::Greetings, everyone! We're moving right on to the next story from Winchester Ranch. A huge thank you for the reads and comments! Please let me know what you think as we continue our journey together. Holden takes place directly after Vulnerable. I, of course, having nothing to do with owning Supernatural or any of its characters, but by Chuck, I do love to dabble. Thank you so much for letting me take this journey. Hope you enjoy.
Love and internetty hugs,
The Girl With the Dinosaur Tattoo::
I woke up with a start smelling diesel smoke having no idea where I was. Sitting up in bed, I looked around, trying to remember through the haze of the morning. Pain shot across the back of my head and I closed my eyes, realizing that I hadn't dreamed the hunt that my sister-in-law and I went on the night before…the restless spirit in Old Town Topeka had been real. He had put up quite a fight and had tossed me out a second story window as he pelted Serendipity with utensils, pots, and pans. His cremated remains hadn't included the lock of hair his mother kept around her neck in a locket and he had been causing quite a stir lately, bent on taking the hotel back from her.
Rubbing my face and trying to get my wits about me, I glanced next to me in bed. Serra was still sleeping; the mound of blankets rose and fell with each breath she took and her long, auburn hair cascaded over the pillow that was shoved up against her face. I chuckled, remembering the fit she had thrown in the lobby the day before about us having to share a bed because the motel we found was down to single queen beds. It was either that or drive home tonight on less than an hour of sleep at three in the morning. She had relented, realizing how tired we both were.
Silently, I pulled myself out of bed, grabbing my jeans, new boxers, and a new shirt to change into once I was out of the shower. Closing the bathroom door, I sighed, staring at myself in the mirror; I looked exhausted. As I turned the shower on, I let the steam seep into my pores, trying to relax the knot on the back of my head from colliding with the ground multiple times the night before. Getting my ass kicked was hard, and I was out of practice.
I took my time in the shower, gingerly soaping up my shoulders and face, wary of the bumps and bruises that had begun to spread beneath the surface of my skin.
There was a bang on the door and Serra's voice echoed through the wall. "Come on, you girl! You've been in there like, twenty minutes!"
Chuckling and shaking my head, I shouted back, "What do you want?"
"I've gotta pee so bad!"
I rolled my eyes. "Jesus, just come in, then," I answered. She wasted no time, slamming the door open and tripping on the floor mat. Laughing at her as she used the bathroom, I rinsed my face and back as she washed her hands, forcing me out of the stream of now-frigid water. "Holy shit," I said, jumping to the side.
"What's the matter?" Serra asked, reaching for the towel above the toilet.
"Quality motel water temperature control," I muttered, testing the water with my fingertips before I stepped back into the stream.
Serra hesitated in front of the mirror for a few seconds longer, checking the bruises on her lower back and face. I could see her shadow, silhouetting against the dark patterned canvas shower curtain. She turned to talk to the curtain and chuckled, "I think we're officially closer than most in-laws now."
"It was probably safe to say that before this," I answered, rinsing my hair once more. I shut off the water and stood, dripping, in the middle of the tub. "But unless you want full frontal, you need to move along."
"Do I actually have a choice?" Serra asked with a smile in her voice. She tilted her head and waited patiently, her shadow moving with the rest of her body.
"Get out!" I yelled.
She laughed, turning on her socked feet and striding back out of the room. She shut the door behind her and I stepped out of the tub and reached for a new towel.
Minutes later, I was dressed in my favorite faded Metallica tee shirt and jeans, barefoot, and drying my hair with the tiny towel from the bathroom. I opened the door and the steam followed me out into the room and caught the tail end of Serra pulling on a fresh tank top, tugging it down over the bruises on her back.
"You okay?" I asked, referring to her back.
She shrugged and turned to face me, tossing the white tank she had worn to bed on the comforter. "I guess," she answered. "When you got tossed, he shoved me into the bar. My back is killing me." She made a face. "How about you? Are you concussed?"
"I don't think so," I ventured, turning my head and gesturing to the goose egg on the back of my skull. "What time is it?"
She picked up her phone and pressed the top button and I caught a glimpse of my nephew and niece cuddled together in the picture on the phone's screen. "Almost eight," she answered, tossing the phone back onto the bed. "We can hit the road anytime."
I began my usual motel room sweep and threw my belongings back into the green duffle at the foot of the bed. I checked that the safety was on my forty-five as I tucked it into the waistband of my jeans and loaded up the rock salt shotgun shells we still had left. I felt the pockets of my jeans and glanced around, still missing my lighter.
"What are you looking for?" Serra asked as she rolled her extra pair of jeans up and tucked them into her own duffle.
"My Zippo," I answered, glancing up at her.
Serra clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes. "Why? It's not like it worked last night," she spat. "Left me hanging with an iron poker for about eight minutes."
"Yeah, it's empty, so sue me," I said, shaking my head. "I found a book of matches." I paced over towards the nightstand once again, still feeling my pockets. "I still want my friggin' Zippo. That was my dad's."
She dumped the duffle bags on the floor and ripped off the bed's comforter, shaking it out as she did so. We both heard a thump as something small hit the floor on the other side of the bed. I walked around, bent down and held it up victoriously.
"Thank you, Serra," she mocked in a sing-songy voice.
"You are annoying as hell," I answered, tucking the lighter back into my pocket where it belonged. "How Sammy puts up with you twenty-four-seven, I will never understand." As I finished my thought, my phone started to vibrate on the TV cabinet across the room. Serra tossed it to me and I caught it, answering automatically, "Hey gorgeous."
"Hi there, stranger," came my wife's voice from the other end. "Have you killed Serra yet?"
"Close," I answered, glancing up at my sister-in-law. "Barged in on my shower time."
Grace laughed quietly. "How dare she?" Grace replied. A tiny voice was in the background, babbling to Grace and I recognized it immediately as my youngest daughter, Faith. "Number four says good morning," she continued.
I couldn't help but smile as I turned towards the door of the motel room with my duffle and headed outside. I leaned on the hood of my Impala after dumping my bag into the trunk and listened harder. "She been good?" I asked.
"Yeah," Grace agreed. "She and Everett have been sleeping in your spot."
"I have no doubt," I said, glancing at my bare feet. The sun was shining, warming my wet hair, even though it was still winter in the Midwest. "We're gonna get on the road, here soon. Shouldn't take us more than a half hour or so to get home. We weren't even going to stay last night, but we took a beating."
"I know," my wife replied. "I was listening as soon as you and Serra started to whisper."
My wife was a talented creature. She was Nephilim, meaning she was half-human and half-angel. So much had happened since we met, it was hard to put in a summary, but she and I somehow have four kids together, a big, awesome farm house outside of my hometown of Lawrence, and my brother Sammy married her little sister. It wasn't as weird as it sounded…it's just how it worked out. Sam and Serra lived on the other side of our property, buying the Small House and we made it work. They had two kids of their own and every morning that I woke up and stared into my wife's blue eyes, it made me question if I was alive or dead. I didn't deserve any of it, but I had it all.
We wrapped up our phone call and I walked back into the motel room as Serra tossed me her duffle. "I'm all packed up. I want food," she said, her voice sharp.
I knew from experience that she was as bad as one of the kids; needing to eat every four hours or so to keep the edge out of her voice. Dropping her duffle on the floor next to me, I bent to pull on my boots. "Dude, we'll be home in a half an hour."
"Coffee," she said, demanding. "Food. Now."
I rolled my eyes and grabbed the flannel that hung on the back of the chair near the door. "Fine," I said, gesturing to the open door. "Let's go, princess." She shot me daggers and as she stomped out of the room, Serra picked up her duffle bag and threw it into the trunk of Baby. She slammed the deck lid and I tilted my head at her. "Hey," said, opening my hands and raising my eyebrows. "Gentle."
Serra threw herself into the front seat and I took a deep breath. Three days was definitely our limit together. I couldn't wait to go home.