“So, what’s your story, Hollywood,” Xane asks looking at me curiously. “What got into the business of helping people?”
“What do you mean,” I ask.
“Did you just wake up one morning to find that you had Spidey Senses or something?”
I ponder his question as we gather my valuables to take to the house. “Kind of, yes, but it’s also kind of always been there. For the most part, it was just for my family and friends. I would sense things that I couldn’t possibly know, no matter how close I was to them. Then, one day, I came across a stranger who very clearly needed someone to talk to, so I talked to her. After that, I woke up one morning with the overwhelming sense that I needed to go to a very specific place to help a very specific person. From then on, it just happened at random. It rarely comes to me the same way.”
“What about you,” I ask him after a moment. “What made a cowboy like you move all that way to L.A. just to help people when you surely could have stayed in Texas to help people?”
“PSA saw that I would do literally anything to help my family, so they gave me the option of working for them so that my family will always be taken care of. I’ve been the man of our house pretty much my whole life and struggled to take of my mom and six sisters the whole time. half of them are older than I am, so they helped out too, but there are just some things only a man can do, you know? Not because a woman can’t, but because he promised his father he would.”
He takes a deep, steading breath as if to keep himself from crying either from sadness or anger, I’m not sure. “Any way, I trusted the people who offered me the job, so I took it on the condition that we’d help in Bexar County as much as we help in Los Angeles County.”
Before I can reply, our phones alert us with notifications that Veronica wants us to meed back at the house.
“Now that everyone is here,” Veronica states. “Andrew suggested that we test Malachi’s skills by having her summarize us through her own gift of discernment.”
“Are you okay with that, Mal,” Victor asks.
“Um… sure,” I answer nervously after receiving an encouraging smile from Bailey and Xane. “Well, I already summarized Xane correctly and I know Bailey like the back of my hand. I’ll start by saying that Veronica is the oldest of Xane’s six sisters and that she’s married to Victor who approached her about joining PSA, so she offered a job to Xane too. “Maybe you and Xane have different fathers, but I think it’s more likely that you’re going by a grandparents’ last name instead of your married last name for professional reasons.”
Veronica says, “Impressive,” as Xane answers, “Our mom’s maiden name.”
“You two,” I say gesturing toward K.J. and Leila. “You have some kind of an in work, flirty thing going on, even though you’re both single, so you might as well just get together.” They look at me and then at each other guiltily.
“Courtney has been done wrong by a man one too many times, which is why she going into self-defense, because she wanted to prove to herself she could take care of herself and doesn’t need a man in her life.” Courtney tries to fight the look of awe that crosses her face, but fails. For whatever reason, I don’t think she likes me very much.
“Andrew and Andrea are both married. Andrew has at least one kid who is taken care of by his stay at home wife, while Andrea is married to a marine. I assume this, not because we live in California and everyone who knows anything about the military knows that Marines are trained in San Diego.”
“How do you know these things,” Andrew asks in awe.
“Well, you have the look of a father—tired, but not so tired that it looks bad, and gentle, but also stern. Andrea looks like someone who works not only because she loves it, but also because it’s a nice distraction from missing someone.”
“Impressive,” K.J. breathes.
I humbly smirk at him, and Xane catches me. “I told you she’s full of it,” he laughs.
“Yeah,” Baily agrees. “And we wouldn’t love her as much if she wasn’t.”
“What are you talking about,” Andrea asks.
“She’s got this pleasant smirk she makes when she’s told something she already knows,” Bailey explains.
“It’s like the smirk emoji,” Xane adds. “Cute, but full of it.” He smirks at me himself and Courtney glares at me. Okay, so, I guess we’re in high school again. She dislikes me, because she likes Xane. Whatever.