Mist and Midnight
When the train slowed and shuddered to a halt without any warning, Charlotte was able to stop her artist’s portfolio from sliding off the vinyl seat opposite with one rapidly and strategically placed foot. Protecting her prints and unfinished work took highest priority, which was why she whipped one long limb, clad in a thinly banded silk knee-high sock out from under her, before thinking to grab the slim-line smart phone that just as swiftly rocketed onto the floor. Bracing the portfolio more firmly with her grey calfskin satchel, she cursed softly as she reached down to find her hopefully still-intact phone and her knee-high Marc Jacobs black suede and leather button boots.
Charlotte craned her neck when she bobbed upward from her search, trying to see through the patches of early morning September mist outside the 360 degree concave plexiglass window. A sign made bleary by the fog read North Bay. She sighed with frustration, and then again with growing anxiety, chewing on her upper lip. Only a few hours remained of the long journey north from Toronto, where she would finally be safe from the malevolent being following her every move and they were stopped again!
The loss of momentum did nothing to ease the nagging feeling that something not right, not natural, was still lurking just out of sight. She shivered, finally locating the mobile under the adjacent seat. Checking its functions, she gave up for the moment on her boots to fish instead for hand sanitizer and a lipstick. After removing floor grit from her fingers, she began to carefully reapply colour to her lips—the light plum shade would do nothing to protect her from her stalker, but somehow made her feel better, like psychological armor.
The light outside the passenger car was dim enough still that the glass beside functioned as a mirrored surface. It also enabled her to unobtrusively scan her surroundings, while she cast a search-and-protect spell around herself. Just as the magick dissipated, rippling into the air, without detecting any immediate peril, her eyes caught the amused gaze of a man in a dark brown jacket. Pausing, before slowly putting a final coat on her full lips and pressing to blot she registered not only that he was scanning her in return, he was grinning appreciatively at her—and holding her boots.
It was no wonder her guard went up, with a man like this nearby. Of course, he wasn’t nearly as threatening as the vampire who’d stalked her from the shadows for over a year, but he was putting her on edge, just the same. How long, exactly, had he been observing her before she’d noticed him? Long legs clothed in clean, worn denim led to a battered, dark chocolate brown leather bomber, straining over broad shoulders; the high shearling collar was opened, exposing a collarless blue linen shirt.
His grin widened as she turned and he held up her Marc Jacobs. Charlotte was startled by the beautiful strangeness of his eyes—silvery grey irises bordered by a fine line of deep blue. For a moment, she wondered how it might feel to touch the mahogany hair curling slightly over his forehead and just under his ears, to brush her palm over the dark caramel stubble on his jaw—would it feel deliciously coarse and masculine, or soft and velvety like a cat? He ran the tip of his tongue over his upper lip, and Charlotte shivered with a sudden wave of longing, bringing her back to herself. She couldn’t afford to fall for anyone, she knew, or even to have a friend—it was still too dangerous. Swallowing the unintentional reaction, she narrowed her eyes, and held her hand out for the boots.
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