I stared at the balding man with a blank expression. He already knew my name.
“What is your name?”
Rolling my eyes and tossing my crimson hair over my shoulder, I answered him, “Nicole Nottingham.” He knew that.
“How long have you been nineteen?”
I would have to play it carefully now. “Four-hundred-seventy-nine years, six months, three weeks, and four days.” Sarcasm, one of the greatests arts. In truth, I had been nineteen for even longer.
“Right.” Mr. I’m-Balding-and-Use-Far-Too-Much-Aftershave sighed dramatically. “Can I get your phone number so I can contact you if we have any further questions?”
“Is that necessary?”
“I…” He seemed surprised that I would question him. “No, I suppose not.”
Nodding, I turned and headed towards a check-out lane. “In that case, no, I suppose you cannot have my phone number,” I called over my shoulder. “I’ll take a pack of Marlboros, too.”
The teen working the cashier was attractive enough, but a little slow on the uptake. He stared at me with a dumbfounded expression. “What?”
“These,” I said, practically lying over the counter to reach the pack of cigarettes I wanted. Plucking it from its holder, I plopped it down in front of him so he could ring it up.
Without meeting my eyes, the boy scanned everything and put it all into one bag. “Ten dollars, fifty-one cents.” Still, he would not look me in the eye. How annoying.
Before I could even pull the money from the sleek wallet in my purse, bills were being tossed to the cashier in a careless manner. “No worries, doll. I’ve got this.” Turning to the boy, the ever-so-gracious, arrogant, and obnoxious Rogan Wyatt tipped his head and told him to keep the change.
Rogan and I had met a few months ago at a meeting, one that I would not have expected his human life to witness. But he was there. The handsome Italian had stirred up every single one of my people, caused quite a ripple through the crowd. Multiple times. A few had even been removed from the meeting for making inappropriate comments or gestures. It had surprised me how at ease he seemed to be the entire time.
Now, he followed me around constantly. Well, okay, he didn’t follow me, necessarily… He just happened to be everywhere I was, all the time. And he just happened to enjoy driving me absolutely insane. His scent alone was enough to make my mouth water, but his constant needling made me want to rip his face off sometimes. That, and his superiority complex. He thought he was better than everyone, that he could do what he pleased, whenever he pleased. I would eventually make him see the light.
It was in the parking lot, next to my bike, that I finally turned to speak to him.
“What could you possibly be doing here?”
Ugh, that smirk! I nearly growled at the cockiness in it. “The same as you, of course,” he answered, stepping closer to me. I stood my ground, my stance firm.
“And what is that, exactly?” Rogan couldn’t possibly know about my mission, he was only trying to pretend like he did so that I would slip up and tell him what it was.
He shook his head, that smirk still in place. He leaned over to whisper in my ear—even though I was much taller than an average female, he was still a lot taller than me. “You think I don’t know about the Lockley man?”
So he does know. “Lockley man?” I asked, feigning curiosity. If anyone knew about the Lockley man, it was me.
“Lying doesn’t suit you, Nic. Just tell me what you know.”
Oh, he was playing it blunt? How refreshing. “No.” I plucked the pack of cigarettes from the plastic bag and ripped the wrapping off. Annoying, pointless piece of clear hell. Its only purpose was to cling to you as soon as it was removed from the cardboard box of cancer-inducing, paper-wrapped nicotine.
Just like Rogan’s attempts at trying to get information from me. Whatever it was he was saying, I wasn’t hearing. Did he honestly think I was listening to his ramblings? I shook my head to clear the ringing in my ears, but it picked right back up again once I stopped. “Sh?” I offered, only to be glared at and otherwise ignored. Fine. Pulling a zippo from the pocket of my cropped leather jacket, I lit my fag and stuck it between my lips. As Rogan went on and on about needing the information—at least, that’s what I assumed he was speaking of—my long body was leaned against my sports bike.
-and you know he’s just going to-”
A yawn “escaped” the confines of my mouth, my free hand covering it politely. I wasn’t tired, of course, but I was rather exhausted of the conversation. “Rogan, I’m leaving.” And I was. As I told him so, I was swinging my leg over my ride and gathering my crimson hair. I twisted it into a rope of sorts, left my cigarette between my lips, and pulled the hair through itself to put it into a knot.
Stopping mid-step, my head turned in his direction.
“Why not, Rogan? You know I’m not allowed to tell you anything.” He was staring at me with a frustrated expression by this point. “He’s an assignment, which I assume you already know, and that’s that.” What was he expecting me to do, really? Go against my people? Disobey direct orders to tell no one of this mission? I couldn’t, and he knew that as well as I did.
He glanced down, clenching his teeth tightly together. When he looked back up at me, I could see that something was bothering him. Had he mentioned it while trying to persuade me to tell him? “Nicole, I assure you I already know everything you were told about Lockley, if not more than that. If you hadn’t been ignoring me while I was talking to you, you would see that I’m not here to get information from you. I just—”
“Then why did you ask what I know?” I demanded.
“Now you want to talk? Fine, I will repeat myself.” It seemed I had to wait for him to continue because he paused to examine a fingernail that was probably buffed and filed to perfection already. “As I said earlier, I was simply curious to how much information your ‘leaders’ had ‘trusted’ you with,” he said. “Now, my actual reason for being here is to…”
Sighing, I urged him on with dwindling patience. “What? Is to what?”
“Look, I already know you’re going to be pissed when I tell you. Just give me one second to try to word it so that I don’t get killed, just severely injured.” Joking with me, he was always playing around. “You can’t go after him, Nic.”
Maybe I looked stupid, maybe I looked like I rode the short bus to school a few years ago, maybe I was catching flies with my trap—I didn’t care. My jaw was hanging slightly open out of shock. “I—what?”
“See if you had listened to me earlier, we would have been done with this conversation.”
I frowned at him from my seat, right foot up on the brake and right hand resting on the handbrake. He should have known I would ignore him earlier. Ha. He probably did know that I would. Then why— It doesn’t matter. “You’re just going to have to explain yourself again.”
Rogan sighed. “He’s not… He’s not who you think he is. Ah, ah, ah. Before jump down my throat, yes, I know what you think he is. But he’s more than just that. The Lockley man is one of…one of…my people.”
Okay, now my trap was probably catching flies with how wide it must have been hanging. His people? That was impossible. My people would have told me. No, they wouldn’t have had to tell me; it was part of the pact that we didn’t kill people not ours. Rogan, for example, was not my kind, and I couldn’t not kill him. No matter how much I wanted to sometimes. It was illegal, for lack of an easier explanatory term. If what he was saying about the Lockley man was true, I had almost committed one of the greatest of crimes without even knowing it. My elders would have known, though… Something like an assignment’s kind was not unknown.
My eyes flicked back to Rogan when he said my name, not sure what to think. He was a friend, and I trusted him more than most, but why would my elders have…set me up? Because that is what they had to have done. Set me up. There was no way they could have sent me on a mission that would only result in my death. Working for, well, the government (“government” being a loose term) of your people was supposed to prevent such travesties. If they had sent me on this mission, knowing that I would kill someone that the treaty said I was not allowed to, they were sending me to my death. “A life for a life taken.” It wasn’t for my kind to decide what others did. That’s how it had been for a few centuries now, that was how most of us liked it. We were allowed to befriend whom we wanted without fearing that he or she was on a secret mission to kill us due to our lineage. And what had I been about to do?
I slumped on my bike and felt the magnamity of the situation settling onto my shoulders, bending my spine and tilting my head down. Subconsciously, my hands went to my hair to work it out of its knot. Somewhere in the back of my mind I noted how long it was getting—somewhere past the middle of my back now and dead. Like the rest of me.
“What, Rogan?” My voice was harsh and angry.
Rogan apologising metaphorically resembled seeing a polar bear in the middle of a desert, and I knew that. Face softening, I sighed quietly. “It’s not your fault, I just… Thank you. You know, for warning me.”
He came closer then, stopping next to where I was sitting on my bike. After all the years of knowing him, I still couldn’t figure out the look he got in moments like this. It was rare, not always appearing, and the one time I had asked about it, he didn’t talk to me for the two months that followed. The look was sometimes accompanied by a touch, so light that I had a hard time believing it really happened. Such a touch was incredibly contradicting to Rogan’s usual character, which was probably why it felt so nice. I knew he didn’t grace such gentleness to just anyone. You had to be special for that side of Rogan to show its pretty face and, once in a while, it was nice to realize that you were special in some way to somebody.
“Anytime, doll,” he said, stroking my cheekbone with the his index and middle fingertips. As soon as his skin was no longer in contact with mine, the look was gone and the mood was back to normal—well, “normal”. With his familiar cocky grin, Rogan tugged on a lock of my hair. “Heading home?”
“Mm, yes,” I replied. And then what? “You?”
Wait, did I miss something? Looking at him in confusion, I asked, “‘Sure’ what?”
“‘Sure,’ I’ll head home with you,” he said with his face as straight as an arrow.
I laughed and shook my head. “Don’t you have your own home, mutt?”
Laughing along with me, he shrugged. “Yeah, but I would rather go home with you.” Rogan smirked. “I didn’t drive here, Nic, and I’m awfully tired.”
Of course. Of course, he had ran all the way here. I looked around the dark and nearly empty parking lot for any sign of one of his vehicles. Nothing. As my face turned back in his direction, I was rolling my eyes dramatically. “Hop on, then.”
It wasn’t long before we were beyond the boundaries of the small town. Rogan was behind me, perched on the back of my sport bike. I knew, of course, how much this bothered him. Being on back while a female controlled the vehicle was not his usual way of getting around, but he was taking it well. In fact, he seemed mighty comfortable with wrapping his arms around me and pressing into my back. Occasionally, I could even feel him burying his face in my shoulder. The sudden lack of his immense heat from my back, then the sunsation of him so close to my leather jacket, cooled by my icy skin—it gave him away whether or not he was trying to be inconspicuous about it.
We went from a small town where everyone knew everyone—to a suburb where no one knew anyone else. The area consisted mainly of senior citizens, but there was a good count of young, working couples, to is it was a good area for me. Plus, Burbville—as Rogan called it—was just a short distance from New York City.
“Are we there yet?” Rogan whined. He was playing, sort of, but we both knew ho much he hated sitting still for too long. The funny thing was, he had more engines than I did.
“Almost, now stop your whining,” I replied, speeding up once I had sniffed around enough to know I could get away with it. A few moer rounded corners and we were home.
I lived in a condominium, an apartment-house mix that came with a front and back yard, a one-and-a-half-car garage, and free maintence. The place didn’t look special compared to the others connected to it on either side, but I liked it well enough. Its two floors suited my needs with two bedrooms, a living room, dining area and kitchen, and picturesque spiral staircase. When I had moved in, I hadn’t come out again for days; redecorating had to be done in order to perfect my living space.
Pulling up the drive way, the door to my garage opened as I neared it—thank you, simple technology. The street itself went along the back of my row of condos, sort of like a circle drive, and wove in and out between the separate buildings. The drive way, connected to this winding street, went right up to the back of the condo, meaning that the front yard was on the opposite side of the home.
“Honey, I’m home!” The sing-songy call was unleashed into the empty kitchen as Rogan and I stepped in from the garage.
My guest looked at me strangely, and I could almost guess the question that would follow. “You have a pet?”
I chuckled. “No, I don’t. When was the last time you were here, two months ago?” He nodded. “Oh, well, I didn’t then, and I don’t now.” In fact, I hadn’t kept an animal in my home in about a century. The last one I had was a poodle while I was staying in france. An inside joke with someone I was living with at the time. He was a pain in the ass—and so was the dog.
“I don’t suppose you have anything to eat in this joint?”
“Hm… There might be some canned stuff in the pantry left over from the last time you were here.” As Rogan headed in the direction of his only hope for food in my house, I moved to the living room—quickly, since I didn’t have to worry about being seen.
Whereas the kitchen was done in sunny colors, the living room was darker and more bold, yet feminine. The color scheme revolved around reds and oranges, fire colors. I had bought comfortable seating, nothing hard or unwelcoming, and a few end tables and lamps to go in between. The focus of the room (where all of that furniture face at some angle or another) was a large fireplace rather than a television set. I had never been a fan of watching the tube; I preferred live performances.
I had started the fire and backed myself up so that I was sitting against the couch by the time Rogan graced me with his presence, a steaming bowl of something in his hand. “Werewolves are so slow,” I commented. Before he could reply, I asked him about the contents of his dish, grimacing at it as I did so.
Sighing and ignoring my original statement, he told me, “It’s a bowl of Spaghetti-O’s… It was all you had in there that hadn’t expired.” The dark haired male took a seat on the cushions behind me, swinging his legs up to rest his feet on the opposite arm of the coush. I looked over my shoulder to smile apologetically. I didn’t keep food in the house because it would only go to waste; having company was rare and usually it was only Rogan, who knew to bring his own stuff most of the time, or another of my kind.
Another thing my home was lacking in was clocks. It wasn’t very often that I found a use for them, after all. I was unemployed, technically, so it wasn’t like I had a schedule. Plus, not leaving them around meant not having to watch it as I stayed up all night, not having to curse my internal insomnia whilst being all alone in my condo. However, Rogan did sleep. Every night. I reemembered this as his stifled yawn reached my ears. Poor little puppy, I thought with a smile to myself.
Tilting my head back to look at him, I reached up to tug on his dark hair. “Bedtime, pup.” He looked at me lethargically. On a normal night, even if nights where he stayed over were far between, he would’ve just gotten up and flipped on the bed in the guest room—the only bed in the house. Tonight, though, he simply stared at me as if waiting for something. “What?”
“Don’t think I can stay up as long as you?”
I laughed. “Vampires don’t sleep, Rogan. You know that.”
“So,” there is no way you can ever stay up as long as me."
Without responding, Rogan rolled off the coucn and onto me. His weight preactically folded me in half, but the action was playful. I moved so that I was on my stomach, then pushed up with his body draped over my back. Crawling, I immediately quickened the pace to the point of being unhuman. The result was a dull thud as he fell off of me and onto the carpet.
“Aw, going somewhere?”
I peeked my head out from behind the kitchen doorway, grinning. Our games were so fun. It was because of such games that I was so comfortable with being myself around him. When it came to everyone else… Well, it wasn’t the same.
Before I could retreat farther into the kitchen the predator-to-my-prey was sliding into a crouch. Shit, was all I had time to think as I watched his body fling itself into the air. He was on me in seconds, flattening my back into the tiles of my kitchen floor. His grin was mocking.
“You didn’t even try to get away,” Rogan pointed out.
“It would’ve had to end sooner or later.”
“Uh-huh, and you just knew it would end with you on your back.”
I squirmed beneath him playfully, trying to free myself enough to send him on a flight right back to where he came from. However, while our speed was about the same, he was stronger than I was, so I was stuck for the time being. Not that I minded, really, it was actually quite pleasant. His weight and extreme heat pressed down on me in such a way that I could feel it, which was a great sensation in and of itself.
Rogan mumbled something, but his face was buried in the crook of my neck, and the location further muffled the sound. “Hm?” I asked, reluctant even to move my lips to speak.
“I said, I’m passing out.” In one swift movement, he was standing above me and offering me a hand to pull me up. I winked at him and ignored his hand. I could stand myself up, thanks. He was rolling his caramel eyes as i launched myself up and into a run. I was standing outside the guest room for only a moment before Rogan crashed into me. He had always been horrible at stopping once he got going.
“Your room, good sir,” I said, guesturing to tyhe door with a flourish and a curtsy.
“Thank you, m’lady.” Capturing my hand, he planted his lips on my knuckles and smiled up at me in his crooked fashion—the genuine, adorable smile that I subconsciously longed for when he wasn’t around to supply it.
“I will,” he replied. He watched me as I retreated to the other side of the hallway.
“Dream of me,” I added as a joke.
“Always.” Did my still heart just move?
I was in m room and closing the door as he said, “Think of me.”
Always. The word entered my mind and my existence ached. Did I mean that?
This is bound to be edited/revised/etc. many, many times. But this is what it is so far! (: I’m currently working on “Ch. Two”.
Opinions are amazingly welcome. :D
EDIT: I’ve fixed this up and such, as I said was bound to happen. The “final” version, Chapter One – The Lockley Man, can be found here .