Between A Rock And A Hard Place

There was something about Katherine that struck me as odd.

Leaning against the gate, swallowed in shadow, I could see her across the clearing. She was a pretty girl, slim and long-legged, but there was something else about her that drew the eyes. The hooded gaze, perhaps? The red, red lips? They were like blood-coated strawberries, tempting and inviting to those who were naturally inclined to tempt fate. To test the waters.

I was never that kind of guy. Even as she swayed to my side, lips murmuring soft words, enchanting invites to luxurious conversations, the facts were plain; the allure wasn't there. It never was. I was certain she realized this as she frowned, blond curls framing her face as she cocked her head to the side.

"Saul," Katherine's voice was soft, and her touch was softer. Nails lightly scraped across my cheek, a faint, burning sting following the wake of her fingers as she murmured, eyes dark and gleaming, "It's rude to ignore me, Saul."

In most situations, ignoring her would have been best. To divert her attention, to draw upon a safe zone, was often the best way to ensure a safe exit. Then he arrived, silent as the phantom the police often tagged him as, and one hand caressed my side, fingertips brushing against the soft fleece of my sweater, sending waves of heat through me, as he returned, "It is equally rude, Miss Henson, to press upon others who do not wish to indulge themselves in of your attentions."

I would rather neither of them press any kind of attention. It was difficult to determine which was worse. Katherine and her eager pursuits, or him and his unnatural interests with me and my time. At times like this, the term 'stuck between a rock and a hard place' never rang more true.

And they both knew it.

"I highly doubt he wants you, Stern." Katherine pressed closer, the soft flesh of her chest and waist, outlined through the sheer fabric of her dress, flushed and warm against me. Rock and a hard place, indeed. The rock in front. The mountain behind. I set a hand on her shoulder, fingers biting a bit too roughly into her skin, as I said, "Actually, I think I'd just like to find someplace to sit down for a while. You know…by myself?"

When her eyes flashed, from the soft honey hues of brown and amber to black, it was easy to remember why I protested this party. Behind me, Stern, cold as winter ice, snapped, "Henson, leave."

She was stiff, glowering range and pouty lips, but she departed without another word. I didn't get three steps before a hand grasped my forearm and whirled me around. His face was in mine, dark eyes narrowed. "This is for your own good, Saul. I advise you take the time to actually listen to what I'm saying."

My answer?

I threw my wine in his face and made a run for it.