Kemp bit his lip as he looked into the deep jade eyes that seemed filled with desolation. “I was planning to leave,” he replied. “But… Yeah, I can stay for a bit longer.”
“May I join you?”
Nodding slowly Kemp retook his seat, pointing to other chair. “Please.”
“My name is Owen,” the young man said as he sat down.
A closer look at him told Kemp that Owen was nearer to his own age than he’d thought at first glance. “I’m Kemp,” he replied.
Seeming tongue-tied now Owen, just nodded. Kemp smiled, asking if he’d like something to drink and then realized there wouldn’t be anything here that Owen could drink other than water. So he wasn’t surprised when Owen told him a glass of ice water would be nice.
After flagging down the waitress to order that and another soda, Kemp turned back to Owen again, uncertain what to say. He finally went for the proverbial, “Are you a local or a tourist?”
“A local. I’ve lived here, well, forever it seems.”
Kemp repressed a frown, wondering if he meant the literally or figuratively. He didn’t sense that Owen was old or ancient, something he was able to do now sometimes. “I’m new here myself. Only been here about a month.”
“Do you like the city?”
“Very much. It’s so different from Seattle. Much more alive and exciting and accepting.” OK, that last was a dumb thing to say. If he’s just lonely and looking for someone to talk to he’s liable to leave now.
Owen chuckled softly. “Very accepting, thank goodness,” he said before practically grabbing the glass of water from the waitress as she set it down in front of him, taking a deep drink. Then he asked, “So what do you do? I mean do you work or go to school or what?”
“I work at a club down the street. What about you?”
“Nothing right now. I was going to school but things changed and I’m at loose ends.”
He’s a fledgling, Kemp thought in a moment of enlightenment. He probably has no idea what I am. “Do you live at home?”
“I live with my father,” Owen replied, glancing around nervously, his hand gripping the glass so tightly Kemp was afraid it would shatter.
Taking a guess Kemp said, “And you’ve snuck out tonight to come here.”
“Something like that, yes. It gets…lonely, being all by myself most of the time while he’s off…working.”
“Do you live close to here?”
“Sort of. We have a house on the far edge of the Garden District.”
“I’ve heard of that though I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. I hear it’s a ritzy part of the city.”
Owen shrugged. “Parts of it are pretty fine. The rest is just houses and such.” He seemed to be getting more and more jumpy as he sat there, tapping his foot on the floor while his fingers played back and forth over the edge of the table.
He needs to feed. I should stop talking and let him go. But he didn’t want to. Not yet. There was something about Owen that seemed to call to him, which was insane. They were enemies even though Owen apparently didn’t know that.
Suddenly Owen was on his feet. “I have to go. Father’s waiting for me at the river front. He worries if I’m late.” he said.
Kemp didn’t say anything for a moment. That clashed with what Owen had said just a few minutes ago—that he’d snuck away from the house. Then he stood as well. “I’ll walk with you, at least part of the way. That is if you don’t mind. I mean…”
“I…alright, maybe just for a couple of blocks.” Owen looked shyly at him. “I’d like that.”