Hello lovely Wishlings! I have returned from the abyss with many apologies cookies for all! I have been so incredibly swamped with life in general (which has been cruel to me ever since the week after I posted Chapter 13 those eons ago. Bloody Uni. Bloody Hospital. BLOODY LIFE. Anyways, not to worry! I come bearing gifts and a guilty heart for the delay. Now, the Fictionpress document editor has gone back to being a (excuse the french) total shit head, and I am absolutely NOT in the mood for this dampening both my last night of 2011, AND the update. So once more, I will continue to attempt to get it back to normal (how did I fix it last time? Who knows. I don't...) but it SHALL be done, so once more if I could ask your forgiveness for glaring mistakes, punctuation, spelling or otherwise, extended to formatting as all I can see is the chapter, plus oodles of formatting code that a simpleton like me is loathe to understand. So, without further aduei, I have kept you in wait long enough. Thank you to all new readers, alerters, favouriters, ghosters, as well as the rest of you lovely people! Now, I wanr you...this chapter may appear glaringly odd, but it is neccessary for the change in plot direction. Finally! I'm organised enough to have written detailed plans on each chapter until a major point at around...let me say close to Chapter 20. Enjoy the delicious tension in the meanwhile! Till next chapter (which I shall aim to have up by Tuesday the 3rd, my time) a big Happy New Years to fellow Australians and any other country on a similar day, and a day-early New Years to the Americans and otherwise. Enjoy poppets! Maddy
"I want you,
You didn't believe me,
I want you,
and now you're caught.
There's some people that you just can't trust,
Some people talk way too much,
Take my advice, and listen up,
Don't be a fool like the rest of us"
"Listen Up" – The Gossip (A Touch of Class Remix)
My throat was suddenly dry; my tonsils thick, scraping down the interior of my oesophagus, constricting the flow of the hot, incense-tainted air to my lungs.
"I'm…I'm alright." I managed to cough out, a sudden anxious wheeze tainting my tone, drawing a slightly wise glance from Big Red's warm brown eyes.
"Good story ain't it? Gives the kids a little something to play with, spooking any new folk and themselves…"
"Nothin' more than superstition. Then again, gives me somethin' to paint too, 'ey?" The elder chuckled good naturedly, calming me slightly, whether he was aware of my chilled state or not.
"So, what're your plans for the day?" Big Red tapped the bench with his meaty hand, pulling himself off his stool with a heavy groan. He shot me a calming look, smiling somewhat as he patted his own back.
"Getting' old. Wouldn't recommend it to yah'."
His reassurance against the validity of the tale did little to calm my nerves. My mind swirled thickly within a fog, unable to comprehend my own visions of the ethereal white wolf that had visited me twice since my arrival. What did it all mean? That is...if it even meant anything at all?
My heart skipped a beat at the thought; my own emotions having been erratic and fragile since pulling a bit of a Runaway Bride from my own country, friends and family… perhaps a little more than simple bad karma.
Did this mean I'd attracted something nefarious? Something other worldly?
The thought itself was illogical, just plain stupid…
But then again, I had seen it with my own eyes; felt the cold chill of the night air against my skin, the wolf's voice picking my conscious with its willowy, ominous rasps….
The palpitations in my chest continued in my thoughtful pause, my hands flexing awkwardly as I rid myself of the thought.
I really didn't need old wives' tales looming over me right now..
I smiled at the old man's obviously good sense of humour, watching him round the counter to approach a box set by a shelf full of knick-knacks. He began rifling through it, finding what seemed to be a list of stock accompanied by a plain black pen.
"Feel free to look round; I'm just doing all the necessary evils…been puttin' it off." I nodded in response, smiling, sharing a brief flicker of understanding that Big Red had things to do, though I myself had little more than questions floating around; ones that I was at odds to answer.
I bade Big Red a brief goodbye, keen on getting some air from the suddenly constrictive feeling of his shop. The Native American had flashed me a somehow knowing look; his dark eyes sharp with concern, his mouth loosely set into an uneven line, as if he were disguising a parental frown of worry. The look managed to touch gently on my subconscious, as if prodding me to watch my own back – an odd sentiment to suddenly feel from a man who for all intents and purposes, didn't know me from a bar of soap.
The shop door creaked as I pushed my weight against it, a refreshing rush of open air hitting me and cooling my overheated frame instantly.
My run in with the humble shop keep had thrown me. The hair on my arm prickled as I was vaguely aware of the fountain's stone wolf clouded somewhere beyond the edge of my peripheries, my mouth suddenly dry for being so close to its imposing form.
A skip in my step, I attempted to trot as far away from the stone canine as possible, not eager to have it stare down through my soul any longer.
I mulled over what little information I had managed to glean from the morning's snooping so far; it wasn't much, if anything at all, a brief glimpse into Dominic's childhood and a supposedly legendary ghost story had only added to the mystery surrounding such a little town smack-bang in the Colorado wilderness.
I was a little stumped as to how I thought my pathetic attempts at being anything more than an interloper in Paisley's woodland reserve would forward what little understand I had of my own mess, let alone a bunch of country-folk who really just wanted me to keep my big nose out of their business.
Slightly disheartened, I tried to ignore the stiffness in my spine as I walked, my hands somehow burrowing into my pant pockets to stop from pulling my own hair out.
It was just a story.
A kid's story.
God, I was edgy. I needed to take my mind off of Big Red's eerily, almost foreshadowing words. Not to mention the absurdist nature of all the "perhaps" and "maybes" that clouded my sanity right now.
God damn it.
I was, apparently, pretty bad at this detective thing.
Glancing around the perpetually empty looking street (although, granted, it was around 10am on a weekday) I was a little lost as to my direction in my investigations, not to mention my complete mess of a personal life….
My eyes suddenly caught a dark figure across the boulevard, under the shady canopy of the opposing shops' porch.
No….no, no, no, no…NO.
Too consumed in my musings, I failed to register the sense of eyes trailing me till it was far too late. There, in broad daylight, following my every movement, was him.
Life was cruel. So, so cruel...
My horror rose as Kayne's gaze caught mine, even from such a distance, and made it quite clear he was going to initiate some sort of interaction.
His body was cut generously with hard masculine edges. It seeped with a predatory sense of power; knowing perfectly well the intimidation it could encourage in poor little me with another ambush attack. His movements were graceful and balanced with the sort of confidence grown over many years, a self-assuredness unlike I'd ever witnessed in my entire life, incomparable even to my own sister who seemed impervious to judgement.
Like a fool, I stood staring at him as he moved in for the kill. Like a deer in headlights, completely and totally entranced as his long legs kicked up a small cloud in the main street. His dark wash jeans passed swiftly over the dirt road, plumes of tawny dust rising and falling without so much as clinging to his bootleg. Everything about his body seemed rhythmic and sensual; even in such a simple act as walking. Should someone have slowed time in that instance, he'd have appeared every bit the model-esque Adonis I'd come to see him as.
He was also, if I recalled from my last encounter with him, a complete and total freak.
My delayed reaction to create a guarded front finally kicked in, washing over my glazed expression with one of wariness. There was something about him, about his utter perfection and the purity of an invisible air of power which oozed off of him.
The same thought seemed to flicker through the meadows of my conscious, like a startled hare darting and weaving through a grassy knoll, fearful of the equally slick and cunning predator in hot pursuit.
Why was I so afraid? Surely it wasn't simply the dark hair; vaguely reminiscent of Adam's, but much more lush and polished, or the smirk…
He was smirking as he approached, and instantly I wanted to slink into a deep, warm burrow and wait for impending mortality in the eternal safety of darkness.
My instincts seemed even more frazzled the closer he stepped; my gut flipping ominously as it tried in vain to warn me of some incredible danger, my eyes drawn dangerously into his own hypnotically intense gaze.
"Holly." His voice rumbled, the tone of my name against his full lips edged deliciously with a slight rumble I couldn't quite identify, the intensity of his expression stilling all thoughts in my head to a single one.
"Hi." I strained out, my voice hiccupping in such a way that my cheeks instantaneously flushed red, drawing out a somehow slick twitch of amusement from his expression.
An innocent enough remark, somehow anything but innocent from the tone of his voice.
"Not going to the reserve this morning?"
"No!" I squeaked, perhaps protesting a little too much, catching the curl of his full lips in my peripherals.
"Where are you going then?" His voice warmed lowly to me, sending my heart into near-arrhythmia as the husky edging tickled my chest.
"Um…I'm just…having a look around…" Sneak, more like it.
He seemed to have caught on to my slightly nervous twitter – my heart pattering softly against my sternum. His dark brown brows arched in subtle enjoyment, his beautifully stormy eyes darting about my no-doubt startled expression.
"Is that so?" Kayne licked his sensuously plush lips, seeming to toy with me in a way I didn't fully understand.
"Yes…" Another little peep from me, another mental curse ensuing. I couldn't figure out exactly was I so afraid of this man – albeit, a devilishly handsome one – who'd done nothing so much as threatening to me since my arrival.
Well…apart from implying we could have sex…?
I flushed at the sudden thought, still a mere mouse to his somehow wild, untamed aura. Though his stature, his perfect poise and well-balanced body language appeared the epitome of control, there was still something that managed to prick my intuition, something niggling and gnawing away…
Something reminding me of the feeling, that despite his gorgeous appearance, I couldn't quite find it in myself to let my guard down to trust him.
"….Are you hungry?" He cocked his head toward me suddenly, not unlike a raven eyeing down a tasty morsel of prey. My eyes widened under his scrutiny, completely taken off guard by his sudden, impeccably observant mention.
Come to think of it…
"A little…" I swallowed, attempting to wet my still shallow voice, my tone light and just as uncertain as it had been when he first approached me.
"A little?" I couldn't help but think he was mocking of me; his amusement gentle, almost wistful, though I couldn't for the life of me determine why.
"Well, do you want to get something to eat?" He prodded gently, his near feline eyes cutting me a perceptive, almost hypnotic gaze.
Usually, one would assume that would be the logical conclusion. If one was hungry, one would eat…but it was something about the way in which he was asking, that excited me in the deepest, most primal way possible, and yet frightened me to my very core.
"Have lunch with me." Kayne suddenly affirmed to the end of his statement, his stare unbroken with my own green eyes, the rumble of his suggestion bordering on forceful. I had a feeling I couldn't really say no…yet, again, it was something about how he was acting that seemed…off.
Like a predator, circling prey almost, I was burdened by a steadily increasing pressure against my entire body. An invisible, looming coil began to push away at my already pitiful inner-defences. It was electric. This entirely foreign and fear-worthy feeling intensifying around me.
A sudden pressure began to thrum in my temples. Willing my jaw into a loose placement, my tongue suddenly lolling in my slickened mouth, a tiny headache – an itch, more than an ache – forming deep within my conscious.
What was this? I'd never experienced anything like it. The onset of the itch deep within my brain felt...weird. Indescribable, no matter how tiny the feeling itself was; almost unnoticeable aside from the sudden pump of blood to my head. I was instinctively aware of the beautiful creature before me, and somehow, I became distracted by the sudden crush of weirdness inside my brain.
The fraction of a second I was distracted, I could feel my head nodding in agreement of its own accord. The dull panic of my delusions I was wary, but somehow, under the intensity of his gaze, in that moment, I felt close to powerless.
I nodded, the corners of his lips upturning cheerfully, those dangerously perceptive eyes seeing right through my soul as he took his sweet time simply holding me under his spell.
"Good..." He spoke softly, his voice close to purring in recognition of my agreement. The hair on my neck prickled in response, my skin feeling hotter in his gaze then under the warm beat of the sun.
I was slightly dazed, as he moved closer to me, nodding toward the diner over my shoulder. I could nearly feel the rumble of his breath in his throat; the air between us suddenly thick with an uneasy, inexplicable tension as he maintained his eyes on me.
He smells amazing. A brief breeze blew the scent of him; masculine, strong, tart and yet sweet on the folds of my sinus, clouding my senses slightly as I was only vaguely aware of how close he seemed to be to me.
"Aren't you coming?" He managed to purr, inciting a frightful peep from myself.
Dear lord, its like he wants me to have a coronary...
I nodded, perhaps a little frantically to get him to stop addressing me, only managing to loosen some wispy strands of hair from my ponytail. He pursed his lips ever so slightly, turning away from me in a movement a little sharper then perhaps he intended.
We trudged toward the diner in a stuffy silence, electricity still buzzing in the air between us. I wondered if I was the only one who noticed the invisible threads of tension lapping between us, as I couldn't help but observe Kayne's broad shoulders tense, the muscles beneath the thin material of his shirt flexing in a way that caused a few errantly naughty thoughts to flicker through my mind.
I was 23, and I was acting like a pre-teen girl with a ridiculous crush...
Sometimes I wonder why I had to be so embarrassing. It only seemed to bring me pain and suffering, though I never seemed to learn any better...
Kayne's hand pushed the front door, sending a twitter of a shop bell throughout the bustling diner.
Suddenly, I felt all eyes on me as the diner patrons all seemed to shift their attentions towards god-like Kayne and the fresh meat in town.
My gaze quickly dropped to the floor; my whole body shivering in revulsion from all the attention. It was a foreign concept to me to even be noticed in a crowded place, let alone stared at as a low mutter of whispers and the hiss of heating grill plates burnt in the background.
From my brief glance around, I could gather most of today's customers were in fact teens. I had no idea how there were so many that had appeared out of nowhere, when it was a weekday and I would at very least assume them to be in school, or elsewhere judging by the emptiness outside in the Main Boulevard. The hush had caused me to flush beet red, yet Kayne only paused a moment; the second his serpentine movements beginning again to lead me towards a back booth, the lull ceased and the diner was a buzz with life and - from what I suddenly realised as I could feel eyes continue to flicker over me - gossip.
Oh god, please be merciful. I promise I won't be nosey ever again.
My silent prayers did nothing to free me from my very little-understood need to follow Kayne without further question. My feet shuffled along in little meagre steps, making up the distance to where Kayne's shadow loomed, standing in the corner booth at the furthest end of diner, forcing me to pass a bevy of giggling teen girls with too much orange foundation and their equally smug, know-it-all male counterparts.
What was the big joke anyway?
I was horrified at the sudden remark as I finally reached Kayne's chosen seat, my eyes stupidly forgetting the safety of staring at the floor, meeting the intensity of Kayne's own darkened orbs piercing through me.
...Was that an order, of all things?
I stood, slightly dazed in front of the statuesque Man-phrodite before me, blinking stupidly as he gestured with a mere cock of his gaze, toward the plastic cushioned seat of the diner booth.
He chirped again, his tone absolutely, astonishingly firm and free from any indication of subjective emotion.
He didn't expect me to actually...
My body suddenly rippled with inexplicable fear, a rush of adrenaline and angst coiling in me as I felt the heft of his presence beside me.
What was going on with me today?
Everything seemed hyper sensitive to me, yet my intuition was foggy on what kind of encounter I was experiencing. Only vaguely aware of those around us, I didn't note the same dip in activity, suddenly comforted by the fact I hadn't been totally humiliated by his command.
My mind suddenly shot with sudden panic, a blur of emotion as I found my knees bend, my own body disobeying my odd little neurological misfirings.
Suddenly, my hands were on the cool black table top, my legs neatly placed beneath it as I kept a firm posture against the cheap cushioning of the booth.
Did I just respond to said order?
I must've appeared wholly shaken to the imposingly surreal figure before me, Kayne slipping in across from me, somehow coaxing my gaze up from my own nail-beds with a slight clear of his throat.
This has got to be the oddest "lunch" in the history of the universe...
My impatient irises bounced up toward him; again, without any further recollection of the blindingly hypnotic quality he appeared to possess in the sheer gorgeousness of his face. Again, I was struck by how jarringly unreal such beauty would seem to someone like me...
...yet how slightly eerily he seemed to eye me, as I was vaguely aware he was staring at me just as intensely, mimicking the harsh study of his features I had given him, with a slightly more languorous one of his own.
Here I was, probably looking like a beetle.
One who'd just had the shit sprayed out of it with insecticide. Stiff, rigid body language, buggy eyes bulging out from my head at both the sheer shock of him across from me... the inability to utter even a final, dying shriek as I died of humiliation on the diner floor... only to be bat around by a gleeful kitten... maybe dissected by a small toddler as it smashed its rattle into my harsh exoskeleton, crushing it against the tiles...
Especially considering throughout my whole little personal-replay of myself in a Kafka-esque reality...
"What's the face for?" The perfectly harmonious growl of masculine timbre graced the air through a smirk.
...He had just been watching my expression change from shocked, to weirding myself out, to the realisation he was in fact witnessing probably the oddest facial expressions ever made by a person he'd invited to lunch.
Stop. I should just...stop
"Holly." The sound of his voice pronouncing my name with such sharpness, yet such a rolling purr at the same time, prompted me to squeak freakishly in return.
I had reached a new level of self humiliation.
"Must you make that sound every timeI say your name?" I found myself concentrating very suddenly on his plush, dampened lips as his perfectly straight teeth glinted behind, his tongue darting out to enunciate everything in a slow rumble.
He probably thought I had some kind of intellectual impairment by now...
"Yes." I answered with a peep, not meaning to actually answer aloud. My heart did began to race unexpectedly as a low, simmering chuckle resounded.
"I'll get you something to eat then." The comment was almost certainly patronising and condescending, but I was far too confused by the situation at hand to even bother to comprehend with such a particularly gorgeous specimen of male popping up from his seat at the booth, approaching the counter to flag down Rufus from the fryer to make an order.
I quickly glanced at the diner door, wondering how to possibly avoid such incredibly close contact with Kayne, who despite such utter physical perfection, still managed to ruffle my feathers.
Gorgeous, except with a massive side of butthead.
Though the same inner rabbit seemed to plead with my instinct to flee, I found the task too arduous, too weighted with yet more humiliation in front of a diner-full of youths in a town where I just wanted to be invisible again. So I stayed glued to my seat, my fleetingly romantic escape plans swiftly thwarted thwarted as his darkly clothed body stepped back into view.
A pebble of courage skipping across a stream of inner denial and embarrassment, I braved his gaze with a mere peep of a voice.
"What am I doing here with you?"
You'd think for all my neurotic-ness, I'd have come up with something a little better to ask him...
Smooth Holly, really.
Arching his brows slightly, Kayne leant against the table, the cuffs off his clean white button-up shirt slipping down to his elbows, revealing the somehow extremely masculine tone and tan of his fore arms. His dark lashes briefly shielded the intensity his deep, stormy irises as he glanced around the diner briefly, letting his arms drop akimbo to the table before him.
"Isn't that more a question for you to answer?" The gruffness of his tone appeared mocking, his eyes seeming to flicker with something in the light – the sun reflecting off the surprisingly deep smoky colour in flecks as it hit his face through the window beside us.
I looked away out the window, wishing the sun would incinerate me there and then instead of forcing me to endure another oddly mocking jab from someone who practically ordered me to join him, only to study me ferociously from across a salt shaker.
Despite the laughter and gossip of the diner around us, the air at our table alone was stiff and awkward, something looming over the top of our encounter that I wasn't completely adjusted to.
Everything's in this town just feels so bloody weird...
Out of the corner of my peripherals, I could almost feel Kayne's stare intensify, sending a chill down my body and seemingly rattling my thoughts, his thick shot of black hair tilting as his head cocked slightly in his study of me.
"Is something the matter?" Again, his tone appeared odd. A mix between a judgementally sharp prod and a slightly dazed purr.
"...Why did you want me to have lunch with you?" I murmured, my voice rising just barely at the end of my statement, my curiosity winning over my fear of him for a mere moment.
"You're..." He paused, the pure force of his expression suddenly catching me off guard; the mask of almost divine beauty darkening with...
Whatever it was vanished the second a pallid arm laid a plate before me, a thin waitress in a uniform identical to Sick's, her blonde ringlets pouring in a waterfall from her loose bun, heavy blue eye shadow doing nothing to prevent her fluttering her pretty, wide, doe-like brown eyes toward Kayne as she slid a mug of black coffee toward him on a saucer.
"Will that be all?" She chirped merrily, trying on whatever game probably felled many a hormonal teenage boy with the dark, handsome creature across from me.
"Yes." Kayne's tongue was suddenly whip-like, the dainty waitress floating off as quickly as ever, catching me off guard once more.
"You should eat. You'll like it." Kayne directed me in a slightly forceful tone, one that crushed my small hope for bravery to ask him why on earth we were having such a painfully awkward encounter together. Or, more so, why he was so intent on sitting across from me purely to play such atrociously confusing, degrading mind games with me.
I was starting to think Celeste had no idea how wicked his sense of humour actually was, toying with me the way he was.
I glanced down toward my plate, a mix of what I could only guess was a classic all day breakfast. It was huge, a bit of this and that...in lots of 4 or 5, something I couldn't begin to fathom ingesting with my stomach flipping in the state it was.
"Go on." I slightly husky murmur from Kayne almost made me whimper, but somehow I felt the intense need to simply do whatever it was he desired me to so I could somehow weasel out of this horrible, evil web of social contact with him.
Unladylike as it was, I jabbed my fork very harshly into the smallest strip of crispy bacon possible, bringing it to chew in an almost rodent-like fashion before him.
There, I'm eating your bribery bacon. Now may I please escape whatever evil plan this is, sexy man?
I was surprised at the sudden "hmph" that sounded from him as he finally relaxed from his tense posture at the crackle of my first bite. I dared to flicker my green irises to him, noted how suddenly amused he appeared, as if he wanted to laugh outright at my pathetic nibble on the greasy diner food.
Had it been anyone else, I would have asked what it was that nearly had them losing composure, but I had absolutely no idea if the Adonis before me was simply testing me, or actually somewhat delusional, perhaps insane even.
He appeared to glow very slightly with...something.
Amused, and yet Kayne was inwardly beaming with some sort of pride from behind an otherwise stoic facade he was maintaining throughout the awkward crunches of the slightly over-cooked pork strips against in molars.
Definitely a freak. A gorgeous one, but like most of the people in my life, he was probably evil.
"Holly, I want to apologise to you." Kayne stated rather slickly, a sinful flicker of a smirk tainting his dangerously flushed lips.
I paused in my bovine-esque chewing. A suddenly foreboding sense of danger falling upon me, a toe-curling impious expression resonating on his chiselled features, steely jaw line twitching as a slight dimple on his right cheek began to emerge from the loss of control on his full lips.
"...Mmm?" I blinked, mouth still full of my bribery bacon, one of the reasons I couldn't exactly sprint out the door instantaneously.
"I didn't mean to frighten you with my little...joke the other day..." He husked, my stomach flipping as his voice dropped lowly, his words languid in a somehow innuendo laced tone.
I flushed at the memory; suddenly nothing his right hand index finger was tracing the handle of his coffee mug, bringing the steaming hot beverage quite casually to those perfectly crested lips of his before uttering out the rest of his sentiment quite clearly and coolly.
"...I had no idea you were a virgin."
I coughed, suddenly choking on the damned piece of meat, the sudden shock causing me to spit the chunk across the table, and on to his beautifully clean white shirt.