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Charlene was enthralled by the massive collection of books, the architecture and the general atmosphere. She’d never be able to read even these books half in her lifetime! Where should she even begin? For the time being, Charlene did her best to simply blend in walking along the railing and looking down to see that the design on the main floor actually moved, but when she looked up she saw a dark never ending sky of starlight that seemed to also stretch with floors upon floors of information. She didn’t want to wander off too far, and did her best to keep track of where she had been, but she could tell it would be very easy to get lost in a place like this.
As she walked through rows of books in languages she couldn’t read, her fingers skimming over the spines, and her lungs filling with the scent of musty paper, she reflected on the morning. Her breakfast with Ms. Elizabeth still wasn’t sitting well with her, and had left a bit of guilt to sit in her stomach alongside the delicious pancakes. Her final barb wasn’t necessary, and Charlene was resolved to give her apologies upon their return to the house. For a moment she considered offering to preform a task or chore for Ms. Elizabeth, but something told her Mr. Isaksson would vehemently stress against such a thing, so an apology would have to suffice.
Deeper she descended into the library, until the shelves grew taller than oak trees, books became ancient looking scrolls, leaflets of paper scattered the floors, and people grew more scare. The further she went the air grew heavier, the shadows darker, and more imposing. Even the din of the main lobby seemed so far away. It took her a while before she noticed that things had grown so dark that the flickering lights from candles weren’t enough to fight the darkness, or the strange fog that had begun to take over. She stopped by a standing candelabra, the three candles dimly keeping the space illuminated over a podium that held a very old look book.
Curiously, she went to examine it, and found it was written in English, but it was a very ancient form of English, that it was rather illegible and difficult for Charlene to gather what it was about, other than the topic was about a woman named Morgana. She would have read more of what was displayed when she heard footsteps behind her.
[+green “It’s about time you found....me...”] she had turned around to see no one behind her, or anywhere near her. It was just darkness and the pale illumination of bookshelves around her, and yet the footsteps continued, fading away. Was it just her or was it also growing faintly colder?
She tried to shake off the strange new sensation, and put her focus back on the book resting on the Podium, but to no avail. She couldn’t hear the lobby, but she was hearing other sounds... or was it a figment of her imagination? She swore she heard a growl before a shout, and the wailing of a small child. She turned to try and follow the distant sound, but looking down over the railing she could no longer see the lobby. Was it possible the sounds were coming from a book?
No... because Charlene was suddenly struck with a feeling that she was indeed not alone, and was being watched. It was a dreadful sensation, and was only verified by the sudden intrusion of a voice surrounding her.
[+red “Run dear... run away, now! Before it returns!”]
Her heart skipped a beat. The voice was familiar, but she was unable to place it... what she recognized most was the feeling of encompassing darkness, rage, and sorrow. She had felt this last night during her faux excursion to Paris. The sensation was tenfold this time, accompanied by a creeping chill that climbed up from her legs along her spine, making the hairs on her neck and arms begin to rise with awareness. With a shaky breath she could see her exhale plume into the darkness.
She couldn’t move. She was alone with no help in unfamiliar territory, and felt as if a great beast was behind her ready to pounce and devour her. For once Charlene knew what it meant to be the unsuspecting doe at the end of her rifle, or the frantic rabbit about o lead chase from the cunning fox. Aware but unsure, and wholly at the mercy of an obvious predator. Looking around she saw no discernible place to run for, and in the darkness how could she tell she was going the right way?
[+red "You have to escape whilst you can - run!"]
Charlene was shocked again to hear the feminine voice. She struggled to place it, she had heard it before, but in her anxiety, she was finding she couldn’t think clearly. Fight or flight was kicking in, and while Charlene was usually quick to choose Fight, as it was not in her to run away from a conflict. With a reach to her side she realized she had left her pistol in her room back at Ms. Elizabeth’s. She cursed her luck, and since she refused to run she moved to press her back up against the side of a bookshelf. Straining her ears to truly listen to what was around her. Running blindly would be foolish, and Charlene needed to know what she was up against and needed to formulate a plan to find her way out of this mess.
[+green “Next time I’m staying in the lobby...”] she grumbled to herself under her breath reaching into her pockets to find some way of protecting herself. She thanked her lucky stars when she reached down into her coat pocket and felt her pocket knife. It was of a decent size, and she flipped it open to reveal a sharp looking 4” blade. She gripped it in her hand tightly, ready to use it if necessary.... but what exactly was coming for her?
She took a steady breath, the exhale still pluming in the frigid air, and dared a look around the sides of the bookshelf. Seeing it was clear, she tried to steady her rapidly beating heart and took down the isles to find her way out. She kept low, kept quiet, looking around corners, and refusing to become prey. She moved swiftly, and yet the daunting presence still seemed to linger, and the feeling of being hunted was prevalent. Her goal was to get into a well lit space, then go from there to find Mr. Isaksson.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Whilst she was right, this was quite like the New York Public Library, it was this building that offered inspiration to that one, for this was much, much older than that. The large open reading area with row upon row of seating sat below a high vaulted ceiling, though it seemed to rise forever, no roof visible and one could quite imagine wisps of clouds or the twinkle of stars come night-time. Despite this the room was quite well illuminated though there was need for candles and the like for those not near the windows, where the sun streamed in like a flamboyant guest not waiting for an invitation before waltzing in and making themselves at home.
The circulation desk where she left the books handed to the young apprentice by the now missing Master was perfectly circular and the outer panelling were wonderfully intricate. The shapes and designs seemed so detailed and had she stopped to watch she would see it all move like pictures on a kinetoscope, though these moved much more fluidly than a simple horse at gallop. The books she placed atop are lifted by some spectral force and
Having left the main entrance, Charlene would find herself drawn deeper into the building, compelled to walk further into the library and further into its ever-maddening depths from the flight of stairs she took. Walking down a central aisle, the bookshelves either side appear to grow higher and higher as the darkness shuts out the light. Away from the crowd and in the thick hazy air of burning candle wicks, the space becomes very disorientating. Soon there are less people, only the faint outline of those crouching down low to the floor reading, or the shadows of those up high atop rickety looking ladders. The pathway she walks becomes increasingly filled with stacks of books, loose and torn papers, scrolls of untold age and candle stick holders with only waxy remnants.
The conversations of the main hall have progressively muddied to a far-off hum until she comes to realise now that there is silence all around her. Turning this way and that she will hear nothing but the occasional far off set of footsteps. They seem to head towards her as they grown in sound but no amount of turning will yield sight of any being and as it appears the footsteps are almost atop her… they disappear without another footfall.
[b The mind can wander in the darkness.]
[i Was that a growl?][center [i Did someone just shout out in alarm?]] [right [i Is that a child crying?]]
[+crimson [center “Run dear... run away, now! Before it returns!”]]
The woman’s voice is equal parts soothing and familiar as it is panicked and worried, echoing all around Charlene though her constant turning this way and that and the miasma of smoke and the disheartening echoes will play against her should she wish to flee.
[i Which way is out? Which way did she come from?]
The hairs on the back of her neck will begin to stand on end and soon her breaths will become visible in puffs of vapor before her hickory eyes. The temperature had subtly dropped as she walked. The number of lights had dwindled. Only a lone candle is nearby now, and its light is low offering limited help to the woman. There is no Mr Isaksson to sweep out the darkness and take her in his arms, to take control and offer safety. No. Not here. Here, in her heart, she can feel that she is both alone and yet in great danger, the voice returning again.
[+crimson [center "You have to escape whilst you can - run!"]]
Charlene couldn’t help but roll her eyes, as once again, Mr. Isaksson warned of the depths that this new world had. Why did it seem at times he was trying to dissuade her? Dullard was right, she came here for it all, the excitement, knowledge... all the good and all the bad. That included any possible danger. She wasn’t deterred by his admittance to not needing her for research, though there did seem something he had in mind for her. If anything, she was resolved even further by the time he finished. This was to further his investigation into the murder of the man at the bookstore. She recalled the event... Words had been exchanged, and a man was no more. Empryean... Balaclava... [i “You can’t study the darkness, by flooding it with light, Isaksson...”]
She eyed Isaksson as they passed through a courtyard. She had seen him turn a man into golden dust. He had tricked her into thinking she’d been poisoned, he nearly got her and an audience killed by a stone monster, [i and] he was clearly withholding something from her. She had followed him that night because she’d been curious, and because he looked like a lawman in need of backup. Not that he needed her help, it was obvious that she had actually gotten in his way. Was it her fault the man was erased? Was that what even happened to him? Was Mr. Isaksson even a real member of the Queen’s Guard? So many questions.
Her own mental musings were silence when Mr. Isaksson turned towards a stately looking building made of mortar and slate colored stone. They managed their entrance just as another was leaving and Charlene hurried inside. She felt her balloon deflate to see it was just a single roomed library. This couldn’t be it. She eyed it skeptically and glanced over to Mr. Isaksson, his books still in her arms.
[+teal “Here, put this on,”] Charlene turned to face him and accepted the trinket he offered her with an outstretched hand. She turned it over and saw it was a simple golden Bobby pin. [+green “It’s lovely,”] was all she said on the matter. She didn’t question him, but turned and set the books down on a nearby table and removed her hat. It had to have something to do with the task at hand. Turning her hat and the Bobby pin in her hands, she affixed the gilded feather to her hatband, and replaced it promptly back on her head.
[+green “What do I have to do?”] she asked curiously and turned to the direction Mr. Isaksson pointed as he delivered his instructions in hushed words. [+green “Far end, turn right, get through the door. Got it,”] She said picking the books up with a determined look and went to leave but stopped seeing him staring at her uncertainly. Charlene stared back until he gave a final nod of his head and slinked off to hide among the towering shelves of books.
Charlene stood up nice and tall, before making her way towards the far end of the room. She passed through the bright light brought in by the windows and into the shadows of the building. Charlene looked about as she passed through, she took stock of the people in the room, and the questioning gaze the librarian was giving her. Charlene only smiled with an air of confidence before turning right and stopping short. The man she was expecting at the door was not what she saw. To be fair, she had no idea what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t the large man seated before her.
They stared at the other for a good long moment, when Charlene finally decided to smile and take a step forward.
[+green “Good Morning -“]
[b “What do you want?”] he asked gruffly, cutting her off and simply scowling at her. Charlene had to bite her tongue and remind herself of her manners. She forced a less friendly smile and raised her books to show him.
[+green “I’d like through the door, please. I have these books...”] Charlene tried, hoping it was convincing enough. He leaned forward to look at the books in question and then looked her over. He seemed unconvinced and distrusting. She needed through that door, but there was no getting past the brutish looking man before her. He’d tackle her and crush her with a single flex of his arm.
[b “What’s your business?”] he asked. Charlene pouted and lifted the books up again. He eventually took one from her and looked over the spine and opened it to the last page. Charlene looked over it as well, but didn’t see anything of merit and yet, [b “Your books are overdue.”] How the hell did he know that? Even she didn’t know that. [b “You got money to pay the fee?”] Charlene didn’t speak, unsure how to proceed. Did he want a bribe? [b “If you can’t pay the fee, then go.”]
[+green “But!... but, wouldn’t it be best to still return the books? I’d hate for someone to not have access to them because I couldn’t afford a late fee...”] she chuckled nervously, smiling her best, and took a steady breath as she turned to stare at him. [+green “Don’t you think it’s best I return these books promptly, and accept that I will not be able to take anymore until my fine has been paid? It’s not fair to everyone else... Don’t you think?”] Charlene asked, removing her hat and doing her best to look contrite. The man seemed ready to agree with her, but was suddenly blinking away a sort of strange haze. His eyes now on the pin Mr. Isaksson had given her. He reached out and turned her hat and then gave her a pointed look.
[b “Lead with this next time. I don’t have patience for games.”] Charlene looked down at her hat to see the golden feather and grinned. So stupid, she should have known.
She grinned placing her hat back on her head, and hurried through the door, less he change his mind. Charlene felt the door close behind her and she stopped in her tracks. The room was massive. It was just as large as the New York City Library, but far more ornate, and filled with rows of colorful books of all different shapes and sizes. That wasn’t all, there were display cases filled with all sorts of oddities, and in the very center of it all was a circulation desk surrounded by tables, but Charlene noticed the floors design. Geometric shapes crossed over the other behind an image of the sun and the moon. It reminded Charlene of those strange tarot cards, she’d seen Gypsies preform. The door behind her opened up suddenly and she jumped, startled by it, and moved out of the way of a man in quite the hurry. Oh boy... she didn’t think she’d be leaving through the same door...
Needing to do something while Mr. Isaksson found her, Charlene made her way down to the main floor and towards the circulation desk where she deposited the books. She hoped Mr. Isaksson didn’t need them, but also knew he wouldn’t meet her at the desk if he was unwelcome, so she began to wander, and eventually made her way up a flight of stairs to simply take in the sights...
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her reaction was quite adorable. She was the proverbial child in a sweet shop, eyes wide and bright, voice so hopeful of getting all she wanted. On one hand he wanted to embrace that disbelief and curiosity and draw her deeper. He could so easily take advantage of the situation and he quietly pondered for a juncture over the consequences of doing such. She must have seen he was lost in internal thought, soon questioning just what they were to do that day in the library.
[+green “I’ve well enough accepted this supernatural business.”] He all but chuckled at this comment, a flash of pearly whites as he looked back to her and found that familiar glint in her eye. Always the optimist, buoyant, delighted to come across anything new. She was so naive.
[+teal “You see… how best do I put this to someone of your… background,”] it was not meant as a slight at her but with his abundant experience it was an ingrained belief that the general population was below him,[+teal “you may now be aware of the presence of a parallel world but you do not realise the depths to which it goes. Not to continually go on about it but do not take it too lightly. What you have seen so far is… minimal, insignificant, boring!”] He rolled his dark eyes, a soft sigh escaping between pursed lips.[+teal “My word, I sound like such a dullard.”] He whispered to himself as he led her on.
The crowds on the street growing as they neared the river and the sun rose more. Thankfully they were not too far away, ducking down into a courtyard to cut through a sections of buildings. Here it was that he recalled she had actually asked a question amongst her fawning words.
[+teal “Well really you aren't much use to me in my research. Well, you are, but not the sole reason I need you this morning. In truth; I need you to help me in getting inside. They don't like me much there; apparently burning a few books grants you a certain negative notoriety to where they no longer accept your presence.”] He said little more on that, pausing at an entrance way as he realigned himself to the route they needed to take and nodded with recollection.[+teal “Remember when we met? The book store explosion? The man I killed when you followed? Well this is a continuation of that. Someone attacked the proprietor, a man I knew personally, killed him, and I need to know why. What did he know, who stands to gain from his demise, why do so in such an obvious and spectacular fashion?”] So many questions ran through his mind and he could have rattled off a lot more, however his new apprentice was too busy holding onto the books in a smitten manner and seemed to lose herself much as he had before.
It was rather sweet to see her so engrossed in the belief that this would be an educational endeavour and that she would only come out of this with a vastly greater understanding of the world about her. Also, it helped that he did not have to constantly tell her that things would be scary or difficult if she were actively looking forward to it. She did not come across as a woman who needed repetitive coddling and he would not look to shield her all the time. Children learned best from their mistakes.
A few minutes later and he turned into the entrance of a stately looking building, several light coloured steps leading to a dark slate sill and trim surrounding a set of beautiful and thick oak wood doors. The metal pieces on the doors, both knocker and knob, were made of brass and from repetitive use they shone brightly in the morning sun. He was about to turn to his charge and have her open the door, but thankfully as they approached the door was being pulled inwards and he quickly bounded up the stairs to stop it from closing behind a man who was leaving, his foot bracing the bottom of the door to hold it open for Charlene to enter. For a moment he eyed the man who left and seemed to debate going after him, but relented as he stepped in after her and let the door close over behind.
Inside was a rather standard if small library, with several tall bookcases each filled with books set out in neat and orderly binders, their names and authors inscribed on the spine of each. A desk sat off to the side of the entrance, several chairs set around it, and to the left there was a desk where an older gentleman sat reading that mornings paper. Grand windows that ran from floor to ceiling allowed plenty of light into the room though the further in one went the more shrouded by darkness from looming bookcases one would be.
[+teal “Here, put this on.”] His voice was quiet, after all it was a library, as he held up his hand to her showing a golden bobby pin. The ridge was designed as a golden feather and it was quite a beautiful piece for what it was.[+teal “Walk to the far end, turn right and in the corner will be a door with a man sat beside it. Get past him and get inside that room. I will meet you on the other side when it is safe.”] With the piece of jewelry taken he fixed her with a determined look, as if to convince himself that she was up to do this. If he was wrong and she was uncovered, then it would set him back a little finding a new accomplice, but he gave her a gentle nod and turned away to disappear amongst the shelves and assorted tomes.
Mr. Isaksson wasn’t promising her an uneventful day. Like all things she’d experienced with him, nothing was normal, and she should learn not to be so surprised by that. It was what she had been looking for, a guide to the abnormal. The Supernatural, and now that she’d found him, it was amusing how she was so reluctant to believe this was’t entirely a dream anymore. It was really happening! With her eyes on the books for a moment, she thought about how the past few days might reflect on what she was to see, and to be honest, she was excited. She had every intention of diving deep into this world of his.. a world that would soon be hers as well.
[+teal “What do you think? Do you want to keep going? Go in with guns shooting, as they say? That’s an American saying, I think.”] she looked up from the books to him, and sighed at his misquote of a common American phrase.
[+green “It’s: Guns Blazing… that fact that sometimes there’s shooting is irrelevant. However, to answer your more important question, it’s: Yes. I do want to keep going. You’re providing me with an opportunity that would be foolish of me to refuse.”] Her gaze was on their horizon, contemplating the things she might see. Would there be more like the baker, with his strange eyes? Perhaps it was more like a collection of ancient spell books, arcane mechanics, alchemy, and pickled creatures for study. A rush of adrenaline flushed through her for a brief moment at the prospects, and she subconsciously gripped the books tighter.
[+green “May I ask what it is we are researching at the Library today? I assume that’s our business, and it’s not to simply see how much more my psyche can take. I’ve well enough accepted this supernatural business, I’m just naive to its intricacies. Unaware of how deep the well goes, as you said.”] she said as they reached the walking path along the Thames. She knew she was full of questions, and it potentially made her seem younger than she was, but Charlene was a quick learner, and observant, and these days she was making a stronger attempt to be more aware of her surroundings. She didn’t want to be caught off guard by another woman in black, or stone golem. [+green “I wonder what sorts of topics the books of this library will have. Is there theory, and practicum? History? Oh! Potions, Astronomy, Alchemy?”] She groaned with impatient excitement and hugged the books to her chest, her eyes starry and wide. [+green “I’ll bet there’s all that and then more…”] She whispered to herself, and a daydreaming sort of expression clouded her features. It was clear that despite her rugged sharp shooting appearance, she was at heart an academic.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat He was halfway to the gate before she called out to him and with a swing of his foot, he turned back to see why he must stop so soon, coat fanning out around him as he did so. Seeing her shaking a veiled foot at him he let out an exasperated sigh, gave a roll of his dark eyes and waved for her to go on, a soft [i [+teal ‘hurry up’]] cast back as if she were terribly inconveniencing him by actually dressing. He had not told her when he would return, or that he would leave to begin with, but as he hadn’t informed her, he decided it best to keep most grumbles to himself. His hand reached into his inner coat pocket to fetch something as she rushed inside.
On returning she’d find him inspecting a piece of paper that he quickly crumpled up and stuffed back into the inner pocket before looking over to her and nodding at her first very brief query. He liked how she looked at him almost with scepticism dancing in those rich eyes of hers and that questioning lilt of the brow only made him grin as he headed down the path and opened the gate to her like a true gentleman. It groaned shut behind him as he led her off down the street and he tucked his hand into his trouser pockets lest they take in the chill of the morning air. Her words were quick and fast, and she rattled off about her formative years in Wyoming. She only confirmed his earlier suspicion that indeed she was peculiar. She read to begin with, an unusual thing for a woman and one born far from the East Coast. Often, they were farmers daughters, raised milking cows, collecting eggs and repairing clothing, given only basic reading lessons to get them through life. Likely he was just out of date. It had been a little time since he visited the western states; perhaps he would find time to go back?
He had drifted in his thoughts so long that she started up once more and was quite candid in her hope that today would be much smoother than the last.[i [+green “some strange dark tunnel underground into a reliquary of who knows what.”]] That concern brought a gentle and knowing smile, having been in such a position himself countless times, but he did give a slight shrug of his shoulders too.[+teal “I can’t really say what kind of day it will be. Yes, it is a library, but much like everything I’ve shown you so far, it’s a library of [i my] world. It will not be like something you have seen before and will be quite... disconcerting, at first.”] He would be honest with her there as he was eager to gain her trust and not hide too much away from her. There was little point in bringing her in if only to push her to the fringes. As he had said before, she would have to learn quickly.[+teal “But it is a good step to understanding just how deep this well can go. I think yesterday offered an insight, but two small moments like that don’t compare to the vastness of what you’re getting into. And from how you’ve reacted to me since meeting you, I feel you want to get stuck in. You don’t want to tip toe around. You want the full experience and to get lost in this world. Figuratively speaking of course.”] Lord forgive him if he lost her to this world. It was something that did trouble him a little. She was quite unique and vital in a manner of speaking.
[+teal “What do you think? Do you want to keep going? Go in with guns shooting, as they say? That’s an American saying, I think.”] He grinned as he led her towards the River Thames and more accurately toward Hammersmith. It was not far but it would seem a million miles away from where they currently were.
Mr. Isaksson was aloof as per usual, something Charlene had become quickly use to. Instead of telling her about what lessons she might learn that day, he was still interested in her dreams and his concern over nightmares. She dared not quirk a brow less he think he struck a cord. He’ only give her so much of the information she desired, she’d do the same as he seemed interested in figuring her out. Good luck.
His carefree demeanor would only last so long, and it turned quite serious as if the outside breeze had triggered it, and she looked over at him curiously as he eyed her with something like appreciation.
[+teal [i “I find nothing wrong between two consenting adults...”]] she wasn’t surprised to hear that, after all, their conversation last night revealed that much, but he had also implied he was uncomfortable with it... or perhaps that was only with the lovely Ms. Elizabeth... or perhaps not.
He leaned in rather close to Charlene looking her over and in no subtle way informing her if she asked she’d receive. She hated instantly how her face undoubtedly flushed, regardless how much she tried to remain stoic. She swallowed tensely past a lump in her throat at his near touch, and when he pulled away with a snap of her fingers, Charlene released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.
She watched him stand up and brush himself clean and smooth as he started down the steps. She blinked, confused by his sudden change and eagerness to leave. The books he’d brought remained at her side on the bench and she looked from them to him with eyes that questioned him and possibly his sanity., Perhaps hers as well, for wasn’t she just as mad to be following Mr. Isaksson, a practical stranger? Well, Charlene had always said: A Stranger was just friend you had yet to meet. He called for her to get moving, that he would combine her lessons with practical use, and pointed to her.
[+teal [i “Get off your pert little backside, grab all those books, and follow after me. Time to go to the library!”]] He was so jovial in his expressions, and seemingly overjoyed to be visiting the library. Charlene had been to a library a time or two, they were usually just small shelves at the post office where people could lend and trade books, but that was back home. New York’s Library had been huge and filled with books! Charlene had spent a whole day in that place alone during her two week stay in NYC before taking the ship overseas.
He seemed so excited, that she almost felt bad for putting a hold on it.
[+green “Hold yer horses...”] She grinned at him when he looked back to see what she was going on about, and showed him her sock clad foot, waving it to him. [+green “I’m in no way ready to venture out, but if you give me a moment, I’ll be back with shoes and ready to go.”] She gave a nod of her head and rose from the bench to hurry inside. She had not been expecting to get up and leave so soon after breakfast, something she would be sure to correct in the future and planned to simply be ready for anything from here on out. In her room she stepped into her boots, draped her coat over her, and placed her wide brimmed hat on her head and hurried back down the stairs. Thankfully avoiding Ms. Elizabeth in the process.
She arrived moments later dressed for a day out, and quickly collected the books that remained on the porch and jumped to stand at his side. [+green “Alright! Now I’m ready, thanks for waiting. So the library, huh?”] she looked down at the stack of books in her hand and arched a curious brow at him. She would have assumed he’d been there already by the books she carried, but shrugged her shoulders at the thought, keeping pace at his side. [+green “Is it a big library? I visited the one back in New York City, it was very impressive. Back home, in Wyoming, we didn’t have a library, we had a shelf at the post office where people traded books, but there was never anything good. The school house had some of the better books, but I’d read them all by the time I was finished with school. My teacher did have this large world atlas she kept up on a wall at the school house. It was the first time I’d seen a map of the world, and not just the Territories of the United States. I would stare at it and wonder what it was like in all those strange places across the ocean. As you know France is certainly on my list, but I’d like to see more than just Europe. Maybe with that nifty ring you’re having made for me I might get to see a few places, and won’t that be something?”] She asked, but it was rhetorical, he clearly did not need to answer. Charlene realized she’d been rambling in her excitement, and it was obvious she was not upset in the slightest to be going to the library, but she would try to contain herself and act her age.
Her eyes traveled over the cobblestone and dirt packed streets watching other passerby’s. She took in the sights of the brownstone homes, and shop windows as she kept pace with Mr. Isaksson. For a moment a fleeting feeling of doubt filtered through her, and she wondered if it was really a library they were even going to. Unable to help it, she broke her silence with a line of cautious questioning. [+green “So it is a library, correct? You’re not going to take me down some strange dark tunnel underground into a reliquary of who knows what, filled with who knows what kind of creatures? If I’m being honest, I’m not quite sure I’m up for more stone monsters and nefariously dressed women in black... not today at least. I’m still processing it all.”] She admitted honestly, but there was a candor to her tone that said she was clearly not dissuaded from continuing her pursuit of answers.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat [+teal “How old do you think I am?!”] A mock appearance of pain lifted his brow and he clutched his chest as if stung. There was soon a devilish flicker in his olive gaze as she questioned him further, but it gave way to a laughter as he lifted his foot to rest over his knees, watching her sweet smile as she pressed him on that days lessons. He could just as easily play around with her and skirt her questions but he had been quite demure in explaining anything that was going on and only offered her sips from his fountain of knowledge. He could see the eagerness and drive in her warm almond eyes and he let out a soft sigh as he decided to relent. Let her not say he was not flexible in his approach.
Still he couldn’t let those barbs go unanswered, it was too fun not to respond.[+teal “I would rather you dream of me than have any nightmares. Though perhaps they are synonymous in your mind already?”] He chuckled heartily, his rhetorical question having a few fun implications but he pressed on.[+teal “And it is only inappropriate should it affect your studies. I find nothing wrong between two consenting adults engaging in sexual promiscuity. Something to know and remember about me Ms Dodger,”] he leaned across, atop his books, eyes flickering back and forth between her lips and her eyes as if he were non-too-subtly weighing up something in his mind,[+teal “ask and ye shall receive.”] He whispered to her in a less playful, more serious tone. He kept this closeness between them, raising a hand though he did not touch her, rather mirrored the curve of her chin as if stroking along her tanned skin. The sensation would have felt very similar to real contact though mixed with a little unease that he wasn’t touching her. It left most in an excited manner as they tried to make sense of it – though this time Sebastian clicked his fingers before her eyes to draw her attention and stood up in a fluid manner.
Brushing down his jacket of invisible dirt he took a step from the bench before turning on his heel to the left, spinning 270 degrees and pointing toward the gate of the house in a smooth almost dance like motion, his coat fanning out behind him as he walked forward.[+teal “Come now dear. We have little time to waste. Much as you joining me is a positive it is also quite problematic. You are useful, very useful, but I have little time to spare in training you. So we will try to combine your usefulness with your training. First lesson!”] He looked back to her still sat in her seat, pointing at her directly.[+teal “Get off your pert little backside, grab all those books, and follow after me. Time to go to the library!”] He sounded so happy to be heading to such a place, though he was sure she would have something to complain about. From how he had judged her the last few weeks she was all about adventure, about the action and the danger and forgo the danger, the injuries, the pain and suffering. Why were the young one’s so eager to die?
Regardless of their death wish he began to walk off, trusting his ‘apprentice’, as she called herself, to do as ordered and follow after him in a quick manner. Tardiness would not be appreciated.
He chuckled at her. Charlene was more impressed he was not cross with her for disrupting their hostess’ peace. She accepted the intriguing little device he tossed her way, and looked it over in her palm. She’d never seen anything like it, and delighted at how the flame sprouted up without a match. She brought the flame to her cigarette and listened as he explained the rings. The first was a translation ring and to know she would need such a thing thrilled her. What would be the need of such an enchantment if he did not intend to take her across the globe? Her imagination flourished with a myriad of possibilities and places. There was wonder and excitement concealed behind a steady gaze.
All those thoughts paled after he explained the second ring. Charlene’s body tensed, over loaded with excitement and nervousness. Magic, or rather ‘not magic’, was a real and tangible thing. She had stepped away from the railing of the porch, indicating her supreme interest in the topic, until his comment about firearms. She arched a brow at him. She fired her first gun with her father at eight years old. She got her first rifle at twelve. Apparently he saw this as a problem and in a rather smug tone, proclaimed he intended to keep her safe. If that stone monster the other day was his definition of protection she was doomed.
She made no comment, only to allow him to address the issue that had been nagging at her all morning. Ms. Elizabeth, their hostess and the unfortunate recipient of Charlene’s insecurities and ire. Mr. Isaksson’s explanation of her did little to assuage Charlene’s feelings, but allow for some clarification into the other woman’s character. Apparently he gathered the woman liked her enough to find her ‘worth the time’. That was nice, she supposed.
[i “She doesn’t like submissive personalities...] He began to conclude, and summarized she had increased her value in Ms. Elizabeth’s eyes, and stressed once more not to accept an offer or deal made by the woman. What was she, some sort of Crossroads demon? The kind that bartered for years of your soul for something in return? Regardless he had mentioned it nigh three times now. The rule was concrete, she would follow his advice.
Charlene took the final drag of smoke before she put it out into the little ashtray on a small iron table by the bench, and listened as he prompted a new conversation. Or rather, he referenced their parting goodnights. Was he in her dreams? No, but if he had... how many times would she have struck him? She didn’t have an answer, but she pretended to ponder on it as she dropped into the bench beside him and crossed her legs, looking out at the street.
[+green “Dream of you... mmm... nope. Can’t say that I did. Slept like a baby last night.”] A half truth... the image of the woman in black had haunted her for a spell. There was something very dark about that creature, and Charlene didn’t need instinct to know that. Glossing past the fleeting thought, Charlene let a coy grin grace her face, her gaze on the distant horizon. [+green “Why ask? We’re you hoping for a ‘yes’? Would you like for me to dream of you, Mr. Isaksson? I could... you are rather handsome for a man your age... but, don’t you think that’s a bit inappropriate of a Mentor and his apprentice?”] She chided teasingly at him, and only then did she turn her face towards him. She chuckled at him, amused by the thought, and the faintest traces of what she thought was a blush on his cheeks hiding under his manicured beard.
[+green “Nevermind that,”] she waved with a grin, saving him from having to answer. [+green “Did you have any breakfast? I’m sure there’s still some left inside, we made plenty this morning. In the meanwhile, what shall you have me learn today?”] She asked with a pleasant smile, and genuine eagerness to begin at his earliest convenience.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Deflection was an excellent descriptor for what Sebastian had been doing himself recently, and as she explained her lack of inquiring spirit – which sat in stark contrast to how she had been upon first meeting her – he felt a building sense of guilt within his chest. Her discomfort in the moment transferred across rather evidently, dark olive eyes watching as she stood and his fingers traced the worn cover of his stack of books. Whilst it may have been prudent to let her vent and remain silent there was one thing Mr. Isaksson certainly wasn’t; patient.
[+teal “I will accept your apology if it helps you but I would say I am the one to blame for you supposed ‘deflecting’.”] His free hand rose, air quotes accentuating his denial of her supposed habit of self-loathing. She was a sweet if naïve girl, as he saw it.[+teal “When we met in the tea room I claimed to have poisoned you and forced you into a very inappropriate position by propositioning your curiosity against your self-worth. From there things have not exactly been calm, especially yesterday, and for that I am the one who must apologise. I’ve been straddling these two worlds for so long I forget that the majority of the world’s population is much as yourself, clueless to what goes on around them.”] She was pacing a little now, and he wanted to continue his little speech of reassurance, but she seemed eager to move on and so he left the conversation there.
Her questions and statements came thick and fast. Talk of the rings was left unanswered as she jumped to a confession on how breakfast had gone. Watching her in wonder he was surprisingly quiet and well-mannered as she danced about her morning. He went from trepidation that Elizabeth had done something wrong to pride in his apprentice that she had stood up to their imposing host and he finished with a light rose hue to his cheeks when she implied their host had some admiration for him. He let out a small chuckle, releasing a little of his tension as she drew out her cigarette case, his hands moving to his long coat and reach within the inner pocket.[+teal “My, that is an awful lot to unpack and answer for but let me try and go point by point whilst you settle down.”] His hand returned with a crimson cylinder the length and width of her thumb. Holding it out toward her he deftly turned it upside down to show a small blue reflective surface, turning it upright and pressing his thumb to the said underside. From the flat tip sprouted a flame about two inches long and waving in the light breeze of the morning. Feeling she had the idea of how it worked he brought away his thumb and light extinguished before he lightly tossed it towards her to catch.
[+teal “Firstly, you mentioned the rings I have requested of Ms. Elizabeth, of which there will be two; for now.”] Up popped his middle and fore finger on his left hand.[+teal “The first is a fairly basic translation ring. Let’s say someone speaks to you in German, which I assume you speak little of, then you will instead hear what they say in English. And visa versa for you. It takes time to attune to you and your capabilities, and you will learn in time to use it to alter your language at whim. Just don’t expect to put it on and speak fluent Mandarin or Latin immediately.”] It would be terribly annoying for him to constantly be translating everything for her. This way she could keep up with conversations and he would not be pestered to update her ever few seconds. By now, his middle finger had dropped.[+teal “The other,”] he wagged his remaining finger a little,[+teal “will be key to harnessing what humans term as ‘magic’, though in reality is much more natural than you would think. It will act as a conduit and training aid but also will inhibit you until I am assured you are both respectful and understanding of the power you may possess. You wouldn’t give a firearm to a child..”] Going quiet for a moment his eyes did narrow toward her hip where her pistols would usually sit, and for a very brief moment he eyed her curving figure before coming back to her piercing dark gaze.[+teal “You are American though, you believe firearms are a ‘God given right’, so perhaps you would. But I am here to be the responsible parent and keep you safe after all.”] What he would teach her would be immeasurably more powerful than a weapon.
Keen to move on from the momentary lapse in concentration, and letting his hand drop back to his lap, he let out an airy sigh.[+teal “As for Elizabeth, you need to understand that she is quite intruding. She does not know of personal boundaries and would no sooner ask you to sit at her breakfast table as join her in her chambers. So any forwardness she may show or any accusation about your character she may make is rather entirely within character for her – you become used to it.”] He could no sooner change that woman’s personality as he could stop the sun from rising. In a way he liked that blunt nature, as he always knew where he stood with her. Of course mysteries such as Charlene held their own interest.[+teal “She only admires me for what I can give her – and no I am not boasting about what you think I am boasting about,”] a wry grin tugged his lips, memories of the previous night’s playful teasing with Charlene sparking in the minds eye,[+teal “but if you do not interest her or can’t provide her with what she wants then you aren’t worth her time. And by what you tell me she thinks you are very much worth her time.”] He sat back into his seat with moderate amusement dancing across his stark features, his demeanour much more relaxed than they had begun at.[+teal “She doesn’t like submissive personalities. If you told her what for and put her in her place, which is how I understand things ended, then you will only have her increased your value in her eyes. So again I stress about being a little wary of her offers. They are often better than they seem.”] He left such a cryptic sentence up for her interpretation as he folded his hands together and let his gaze wander back to the street before them. In truth he did not fear coming up against a stern Elizabeth. She may be intimidating and he wanted to assure Charlene that she was not in any trouble, but even if she had been the alluring host within would not be allowed to cause her any harm. He was much more protective of Charlene than perhaps she realised.
[+teal "So,"] he began, still looking away from her,[+teal "was I in your dreams? If so, and by extension, how many times did you hit me?"] He grinned as he sat quite happily enjoying the pleasant morning on the porch.
It was one simple word, spoken when Mr. Iskasson had given up in his flustered state with her. Her eyes were cast out on the street, following the passerby’s and imagining that all she saw could very well be something else, and that there was likely something she wasn’t seeing at all. She took his words to heart, and mulled over all she’d seen. He pouted beside her, and she felt a small twinge of guilt for having teased him. He shouldn’t have made it so easy, and her behavior had been less than mature -too playful. She knew why, and she knew that to work together they would have to learn to also understand each other. Slowly she turned her gaze to him and gave a wan smile.
[+green “You’re right, I have a thousand questions, but they all mean nothing if I’m not ready for the answers, and the ones I’ve asked have gone unanswered, and only scratch the surface of what I truly want to know. I’ve assumed you are a man who will divulge the information to me as needed, or when you feel I am ready. So to handle my own insecurities and uncertainty, I deflect. Mostly with humor. I’m sorry, I’ve done much to your pride in our short time together. I’ll try to refrain from doing it so much. After all, you are doing me a kindness, and I do appreciate it. I want to learn... but there’s a part of me that’s afraid of what I might find out... not just about this world, but about myself.”] She shifted her weight on the bench, until she finally stood up to pace the porch.
Unable to ‘play it cool’ any longer, she also needed something to do, to occupy her time with. She also needed to confess about what happened during his absence at breakfast. She just wasn’t sure how to approach it, though it needed approach. She decided he better know before going inside, less she let him get blindsided by any potential ire Ms. Elizabeth might have.
[+green “So what is it about these rings you want Ms. Elizabeth to make?”] Charlene asked eager to move the conversation on, and now looking at him from where she leaned her body against the porch railing. [+green “Also I should probably tell you that breakfast was... well... a battle of wits? I debated telling you this, but she’s your friend, so you should know what you might be walking into.”] At his questioning gaze, Charlene sheepishly looked to her feet and confessed what happened at breakfast. [+green “Everything was going fine. I was learning a lot about both of you, and helping with the cooking, but she started to ask me questions I didn’t care to answer. She went from admirable to irritating. I may have gotten a bit short with her after she seemed to mistake me for a gold digging harlot... and informed her she was wrong.”] An irritated glare crossed Charlene’s face and she looked away, for all her irritation her cheeks burned with embarrassment. [+green “Not even my type... so stupid...”] she grumbled under her breath, and finally added a final caveat to their conversation her gaze clear on Mr. Isaksson. [+green “She clearly admires you, and I don’t think she likes me very much. So good luck in there, and sorry if this puts you in a bad spot. I’m honestly a little scared to go back in.”] she confessed with a quick grin removing her cigarette case with every intention of having another smoke.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her gentle touch drew him back from his longing gaze, lost in thought and dream alike and quite content to have remained there. Looking down on her warm fingers as they slipped away from his knee he listened quietly to what she had to say though it only brought a roseate hue to his cheeks.[+teal “Well actually-“] he had thought to explain himself at last but was cut off as she exclaimed his ‘talent’ and barked a derisory laugh. [i ‘Fine, she will wait for an explanation’] he tried to justify to himself as if it were any punishment at all to withhold that piece of knowledge. Like a child taunted mercilessly by his peers he sat with his books in silence, placing them like a barrier in the space between them, though as if he were there on that porch alone. His dark emerald eyes turned to gaze out on the street ahead of them as her sweet laughter dwindled and she turned the conversation to a less involved subject.
He maintaining his vow of silence a little longer, letting her question remain unanswered, doing his best to remain stoic and dignified though it was altogether futile as he glanced back to see that beaming smile facing his way. She had him. A huff of displeasure to make sure and he did his best to move on.[+teal “Well, given the rather drastic events from yesterday,”] both the circus fight and the trip to illusionary Paris,[+teal “I’m keen to keep you quite safe and out of harm’s way for today. Whilst Elizabeth works on the pieces I need I will give you a few very basic lessons about the other world to try and help your assimilation into it. You know, the world that runs parallel to this one”] A hand rose to indicate the passing workers on the street, the click-clack of horses pulling carriages, the general din of human life that ran in the background. The same hand came back to him, brushing through his hair in a therapeutic manner and back to rub at his neck.[+teal “I find it odd how you haven’t asked many questions, or rather any questions at all. You see a man disappear in a plume of dust as an entire road rises up from the ground and there are no questions as to whether I am dangerous or a threat. A living being consisting of naught more than rock tries to kill you – you care more about your friend’s feelings being hurt. You have had more questions about what my relationship with Ms Elizabeth is than all of that combined!”] He purposefully left out the Paris excursion. That was something he would not burden her with until he felt she had the necessary strength to cope with it. Then again it did bring him around to the original topic.
[+teal “And for your information, when I say I’ve had no complaints you don’t understand just what that means. Those in the astral world are just so damn fickle! It-it-it’s either this or that and maybe some of this with a little of that! So damn difficult to satisfy that.. just.. bah!”] His hands flew up for a moment in his annoyance at being unable to convey his meaning. Clearly he was just the slightest bit perturbed by her teasing and his annoyance had bubbled over in a sweet if pouty manner, sitting back into his seat and folding his arms across his chest.[+teal “Not that it matters.”] He mumbled to himself. Let it not be said that Sebastian was not a man of many persona’s.
Charlene wasn’t alone on the porch ten minutes before she saw Mr. Isaksson walking down the lane. She had drank the better half of her coffee before it had grown cold, and had tried to reason that Ms. Elizabeth hadn’t tried to provoke her on purpose, but damnit all if Charlene didn’t hate how she’d been spoken to in that final moment. As if she was interested in the things Ms. Elizabeth had mentioned. If anything, Charlene had gone out of her way to avoid such things as a ‘husband’. How dreadful and how dull!
Still, Charlene was disappointed that she might not be able to be friends with Ms. Elizabeth as it was. There was no denying Ms. Elizabeth’s infatuation with Mr. Isaksson, and from what Charlene had learned Mr. Isaksson placed some merit of respect and trust in that woman. Charlene knew she was going to have to apologize, or else run the risk of putting Mr. Iskasson in a very awkward spot with someone who was his ally. Besides the woman had made Charlene pancakes... perhaps she wasn’t that bad, and Charlene was the one who was being... of all things: over protective. The last thing Charlene wanted was to come between two old friends.
Charlene didn’t have time to muse any deeper, because she was now distracted by Mr. Isaksson’s presence. She arched a brow seeing him muttering to himself and toting a set of books with him. What bee was buzzing in his bonnet this morning, she wondered. He spotted her and the look on her face was just as questioning as his, and it did not fade until he made his way up onto the porch with her.
She wasn’t as ‘at home’ as Mr. Isaksson seemed to believe, but she made room for him on the bench and welcomed his company. She didn’t stop him when he took her drink either, and instead sat back with a grin as he flinched at the taste. Of course it was cold, she hadn’t refilled it for nearly a quarter hour.
[+green “Serves you right,”] she teased, taking her cup back from him, and unable to wipe the smile from her face at his discomfort. He seemed to suddenly become aware that she was outside, and he questioned her for it, but it was his mood... it was different today. She saw the odd look on his face and reached out with a hand, [+green “You’re rambling,”] she told him with a gentle pat to his knee and brought her hands back to her lap. [+green “You seem a little wound up this morning. If I didn’t know any better I would say you’re nervous, but don’t worry... I didn’t hear a single complaint this morning from out Hostess. She’s very fond of you, and....”] Charlene teased with a mischievous grin, having more to say and delighting in how easy it was to make the man uncomfortable, even if just the slightest. [+green “Your exceptional talent!”] She snorted, unable to help herself, and giggled. With a sighed she decided to avoid speaking about breakfast and instead asked him where he’d run off to so quickly this morning
[+green “You sure did high tail it out of here this morning. For a moment I thought you’d abandoned me, but you’re back, and now you can tell me what it is we’re going to do today! What interesting things will you teach me?”] She smiled as innocently and sweetly at him as she could, the image of bubbly delight. In truth she was eager to learn, and if she could avoid it, she wouldn’t mention her breakfast conversation with Elizabeth... at least not until she’d had a chance to talk with the woman further. Perhaps this was also a ploy to keep Isaksson away from Elizabeth until Charlene could make sure there was no fire on that bridge.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Charlene’s sudden change in demeanour was most captivating to Elizabeth as she had gotten what she desired. The woman went from the sweet and unassuming foreign damsel, here at Sebastians request and [i ‘simply following Mr Isaksson for the brilliant man he was’], to a rather intelligent, shrewd, forward and direct little minx. Oh how she loved the latter, though the former were not without their fun. The changes were slight, a change in her eyes or the way she held herself in her seat, but the tone of her voice and the words that fell from such full lips made quite clear that this was most definitely a strong woman. Sebastian knew how to pick them and she was just his type. Matching the intensity of those mesmerizing walnut eyes, the smoke that spilled forth from her mouth lazily drifted up between the two women and a light fog added to the setting. If it had been a theatrical performance Elizabeth would be clapping her dainty hands in delight. [i More, more!] to quote herself the night just passed.
When Charlene had finished and offered a polite if humourless comment about her hosts ability as a wife, one of Elizabeth’s slender brows rose a touch. Aside from that faint movement she had not moved from the moment the woman had lit her cigarette and even now, watching those curving hips seductively sway as she sauntered away and out of the kitchen, she remained fixed in her place. It took a little time for her lips to curl up just a little, the words sinking in and a thought forming behind those beautiful if dangerous eyes; she may have to tell Sebastian he would have to make do without his charge for a few days. Charlene was a delight.
Charlene was on the porch not ten minutes before a familiar looking man came down the lane to her right. He was dressed as smart as she could recall from the day prior, still missing a tie to his buttoned shirt though his clothing looks freshly cleaned if not new and under his left arm he carried a series of books. They were thick tomes, bound in leather though the edges were frayed and curling back from the binding and the pages were as yellow as the first morning’s urination. As he plodded along the street she would catch his lips moving though he did not speak aloud and no-one walked beside him. His right hand gesticulated at times and he would pause multiple times whilst this personal argument with, seemingly, himself went on at great length. It must have been one hell of a discussion.
It was only upon reaching the entrance, free hand steadied on the wrought iron gate as he opened it, that he spied Charlene sat on the bench placed out on the porch. There was a questioning look to his gaze though he often had such an appearance, yet he was truthfully rather surprised to see her sat there. The hesitation he had in seeing her lasted only a second or two, much like his other interludes, before he was walking swiftly down the path and up onto the porch.
[+teal “I see you have made yourself quite at home,”] he said in gesturing to the cup in her hand and the finished cigarette not far away,[+teal “I trust this means she has fed you and to your own satisfaction. Her breakfasts can be a little much especially if she wants something from you.”] It was not a statement that required answering and as he slipped by her to take a seat at her side he stole the cup from her hands and took a sip. Immediately his demeanour soured, lips pulled taut and thin, eyes closing over, brows raising and head turned away.[+teal “My word, bitter [i and] cold.”] He quickly passed the cup back and shook his head in distaste at her choice in beverage, eventually looking at her a touch perturbed as if she had chosen it just to upset him.[+teal “Why are you out here? Did she proposition you? I did warn her against doing such things. She’s always trying to do that to anyone I bring with me. Except Father James, though that is for obvious reasons.”] His words wandered though his gaze came back to Charlene as he noted the change in style, eyes running over her very quickly only to found her hair loose, tousled and framing her light tanned face rather pleasantly. A rather nice surprise to have this morning.
Charlene wasn’t surprised to hear of Elizabeth’s travels, but it was her description that seemed off. Charlene had never known New York City to be considered small. She mentioned Mr. Isaksson’s special talents again, and Charlene watched her from over the edge of her coffee mug. The black liquid was warm and inviting, and helped to sharpen her senses as her hostess continued to prattle on. Charlene continued with her manners, and while she did enjoy the woman’s company she had begun to sense a feeling in her gut to keep the woman at arms length. Elizabeth had traveled the world, and Charlene wa able to fill the bulk of their breakfast with talk about far away places, and the memories tied to them.
However Charlene and Elizabeth both knew the small chat wouldn’t last long, and Elizabeth made that clear when she called Charlene out on it. A slow coy grin grew on Charlene’s features.
[+red “What are you hoping to gain from your relationship with him? You don't seem to lust for him, though perhaps you are just better at deceiving that I know, and you seem so unsure of Sebastian that I doubt you see him as a means of obtaining wealth, what little if any he has. I'm curious what you seek from him.”]
It was a tone Charlene had heard a time or two before from other women. Jealousy, veiled behind a screen of saccharine. Elizabeth wouldn’t be the first woman to feel threatened by Charlene’s presence, but perhaps this might be the first time such feeling was warranted. In regards to Mr. Isaksson, Charlene knew well she couldn’t make any promises, but at least this was one game she knew how to play.
Women could be savage, intentionally cruel, and calculating, and they could do all of it with a smile on their face, or look of innocence. For who would suspect a simple woman? Women were marked by their silence and obedience, hell they couldn’t even vote. Charlene felt men kept women oppressed as a means of control, because to let them loose on the world -as their equals, men would learn very quickly as to the superiority of women. Charlene had eaten her fill by this point in their conversation, and rested one hand beside her plate, the other held her coffee cup, and while her body maintained a relaxed state in the chair she occupied, Charlene’s eyes were as sharp as glass, and her expression that of a seasoned poker player. That small coy smile remained, playful but cautionary. She then withdrew a silver case and opened it to reveal hand rolled cigarettes and a pack of matches. With a look Charlene asked permission and once given she placed one to her lips and lit it. She left the rest out for Elizabeth should she fancy one, and let a breath exhale before speaking.
[+green “Why Ms. Elizabeth, I must say I’m not surprised to hear you speak so defensively for him. As you said before, he is a remarkable man. We can speak frank, you know? It’s obvious. Has been since the moment we arrived last night. If it was a rich husband I wanted I could have found one back home. I didn’t come all the way here for a good time, or for a fuck… I could have got all that back home. What I can’t get there is answers…or tomatoes from Andalusia.”] Charlene smiled, but there was something false about it, the delicate tension between them suddenly became taunt and while Charlene did not wish to upset her host, Charlene wouldn’t take shit either. She tapped the ash down onto her plate and crossed her arms. [+green “I have my own reasons for reaching out to him, but it was ultimately his choice you should know. He didn’t have to accept me, mind you, he could have waved me off and gone about his life. Except he didn’t, and I have a feeling he’s illuminated at least some small reason for why to you. Whatever it is makes you nervous…”] Charlene’s voice was steady and soft in that moment, but there was a lethality layered under it. It also revealed Charlene was far more perceptive that she had let on to Mr. Isaksson. She leaned into the table, voice dropping so it was simply between her and Ms. Elizabeth, the only thing between them was the smoke that curled up from Charlene’s cigarette. [+green “You want to know if I’m a threat in any and all aspects. We both know this conversation was never about Mr. Isaksson. It was about learning the other. You’ve told me everything I want to know about you, and all you need to know about me, is I’m just a simple apprentice. I was at the right place at the right time, and I’ve got bigger problems than some pissy match over petty shit like a man.”] Charlene smirked then taking a final drag on her cigarette and putting it out on the plate. She stole a last gulp of coffee and pocketed her cigarette case. Donning a smooth grin Charlene stood up taking her plate and cup. [+green “Now, thank you for your hospitality. Breakfast was delicious. No better way to start the day than with an exceptional breakfast. You’d make a fine wife.”] Charlene raised her coffee mug in a mock toast, took her plate to the sink, refilled her coffee, and took her leave.
Charlene grumbled darkly under her breath as she made her way out of the house and onto the small porch. Charlene had a feeling she might regret this mornings interaction, but Elizabeth had risen a darker side out of Charlene. Wether it was intentional or accidental Charlene wasn’t sure -on either of their parts, but it had happened and she was certain that when Mr. Isaksson returned their host would certainly give him an earful concerning his little apprentice. Where the hell was he anyway? Feeling frustrated and not one hundred percent sure why she felt that way, she had herself another cigarette and sat in quiet contemplation with her coffee and her thoughts until Mr. Isaksson’s return.
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