(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Charlie was written by Amy Hopkins.)
DCI Charlie Greyson arrived at the tea shop a little ahead of schedule. After unlocking the door and calling out a quick hello to anyone who might be in, he tossed the borrowed keys on the counter and pulled out a small pot. Grimacing, he realised there was no way to heat the water. Of course, Emma, the shops proprietor, would use magic, not a good old fashioned electric kettle. He tried not to be irritated. She had after all offered up her shop for this interview.
Greyson wiped sweaty palms on his trousers, wondering why on earth he’d agreed to this. He was busy, far too busy for this nonsense. That was all… he wasn’t nervous, just had better things to do.
He started as a lumbering creature opened a side door and came lumbering through.
“Officer man, you be wanting tea? Lady said Gibble be making man feel homely.”
“Ahh.. yes thank you Gibble. Tea would be lovely. You can…?” Greyson gestured at the pot he’d left out. Gibble shuffled over and filled the pot, then placed a hand on it. When steam started to rise from the spout, he used large hands to delicately take down a cup and saucer and set to making tea.
“Officer man be looking nervous. Gibble be making tea for that. Must be doing good for the visitor Lady.”
Handing Greyson the hot tea, Gibble left him alone again. Frowning—he wasn’t nervous, Greyson settled in to wait for his meeting to start.
The door chimed as Kelly pushed it open, entering the unique tea shop, and she took in her surroundings with a smile. She always loved these places. Looking across the way, she saw a lone man sitting at a table with a cup of tea in his hands, and she drew near to him. “Detective Greyson?” She lifted her brows then offered him a smile. “I’m Kelly Blanchard. I believe you are expecting me.” She offered her hand for him to shake as he rose to his feet to greet her. She shook his hand then took a seat at the table across from him as he sat down once more. She smiled at him. “Thank you for meeting with me. Now, how should I address you? Detective? Greyson? Charlie? Which would you prefer?”
He was a little taken aback by her ease and charm. “Greyson, I suppose. That’s what everyone else calls me.”
She smiled warmly at him then nodded. “Very well, Greyson. Please, call me Kelly. So, why did you become a detective?” She sat back in her chair to observe him as he answered.
“Well it was that or end up on the other side, if you know what I mean. Wasn’t much good at school – my marks were alright but wasn’t hanging with the best crowd, see. When I finished up I got into some trouble. The Bobby that pinched me told me to straighten up and I thought this would be the easiest way. Give me somewhere to focus my energy, so to speak.”
“What about your family? Your parents? Do you have any siblings?” Kelly lifted her brows.
Geyson pulled a face. He hated these kinds of questions, they always led down a path that’d get a man in trouble.
“There’s me dad, and my brother. Joe’s a bit older, wasn’t so lucky when he left school. Last I heard he’s in lockup for a poorly attempted bank robbery. Never was too bright, a man should know better than to set up with one a’ those gnomish rings. Ahh, not that any kind of criminal activity is very bright.”
Kelly tilted her head when she heard this. “And what happened to your mother?” At the look Greyson gave her, she just gave him a look in return. “I’m supposed to be asking questions like this. That’s why we’re meeting, but not to worry, I won’t be telling anyone else about the contents of this conversation. Consider it a time to just talk freely.” She gave him an encouraging smile.
“She’s dead. I was a kid.” His looked brooked no further discussion on the topic.
Kelly nodded at this, taking the hint, so she shifted in her seat slightly and glimpsed around for inspiration of her next question. A smile touched her lips, and she looked back at Greyson. “So, what’s it like working with Emma?”
“Oh. It’s good I suppose.” The colour in his cheeks suggested it was a little more than ‘good’. He cleared his throat. “I mean, she’s clever, and she has a good heart. She’d fit right in on my team. Brave too.”
Kelly noticed the color in his cheeks but decided not to press with those questions yet. Instead, she wanted to understand something else a bit better. “You’re building a team? To do what exactly?”
“To keep the city safe—all of the city. My team and I are going to make the OCU something to be proud of!”
Kelly tilted her head to a side and furrowed her brows. “I’m not from around here, so you may have to catch me up to speed, but my understanding is that some…half-breeds are being killed or something, and you’re trying to solve it?”
Greyson watched her closely for a moment, wondering if she was baiting him by calling half-bloods ‘half breeds’. Hid gut told him she was sincere, so… to hell with it.
“Yeah. Half-bloods, those with a Talent parent and a mortal parent. Bloody Lords up in their city think they’re not worth looking after, and the normal people, like you and me, they can get a bit scared of them because of the magic and all.
“Emma solved the case. Took the guy out in fact, after fighting him off longer than anyone else managed to. No thanks to me. I tried to help, but it’s magic, right? She wouldn’t let me put a detail on her, insisted she had it under control. I guess she did.”
Kelly made the note that they were half-bloods and not half-breeds. Good to know, and she nodded. “So, the case is solved now? But you mentioned you’re building a team to keep the city–all of the city–safe. Safe from what exactly?”
Greyson sighed. Sometimes they’d get tourists in from out of the way places. Often, they just didn’t understand the mechanics of living so near the port-gates, and having so many Otherworlders inhabiting the city.
“Well, same as the normal departments. The Otherworld Crime Unit deals with anything relating to the Others- the gnomes, kobolds, piskes and faskes, though they rarely get into trouble. Not the Fae so much, they get to hobnob with the alents so they stay outta our way. But anything else is ours. Like last week, that hobgoblin that went diving for a penny under a moving truck? That was us on the scene. Lots of theft thanks to those damn gnomes, though they mostly keep to the small stuff. Sometimes it’s just the usual things- noise complaints against a half-blood, or from one, and the regular departments refuse to deal with it.
We give ’em someone safe to turn to, right? ‘Cos no one else is looking out for them.” The passio in Greyson’s voice had held through and he was leaning forward earnestly. Coming back to himself, he sat back, self-conscious at the vehemance he’d displayed. He fumbled him cup and realised belatedly he hadn’t – and couldn’t – offer Ms. Blanchard a cp of tea. That disconcerted him more than anything.
Kelly observed him as he described all this, and she had to smile. “I think you’ve found your calling, and I’m sure you’ll make the OCU an outstanding unit. Now though, I hear that, at the moment, the OCU doesn’t have a good reputation.” She shook her head then met Greyson’s gaze. “What exactly are your plans to improve things with the OCU?”
He glowered, though not at the interviewer.
“The last DCI in charge… well, the last half dozen of them, were put in the position as a punishment. You know how well an officer performs when they’re put in a position like that? Not bloody well. There were rumours of corruption, but I think I’ve weeded all that out. I’ve still got a lot of the old department, but they let me bring in four of my own. We’ll get the rest on track, show ’em how to take pride in their jobs again. Thats all it takes really, a bit of respect and old fashioned work ethics.”
She offered him a kind smile. “I’m certain you will do an outstanding job and make the OCU someplace people actually envy to get into.” Now though, she decided to change the open. “So, how did you meet Emma?”
Greyson thought back to the first time he saw her. “Well, it was before my transfer. I’d landed a homicide, didn’t realise it was a half-blood. I kept the case instead of kicking it to OCU. Emma came to the crime scene to talk to the victims dad.” He looked uncomfortable then. “You’re sure this is confidential, right?”
Kelly nodded and leaned forward, resting her forwards on the table. “Quite confidential. Why? You have something more to add?” A warm smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “C’mon, you can tell me.”
He nodded, then continued. “Well, she could tell as well as I could that bad magic was involved. Something big, bigger than the police force could handle. Of course, regulations prohibit us from sharing case details, but I might have bent the rules a bit. Dropped some files off for her to look at – just to keep her safe, right.”
Kelly nodded as she heard this. “And you realized that you two work well together?”
He gave a small, sly smile. “You could say that.”
She had to smile at his smile, but then she quieted her voice to ask the next question, “You like her, don’t you?”
His blush rose again. “Well. She’s very nice.” Greyson fumbled with the teacup in his hands, clearly out of his depth.
Kelly chuckled. “She sounds nice. Have you asked her out? And hey, be honest with me. You can talk to me. Like I said, I’m not going to tell anyone else anything, and this will likely be the last time you’ll see me, so….” She trailed off to let him pick up if he wanted to.
Greyson was now a vibrant shade of red. “Well, she did say yes… we’re having lunch next week. Just as, ahh, colleagues. Only not really. Friends, maybe? Ah Gods, I’ve been out of this game longer than I can even remember! Do you think I should take flowers, or is that not done these days?”
“Okay, first of all,” she raised a hand to calm him then smiled kindly as she met his gaze. “What is the impression you want to leave on her? Do you want it to remain as ‘just friends’, or do you want it to be more?”
“Well I don’t want to scare her off or anything” Greyson said. Clearly, he wanted the date to go well. “I mean I’m not really… I mean…” He sighed in defeat. “I’m married to my job, there’s no other way. I can’t let anything get in the way of it, there’s too much at stake. Is it too much to ask for a bit of friendship, a few dates now and then? Maybe it is. I don’t think she’s the kind of girl that takes things lightly.”
Kelly sat back in her chair and pondered her response. After a moment, she finally shook her head. “If I were you, I wouldn’t bring flowers. That might be too much too soon. If you just want to be friends and have a fling on the side, then remain casual. However, do know that if she’s ever having a bad day, do surprise her with flowers. You don’t have to explain yourself when you do it.” She smiled at him, but then she had to ask. “So what do you think of Harrod and Martin?”
“She said she wasn’t—Oh, you mean… ok. Harrod, then? Well, mister high and mighty with the magic could stand a few lessons on how to treat a lady! Oh I know he thinks he’s right, but she’s not made of glass, she can make her own choices right? And he can’t seem to see that. Annoys the living soul out of her it does.
Still,I suppose its good he;s around. He’s strong, I’ll give him that.” He noticed Kelly’s querying look. “In the magic I mean. Got a lot of power and knows how to use it, and quick too.If she even did get into trouble with him around, he’d look after her, as long as he could get his foot out of his mouth long enough to do it.”
Kelly had to chuckle when she heard his rant. “All right, back up. Check me up. What’s the deal with him? And I get the feeling you don’t like him much.” This amused Kelly, but she sat back, folded her arms, and smiled a little as she waited for his answer.
“What? I like him!” Greyson said defensively. “I just think he’s a bit of a pratt, that’s all.”
Realising the contradiction, he laughed at himself. Settling into his chair more comfortably, he said, “Look, I’m sure he’s a nice guy and it does seem like he’s doing good things for the half-bloods. He’s just a toff, that’s all. Raised in riches and power with no clue how the real world works.”
“So you’d like to show him how the real world works someday? Would like to see how he’d survive without his magic?” Kelly lifted her brows then jutted her chin. “How do you think that would go if suddenly he discovered he had no magic…at least for a day or so.?”
Greyson barked a hearty laugh at that. “Oh wouldn’t I love to be a fly on the wall for that! The man wouldn’t last five minutes without it. Oh I wouldn’t want to see him come to any harm, but he couldn’t work a light switch without that wand of his.” Clearly he liked Kelly’s idea.
Kelly laughed. “I wonder if there’s some kind of magic portion that would temporarily take away his powers…just so he would come to respect how people like us have to live. I bet it’d be hilarious.” She gave Greyson a wild grin but then returned to the actual conversation. “So what about Martin? What can you tell me about him?”
“He’s alright. Nothing like his brother, can hardly believe the two are related. Bit of a ladies man, I hear he’s been playing around with the Fae too. That might not be the most sensible thing he’s done, but there’s no accounting for the heart, is there?” Greyson was at ease now, and was finally warming up to the conversation.
“Well, at least he’s not terribly troublesome then.” Kelly nodded but then paused, trying to think of where to take the conversation now. “So…growing up, did you know magic existed? I’m not sure how it works here, Or if the two worlds are completely separate.”
“What?” Geryson seemed surprised at the question. “Well of course I knew, everybody knows don’t they? We don’t see much of it outside the Inner City – well, we didn’t back then anyway – but everyone knows about it.” He shook his head, bewildered at the thought that there may be people who didn’t know about magic; or, even more boggling to the mind, worlds where it didn’t exist. He brushed that from his mind. That would be like imagining a world without physics, it was just impossible.
“It’s different in my world,” Kelly explained. “So, I’m assuming magical creatures roam freely among humans, but what is your first memorial memory of encountering someone with magic?”
“You mean a human?” Greyson asked.
Kelly shrugged. “Whichever….maybe both. Depends on the answer.” She smiled.
“Well…” His face was serious, eyes downcast. “I went with Dad to the healing centreonce. We took Mam there when… well, at the end. The surgery and the medicine they gave her didn’t work. It was too late though, the old bastard should ave taken her there months ago. They traced a few spells on her to ease the pain, but they couldn’t do much else.” His voice sounded hoarse and he blinked, trying to brush away old memories. “Oh, before that, I think the first time I ever saw magic up close was in school. Must been first year, a hobgoblin raced through the school letting of firecracker illusions. Blimey, that was a lot of fun.”
Kelly smiled at the thought of firecracker illusions, but she wanted to go back to what he said about his mom. “What happened to your mom? I know it’s a sensitive topic, but…I think you need to…let it out, at least once. Like I said, you’ll never see me again after this, so….” And she trailed off to see where he would pick up.
“There’s nothing to say.” He turned his face away from her. “If everyone wasn’t so bloody scared of the healers, she’d still be alive. Can’t blame Dad, they’d only just started practicing on us mortals and the doctors told him not to take her there from the start. Selfish bastards.”
“So she was ill?” Kelly kept her voice soft, but she continued to press, watching his body language to determine if she should indeed back off.
“Yeah.” He sighed. “Cancer.” Greyson stood and took his long-empty cup over to the tiny sink. He rinsed it set it down carefully on the bench before returning to Kelly. Sitting back down, and looked her in the eye.
“Do you know how much suffering could be avoided if everyone could just play nice together?” His voice was soft, but serious.
“You know it’s not that simple. Yes, everyone should work together, but…those with magic might get the idea that they are more entitled and start pushing the limits. The last thing you need is a war to break out between humans and magic users.” Kelly pointed out but then softened her voice. “I’m sorry about your mother though. What is your favorite memory of her?”
Greyson gave a wry smile. “Happy? Nah, I was always in some sort of trouble. She was always bawling me out, or smacking me upside the head for something. Still, I’ll never know what it could have been like.”
“Okay, but still, you must have some kind of favorite memory growing up. Something that really impacted your life.”
Again, he smiled. “Probably her smacking me upside the head. When she did it, she always told me I was better than whatever I’d just done to deserve. ‘Charlie’, she’d say, ‘you’re supposed to be the smart one, you start acting like it while you still got a chance and you’ll do good, so stop screwing it up.’ She meant it – I was the smart one, I kept screwing up… but she still believed in me.”
She smiled. “Well, she was right. What would you tell her right now if she were here?” Kelly tilted her head to a side.
“Thanks, I suppose” Greyson had a faraway look in his eye as if he were really speaking to her ghost. “I;d tell her thanks, for not giving up on me.”
“Mothers never give up on their children, and she would be very proud of you.” Kelly nodded with a sure smile. Then she glimpsed around, thinking for a second before meeting his gaze once more. “What’s your biggest regret?”
“Not asking Emma out sooner,” he said instantly. He started as if surprised he’d said it, then chuckled under his breath.
Kelly smiled at him. “Well, you were a bit busy trying to solve a case, weren’t you? And at *least* you asked her out, so there’s time to see how things develop. However though, what’s your greatest fear?”
“Failing. Letting people get hurt, not getting there in time. It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing before I go to sleep at night.”
“And that’s why you do the job you do?” Kelly asked quietly.
“Nah,” he said. “The job came before the responsibility, not the other way round. No knight in shining armour here I’m afraid.”
“Well, at least you got the responsibility part figured out.” Kelly offered him a smile but then glanced up at the clock on the wall and sighed. “Unfortunately, our time together is coming to an end.” She looked back at Greyson. “That means you don’t have to put up with anymore of my nagging questions.” She smiled. “But I do appreciate you taking the time to chat and answer my questions. It looks like you have your hands full with the OCU, with Emma, and even with Harrod, but be patient, and you’ll do well.” She rose to her feet. “Thanks again for meeting with me, Greyson. I hope you the very best—with everything.”
“You’re welcome. And ahh, if you see Emma… put in a good word for me hey?” Greyson gave Kelly a wink and a grin as he stood to show her out the door.
“Of course.” Kelly grinned at him and walked to the door. She paused, and looked at him. “Bring flowers if you’re traditional, and if you want to. If she misreads anything, you can just say that you’re trying to be nice, but I trust everything will go well. Don’t worry about it. You take care!” And she left the tea shop.
Amy Hopkins’ book ‘Dream Stalker, Book 1 of the Talented series.’ Is available on Amazon. Be sure to follow her on social media for more updates!