I dropped to my knees to relieve his throbbing shaft and a dozen black crows settled on the branches above.
I slapped the blaring box next to my head with a groan. Waking up was an everyday struggle of which I had yet to master. I sat up slowly, contemplating grabbing my cell, and calling Dave. This was a Monday ritual of mine, wake up, sit up, and think about calling in sick at work. I had yet to actually do it, as Dave my boss thought me the responsible one of all the underlings.
Stretching my limbs, I once again refused to call in, and threw back the covers, exposing my body to the cold air. That was always the worst part for me, leaving the nest of blankets that were warm and perfectly molded to your body, only to shiver from the difference in temperature, and feel like you just made a mistake. I rolled my eyes, scolding myself for my childish dallying, and placed my feet on the freezing wood floor below.
The clock blinked like an evil beacon, signaling that I only had an hour to be at my pathetic excuse for a job. I meandered over to the window, dreading what winter had surprised me with while I was sleeping. Oh joy, I scowled, observing the foot of white that covered my Honda civic in the driveway. My second observation being that the snow plow devil had come by and wiped all the powder from the street right behind my car, creating a lovely barricade in which I would have to dig myself out of.
I scratched my head in irritation and grumbled to the shower. My roommate Lucy was most likely still sleeping off her hangover across the hall, as I heard nothing but silence when I reached the bathroom we shared. My toes hit something wet against the tile and I looked down with revulsion. Just great, I cringed, peeling my foot out of a puddle of vomit.
I didn’t have time to curse the party girl a wall over and turned on the shower to warm it up. The pipes groaned like they always did on a cold morning and I wondered if hot water would bless us this hour with its presence. I rinsed my soiled foot under the cool water before wiping up Lucy’s mess, along with a glittery blue thong from the bathroom floor, tossing the vile garment in the trash.
Why the hell did I put up with this? I knew why, but it didn’t make living with Lucy any easier at the moment. The blonde in question was my cousin and when she had offered to share a rental house downtown with me I had thought my prayers had been answered. Saving for a down payment on my own house by splitting cheap rent with Lucy had sounded like a god send. What I didn’t know was that despite her rather kempt and fashionable appearance, the girl was a right slob undercover and a party animal to boot.
I stepped in the shower, feeling the warm steady stream of water relax my worries about my trashed out family member next door. I cleaned up my body, washed my hair, and looked at my disappointed penis. Frowning at my little friend, I promised myself a good tug after work, and stepped out of the steamy haven.
I barely made it out of the shower, when I heard the shrill sounds of my cell going off in my room. My grip tightened around the towel at my waist while I ran to answer it. It was probably Dave, reminding me about the meeting this morning, as if I didn’t remember.
Snatching the cell from my dresser, I flipped it open, “Hey Dave…”
“Where have you been? I’ve been calling you for half an hour,” Dave conveyed with agitation.
“Some of us shower before we go to work Dave,” I grunted, “what’s going on, you sound wired.”
“Oh I’m wired alright. The whole place lost electricity last night, fuse box blew to kingdom come, and the heat decided to call it quits as well. So we got no power, no heat, and an extremely pissed off client wanting to know where the hell his designs are. Please tell me you’ve got something to show this guy…Jordan please for the love of all that is holy, tell me you can work this out,” Dave rambled in a fluster.
I slapped a hand to my forehead, Mondays should definitely be illegal. Walking over to my laptop, I swirled my finger over the touchpad, waking the screen to life. Knowing I had at least some of the final sketches and full graphic images saved to my computer, I set about trying to figure out what was usable for a client’s eyes.
“Yea Dave, I got some stuff. Uh, tell him to meet me at Hubbard and Fifth, Zeena Café. I’ll be there in an hour alright?” Hoping that would sate my boss and hopefully this mystery asshole.
I heard the big man sigh, “I owe you a beer kid. You pull this off and maybe I’ll owe you a bonus too.”
I chuckled, “I’ll hold you to that Dave. Give me a blip on this guy quick.”
“Works for Donovan publishing, his name is Steven Kilford. Thirties, executive lackey, thinks he’s hot shit,” Dave laughed, “trust me he’s not. Not much else to say, except he’ll probably try and rattle you. Hope to God he goes for the cover art and puts it through with the top dogs. No pressure though right?”
“Yeah right Dave. Gotta let you go though, that is if you want me to actually make it there on time.”
“Right…uh…yeah. Good luck kid,” Dave grumbled the last part and ended the call without another word.
I threw the phone on my bed, letting the towel fall to the floor. Rushing to my closet, I grunted at the bare selection of pressed shirts hanging up, and selected a gray button up, with a black tie wrapped around it. It had been my experience, much to my dismay that I would never learn to wrap a tie correctly. Instead I relied on the sleeping Courtney Love next door to secure all my ties in a pre-done fashion and tighten them later on accordingly.
It was a small nuisance on my part, but at least Lucy had one useful trick up her sleeve. I chuckled, thinking of the other tricks she probably had, followed by shaking the perverse thoughts from my head, and mentally scolding myself for thinking of my own family in a downcast manner. She was a good person when she wasn’t partying or squandering away her inheritance on material things, but she was a girl and girls liked to shop I guess.
Balancing myself along the wall, I hiked up my black slacks, thankfully pressed, and buttoned them up, encircling a belt to hold them in place. Unfortunately I had inherited my mother’s willowy frame and had no hips to speak of. My entire body was like an average bean pole and I couldn’t feasibly count the times I had wished for just a bit of muscle or fat even to encase my waft like figure. I sighed, knowing I didn’t have time to get into a self-image battle with myself, and hurriedly threw together the rest of my ensemble.
Feeling presentable, I walked to the mirror for a quick inspection, before I could dash out to start my day. I cursed myself, as I realized I had forgotten to shave, running a hand over my light brown stubble. My hair at least had decided to behave, lying in thick waves to my shoulders. I had inherited the mop of glossy tresses from my mother’s sperm donor, whoever the hell he was. Mom didn’t talk about him, I didn’t care to broach the subject, and we had just left it at that. The only thing I was grateful for in his capacity was the hair.
My eyes looked groggy, not their usual clear teal, but a darker duller shade of blue. I could blame it on the lack of sleep, but really…who was I trying to impress…this publishing asshole with his three grand suit? I blinked a few times, hoping to clear the hazy look out of my eyes, but failed and gave up, shoving my laptop into my messenger bag.
Throwing on my wool coat, I popped the collar, and wound a thick scarf around the neck. I didn’t really care if it looked stupid, it was cold outside and if looking dumb meant being warm, then so be it. I finished up and slid on some rubber boots over my slacks, yet another ridiculous addition to my appearance. If you’ve ever lived anywhere where public maintenance salts the ground, then you know to not let the cuff of your pants get anywhere near it. I had countless slacks that had been ruined, with white tie dye looking stains around the ankles.
I had my dress shoes in hand, to change into later and shut my door quietly, hoping not to wake sleeping beauty, for fear of her hung over wrath. So far so good I smiled, treading lightly down the carpeted stairs, to the first floor. A creak of wood from above made me cringe.
“Jordy?” A soft voice called. Shit, shit, shit.
“Yeah Lu?” I returned, trying to be gentle. Having a hangover and people shouting was like pounding your head into the wall.
“Mom called a minute ago. Aunt J can’t get a hold of you. You didn’t give her your new number?” Lucy peeked her blonde head over the banister, her voice groggy.
I cursed myself, great! Now my mother was going to be right pissed. I had only gotten the new phone service three days ago, due to Dave changing plans, and had forgotten to call her first thing. She was always calling. Forever pestering me about this, that, or the other.
“Kim say if she was mad?” I asked. My Aunt Kim God bless her, was the filter between me and my mother.
“No, said she sounded really worried, almost weepy,” Lucy rolled her eyes, “Is she taking meds again?”
“Not that I know of, I’ll call her after my meeting. Just call Kim back and tell her to go check on mom please.”
My mother had been on and off anti-depressants for my entire existence. She didn’t date, she didn’t really leave the house other than work, and she was always sad. It was like after I was born she shut down. According to Aunt Kim, she had once been a thriving and spontaneous woman, full of life, and a free spirit, but it was my birth that changed all that.
“All right, I’ll tell her, just don’t slam the door on your way out,” Lucy mumbled, before stalking back to her room.
“Whatever,” I whispered and went out to my car, quietly shutting the door behind me.
“For fuck’s sake!” I knelt in front of the flat tire that mocked me. Groaning, I stood and kicked the tire like it was someone’s face, mentally putting another reason on my ‘why I hate Monday’s’ list.
I leapt over a pile of snow that was blocking my car, and headed down the icy sidewalk, trying my best to hurry along over the slippery pavement. With my phone in hand, I grudgingly dialed Dave, waiting for the fury to unleash itself.
“What now kid?” Dave grunted.
“Yeah tell Kilford I’m going to be another fifteen. I got a flat tire,” I mumbled.
“Great… just great!” Dave shouted away from the phone, “Sorry Jordan, it’s not your fault. You’re only a few blocks from Zeena right?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna cut through Middleton Park, heated sidewalks should save me some time.”
I glanced up, feeling eyes on me, and passed a tall blonde beefcake staring at me. Creeper, I raised a brow, but just kept my hurried pace. He would have been hot, save the targeted stare he was burning into my back.
“Alright, I’ll let him know. Take it easy kid and good luck,” Dave sighed.
“Thanks Dave, I’ll let him have it,” I smiled, feeling grateful that Dave hadn’t chewed me a new asshole.
“Get going. Talk to you later,” Dave ended the call as he always did, blunt and on his own time.
I snapped my phone shut and crossed the empty street, shuffling over the ice towards Middleton Park. The trees up ahead thickened with a pristine metal sign signaling my turn off. The park was the last remaining patch of nature in the bustling downtown area. It was nice, quiet, and mainly used for its long narrow trails for walking and biking.
A woman pushing a baby smiled at me as I entered the main paved trail, I glanced over my shoulder and saw her stopped and staring at me. Whipping my head forward, I scrunched my face, why was everyone staring at me? If time had allowed, I would have gone back to the house and checked, but as it stood I was running short on minutes.
Clutching my dress shoes to my chest, I headed deeper into the thickly forested park, feeling an eerie quiet settle over the place. No birds chirped, the sky seemed to darken, and no other friendly locals were in sight. I walked along the bend that I knew would eventually lead to the tacky limestone fountain, where the hippy guitarists usually played for cash or food gift cards.
Walking into the small square, I noticed the two large men sitting at the base of the fountain. Both were rather burly, scary I guess would be a better term, and I kept walking, keeping my eyes down to not catch any unwanted attention. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one stand, turning my direction, and I felt a warning creep through my body in the form of goose bumps.
My boots quickened underneath, a fear spread through me. I heard the deeper footsteps fall in behind me and suppressed the urge to run. If I ran, they would just chase me right? I prayed to God that someone else would appear along the path, someone who would notice my situation. Maybe I was being paranoid and maybe they were just taking a break and decided to resume their walk. Or maybe the big muscle bound hoods, were going to kidnap me, and make me their latest serial killer victim.
I heard the squeak that left my mouth and crossed the small bridge in what could be described as a jog. I almost gasped in relief when I spotted the tall dark haired man up ahead. Their footsteps matched mine as I started to race towards the lone figure for help, until he turned his eyes on me. The dark haired man’s gaze was unnatural, like two orbs of pure spring green and something about him felt abnormal.
I sensed more than felt the body coming close to my back and tossed my shoes behind me to distract my pursuers. The stoic man ahead stepped into the middle of my path, giving me no time to avert my direction, only allowing me to run straight into his embrace. It was then that I started to scream. Nothing in that moment could have stopped my lungs from carrying my cry of help to the world. I was scared with a fear that ran to the depths of my soul.
Everything else in my life was forgotten as the man that barricaded me, pushed my body behind him and raised his hands to the hoods that chased me. Something deep and melodic flowed from his lips, sending shivers up my spine, and I felt the air thicken, making it hard to breathe. The space around us started to thin a little as I sputtered for oxygen, the trees whispered with a quickening breeze, and we became the center of a swirling force of wind.
Leaves and branches danced around the two of us and I swear to all that was holy I heard voices. Our attackers stopped, raising their hands back to my saving grace.
“Give us the half breed and we will spare you,” the red haired thug boomed.
I didn’t even care what came from his mouth as I was in awe of the paranormal phenomenon swirling around us. It took everything I was to even remember to breathe, much less calculate what the red head was babbling about. My mind picked up the words half breed, but it meant nothing at the time.
“Go back to your master dark hunter, or I will truly show you what I am capable of,” my protector’s voice was smooth and deep, it sang to my heart like the voice of an angel.
“He is an abomination and must be dealt with weakling Fae. We fear not you, nor your little wind,” the darker thug spoke up, sending chills down my spine. These guys wanted me dead and I felt that in the darker guy’s tone, his gaze on me backing up his words.
My protector laughed with a chilling darkness that I tried to get past, but I backed up a foot in fear, “you know nothing of what you speak. Weakling Fae you say? Little wind you do not fear? Oh hunter of the dark, you will eat those words, and swallow them down with a bitter taste.”
My heart threatened to beat out of my chest and I fell to the ground while the man before me shimmered, morphing his slender body into another being entirely. The ‘hunters’ as he called them watched with widened eyes, retreating a step or two, as my protector began to grow in size. Where his limbs had been willowy, they stretched and bulked, growing into thick tan muscles that rippled with the fists he held. His hair lengthened from his ears to a curtain of ebony down to his hips, and his ears! His ears capped off into points, glinting with gems so colorful, I was sure the earth had not made them.
He stretched his back, letting his spine crack, and his muscles move, as I cowered away from the six foot plus God of a man. In his hand now was a jagged red staff that he thrust towards the fearful hunters.
“I am Vendish, Prince of the Fae, and mover of the earth and wind,” he shouted over the roaring swirl of wind, his hair whipping around him like shadows in the night, “Jordan of the Fae right is under my protection. Any that seek to harm what is mine, shall suffer my hand and that of the nature before you.”
He raised his staff and all hell broke loose. I wrapped myself around a nearby tree trunk, feeling tears run down my cheeks. I had finally lost my mind, this is what it was like to be crazy, and live in a real to life nightmare. My body trembled uncontrollably as a storm of epic proportions rocked the park around me. The ground shook underneath, vibrating my body, and I started to hyperventilate.
Breathing turned into gasping, as the world below opened up before the man called Vendish. The hunters waved their hands, with frightening black mists erupting from their fingers, but it was swept away by the force of Vendish’s wind magic. They had no hope of escape as the wind carried their heavy bodies into the pit in the ground, burying their screams under dirt and rock, and the crack closed over them.
Where the opening had been, pavement rebuilt itself instantly, like nothing had ever happened, but I knew what happened. Vendish turned to me, his lime green eyes glowing with power, and his hair blowing in the now gentle breeze. I hid further into the depths of roots and the broad trunk of tree that cradled my shaking form.
This was a dream, this was not real, I chanted, shutting my eyes tightly away from the approaching man. I buried my face into the rough bark, not caring if it hurt, only wanting to hide away from all that threatened my sanity. Soft fingertips grazed my cheek and I skidded away from the gentle touch.
“Don’t touch me!” I screamed, scuttling over various branches to get away. I felt blind, though I could see, tears ran freely over my face while I tried to escape. I looked over my shoulder to see his proximity and that turned out to be a mistake. My retreating body ran smack into a hard chest and I fell to the dirt floor below.
“Please do not fear me,” Vendish soothingly rumbled, crouching in front of me.
I propped onto my elbows in the dirty snow, looking straight into his unnatural eyes.
“I mean you no harm Jordan,” he tried again.
“Who are you? How do you know my name? What the fuck was that!” I rambled hysterically, trying to crab walk backwards across the cold ground. My hands stung from the snow and the plethora of scrapes I had received.