Chapter 4: The Other Side Of The Coin

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A soft chuckle burst from Rumpelstiltskin's lips. Surrounded by shadows, he kept his eyes on Luria.

The young woman mumbled to herself, flitting around the room and tossing several items into an oak chest. Every now and then, she raised her arm and shook her hand in the air.

"Damn you, Eve. Why couldn't you have let things be? If only you'd have let me do what I'd needed to do. But no, you had to stick your nose in what didn't belong to you, didn't you?" she said, growling with frustration.

Luria tossed another dress into the chest and stamped her foot against the floor.

"Careful, Deary," Rumpelstiltskin said. "Ye don't want to hurt yerself, do ye?"

Startled, she whirled about, clutching a hand to her chest. "Who's there?"

He chuckled, enjoying the fact that he'd caught her unaware. "A friend, perhaps."

Gathering a hold of her composure, her eyes narrowed. "Show yourself."

"Tsk, tsk. What would be the fun in 'at?"

She licked her lips and swallowed, glancing left, then right. "This isn't funny."

Rumpelstiltskin clapped his hands with delight. "Oh, but it is. Shall we play a game?"

A muscle twitched across her lower jaw. "I've no time for games. Go back to whoever sent you and tell them that."

Another laugh escaped him. "No one sent me here, Deary. I came of me own accord."

She glanced to the left and focused on a spot on the wall. Her eyes narrowed.

"Show yourself, I said."

He groaned and materialized before her eyes.

Luria gasped and took a step back.

Unruly brown curls were scattered across his misshapen head. Several chunks of hair were missing, however. His dark eyes were focused on her pale face. Rumpelstiltskin stepped forward and smiled.

"Yes, yoo'll do nicely."

She moved back, unwilling to touch or remain near him.

"Stay away from me."

"Yer safe, Deary. I mean ye no harm."

She took a deep breath and shook her head. "I don't believe you."

"Ye should. I don't lie. Well, I could, and I do when the moment suits me, but in this moment, I am not. Yoo've nothin' to fear from me."

Luria continued moving away from him. She stumbled and crumpled to the floor.

Rumpelstiltskin approached her and held out a hand.

Unwilling to accept his help, she scrambled to her feet and ran toward the bed in the upper right corner of the room. There, she remained, her light blue eyes opened wide and full of fear.

"What do you want from me?"

He shrugged and held his arms out in supplication. "I'd like a deal."

"What kind of deal?"

Rumpelstiltskin smiled and waved his hands in the air. "Whatever yoo'd like, Deary, but ye better make it good."

Luria sat down on the edge of the bed. "No deal."

His smile faltered. "Now, now. Let's not be too hasty."

She took a deep breath and said, "How did you get in here?"

He shrugged. "I've me ways."

"Then, you can leave the way you came. I've things I need to attend to."

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