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Luca was watching everyone in the Counsel Council talking and laughing. They were so fond of each other. When Laurel walked into his home that day and asked him to join the club, he couldn’t say no. No one could say no to her. But other than Laurel, he hadn’t gotten close to anyone else in the club.
Carmen was a big ball of energy that made him feel tired when he tried to match her. Bo was weird as hell, alien or not. And Gavin was unnecessarily quiet and hard to get to know, plus he was a politician whose whole career could be messed up by association with Luca.
Luca decided it was time to do what he should’ve done a long time ago.
“Hey, everyone, I’m sorry to spring this on you, but I have to go,” he said. He didn’t yet have the room’s attention, but he kept talking anyway, and changed out of his club clothes. “I’m going to quit the club, I think it’s the best for all of us.”
It wasn’t until he left the room that everyone heard him. It was like their ears were on delay. Bo was still smiling from Carmen’s last joke when Laurel spoke, “Guys, did you hear what he just said?”
“Yeah, he said he was stepping out for a bit,” said Carmen.
“No, he said he was quitting, like quitting the club,” said Gavin.
“If there is an opening in the club,” said Bo, “I think I know the perfect Sim to join us. Dominic Fyres lives in Windenburg and he understands my humor.”
“No one is replacing Luca,” said Laurel, “I just need to talk to him. This came out of nowhere, so there must be something else going on.”
“That is a good plan to start,” said Bo, “but if your plan is unsuccessful, I can call Dominic.”
Carmen smiled in spite of herself. “Bo, we get it, you have a man crush on Dominic, and I get it, believe me I do. But maybe save that idea until we know for sure what’s going on with Luca.”
“As you wish.”
“So what do we do now? I don’t want to end the meeting, we just got here,” said Gavin.
Laurel smiled at the idea of Gavin being so attached to the club and thought about her answer to his question, “I don’t want to end it either. Tell you what, you all stay here, or feel free to start exploring the building. I’m going to call Luca and see if I can get him to come back and talk to me.”
Laurel headed up to the bowling alley bar, ordered a drink, and called Luca.
“Thanks for answering Luca… No I’m not calling to fuss at you, I just want to talk… I know, but it came out of nowhere, and I just want to understand what happened… Yes I’m still at the Council building… So you’ll come back to talk to me?… Yes, just you and me… Ha! Great minds think alike, I’m already at the bar, I’ve just ordered a drink… Okay, see you in a sec.”
Luca walked up to Laurel and said, “you know, you really outdid yourself with the building. You could’ve had a career as an architect.”
“Mmm, more about ‘in another life’?”
“Heh, I guess so,” said Luca, “Well I’m back, let’s talk.”
“I want to hear from you,” said Laurel. “You walking away like that was so abrupt. Did something happen?”
Luca stared at Laurel for a moment before responding. “You really are beautiful, you know that?”
“I don’t think your new wife would appreciate you taking the conversation in this direction.”
“Eh, she’ll be fine, she knows what she signed up for.”
“Mmm, I doubt that,” said Laurel. “But seriously, talk to me. What happened?”
“I just don’t think I belong in this club. All of you are such good friends, and I just don’t want to feel like an outsider all the time.”
“That’s it? Oh, that’s nothing, we can fix that.”
“What do you mean?”
“The reason we all seem close is because we’ve developed relationships with each other outside of the club,” said Laurel. “But we’re not all super close. Carmen is who I’m closest to. I feel like you and I are pretty close too because we’re family now.”
“So you’re not really close with Gavin and Bo too?”
“Not yet, but I hope to be eventually. Do you know why I started this club?”
“You needed even more people to boss around besides your family?”
“Ha ha, no. I started it because I was looking for a way to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, who wouldn’t ordinarily connect as friends. It’s our differences that make us so great.”
“You think we’re great?”
“I really do. Think back when we were in Forgotten Hollow. You all stayed with me for days there, simply to hunt garlic to keep my family safe.”
“I thought we were hunting vampires,” said Luca.
“Ha! Yeah, I know. But even after it became clear that’s not what we were there for, you stayed. Why?”
“I told you I would stay there, so I did, I keep my word when I can.”
“So keep you word now. Stay in the club you agreed to join. We haven’t changed, we’re all still us,” said Laurel. “We don’t have to be best friends, but we can certainly help each other.”
“That’s true,” said Luca, “I have already thought of a way to help Carmen.”
“Oh really? How?”
“Ah, it’s not all settled yet, just an idea at this point. I’ll let you know if it goes beyond a thought.”
“Okay, that sounds like you’re back in. Is that right?”
“Yeah, I’m back. But I really should tell you what I do for a living first. We’ve never talked about it and it might be a deal breaker.”
“Okay, let me brace myself,” said Laurel, “how bad is it?”
“Daniella doesn’t know this, okay? But when I moved her here under the guise of getting away from the lifestyle of our father,” said Luca, “it was really just to set up a new branch of the family business.”
“Ookaaaay,” said Laurel, “and what business is that? What career field are you in?”
“The criminal career.”
“Well damn, this complicates things,” said Laurel, suddenly needing a long sip of her drink.
To Be Continued…