trapped in an alley. He was supposed to trap the Slayer, not the other way around, but the waitress still captured his thoughts. The guy was still spouting off about the devil and cleansing the world of sin.
“I will send you back to your Hell! I will not allow you to live another moment! You are responsible for the evil in this world and must pay for it! GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND PRA-AY FOR FORGIVNESS, DEMON SPAWN!” He was gesturing with one hand and the other was behind his back. Charlie didn’t like when crazies hid one hand. It usually meant trouble.
It was nighttime, so he could get away with changing and gutting the man. Only problem, he was too far from home with no change of clothing. He could lie.
“Look, I don’t know who you think I am, and I don’t care. Why don’t you just go back to the church and leave me alone. I may not be a pillar of the community, but I’m not a demon spawn or whatever it is you think I am.”
“I can smell the devil in you, boy! It is a sin to lie in the face of Go-od! Kneel down and PRA-AY for forgive- ugh.”
The Slayer fell forward. There was a loud clatter on the ground as a revolver hit the concrete. Standing behind the Slayer was the waitress. She was standing like a baseball player after a successful hit, except for the dagger in her mouth. Looking him dead in the eye, she dropped the piece of board she had used as a bat, took the dagger out of her mouth with her right hand and held it at the ready by her left side. The blade was facing toward him. He had no doubt she knew how to use the silver dagger.
“Hello, Charlie. Haven’t seen you in a while.” Her voice was dead cold.
Charlie looked from the Slayer on the ground to the knife to the deadly beautiful woman holding it. “Who are you?”
“You spend three weeks in a silver cage and you forget the woman who saved your life?” Sarcasm dripped from her voice. “I’m heartbroken Charlie, simply heartbroken.”
Charlie’s jaw dropped. The woman in front of him was not the girl who saved his life. He stared at her, wondering how much someone had to go through in two years in order to become that hardened in that short a span of time.
Natalia assessed Charlie; trying to determine how much danger she was in. Was he a threat? He had not been the first time they met and she just saved him again. She looked him up and down, realizing that she did not fear him, mostly due to his smile and kind eyes.
“I called the police Charlie. They’re on their way.” Her voice had gotten softer.
What she was saying finally sunk in. “Why did you call the police?”
“Long story.” The sirens echoed in the background. “Are you going to stick around and talk to them?” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm.
He did not answer. “You’re not going to kill me, are you?”
She sighed heavily, exasperated. Her guard came down for a second. “I’m not the Slayer, Charlie. He is. I have no reason to kill you.”
He stepped closer, very curious now. “So what are you?”
Natalia stared at him for a moment. “I’m me.”
The sirens were getting closer. Charlie narrowed his eyes at Natalia. “Are you going to be here when the police arrive?”
Natalia grabbed her backpack and put the knife away. “Not if I can help it. Are you?”
“Nope.” He gave her a wolf’s grin, waiting for her to leave.
She looked at him, “What are you waiting for?”
The grin got larger. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what the deal is between you and my late night snack.”
She gave him a dead look, then allowed her features to soften. “Fine, get arrested. Not my problem.”
Natalia turned and left the alley. Charlie looked at her retreating form unbelievingly. He shook his head then followed her out, not wanting to be found in an alley with a passed-out Slayer.
At the head of the alley, he slunk low, trying not to be seen by the fast approaching squad car. He saw Natalia as she ran up the hill, and decided to follow.
The werewolf followed her home, being careful not to be seen. She did look around a little, but seemed to mostly ignore her surroundings. After a mile or maybe two, she went into a one-story house on Green St. He waited to hear the front door slam and jumped the fence. It was full on dark and there wasn’t much in the way of streetlights. He strolled up the walkway wondering what he was doing. Taking a deep breath, Charlie rang the doorbell.