Laurel was still looking at Gavin and feeling grateful he knew exactly what she was talking about when Carmen’s protest interrupted her thoughts.
“Nope… nope… see, y’all are giving me the heebie jeebies,” said Carmen. “This can’t be good for the baby.”
“Carmen, we wouldn’t expect you to get involved in this effort to ward off vampires from our homes,” said Gavin. “You are pregnant, and we want you to be safe.”
“He’s right,”said Laurel. “We aren’t going to imperil the life of your firstborn.”
“Maybe only-born,” said Carmen. “But that’s a conversation for another time. Y’all misunderstand me. I am in! If there are vampires letting themselves into folks’ houses, I gotta do what I gotta do to keep my baby safe.”
“But, Carmen, you don’t know what this involves,” said Laurel. “We’ll have to make a trip to Forgotten Hollow, find a particular plant, harvest it, then figure out how to make it grow in a completely different climate. We may have to stay there overnight or even for a couple of days.”
“I hear you Laurel,” said Carmen, “but if anything you’ve only convinced me further that I should be involved. Who knows more about gardening than I? Who can make sure whatever plant you need–”
“It’s garlic,” said Laurel.
“Of course it is,” said Carmen with a small chuckle. “Well, who can make sure better than me that the garlic is properly grown and harvested for whatever you need? Nobody, that’s who.”
“I garden as well,” said Bo. “I could also assist with the garlic.”
“I know you could,” said Carmen, “but I’d rather do it. I have higher skill and more plants to camouflage a non-native plant.”
“She has a good point,” said Gavin. “Besides, if the rest of us are there on the garlic-hunting expedition too, we can make sure she’s taken care of.”
“Sounds good to me. I’m sure Hugo will watch the baby while I’m with y’all,” said Carmen.
Laurel relented, and they made plans to meet in Forgotten Hollow later the next week after Carmen’s baby was born, which would also give Laurel time to bring Luca up to speed.
Gavin didn’t know how to explain to his grandparents why he would be gone for a up to a few days. He was glad he wouldn’t have to explain he was going to hunt vampires, but going to hunt garlic to ward off vampires. His grandparents usually treated him like an adult even though they still worried about him. However, where they came from, you didn’t go hunting after trouble, especially after it showed up to your doorstep. He worried they wouldn’t approve.
He sat trying to figure out how to bring up this camping trip to Forgotten Hollow while finishing the rest of his delicious dinner as his grandmother fussed at his grandfather just like she always did.
“I just don’t see why it takes you so long to find your way home from work is all,” said Gavin’s grandmother Kenya. “You’re working late nights, and I get that because we’re starting over in a new city, but I feel like you’re using it as an excuse to stay out late, and I don’t like it.”
“I hear what you’re saying, love,” said Gavin’s grandfather Cristian. “But you’re wrong. It takes me even less time to get home from work than it takes you. Until my next promotion, I’m off at 2am. And what time do I get home? 2:20! It takes you 30 minutes or more to get yourself home from the office. You just miss me and you want me home with you all the time. I get it. I’m used to you, you been a jealous woman since our first date. Picking a fight with my cousin Stella when I brought you ’round the house to meet my family, haha. It’s just your nature, woman. But I’m not letting you pick a fight on my one day off this week.”
“It’s not that I’m jealous! It’s just–” Kenya stopped her reply because Cristian started laughing. If Gavin had been in a better mood, he would’ve laughed aloud too.
Gavin left the table as his grandfather continued smoothing things over with his grandmother. His grandmother Kenya was famous for her jealousy, feeling tense, and taking it out on everyone until Cristian returned and calmed her down.
After the excitement during dinner, Gavin’s grandmother Kenya always went to bed first because her work day began first. Once she went to bed, he asked his grandfather if they could talk.
“What’s goin’ on son? You look like you have a lot on your mind,” said Cristian. You didn’t even laugh when your grandmother claimed she wasn’t jealous.”
“Oh yeah, that was pretty funny,” said Gavin. “But you’re right, I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“I figured we’d have this talk one day,” said Cristian. “I want you to know you have my blessing.”
“What? How do you know? Did you see the man in my bedroom? I knew you were awake,” said Gavin, “but you never said anything, so I assumed you didn’t see him.”
“Man in your bedroom?! No… I didn’t see that, but… I’m trying to say that I’m okay with it. Times are changing, and we don’t need to say any more on the subject,” said Cristian.
“Wait–what are you talking about?”
“I thought I was–what are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about vampires! What did you think I was talking about?”
“Well… I thought… your grandmother said…,” began Cristian. “Never mind. You said vampires?”
“Yeah,” said Gavin. “I know it sounds crazy, and most people believe there is no such thing as vampires, but I have reason to believe they are real. My new friend Laurel told a story that sounded exactly like something I thought was a dream. Turns out it wasn’t a dream. Vampires are letting themselves into peoples’ homes, putting them under some sort of spell, and drinking their plasma.”
“They don’t even have the decency to wipe their memories?”
“Well, the whole thing feels like a dream when it happens,” said Gavin.
“It happened to you?!”
“No,” said Gavin, “but it almost did. That was the man in my bedroom. I’m not sure why he stopped, but I don’t want to give him a second chance at it.”
“If what you say is true, you have to try to protect your friends and family. I’ll make sure your grandmother stays calm while you’re gone,” said Cristian.
“Thanks,” said Gavin,” I knew I could count on you.”