From an unpublished novel.
Laura looked at me, pain obvious in her blue eyes. “He doesn’t want us here.”
“He wants you here. He just doesn’t want to hear that he has a problem.” I put my arm around her. “Do you want to go in, or should we just leave?”
“He wants us to leave. Which means we shouldn’t. Phil, when you saw him the other day, did you sense anything?”
“No. I wasn’t here long enough. And Clyde said Dom’s mind was blocked. Why? Did you sense something?”
She nodded. “Remember what I said the other night? About darkness not always coming from outside? There’s always been some darkness in Dom, I think it’s because of what he went through when he was a kid. But this is more than what was there before. A lot more. And I don’t think he realizes it.”
The door at the top of the steps opened. “Are you guys coming in or not?” Dominic asked.
“You don’t seem to be in the mood for company,” Laura replied.
“No, the way you’re acting.” She pulled away from me and went up the steps. “Dom, if you want us to leave, just say so.”
He looked surprised. “I don’t want you to leave. I haven’t seen you since September. I told Zeke to bring you over.”
“That’s what he said. But like I said, you’re acting like you don’t want us here.”
“I’m sorry. I do want you here, Laura. I just- I’m getting a little tired of people telling me there’s something wrong with me. You’re different. You wouldn’t be saying it without a reason. I’m sorry for what I said.”
“If more than one person has said there’s something wrong, Dom, they might be right. But if you don’t want to talk about it, okay. I’ll drop it.”
“Thanks.” Dominic looked at me. “Sorry, Zeke. Come on in, both of you.”
We followed him inside. In his apartment, Dominic went to the fridge but hesitated before opening it. “Go ahead,” Laura told him. “It’s your place.”
Dominic shook his head. “Never mind. Unless one of you wants some soda or something.”
“No thanks,” Laura said. I shook my head.
Dom took his wallet out of his pocket. “Hey, Laura, did Zeke show you what he got yesterday?”
“No.” Laura looked at me, puzzled. It only took her a second to figure it out, though. “Did you get another picture of your son?”
Dominic grinned. “Yeah. Poor kid looks like me, at least Morgan thinks so.” He opened his wallet and handed it to Laura. “What do you think?”
She looked at the picture and smiled. “I think he’s even cuter than in last year’s picture. And Morgan’s right, he does look a lot like you, Dom. Which isn’t a bad thing. Remember how Miranda and the others reacted to you? That wasn’t because of your personality, you know.”
Dominic took the wallet back. “Watch what you say. You’ll make Zeke jealous.”
“I’m not that insecure,” I said.
Laura sat on the bed. “Dominic, have you heard about anything in the old city lately?”
Dom stared at her. “Why?”
“Because last time I was here I was almost taken through the portal in the alley there. I know Adam and I didn’t destroy the force of darkness. I think I’m here now because it’s recovered. Phil says it took one of the kids in his after school group.”
Dominic turned to me. “You didn’t tell me about that.”
“I found out Friday. I haven’t really had a chance to tell you much since then.” I paused. “It was a ten-year-old boy. He went to the store Thursday night and never came home. He doesn’t live in the city, though, so if it got him at the old city portal, someone took him there.”
“I haven’t heard about anything in the old city,” Dominic said. “That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been anything. I know I live on the edge of the old city but I try not to go any farther into it. It’s too close to…”
He trailed off but Laura and I both knew what he was thinking. For years, Dom had relied on a man named Hal Leighton to help him out when things got hard. Hal had given Dominic a safe place to get away from his parents and had given him a job when he was old enough. Hal had also turned out to be Dominic’s birth father. But he served the force of darkness and when Dom fought against it, Hal turned his back on him. Hal owned a video store only a few blocks from Dominic’s apartment. Dom would want to stay as far from it as he could.