Next update: whenever i feel like it... *picks nose* Week 12
When Dorian Micheals first walked into my office, I expected to see a man around mid-40s with a bad problem of balding, ridiculously wide framed glasses and a poor dress sense. That appearance is what mostly walks through my door when I receive someone who’s mentally insane. But that’s not what I saw when Dorian Micheals glided passed my door. I was surprised that he actually looked… normal.
He was a devastatingly handsome man with caramel colored skin and unusual dark green eyes that resembled emeralds shining brightly under the sun’s gaze. Yes, he wore glasses, but the expensive-looking specs framed his face nicely. They almost looked as if they were apart of him. How odd.
To describe the six foot tall Dorian Micheals in one word would be simply:
“Call me Dorian. Please,” he requested, showing off a dazzling set of pearly whites.
I gave him a pointed look and repeated myself, flipping open his file to understand why this man was here. The sooner we get this over with, the better, I thought. But what I saw absolutely shocked me. I knew I couldn’t be reading the words right so I reread and reread again, but no matter how many times her eyes skimmed over the page, the words wouldn’t change. And Mr. Micheals looked at me with an amused look claiming his facial features. Leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees, he smiled again. He was daring me to continue, I knew, but this was just wrong and my hesitancy was well placed.
“Mr. Micheals,” I cleared my throat and continued. “It states here in your file that you have Leprechaun in your head telling you to kill people.”
“Compelling you to kill people.”
“Incorrect,” he said, staring me straight in the eye, smile still in place. “So how’s life treating you Doc?”
“This isn’t about me Mr. Micheals; we’re here to talk about you.”
That made him pause. I see. So he’s one of those people who’s skeptical of therapy. I wondered if he was going to say something like “you’re the therapist, isn’t it your job to tell me how I’m feeling?” Yes, that’s what I expected, but that was not the words that slipped through Dorian Micheals lips.
“Such a strange case I have, Doc. A man like me coming to a therapist—that would be you by the way—about a problem that involves a little man in a green suit telling to kill people. Of course this is about me.” Sarcasm couldn’t possibly drip more from his mouth.
“Is that so? Are you implying something?”
His eyebrow arched. “Lucky Charms wants you dead?”
“Is that the name of your friend?”
“Not crazy,” he replied, smile still in place as he tapped his middle finger to his temple. “Mentally insane.”
“Why are you here?”
“Do you have any kids, Doc?”
“This is not about me!”
“I wonder about the things you do when you think no one’s looking.”
“You know nothing.”
“How’s life been treating you?”
“Mr. Micheals would you please!”
Finally he relented. The psychotic man in front of me leaned back in his chair and just stared, eyes shining brightly with amusement. It’s times like this where my paranoid idea that someone’s always reading my mind seems appropriately placed. I thought if I focused on my breathing and slowly inched my hand toward the security button, I could be rid of this maniac. Once again, though, his eyebrow gave and elegant arch which caused me to pause. He’s tempting me again, I knew. He’s trying to mess with my head.
Even though I knew he was messing with me, fear still seemed to grip me as he stood, slowly walking towards me. The way he moved was disarming. He moved as if he didn’t have a care in the world and as I allowed my eyes to roam over him I admitted to myself that, by all appearances, he looked nothing like the potential killer he was.
“What do you plan to do?” my voice trembled.
Again, he advanced, circling my desk, coming ever so near to me.
“I plan to do nothing. You don’t need to fear I will cause you harm.”
“But I warn you. Your case of paranoia is not misplaced in this instance. If I were you, though, I’d press that security button.”
After that there were no more words for me to say—not that I really had the chance—for as he took off his glasses and stared me in the eye, I knew I was lost. I couldn’t look away. Panic seized me.
Push him away. Push him away!
Scream for help.
A loud, overbearing noise is now blasting through my head and I have no idea where it is coming from. My mouth seemed to become drier and drier by the second and no amount of wetting my lips or gulping down saliva appeared to help any.
Water? I don’t remember pouring myself a glass, yet here one sits in front of me. Thank heaven.
I go for the cup yet some unknown force stops me. Someone’s grabbing my hand. Why can’t they see? How can they not see how parched I am! Damn you, let go!
“That’s not water, Doc,” a voice said to me. The baritone voice ran over me as smooth as silk.
Dorian Micheals. Damn Dorian Micheals!
“Release me!” I demanded, snatching my hand back and grabbing the cup of heaven before he could stop me again. I dashed as far as to the other side of the room, giving him a triumphant smile, and drank.
And coughed, trying desperately to clear my throat so I can have more, but a burning sensation in my throat became worse. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t scream or call for help.
Vomit fills my mouth and pours over onto the ground. There feels as if something as slender as a finger is caught in my throat that no amount of hacking would force out. My stomach is burning. Tears are flooding my eyes. My mouth is still feeling dry.
I’m hearing a male’s cruel laughter bouncing around in my head. Such cruelty. So I realize now that since the slender object won’t come out, I’ll just have to swallow it whole. It hurts terribly; my throat feels like it’s being ripped to shreds.
I feel huge hands grabbing me, restraining me, ripping my nirvana from my hands and tossing it aside as if my life didn’t depend on its essence. What a waste. Why can’t they see? Enraged, I begin fighting them. I begin violently twisting and turning and making strange animalistic noises that sounded pitiful to even my own ears. But even with my efforts, they still managed to hold me down.
I recognized the feel of a needle being inserted in my neck before I felt myself calming down. Why couldn’t they see?
I slowly turned my head to the side to stare across the room. To stare at a beautiful caramel colored skinned man with the most terrifying deep green eyes who, in turn, looked at me with a small, content smile curving his lips.
His haunting voice whispered through my mind before everything went black. “Until we meet again, Doc.”
Madame Magnets Home for the Mentally Insane
January 1, Friday, 12am
My eyes popped open. The world around me spun which caused my head to ache. My eyes pounded against my skull, rolling back so far I thought I’d see the insides of my head if everything didn’t suddenly turn black. I turned on my side as I pushed the heels of my palms into my eyes as if that would ease the pain. It would end soon, I knew, but knowing that didn’t make the ache behind my eyes less now.
Every Friday, for the past 3 years, this has happened so I suppose I should have been used to it by now. But I wasn’t. I also suppose I should be grateful because of the miracle that follows the pain, but at this current moment in time, I wasn’t.
The pain eased and I was finally able to breathe easy. Sitting up, I swung my legs over the side of my bed and stared at the clock that still read midnight. As on every Friday—12:00 on the dot—what felt like an hour of pain was only a couple of seconds, but at present, I can finally say I really was grateful. For the past 3 years, every Friday, my world didn’t seem so deceivingly harmless. The things around me were depressing, plain, and dangerous as they should be. Knives actually looked like knives instead of harmless pencils, toothpicks looked like toothpicks instead of Q-tips, and objects that don’t appear to be there on any other day are properly placed. 24 hours a week of normalcy—minus the couple seconds of pain—was beyond welcome.
Sighing in contentment, I rose to my feet and danced my way to the fridge Professor Hawkins, the current head of Madame Magnet’s Home for the Mentally Insane (MMHMI), had placed in my room so I wouldn’t keep “waking the normals” with my constant walking around in all hours of the night in search of water that’s not really water and end up killing myself. Heaven forbid I mistakenly pick up a jar containing pens and pencils, thinking it’s orange juice, and drink that.
“Bastard,” I muttered as I snatched a water bottle—the word “Aquafina” clearly, thankfully, stamped on the front of it—and walked over to the window to stare at a beautiful scenery that was too dark to see. It wasn’t as if he actually cared for any of the “crazies” anyway. He made that fact painfully clear when a couple of the keepers he set to watch over us made a game of tormenting another one of the patients.
My best friend, a cute fun-sized Russian by the name of Samuel Stefanowski, and I went to demand that Pro Ha do something about the injustice, but he—unlike some people—didn’t “have time to waste” listening to our problems. That is what he hired the keepers for in case the two of use didn’t notice.
Grim-faced, I stared at my shadowed reflection in the window. Things weren’t always this bad here. I did remember feeling welcome and at home when I was first admitted into MMHMI. It was nothing like the mental facilities I used to visit every other month, where you could hear the gut wrenching scream of a man strapped down 10-15 rooms away and where the occasional toothless woman with unfocused eyes crawls ever slowly towards you to pet and caress your shoe like it was something precious.
The Madame herself—who everyone called MaMa—was with us almost every second of every day. The seemingly never-aging woman was absolutely beautiful with a river of dark-as-night green hair flowing down her back. Her almond-shaped eyes housed contacts the color of an erie purple that looked oddly natural on her. The cigarette that was permanently glued between her full scarlet lips also seemed perfectly placed.
Madame Magnet truly was beauty personified. The only thing out of place on her was the scratchy roughness in her voice. If she didn’t sound so much like an old hag every time she opened her mouth, I would go so far to say the Madame was perfect, but then again, the idea of perfection doesn’t exist. I felt the corner of my lip curve upward before all signs of humor fled my face as I thought of how I even came to be at the Madame’s in the first place.
3 years ago I was on my way to becoming very successful in my chosen field of psychology. I enjoyed studying how my fellow humans thought and behaved. I was curious about what was going on inside the minds of others and how different their thoughts were from mine—how different their reactions would be if they were put in a various number of situations. And what type of person would make the perfect study? Well the opposite of the “sane” is the “insane,” so the next thing I decided to do was to call up a friend of my cousin’s and once a week every other month, I’d volunteer to work with some of the patients at Nicholas’ cold, too-bright-for-the-eyes facility.
Despite the occasional disturbing patient, everything I learned was fascinating. Their thought process, how they viewed the world and not one of them was the same as another! Nicholas’ mental facility was a feast for my curiosity, but as the saying goes, curiosity really does kill the cat.
I was anxious to get back to the facility to talk to the toothless woman with an unfocused gaze but a beautiful smile. The problem was that I wouldn’t be seeing her again for another month at least. So, to take my mind off things, I decided I was ready to take on patients who claim to be on the verge of going insane, and what a disappointment that was.
Until he glided passed my door.
Wonderful, terrifying, green-eyed, freaking Dorian Micheals with a Leprechaun in his head telling him to kill people.
When he came in, I first thought he was lost. Then he opened that full, distracting mouth of his and everything shot to hell. And my beautiful mind became twisted--full with deceiving images. It seemed that where my eyes went in this new deceptive world, my other four senses followed. My eyes saw water on my desk instead of my pencil holder. I drank and it was refreshing and tasteless like water until I closed my eyes. That was when agonizing pain shot through my throat and the loud ring of the security alarm boomed in my ears.
It wasn’t water. I’d swallowed my pencils. My eyes shot open and, again, it was water going down my throat. And I was still parched like I haven’t had anything to drink in days.
Later, when I was admitted into MMHMI, MaMa would teach me how to get around without getting myself killed. “If you can’t see it,” she told me in her rough voice, speaking the words my own mother told me when I was little, “then it ain’t there.”
Furious that the beautiful old hag would even suggest that I, Adrianna Buchanan, willingly become blind, a cripple, I threw a fit, getting in the Madame’s face and telling her about my educational background and the connections my family had. Science could fix anything and by damn, they were going to fix whatever that bastard did to me.
Madame Magnet sat through the whole scene with a patient smile, that frustrating cigarette jammed between her all-too-perfect lips. “You’re the one who wanted to know what goes on inside the mind of the mentally insane, Ms. Buchanan, and now you will.” She stood up and stared straight at me, finally beginning to lose her patients. “Look,” she smirked, “It’s better to be blind in a dangerous world that’s familiar to you than dead in a deceivingly safe one. How long will it take your science to fix you? More than a couple of years, that’s for sure.”
It’s better to be blind in a dangerous world than dead in a deceivingly safe one…
“I miss you MaMa,” I whispered, resting my forehead against the cool glass of the window.
Madame Magnet’s Home for the Mentally Insane
January 1, Friday 12pm
He was messing with her again.
I was fighting a losing battle to keep the irritated frown off my face as Morgan Vitale, kiss ass, jack ass, and total ass of Madame Magnet’s Home for the Mentally Insane sauntered over to my best friend and asked who she was talking to.
I rolled my eyes. Like you don’t know already, you ass.
Samuel Stefanowski, my best friend for two and a half years, is a cute, fun-sized, blonde-haired blue-eyed Russian who has the imagination of a child. She carries her stuffed animal, a black squirrel named Sir Jenkins (for whatever reason, I don’t really know), around everywhere and has the occasional one-way conversation with him, nodding her head in agreement ever so often.
We met over two years ago when I was still thinking of a way to fix whatever happened to me. She was sobbing her heart out in the media room because Sir Jenkins wouldn’t stop “playing dead.” Feeling sorry for the poor girl, I walked in, picked up the furry critter, and started playing with her. But then my stupid eyes turned Sir Jenkins into a double cheese burger which made my mouth water for a taste. It had the desired effect of putting a smile on her face, but to this day she still won’t let me even hold her companion anymore.
“Come on baby, don’t be like that.” Morgan’s voice was an unwelcome interruption on my thoughts and I silently prayed for Sammy to behave herself. “I’m just trying to be your friend too. Don’t you think I’d be more interesting to talk to than that stuffed doll?” he tsked at her silence. “You know,” he mused, “I can make your stay here feel like heaven, or I can make it a living—“
“Leave her alone, Morgan, she doesn’t want to talk to you,” one of the other patients said.
“Was I talking to you, fatty?”
His annoyed reply made her flinch and I took offence to it. Katherine wasn’t fat; she was just a little thick-boned. And she has a pretty face! Her problem—the reason why she was here in the first place—was that she thought she was pregnant. Katherine has been pregnant for the last 3 years I’ve been here (and more) and if a pregnancy were to really last that long, then I ‘m determined never to have sex again. Not that I really have the chance in this hell hole anyway, but because of her problem, she felt the constant need to eat for two.
“Remember Kit Kat, only a dog wants a bone,” I reminded her, trying to stay uninvolved, but apparently failing.
“Hey!” Sammy’s offended whine brought a grin to my face.
“No offense, babe, but you’re a living twig and you know it. You thinking we should get Darlene to take some of Kat’s weight and add it to you? She used to be a witch doctor before she was queenie of some seahorse tribe in Atlantis, you know.”
It was hard to keep the laughter out of my eyes—even though I tried for a straight face—thinking about dear Darlene. She’s good at heart with pure intentions, but sometimes she concerns me, and that’s saying something considering my own situation. Since I’ve been here, she’s claimed to be a shaman, a witch doctor, a shape shifter, a 5012-year-old vampire, a Victorian bride’s ghost, an evil mail man, etc. The list goes on and on, but it might take more time than I’m willing to take to say it all.
“Get out of here, Morgan, this is our time and you’re not welcome.”
I saw a tick work in his jaw and I smiled wide. It was nice to see one of the keepers being ganged up on once in a while. See how they like it when the shoe’s on the other foot.
“I’d be careful how you talk to me, little girl. I’m real cool with your keeper and, well, let’s just say you don’t want to be swallowing any more pencils, now do you?”
“Is that a threat?” I asked, staring into his face filled with smug satisfaction. Sebastian, my keeper, would never hang out with someone this moronic who gets a hard-on while mentally tormenting people who can’t fight back. That’s one of the reasons I respect him so much—the 6-foot, handsome man with bleach-blonde hair that looked white. We made an agreement when I was first introduced to him that if I didn’t get into too much trouble, bringing too much attention to myself, then he’d protect me. It was his job to do so anyway, but since I asked that Sammy be part of the deal, and he agreed, I decided to behave myself. For now anyway.
Without giving a reply, Morgan, laughing and shaking his head, walked out with one last lingering glance towards Sammy.
“Man, I really hate that guy,” Darlene muttered, her face crumbling with hurt at Morgan’s inconsiderate comment. I could only agree with her. He was the reason Pro Ha made the decision to transfer one of the other patients—and one of our friends—over to Nicholas’ Mental institution.
They tormented her with her own weakness. Angelique already had issues of her own to fight, to deal with every single day of her life, and unlike me, she didn’t have an outlet once a week of normalcy to keep herself “sane.” As soon as she came to terms that things weren’t always what they appeared, they made her nightmares reality, dressing up as monsters straight out of an expensive horror movie, forcing her to awaken whenever she had a chance to rest her eyes with howls and cat calls. It was hard for her to sleep without drugs from then on out; she wouldn’t allow anyone to come near her without a fight for her life. And eventually, beautiful, golden Angelique transformed into a hysterical, dull version of her old self.
After that, the professor no longer found a reason to keep her, and despite all our screams of foul play, shipped her off to the one place I feared going back to myself in this current state.
Sebastian Delmont, my keeper and protector, glided through the door, causing me to let out a wistful sigh. I always enjoyed seeing him in all his male glory, but Sammy already seemed to place her claim on him. He stopped by the pool table, eyes searching around for someone until they landed on me. This surprised me and made me feel damned because he never comes for me unless I’m about to go through something unpleasant and he wanted to see the look of dread on my face before laughing and walking away.
“Adrianna,” he said slow and easy. “I’ve got a surprise for you, sweet.”
I tsked at him. “All my grievances are over for the week, especially today, Sebastian. Remember, you agreed to make sure I have nothing to do on Fridays but relax.”
“Hm? Well, I can’t control everything that goes on here,” he replied.
“Hi, Sebastian,” Sammy called meekly.
“I mean, if I did, that’d be awesome. There’d be no need for you gals to wear clothing and you’d be crawling everywhere instead of walking—“
“Hello, Sebastian,” Sammy said again.
“—and if you didn’t crawl to do my bidding fast enough…” he sighed, his hands slightly curling and uncurling as if he was imagining touching something just out of his reach, and I actually had trouble staying in place as he stepped closer.
“Sebastian, Sebastian, Sebastian!” Sammy started chanting as a child would to her mother. I grinned at her when my keeper finally got annoyed and turned to her. “Hi,” she blushed before turning back to Sir Jenkins.
“Hello,” he finally replied which caused a high pitched, delighted squeal to erupt from her. “Gawd, did you hear, Sir Jenkins? Did you? I said “hi” and he said “hello” back!”
He gave her a considering look before turning back to me with a frown. “If you’d be so kind, Ms. Buchanan,” he said, giving an elegant bow, pointing in the direction of the door. With a sigh of defeat, I walked ahead of him out the door, the sound of his heavy footsteps echoing in my ear. Where on earth was he taking me?
“I freaking hate you!” I said through grit teeth.
Sebastian stood beside me, holding my hand as I started at the closed door with the damned letters that spelled the name of my enemy typed in block letters across the glass. Professor Jeremy Hawkins. Only once every other blue moon does Professor Hawkins find it necessary to grace us with his presence. Why he even comes around that often, I’ll never know. The only thing he does is sit at his desk and interrogates us with the same irritating questions: “How are you feeling today? Have you been treated nicely? Are you getting along with the other girls? How far along are you in conquering your problem?”
Gawd, someone please put a bullet in that hole in his ugly face…?
I sighed aloud. Pro Ha wasn’t ugly; he was the furthest thing from it, actually. Not as good looking as my Sebastian, but definitely up there. He was tall, around 5 10, with rich brown hair that had a distracting wave to it. I’ll admit to my shame and disgust that I fantasized—on more than one occasion—about running my hands through that shoulder length hair. I wondered how soft it would be underneath the tips of my fingers. Then, thinking about all the unnecessary hell he’s put us through, I thought about shaving it all off and shoving it down his throat.
I smiled secretly to myself as his office door swung open to show the devil himself. I allowed my eyes to roam over his face that held mesmerizing blue eyes, nice lips, and a nice jaw covered with… hair?
Well-groomed Professor Hawkins has facial hair? I’ll be damned. I expected it to take away from his handsomeness, but it only enhanced his looks—made him look even more villainous than he already was and I’ve always loved a good villain. Why is it that all the gorgeous people are always such psychos? I wondered to myself.
“I think I’ve missed you, Ms. Buchanan,” he smiled, a set of pearly white teeth almost blinding me.
“Doctor Buchanan,” I reminded him absentmindedly. Not that he needed the reminder that I used to be a psychologist. He always made a point in commenting on how amusing it was that a psychologist studying the mentally insane became insane herself. Of course, I then had to counter it with the fact that he himself was currently studying and tormenting the mentally insane. “Your eyes are starting to look unfocused, Hawkins, are you well?”
He laughed good naturedly, leaning forward against the frame of his door. His eyes locked on mine and his voice dropped an octave as he said, “Oh yes, doctor, I am well.”
“So what are we here for, Professor?” Sebastian asked cheerfully as he wrapped his arm protectively around me, his fingertips lightly brushing my arm. It was a possessive touch that made my eyes widen and shoot over to his. I tried to make contact, some sort of communication, but he focused his attention straight ahead, the laugh lines showing around his eyes as he smiled patiently at his employer.
Professor Hawkins turned around and we followed him in.
And that’s when those damned questions began.
“How are you feeling today, Doctor Buchanan?”
“Considering the fact that I’m stuck in your office when I could be doing more useful things with my time like picking my nose.”
Chuckle. “That’s very unattractive.”
“Well, the gold has to get mined sometime or it’s just going to sit there.”
“I see. And have you been treated nicely here?”
“You could say that, considering.”
“Considering you’re being held here in my office when you could be picking your nose?”
“No, I’ve already done that, but I’ve got some cuticles that need pushing back.”
A tick worked in his jaw and I smiled.
“Are you playing well with the other girls?”
He put his pen down and raised an eyebrow. “Sure?” he asked.
“Sure,” I replied.
“Sure,” he repeated, picking up his pen before placing it back down firmly. “Mr. Delmonte, will you be so kind as to step out in the hall?”
Sebastian looked up then. He no longer held that pleasant smile and I tried to make myself look small in my chair. Earlier, I mentioned that I behaved myself because he agreed to protect Sammy while she was here, but this man really did scare me. He is unlike the other keepers here that have little to no effect on me at all; I could always guess what they’d do next by their actions, but my keeper doesn’t have a constant and it both fascinates and frightens me.
Pushing his chair back, Sebastian stood, giving a small incline of his head as he walked to the door and I was caught between letting out a sigh of relief and asking him not to leave me with this man.
The door shut and I was suddenly alone, staring across the desk at the devil with a smile that was pure male. Instead of looking him more than necessary, I went for focusing my attention on everything else. The plant hanging over and to the side of the bookshelf looked suddenly fascinating. There was nothing interesting out the window behind him, but the clock above his head looked wonderful, the ticking sound soothing her nerves.
“You’ve been hiding something from me haven’t you, Adrianna? And you’ve even managed to turn Sebastian from me,” he said rising from his throne-like chair. He circled his desk, picking up a metal cup full of paperclips on his way towards me. Staring bullets through my eyes, he brought the cup to his lips, tipping his head back and closing his eyes with relish as if he just took a sip of something heavenly.
I inhaled sharply, and just like that, I was thrust 3 years back in time. I was in my own familiar office watching Dorian Micheals glide through my door, the sight of his beautiful, monstrously green eyes locking the breath in my throat.
Don’t look at them! Turn away!
In my peripheral vision, I saw his lips moving, but my attention was solely focused on the two emerald orbs before me. They commanded it so.
Tears pooled in my eyes, threatening to spill. I felt my sanity leaving me.
“No, no,” I whispered.
You don’t need to fear me, Doc.
Oh yes, I fear you.
What do you do behind closed doors when you think no one’s watching?
How’s life been treating you, Doc?
Until we meet again, Doc.
The hot press of a pair of lips brought me back to the present. I blinked and it was the devil’s blue eyes teasing me, his lips moving against mine. I blinked again and it was the monster’s green eyes murdering me, his tongue forcing its way passed my teeth. His rough hand slid underneath my shirt, making a slow, torturous ascend. I took a firm hold of his wrist and turned my head, but he roughly grabbed ahold of my jaw to keep me where he wanted me. I started to struggle in earnest. Tears were finally streaming down my face as I felt my sanity disappear all over again and I knew I was losing to those damned green eyes.
I drowned in those damned gorgeous green eyes and now I can’t breathe. He’s suffocating me and I can’t breathe! He’s going to kill me—finish off what he started, but why now? Why 3 whole years later when he could have come for me at any time. I don’t want to die now and I told him so, begging him for mercy with a whimper.
“Adrianna,” he whispered against my hair. His palm, no longer rough but soft and pampered, caressed my wet cheek lovingly and I let him. I wouldn’t fight him; I wouldn’t look him in his eyes to give him a reason to cause me harm. “Adrianna,” he whispered my name again, his voice no longer deep and smooth as silk. I watched, dazed, as he picked up the metallic cup—with white hands, not dark—and held it for my examination. “What’s in this cup?”
I was confused at the question; he could clearly see what was in the cup. Slowly, I found the courage to let my brown eyes connect with his blue—no green—ones before I looked back down at the cup in his hand and even as my mind screamed at me to tell him something false, tell him there was some sort of liquid beverage in it, I told him the truth. “Paperclips.”
“Excellent,” he praised and walked to the door. “I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
Professor Hawkins left allowing Sebastian to come for me. Anger and frustration welled up inside me, and, needing an outlet, I lashed out at my keeper. I slapped his face as soon as it was within striking distance. The sting felt welcome against my palm so I hit him again and again, and the tears kept on falling from my eyes. How dare that bastard take advantage of me? How dare he use my weakness against me? Was he trying to do to me what he allowed the others to do to Angelique?
The bastard. The bastard!!
Sebastian grabbed my wrist, kissing the inside of it, as I went to hit him again. Sebastian was supposed to protect me like he promised. He deserves to be punished!
He picked me up and carried me—as you would a child—to my room and laid me on the bed. I turned from him, staring out my window, even as he leaned down to kiss my tear-stained cheek. Tomorrow would be better, he promised me. Tomorrow had to be better than this moment or it was time for me to take Sammy and leave. I won’t be treated like Angelique and I won’t be forced to go to Nicholas as a patient.
Madame Magnet’s Home for the Mentally Insane
January 2, Saturday 2:45pm
“Angels…” someone sighed dreamily. Five other girls and I turned from our place at the stove to stare at Jocelyn who turned in place with what seemed like a smile caused by drugs on her face. “Angels, angels, there are angels in the room.” She giggled at something that wasn’t there, her eyes glazed over, as the five girls gathered around her with high-pitched squeals of excitement.
“Really? They’re here now?”
“Oh my gosh, Sir Jenkins, did you hear? We have angels today! You think we should ask them if they want cookies? I’d want cookies if someone was baking and I was visiting—not that we’re allowed to… visit… hm… Ari!” Sammy shouted at me, “Ask them if they want cookies!”
I covered my face with my hands before opening my eyes for the first time today. I was disgusted at the deceptively comfortable and safe scenery I saw, but looked in the direction of where Joslyn was looking and asked if her imaginary friends wanted something yummy. As expected, I didn’t receive a reply, but it’s fun to play along.
“I used to be an angel before I was an Egyptian slave. I fell from grace by falling in love with a demon and having his child,” Darlene commented and I fought a losing battle to keep the laughter from spilling rudely from my mouth. “Joey, ask if they recognize me. Naturally, I used to have red hair and blue eyes.” She stared off into space, and then nodded. “And I used to have bigger breast. I remember they kept getting in the way when I always—“
“Shut-up! No you weren’t!” Katherine shouted, shoving playfully against Darlene’s shoulder before she let out a pained sound.
Dear Lord, she was having contractions again. I ran my fingers roughly through my hair as my own panic started to rise. I never know what to do about this kind of situation. On a plaque, right before you see my name reads the word “doctor,” but I am a psychologist who doesn’t deal with stuff like this that requires a hospital. I started pacing, taking deep breaths in and out as I heard Katherine let out another groan and I couldn’t help feeling like a baby daddy who waited in a constant state of agitation for his child to finally pop out of his woman.
“Get out the way, I used to be a doctor,” I heard Darlene say.
“Shut up, D, I said no you wer—gawd, the pain is awful!”
“It’s ok, I’m here. Come on, breathe. Deep breath in,” Darlene encouraged her by taking a deep breath herself. I found myself taking a deep breath with them. “Good girl, now let it out slowly, slowly. Um… Katherine, I said let it out slowly. You’re, uh, you’re doing it wrong. Dammit, someone hold her hand!”
“I’ll hold her hand.”
“No, Sir Jenkins wants to do it!”
“Sir Jenkins arm got torn off the last time he wanted to hold Kat’s hand.”
“Angels… angels in the room.”
“Oh yea! Sorry, Sir Jenkins, Kitty’s too dangerous for you, but I’ll hold her hand, I’m strong.”
“You’re a freakin’ twig and you know it.”
“Sammy, I’d crush you,” Katherine protested between her uneven breathing.
“Fine, I’ll hold your hand. I used to be a body builder before I was a doctor, but then I fell in love with a lanky chef and got pregnant with his child, becoming useless in my profession as grew week and motherly. My boss wasn’t happy, but I was—“
“Not helping, D. You’re supposed to be the doctor.”
As the arguing continued, I lifted the hair from my face and stormed over to the heavily breathing woman. I sat behind Katherine, cradling her with my body as she shook. Using my sleeve to wipe away her tears, I looked up to see a couple of the keepers in the hall with a cell phone pointed in our direction. They were laughing, their bodies trembling with amusement
Morgan walked in with a swagger, his right arm making a ridiculous swinging motion back and forth. He stopped in front of us and squatted down beside Katherine, his phone out in front of her face. To my annoyance, he was able to snap a couple of pictures of Katherine’s sweaty, tear-stained face before one of the other girls decided to snatch the phone away from him.
“Well, isn’t that a pretty ugly face. What’s wrong little girl? You eat something that didn’t agree with you fatty?”
“Leave her alone, you ass!”
His gaze slid my way before focusing back on my friend as his own friends crowded around us. I clung to Katherine, wrapping her in my protective arms even as Andre, Joey’s keeper, started pulling me away. Try as he might, if I was going with him, then I was determined to drag Katherine with me. They won’t abuse her; they won’t treat her like they did Angelique. I scream with frustration. Another patient’s keeper joined Andre in his attempt to draw me away from her. “No!” I screamed. “For crying out loud, Morgan, don’t do this!”
I was violently ripped away from Katherine and shoved across the room. I looked around for the other girls, finding them being held by the rest of Morgan’s lackeys.
Katherine’s cry for help brought my attention back to her, my struggles becoming more desperate. Morgan was leaning over her, pressing painfully on her belly, shouting rude comments in her face. I watched helplessly as she jerked beneath him, her face crumpled in pain. She cried for forgiveness and mercy, but they fell on deaf ears. Morgan leaned all his weight on her and smiled.
“You’re so squishy,” he mused, finally taking his weight off her stomach. I thought it was over, but she wasn’t allowed any sort of relief just yet. He slowly rolled her shirt up till it was mid-way up her torso and grabbed at her fat, giving it a vicious shake, pulling it this way and that way. She cried through the whole thing. “You’re like my own little bouncy castle, Kit Kat,” he laughed, using the nickname I gave her and twisting it, making it a joke and something cruel. For the life of me, I will never call her that again. “My own little water bed, my own little tapeline. I wonder if I were to fall on you, how far would I bounce back up. You wanna test it?” he laughed, looking around for encouragement from his friends even as we shouted words of protest. “I think we should.”
Morgan rose up on his knees and looked down at her with a smirk made of pure evil. “’Leave her alone, Morgan, she doesn’t want to talk to you.’ Isn’t that what you said yesterday?” He paused, waiting for a response. “I’m talking to you, now, Kit Kat. That was what you said wasn’t it?”
Katherine’s breath caught in her throat. She choked on an answer, but none came out. As punishment, Morgan went limp, his body falling towards her, his hands aiming straight for the lower part of her belly which caused her to scream in panic. At the last possible moment, he moved his hands outward to catch his weight on the palms of his hands.
“For the love of G—Morgan, stop it!”
“Let’s go at this from another direction,” Morgan said, rising back to his knees. “I was busy talking to someone yesterday, and you interrupted me, saying…?”
“She doesn't, she doesn’t want to t-talk to, to you?”
“Close, but not quite, and I don’t think you stuttered so much. Try again why don’t you.”
“L-L-Leave her, her alone Mo—“
Katherine gulped, trying to calm her nerves, her body shaking. “Sorry. Sorry, Morgan.”
“Accepted, now tell me what you said, again, without st-stu-stuttering.”
“Leave her alone, Morgan, she doesn’t want to talk to you!”
He actually had the nerve to look hurt as he covered the spot over his heart with his hand in an offended gesture. “Why would you say something like that? Why wouldn’t she want to talk to me? There can’t be something wrong with me. Is it my face? Do you find me ugly, Kit Kat?”
“No, Morgan,” she replied.
“No? Hmm… Then what on earth could it be? I think you should explain yourself.”
“You were being mean to her,” Katherine explained. “After what you all did to Angelique, I didn’t want to sit back and watch her fade away too. How horrible of you to treat us the way you do. What have we done to you to make you hate us so? Forgive me, Morgan, if I have done something to wrong you in any way.” Tears flooded her eyes and spilled down her cheeks as she poured her heart out in another plea for mercy.
Morgan’s face slowly went from a look of cruel amusement to a look of confusion and consideration, and finally landed on cold and emotionless. “You haven’t done anything wrong to me, Katherine. I just like hurting you.”
“Then you are a sick freak, and that is why she doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Morgan seemed to stop all together, his only movement is the rise and fall of his chest and the occasional blink of his eyes. Just as suddenly as he stopped, he reanimated, slowly leaning towards Katherine, his hand cupping her chubby cheek. He gave it a playful shake and two light smacks, smiling as he watched it jiggle.
“You all have circle in one hour,” he announced. Then he and his friends walked out without another word.
Katherine curled on her side, crying her heart out and we all rushed to her. We clung to her and petted her in attempt to sooth her aching soul, but it only seemed to make her cry all the harder. Our poor, poor Katherine.
“Angels,” Joey said dreamily, staring straight at our weeping friend, “Angels surround you, Katherine.”
The circle today was quite lively when the six of us walked into the conference room, the keepers dutifully standing behind their charges, but when Professor Hawkins followed us shortly after us, all 13 of the patients went suddenly quite before chaos began. Word about what happened to Katherine traveled fast throughout Madame Magnet’s Home for the Mentally Insane and the women were outraged.
“--How dare you let things go this far?!”
“--We want MaMa back.”
“--As head of this home, it is your responsibility to protect us, not harm us!”
“—we’ve gotten worse since MaMa put you in charge of us!”
“—after what you did to Angelique, you have some nerve trying to pull this shit again!”
Everyone was talking at once, it was hard to make out whose voice was rising above the rest. All the while, Pro Ha just sat there patiently with his fingers cross in his lap, the pleasant smile frustratingly in place. I wanted to watch him squirm. I wanted to him shift nervously in his seat as he ran his sweaty palms down the sides of his pants, but he denied me even that.
The shouts died down and the room was quiet for only a moment. Hawkins finally showed some other emotion besides pleasant—which was annoyance—and I grit my teeth in irritation. Standing beside me, Sebastian placed his hand around my shoulders, a comforting gesture, but I brushed him off. I was still mad at him about what happened yesterday and I wasn’t in a forgiving mood this afternoon.
Pro Ha cleared his throat and began to speak. “Yes, it is very upsetting hearing about what happened to our dear Katherine, and you’ll be glad to know that corrective action has already been taken.” He smiled stiffly at the disbelieving snorts going one by one around the room.
“Yea right. The ass probably just got a slap on his wrist and a command not to let his next game become so ‘dramatic,’” I said more to myself than aloud, but Sebastian must have overheard for his hand shot back to my shoulder and I was suddenly pulled into him. I hated for him to touch me right now, but I knew a warning from him when I recognized it. He was telling me to keep my mouth shut, to not get myself noticed more than necessary, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t hard keeping myself in check with my own anger mounting.
“He needs to be put down!” one of the patients to my right declared. I silently agreed with her, Sebastian’s tight grip on my shoulder being the only thing that kept me from agreeing the way I wanted.
“Now, Aubrey, Morgan is not an animal.”
“By damn, he’s not!” she argued right away. “First Angelique and now Katherine. The keepers you set over us treat us like we’re the animals and not once have you come to our defense like you so readily do for that beast! You guys are the monsters! You guys are the freaks!
“We were doing just fine without you. A couple of us even found the courage to walk out from behind these walls because they were able to have a break through with their illness. But since you've arrived, bringing these monsters with you, we haven’t had a chance to focus on our own problems. We’re too busy worrying about what’s going to come at us from behind. You aren’t good for us! When is MaMa coming ho—“
Professor Hawkins snapped his fingers, cutting her off, and Aubrey was suddenly restrained. He snapped again and I watched with horror as they shoved a needle in her neck which caused her to go limp almost immediately. I leaned into Sebastian’s protective arm as Pro Ha walked around the room, purposefully looking directly into the eyes of every patient in the room. His eyes locked with mine and the only thing that stopped me from taking a step back in defense was my keeper’s arm around me.
A third time he snapped his fingers and, one by one, I heard my friends struggle before dropping lifeless to the floor.
“Sebastian,” he called out slow and easy, “I believe Doctor Buchanan is showing signs of hysteria and needs to take a nap for a little while.” He raised an eyebrow, daring my keeper to challenge him. He would only tolerate Sebastian taking my side for a limited number of times before my keeper fell from grace and be stripped from me. We both knew this and I knew that he either had to knock me out, or run like crazy for the exit with me.
I saw determination set in his eyes and panic filled me. I began struggling with earnest even as his grip tightened on me. I wasn’t about to just let him drug me. I stomped at his feet and bit at him until he pushed upward on my jaw, holding my mouth firmly shut.
I twisted and turned until I was finally free and raced towards the exit only to find it locked. I banged on the door, begging for all I was worth that someone open it, but no one answered. I turned back around slowly and a grim-faced Sebastian was suddenly there. He forcefully grabbed me and shoved the needle in my neck before my body went limp and everything went black.
Madame Magnet’s Home for the Mentally Insane
January 2, Saturday 10pm
I woke up to the annoying sound of birds chirping. In some movies, the sound of birds playing, along with a happy whimsical tune, would be refreshing and pleasant, the character slowly rising from sleep, stretching his or her arms above their heads with a content smile. I was feeling neither pleasant nor content at this particular moment.
To my annoyance, the bastard had me strapped down to my bed like I was an animal, like I was a threat. Like some of the people I’d talk to at Nicholas’ facility.
I let out a heavy sigh. I bet Nicholas would get a good laugh out of seeing me like this—his little eager assistant all tied up and helpless just like everyone else.
Looking to my right, I saw Sammy struggling in her bed, making small whimpering noises as her keeper, Suzette, tried to comfort her by playing with Sir Jenkins. Suzette was a nice, very beautiful woman who seemed to demand respect wherever she went—which was probably why only the brave few of the other keepers pick on Sammy—and I couldn’t help imagining her wearing a devilish smile and red leather with a leather crop in her hand. I gave a shiver and looked over my once-peaceful room to see Sebastian the liar rummaging through our fridge. He picked up a bottle of water (I’m assuming it’s water since the bottle looked like it had nothing in it), twisted the cap off, and headed towards me. My mouth was suddenly parched and I licked my dry lips. I hated feeling this empty after the drugs were forced on me.
He looked at me, taking a swig of it as if to show me that there was something actually there. I couldn’t keep the smile from forming on my lips. I guess he still remembered when he had me drinking from the bottle by myself. I didn’t trust him enough to close my eyes around him (foolish of me, I know), so, thinking I could manage it, I drank. Like expected, I didn’t feel anything sliding down my throat. Frustrated, I turned the bottle bottom up and nearly drowned myself. He snatched the bottle from me and yelled at me, asking how I managed to stay alive this long. To this day, I still haven’t told him, but I think he’s figured it out anyway.
He placed the bottle to my lips and I closed my eyes. I drank with relish, feeling the ice-cold substance go down my throat like it was supposed to. When it really was empty, he took the bottle away and I stared up at him. He looked as grim as I felt and I realized that he really doesn’t get satisfaction from my misfortune. He hesitated yesterday; he allowed me to run away to check the door before he drugged me. I can forgive him. I did forgive him and I told him so with a small smile. He smiled back; his shoulders slightly slumped in what looked like relief as he smoothed the hair from my face. It was a moment I had no intention of forgetting.
“I’m going to regret this,” he sighed. “I’m really going to regret this.”
Without even giving me a chance to ask, Sebastian slowly leaned down towards me, an all-too-serious expression on his face with his hands firmly pressed against the mattress on either side of my head. Was he going to kiss me? Dear Lord in heaven, he was going to kiss me. I tried hard to keep the blood from feeling my face, but I must have failed. My cheeks felt hot as he leaned closer still.
Yes, my mind already decided that he was going to kiss me and I realized to my utter shame that I wanted him to. Sammy was in the room and so was Suzette, but they were busy talking and laughing with each other and as Sebastian’s scent finally hit my nose, aftershave and the great outdoors, I forgot about the other two women completely.
I turned my face to him, offering him my lips—a gift I’ve never actually given to another man, but he didn’t take it; he didn’t accept me. Instead of pressing his soft lips against my offered ones, he pressed them against my cheek like a brother would to his sister and I felt tears begin to fill my eyes in humiliation.
He kept his lips gently pressed against my cheek and I began to shiver. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him in question and saw him staring at me with those dark brown eyes of his. I couldn’t tell what emotion they held without fully looking at him so I turned my head his way. I wanted to know what was going on inside his head. I wanted to know what he felt about me.
My action almost caused our lips to touch. They would have if my keeper didn’t suddenly push off my bed and leave the room, muttering something under his breath on his way out
I closed my eyes, suddenly feeling cold and alone, as I ran my tongue over my lips again. I could almost feel him there and I imagined what it would be like if finally allowed me to taste him. It would be heavenly, I bet. He’d be an expert at it and wouldn’t mind my inexperience in the beginning. He’d teach me all there was to know in the art of passion.
I decided then that I didn’t want our first kiss to be with me strapped to a bed either. I would prefer it if I could leave these walls, but—
“Ari…?” I heard Sammy’s voice and looked to her with a smile even while mentally kicking myself. Just because the two women opposite me were talking to themselves why I was busy fantasizing about sucking the face right off of my keeper, doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t notice us sooner or later. I’d eventually apologize to her, but right now, I was still coming back to myself, shaking off the rest of drugs that forced me to sleep.
“It’s going to be ok, Sam. He can’t keep us like this forever,” I tried to sooth her.
She nodded, and then turned her head to look at me. “You really like Sebastian, don’t you, Ari?”
“Of course I like Sebastian. He’s protected the two of us from the others as much as possible since he’s been here. I hold great respect for him; we’re lucky neither of us got Morgan, right?” I laughed. Of course I knew what she really meant by asking if I liked my keeper, but I didn’t want to go into that conversation. Sammy liked him herself, I knew that too, and that’s why I wouldn’t say anything more than necessary.
“Morgan is a bad man,” she agreed, “but I think he likes Kitty.”
What the hell? “That’s just sick! How on earth did you come to that conclusion?”
“Adrianna.” Suzette said my name like it was a warning. Even if I approved of how protective she was of my friend’s feelings, I wouldn’t back down in this instance. Not after that kind of sick comment any way.
“Well he’s always looking at her even when he’s not being a meanie to her. And Suzzy said he asked Ryan if the two of them could switch charges.”
I gave a ‘hmph’ sound and stared above me. That sick ass didn’t have any affectionate feelings towards Katherine. He just wanted to get closer to her—gain instant access—so he could torment her more easily.
“And what did Ryan say?” I wanted to know
I didn’t want to know…
She told me anyway. “Suzzy doesn’t know. She says he’s considering it.”
“Suzette?” I looked askance at her, almost retching when she nodded her head in confirmation.
Sebastian came back a while later, a look of absolute fury masked his face. What on earth could have happened to make him look like that? Since we’ve been placed together a year ago, not once have I seen him look overly angry. I’ve claimed to be frightened by him before, but I think my heart stopped (actually stopped) for a moment.
“Sebastian,” I asked hesitantly and I think I struggled a bit in my restraints, but he didn’t even look at me. All he did was storm over to Suzette and my friend, roughly undid Sammy’s cuffs and spoke in harsh whispers to her keeper. “Sebastian?” I called out again.
“Keep quiet!” he growled at me. “Suzette, I need you to take Sammy out back to where my car is, now. You remember where it is, right?” He nodded when Suzzy confirmed. “Good. Some of the other girls are being set free so you two won’t look too suspicious. Don’t pack anything, don’t stop to talk, don’t look back if you hear a struggle going on back here, and if you don’t see us in a half hour, go to my place. Understand?”
Nodding, Suzette grabbed Sammy by the hand—not forgetting to pick up Sir Jenkins—and dragged her out the room even as she protested, reaching back for me.
Panic began to mount and I started shaking. I wouldn’t ask him again what was happening, but the urge to do so was too strong as I watched him pace back and forth like a trapped animal. “Sebast—“
“You’ve been found!” he snapped, waving his hand once in a cutting motion.
“What do you mean, I’ve been found, Sebastian? Found by whom?”
“****in’ Lucky Charms!”
He finally stopped pacing and came over to undo my restraints, but I wasn’t focused on that. Somehow I knew he wasn’t referring to the boxed cereal with different colored marshmallows and I felt tears prick my widened eyes.
Such a strange case I have, Doc. A man like me coming to a therapist—that would be you by the way—about a problem that involves a little man in a green suit telling to kill people. Of course this is about me.
What are you implying Mr. Micheals?
“Get me outta here, Sebastian…”
Lucky Charms wants you dead.
“Get me the **** out of here!!”
“I’m working on it, sweet.”
“I didn’t want to believe without seeing it with my own eyes,” I heard a familiar voice from the doorway and my heart skipped a beat. “Doctor Adrianna Buchanan has really gone mental. Man, your family hid it well for three—whole—years. Not even your cousin would tell where you disappeared to.”
I slowly looked in the direction of the voice to see my worst fears become reality. There, just on the inside of my door, standing next to Professor Hawkins was Doctor Nicholas Durant with a too-wide-for-his-face grin. He was around my height, looking ordinary while standing beside Pro Ha, with black hair, a perfect set of teeth and green eyes.
Green eyes that had flecks of gold in them.
“You’re eyes aren’t green, Nicholas,” I whispered as Sebastian stepped in front of me to block my view of him. I tried to peek around him, tried to remember what the natural color of my once friend and confidant’s eyes were. I couldn’t remember, but they weren’t green. They weren’t.
“Hello Sebastian,” I heard him say with a hint of anger.
“Maestro,” Sebastian replied with an incline of his head. He grabbed my hand and together we walked carefully towards the exit. It was cramped, but we managed to squeeze our way through the door out into the hall. All the while Sebastian and Nicholas stared each other down. “Run down stairs and to the back of the building, Adrianna,” he said so low I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly, but he said it again. “You’re going to see a wooden door—the only wooden door—leading to the outside. Go directly out the door and stay there. Suzette will immediately come for and take you to Sammy, understand?”
Nicholas laughed. “Things are always so much fun when you’re involved, Sebastian. What game are we going to play this time? Cat and mouse?”
Not waiting to give him confirmation, I turned on my heels and raced to the stairs, Nicholas’s guffaw rising to fill my ears. “Run, little mouse!” he laughed and I did. I ran down the stairs to the back of the building like instructed and rushed out the wooden door.
I looked back only once to see Morgan and a couple of the other keepers following me. That was when arms wrapped around my middle and dragged me to a waiting car. I was forced in and fell right into Sammy’s waiting arms.
Suzette got into the front seat, shifted gears and sped us off to only God-knows-where.
“Suzette, we have to go back!”
We left Sebastian. We left Katherine and Darlene to that monster. We had to go back. We had to!
“Did you hear what I said? Suzette, we—“
“Sebastian’s a big boy, Adrianna, he’ll be fine.”
“But what about everyone else?”
There was silence in the car for a moment, then I heard the click of a door unlocking. “If you really feel like going back, then the door’s open. Jump out right now and go get yourself killed. Or worse.”
I wondered what could be worse than death and she looked at me in the rear view mirror. Our eyes connected and held only for a moment before I decided her gaze was too much. I was the first to look away, ashamed of my cowardice. No, I wouldn’t jump out of a moving vehicle; no, I wouldn’t race back just so I could be captured and brought before the green-eyed freak. I huddled closer to Sammy and remained silent for the rest of the way to our destination.
January 3, Sunday 9am
I hate the inactivity, but what can someone like me do in a situation like this? We arrived at Sebastian’s apartment four hours ago and Suzette told us to rest, but I won’t let sleep pull at me just yet. Not until I see my keeper and protector walk through the door I kept my eyes glued on. I needed to know he was safe and sound; I needed some confusing questions answered.
The thought of him being tormented by that monster turned my stomach inside out. Don’t look in his eyes, Sebastian, I said to myself as if my thoughts would reach him in some way.
I heard locks clicking on the outside of the door and tensed, my arms wrapped tight around myself. The door knob slowly turned and, as I prayed, in walked Sebastian Delmonte in all his male glory. Filled with happiness, I let out a joyful cry and rushed over to him, throwing kisses over his face. He’s here. He’s really here with me again.
“Sebastian, Sebastian, my Sebastian,” I cried, tears flowing down my face. I cupped his face in my hands, staring through blurry tears at his dark brown eyes that stared back at me in bafflement.
I laughed to myself, wondering what I looked like to him. Like a big fat mess more than likely. If I were him, I’d push me away in disgust. I was making a fool of myself, I knew, even as I clung to him for dear life. Sebastian doesn’t really feel anything for me beside me being his obligation, but still. He was here, he was safe, and I was immensely grateful, suddenly tired.
“It’s ok, Adrianna, you’re safe now,” he told me which only succeed in making me cry harder. I wasn’t worried about myself for the past four hours I’ve been here and I tried to tell him so, but my voice sounded garbled and I made no sense even to my own ears. I felt my face collapse, my mouth making a serious curve downward, my eyes shutting tightly, my brows furrowing together. We all had our version of the ‘ugly cry,’ and I couldn’t believe I was letting someone I’ve fantasized about see mine.
If he pushed me away, I swear I was going to go throw myself in front of a moving vehicle. Even as I prepared myself for another rejection from him, I felt him pick me up to carry me over to the couch where he cradled me in his arms, whispering soothing words in my ear.
I don’t know what time it was when I finally calmed down, but when I looked up to thank the man who held me, I found him sleeping soundly. His head was tilted down towards me, his white hair falling like a curtain over his face. Could a man be more handsome? I wondered.
With him asleep I felt it was ok to explore him a bit. I allowed my hand to trace over the curve of his lips, my eyes following my movements. So soft, so fascinating on this man. My fingertips moved gently over his closed eyelids that hid the most hypnotizing brown eyes as I was distracted by the faint shadow his eyelashes displayed on his cheeks. As if on its own accord, my fingers next went to run down the strong line of his jaw, skimming passed his chin, down his throat, and finally landing on the spot over his heart. I nuzzled my face against his neck and sighed in content.
His arms suddenly tensed around me and I stilled, fighting the urge to run away in horror. I slowly looked up, my face flushed red, and saw him staring at me with curious eyes. Goodness, in all my years of therapy, I’ve never felt like asking a person “how does that make you feel” more than this moment.
Instead of asking that, I laid my head to rest back in the crook of his neck and asked what happened at the Madame’s after we left.
“I had a little chat with Maestro,” was all he replied.
“And Maestro would be?”
I was silent, thinking for a moment. “This Maestro, Dorian Micheals, or whatever his real name is, possessed Nicholas?”
“Possessed,” Sebastian repeated, testing the word on his tongue and apparently finding it distasteful. “Yes, I guess Nicholas’s body was possessed.
“And Dorian Micheals is also possessed by—“
“At the time he met you, yes, Dorian was possessed or he never would have been so cruel to you.”
Something suddenly clicked inside my head and I jumped up from my place on Sebastian’s lap, my content state painfully fading away. How does he know? How does he know anything about what happened 3 years ago? I wrapped my arms around myself and started pacing and all the while, my keeper’s eyes followed me, taking in my sudden realization and mounting hysteria with a calm indifference.
“He sent you!” I hissed at him after a while.
“He told me about you, yes.”
“He sent you!” I repeated again, my voice sounding high-pitched and hysteric even to my own ears. “You sick little freak. You enjoyed seeing me helpless, didn’t you? You told him about me, didn’t you?” I became agitated and my paces quickened. “I bet you two had a good laugh after Pro Ha molested me.” My fists clenched tight, I stopped pacing, and stared bullets through his skull. He was not my friend. He was not my protector. He was…
I don’t know what he was, but I knew that I suddenly felt tired and cold and alone. I knew that I didn’t want be here if he was here. Without another word to the lying bastard, I marched to the door, threw it open, and walked out. Suzette wouldn’t let him do anything to Sammy, so as far as I was concerned, I was on my own from now on.
I wondered around aimlessly for what felt like hours and I’ve never been more scared of the world in my life. I didn’t know the area; I was afraid to close my eyes for a second even though I knew it would help a bit with my situation. I looked around and my eyes showed me nothing but a disgustingly safe world. It looked better, I’ll admit, but it was false. Mostly everything I saw was a lie and I hated it.
It was too dangerous out here for someone like me and I mentally kicked myself, panic rising again. I haven’t gotten myself killed so far, but that doesn’t mean the possibility won’t come about sooner or later.
I stopped walking and finally allowed myself to close my eyes against the disgust of this false, safe world of mine and felt people rushing and bumping into me. I heard cars honking and people shouting, and wondered where on earth I was. Locked behind the comforting walls of Madame Magnet’s home, I never thought there was a possibility that I’d be walking around on the outside with my situation the way it was, but I never thought that Lucky Charms, Maestro, would come for me again either and look where I am now.
People were no longer shoving against me and I stayed were I was, lost in my thoughts, my eyes still closed. Cars were still honking—the annoying sound grew loud and angry—people were still shouting and their words hit me at once.
“Get outta the street!”
“What are ya, a freakin, lunatic?!”
“Come on lady, move it!”
They were talking about me, weren’t they? They had to be. Feeling like an idiot I opened my eyes, the angry sounds stopping immediately. I took a hesitant step forward, then another, followed by another, putting my arms out before me as if I could feel what was really there.
I couldn’t. I couldn’t feel anything, but my steps became more sure and confident as if they were familiar with this world and I smiled.
I closed my eyes again and felt someone holding my hand, dragging off some place which caused me to struggle in earnest. The strong grip on my hand tightened painfully and I let out a small cry.
“Sir?” I called out only to be replied with silence. “Sir, please let me go.” More silence. “You have to let me go!” I cried, “You have to let me go! You have t—“
“Calm down, Adrianna, you’re going to get yourself killed,” a voice that was Sebastian’s own said to me in what sounded like a calm indifference. “I didn’t waste 3 years of my life on you just so you can die for being an idiot.”
“Not you! I don’t want to talk to you! Let me go, Sebastian!” I trembled, shaking my head violently back and forth, opening my eyes wide as I felt tears start falling. And just like that, he was gone. He was gone and there was no one holding my hand. There was no one leading me to safety.
There was a buzzing in my ear and I wanted to smack whatever the offending creature was away, but my arms stayed calmly to my sides. I’m getting worse, I thought before I suddenly went blind.
A soft pair of lips touched mine and I smelled the great outdoors, felt Sebastian’s large palm over my eyes, blocking them from seeing anything. I immediately stilled, my body relaxed. I didn’t offer for him to kiss me. It definitely wasn’t his right, but slowly, I felt myself calming and going back to normal.
He removed his hand from my eyes, cupping my cheek, and I stared at him, my eyes relearning his face.
“Can you see me now?” he asked, brown eyes serious.
“Yes, I can see you.”
“Are you ready to come back to my apartment?”
I shook my head. “No. I don’t trust you anymore.”
“And why is that? Because I kept you alive for the past three years when you could’ve already been dead and not a damned soul would’ve cared?”
“Because you’re a liar and I hate you.”
He scoffed at that. “I don’t lie, I omit.”
“That’s the same thing!”
“No, it’s not. I never told you I would be your friend. I told you I would protect you and I have been regardless of the fact that I just so happen to know the person that did this to you. I warn you only once. Do not run from me, Adrianna. Don’t annoy me; I’ll only tolerate it for so long before I give up on you.”
“What are you, Sebastian?”
“Last time I checked, I was a man.”
I pursed my lips at him, not stating the obvious. “Fine then, who are you?”
“My driver’s license says Sebastian Delmonte. Wanna see?” he asked with a smile, eyebrow raised. So we were going back to being playful? We were going back to being protector and charge like nothing happened?
“Come on,” he said, taking my hand and starting to walk.
“I’m not going back to your apartment yet,” I told him. Yes, I was beyond relieved to see him again, but that doesn’t mean I wanted to really go anywhere with him. I trusted him to protect me and—
I didn’t waste 3 years of my life on you just so you can die for being an idiot.
He gave a ‘hmph’ sound, lifting his chin a notch. “I wasn’t taking you back there anyway.”
“No. I’m buying you a new look first.”
“What’s wrong with my look?” I said in offense. I liked how I looked. It was comfortable and familiar to me. My hair was a long sandy blonde that swept down to the middle of my back and if he told me I had to cut it, I was going to cry.
“I freakin’ hate you,” I grumbled, trying to rub the red lipstick from my mouth. It wouldn’t come off and I glared at the man responsible for this. Sebastian, my protector, had my hair dyed a dark shade of brown to match my eyes with only a streak or two of my beautiful sandy brown hair showing. My eyes lids felt heavy—covered in fake lashes and a truck load of eye shadow— and my lips didn’t feel like mine at all—stained with annoyingly long-lasting red lipstick that no amount of licking or chewing would take off.
“It doesn’t look like me,” I said, looking down my body to see a long-sleeved shirt that was two sizes too small for my body my breasts looked like they were going to spill out if I walked the wrong way. The pants weren’t any better. They were tight too and I felt like my thighs were suffocating. I couldn’t walk right without trying to either pull them up or tug them back down in order to fit right.
“You look like you’re trying to pull out a serious wedgie,” Sebastian commented after 15 minutes of watching me make a failed attempt to walk causing a few people to give us nervous glances.
“I look like a hooker,” I hissed at him again in agitation.
He sighed. “You were supposed to look the part of a seductress.”
“Well, Adrianna Buchanan isn’t a seductress.”
He scoffed at that. “Who are you tellin’?” he muttered in agreement and I turned to him with a sharp look before nearly tripping in these ridiculously high-heeled shoes he forced me to wear. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pair of shoes with a nice size heel as much as the next lady, but this was just ridiculous!
“Don’t look so offended, sweet. I’m only agreeing with you. Adrianna Buchanan isn’t a seductress, but Amber Berkheart is.”
“And that would be?” I asked with a frown.
“You until we leave New York—would you walk straight?” he asked, the annoyed look in his eyes shooting my way.
“Don’t you get annoyed with me! You’re not the one dressed like a freakin—“
“—expensive call girl! Why don’t you try walking in these—“
“—you’re not an expensive call girl—“
“—lady killing-freakin-shoes and see how you like—“
“—of course of all the things that could have killed you, the shoes would—“
“—don’t you patronize me! Are you calling me cheap?”
“Stop,” he told me, grabbing hold of my arms and looking me dead in the eye. “Adrianna, sweet, this is only temporary. I know you like wearing old lady clothes—I looked you up before I decided to help you. You can go back to being an old stiff when we get to where we’re going.”
I pursed my lips at him. I don’t wear granny clothes; I just don’t feel it necessary to put my assets on display for the entire world to see. That’s what they have models and mannequins for and I am neither one.
He took my hand and we started walking again. I looked down as he locked our fingers together and absentmindedly rubbed his thumb along my own. Sebastian told me a while ago that he didn’t want to be my friend—that’s how I took what he said anyway—and I wondered why not? Besides the fact that my eyes make things a little crazy for me, there was nothing wrong with me.
I glanced at him with a frowned, my insecurity slowly rising. He was a handsome man and I was what? An “old stiff” who needed to be dolled up in hooker clothes in order to be comfortably seen with in public?
“Your mood’s dipped again,” he commented, his hand giving mine a gentle squeeze. He gave me a curious look and I felt heat fill my cheeks. “You haven’t even asked me why I decided to help you.”
“Not sure if I really care right now.”
“Oh come one, don’t be boring. It’ll make you feel better.”
Dammit. “Why, Sebastian? Why did such a yumlicious man like you decide to help an “old stiff” like me?”
“Yumlicious?” he repeated, amusement shining bright in his eyes.
“Just tell me.”
“’Cause you have a pretty face?”
I stopped and looked at him. “So, what, if I were a 70-year-old bag of sags, you’d leave me for dead?”
“No. Old people are cute.”
I scoffed at that, shaking my head. “Cute is a word that should never come out of your mouth.”
“Why is that?”
“Because,” I said, looking at him out the corner of my eye, my chin rising up a notch. “Words like that make you seem normal.”
He laughed and I gave him a wide smile as we walked. I didn’t know where he was taking me—back to his apartment more than likely—but I didn’t really care. I was free from Professor Hawkins, I was free from the little leeches that was slowly sucking the life out of me. I was just free.
My good mood waned a bit at the thought of the friends I’ve made in the past three years. They were stuck there, trapped in a place that used to be a safe haven for us. Even if it was a foolish and childish thing to do, I hoped the act of us running away didn’t make things worse on the other girls. We weren’t criminals; we weren’t a danger to anyone else but ourselves.
I closed my eyes and let the man beside me lead me. The clothes were still making me feel uncomfortable and the cold air blowing against my body hit me so suddenly it was enough to make me want to open my eyes again.
“So, where are we fleeing New York to?” I asked, trying to block out everything else from my mind. I wasn’t going to ask Sebastian to take me back to Madame Magnet’s to see if everyone was well and I didn’t want to focus on my own cowardice.
“It’s a secret.”
I looked at him then. “You’re really not going to tell me where we’re going?”
“No,” was all he said in reply and glared at him. “Sebastian—“
“You don’t need to know until we get there. You’re a very weak person both mentally and physically. If I fail you causing you to be taken and tormented, I don’t want you blabbering about—“
“Adrianna,” he said my name with a sigh, like you would to a child, and I clenched my fist tight. He was right. I don’t like pain and I would spill secrets to save my own life given the chance.
Gawd, I hated being a coward. I didn’t like the thought of being this way forever, abandoning my friends to save my own skin. I found it sickening and I was determined to change.
Without any further arguments from me, we walked back in silence to his apartment to prepare for the adventure ahead.
We arrived back at Sebastian’s apartment and as soon as I walked in after him, something small and feminine slammed into me. My body was forced backwards against the door frame and my head followed soon after. Pain shot through me as I felt my best friend’s arms wrap around me. She was trembling, her petite body jerking in small spasms.
I gave myself a mental kick before wrapping Sammy in my arms. “Were you hurt?” I asked her. She shook her head. “And Sir Jenkins?” She shook her head again.
“Where did you go?” she asked me, her voice low and trembling. “I woke up and you weren’t there. Where did you go? Aren’t we friends?”
“Of course we are!”
“You left me!”
“Yoe head shooting up to look cook of absolute fury as tears
“Gawd, Sammy, I’m sorry.”
What else was I supposed to say? Technically, I did abandon her even though I believed Suzette would take good care of her as she has been this past year at the Madame’s.
“Gawd, Sammy. It won’t happen again.”
“Promi—“ She paused and I looked down to see a confused expression on her face. Her head tilted to the side and she looked as if she didn’t even recognize me. I was more hurt by the action than I wanted to admit, but guess I deserved such a look from her. “Who the hell are you?” she shouted in my face.
“Uh. Adriana Buchanan.” I replied just as Sebastian returned from the back room with Suzette. “Amber Burkheart, the lonely runaway,” he said with a grin and a wink.
I rolled my eyes at him. That’s right; I had almost forgotten about my new makeover. I chewed on my lips again to make another failed attempt at gettng the stain out, walked over to the mirror in the living room and smiled in triumph. Some of it was gone at least.
Looking back over to Sammy, I saw her sitting on the couch staring at me like I’d grown a second head. I knew I looked as bad as I thought. It’s not me. I’m not mannequin material. If I was back at home wearing something like this, Joey would call me some kind of mythical creature, Katherine would take one look at me and say I looked like a whore, Darlene would suggest I was identical to her in another lifetime before I got pregnant with some poor fellow’s child and lost my beauty, Aubrey would laugh and give me a fist bump.
And Sammy, like she is now, would stare at me like she didn’t even know who I was.
I’m taking this off.
“Why?” a deep feminine asked. I looked in the mirror at Suzette who had her hip cocked to the side, her fingers drumming a tune against it. She looked at me the way a man looks at a woman and I’ll never admit to myself or anyone else how my body responded to the attention. My back arched, my blonde hair fell like a halo around my face, my fake-lashed lids closed a bit over my brown eyes.
Three years is a long time being away from wanted attention. Wanted being the key word there.
Has she always looked at me like that? She’s like Sebastian; she has no constant which is both fascinating and frightening. One minute she’s tough as nails, the next she’s sex in red heels. Whatever it was she was throwing my way, I was liking it.
“Why what?” I asked, my eyes connected with hers in the mirror.
“You’re thinking about taking it off. Why?”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“It’s all over your face.”
“That’s why I’m trying to take it off.”
A corner of her full lips twitched. “I’m not gonna laugh at that,” she told me even as her eyes shone brightly with amusement. I was a tad bit disappointed at the fact, but what can you do?
Nothing. So I walked back over to Sammy sitting with Sir Jenkins on the couch and waited for Sebastian to finish getting things together.
I wondered where we were fleeing New York to. 50 states and who knows how many cities and streets. I was going to wear myself out worrying about all this. I considered asking Suzette, but she might turn out like Sebastian the Liar and dress me down again. I have no delusions about myself. I know I’m a coward, but he didn’t have to say it out loud. The truth hurts; he should’ve continued lying to me.
“You look pretty, Ari,” Sammy whispered and I relaxed even more in my seat.
“Thank you,” I replied with a smile and a squeeze against her hand. “I want to, too!” she shouted in my ear. “I wanna look pretty too! Suzette! Make me pretty!”
She’s already pretty, I wanted to say. Unlike me who needed to be dressed up in expensive call-girl clothes to be considered “pretty.”
I sat there and watched as Suzette brushed, smoothed and painted poison on my best friends face. Her hand was steady, unlike the stylist attending to my face who only seemed to have eyes for the demon standing behind me.
Minutes tick by and the demon himself walks out from the back room wearing the costume of an attractive elderly gentleman in his mid-50s, wearing a poet’s hat, a long-sleeve dark blue button up with a grey vest on top and black pants. He had a well-groomed silver beard glued to his face although it looked natural. His eyes, that made me think of a freshly polished wooden table, were adorned with wrinkly laugh lines in the corners. He looked kind, and disarming. In this moment, if he opened his arms to me I wouldn’t waste a moment’s hesitation running into them. I had half a mind to do it anyway even without him taking the initiative, but a quick glance in Sammy’s direction stopped me short. She was looking at me through the mirror, her eyes going serious for her too-innocent personality, as Suzette fluffed her hair around her face. I blushed and looked away first, waiting for this day to be over and done with.
I sighed. If the first step to getting over a problem was admittance, then I’m admitting my best friend and I lust after the same guy… if Sammy even knows what the word “lust” is.
I pursed my lips in agitation and glared at our object of desire as he walked past me without a care in the world. I know he can feel my eyes on him. He can always feel it when I’m looking at him, and he usually looks back, but this time he doesn’t even acknowledge me until he reaches the door, swings it open, and looks back at the three of us.
“So, my lovely ladies, are we ready?”
“As ready as we’ll ever be,” I muttered.
“Considering,” Suzette answered.
“Suzzy, who is that man?”
“And we’re going on a plane?”
“It’s only the quickest way,” she shrugged in reply.
“You can’t go on a plane without a suitcase! That’s suspicious!”
The only man in the room made an impatient sound that caused us to give him curious looks. He was scratching at his poet’s hat with one hand, gripping the handle of the doorknob with the other, and tapping his foot. “We don’t have time for this Samuel.”
“But you have time to give yourself a bad make-over? You’re not even as pretty as Ari.”
His jaw dropped, I shook with laughter, and Suzette made a choking sound before announcing that she wasn’t going to laugh at the comment even though she already was.
“Are we leaving or not?”
“We’re leaving,” I confirmed, standing and holding my hand out to my best friend who, in turn, seemed to unconsciously accept it. “Right?” I asked, locking our fingers together.
She nodded, and together we walked past Sebastian and down the stairs to the car. “Where we going, anyway?” Sammy called over her shoulder.
“Michigan,” Suzette replied.
“What’s in Michigan?” I asked.
“None of your damn business,” was the only reply I received. I looked askance at Suzette, hoping she’d come to my defense like she so readily does with Sammy, but she stared off to the right and started whistling a tune I’d soon learn to be annoyed by.
We ended up going to a nice airport out in New Jersey which wasn’t important enough to remember where Sebastian proceeded to check us in at the convenience of a kiosk with a prepaid debit card he purchased at a CVS on the way. I wonder how we were going to get anywhere without IDs, but Sebastian gave me a look that shut me up before I even considered opening my mouth, telling me “I’ll handle it.”
There was no reason for him to give me such a look when words are just fine. Considering how he’s been treating me lately, maybe I didn’t want to hear his words either.
I sighed and looked around the place as we started walking to the next destination. The place was crowded but big surprise there. What else is new about an airport. You bump into people. They either politely say excuse me and keep on going or they give you death glares and you hope you survive to make another step. In my case, neither happened. With each step I took, the people around me were giving me wide berth. It seemed they were going out of their way—huddling more around each other rather than walking in open space—to avoid me. None of them were even looking at me; no polite apologies, no rude death glares. Nothing. Not even a quick glance was shot in my direct—
I stopped abruptly, my head whipping to the right, my hand suddenly letting go of Sammy’s. There was someone looking at me. Directly at me! I stared at him and he stared directly back. A quick glance behind me told me he wasn’t looking at anyone else and I became curious. Was he really there? Could anyone else see him or was it just me?
I waved my hand at him, jumping back in shock when he nodded his head in acknowledgement, and that kick-started another round of questions in my head.
Why do my eyes recognize him?
Is he like me?
Did Maestro somehow get to him too?
Has he seen Dorian Micheals?
Does he know him?
Why is he still staring at me?
I was still staring at him, too, but that didn’t stop me from starting to feel self-conscious. I sniffed, rubbing at my nose, hoping I didn’t have a bugger in it as he stood and took cautious steps towards me. I looked down and noticed my own legs gravitating closer to him. All the while, people scurried to make way for the both of us. I wondered if I were to close my eyes right now, would I actually feel people bumping into me and calling me uncalled for names.
We stopped walking ten (maybe seven) feet from each other. Everyone else in my peripheral vision seemed stop and turn their heads our direction as my eyes continued to stay locked on his. His lips moved as if he was talking to me, but no sound came out. I took another step forward, struggling to hear.
His lips continued moving and I frowned, my head cocking to the side, my hand rising on its own to smooth down my hair before I caught myself. It was an unconscious gesture I don’t make often; the only people that have even seen it were my cousins and Nicholas.
Why are you here?
I don’t know.
You don’t know why you’re here?
You’re lying to me.
Why would I do that?
Where are you headed?
I don’t know.
You don’t know where you’re headed?
You’re lying to me again.
Are you here by yourself?
Do you want me to leave?
He smiled at me then in that too-wide-for-his-face smile that would have had me running from the room screaming my head off. This time, for some reason, I was just angry. We weren’t really talking. There weren’t any words coming out of my mouth, no sounds vibrating against my throat.
I stared bullets at him. “Get the hell out of my head.” My mind is too precious a thing to me for me to allow anyone to go screwing around in again. First Dorian (Maestro), then Hawkins, and now this man I’ve never met. This game could get tired very easily and very quickly. “Stay—the hell—out of my head.” I said again, softly this time. The voice escaping my mouth didn’t sound like me. The words were spoken more like a low purr than anything else.
“Or you’ll what?” he mouthed.
My fists balled tight, my nails dug graves in my palms. If I wanted to I could cause him harm, cause him some serious bodily damage. So I took another step forward thinking that was exactly what I was going to do.
If I wanted Airport Security on me.
Do you want me to leave?
His obsidian eyes shone bright as if right under the sun’s gaze. His body shook, trembling with suppressed laughter at my expense and I was offended.
“Yes!” I said which came out more like a hiss. I smacked my lips in distaste. What the hell was going on with me?
The strange man smiled at me again. It was a small and endearing smile this time that took away most—if not all—of my anger. I deflated, taking a look around and noticing the people in the airport that were once trying to avoid us were now taking hesitant steps towards us; crowding around us but not between us. More people were stealing peeks and glance at us. I wondered what they were doing, what my eyes were showing me, until one of them brushed a forceful hand down the wool sleeve my arm hid under and I felt violence. I made a loud hissing sound that I never heard coming out of me before and scrambled forward into the arms of a man I was beginning to hate.
One of them had touched me. One of them had actually touched me when my eyes were open and it wasn’t even a Friday—the only day my eyes allowed me to see what was really there. The circle the crowd of people made for us was getting smaller by the second and I wrapped my arms even tighter around the man in front of me. The wave of violence I felt earlier hit against me again, the hand that brushed my arm now reaching out and actually grabbing ahold of the hood of my jacket.
It yanked, pulling me backwards away from my new companion. I cried out, wondering why I was the only one struggling to hold on.
“Shall I save you?” the man asked softly, his lips by my ear, his voice like a dark hug around me. I don’t know what I was shocked by more. The fact that he spoke and I actually heard him outside of my head, or that I was so calmed by his voice that I was foolish enough to let go. It could have been both; I didn’t like either.
Want to come with me?
“I mean!” Dammit, he tricked me. I’m the one that’s supposed to be playing the game with people’s minds, so why is it the other way around so suddenly? Not that the past three years can be considered as suddenly, but it all happened before I could even stop it. How was I supposed to know the result of allowing clients to come to my office would end up like this? “You know what I mean! Make everything go back to the way it was. I don’t like this!”
“Oh? So you do want me to save you.”
Come with me.
“No! I mean! Dammit… dammit!”
I was no longer holding on to the man I was beginning to hate—the man I now hated—and the violent wave was finally able to fully grab me, carry me off to only God knows where. I was yanked, pushed and pulled, and slammed against slammed back against a wall. My head was the next thing to hit the wall. I saw stars flashing in and out of my vision. The only thing keeping me from falling down is the violent fist clenched at the collar of my coat.
“No, the ****, what?” I hear a voice that was Sebastian’s say in my ear. It was beyond impossible to make myself small when he’s so close and threatening. “No, you don’t want me to save you? No, you don’t want to leave New York and be at the mercy of that green-eyed freak? No what, Adrianna?”
Words failed me.
“Open your ****in’ mouth.”
I did. That’s all I did. Like a fish out of water I stood there on shaking legs, being held captive by a wave of violence, opening and closing my mouth with no words forming like the act itself would save me. He told me to open my mouth. I opened my mouth. I gave a short burst of laughter. Perhaps he should tell me to speak the next time he commanded me to do something.
“Speak!” he demanded.
And there it is…
Why is he so mad anyway? How did I even miss him coming my way? Even if my eyes were open on a day other than Friday, they still recognized Sebastian as someone “safe.” Meaning I would have noticed him anywhere. If I wasn’t distracted by someone who was supposed to ignore me (but somehow didn’t), I wouldn’t be put in this situation with Sebastian’s fury. Again.
“I’m not talking to you anymore,” I frowned.
He was able to get inside my head, too, a feat that, so far, only green-eyed freaks should have been able to do.
I nearly had an outer body experience when Sebastian was suddenly in my face, his breath blowing hot kisses against my skin. “You better be ****ing talking to me, Adrianna.”
“No, I, uh, wasn’t… I wasn’t talking about you, Sebastian.”
“I told you,” he went on as if I hadn’t even spoken, hadn’t even tried to explain myself. “I told you not to run from me. Not to annoy me.”
“But the man—“
“You know what I also told you? Not to draw attention to yourself. You’ve somehow managed to do the opposite of every last one of them in less than a half-hour’s time. You must be actually trying to piss me off.
“Tell me no again, and I’ll stop,” he says, his hands capturing my face within their grasp, his eyes going soft. “That’s all it takes,” he whispers, his thumb brushing across my bottom lip. My tongue swipes out in response. “Just one ****ing word, Adrianna, and I’m gone. You won’t ever have to see me again.”
That’s not what I want…
“N…” I choke out. His eyes widen in shock, his jaw went slack. “Don’t go, ok? I, uh. Just don’t go.”
The smile he gave me was blinding before he cleared his throat and spoke again. “You were hugging a pillar when I came to get you, why?”
Wait a minute. “I was hugging what?” He turned my head and pointed half grey half white pillars a couple of feet away from the escalators. “You let go of Sammy’s hand a while ago. When I came looking for you, I saw you standing there looking at the pillar. I went to grab you, you hissed, hit at me, and ran to hug that damned thing.” He made a tching sound of distaste in its direction and I was taken out of the conversation for a moment. Who knew a man like Sebastian could have a cute little nuance like that. “I told you to let it go and you told me no. I told you we had to get out of here, and yet again, you told me no. Explain yourself.”
“I wasn’t hugging a pillar,” I began to tell him. “At least to me he wasn’t a pillar.”
“What did he look like. Did you recognize him from the Madame’s?”
“No, he wasn’t one of MaMa’s or I wouldn’t be hugging him to get away from you.” He cut me a look and I smiled. “I don’t know what he looks like; I only remember that his eyes were very mesmerizingly obsidian. It was the hardest thing to do to tell him no when he asked me to go with him.”
Sebastian stopped me there. “He asked you to go with him? Where?”
“I don’t know.” Not that I really cared at the time either.
“Are you lying to me?”
“Why would I do that?” Talk about déjà vu. “That’s exactly what he said to me when I told him I didn’t know where we were going.” Sharp eyes cut me again. “Yes, I told him I didn’t know where we were going.”
“And he actually believed you?”
“Don’t look so shocked.”
“He must have been a figment of your imagination.”
“He was not!”
“Is he still there?”
“No, he left when you came and dragged me away.”
“Of course he did,” he said with a dramatic roll of his eyes. “Well, precious, we’ve lost time because of you. Time that I could’ve amused myself with by sending Hawkins’ pet jackasses on a wild goose chase. I still might depending on how the next couple of minutes go. And Adrianna.”
“You don’t have to make up people to impress me. I’ll stop being so hard on you once we land, ok.”
Unbelievable. There’s just no arguing with this guy. There’s not even a reason for me to defend myself to this person. My mind wasn’t playing tricks with me, but if it was, it would definitely explain why the man with the black eyes was able to get inside my head. My head had created him.
Giving Sebastian my best eat-shit-and-die glare, I pivoted on my heels and began walking away towards Sammy and Suzette—whatever direction I think they went in—only stopping when he ruined my moment by taking a firm hold of my elbow. He tsked at me, turned me the opposite direction, and pointed straight at the blue-eyed devil himself who was surrounded by four of his “jackass pets.” Morgan was one of them. I wondered how they found us so quickly as the man behind me wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me back into the crowd. I felt his bearded lips curve upward against my temple. It tickled for a moment.
“Just act normal and walk,” he said against my ear. “Adrianna isn’t a seducer, remember? You’re…”
And he was the cradle robbing old man. Which then not only made me a seducer, but a trophy and a gold digging mannequin.
Don’t walk so stiff, he told me. Put some sway in your hips. Exaggerate. You look like you have a wedgie but too embarrassed to pull it out. Perhaps I should do it for you?
He wouldn’t dare! I inhaled sharply and walked faster as I spotted the other two females and stuffed companion of our group. I’m not sure, and no longer care, if I was walking the way he wanted me to, but I suddenly felt liquid and sexy as a couple of men to my left laughed and looked my way. Their eyes held an expression of repressed wanting as I passed them by. I was attention starved, only given a taste of it at Sebastian’s apartment with Suzette. My paces slowed, the swinging in my hips becoming more exaggerated as instructed. My eyelids hooded half way over my eyes. My frustratingly red stained lips curved upward on one side and I looked back at my new friends with a desire-starved look of my own.
Either they were safe and that’s why they were looking at me, or I was so attention starved that I unconsciously forced my mind to show them to me. Later I would wonder if I could force my mind to show me everything that was true without it being a Friday, but for right now, the men were going to talk to me. They were going to walk right up to me, flirt with me and maybe even whisper in my ear—
“I think I’ve created a monster.”
Ok. That’s not what I wanted to hear.
My paces slow to a stop and I look at my object of desire out the corner of my eye. He was looking strangely back at me, his hand, heavy and larger than mine, working its way from my shoulder down to the small of my back and lower still before for I could stop it. I made a small sound in the back of my throat and tensed.
“Whatever you’re throwing off right now, Adrianna, contain it. Keep walking.” He urges me, emphasizing his point with a firm pat against my bottom. I continued walking and he continued to speak softly to me. He continued to have his body pressed to mine without either of us tripping over mixed feet. “The point of this, sweet, of giving you a different personality, was that you wouldn’t draw so much attention to yourself.”
But I’m starved for it…
“Not to draw male attention to you when you have five of that particular species seeking to cause you harm.”
“Six,” I whisper so low I didn’t think he heard me, but he paused. I looked back to see danger and anticipation in his eyes. He didn’t agree with me. He didn’t disagree with me either and that frightened me a tad bit more than the former.
He gave his version of urging me on again and I walked dutifully to my best friend sitting at a round table, chatting away happily with Suzette and someone I didn’t recognize. The stranger bent over to Sammy, showing off a dazzling set of pearly whites, and took out a magic wand from behind his back. She laughed and clapped while holding Sir Jenkins tight at her chest. When MaMa was talking care of us at the home we used to do magic tricks all the time. It was refreshing to see Sammy’s face light up with real joy for the first time in a while.
The man stuck out his finger in a wait-right-here gesture and turned around, clearly having a hard time untwisting the cap on his wand and pulling out the tied-together string of multi-colored handkerchiefs. He covered the tip with palm of his hand, turned back around, and made a big show of having Sammy pull the string out. It just kept going and going and going. With each color she uncovered from the black wand, her smile grew even more radiant. If that was even possible. Once again, he gave her the wait-right-there gesture, turned around, got a red carnation out of his pocket and stuck in the tip of the wand. Covering it with his palm of his hand, he faced Sammy.
“What else do I have in my magic wand for the beautiful lady?” the gentleman laughed. “Something red. Something almost—“he uncovered the rose and tapped her nose with it, “—as pretty as you.”
“Well it’s not a strawberry,” she beamed, taking the rose in her hand and smelling it. “But this is even better.” She then pressed a kiss to it before handing it back to him. The man had no intention of taking it back. Instead he blushed, bowed over her hand and placing a gentle kiss to it, and turned to walk away with a wave.
“Looks like I’m not the only one drawing male attention,” I say to Sebastian. “Are you planning on having a grope fest with her bottom too? I’m telling Suzette.”
“No need for that,” he snickered. “We’re leaving. And if you’ll look to your right, you’ll find your dear Professor Hawkins chasing after a scared little blonde-haired girl and an older looking lady shouting expletives at them.”
“You’re amused by this aren’t you.”
The four of us—five if you include Sir Jenkins—began to finish the rest of airport procedure for the next couple of hours. There was a lot of waiting on top of waiting on top of yet some more waiting and I was starting to get anxious. The wild goose chase Sebastian was sending Pro Ha and the others on was bound to get old—pretty quickly depending on how frustrated they were.
We were getting close to the place where we had to take off our shoes and coats and walk through the scanner. Whether they were getting frustrated or not, once we passed beyond that point, they wouldn’t be able to catch us. It would be like one needle in a 15 different haystacks. It still around the New Year and people were either trying to get home, going on vacation or business trips. I’m surprised Sebastian managed to find us one ticket, let alone four.
Our flight to Michigan was leaving in an hour and we were scheduled to touch the ground sometime around nightfall, Sebastian said. Not that I really care what time we get there as long as I can get as far away as possible from the green-eyed freak—Dorian Micheals, Nicholas, Lucky Charms, Maestro, whatever you want to call him—then I’m happy. Now that I think about it, though, isn’t some place like Texas or, I don’t know, another continent entirely more suitable?
I sighed and looked around. I’ve been doing a lot of sighing lately, which, again, isn’t like me. I scanned my surroundings from the group of people who carried excited children with them, to the solo passengers who just want to sit down and rest for a while. To my right someone was frowning in my direction. It wasn’t the guy I met earlier (even if it was, I was still planning to ignore him), and it wasn’t one of Pro Ha’s pets (not that I could tell from just a glance anyway), so I shrugged it off and proceeded to place my belongings in the bin to be scanned. People are crazy, but then again, who’s not these days.
The airplane ride bumpy due to strong winds and Sammy’s nails dug into my arms the entire time, whispering in my ear that we were going to die. The plane was going to hit a giant bird and we were going to go down like the Titanic but without the band playing in the end.
“I’ll never let go, Ari,” she whimpers to me as she clutched me even tighter, poor Sir Jenkins squished between her breasts and my arm. “I’ll never let go.”
I laughed at her, glad I got the seating arrangements my way. If Sebastian the Liar had it his way, I’d be trapped between him and the window with him whispering what a failure at life I was in my ear. He’d either do that or continue touching me. One option wasn’t wanted or appreciated. The other was just too inappropriate for words whether I relished the attention or not. He’s supposed to be the “grown-up” figure in this relationship; he should know better!
I leaned my head against the top of the petite woman’s head beside me and whispered assurances in her ear as the plane went through another round of shaking.
It wasn’t a violent wind, I told her. Just think of it as Pro Ha’s thoughts pushing against the plane, trying to stop us from reaching our destination. Think of how pissed off he must be right now that we were actually able to leave. And we won’t ever go back. Right?
She nodded and I smiled.
“Now think about how pissed he’d be if you just started laughing right now. Just picture his ugly face and start laughing in it.”
My comment gave the desired effect of lighting her mood, but she was laughing for the wrong reason. “Hawkins’ isn’t ugly, Ari.”
“Of course he is. No matter how attractive his outward appearance may be,” I lick my lips and clear my throat, “He’s still an evil bastard on the inside after all the unnecessary crap he’s put us through. And his thoughts are rocking the plane.”
And that only succeeded in making her whimper again. “I’ll never let go, Ari.”
Yea, this was going to be one long ride. I’m not sure if I wouldn’t choose Sebastian over a whimpering Sammy in this moment. Let Suzette handle her for a while.
Gawd, I’m such a bad friend, I thought as I turned my head to look out the window at the city lights shining brightly in the night sky below me.
We shortly made a bumpy landing in Romulus, Michigan where we were made to wait—for more than a couple of minutes—to finally get off the plane. I yawned and stretched in my seat with impatience. I was tired, I was hungry, my mind needed to rest. I’ve been without a decent night’s sleep ever since MaMa left the home, but going without closing my eyes for more than 24 hours couldn’t be good for the brain. I should know.
The seat belt light click off and it took me everything I had not to run from the plane screaming in elation. Time to go. It was time to go. It was time for me and Sammy to start a new life without Professor Hawkins, Morgan and the rest of his merry band of jackasses.
We crept off the plane like slugs in a single file line. The lady next to me bumped into me and I almost cut her one of my eat-shit-and-die glares before she apologized and moved back some. I had half a mind to start hissing at her anyway.
Wait a minute. That thought wasn’t mine.
Or was it?
“Anyone gotta go to the bathroom?” Sebastian called from a few feet away. Sammy and Suzette both gave a negative. I shook my head in response as well. I just wanted to sleep, but sleep was the furthest thing from my mind when we stepped outside the airport and was flagged down by the person taking us to the next destination.
“Oh, Sebastian!” I chocked out, my body freezing, my mind going numb. I knew he wasn’t my friend. Haven’t I always called him Sebastian the Liar? Sebastian the Betrayer? Maybe not so much the latter, but it perfectly fits for this moment. How could he do this to me?
How could he do this to me!
“Oh, Sebastian,” I say again, my mind screaming. The sound feels heavenly in my head.
You don’t need to fear I’ll cause you harm…
“Well hell,” the familiar, terrifying voice said low and easy. Smooth as silk, just as I remembered. “You really are one sick ****, B.
“Nice to see you too,” Sebastian replied dryly, without a care, like my world wasn’t falling apart all over again.
“You must be amused right now.”
Until we meet again.
He gave a soft piano laugh, lit a cigarette in his mouth and slide his eyes in my direction. I tensed, wrapping my arms around myself in a protective hug. I wouldn’t look back at him. I wouldn’t look back at either of them. I didn’t want to hurt anymore. I didn’t want to run anymore. I didn’t—I just didn’t!
Most of the words catch in my throat, but I manage to choke out a weak “go away,” like that would have any effect on him.
He blew out a slow breath and stalked towards me with slow, confident strides until he was standing directly in front of me. He knows how scared I am. I bet it turns him on to see me trembling like a cornered animal being mocked by its predator, being forced to wonder with frightful anticipation when the beast would hurry up and pounce. Hurry up and go for the kill already. That is what it wants, right? To kill. To draw blood.
Do it already! Just freakin’ do it already! I shouted in my head, on the verge of shouting it out of my mouth.
As if my thoughts reached him, he leaned down and reached out to me. I tensed. He was going to hurt me. He was going to choke the life out of me and Sebastian wasn’t going to do a thing about because he was too amused by the scene playing out before him. He was going to—
Push the hair back from my face and force me to look into monstrous green eyes that hid behind an expensive pair of specs. They looked bored and dull tonight as a corner of his mouth curved seductively upward.
“Hello, Doc,” the beast whispered to me, his finger in my hair, his palm cupping my cheek, and I felt compelled to make a reply.
“Hello Dorian,” I whispered back.
I didn’t speak as Dorian walked, exuding confidence, to his expensive-looking truck. What was there to say? Oh, hello there. Long time no see old chap! Lovely weather we’re having isn’t it? Pretty warm for a January night though. Oh, by the way, did you ever get over that that problem with the little freak that kept telling you to kill people? He paid me a visit a few days ago, you know.
Somehow I didn’t think that would be appropriate given the circumstances, nor did I think I could stomach what his response would be. So I just stood there, refusing to move, as Sammy and Suzette piled into the back of the Ford Ram and Dorian and Sebastian looked at me expectantly, one with his hand on the door invitingly, eyebrow raised, the other standing stone-faced with his arms locked across his chest.
I took a deep breath in and blew it out as slow as possible knowing it wouldn’t be enough to calm my nerves, so I repeated the action twice more. It still wasn’t enough. it would never be enough to make me go in any more tight spaces with either the beast or the liar, and Sebastian must have come to the same conclusion. He expelled his breath on a tired sigh, shook his head, and took stalking steps towards me. A lion going after his prey now that it knows it’s helpless to do anything else but stare and wait. And wait some more until it finally made up its mind and decided on an action.
Finally, he pounced, his hand shooting out to grasp the nape f my neck before I could stop it and pulled me inwards. I struggled and whimpered as he pulled me close and placed his lips, slightly covered with hair, by my ear and made comforting noises. Soothing noises he used to give me at the home that no longer had the desired effect. His false beard tickled against my cheek as his jaw worked to form demands of me that my body refused to accept.
“In plain sight,” he said in harsh whispers against my ear. “That oldest trick in the book. To hide in plain sight. To hide in the furthest place he thinks you’ll go, Adrianna. Right under his nose.”
“They are the same person!” I whispered back. “It doesn’t matter what skin he wears! Nicholas; Dorian; Pro Ha—I don’t know—even you! They’re all the same person and he’ll know.” I tried to step back, to look him in the eye, to make him see reason, but his hand on the nape of my neck was unyielding and unforgiving. “Gawd, Sebastian, what on earth are you thinking bringing me here? He used Dorian to get to me before and there’s nothing stopping him from doing so again.” I thought for a moment and he remained silent. I’ll admit that he got me good with this deceitful game of his. When Pro Ha introduced his keepers to us at the home and gave them free reign to do whatever they wanted, Sebastian and Suzette were the only two that didn’t take their position too far; that didn’t give them a blasphemous God complex over us. And look where the both of them are now. With me and Sammy and the dirty clothes of a green-eyed freak. I scoffed at that. “You are such a freaking liar.”
“A liar that has your best friend in a vehicle with my acquaintances and will tell them to leave without you if you don’t hurry up and get in. You won’t ever see her again if they take off without you, Adrianna.”
I took a deep breath in, held it for as long as I could, and let it back out on a forced laugh. He, in turn, gave me a firm squeeze against my nape before releasing me and stepping aside. With my fists clenched tight and head held high, I marched to the beast’s automotive conveyance and stared without a hint of fear through his eyes until he backed up with a lop-sided smile and gave a slight bow in my direction.
If only I were a lesser woman, my foot would have automatically made a connection with his face since he was eagerly give me such an easy target. Instead, I turned my back on him to show him I wouldn’t be afraid and hopped in the back to sit beside Sammy.
With Suzette sitting in passenger seat, Dorian taking the driver’s side, and the two of us in the back, there was only one spot available for Sebastian the Liar to take and that was either besides me or Sammy. To be honest, neither option was welcome at present. Or in the near future.
I stared at him in question, my hand unconsciously reaching out to grab ahold of my friend’s, a dare and all around curiosity to see what he’d do next. He stared back and smiled that damnable smile that was even more annoying with hair covering it and made a move to get in on my side. Against my will I scooted over to Sammy’s side of the truck faster than I wanted to admit. I was practically on top of the poor girl as I waited for him to come to me. But he just stood there with his hand on top of the truck and his foot on the step, poised to get in.
“There a problem?” Dorian asked from beside him.
Sebastian peered over his shoulder, then back at me. “Nah,” he ended up replying after a while. “You’re taking ‘em to B2, right?”
“Yeah, I was thinking about handing them over to Lynnie. Let her take care of something for a while
“We aren’t pets!” Sammy whined, offended. I gave a firm nod of the head in total agreement with her.
Dorian hmphed at her, a form of acknowledgement I guess, before speaking once again with his companion. “So you getting in or what?”
He looked indecisive for a moment, then shook his head on a sigh. “Nah, bra, Clazzi might be there and I don’t wanna deal with him right now. But stop over my place if you want your glasses fixed.” A dramatic pause. “When you have the time, of course.”
“Uh-huh, I’ll give you a call.”
“Or you could just pop up anytime.”
“That’s not gonna happen.”
“Aw, come on, D, you’re not a child.”
“No,” he agreed, “I’m married.”
Sebastian paused at that and stepped closer to the taller man—taller by only half an inch for sure. My eyes widened at the scene playing out before me as I rubbed at my nose and was actually surprised that my finger came away clean. In this moment it only felt right that my nose should have been bleeding.
“You didn’t ask her,” he said so low that I had to lean forward, straining to hear.
“No,” Dorian agreed again, “but I will.”
“Which means you’re still mine yet.”
Dorian scratched his head, an uncomfortable gesture, as his friend stepped closer still. So close that their noses almost touched. So close that their breath mingled together. So close that if either of them leaned forward even by half of a centimeter, their lips would touch.
But all the did was stare and I inched closer to their side so I wouldn’t miss a single moment of it. Sammy’s breath on the back of my neck, coming at me in small pants, told me that she was getting just as excited as I was.
Do something! I almost wanted to shout, but Sebastian just stepped back and smiled. Again. His brown eyes never broke from the darker man’s green ones. “Come to me, Dorian,” he demanded in a soft whisper that I wouldn’t have heard if I wasn’t hanging half way out the door to get a better view.
Dorian’s mouth hung open slightly, his full bottom lip glistening under the street light as his pink tongue moved to swipe over it. He looked indecisive for a moment, his eyes jerking back and forth behind his frames in thought, before finally agreeing with a short nod of his head.
I didn’t know what the hell was going on, but I knew for certain that I wanted to be there when everything went down. My friend’s arm snaked around my waist and she placed her chin atop my shoulder. “I wanna go too, Ari,” she said softly, and I could only nod my head in silent agreement as Sebastian smile grew wide and walked away. He had a cool swagger in his step, one hand in his pocket, the other rising up to wave at us good-bye.
I felt a wave of annoyance coming from the front as Dorian got in and slammed the door with a loud expletive following shortly behind it. It was enough to make me blush. I stared at him in question and he glared his annoyance back at me through the rearview mirror.
“So how’s life been treatin’ you, Doc?”
“Like a pet mouse forced to play in illegal fights and I’ve been complaining to deaf ears this whole time.” His eyes twitched with suppressed amusement and if he told me he wasn’t going to laugh at that—like Suzette—I just might consider throwing something at him. Instead I settled for a twitch of my own lips and said as sweet as possible, “How’s ‘Lucky Charms’ been treatin’ you, married man?”
He didn’t bother to answer my question and I didn’t expect to receive one. It was an insensitive question to ask him, yes, but so was his. And with that, he focused his eyes in front of him and peeled out of the airport parking structure.
It took us a while—maybe an hour and a half— to reach our destination in Ferndale, Michigan that just happened to be a night club with big, bolded, neon purple letters that spelled the words ‘Black Butterflies.’ There was a fluttering black and purple butterfly that was used as a dot over the ‘I.’ The outside was immaculate, resembling more a high class strip joint than a regular night club. Under the sign that my eyes kept getting drawn towards there was an intricately carved awning as long as the front of the building was wide that was held in place by tall columns, five on each side of the door, that looked like they would put to better use holding up a Greek god’s temple than sitting here being looked at by people who won’t appreciate them. The door was just a sight to behold as the awning and columns. It looked like copper wire bent and flattened to look like ominous vines in the amazon—the kind that look harmless at first, but shoot out to grab you when you’re least expecting it—on a black wooden door. There were thorns on the vines and one might think that they were actually rose stems instead of vines, but at another look, you could see the wire forming into the shape of grapes hanging.
I wanted to get a closer look, I decided as the car pulled into the front parking lot and stopped. Sammy was sleeping soundly beside me with her head lying on her Sir Jenkins against the window. The both of us could use a good night’s sleep after our somewhat grand escape from Madame Magnet’s Home for the Mentally Insane, but the time for that, unfortunately, wasn’t now. I gently shook her, calling her name as sweet as possible, as Suzette and Dorian got out and pushed their seats up so we could get out as well. Sammy still wouldn’t move so I shook her more urgently.
I gave Suzette a sheepish smile as I scooted closer to my friend and sung to her, “Saaaaammy! Saaaaammy? Oh my god, oh my god, we just hit an ice berg! We’re going dooooown!”
She flew away from Sir Jenkins with a gasp and flung her arms around my neck on a cry. “I’ll never let go, Ari!”
She’s so cute.
My lips wobbled with the repeated failed attempts to keep in a laugh as my arms went around her middle and my head nuzzled against hers lovingly. “It’ll be ok,” I assured her. “It’ll be ok. We’re safe now.”
“Safe?” she repeated.
“Mm-hm. See? There’s your Suzy.”
“Tired,” she sighed.
“I know, but it’s only for a little while longer, yea?” I looked askance at the man behind me and at his nod I gave her a pat on the back and handed her off to Suzette’s waiting arms. I climbed out after her, not wanting to come in contact with the beast again and headed straight for the door. I wanted to get a better look at it. Were there thorns, or…
A meaty palm landed firmly on my shoulder. I stopped dead in my tracks before turning around and staring daggers at the offending man. Instead of it being Dorian as I expected, I came face to face with a stone-faced Asian wearing completely black glasses, an earpiece that disappeared inside his shirt and a black suit with a purple tie. He didn’t say anything to me but shook his head and began pushing me towards the side of the building.
I wasn’t doing anything wrong. There was no need for him to manhandle me and I told him so, looking back to see if anyone would come to my aid. I looked to Suzette to see why she wasn’t doing anything. She looked back with a shrug and a wink, and pointed in the direction of the green-eyed freak that was stalking confidently towards us.
I sighed. The Asian man tensed. Dorian smiled with his arms spread out in a ‘what the hell’ gesture.
“Didn’t you see her get out of my truck, Kito?”
“Akito,” the man holding me corrected.
“What’s the difference?”
“The ‘A’ in before the K, I, T, and O… Doris.”
Dorian’s eyes widened for a moment, his jaw went slack. Then he let out a short burst of laughter and slapped the other man on the back. “Point taken,” he conceded, “but remind me again why I keep you here?”
“It couldn’t possibly be because I’m good at what I’m getting paid to do. Or is it because I go above and beyond to—“ his grip on my shoulder went from a forceful hold to a manipulative, intimate, caress, “—help you entertain people.” His smile was blinding as he shot it my way and I bet he would have winked at me if he wasn’t wearing those frustrating sunglasses. Who does that anyway? Wear sunglasses at night. Unless he’s a vampire afraid of a little light, what is he trying to hide from?
Dorian laughed again and shook his head. “She’s not for you, Akito. You can look, but don’t touch.”
I silently agreed with him, of course, as my attention drifted from them to the door with the vines, thorns, and grapes. The thorns on the vines weren’t looking like, well, thorns any more and more like… I don’t know, but it was starting to get on my nerves. I wanted a closer look and before the night was over, I was going to get it. I turned around and took a step in its direction but was stopped again by Akito’s tight hold on my shoulder.
“Unless she wants me to,” he said and I huffed.
“I don’t want you to,” I told him, giving him my best eat-shit-and-die glare.
“But you will,” he returned confidently as if it was already preordained and that was when Dorian finally stepped closer to help. “In the meantime,” he said, “you’ll treat her as you would Lynnie. The same goes for the blonde over there, too. They’re both Sebastian’s, man, and I don’t want it coming back on me if anything happened to them. Let her go.”
At the command, his grip loosened and fell away, his hand going limp by his side. He then grinned and bowed to me, then to Sammy, before retreating back to the shadows behind one of the columns that didn’t belong here. “Property of Sebastian,” he stamped us, “Got it.”
Was I finally allowed to see the door? I wondered as I took another hesitant step towards it.
I guess not, I sighed.
Dorian blocked my way as he waved for Suzette and Sammy to walk in the opposite direction. What good was a door if no one was allowed to use it? I just wanted to get a closer look, dammit! Dorian followed my gaze to the door behind him and looked back at me. “They’re butterflies on a grapevine,” he said to me and walked off, knowing I’d follow behind him.
Of course it was. He couldn’t let me make the discovery for myself. That is such like a man to ruin everything.
We walked around the building where we saw a line of people waiting to get in and my eyebrows rose. There wasn’t any music being heard from the outside, no thumping vibrations being felt and the line is hanging around the side of the building instead of in the front; I only assumed the building was closed for tonight. No wonder Akito stopped me from going to the door. But how come the door was closed if there was a line outside waiting to get in? Was there someone on the inside there to open it when he saw people coming, or did the doors open automatically?
We passed a couple more men in black suits and purple ties as we rounded yet another corner to the very back of the club. Everyone else’s car was parked back here and I had to again wonder why we weren’t just dropped off here to begin with.
There was a burgundy door at the far side of the building, a single light shining down to highlight it in the darkness. The door slightly opened and I saw blue eyes peeking from behind the drack before it shut tight. Just as soon as it shut, it burst open, allowing a red-headed banshee to fly out with its arms wide, heading in our direction. I panicked for a moment, not knowing what to do but was soon pushed head first out of the way into the wall as the banshee shrieked and crashed into Dorian. I looked around in confusion, pushing the hair out of my face, and found Sammy pulled back against Suzette’s front, protected in her arms. She looked curiously, with sleep-crusted eyes, at the banshee who shrieked Dorian’s name again before planting an open-mouthed kiss on him.
“And you call yourself a married man?” I heard myself say, disgusted as he grabbed a fistful of her auburn hair and brought her closer, his other hand sliding down her back and stopping on her butt.
“Missed you,” she purred against his mouth and laughed. A cheerful sound.
He chuckled in return and kissed the corner of her mouth before tugging on her hair so she would ease up and he could get a better look at her. His features softened, his eyes behind his frames glowed with passion and possession, and his full lips peeled back from his teeth in a smile that was all male. My eyebrows shot upwards as I watched his beautifully dark hand fall from her hair and rise to cup her chin. His forehead slowly descended to mate with hers and he sighed in content.
“I’m back,” he announced, kissing her eyelid. “I’m back,” he said again, kissing the other and the tip of her nose.
Oh dear lord, someone gag me with a spoon. I looked across at Sammy with a can you believe this is happening? smile, and she stared at the couple the way a child would stare at a puppy. You have got to be kidding me. If she suddenly broke out into a Celine Dion song, I swear I was going to leave. I didn’t know where to, but any place besides here would be welcome. This was uncomfortable already and I didn’t need a soundtrack to be added to the memory. Perhaps I should go look for something, like broken glass, to scrub my eyes clean while they can still be saved.
The door swung open again and a well-groomed elderly gentleman with perfectly shaped salt and pepper hair stood there, one hand in his pocket and the other gripping the doorknob. He gave me the come hither look, his finger beckoning me to gravitate towards him. I waved at Sammy to follow but her attention was too focused on the scene before her. Suzette must have seen me, though, for she grabbed her hand and walked towards us.
“They’ll probably be at it for a while,” the man said as we reached him.
No kidding, I thought to myself, but said aloud, “Isn’t he married?”
The gentleman’s eyes cut me. I have no right to judge, they seemed to say to me even though I didn’t think my tone was all that judgmental. But if a married man cheats then why get married in the first place? Why not just stay single?
“They,” he corrected and paused to let it sink in for a while. I still didn’t get it. “Aren’t they married, you mean, and no, they aren’t. Not yet anyway. Either when that boy finally finds the courage to ask her, or when she figures out she’ll say ‘yes’ anyway, then you can ask me. Or if you’re smart enough, you just might be able to figure it out on your own.
“Or you could figure out that I wasn’t being judgmental of them for having sex out of wedlock—welcome to the 21st century—but because I didn’t know that she was his,” air quotes, “wife.” He continued to stare at me with his blue eyes so I shifted and continued to speak. “How was I supposed to know that was—what’s her name?—Lynnie, right? I’ve never seen a married couple act like that in public. And besides, before Sebastian left us with the beast, all he—“
“Ah,” he finally said, cutting me off and opening the door wider so we can go in. the anger was gone, replaced by a pitying look as he said “So you’re Sebastian’s newest flavor, hunh?” and he seemed like he was about to apologize for the fact. That wasn’t really a fact. Not knowing what do with his face, he settled for a tight smile. “Uh… try not to scream too loud when he stops by, will you. And if you come in contact with him beforehand, please inform him that Clazzi is looking for him.”
I gave him a mock salute and followed Sammy and Suzette inside. Hell would have to freeze over—twice—before I ever allowed myself to act in such a way with him again. My face heated at the memory of the two of us in his apartment in New York when he walked through the door and I threw myself around his neck. Never again…
He made a sweeping motion with his hand, waving us in the direction of the door downstairs. The two women walked ahead and I took a step to follow before noticing something was off. “This is a night club right? I asked, looking back.
He gave no answer. I shrugged. It was rhetorical question.
“So where’s the music?”
He pointed to the door at the top of the stairs. “This area is sound proof much like some of the rooms upstairs. It makes it easier for employees to sleep.”
“You allow your employees to sleep here?”
There was a tick in his jaw like he was trying to be polite as possible. He didn’t really have to explain anything to me, but a little conversation never hurt anyone.
Yes it does…
“Those who can’t do for themselves,” he began, “Those who are homeless and have no place else to go. Those who are innocent and are seeking protection. They stay here, yes.”
“That’s very admirable of you,” I smiled.
“Wasn’t my idea.”
He inclined his head to me and walked down the steps to a lavishly decorated entertainment room that was identical to the one at MaMa’s but had a more manly touch to it. Like at the home when the Madame was still around there were people enjoying a friendly game of pool, people playing cards while have a smoke and a swig of liquor—we weren’t allowed either of the two, of course—people chatting away happily and watching T.V. I looked to my right and saw stuffed animals and bite-sized vehicles for kids. I looked to my left and saw a karaoke machine that Sammy was currently tinkering with alongside a cute little teenager.
My breath scissored in and out of me. I quickly turned around to see if Morgan and his friends were going to suddenly pop out at us and tell us this was all a big joke. Tell us this was all a part of their plan all along and Sebastian was in on it this whole time. Out loud I might say that it wouldn’t surprise me if he was in on it. But it would hurt, I admitted to myself. It would hurt and it’s just like before. Smiling faces, cheerful laughter, and the welcome sense of home.
Even if Morgan wasn’t around the corner laughing his ass off, give this place a month or two and everything will eventually disappear. Just—like—before. But for right now…
“You ok, doll?” I heard Clazzi say beside me. I looked at him in question and he handed me a tissue. My cheeks were wet but I wasn’t crying. These tears were the result of the wind blowing in my face. I sniffed.
“Come on, here, little girl, I’ll take you to your room.”
“I’m not tired,” I with another sniff even as I nodded my head in acceptance and followed him out of the room and down the hall. How big is this place?
“Hope you don’t mind sharing a room with your friend you brought with you?” he asked in consideration, but I knew I didn’t really have a choice in the matter so I just nodded me my head again and entered the comfortable-looking room. The bed on the far side of the room screamed for me, promising me solace in its embrace and I glided towards it on shaky legs.
I sat there for a moment, breathing in and out, and back in to calm myself down. “I’m going to sleep now,” I told him, hating how badly my voice shook, and curled on my side. I didn’t wait for him to answer, didn’t wait to see if he was still there or not. I didn’t care, I guess.
There was no Sebastian to kiss my tear-stained cheek and whisper a promise of a better tomorrow in my ear. There was no Sammy in this moment to curl up beside me and sing me lullabies. Not MaMa to assure me that I’ll eventually get over my problem. I was trapped here with the beast and his companions.
I heard heavy footsteps approaching me. They paused for a moment, approached again, and pulled the cover up to my chin. No, there wasn’t a kiss against my brow, but there was a subtle squeeze against, borrowed strength that disappeared when his hand left my shoulder. The lights were turned off and I lied there in the darkness, my body trembling and jerking with emotions I didn’t want to feel.
I was weak.
I was helpless.
I wept, silently praying that no one else would ever see me this way again.
I opened my eyes and looked around me. Where am I? Oh, that’s right.
But I wasn’t in the basement now. I didn’t know where I was. I think I was crying, but I don’t know for sure, or the why. Am I ok?
Am I ok?
Am I hurt?
I rubbed my eyes and sat up, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. I yawned and stretched and stood. Yes, I was in the basement that wasn’t really a basement, but I wasn’t in the basement at all. I was, I was… where?
The door creaked open, beckoning me to go outside and see what the world had to offer me. Come out? Come play? it seemed to ask me and I hesitated. Do I want to go out? No. was I going to go out anyway? Yes. I didn’t really have any choice in the matter as my feet carried me outside the door to a world my mind didn’t want to accept was real. The world was in different shades of purple and green instead of every other color in the real world—the only other color being the sun that wasn’t a color at all, but white with heat instead of orange or red or yellow. What color was it that fire burned its hottest? Blue, right? Blue like the devil’s own eyes. Beautiful and brilliant with cruel amusement.
And just like that, right before my eyes, the sun darkened to become blue—yes, the same color of Professor Hawkins’ eyes—with a white halo around it. The scenery then turned from its two-hued landscape of purple and green to different shades of blue.
I heard someone giggling, an edge of hysteria, and figure out it was coming from me. We ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto, I thought with another giggle, thinking that I would probably be pulling a Sammy and speaking to Sir Jenkins in this moment. If he were around. Where is here, anyway, and where is he? Where is me, where is me, I laughed at the rhyme and spun in a circle. I bobbed my head. I shook my hips. I closed my eyes and raised my arms high above my head, smiling wide. I was free. I was alive. I loved it here. Didn’t ever want to leave!
Opened my eyes and found him staring at me with a fond expression. At least if he had a face, it would have been a fond expression, a fatherly one almost. He was beautiful with swirling emerald skin that was unaffected by the now blue sun unlike everything else. Even my own skin was tainted by it, but he remained bright, sitting with his knees bent and ankles crossed, his back slightly hunched with his hands resting in front of him.
I walked to his left; his head followed. I did my messed up version of a moon-walk to his right; his head followed and I got the sense again that if he had a face, he’d look on me in fond amusement. I didn’t know who he was—what he was for that matter—but I knew that I loved him. In this moment. And I would do anything for him to keep his skin brilliant, with swirling flecks of silver and gold.
I swayed back and stopped right in front of him, slowly sinking to my knees so we were face to face. I gave him a shy smile and looked askance at him. Does he love me too? Accept me. But he just stared in the same position, his expression no longer fond, but blank and expectant.
A bit panicked, I threw myself at him. My arms went around his neck, my chest pushed up against his, my face nuzzled along his cheek as I whispered promises of loyalty and love. That’s what he wanted to hear, right? It felt as if that would be something he’d want to hear. If men were all the same, then he should have embraced me by now. What am I doing wrong? I leaned back, cocked my head to the side, and beamed at his sense of a shocked expression quickly hidden behind one of expectance.
I laughed as I nuzzled my nose against his and placed my head in the corner where his shoulder met his neck. Content. I was content and I told him so with a wistful sigh.
“Where are you?” he asked me, the words running across my eyes rather than being heard with my ears.
I shook my head ‘I don’t know,’ and sighed again. I never wanted to leave his embrace.
But he was gone. He was gone and I was falling backwards. I was suddenly on my back. He was suddenly in my face, leaning over me. I heard a ripping sound and wanted to look down to see what he was doing. Couldn’t. His face was too close to mine that I would be able to feel his breath on my face if he had a mouth. His hand was cupping my cheek, his thumb making lazy circles on my chin before skimming over my bottom lip. My tongue flicked out in response.
“Where are you,” he asked again.
I shook my head ‘I don’t know.’
His hand tightened. “Where are you?”
I shook my head ‘I don’t know.’
“You love me?”
“Where are you?”
I shook my head, tears forming in my eyes.
I got a sense of great disappointment coming from him followed by one of twisted pleasure. Of wanting. And then I felt nothing.
And then I felt nothing but pain. My heart was beating a mile a minute; my eyes were rolling around in my head. My skin was on fire! My skin was on fire!
“Why?!” I cried out, trying to look at him, trying to beg him for mercy and forgiveness. He wouldn’t listen. I tried to scoot away, to curl in on myself as I whimpered, but he held fast, his body forming to mine, his arms wrapping around me, one in my hair, the other around my waist. “Why?” I choked out again as my body convulsed with him on top of me. My bones were cracking in my ears, twisting and turning inside me, turning to ash. My blood was pumping; I was filled with adrenaline and not even the sweet, seductive darkness could offer me solace.
What felt like hours later, I was still in pain. My body was still convulsing, my blood was still pumping; my mouth was still opening on screams of pain with no sound. I was blind. My eyes long ago melted away leaving nothing but empty sockets.
Nothing. I was nothing. I am nothing.
My love kept asking me one simple question and I couldn’t answer him. I didn’t know. I shook my head over and over again. Every time he asked. And my pain spiked with each reply.
Finally he relented and the vision that was lost to me returned in stages. My mouth was open; drool ran down the side of my mouth, down my cheek as I stared above me. The sun was now red and the scenery was in shades of mauve and grey.
I tried to scoot away again and he allowed me some movement, still hovering over me but no longer embracing me. I rolled over, dug my nails into the ground below me and crawled. I sobbed silently at how easy my nails tore and regrew, then tore again as I buried my nails in the ground to crawl, and regrew. What was wrong with me?
“Where are you, little mouse?”
I crawled faster.
“Little mouse, little mouse.”
I hit my head against a tree and grabbed ahold of it for dear life. I was going to stand up. I could stand up even though my legs felt nonexistent. I coughed, I gasped, and I braced myself to stand before I felt him behind me again. He was neither cold nor warm; he was just a sudden pressure that was both welcome yet unwelcome.
“Adrianna Buchannan,” he breathed against my ear in a voice that wasn’t his own. “I think I’ve missed you.”
Don’t turn around, my mind shouted at me, but I did. I knew that voice. I hated that voice. I turned my head and screamed out. Professor Hawkins’—the devil—face was right beside mine. “Surprise!” he laughed, biting at me and I jerked to the side with a yelp, falling over and crawling backwards, eyes wide. It wasn’t really Pro Ha. It was his face, but it was only his face—if his eyes were green—with his straight nose, thin lips, brown hair-covered chin and all.
I didn’t crawl anymore; I got up and ran. And he was in front of me again with the face of the beast. “You don’t need to be afraid of me, Doc.”
“Leave me alone!”
“But you love me,” he reminded me and his face was now melting and morphing into Sebastian the Liar’s.
“Am I? Sweet? Y’know,” he said low and easy with the line of his mouth slowly curling upward, “the height of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.”
“I don’t care.”
“How long will you put your trust in me only to be disappointed every—single—time?”
“That’s right, that’s right, my dear little mouse! You should leave me.”
“But Sammy would be—“
“Sammy?” His face wavered for a bit before reforming into Sebastian’s again. “I don’t know a Sammy. Do I know a Sammy? Surely I’d know if I knew, but if I didn’t know what I should have known then how would not knowing be a possibility where you’re concerned?” He stopped to think on it and I ran in the opposite direction where I saw a familiar door with copper wire that was manipulated into the shape of vines and grapes and thorns against a black door.
I wanted to get a closer look. Where did I see the door before? As I drew near the thorns on the vines looked less like thons and more like… what?
What good was a door if no one was allowed to use it? I just wanted to get a closer look, dammit! Dorian followed my gaze to the door behind him and looked back at me. “They’re butterflies on a grapevine,” he said to me and walked off, knowing I’d follow behind him.
B L A C K B U T T E R F L I E S
The letters ran across my eyes and I ran faster to the door. That’s right. Black Butterflies. B2. That’s where she is and that’s where I wanted to be. I gripped the vines and pushed as hard as I could, praying for it to open. Blessedly, it did and I was immediately thrust into a world of darkness. I blinked and my body stared moving on its own, swaying and grinding, it seemed, to a song that couldn’t be heard. I danced even though there was no reason for me to dance. I laughed even though there was no reason for me to laugh. And I cried, tears silently falling down my cheeks, even though I couldn’t remember what the reason was.
I blinked again and saw flashing lights in different colors. The ground beneath me began thumping and vibrating. My hands lifted high above my head, and a ‘whooping’ sound came out of my throat. I danced all the harder. I vibrated, I rolled my hips, I ran my hands down my body as I shook my head back and forth, allowing my hair to swing wildly around me.
Voices were heard in my head shortly followed by a woman’s hypnotic voice that soon consumed me.
How shall I be yours tonight?
How shall I let you possess me?
Possessed, Sebastian said, testing the word on his tongue and apparently finding it distasteful. Yes, you could say he was possessed.
Who was possessed?
Shall I give you my sweet sweet surrender
Or is it you who shall be owned by me
Just for one night
Just for one night
I’ll be your Black Butterfly
Until I drag your soul to hell.
The noise level went up as the lights went crazy, flashing blue, red, purple, and pink—a splash of white in between. Someone was behind me, forming his body to mine and I smelled the masculine scent of dark spices. Gawd I loved that scent. Not as much as that of the great outdoors, though.
The great outdoors.
Who has that scent? Woodsmen, campers, some workers at the Bass Pro shop. I miss that place. I remember taking a picture with Santa there once. This past Christmas was crappy as hell, but right now if fun.
And what am I doing? Dancing right? Yeah, that’s right; I’m dancing, but why am I dancing? Why am I here again? Where was I before I came here?
I blinked my eyes a third time, rubbing my eyes, and I was surrounded by human vampires—those that only came out at night for the sake of spirits and pleasure. I was drunk, too, I decided. I had to be. As I continued moving my body in rhythm with my partner, I looked around me and wondered why I could see everything. It couldn’t be Friday already, yet everything continued to look plain and dangerous. Like it should. People were dancing too close to each other on the dance floor, and conversing at the bar across from me that appeared to have a glass counter top.
That’s dangerous, I smiled.
I felt a pair of eyes on me and I looked around until I saw a woman with black hair in a tight red dress staring directly back at me. She was sitting in a room surrounded by men enclosed in glass. I had to wonder if that was one of the rooms that Clazzi was talking about that was soundproof before dismissing it. If it was glass, then it couldn’t be soundproof. She winked at me, raising her glass in my direction with a smile. I gave her a grin of my own over my shoulder and continued dancing.
My partners soon changed, rather, a familiar face appeared in front of me and my male behind me… disappeared.
“You havin’ a good time, hon?” he asked, bringing his hands to my waist and pulling me close.
I giggled and smiled. “Who’s the woman on stage?” I shouted.
“Her name is Sabrina. BB, everyone calls her.”
“B2?” I smiled.
“Yea, she’s the original Black Butterfly,” he shouted as he inched me backwards. “Before this place was even named it.”
“Oh? That’s nice. Clazzi named it after her, then?
“No, no, no,” he laughed, “Clazzi had no control in naming the place once Lynnie decided she wanted to be the one to name it. And I doubt she was thinking about Sabrina at all at the time, but it fits doesn’t it? You should ask her to tell you the story some time.”
“Ms. Cerulyn with a ‘y,’ named after the color of her eyes,” he snapped and wiggled against me. “Dorian’s wifey.”
“Shit,” he agreed and my back hit the wall. The music wasn’t as loud anymore, but I could still hear it and I closed my eyes while bobbing my head to the lyrics.
How shall I be yours tonight?
“Akito, what are you doing?”
Shall I let you possess me
Shall I give you my sweet sweet surrender?
“Playing before I go back to work,” he murmured and kissed my temple. “Or shall you be owned by me,” he sung softly in time with Sabrina. “Just for one night, Just for one night.”
“Until you drag my soul to hell?”
He smiled down at me and brought his bottom lip between his teeth. He was planning to kiss me wasn’t he, I thought with mixed emotions. I wanted him to, yet I didn’t want him to. I didn’t even know the guy. But he leaned down ever so slowly. So close that I could feel his breath on my lips and I licked the corner of my mouth, staring and waiting.
“Just for one night, Just for one night,” he whispered and I frowned. Just one night? I’m not that kind of woman even if I did love the attention. “I don’t want you to,” I whispered back. He stared back for a while, shoulders tense, and for a moment I thought he was going to do it anyway. But then he just pouted and shrugged it off. There’s always someone else, his gesture seemed to say.
He leaned forward and pushed away from the wall, straightening out his suit jacket, before turning around and beginning to walk away. He looked back and smiled. “You will,” he said confidently, “but next time if you don’t want me to think you’re easy, then maybe you shouldn’t wear clothes that say you are. Just a suggestion.”
My eyes widened as I looked down at myself. Of course he thought I was easy; I was still wearing Sebastian’s hooker clothes! “Well, shit,” I said with a tired sigh.
“Shit,” he agreed with a dejected sigh of his own weaved his way through the crowd.
No suitcases. No other clothes. No money to buy other clothes. That’s it. I’m going back down stairs and never coming back up. I don’t even know why or how I came up here in the first place. I walked as fast as possible back to the bar and waved at the tender. He winked back and made his way to me.
The bar tender was a handsome man with long black hair that was shaved—almost bald—on one side of his head. He had a piercing on in his bottom lip and red make up around his eyes that made them look like they were dripping tears of blood. So this was a Goth Club? I thought as he leaned his forearms on the counter.
“What can I do for you?” he asked with a knowing smile.
“I, uh, I just got here a while ago I think it was, but apparently I’m staying here for the time being.” His eyes went from flirty to sharp. “Clazzi and the beast know that I’m here already, so…”
“The beast?” his eyebrows raised.
I scratched my head and looked away. “Dorian… look, I just need to be directed back to downstairs. I don’t even know how I got up here to begin with if you can believe it.” Nervous laugh.
“We don’t have a downstairs.”
“Of course you do. I was just there.”
“I assure you, sir, I’m not.”
“Look, hon, I don’t know who brought you here and I don’t really care, but since you’re apparently done with whatever business you have here, I suggest you leave before you embarrass yourself.”
He gave me a pitying look and I gritted my teeth in agitation. It’s not my fault I’m wearing these clothes. I didn’t pick them out. I also didn’t want to use the bastard’s name to get my way, but if I have no other choice… “The liar brought me here,” I frowned.
He waited and I stared.
“You’re gonna have to give me something better than that.”
“Se-bas-ti-an...” I grounded out. “Deee-lu-monte…”
“Ah.” Recognition finally shone bright in his eyes and he nodded in understanding while pointing in the direction of the stage where Sabrina started singing a different hypnotizing song.
“Yea,” I agreed and walked away. Tomorrow was another day and hopefully it wasn’t as confusing as this one.
Since you said we can be as harsh or not-so-harsh with our constructive criticism, and I was planning on brushing up on my review skills for the upcoming April story and poem competitions, I chose this piece for a full, in-depth review and critique.
I hope you don’t mind. I do not mean any of these to sound nasty. I tried to be as honest as possible without being crass or blunt – forgive me if I fail sometimes. Also, my thoughts and opinions are merely my own. I am not a professional reviewer, and though I may be a professional writer, I do not write fiction professionally. Lol.
Suffice it to say that your writing was well-rounded and ideal for a review, though admittedly I have yet to browse the Library in full to see works of other writers, and therefore have yet to review anything in the way I reviewed your prologue. I think because your piece was very well-rounded I wanted to refine it further until it comes out sparkling.
Here we go (warning: long, ranting review):
The technical stuff (grammar and sh*t):
“…when Dorian Micheals glided passed my door.”
“… if they were apart of him.”
-“…a part of…”
To describe the six foot tall Dorian Micheals in one word would be simply: Intimidating
-This sentence is stating that the act of describing Dorian is intimidating. A quick rephrase can fix it up nicely.
“…so I reread and reread again…”
-I suppose it’s just my preference, but I thought “…so I read and read again…” sounds better, mainly because I think using the prefix “re-“ along with the word “again” seems redundant.
”I knew I couldn’t be reading the words right so I reread and reread again, but no matter how many times her eyes skimmed over the page, the words wouldn’t change.”
-Point of view inconsistency: from first person to third person (used “I,” then switched to “her” in the same sentence, referring to the same person).
“…looked at me with an amused look claiming his facial features.”
-“looked at me with an amused look[.]” was sufficient. Otherwise, perhaps commit an intentional comma splice and drop the word “with,” so you end up with: “…looked at me, an amused look claiming his facial features.”
“…that you have Leprechaun in your head…”
-Is Leprechaun both a singular and plural noun? I’m not sure, but if its plural is “Leprechauns,” then the sentence should go: “that you have a Leprechaun in your head”
So he’s one of those people who’s skeptical of therapy.
-I’m not 100% certain, but: “…people who’re…” the auxiliary verb referred to “people,” not “one of those people,” and not “he.”
“...that slipped through Dorian Micheals lips.”
-“…that slipped through Dorian Micheals’ lips”
“...in a green suit telling to kill people.”
-“…in a green suit telling me to kill people.”
“Sarcasm couldn’t possibly drip more from his mouth.”
-Something about the sentence feels…forced. I don’t know. I’m stumped with this one.
“It’s times like this where my paranoid idea…”
-Again, I’m not entirely sure, but “when” or “that” could be better than “where” in this case.
“…his eyebrow gave and elegant arch…”
-“…his eyebrow gave an elegant arch…” Btw, the verb gave sounds queer here, since you did not “receive” the action (the arching eyebrows, however elegant).
“…elegant arch which caused me to pause.”
-Usually I would say either place a comma before which or replace it with “that,” and in this case the word “that” that denotes specificity gets my vote. However, I find no real issue with the phrase, so I’m just taking note.
-Damned = cursed, going to hell, etc. Could you mean “Damn this man.” or something similar? The modern curse did indeed come from “damn you” as in go to hell, but still, it feels off, unless of course you’re depicting the character’s thoughts as conclusively perceiving Dorian as damned.
“Even though I knew he was messing with me, fear still seemed to grip me as he stood, slowly walking towards me”
-Tense inconsistency. A single present tense verb is erroneously lingering here. It should be: “Even though I knew he was messing with me, fear still seemed to grip me as he stood, [and] slowly [walked] towards me”
“Again, he advanced, circling my desk, coming ever so near to me.”
-Another tense inconsistency. Not really a big deal, but splitting this into two sentences would be nice.
“But I warn you. Your case of paranoia is not misplaced in this instance. If I were you, though, I’d press that security button.”
-“…If I were you, I’d press that security button.” The statements were made consecutively and without breaks, which would make the initial ‘but’ sufficient.
“…gulping down saliva appeared to help any.”
-“…gulping down saliva appeared to help.” would have been fine.
“…but a burning sensation in my throat…”
-“…but the[?] burning sensation in my throat…” It might be a case of article confusion, but if you really intended the article to be “a” instead of “the,” then the phrase “…but a burning sensation in my throat became worse.” seems too sudden. It introduces a burning sensation and its worsening in one phrase, merely words apart.
“So I realize now that since…”
-“I realize now that since…” Mostly because of the preceding sentence. The word “So” in this usage seems to indicate that the character realized something, but the sentence right before the realization had nothing to do with it. Besides, the word “since” does a suitably well job on its own.
“…at a beautiful caramel colored skinned man…”
-This phrase could be parsed thus: beautiful / caramel colored / skinned man. The man was beautiful, caramel colored (wtf?), and was skinned (how morbidly cruel). I guess the best way to remove this connotation is to rephrase it the way you did in the earlier part of the story: From “To stare at a beautiful caramel colored skinned man with the most terrifying deep green eyes who, in turn…” to “To stare at a beautiful man with caramel colored skin and the most terrifying deep green eyes who, in turn…”
The not-so-technical stuff:
I liked how you used an adverbial form of “devastating” to describe a positive adjective – an oxymoron executed well in a few words to good effect.
The initial dialogue between therapist and Dorian was a bit too simplistic, though, and for the most part I could not see an actual therapist converse that way. I mean, she seemed more stressed than the patient. I assume this is intentional – a tool to focus on Dorian’s aura or menacing ability. If that is the case, however, perhaps a few more lines of dialogue or prose in between these few lines should reflect this.
A note: sometime after the point where the character felt her paranoia was well placed, Dorian used almost the exact same words. Now this could portray his ability (or whatever it is) to be able to read minds, but perhaps a bit of foreshadowing or reinforcement could have helped. A simple “[You’re right,] Your case of paranoia is not misplaced in this instance.” Would be fine. A seemingly nominal touch that adds a level of coherence. Plus it makes readers certain that the writer wasn’t just playing favorites with words.
Oh btw, in your narrative you seem to favor having words “slip” or “drip” from the lips or mouth. Colorful, for sure, but overusing them is conspicuous. Not that you did, though.
The character’s descent into insanity was well executed, overall. Sudden, chaotic, dramatic, and intense, it raised more questions than it did answers, which was quite brilliant in this case.
Your flow was natural with efficient transitions. The piece had enough descriptions to paint a rough draft of the scene, but left room for the reader’s imagination to make it his own. Lovely.
I love how the turn of events smelled like the plot was about to become predictable but then you threw it into a chasm of chaos and left it there, demanding that the reader read further to understand what the hell just happened.
A very good, well-written, and attention-grabbing prologue that hooks the reader in several ways.
So what say I? My final verdict: It is a solid, entertaining piece that sends the reader mercilessly down into the mysteries of the beginnings of your plot. The few rough edges were almost not worth mentioning, and in the aftermath of reading, I was satisfied. 4 out of 5 stars!
thank you sooooo~ much, dude. that was perfect. just perfect. and appreciated.
my sweetie told me i tend to overuse words even though i don't realize it when my pencil takes over my hand.
your honesty was welcome. you didn't say this, but when someone tells me i suck, i go into this "EF YOU! >:O I'm gonna do it anyway, so eat it!!!" mode that makes me laugh.... buu~t that's another story for a campfire that i don't have! =D
well! that's it! i just sent you a friend request (cuz i find you awesome) so accept me! D:<
"Yes, Creative writing can be taught and we're all f*cked because of it"
AC Story Contest winner: July'12, Jan'13, Feb'13 INSANITY orig. story
I'm glad you found it helpful. Of course, feel free to provide feedback on some of my writings if you come across them. It's easier to critique the work of others since we're detached to the piece, so feedback on my story-telling efforts is invaluable to me.
Keep on writing!! I'll look forward to the April story contest and your entry.
OMG! it was awesome, really really good!
after reading the preview and the first week im hooked!
only one question... who starts to tell the story once the "i really hate" and then it switches to someone else in a new para... is it a different character?
"I am a ghost with no place to haunt, a nonexistent phantom."
OMG! it was awesome, really really good!
after reading the preview and the first week im hooked!
only one question... who starts to tell the story once the "i really hate" and then it switches to someone else in a new para... is it a different character?
aww~ thank you so much. <3 <3 <3
uhm... in the first version of week 1, it starts off with what Dorian goes through on the weekly bases and it sorta/kinda hints at what happens at the therapist's office (apparently, LC was in control at the time or he never woulda done what was done)
and then in the second part (as for your question) It goes back to the therapist's pov. in this version of week 1, i named her "Arianna" (or "Ari" as a pet name because i thought it was cute <3), uh... so there you go. I thought it would make sense if she talked in first person since the prologue was in first person for her, but i guess it doesn't make sense since you asked.
anyway. thanks for liking my story. i decided to rewrite week (chapter) 1 with just the Therapist's pov (she doesn't have a name yet so if you have any ideas ) and introduce Dorian again later. that's gonna be uploaded on the 10th so look out for it, K?
"Yes, Creative writing can be taught and we're all f*cked because of it"
AC Story Contest winner: July'12, Jan'13, Feb'13 INSANITY orig. story
I think I read some before, but now will start over.
Looking 4wd to it.
EDIT - Even the prologue is creepy!
I have a couple of questions on the prologue...
* Assuming she's a professional, wouldn't she have at least glanced thru his file before he arrived?
* Is this a prison (should he be shackled?), a mental institution, a private practice, or... something else?
* Is the non-standard spelling Micheals intentional, or would you rather it me the more traditional Michaels?
Thanks for sharing your Insane story.
(Funny note, I can't get this Insanity story to leave my User Control Panel; even though I've looked at this whole page, it keeps showing as if there's an unread post. LOL maybe that's a sign of insanity...)