We rolled into the driveway as I said, “The Grey Giant was in Armory’s place dressed as a security guard. I’d barely destroyed much of anything in his weapons lab and suddenly I had a whole new fight to deal with. The bright side was that I was supposed to be distracting people from everyone else, and it worked.”
Haley shook her head, “He nearly killed all three of you the first time you fought him. Why is he even out of prison?”
“Syndicate L got him out.” I put my hand on my door handle.
She sighed, “Well, that figures.” Then she paused, “You’re nowhere near done, are you?”
I shook my head, “Nope. We’ll be talking for another half hour if you want to hear it all now. That or we can just go through it at the dinner table. I’m pretty sure my dad’s block is still holding. My mom, though…”
Her lips curled, “That wouldn’t be nice. I’ll ask about it after we leave. You haven’t even gotten to why you opened the storage room yet.”
“I know.” We opened our doors and stepped out onto the driveway. I looked up at the house in front of me. All red brick and grey painted wood, the two-story house was where I’d spent the first eighteen years of my life.
It felt like I hadn’t been home since my freshman year at Grand Lake University. That wasn’t quite true. I’d been home for holidays, but for the first two years of university, I’d been in the dorms and the last two in Grandpa’s home that I’d inherited. Plus, I’d spent my summers and half my school weekends at Stapledon.
Home had fallen away from me and I hadn’t noticed. I’d been busy. Maybe that might change now that I’d graduated, but knowing what superheroes’ lives were like, I didn’t feel optimistic. Still, Grandpa had managed.
Before I could go deeper into those thoughts, Haley put her hand in mine and said, “Let’s go.”
We walked in through the garage, stepping into the utility room, the room with the washer and dryer and hooks for the family to hang up coats—well, for kids and their friends to hang up coats. The kids Rachel and I used to be along with Daniel, sometimes Cassie, and even Vaughn a few times.
Grown-ups used the closet near the front door for their coats.
Out of habit, I took off my shoes. Haley frowned for a moment and did the same.
“You don’t have to,” I said, knowing that she was thinking about her feet. She didn’t have fangs or claws out right now, but shoes gave her a little more time to gain control if something triggered her.
My mom stepped into the hall, “You don’t have to take off your shoes. I used to make sure Nick did because his shoes were always muddy or when he went to my dad’s house, covered with I don’t know what.”
Only two inches shorter than me, my mom had short dark hair with a few strands of grey. Thin with an oval face that reminded me a little of Rachel’s, she wore a blue and white striped shirt with blue jeans.
Haley smiled, “It’s okay.”
She placed her shoes next to the door with mine. We walked down the hall into the kitchen and dining room. I considered sitting on one of the chairs next to the counter between the kitchen and dining area, but my dad had gotten up from his chair in the family room. He placed the newspaper on the floor next to his chair.
A couple of inches taller than me, Dad was around six feet tall and wearing a green button-down shirt and tan slacks. His belly hung out a little over his belt, but his broad shoulders and thick arms hinted at the football player he’d been in high school and college.
I’d inherited none of that—the strength, athletic talent, or much, if any, of his personality. If anyone, I resembled Mom and, even more, Grandpa Vander Sloot. If that ever disappointed him, he’d never said so.
Dad put his hand on my shoulder, “It’s good to have you both here. It feels like it’s been ages since Haley’s visited.”
Smiling, Haley said, “It has been a few months. I think I was here last spring before I went to Colorado.”
He nodded, “You’re in the same scholarship program as Nick and Rachel.” He stopped, blinked, but continued, “And now that I think of it, most of Nick’s friends through his grandfather’s army buddies.”
Haley glanced over at me, but replied, “I think children and grandchildren of veterans might have a better chance of getting into the program. I don’t know, but that’s my guess. A lot of the other students are from military families.”
Dad nodded as she spoke, “I’d never thought of Joanie’s family as a military family, but her father did serve even if he never much talked about the war. I wish he had. Being able to pass on family history like that is good for people. It might have been good for him to talk about it too.” Dad shook his head, “But it’s too late for that, and honestly, I think he must have talked about it with his friends. They got together a lot and it was probably good for all of them.”
He stopped, frowning, “Now where is Rachel doing her service project again?”
“Ghana,” I said. We’d settled on that lie before she’d left.
With a sigh, he stepped back and waved us into the room, “I thought that was it, but every time I think about it, there’s something in me that doesn’t believe she’s there.”