Chapter Eleven: Reactions

She ate a little bit in silence. I just stared at my own spaghetti, watching Pristine out of the corner of my eye. Sure that the meal was ruined, I came up with an idea.
"Hey, Pristine? You wanna get something to eat somewhere else? I bet red is un-appealing at the moment."
She looked up, looking a bit dazed. She had been picking through her dish for a noodle that didn't have bright red tomato sauce coating it.
"Sure."
"Would you eat if I got you something else? You really should eat."
"Yeah, if there's no red around it." Her voice was quiet. I wondered what she was thinking, wishing that I could read her thoughts all the time.
Hurriedly, I got the bill from the waiter and paid in cash, leaving a hefty tip in apology for wasting the food. I took my companion's hand in mine and led her away from the table into the parking lot and my car.
"Look, I'm sorry I upset you so much, but you did say that you wanted to hear, so I told you." I apologized. How she took it surprised me. My thoughts were that Katrina would take it like she had taken everything pelted at her so far about me- in stride and honestly giving her opinion on the situation.
"I can't believe it! It must have been terrible for you!" Finally she spoke. Good, I was getting worried.
"Well, I'd say that it wasn't too bad and that I lived through it, but obviously I'm not exactly alive, now am I?"
"You're terrible! How can you joke about something like that?" I grinned as she punched me in the arm. God, that girl snapped back fast! I loved it!
"How about a milkshake?"
"And some chicken nuggets?" she pretend-begged
"Mickey D's?"
"Let's go!" Leaning forward in her seat, Katrina flicked on the radio.
Some punk rock song was playing. Like I said, this station played anything and everything. I had my eyes on the road, but I could hear her pressing a few buttons rapidly and finally she sat back in her seat with a sigh.
A light, enchanting Celtic song played from the speakers of my Cobra.
"Pretty." I told her, the famous Golden Arches of our destination in sight.
"It's relaxing. My favorite thing to listen to, especially if anything happens to be bugging me. You seem kinda tense, I thought that it might help."
I laughed softly. " Thank you. It's weird, you know? People doing things for me? That never happens, people considering my feelings and stuff and reacting to them." My mood flashed. I don't know how or why, usually I'm in total control of my emotions, but I just snapped! "Damn it! The last person who did anything for me, genuinely considering how I might react, they destroyed me! It just doesn't feel right. So don't!" Jerking the steering wheel violently left, I cut off three on-coming cars that honked angrily as I drove madly into the parking lot.
Pristine seemed taken aback and a bit scared, gripping her seat. She looked for all the world like she was thanking God for the marvelous invention of the seatbelt that kept her from slamming into either the window or me. Then she looked angry. "You had better learn to control that temper and drive properly, Kathros!"
I parked the car, cut the engine and whipped around to face her, too angry to notice that she had called me by my real name and that I had snapped the seatbelt that I had just gotten into the habit of wearing so as not to get pulled over. "And you need to know when to back off when concerning vampires!" I grabbed her arm, baring my fangs in something that looked like a mix of a snarl and a sneer.
"Snap out of it! Now!" She said forcefully, though a rouge tear escaped down her cheek. "Please!"
I could swear I actually heard a whisper of a 'click' in my head, as I was aware of how I was acting all of a sudden.
"God, Katrina! I'm so sorry! I can't; believe I was like that!" I instantly release my grip on her, looking at my hand in sudden recognition as if it were a lethal weapon. "Can you ever forgive me?" I looked at her imploringly.
She smiled weakly, "If you get me an extra big vanilla milkshake."
We got out of the car and walked toward the brick building. 'I don't know what's gotten into me! I'm never like this! What's wrong all of a sudden?' I thought. Pristine must have seen something to suggest my thoughts because she slipped her hand into mine. I smiled at her softly. 'Relax! It's probably just her blood changing you, and your bad side protesting.'
Walking up to the teenage boy behind the counter, I checked the name on his nametag while ordering. "I'd like a large vanilla milkshake, and a..." I glanced at Pristine, who mouthed 'six-piece'. "Six piece chicken McNugget please, uh, Fred."
I paid for the food as they brought out to the front counter where the three of us were standing. Fingers still interlocked in Pristine's left-handed grip, I picked up the tray with my own left hand and began to walk to a table by a side window.
Then he walked in.
"Ah, still parading around with your little girlfriend, I see. Really, I expected more of you, but taking into account all that Mother warned me about you, I do suppose that she was quite right."
"Geoffrey..." I growled a warning at the intruder who was my son. I swear, most folks are happy to see their kids after being separated for a prolonged period of time, why couldn't I be one of them?
My son looked quickly around, insuring that this little rendezvous was in a fairly secluded area of the restaurant. Well, he wasn't dumb, that was for certain, I had to give Emilie credit for that! Then, all of a sudden, he walked up to Pristine and deftly slapped her once across the face before I even knew what he was doing. Even without supernatural reflexes and senses, I should have been able to foresee him trying to pull something. Especially something so small and so meaningful like that.
"Leave us alone, Geoffrey." My voice was low and dangerous. "Apologize now. Be sincere. Leave. I'll deal with you tomorrow. Goodbye."
"I am sorry he does not have the gal to change you. If he did, maybe I'd accept you, but not like you are now. As long as you understand that you are a pet, a snack, my battle is not with you." Geoffrey addressed Pristine and left.
'Evasively obedient.' I noted. 'Interesting. Reminds me of myself, in fact.'
"Well, when you're done, I'll drive you home. It's been a long night and I'm sure that your father will not be happy if I keep you out much longer." A thought of a way to get her to smile once more (it had been wiped off at the touch of Geoffrey's hand) entered my mind.
I stroked my chin with one hand, throwing the other arm around the back of her chair. "You know," I pretended to muse aloud, "I think he likes you."
Her expression was one of disbelief- half-eaten piece of breaded chick in her fingers halfway to her mouth. She put it down, shaking her head slowly and smiling in disbelief. Pristine's shoulders began to shake in silent laughter. Only a few chuckles were audible, but that was enough. The comment had done its job.
"I don't get you, but I will someday." She said and with that, returned to a happy peaceful silence while she finished eating.
"I aim to please." I told her sarcastically.
A few minutes later, Pristine was done eating and we left the second restaurant of the evening.
"I really am sorry about the way I acted earlier." I broke the quiet so loud that it was usually reserved for the dead. "I never lose control like that. That hasn't ever happened to me before. I could feel how scared you were, but what scared me was..." This felt so awkward. I sighed, exasperated with myself. "What scared me, deep down inside that monstrous cover, was that you trusted me. I could feel that you knew I wouldn't hurt you." I looked over at her. "How did you know that? How'd you get me to snap out of it?"
Katrina thought for a moment before answering quietly. "I'm not sure. Maybe part of it was the logic that if you hadn't killed me or memory-wiped me or whatever yet, then you wouldn't. But another part of it was that somehow I knew that you didn't want to hurt me. Somehow I knew you were as scared as I was. I felt like, a connection, you knew? Like, even if you wanted to kill me, you couldn't. It was weird."
I turned down our street.
"This has been one weird day. The weirdest. Ever." She knew what I meant - even more odd that Emilie's becoming a vampire. We passed my house. The light was on - presumably Geoffrey was there.
Pulling into her short driveway, I braked and, leaving the car running, got out and walked Pristine to her door like a gentleman.
"I have to spend this weekend with Geoffrey, but I'll see you Monday if not before then, right?" That would be killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, spending the time I needed to with Geoffrey, and keeping him away from Pristine. She nodded in reply, kissed my right cheek, and disappeared into the dark house.
"I must be getting soft. I've been acting nice lately."