* * *
The way he sauntered around and spoke with such arrogance, and the fact that he knew and liked how hot he was, had the unfortunate result of making him quite unattractive to her. Add to that the fact that she still didn’t know his name, and this situation was even more unnerving. She was once again nervously twirling the ends of her hair, and she watched the sway in his overly masculine gait as he walked back through the darkened room to join her. The dirty black boots he wore seemed to somehow simultaneously clomp yet glide across the floor in slow motion. He held a large wooden tray on which sat a steaming blue ceramic bowl, a chilled glass, and a delectable biscuit. His intense gaze was focused on her and his destination. When he arrived he offered her the bowl of soup, the biscuit, and a glass of ice cold water.
She realized just how hungry and thirsty she was and devoured the meal. He just sat in calm repose, lounging like a cat waiting innocently to pounce, quietly with his hands folded on the table, and watched her eat. His body was quite still but his eyes roamed over her, her face and her eyes, her lips, and then her hair.
“Stare much? I know my curls must be unruly by now. It takes a lot for me to get my hair to cooperate, okay?” She made a ‘leave me the hell alone’ scrunched face, “and if I spend too much time outside it gets all big again.” She knew she was sitting there with a mass of giant red curls overwhelming her head and running rampant around her shoulders. She put her spoon down, perturbed. His silent stillness was making her nervous, making her ramble and wrap curl after unruly curl through her fingers. “I feel like I’m little red riding hood looking into the big bad wolf’s glaring eyes.” Glaring and dreamy, gold eyes, if it had had big dreamy gold eyes. Fine I guess he isn’t that unattractive after all. Which is probably another reason why I can’t stop rambling.
“I’m no wolf, Jade, I have come to obtain your help. My name is Nias.” he said flatly with no trace of emotion in his tone or face. But despite his calm demeanor, his proximity allowed her to feel emotional confusion rolling off of him, and a surprising slight hint of anxiety. Until then, she thought she was the only one. Order up, two servings of confusion for table three, please.
“Okay, let’s assume, just for the fun of it, that I am actually the girl you meant to find… in the forest… lost…where no one could possibly expect to find me,” she said with sarcasm dripping from her every word. “How can I help you?” She purposely made her voice sound like she was taking his order in a fast food restaurant. This was such a surreal moment that Jade’s sarcastic defense mechanism was kicking into high gear. Then she cocked her head to the side, raised her brows and gave him a little smirk. “Go ahead, this ought to be fun.”
“The situation I find myself in, who I am, and the circumstances I have to explain are quite serious.” Although they were both seated at one of the large wooden tables, he managed to look down on her; trying to intimidate her, she suspected.
His rough hands started alternating between fists and extended flexed fingers, as though he were irritated that he had to explain himself at all; the first physical sign of the anxiety she had been feeling radiating off of him. The brow between his sparkling eyes furrowed.
“Because of your lack of knowledge of my kind, you’ll most likely think I’m insane. However, I insist you hear me out. You will listen, and make your decisions after that. Do you understand me, Jade Shear?”
Dear God, he makes it sound like the entire world depends on me. “What I understand, so far, is that you may be some kind of stalker, you are as conceited a man as I have ever met, and on top of it all you are way too bossy.”
Then it hit her. The strangest thing about this conversation was that she could tell he wasn’t lying. She could always tell. She got a feeling when someone lied to her. Almost like sharpness at the back of her neck and behind her eyes, like a fierce headache was coming on. And she wasn’t getting it from him. So there were only two possible conclusions; one, he believed what he was saying so strongly that it didn’t come out at her as a lie, which meant that her half-sarcastic comment was correct and he really was quite insane. Or two, he was being truthful. Surprisingly to her it wasn’t the possibility of the former, complete insanity, that worried her the most; she had met her share of strange or even crazy people in her day and she could deal with that; it was the possibility of the latter, that his story could reflect the truth, that caused the bubble of nervousness and trepidation to rise up from her gut like a bit of bad fish.
“Cease talking, infuriating woman and listen. I come from an … unusual … family, we know who you are and we are well informed as to what you can do.”
Jade pulled and twisted her hair back with a flip of her hand and studied his face.
“Unusual huh? How could you possibly know anything about me, about what you think I’m capable of? Maybe you’re just misinformed. Have you considered that?” His hands again became the tightly balled fists. He exhaled, brow furrowed; seemingly a bit exasperated, but continued to answer her questions with a strange, but strained patience.
“The Gifts you possess came because one of the Goddesses granted them to you. She suspected that someday those Gifts would be of use to us. That day has come.”
Oh my God he really is crazy. “Why?” She blurted. “Even if I were to believe your cockamamie story, why me?”
“Goddesses cannot go where we must go, and so, for some reason you were blessed with the Gifts of empathy and projection. I cannot tell you why you in particular were chosen. It makes no good sense to me.” His face touched on pained when he said this. “You must come with me; that I know for sure. You need to do exactly as I tell you.”
How can he know about this? She paused, considering his statements. “You said I should listen, and I have, and I believe the answer is no.” She supposed he decided to ignore her, because he went on.
“You’ll have to train first; unfortunately it will be me who does your training. And we need to begin immediately, oh yes,” the man actually said in dead pan, “it will be extremely dangerous. Now, what is your decision?”
“You actually seem serious; you believe what you’re saying, don’t you?” He was sitting there waiting for an answer. “Wow, neuroses really can be an all-consuming thing.” She would know. What the hell, she decided to reply as if she were taking him seriously.
“NO, I’m sticking with, NO.”
After all that delusional crazy talk, she hoped he hadn’t poisoned her food. She stared down into the empty bowl inspecting it for signs of nefarious activity. Like I would know, I haven’t gotten my CBS crime investigation degree yet.
Jade stood up pushing the chair back with the back of her legs, turned and calmly walked to the bar, and asked politely if she could use the phone to call a cab. She refused to even look back at what unfortunately had turned out to be a complete nutjob.
The next thing Jade knew, someone’s giant hands gripped her around the waist, and with absolutely no effort at all, heaved her straight up into the air and threw her over his shoulder. Now, ass pointed to the ceiling, face looking down at his backside and the floor, she was being carried away! Omigod, omigod, he’s going to kill me now! Why isn’t anyone stopping him?!
“PUT ME DOWN! You freaking Neanderthal, I don’t care what kind of insanity you suffer from! You can’t just abduct people! I said PUT ME DOWN!” Apparently her screaming had no effect on the man, or anyone else in the establishment, because he simply walked, at his leisure.
“I have tried being reasonable, I gave you an honest chance at free will, and you failed to use it.”
“Hello large deranged man, allow me to edify you on the finer points of free will, because there is no part of that definition which states, ‘when a person decides against doing what you want them to, you then have the right to throw them over your giant, stupid controlling body and walk away with them!’ ”
As her red curls now flopped below her head bouncing off the man’s waistline, Jade fisted her hand, and even though she knew it wouldn’t stop him or deter him from his purpose, she slugged him several times and bashed her legs wildly as hard as she could.
Calmly and smoothly, he walked to the door with her over his shoulder and put his hand to the knob, turning it and swinging the door open. Even as the noise level of the crowd died down and they watched him walk out with her, they did nothing to even try to stop him, and he stepped out into the chilled night air.