“What do you mean, she’s not officially missing yet?” Sam asked, not grasping what the officer was saying.
“Well, sir. You first noticed your niece missing at nine a.m., this morning, correct?”
“Yeah, but I haven’t seen her since last night.”
“What time?” The officer got out his notepad and began to jot down notes as Sam spoke.
“Around midnight, maybe before.”
“Around midnight,” he repeated. “It’s only nine p.m. now. A person must be missing for twenty-four hours before being reported as missing… we can obviously start taking the details now though. Is there nowhere else she might be?”
“I’ve phoned all her friends, they haven’t heard from her. She hadn’t spoken to any of them since the funeral.”
“Does she have a boyfriend? Perhaps she’s having difficulties with him?”
“Look!” Sam snapped, losing his temper. “Luna doesn’t have a boyfriend. And even if she did, he would be the last thing on her mind, her parents have just died!”
“Ah? What the hell does ‘ah’ mean?”
“Well, sir. You’re niece is obviously distraught. She’s probably just blowing off steam, she could well be back later.”
Sam resisted the urge to get up and strangle the pompous prick in front of him. “And if she’s not…?”
“We have the details.”
“Here’s that picture.” Edgar walked in and handed the officer a recent picture of Luna.
“Thank you.” He took the picture and closed his notebook with a snap. “I think we have all we need. We’ll keep in touch.” He rose and shook Sam’s hand. “Thanks for the coffee.”
“What a prick,” Sam muttered when the officer was out of hearing range.
“No more! I’m gonna throw up!” Luna giggled exiting the waltzers.
“Just once more?” Marko pleaded.
“No, no more waltzers, or any other ride here,” she responded, a little dizzy. She clung on to Marko’s arm tighter to get her balance.
Marko smiled at her. “Ok, you want to get something to eat?” he asked.
“You think I can keep it down?” She quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Ok, I’ll eat, you can sit there feeling sick.”
She laughed again, wondering how this had happened. Several hours ago she was miserable, new to town, she had lost her parents and was searching for her biological father. Now she was here, laughing with Marko like they were old friends, having the time of her life. And it didn’t hurt that she had a crush on Marko the size of Texas.
Marko led her to an empty bench. “Have a seat and get your sea legs,” he suggested.
She laughed again.
“What’s so funny?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “I’m just having a really good time tonight.”
Marko took a seat next to her. Very close, she noted. “Me too.” He took out a cigarette and lit it.
“Can I have one of those?” she asked, largely as an excuse to ‘accidentally’ touch his hand.
“You smoke?” he asked, looking a little surprised.
Luna nodded, then grinned. “Kinda. Shitty week.”
“I hate those. Wanna tell me about it?”
“Not really,” she replied, then noting his confused expression added. “Well, see, this is the first time I’ve laughed and felt good for what feels like a long time. I don’t wanna start thinking about… anything bad.”
“Fair enough.” He smiled at her and passed her a cigarette. “So what do you want to do when you’ve finished feeling sick?”
She grinned, several possibilities flashing through her mind, most of them involving Marko’s lips. “You decide.”
“Do you wanna go for a ride?”
Luna’s brow creased, as she looked around the Boardwalk. More rides… unless he meant…? She moved back from him a little.
“Motorbike,” he clarified. “I have one, do you want to go for a ride on it? With me.” He flashed his Cheshire Cat grin once more, and she relaxed again.
Then she remembered her mother’s diary. She had met someone who seemed nice, and turned out to be a nightmare and worse. He also had a motorbike. “Lot of bikers around Santa Carla,” she mused, hardly aware she had spoken aloud.
“I thought I was the first person you met around here,” he said.
“Seen the bikes,” she lied quickly. Then again, Marko seemed nice. And her parents had met the Frog brothers here, who were now her honorary uncles, which must mean something. Not all of Santa Carla was evil. However…
“Marko, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve only just met you and I’m…”
“Not totally convinced I’m not a psychopath?” he guessed.
“Something like that,” she agreed. “Nothing personal, I’ve just had a really protective family, and it’s kinda rubbed off on me.”
“So not tonight, but another time maybe?”
She smiled. “Yeah. Another time.”
He stood up, and she thought he was leaving, until he held his hand out to her. “How about something to eat? Somewhere nice and public, where you’re safe from me and my potential psychosis?”
She grinned and took his hand.
“You didn’t have to walk me home,” she said, but was glad he did.
“Yeah I did. There’s some nasty people out there. I kinda like you, so I’d be upset if something happened to you.” He squeezed her hand.
“Thanks.” She looked around. “Well, this is me,” she said, finally spotting her room. “Thanks for tonight as well. It was fun.”
Marko bit his lip. “I’m kinda nervous.”
“Why’s that?” She asked. She was more than ‘kinda’ nervous. She was hoping for a kiss, but since Marko was the first guy she was really interested in, she didn’t know what to say or do.
“Well, I’m thinking of kissing you in a minute—once I’ve worked up the courage—but I’m not sure if you’re gonna kiss me back or beat me around the head.”
She smiled. “If it helps, I’m kinda nervous too, but I won’t beat you around the head.”
Marko leant forward to meet her for the kiss. Her nerves flew away when his lips touched hers. She moved closer, deepening the kiss, feeling his hands tangle in her hair.
They broke apart breathless, and smiling. Marko recovered first. “I’ll see you tomorrow? I’ll pick you up here, around nine?”
Notes: Don’t worry, I know it seems that way, but I’m not writing one of those ‘Vampire goes good for true love’ type fics. There’s millions of them out there. I promise no smushy unbelievable endings.