The Thing About Ruby Is...

Ruby Gladstone has nothing, or so she thinks. Ruby learns she is descended from the great Gabriel Sebastian Gladstone, demon killer. Not only that but she learns that she is destined to kill the mysterious ruler of the Demons who prefers to work from the shadows and will stop at nothing until Ruby is dead. Can she save not only herself,but the world from this mysterious force? Or will she perish in the flames of the demon race?

Ruby Gladstone is a force to be reckoned with.


2. Two


Dylan's house was a five minute walk from the train station. His house was a semi detached house with a little garden in the front. Their front gate creaked loudly as Dylan pushed it open with his hip. The front door was opened before they had even made it up the steps. A small woman burst out, covered in flour with a chocolate stained apron on. Her pudgy face creased up when she saw Ruby and grasped her close.

'Oh Ruby! I've missed you darling. I hope your cousin picked you up at the train on time.' She glared at Dylan.
'Oh he did Aunty Klara. Thanks for letting me stay during the holidays by the way.' Ruby pulled back to look at her Aunt's worn face. She looked slightly more defeated than Ruby remembered but then again her father's death affected them all.
'Don't fret on it dear. I'm glad to see you back to health again. It's been such a long few month's and they've been hard on us all.' Her aunt seemed to forget herself for a moment before shaking her head and turning to lead the teenagers inside. 
The house was a hoarder's paradise. Little knick knacks littered the shelves, books jutted off the window sills and freshly ironed clothes lay on the red stained sofa in the living room slash kitchen. Ruby picked up a folded item of clothes and laughed once. 
'You iron Dylan's underwear?' she asked. Dylan flushed red and grabbed his spider man undies from his cousin.
'Make yourself comfortable dear. Your bag got here a few days ago, I put it in the spare bedroom for you. Dylan show your cousin her bedroom. I'm icing the cake!' Little aunt Klara shuffled into the kitchen area looking as exhausted as Ruby felt.
Dylan showed her up the narrow stairs and to the left. Her bedroom was the furthest down the hall. Dylan's room was next to hers and Klara's was on the right side of the house. Her bedroom was barer than downstairs. The walls were papered a faded green which matched the curtains perfectly. Ruby's school suitcase lay on the metal framed bed. Dylan sat on a saggy armchair by the window while she opened her suitcase and looked around. Her aunt had left a picture of her father and herself on the chipped chest of drawers. Ruby touched her fingers lightly over his face as if expecting to feel his familiar stubble and smell the sandalwood washing powder he used too much off. She felt the familiar tightness in her eyes and pushed the picture frame down before her eager tears could escape. Dylan was busy texting and wasn't paying attention to her. 
'I can take the picture away if you'd like dear.' Klara's voice came from the doorway. Ruby jumped slightly, she usually wasn't so easily scared but she was tense being back here.
'No, no it's not that. I like it Klara. Thank you, I don't have any pictures any more.' She looked at the floor and brushed her hair behind her ear with her little finger. Klara laughed.
'He used to do that too, I remember. When he was your age, sixteen or so, he had right long hair he did! Down below his shoulders. When he was upset he'd push it back just like you did now.' Her aunt came over and rubbed her arm gently, like a mother. 
They both sat down on the bed, pushing off the suitcase to make room.
'Dylan, go check on the dinner. Make sure I haven't burnt it presh.' Klara asked her son affectionately  He did as he was asked with a questioning glance back at Ruby who bit her lip in response.

'Now dear. Dylan mentioned you were having dreams. Are they about your father? You can tell me presh.' Klara sounded worried. Ruby was tired of everyone being so worried about her all the time. Yes, her father had died three months ago. Yes it was sudden. Yes Ruby missed him like crazy but these dreams weren't about her father.
'They... Klara I'm so scared. I don't know what they are exactly. I see a boy in the snow and he's surrounded by blood. I see masked men murdering men and women. I see a child holding a doll in one hand and her mother's dismembered hand in the other.' She poured her feelings out to her quiet aunt. 
'These things are probably normal to people who have been through what you have darling. You were there when your father, my own brother, was...' She cut herself off. She didn't need to finish her sentence though. Ruby remembered every detail vividly. They had been on a ferry back from France. She left her father for a moment to talk to a cute boy who smiled at her. Only a moment later when she heard someone scream did she look around and see a man standing on the boat's edge then suddenly wasn't there anymore. Her father had jumped off the ship, his body was never recovered. She remembered standing in the freezing night air shouting over the edge 'Dad! Micheal Gabriel Gladstone! Why?'. Until some crew member had pulled her freezing hands from the barrier and wrapped a blanket around her. After that it was a blur of funeral arranging, people offering condolences and pitying stares. Even her own mother left her. Sent her away to boarding school and packed her bags. Living in Portugal, last anyone heard.
'No one really understood Micheal. You've got to understand that. A few months before he died, he rang me up. He was frantic, raving about something or other and saying he had to "protect her". Then he left Maria and took you away. Well you know the rest...' Klara trailed off. She wiped her sniffling nose with a handkerchief she supplied from her sleeve. No one Ruby knew still used handkerchiefs. It was one of the things she loved about her aunt.
Ruby knew what she meant though. The three months prior to her father's death had been a whirlwind of travelling. He left her mother, Maria, and took Ruby with him to Eastern Europe. They lived in hostels, or might occasionally rent an apartment. She had thought it was fun for a while. After a week in France her father decided they would go back home so he could sell their house move to America. Needless to say, they never did sell the house. Her mother blamed Ruby for picking her father over her. They had never got on will together anyway. Always bickering over something. 
'I know no one else understood him, but I did. You did too Klara. We were the only people in the world who understood him and now he's gone. I don't know what to do. I haven't had time to think. Mum sent me to boarding school so soon after that I just went along with it. Nothing seems real anymore.' Ruby stopped talking as she felt she would start crying again.
'It may feel like you have no one but you have us Ruby. Me and Dylan are always here and there will always be a home for you here. I love you as if you were my own.' Klara hugged her from the side then shuffled downstairs. A little while later she was lying in bed, belly full from a filling dinner and two slices of her Aunt's chocolate cake. She felt at ease for the first time in three months.

A week in her cousin's small village and she already felt part of the community. Neighbours who passed her in the street smiled widely at her and referred to her by her first name. She had always had that effect on people though. Anyone she met instantly liked her. She heard people talking about her. People in school talked about how pretty she was but when Ruby looked in the mirror all she saw was eyes a nose and a mouth. She didn't think she was pretty and she never did anything to her hair. Brushing her hair was the most she had ever gotten to styling it. It was a small community and Dylan introduced her to mostly everyone so she knew all of their names. They all knew her story because they knew Klara's brother had died and they knew Ruby was her niece. It wasn't hard for anyone to piece it together. So they all knew that she was there for the whole Easter break. A few people offered her jobs but she declined politely  It was on a trip into town on the train one day and she visited a small bookstore that she finally took up a job offer. The minute she walked in the door she felt at home. The place was also a coffee shop and was quite busy. She went over to the book section of the store and ran her fingertips over a few of the dusty covers. An old man appeared beside her suddenly, she almost jumped. He smiled at her and his eye twinkled. He wore a brown apron and a "Can I help you?" badge. She smiled back at him. His eyes widened for a brief moment but the look passed as quickly as it had appeared.
'May I help you with anything dear? Not many people come in here or the books anymore.' he said with a chuckle as if remembering something funny.
'Oh no sir. I was just looking for something to read. I really love the collection here, it's magnificent.' Ruby smiled at him and held up a collector's copy of Charles Dickens Oliver Twist. 
'Yes, they are all my own copies. I collected them in my youth but now I am an old man I feel that I should pass them on to let other people experience their power.' He smiled knowingly at her as if expecting her to react to this statement.
'Well that is lovely sir. I would love to buy this book off you at any rate.' She held out the Dickens novel for him to ring it up at the till. He took it but stayed standing there.
'I'll give you this book if you come and work for me. I'm a little too old to run the place on my own and since you are fond of books also, you could take as much as you want, free of charge.'
It was a kind offer so Ruby accepted. The man held out his frail hand to her and introduced himself as Augustus Carew.
So here Ruby was, arriving at her first day of work, fifteen minutes late. It was raining heavily earlier and the train was running late. She hoped Augustus would understand but when she got into the shop she couldn't see him. Instead there was a young fair haired boy sitting behind the counter reading a book. The shop was empty bar an old woman reading a Jane Austen novel and two teenage girls giggling over some magazine. The boy looked up as the door shut behind Ruby and she dropped her umbrella in shock. He was so familiar. She knew she had never met him before there was something about the roll of his shoulders and set of his jaw. He looked angry.
'If your Ruby Gladstone then your fifteen minutes late.' he stated.
'I am but its hardly as if your in need of assistance. This place is empty.' she shot back at him.
The old woman reading the Jane Austen novel chuckled and set her book down. She removed her glasses and looked Ruby up and down. 
'You'll do nicely here alright. You know how to handle Cassell anyway. Your off too a good start.' The woman held her hand out to Ruby, smiling warmly at her. Ruby shook her hand while feeling Cassell's stern glare on her.
'I'm Dahlia, August's wife and Cassell's grandmother. You my dear can leave follow me to the bathroom and we'll get you dried off. Come now sweetheart.' The old woman ushered out the door past Cassell who now just looked at her with interest.

Dahlia offered her a towel to which she kindly accepted. While Ruby dried her hair, Dahlia found her an apron and "Can I help you" tag. She said she could read whatever she wanted whenever she wanted as long as she helped any customers looking for books and lent a hand in the cafe during the lunchtime rush. Out in the main store again, Dahlia seated herself down again and resumed reading. Ruby sat in one of the cushy leather armchairs near the shelves and took out her Dickens book. She was so absorbed in reading she never heard Cassell come up to her. He sat in the chair opposite her. 
'You can call me Cass. Only my grandmother calls me Cassell. I like the name Ruby, it's interesting.' He leaned back in the chair and stretched. His muscles beneath his loose white work shirt tightened and became more pronounced. It was clear this boy worked out a great deal.
'Would you like something?' Ruby asked, not unkindly. She wondered why the boy who was so hostile at first now wanted to make friends with her.
'I was just going to ask you if you'd like to come over and have a cup of coffee. My grandmother makes it special.' He smiled and led her over to the table his grandmother sat at. Her book lay on the table with a makeshift bookmark jutting out. Dahlia was just coming over to the table with a tray. Cass ran over and took it from her. She touched his shoulder gently and thanked him.
Ruby took the cup that was offered to her. It tasted better than any coffee she had ever tasted. It was bittersweet and slightly chocolaty. 
'So Ruby, tell us your story.' Dahlia smiled at her over her steaming mug she held clasped in both hands. Ruby looked down at the mug in her hands. She never talked about her father to anyone other than family. She didn't even talk to all of those therapists her school made her see.
'It's complicated. My dad died a while ago and my mum isn't around. I go to boarding school but I'm staying with my aunt and cousin during the holidays.' She didn't look up until she had finished. Dahlia looked upset and grabbed her hand. Cass looked a her with wide eyes.
'Don't worry dear. Things happen for a reason, thats what I always say. Something good is just around the corner for you, I can feel it.' Dahlia smiled at her warmly. Her smile lit up her whole face and made Ruby want to smile even though she felt so sad.
'My parents are both dead too. I know your mum isn't but both of mine are. Now I live here with my grandparents. It only happened a few years back.' Cass said. He looked Ruby directly in the eye. They all sat there in silence for a while just drinking. Dahlia looked as if she was going to say something then thought better of it. 
At the end of the day Ruby left her apron behind and said good bye to the both. Dahlia hugged her and Cass just nodded. 
'Keep safe my darling.' Dahlia whispered to her as she left.

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