There were many places Coleen could go. Any of them would do. If she was not a dead man, she was still Coleen. There was nothing she could do about a trespasser unless they were nervous and inexperienced (or maybe experienced) enough to let her talk. But her voice wasn’t something to use anymore. Or her body. Or anything.
Emil was not at home when the doorbell rang. Coleen no longer had an impulse to see who it was or ruin everything by opening the door. She had not had that impulse for fifteen months.
Something was wrong. Coleen could feel it, even though she had not neared the door to check. The person had not left. They wanted someone to answer the door. They knew she was home.
They knew someone was home. Though if they saw her face all they would know was that the usurped King Cole was here. No matter what, Coleen could not allow that to happen. Not even if someone was breaking in to steal things. She would have to hide and wait it out. A passive tactic she had never before implemented, but knew was her only option.
She felt a slow smoulder in her chest, before remembering it shouldn’t matter too much to her.
Coleen walked away from the living room. The handle jiggled – the person was not giving up. Then she heard a familiar sound.
They are picking the lock.
She heard another familiar sound.
They succeeded in picking the lock.
There was no point in deigning that with an answer. Instead she decided to ask the more obvious question, the one she should have asked first. “You have a job?”
Emil looked pleased she had asked. “Of course. There are only so many favours we can call in.”
“That is it.”
Coleen was not sure if she wanted to look away from the stove top long enough to acknowledge Emil. Knowing he would continue to speak either way, she decided against it as she added the paprika.
“Your being quiet is one of the creepier things I’ve ever had to deal with.”
Coleen was red.
Coleen realized she did not know whether she still thought of herself as Faith or not. It seemed to her that everything Faith had done that she liked was done by someone else. The Faith of now. When Faith did something she could not stand… (Lizzie Lizzie Elizabeth!)
Well, then it was Coleen. It was all Coleen.
She had been trying so hard not to think of Elizabeth.
Someone else had been her first and last friend. Emil therefore was not her friend. What he was… was the last thing she could cling to before he pushed her off into the wild seas. He was her last harbour. He was not safe (that had been Lorene) and he was not protecting her (that had been Alton). He just was.
All her feelings tumbled around her. She drowned.
But she could not die, so she had to resurface again.
“Now that was silly of you.”
(Underneath his comment, the unspoken “are you all right?” that meant she was not. She never would be and he was the only one to ever truly understand that.)
He made her yank out weeds. Coleen only did as much as he made her, hating the feeling. These gloves didn’t fit her hands well. If Emil wanted her to do more of this she would have to make better ones. Or come up with another way to not be roped into this. She should not have to weed the backyard. She could care less how the place looked.
“Aren’t you going?” she asked. Emil stared at her and she continued. “Might as well enjoy the free food. They might have real chocolates.”
That caused him to react. “Are you trying to get rid of me?”
It was the first anniversary of her death. Coleen might have forgotten, but their new neighboring town had a celebration about it. Down with the corrupt king and praise to the Faith who had saved them all.
“Could you just see their faces if you went down and joined the festivities?” Emil asked as he took another piece of chocolate Coleen had made off of the plate. He ate it very slowly, likely by forcing himself. If there was one thing Coleen had managed to uphold in this new household it was the rule of no buying chocolates.
He probably ate some while he was out, but there was only so much that Coleen could do. Emil had not started up a new garden yet. Maybe next time they moved she would remind him about greenhouses and they could find a place with one where he could work in it all year long.
Coleen pushed Emil’s feet off of her. “Would be a waste of a death.”
Emil didn’t really suggest he go. He just said what he wanted, as he usually did. He really needed to figure out how to be more tactful to live as a mortal. Some people wouldn’t like him talking to them like that.
“Yes, because after something as public as your death, the first thing they will think is that it is the real King Cole.”
It would not be the first time someone called her a demon.