I was a walking zombie after feeding Armande. It wasn’t that he took too much, he barely had anything, but I was exhausted. Dead on my feet didn’t even cover it. I barely made it through my nightly yoga routine before I passed out on the bed sans covers and everything.
I had only prolonged the inevitable though. The dreams came – they always came. The darkness, the fog. The confusion and sadness as the blue eyes started in on me.
I fell out of one dream into a panic state with Ophelia resting against my side. The hum of her purring next to me soothed me into slumber again – only to find myself in the grips of the nightmare again. The red eyes were burning like fire as the tentacles of elements rained down on my back. I did my best not to cry out but I shot awake, my body aching and my bed a bloody mess. I rolled over and collapsed on the bed. It was like it had waited for me to sleep. I healed my back as I lay on my side trying not to drift off again. It wasn’t even 2 am yet.
I didn’t sleep. I made myself get up before 4 and I started my routine. I worked when I couldn’t sleep but I had to relax first. Had to do my thing before I lost my shit again. I didn’t want to find myself with Ant and Ryan running or fighting or whatever mechanism they decided was best useful to pull me from my misery. I tried not to think about Monday. Tried not to think about those blue eyes that haunted me.
I was sitting at my bar flipping through files eating breakfast. Until my alarm went off. I jumped a little which made Ophelia do that little giggling thing she did when I did something funny. She sat on the bar lapping at milk she’d had since breakfast – she waited till it warmed to her perfect temperature. Annoying cat, I stuck my tongue out at her. “I’m going shopping. You want anything? How about some dry boring cat food?”
She growled at me and arched her back. “What? I thought you might like the change.”
Her growl turned to a hiss. I reached across and rubbed her head. “I’ll buy extra cream so that Dad can have his Irish Coffee next week and you’ll have all that you want. Tuna sound good?”
“Good. I’ll see you later. I don’t want any mice left on my doorstep. You know I hate that. And don’t flush them down the toilet either.” I shuddered at the thought of the mess either of those make.
I didn’t shop downstairs for food. The first reason was because there wasn’t really any good place, and two I preferred buying my items fresh. So I hit a butcher, and a market and then I’d tackle the boxed stuff, but that was rare. I didn’t do much outside of fresh which is where most of my stipend went.
We didn’t live like humans. I never paid a bill. If I wanted I would never have to cook or buy groceries. But I wasn’t like the Venatori either, I liked cooking. Dorian paid for many lessons to get me out of his hair. And by the time he actually came to care for me he spent the money because I wanted to doing those things.
Downstairs I didn’t see my blue eyed stalker and I wondered if he was going to be a bad memory too. I headed to the butcher first, it wasn’t far from the AU building. The door bell tinkled as I walked in. There was a short line. “Hey Arnold.” I said as I moved to the cashier. The girl at the register walked back into the cooler and grabbed a paper bag of my order already cut. “Thanks Lisa.” I handed her my card and she ran through the motions. I waved at Arnold, “Thanks man.”
“Hey Nox.” Arnold called back before I opened the door. “Next week call ahead, Lisa and I won’t be here, so call in your order.”
I sighed and stepped away from the door and made a note in my entry for the change in schedule. When I was done I smiled and waved again, “Thanks Arnold.”
I reached for the door and the person coming through ran into me. He was looking down at his phone and all i could smell was a light citrus cologne that was familiar. “Funny running into you here.” I grinned.
He looked up and I saw those gorgeous blue eyes and that smirk. I couldn’t help biting my bottom lip looking into those eyes. “Boris, right?” No it was Bob wasn’t it?”
“Haha.” I said. We stood staring at each other until someone else was behind him wanting to get in.
I backed up and grabbed his elbow and tugged him off to the side out of the way. I didn’t want to interfere with Arnold’s business. I couldn’t stop smiling at him. He’d been around everyday for the past few weeks. The kiss had been electric – almost literally and now he runs into me. I tried to say something – anything, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. “I need to go get the rest of my groceries.”
Alex grinned. “I know.”
“So you have been following me. Why?”
He laughed. “Why do you think?”
“Honestly, no clue. But I do need to get walking, you going to follow me there?”
“Why would I want to do that?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know that either.”
He peeked inside the bag I was carrying. “I might follow you home if you’re cooking any of that.”
I grinned at that, “You can walk with me and I’ll cook dinner for you.”
His eyes went wide and that smirked turned into a wry grin. “I suppose I could endure that. But isn’t lunch next?”
I headed out the door and hoped he’d follow. He did more than follow, he opened the door for me. “How gentlemanly.” I grinned at him. “I’ll drop my groceries off, go for a run then grab lunch on the way back. I could skip my run and cook but …” I let the rest of the sentence go unspoken. I wasn’t sure I wanted to reveal all my dirty little secrets. Not that he wouldn’t find out about my obsessive nature. The compulsions that came with my mind. The need for completely structured life usually drove people insane.
“Don’t tell my you need to run off extra calories.” He looked at his watch and nodded. “I could think of other ways you could work off extra calories.”
I was pretty sure my cheeks heated up and I shook my head and pulled my lips into my mouth. What the fuck was wrong with me, acting like fucking school boy?
There was a spark in his eyes and that perpetual grin on his lips like he knew what I was thinking. I don’t know why I wanted to keep staring at him, but I forced myself to look away and head down the street. He let out a soft noise, like he was biting back a snort or laugh. Could he hear my thoughts? I racked my brain to try to remember the last telepath I saw.
“All this food for your boyfriend?” he asked suddenly breaking the strained silence and my search through my memories.
“I don’t date.” I blurted without really considering the things I was saying.
“So what was the other night, you were just looking for a quick fuck?”
I closed my eyes then quickly opened them to avoid walking into people. “I…” Fuck. That’s what it was, but it could have been more. I shrugged, “I’m sorry, but yeah.”
“So dinner is just a means to get in my pants?” He smirked. Though there was a keen bite to his words.
“No.” I shouted too loudly, the people walking past looked at me like I was crazy. But I was crazy, here I was thinking about making him dinner, and now he’s accusing me of being a slag – however true it might be. I lowered my voice, “No, I… It’s just me cooking for you.”
“So now you don’t want to fuck me?” He feigned confusion.
I stopped and headed down an alley that was behind us. I just needed to sit down for a second. I found a spot and rested my back against the wall. He’d followed me and stood in front of me as I slid down the wall scraping my back on the rough brick as my shirt and hoodie rode up in the back. I crouched on the ground my head back against the wall with my eyes closed. “You drive me fucking nuts, Alex.”
“You remember my name?” He smirked.
“Of course I remember your name. How could I forget it?”
The smirk on his face was no longer humor, “I don’t know, I’ve known people to forget a lot of things in a short period of time.”
I sighed. “Who ever wants to forget you is an idiot.” I said as I hung my head and breathed deeply through my nose and released through my mouth. A calming technique… I hadn’t been lying when I said he drove me nuts. My anxiety was thick in my blood. I could feel it trying to harden every muscle to make me hurt for wanting something.
There was a tiny voice in my head said, ‘This isn’t him. He’ll be so jealous.’ I only had one thought left for that, ‘he’s the one who didn’t show up.’ But it wasn’t the truth completely. I knew Jace lied. I could tell by the way he told me the story. I hated that he’d fucked things up then, but now looking back on it he really fucked me over and for what – to keep me for himself? I sighed… Asshole!
“You okay pretty boy?”
I nodded and stood up. “Yeah.” I looked at him across the way, “Sorry. This is me. Anxiety is my very own personal demon.” I started walking away. I didn’t expect him to follow.
“I was only joking about the getting in my pants thing.” He said as he caught up to me. “But why don’t you date?”
“I tried once. Guy used me. But he’s not the reason, had a guy stand me up.”
“I know that feeling.” He growled. “No girlfriends?”
“Never. I’m not that into girls.” I said.
“Really? So the dancing and sex on the dancefloor was just, what? Accidental? You were dancing and accidentally fucked them too? Oops, sorry about that, my dick just slipped in there,” he mocked.
I smirked, “Yeah? You think I could get away with that? Oops sorry, slipped!” I rolled my eyes with a grin. “I admire women. I enjoy their body, their curves, their softness. But I could never give my heart to a woman. No point in dating her when I know for a fact I’d be miserable.” I looked at him and winked, “And they are missing my favorite part of the body.”
He looked down and the look in his eyes made me laugh. “Yeah you got it.” I couldn’t help the smile that split my cheeks. It almost hurt.
I nodded in the direction of the open market, “Got a few things here to pick up.”
Alex nodded, I knew he wanted to say I know, but he just pulled his lips in and looked amused.
“Am I amusing you?” I asked playfully.
“You are.” He stopped behind me, and the passing crowd behind him made him press up against my back. I bit back the groan escaping my throat as I felt his body heat so close. Was he getting hard like me?
The grocer in the stall smiled, “Hey Nox.”
“Hey Mel. Got my order?”
She nodded her and her bright red hair fell in her eyes. “I do. I added some apricots, nectarines and some summer squash that looked really good this morning. And I found some fresh tuna down at the docks for Fee. She’s been mousing around the market.”
I rolled my eyes, “So that’s where she keeps getting them from. Stop encouraging her. The last one flooded the bathroom.”
Mel giggled. “She’s just giving you presents.”
I shuddered. “Please don’t” The words escaped as I remembered I had a man standing directly behind me, his fingers playing idly with the hem of my shirt and his fingers stopped moving. I leaned back and whispered, “Wasn’t talking to you.”
He laughed and shoved me playfully and walked away. I waved at Mel, “Thanks. You did the usual?”
“ACH all the way baby. I’ll see next week.”
I caught up with Alex who was looking at the stall just past Mel’s, “Do you always have an order ahead of time?”
“I get the same thing every week with little variation.” I confessed.
“Why?” He sounded like it was a horrible way to live.
I smirked and shrugged. “It’s easier that way.” Which wasn’t a lie. I wasn’t ready to tell him I was a nutcase. He was going to find out eventually but not right now.
I laughed, “Where to now?”
He looked at me a little lost. “You’ve been following me for weeks. So what do I do next?”
He nodded, his eyes grew distant, like I had reminded him of something. “The grocery store for things you can’t get here I guess. You have everything else.” He didn’t sound happy, nor playful and I sighed. I’d ruined the mood.
We walked through the market to Trader Joe’s which was a few blocks from the AU building in awkward silence. Fuck!
Alex snaked his fingers between mine and squeezed gently and I looked down as he clasped his fingers around mine. “Why didn’t you talk to me before?”
I shrugged. “I’d probably not be talking to you now if you didn’t run into me.”
“Why not? Too good for me?” he sounded offended – again.
I sighed. “Because you didn’t look like you wanted company.” I said pulling my hand from his and walked in front of him through the door.
He followed a few paces behind me and I was grateful he didn’t take my hand again. I was just fucking this up and he was going to walk away anyway. It was best to just end it now.
“You mean kinda like you look right now?” He retorted.
“I…” I sighed. “I like your company, but you seem to get annoyed at everything so…” I let it trail off I didn’t really have anything to add to it anyway.
“I’m sorry.” He apologized, “You just remind me of someone. A bad memory.”
I gave him a wry smile, “I know the feeling.” I grabbed milk, heavy cream, two cartoons, more coffee and eggs and then we headed for the checkout. I asked, “You mind a late lunch, early dinner. I have friends coming over after the sun goes down they’ll play poker and try to get me to play with them, which you are more than welcome to join, but I kinda want to cook for you just me and you.”
I shrugged. “I wouldn’t call it that.” I didn’t date. I just didn’t do it. My dream guy stood me up, but Dan had used me. I didn’t want to put myself out there. Specially not for a pair of ice blue eyes who drew my nightmares in.
“Sounds like a date to me.” He smirked.
“Fine, call it a date. You wanna stop by at 3?” I asked hopefully.
Alex looked at his phone and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll have to rearrange a client but I can make three.”
“Great.” I bit my bottom lip. “I’m sure you have better things to do than follow me around shopping. I mean you were walking into the butchers when you ran into me.”
“Ah fuck!” He growled then sighed. “See what you do to me?” He winked. “I’ll see you at 3 pretty boy.” He leaned in and kissed my cheek and winked again before he headed off the way we’d come.
I watched him go, fuck he was hot!