This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. Or at less, it should have been for Colette. She turned eighteen that day and got her wished to have Garaboldi escort her for her debutante party. He was her father's friend, a good fifteen years younger than her dad, but still many years older than her, eleven years to be exact, but she can’t help get attracted to him.
Garaboldi wore his curly, dark brown hair short. He was 6' 0" tall, solid-built with dark skin, and got piercing brown eyes which makes women sigh, but he also got a murderous feel about him that kept them at bay, but not her.
After the party, Colette and her friends went stargazing at the nearby hill and separated long after midnight. “Thanks for coming everyone,” Colette said as she and her friends said goodbye to each other. She walked back home with a satisfied grin when she felt something strange. A shiver runs up her spine as the surrounding suddenly blur. A thick fog gathered around her. Static electricity formed and a strange creature materialized in front of her. It was large, with long six legs and a domed head. She wanted to run, but her foot refused to listen as she stared at its two sunken gray eyes. It got no visible ears, no nose. It got a scary thin neck with narrow shoulders. Its body is covered in thick wool, and short hair color of mud.
The creature opened its mouth.
Move. Run! Colette told herself, but she was paralyzed on the spot.
“Colette step back!” Garaboldi round deep voice snapped her out of her trance and for the first time, she managed to move her legs. She managed to back off before the creature’s shark-like teeth bit a part of her. Garaboldi jumped into the haze and landed between her and the monster.
Colette’s eyes immediately zoomed in at the giant weapon behind Garaboldi. It was a steel halberd with a double edge blade tucked behind a leather shoulder strap forming an X on his back. How can he jump with that thing? Her surprise doubled when he draws it and spin it around with one hand.
“Lette, are you alright? Did it touch you in any way?”
Despite the confusion, she managed to answer him. “No, I got away before it bit me.”
“Good. Getting even just a drop of saliva from this damn doccon will make you writhe in pain a few hours later.”
Colette shivered. “What is this thing? Why is it after me and why are you dressed like that?” she asked finally taking a good look at his clothes. He looked good in it but she helped think of him as a cosplayer dressed in a gothic steampunk coat. “And that weapon.”
Is it real?
“I’ll explain later, for now, I need to defeat this thing,” he said looking at the creature who let out a horrendous howl. Garaboldi jumped again and laughed like a madman each time he cut off a leg of the doccon. It was such a one-sided battle, she actually felt bad for the thing as it lay on the ground wailing with all its legs severed around him. She even let out a sigh of relief when Garaboldi pulled out a knife and pierced its head.
Garaboldi approached her. “Done,” he said casually as if all he did was cut chicken for dinner and not some monster. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” she replied and wilted down on the ground. “What? I can’t feel my legs,” she said unable to get up. She was fine up until a minute ago, but now after thinking of how close she was to dying, her whole body won’t stop trembling.
Garaboldi tucked away his halberd and scooped her up in his arms. He carried her like a princess. “It’s alright now. It’s okay. You’re out of danger,” he whispered as he walked out of the place. She buried her face on his chest. Her arm around him his neck and sobbed silently. Garaboldi kept talking soothingly into her hair until she calmed down, but she refused to let go of his arm until she gets home.
He explained to her that he belongs to an organization that hunts monsters like doccons. “I’m supposed to lock your memory of it—”
“No, please don’t,” she interrupted. She has no idea what locking her memory meant but she refused to go through with it. “I’ll keep it a secret.”
“Good,” he said after observing her.
Ever since then Colette found herself drawn more and more toward Garaboldi. Her eyes would follow him whenever he's around, and her heart would skip a beat whenever someone mentioned his name. Her friends who noticed her growing feelings tried to discourage her.
“He’s too old,” they say, or “He’s scary.” If only they know how Garaboldi risked his life to protect them. They tried setting her up with men her own age, but it was useless. Garaboldi is the man she wanted.
One year later, a month after her nineteenth birthday, she overheard her father saying to her mom that Garaboldi will come to stay overnight. She put on her best casual outfit that day and rushed to open the door when he arrived. Garaboldi didn't comment on her look, but she was satisfied to see his eyes linger a bit longer on her before he casually greeted her and search her father. It was fun to think that a man who can massacre a monster did his best to escape from her.
Knowing he was in the guest's room that night made her unable to sleep. She wanted to knock on his door. Talk to him about herself and spend the night in his arm and listen to his voice. She sighed and open her window and suddenly felt suffocated by a familiar eerie feeling. When haze rose from the ground, she quivered. The air shook and electricity crackled from the light poles. The same creatures stood in front of their garden. There are two of them, but then she saw Garaboldi already fighting one, while another monster, not a doccon because it got arms, was sneaking up behind him.
“Garaboldi behind you!” She warned and that made the doccons and the new monster gaze toward her. The new monster stretched its arm and wrapped around her before she could shut her window. It pulled her down.
She screamed and arched in pain when the monster slammed her on the ground. It’s a mystery why she was still alive but she’s not complaining. Garaboldi turned and cut its arm. She crawled backward as best as she can while Garaboldi stood in front of her, protecting her from three salivating doccons and the monster with a missing arm.
Garaboldi wasn’t laughing, and she took it as a sign of how grave the situation is. She was a hindrance but she can’t move. Even breathing hurts, but she did her best to stand and run. She was almost inside the house when she decided to look back and saw Garaboldi seemingly enjoying himself. She passed out as he was fighting the last standing doccon.
Colette woke up to Garaboldi’s worried face. She sat up looking around disoriented. “The monsters!”
“All gone,” he said and locked her in a strong embrace. His hand trembled as he distanced himself and touched her cheek. “Where are you hurting?” he asked.
She wanted to reply about her ribs but even pressing it doesn’t hurt anymore. “I’m fine? Weird, I’m not hurt at all.”
He searched her eyes unconvinced with her reply. “Are you sure?” She nod. “Good, because to be honest I wouldn’t know what to do if you got hurt because of me.”
“Well, I did break my ribs, or at least I thought so. But I’m fine now.”
He rubbed his palm over his face. “Lette, you’ve got a monster blood in you.”
She staggered. “What? But my parents—”
“You got it from your from your great grandparents,” Garaboldi said. “Those monsters are after you because of it. Eating you will make them stronger.”
“How did you know all this?”
“I saw it by accident in a confidential file back in the headquarters. They have been sending agents to secretly protect you, but none of them stay alive for long. The organization is debating what to do to protect you.”
She shivered. “So this means that I’m actually in constant danger?”
Garaboldi cupped her cheeks. “I volunteered to protect you from now on.”
She studied his face and without hesitation, she laced her fingers on the back of his neck and kiss his lips. He stiffened at first, but his arm soon wrapped around her and pulled her close. He responded to her kiss with so much hunger she felt her knees buckled.
Colette had no idea how she got back to her room. She woke up expecting to see Garaboldi’s face, but to her dismay, he was gone. She found a note from him later saying he will always be protecting her from the shadow.
“Shadow my ass,” she whispered crumpling the note.
Against her parents' wish, she searched for an organization that hunts monsters and she spent the next year studying them. Locking someone means removing their memory of you or alternating it. Garaboldi did none of the two. He wanted to keep him in her mind, and she’s gonna make him regret it.
She traveled the world hunting monsters that use to terrify her, hoping she would one day met Garaboldi. And she did.
She was overly outnumbered when he showed up and helped her at the most crucial moment.
He ran from her right after though, but speed has become one of her best assets. “Hold it!” she told him caught him with the help of a new friend who happened to be the son of the landlord where he stayed.
Garaboldi tried giving excuses for not showing up. “I’m your dad’s friend,” he said. “There’s quite a gap between our ages. I’m too old for you—”
She shut him with a kiss and smiled once she broke away. “For someone so brave in front of a monster, you sure behave like a coward in front of a younger woman.”
“Is that a challenge?” he asked with a hint of threat which only made her excited.
She tilted her chin up. “Yeah, it is. So what are you gonna do about it?”
In one swift movement, he pulled her toward him. He kissed her deeply and carried her up to his room. She got him. She knows he might regret it later, but he won’t be able to back out anymore, because by then it was too late.