Monday, December 3, 2012

Wicked & Wonderful: Chapter 12 - Magickal Mayhem, Indeed

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“I don’t know if a movie’s a good idea,” Madeleine said over the phone.

Milo switched the cell phone over to his good ear. The aftermath of the magick-heavy battle with the imps and fairies had completely deafened him in the left ear for pretty much the majority of the past twenty-four hours, and now all that remained was a slight buzzing that made the words leaving her lips sound muffled and fuzzy. “Say that again.”

She sighed. “I don’t know if you and I should go to a movie together.”

“And why is that?”

“You know,” she offered. “Two strangers in a dark movie theater watching a scary movie that practically throws the girl into the guy’s protective arms…”

“I’m failing to see an issue here,” he replied. He rolled on his back, once again thankful for the bed’s pillow top layer against his aching body.

She sighed again, and he pictured her, laying there in her bed, one hand to her forehead, as she tried to figure out what to do with him. He chuckled.

“It’s not funny,” she bristled.

Oh, but it is. Not that he really thought it was amusing, but if she really did not want to go, if she really thought it was a bad idea, she would have just told him it was not going to happen and hung up. That they were still talking gave him hope she could be convinced, and he was going to run with it until he either got her to go or ran into a brick wall. He gave a half-whispered prayer for the first option.

“Then let’s not go together,” he said.

“What?” She sounded genuinely confused.

He shrugged, even though he knew she could not see him. “If it’s the ‘together’ thing that’s bothering you, then let’s just skip it. Let’s just be two people who want to see the same movie at the same time, who prefer the middle of a centrally located row and find themselves in the position to share a soda and bucket of popcorn too large for either of them to consume alone.”

“Really?” The word sounded so small coming from the phone, and it occurred to him that she was more than a little broken, a little jaded, and his pushing without really pushing, the whole options with options, was honestly new to her. That one word carried such a human tone to it, he almost forgot she was not, that she had to be super, everything considered.

“Yeah, really.” He rested his free hand on his bare chest. “See, here’s the thing. I want to see you. And I think you want to see me. Whatever this is that’s holding you back—old baggage, fearful precedence, normal concern about dipping more than your toe into this—I don’t want it to keep us from seeing each other. If that means we have to pretend for a little bit to get you comfortable with the idea of dating again, so be it.”

She did not say anything, though he swore he could still hear her on the other end, her breath slow and steady. He bit his tongue and waited her out. The worst she could do was say ‘no’, right? He closed his eyes and prayed silently to the powers that be to nudge this in his favor. Come on, come on, come on!

Madeleine finally broke the silence. “Okay.”

“Okay?” He kept his tone light, nonchalant.

“I can’t go to the movie with you,” she explained. “But I am going to see that horror flick that opened tonight when it shows at 7:35. And I do like sitting in as close to the middle of the theater as humanly possible for the acoustics with the comforting taste of popcorn in a bin so big I will have to carry it with two hands and be unable to manage a drink as well.”

He chuckled and cleared his throat. “Well then. I’m sorry to hear that we won’t, in fact, be attending together. I guess I will just go alone to see that horror flick, too, at 7:35, me and my large cola,” he faked a giant sigh, “in the middle of that dark, dark theater alone.”

Madeleine laughed. “Yes, that sounds best. You alone in the dark, me alone in the dark. Definitely for the best.”

*****

Given that he was trying to find her in an already-darkened theater based on shape and hair color he remembered from photos and their first meeting, Milo resigned himself to the fact that his plan may very well have backfired. There were mostly couples in the theater that he could see, and those sitting singly seemed to be mostly male, with the few females scattered at the top and bottom of the theater seating.

Had she changed her mind? Was she sitting elsewhere watching and waiting to see if he was actually coming? He stood on his tip toes and craned his neck, as if that would somehow give him a better vantage point from the entrance. “This is ridiculous,” he muttered as he walked up the stairs to get to the middle of the theater. “I’m just going to sit down, and if she shows, she shows. If she doesn’t, I’ll take the hint and leave her alone.”


He did not want to be a stalker, and he did not want to push her any farther away than she already was. But patience was not something he did well when he really wanted things to go his way.

The previews started rolling, and he sighed into his soda.

“You know, you really should have a little popcorn with that,” a female voice whispered from his right side. Milo just about jumped out of his seat. “To absorb the excess and keep you from being swishy.”

“Madeleine?”

In the light of the screen, she smiled at him. “Hi.”

He shook his head. “You just scared the shit out of me,” he whispered. “How in the world did you manage to sneak up on me like that?”


Her smile widened. “I’m just that good,” she whispered. He opened his mouth to protest, but she raised one finger to her lips. “Shhh…movie…”

The movie itself was all right. A lot of potential left fruitless in the wake of Hollywood story splicing and predictability. What he caught of it. And he had meant to pay attention, but her energy batted at him like a lazy cat, cool and seductive. She smelled good, like clean laundry just out of the dryer without the froo-froo aftertaste of dryer sheet, and every time she grazed his hand with hers, the hairs rose on his arm in an electric tingle.

She rubbed at her shoulders a couple of times before he leaned over, his mouth to her ear. “I’ve been told I give a great back massage.”

Madeleine shook her head. “Oh,” she purred, “that just leads to trouble.”

“Nah, I’ll be a good boy,” he whispered back. “You can even keep your shirt on.”

She chuckled and pointed toward the movie screen. “Shhh…he’s about to get eaten!”

He shook his head. “This isn’t over.”

She leaned closer, her eyes fixed on the screen. “Oh, I really hope it’s not.”

Milo smiled and watched the bad guy get eaten by the demon that had been harassing everyone, but he would not be able to recall the details later, plotting as he was to get her to take him home with her. It was not nefarious, his intention, but more part curiosity and more than a little of not wanting his time with her to be over.

*****

She sipped at the remains of his soda across the table in the food court. It was average sized, as far as mall eateries went, and she had passed on his offer to buy her dinner, insisting it was all right that he eat, if he was hungry. Hence the sipping while he was munching on nachos.

They were one of the last bodies in this place, given that the mall was about fifteen minutes from closing. All the little store fronts had pulled down their little metal gates, most of the food places were doing last minute clean up, and the security guards were biding their time before everyone needed to be kicked out. Ah, the perks of a smaller town.

“The ending was horrible,” she mouthed around the straw, peering up at him through the parted curtain of her dark brown hair. “I mean, seriously, did he really think he was going to get out of there that easily? It’s a horror/thriller flick, for Christ’s sake! Had the character never watched a horror movie in his life?”

Milo nodded and let her continue on her rampage. It was amusing, in a way, to see someone so animated over something that was clearly fiction, and poorly done fiction at that. Besides, if he was honest, he just liked watching her. Not in that creepy, homicidally-inclined stalker way, but in a warmer, romantically-inclined interested suitor kind of way. At least that was his intention, and as he watched her wind down, he really hoped that was how it came off.

“Ahem,” she faux cleared her throat, “what should we do now?” Her eyes wandered into their peripherals, and the mage could see the security guard hovering like vultures, circling ever closer to their table.

He reached across the table and touched her hand. She started to pull away, paused and let his fingers slide over the top of her skin. “I owe you a backrub, you know.”

A smile peeked from her lips. “I don’t know…”

“It’s just a backrub,” he offered.

“Just like this was coincidental meeting of two people who weren’t dating?”

He leaned back in his chair. “Touché, mademoiselle. But you had a good time, right? And do you really just want to go home alone and do whatever it is you do until the wee hours of the morning?”

“Well…”

Her resolve was not as strong as she might have hoped, and Milo pushed forward. He raised one hand. “I, Milo Goddard, do hereby proclaim that I will bestow upon you one backrub without any illicit intent. Should I fail in this matter or you find my actions discomforting, simply tell me so, and I will bid you a fond, but final, adieu. What say you?”

Madeleine, in the midst of his mini-monologue, had covered her mouth with a hand and a look of feigned astonishment crossed her face. At least he hoped it was feigned. “If I say yes, will you stop proclaiming anything, everything, and just follow me home?”

“Oh, yeah, I think I can manage that,” he replied with a little inner shout of hooray.

“Then yes, yes, Milo, I will take you home with me for a backrub, only a backrub, or so help me God, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.”

Milo grinned. “I’ll take my chances.”


*****

She drove kind of slow, but he was not sure if that was because she was an overly cautious driver at night or if she was attempting to ensure she did not lose him during the trek back to her place. And considering how much he wanted to be there already, this pace was about to kill him. He had been honest in his proclamation. If all she wanted was a backrub, then that’s all he was going to give her. He had all the time in the world to wait her out, since that tact seemed to be working best.

They pulled up to a quaint little house on end of a cul-de-sac, and she led him silently, shyly inside. He closed the door behind them, leaning against it.

“I don’t do this, you know,” she whispered.

“Do what?”

Madeleine smiled. “I…I don’t bring men to my house so soon after meeting them.”

He cocked his head to the side. “Just a backrub, Madeleine. As much as I’d like to kiss you right now, I promised you that it would just be a backrub.”

She opened and quickly closed her mouth. “Just a backrub.” She reached for him with one hand, and he took it with a smile. She tugged him behind her as she wandered deeper into the house. “The only place we can do this is…” They were walking down a short hallway. She paused at a closed doorway. “…here.”

She pushed the door open, and Milo smiled. She blushed as they entered her bedroom.

“You make things harder,” he whispered.

She looked over her shoulder at him. “Not my intention, but it’s easier to give me a backrub if I’m all laid out.” She tugged at her shirt.

“Um, you don’t have to…do…that…” Milo swallowed hard. A lacy black bra held back the ample curves of her pale white breasts. When his eyes finally made it back to her eyes, she was smiling. He licked his lips. “Just a backrub.” He did not say it to remind her, but to remind himself, like a mantra to keep his mind to task.

She clambered onto the bed, pulled the pillows into a small pile in the middle of the mattress by the headboard, and leaned on them with one sweep of her hand to drape all that long, dark hard over one shoulder. She looked at him from where she lay with eyes that knew all too well what she had just done had undone his resolve more than just a little.

Milo cleared his throat and crawled onto the bed next to her. “Um, where’s it hurt? Just your shoulders?”

She murmured in agreement. “There, and down to the small of my back. If you don’t mind. So rare is it that I get someone so inclined to rub me down.”

“I don’t mind. Not at all.” He started with her shoulders, all that tension melting away in his hands, and a bevy of sounds escaped her mouth.

They spoke, small talk, but if anyone had asked later what they talked about, he would have been unable to say. If they were to ask what he could recall, he would have to say it was the smoothness of her skin beneath his fingertips, the melody of appreciative moans, groans, and ‘oh, yes, right there’ that issued from her lips. His hands ran the course of her bared back in tactile memorization, skipping the bra straps and closure.


She was cool to the touch, and he had some definite ideas about why, but as she was not attempting to eat or control him, he was pretty content to just keep his hands on her.

He leaned closer to her head. “On your back.” Madeleine lifted her head up and gave him a quizzical look as she complied with his request. “Now close your eyes.” A mild wave of paranoia shifted through her eyes, but she closed them.

Milo traced the curves of her neck to the slope of her shoulders, chasing the lines of her down the length of her torso, fingers stopping short on the waist of her jeans. Her body exhaled and shivered, the corner of her bottom lip disappearing between her teeth. He kept clear of her breasts, drawing patterns along her bra and the flesh in their perimeter.

“You know,” she whispered between panted breath. “if you really want to kiss me, you better do it soon before I’m so relaxed I fall asleep.”

His hands paused, and Milo’s exhalation caught in his throat. “Really?”

She opened her eyes and looked at him, the smile on her lips reaching all that liquid brown.

“Oh, yeah.”

Continue: 13

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