10.3 - The Moment

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As Charliese tended to the stain, Cloe and Eldor occupied themselves with conversation for a minute; she pretended to be unsure what Trevor was talking about, hoping that the issue would blow over somehow. Luckily for Cloe, though she couldn't hear, Charliese was meanwhile whispering rebukes in her fiancé's ear.

"Must you be so stupid? Of course Cloe met an incarnation of her own creation. Need I remind you who she is?" she hissed. "But please don't make this any more awkward; clearly Eldor doesn't know this."

Trevor got the message. And the next couple of hours carried on perfectly swimmingly, to everyone's relief.

At just around the time that the professor and Charliese were set to leave, a raven-haired stunner and her studly lover walked into the bar, scanning the scene and stepping out onto the second-story balcony.

Atria scrunched her features up into her angry-sexy-kitten scowl. "Ugh, this place is so freaking classy, and clean. Totally not our scene."

Axel started to say something about how they were after all on Santorini, which was not really a hotbed of debauchery - but Atria cut him off sharply as soon as she caught sight of Eldor and Cloe. "Oh, so not my scene..." she groaned, evergreen eyes rolling into the back of her head.

Unfortunately for her, Charliese had glimpsed the familiar face and called Atria's name out in a friendly shout, beckoning them over.

Damn this spooky-ass woman and her bizarrely powerful, inexplicable, borderline supernatural control over other people, Atria grumbled to herself, every cell in her body screaming in protest but unable to resist as she and her lover joined Miss Primor's table.

Charliese smiled and stood up to encircle Atria in an embrace, which Atria did not at all reciprocate. "So good to see you here, dear," she greeted, then stepped back to look at Axel. "This must be your..."

"Axel," he introduced himself, averting the whole business of bullshit labels.

"Well, aren't you two just the most ravishing couple," she remarked, taking the liberty of slapping a romantic label on them anyway. "Charmed. I'm Charliese Primor; this is my fiancé, Trevor."

"Don't ask how this lady knows me - it's a long and fucked up story," Atria murmured to Axel as he shook hands with the professor.

Charliese gracefully pretended that she hadn't heard those words, turning to smile at Cloe and Eldor, then back at Atria and Axel. "Are introductions in order, or do you lovely folks all know each other?"

The tense silence that followed was thicker than butter.

Miss Primor cleared her throat, looping her arm in Trevor's. "Well, we were just about to head out. I hope you have a marvelous evening."

And just as the pair prepared to leave, the Campions walked in.

They quickly found their way up to the second story; as soon as they did, Cloe's head turned in their direction - and right then, her heart, which for too long had not truly been beating, at last began again.

For the billionth time, she cursed her heart for being so insufferably stupid, but she knew by now that she just couldn't help it.

And just as two hearts began beating again, in that moment, as their gazes of bright brown and bay-blue locked from all the way across the room, another heart stopped and erupted in furious fumes.

Lacey worried for a minute if her boiling blood might burn her skin from within; every inch of her was downright seething-

"Oh, hey!" a nerdy voice suddenly cut in. "Don't we know you? Yeah, I think you took our picture in front of the Parliament Building!"

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