Chapter 17

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All my kisses in the past had always been 'okay' they had never caused my blood to pump, or my breathing to get short.

With Nate, however, I wanted crawl inside of him. I couldn't bring myself to let go. My hands wandered, along his powerful arms traced the ridges of his muscles. My mind filled with vivid sensations. He whispered something in my ear as we sank to the hard cold floor. I had no control as I reached for him finally acknowledging our desperation for one another. These feelings were becoming too intense. I was losing myself, without ever having found myself.

The trance was broken by a booming voice, "Hey Nate, about that program?" The voice was unmistakable, it was Ashe. I felt as if someone had lit a firecracker inside my skull. There were flashes of light behind my eyelids.

I cried out in shock, my shirt was on the floor. My pants were unzipped, I twisted away from Nate and looked at the intruder. Only to be staring at a smirking Ashe, who didn't seem apologetic. He took a step back out with an exaggerated cough, to give us privacy, as if I intended to be there. 

 I certainly did not need that type of help. I avoided Nate's eyes, grabbed my shirt, and high-tailed it out of that room. Now I understood just the type of threat Nate actually represented and I was scared out of my mind.


"Damn you Ashe. I could have convinced her," Nate growled under his breath. He glared at Ashe from his seat at the bar B.O.S later that night.

Ashe scoffed, "you were using your glamour against a human girl. There are rules about these sort of things, you should know that better than anyone, Prince. From her expression, I am pretty sure you have just made this whole situation far more complicated."

Nate took a long drink from his bottle of beer before, replying. "If she hadn't been running in the woods that night, our paths would have never become entangled."

Ashe always maintained a look of disbelief, "you are the one who made the decision, I didn't push the issue nor did Neil or Eliza. Now you have to deal with the consequences of your debt."

Nate looked at his at his bottle, Ashe finished the rest of his. He felt the need clarify. "It will soon be time for the celebration. If left unsettled, there will be a great impact upon your nuptials." Ashe continued, "You must bring this situation to completion and end the connection with the human. We need clear minds in order to focus on the fight with the Vermillion rats."

Nate shrugged, slapped five dollars on the counter, walked out without a reply.

***

Another day. I need to assess some things about myself. Here goes. My name is Corrine Craft, check.

I don't make out with psychopaths in solariums. That is another check. Okay, Now that I have established who I am and what I don't do. I think I can now function properly.

I had secluded myself in my room. Well, I shared a suite so this was as secluded as I could be with a roommate. I'd shoved her out earlier, with some half-brained lie about Vic being at the local café with some girl, but I did not dare say which girl. I'm sure she'll figure it out and make me pay for it later. Meanwhile, my life had taken a weird turn since Nate came on the scene. I was not going to let him affect my day-to-day life. But for now I was allowed to be affected. I must have lost my mind yesterday.

I shook my head and tried to loosen Nate's very name from my memory. I grabbed the remote from off the side table and absent-mindedly turned on the news. I was certain a report on the number of dead from a calamity or war somewhere around the world would surely remove him from my thoughts.

The world news depressed me even more, so I changed to the local news. Thank goodness for Channel 5. My attention was immediately captured by a photo of Ms. Daniella Markson, who worked downtown at the main library. I had known her since I was nine years old. My family went to the library every weekend. My mom had reduced my paperback purchases by forcing me to use my library card.

I turned-up the volume to hear the reporter explain that they had found her body in a wooded area at the end of Greenway Vista, near the POW Memorial Cemetery. The announcer had very few details. It appeared to have been an animal attack of some kind. The proper response was in progress which called for Clarksville's best hunting teams to track and clear all signs of wild animals.

I felt my skin tighten as a chill crawled over my body. I couldn't put my finger on it, but as photos of the area appeared on the screen it seemed too familiar. Not just because I often spent much time walking Greenway, but this was a creepy déjà vu sort of sensation. I felt as if I was recalling a dream or a nightmare. I watched as the picture zoomed in on the area. Police were walking around scouring the area for any evidence hidden amongst the head stones.

Moving closer to the screen, I tried to understand why this scene caused me to react in this way. I noticed something in the background, something, one of the officers had picked up. The reporter rushed over to the Chief with a new set of questions. The weird feeling in my gut added to the pounding in my head.

 If I were not mistaken, the view through the plastic bag was one panda earring. The same one I missed since the night of my birthday. The last memory of it was at B.O.S, the bar but there it was on local news at the scene of an animal attack. Could this be a coincidence? I had not been there lately, nor could I remember when I had last been there.

Shuddering, I started to change the channel, cartoons would be more amusing. But I hesitated I noticed something else interesting. The officer held up a coat. This bore a strange resemblance to the dark, hooded cloak worn by the guy who had followed me home and waved from across the street. I spoke out loud. "No way."

Throughout that day I could not get the news scene out of mind. My mind tried to make clear all the scenes I could not put together. I had only a vague memory of what had happened after leaving 'Chic' that night to follow J. Ling. It seemed my nightmares had started to replay by day, the visions of blood, the screaming, and the horror of having been left to die.

"CORRA!" Candy's voice jolted me into reality.

"Arggh! Candy, stop sneaking around corners! God, you scared me to death! What's the deal?"

She looked especially satisfied with herself, "Guess who got tickets to DJ Sheen's private party?" Candy did a little happy dance, "I've been thinking that we all have been super stressed with everything, from studying to dealing with men. So I think it would be great if we all take a break this Friday...everyone else is already getting their costumes ready."

I looked at her confused, "Costumes? It's not exactly Halloween."

She gave me a once-over to indicate my lack of understanding, "You are not too bright girl, everyone knows Sheen. When he throws a party it has to be theatrical. Now, let's abandon all this boring studying and go shopping."

At this moment I needed a distraction to get my mind off the crazy day. I grabbed my bag, and threw my books aside to catch up with her, "Don't forget I am on a budget...Candy!" I really needed this, you know shopping, drinking and carousing.

 I wasn't interested in the drama or the mystery behind my panda earrings. As far as I was concerned, leaving the matter alone was the best option. The same was true for vanquishing the near porn moment I'd had with Nate, I was hoping that ignoring the issue would make it go away. Too many things were happening. Things just seemed crazy.

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