Glade listened intently as Heather told the story of how she and Kale had met, nothing but her words and the sound of breathing filling the cool stillness of the room. When she was finished, Glade could only stare. These people, they had been through so much in their lives, yet now they were willing to open themselves up to him and share their secret. In that moment Glade knew that he had formed a true friendship, perhaps for the first time in his life.
That day, Glade left Kale and Heather's house with a sense of calming contentment. He still had questions- about the neighbourhood, about the creatures that swelled in the darkness, but there would be time for that. Kale and Heather had shared something so personal with him, it didn't seem fair to press them for more details. Besides, his own secret still left a black mark on his heart, one that he couldn't bring himself to mention. Kale and Heather knew there was something wrong in Glade's past of course; something that had driven him to come to Riverview, but they wouldn't push him to share. They had all the time in the world for him to make peace with his history and to relieve it with them.
In the time following their meeting Glade grew ever closer to Kale and Heather. They were a regular feature at his house, always coming over for dinner or to spend time with Maia. Glade had forgotten what it was like to just relax- to just exist without worry; without the creeping feeling that there was an impending doom to be averted.
Before long Heather gave birth to a baby boy who they named Cayden. It was the first ghost baby to be born in the world for half a century, but there would be no headlines or fanfares. This was yet another secret the couple would have to bear- the secret of how their love had transcended rules and morals, had brought them together, and had started a family.
In the evenings, after making sure Maia was safe in her crib, Glade would sleep. To most people sleep is just a necessity- something that keeps them sane, but to Glade it was more than that. When he closed his eyes and his mind would fall into a quiet dusk it didn't stay dark for long. Sooner or later a figure arrived to drift through his dreams- the girl with the pink hair.
Glade had not seen her since his first week in Riverview, he didn't even know her name, but she never strayed far from his thoughts. And so he dreamt, his vivid mind painting illusions that seemed so real at the time. In the morning he would always wake up disappointed.
Dreams can only sate the soul for so long. In recent days Glade had learnt a lot from Kale and Heather about the town and the people who lived there. They told him about the vampires; about where they lurked in patient malice and how best to avoid them, and before long Glade felt he knew enough to make the trip to town safely. It would have been safer to just stay at home of course, but sometimes to get what you really want you have to take a little risk. And so one day Glade left Maia under the careful watch of Kale and Heather, and headed into town.
Immediately his destination was Simhenge. Bruises on his skin still echoed the terror of what happened last time he had visited this place, but it was where he had met her so he had to return. Some fear still remained, but as Glade cautiously edged towards the water the sun seemed to grow brighter, and its presence warmed his spirit.
He didn't expect for her to just be there as she had before, but Glade was disappointed nonetheless by her absence. Now he really was in despair. He knew nothing of this girl so he had no way of finding her, but that didn't mean he wouldn't try. The thought of it filled him with trepidation- knocking on doors in this town was beyond stupid considering the dangerous creatures that roamed the lands. Still, Glade tried to fight the fear.
Walking back into town he looked up at the sky, his mind sending unspoken questions to the universe. So much in his life had been chaos and misery- Glade didn't know how long he could live without answers. But then he felt his heart began to beat faster. Immediately Glade passed it off as panic and tried to calm himself, but the echo remained; grew stronger. That was when he looked up, and saw Her.
Standing on the bridge ahead of him was the figure who haunted his dreams. Walking up to her at first Glade couldn't speak- his heart was beating too fast and stopping speech from forcing its way up his throat. The most he managed was a smile, and he felt his heart lurch as she returned it with her own. A sweet smile but mocking nonetheless; the corners of her lips twitched upwards and formed an inside joke of their own.
Eventually Glade's tongue was his to control again, and he used it to ask the girl her name. The last time they had met there had been much toying- much games, but this time the pretense was over and she wasn't playing anymore. For whatever reason she didn't need to resist him; didn't need to play pretend like she wasn't happy to see him, so when he asked her for her name her smile grew wider and she replied- Lexie.
Glade grinned and repeated the name a few times to himself, enjoying the feel of it on his lips. Whilst he did this Lexie just watched and smiled, appearing as transfixed as he, but before long she remembered something important. Looking at Glade in earnest she told him that it wasn't safe here and asked him to come with her- she knew a place they could go. Glade understood her fears and of course said yes.
As they walked away from Sinhenge Glade couldn't keep his eyes off of Lexie. She seemed so bright, so full of life. She was what he needed- an antidote to all the gloom that had plagued him in the past.
Before long they arrived at the old playground, a symbol of the decay of Riverview sadly mirrored throughout the town. The swings were dank and rusted, the grass was overgrown and disheveled, but to Glade and Lexie that didn't matter. It was quiet, secluded, and gave them the freedom to be alone together.
They stayed in the park a for long time, just talking quietly amongst themselves. Glade watched her mouth as she spoke and just ached to kiss her, but he didn't want to risk doing anything that might make her run off again. And so their topics of conversation remained neutral- just little discussions about their interests, about the town.
As the night grew deeper Glade and Lexie sat entwined. Their lips were inches from ecstacy but neither would make the move. And so they gazed at each other, and both lamented the moment when they would separate.
They didn't even notice that someone was watching from the shadows...
Someone with murder in mind...