My apartment was empty. Even Ophelia was out. It was late by the time I actually got to my room and crashed on the bed. I was asleep without even taking off my shoes. I hurt in places I didn’t like hurting. And the last thought I had before drifting off to sleep was having Alex hold me.
There was no deep darkness, just the fog and the eerie light. The eyes were blue – the color of Alex’s eyes, of the guy in my dreams eyes. They were a near perfect match. There was no warning, no command or instructions just a hail of tentacles falling across my body. The eyes laughed at me.
It cackled gleefully at me and I tried my best not to cry, or scream. The world around me drifted while I lived through my own personal hell. A strange chirp sounded in the darkness. There were no sounds in the dream except those that eyes made. My nightmare was always locked in darkness and quiet – sense deprivation to make the pain more real. Garrett had used the tactic often enough when he did this to me as a child.
Another strange chirp distracted me from the next blow and I cried out. And in my terror of what was next my eyes shot open. My heart pounded in my chest and my lungs heaved to pull in air. The panic and the pain. I didn’t even want to look and I wouldn’t look at my back, I just wrapped the wounds in the elements and grit my teeth as the skin crawled back into place leaving behind old scars.
Ophelia had returned and was lying on her pillow instead of on top of me like usual.
A third chirp went off followed by a long ring. I blinked at the sounds from my dream and realized it was actually in my room. I found a phone lying just under the hem of my comforter where Alex had dropped his clothes after the shower. Fuck!
I glanced at the front screen and saw several missed messages and two partial texts sitting on the screen.
J: Call me honey!
The second one was a little more interesting.
Unknown Number: I got home safe Brent, thanks for …
I sighed and put the phone in the bowl on my counter. Hopefully Alex would realize it’s missing and call me or stop by to get it. Otherwise I’d really have no idea how to give it to him.
I tried to lay back down to sleep but I couldn’t help but wonder why Alex had said he’d forgot his phone earlier that day. I hated lies even little ones. I did my best not to lie. Though there were times that I did. I had to. But this wasn’t like that. He’d have an explanation, but I wasn’t sure I would hear it. How could I when I had his phone? And who was Brent?
Sleep never came. My mind rolled from scenario to scenario of why Alex had lied to me about his phone. I saw different versions of people calling him Brent instead of Alex. None of those texts looked business like – they were personal. It wasn’t a business phone. I could understand that. Could understand having multiple phones but …
The alarm on my phone went off and I groaned as I reached over to turn it off. I was going to have a shitty day. Coffee and yoga were barely going to help.
I managed my morning routine and was on a second cup of coffee with my Tuesday morning breakfast. Which was the same as my Monday evening breakfast. It reminded me of the man who’d left my apartment twice now upset at me. Of a man who lies, and who I had no way of contacting. I was supposed to call him today. I’d been looking forward to that before I’d gone to sleep. Now I wasn’t so sure about that.
I worked from my apartment filing my report for the capture of one dragon, a human and a boy dragon. I hoped Alex would stop by. But then I hoped I never saw him again too. My mind was a mess.
At 9am his phone rang. And then it rang again nearly every hour on the hour. The same name ‘Janice’ each time. I almost answered it once. But I decided against it. I wasn’t going to pry anymore. Everything I learned from this point out was not going to help how I felt.
My alarm went off for my afternoon coffee meeting with one of Dom’s lackeys. On a normal day it was my run time and it was when Alex usually sat at the coffee shop down stairs and watched for me to run by. I doubted he’d miss his afternoon cup of coffee. Which was why I grabbed his phone on the way out the door.
I hadn’t been wrong, Alex sat at his usual table though he looked like he wanted to spit nails. I drew close and he smirked, “You have time for a run, but you don’t have time to call me?”
I let out a curt laugh as I dropped the lost phone on his table. “Kinda hard when I have your phone.”
Alex picked up the phone and looked at the number of missed calls and messages and muttered to himself, “Fuck!”
“Who’s Brent?” I asked.
Alex blinked up at me and I shook my head. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. You lied about not having your phone so why tell me who Brent is. See you around.” I said and walked away.
I heard Alex growl, “Fuck!” and then I heard the chair scrap behind him and he rushed after me, “Fuck Nox, let me explain.”
“Explain why you didn’t call when you were late, or why you told me you forgot your phone, or explain who Brent is?” I growled at him as I kept walking. “I have a meeting to go to.” I said.
Alex didn’t stop though I heard him muttering to himself though I couldn’t make out the words. “Look can’t we talk.”
“You have until I get where I’m going.” I said.
Alex grabbed my arm and pulled me into the alcove of the AU building, out of the way of people on the sidewalk. “I didn’t remember I had this phone on me. I thought I left it at my apartment, with my phone. This is just a business phone.”
“Do all your business clients call you honey?”
“You read my texts?” Alex accuessed.
“I read two, that were sitting on the front screen when I picked it up. The first one read, ‘Call me honey’, the second one said, ‘I got home safe, Brent, thanks for’ dot dot dot. I set the phone in my bowl where I keep those type things and I listened to it chirp and ring every hour.”
Alex looked at me with fiery blue eyes. He was mad at me? Fuck that. I pulled out of his grip and started walking again. “I have a meeting to go to.”
Alex sighed and followed with me matching my pace. “Look Nox, Janice is a friend. But she’s annoying so I didn’t give her my personal phone number. I left that phone at home. I swear.”
“So why didn’t you call from that phone.” I nodded in the direction of his pocket I knew it was in.
“That phone doesn’t have your number in it and I don’t have it fucking memorized. Shit I have have hard enough time remembering my own goddamn number and I’m supposed to remember yours?” Alex groaned, “And look before you ask again. I have a lot of alias. I do questionable work for people and I don’t use my real name for obvious reasons.”
“You mean you do illegal work for people and you don’t want to taint your precious name. So which is it? Alex or Brent, which one means so much to you?” I know I sounded grumpy about it all. I’d been stewing about it for nearly 13 hours already. What was an angered conversation going to do to my annoyance?
“Like what you do is legal.” Alex retorted.
“I never said it was, but I’m not hiding behind another name either.”
Alex growled, “No you just hide behind the fucking Venatori lawyers. And their paid officials.”
I stopped and turned on Alex. “I have never committed a crime that I didn’t own up to.”
“So last night, you went into someone’s apartment legally.”
“You followed me?” I asked as I took a step back.
“I wanted to see if you were really who you said you were. Your goon friends were going to go kill a dragon. I wanted to see if you were all talk just to make me feel comfortable.”
“You think I’m lying to you?”
“You’re fucking Feras.”
I turned and walked away from him. “Fuck you Alex.” This time he didn’t try to catch up.