Chapter Six

‘Meet me at bar at 7. Kisses, Predator.’

“Feels like a booty call,” Franz commented, squeezing a stress ball in one hand.

I groaned and buried my head in my hands.

“She even waited the usual two days to text you.”

I shook my head, not disagreeing, just in disbelief. When the text had initially come in, I’d stared at it for a long time. Maybe I was just behind the times when it came to texting after you had sex with someone you weren’t dating, but I had expected something between that night and the… booty call text.

“You gonna text her back?”

Franz, of course, took every possible opportunity to poke at me. There was a little bit of older-brother protectiveness, but I knew it was also him enjoying the chance to give me hell about my sex life.

“No,” I answered, sliding my phone shut and putting it in my pocket. “I’ve got a shift starting at five. She can wait until I get back.”

“You’re just going to leave her hanging?” Franz teased. “Cold, Ai.”

I rolled my eyes and grabbed my keys. “When you finally manage to ask Kara out, then you can give me dating advice.”

His dramatic gasp followed me out.

[*]

“You look so cute, in your little apron.”

I whirled around, brandishing the price-checker like it was something more than a hunk of plastic.

Standing in front of me, looking more amused than anyone in her position had any right to, was Predator. Her hair hung loose around her shoulders, and she smelled like… something, some cologne different than last time.

“I’m working,” I managed, raising an eyebrow.

“You didn’t return my texts,” Predator said, like that excused it, “I got worried. It’s not safe for Named, you know.”

“No, I didn’t,” I snapped, peeved at the whole situation, “and thank you for taking as long as possible to tell me about it.”

She eyed me, and I folded my hands over my chest. I had to work to stay mad; what I really wanted to do was go on break and get her up against the wall of the loading area in the back of the store.

“Are you always hot and cold?” She asked, jamming her hands into her pockets. “Because it’s already starting to get old.”

“Sorry if I don’t welcome you with open arms when you stalk me to my job,” I fired off, turning back to what I had been doing.

“I told you, I got worried. And I thought you could figure out that it was dangerous; if I can track you down, so can other people.”

“And here I thought you were the best,” I quipped, scanning something almost savagely.

“I am the best, but that doesn’t mean I’m the only one.” I heard her sigh in frustration. “Look, Mirror- Aiyana. I like you and all, but I’m not sure how much longer that’s going to last if you keep treating me like this. If you didn’t want to see me, all you had to do was say so.”

What I meant to say was something witty about silence not equalling consent. What I ended up saying was:

“I don’t sleep with people I’m not dating, okay?”

There was a long pause, in which I silently cursed whatever mind-to-mouth filter Predator broke just by existing.

“Is that the problem?” She asked, sounding amused. “Then date me. We’ll go to some place that’s still open when you get off shift, you’ll make fun of my taste in food, I’ll bitch about the service-” her voice lowered, “-and then you bring me back to your place, and I’ll make you scream.”

I flushed and fumbled the scanner, but managed to turn around without dropping it. Swallowing, I searched her eyes. One sign – one sign – that she was jerking me around, and I’d tell her to high-tail it.

As best I could tell, she looked sincere. Amused, not nervous in any way about asking me out, but sincere.

“Tell me your name,” I hedged, searching her eyes. She opened her mouth, and I cut her off. “Your birth name.”

She pursed her lips, and for a few seconds I really thought she was going to leave. Then:

“Anna,” she answered finally, crossing her arms over her chest. “My birth name is Anna.”

I nodded slowly, then darted forward for a quick kiss. “I get off at ten.”

“No, you’re getting off at eleven,” Predator smirked, brushing the backs of her fingers against my cheek, “but I’ll be here at ten for the pre-party.”

I managed something like a nod, and she turned to leave. “Kisses, Aiyana.”

Second Interlude

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10 thoughts on “Chapter Six

  1. I went back and tweaked a few things in earlier chapters: notably, Franz and Aiyana live on their lonesome, without a parent in sight. Also, the way she talks to her audience is a little different.

    I apologize for any formatting errors; I’ve been getting repeated “aw, snap!” errors in Chrome over the past week and using my Firefox derivative is just depressing (it doesn’t have any of my pinned tabs or bookmarks!). I’ve tried all the troubleshooting that google recommends and then some, and it keeps crapping out on me. It really drains my motivation to have to refresh something five to ten times to get chrome to connect properly.

    Anyway. Let me know what you think.

  2. Huh. I feel uncertain/”not having any experience with the topic and so not being in a position to make judgements” but also concerned/curious about the following: Do Aiyana’s attraction and actions towards Predator look like they’re simply a case of falling for someone/happening to be very attracted to someone or do they look a bit odd and worrisome? If the latter, is there perhaps some importance to the repeated comments/references about how Predator smells/about her cologne?

    • Thanks for commenting!

      It’s interesting, for me, to see what readers pick up on, and their theories. I’m not one to answer questions like that anywhere but the narrative, but keep looking. There’s definitely some foreshadowing in these chapters, though I may have made it too vague to really register as such. (I certainly hope not. I’m banking on that “ohhhh, that makes so much sense!” feel for one of the reveals.)

      • Thank you for responding! I look forward to seeing the story progress (I’m really itching to get more of the setting and powers once this subplot/arc/whatever winds down).

  3. The relationship things seems really fast. The other thing that’s odd is Aiyana’s total lack of interest in learning more about her power or the other paras. If I’d just discovered I could teleport, my whole world would change. I’d be testing it out, seeing what I could do, trying to learn as much as I could.

    • About the relationship, if you and others still feel this way at the end of the book, I will take a hacksaw to these bits and fix them. As for the second point, the third interlude addresses that.

      • Oh no worries, I figured I just needed to read on.

        And now that I think about it a little more, I don’t think it’s the speed of the relationship that really throws me — more that it seems very superficial. You describe Aiyana as this girl who doesn’t do one night stands really, a girl who’s pretty conservative when it comes to relationships and hooking up… but at the same time, here you have a relationship that’s almost entirely built off looks and hooking up. All we know (and since it’s first person — Aiyana too) of Predator is that she’s super hot and very aggressive. There haven’t been any conversations between the two where there’s been any real substance – i.e getting to know each other, shooting the shit, etc.. I think that’s what seems off to me. It’s almost like Flare really did influence her. And the way Predator is so aggressive, it almost feels like she’s taking advantage of Aiyana.

        Anywho, this comes out a lot harsher than I intend. I like the story and I’m definitely interested in where you’re taking it. I didn’t stop commenting on chapters because I was hating on them — I actually was forced to work today (sadness). Hopefully I’ll get to catch up on the rest over the holidays. I have like 20 other serials I owe people reads on too.

        Cheers.

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