Desperately chasing my tequila shot with a swig of cold beer, I searched the bar’s dance floor for my brother. Enough was enough; I was ready to leave.
Drunken frat boys openly groped as I made my way across the room, my temper and disgust flaring with every butt slap and boob graze.
Humans, I thought, are absolutely revolting in their adolescent years.
Sweaty bodies packed tighter as I found myself only a few feet from the dance floor. Girls swayed drunkenly, their long hair falling straight and bodies tanned from the June sun. The music was quite awful, some conglomeration of country and rap rolled all in one that I found I didn’t like. The beat was fast, however, so I found myself smashed between two heavy set men trying to make a “sandwich” as I had heard it been called.
“Really,” I yelled to both of them. “Back the hell off!”
One chuckled, leveling his beer at my face so he could reach down to touch my hip, the edge of my stomach showing between my skinny jeans and flowy blouse.
“Drink some of this and just relax, sassy ass,” he slurred, waving the beer closer to my mouth.
Rolling my eyes, I stepped heavily down onto his right foot, the spike of my heel forcing him to buckle over and howl like a wounded child.
“Oh, relax, sassy ass,” I mumbled to him before heading toward the bathroom. I knew a set of stairs ran around the northern wall, maybe from there I could get a good sight on my brother.
“God, you are the poster-child for the term ‘buzz-kill,’” I heard a voice purr above my shoulder. “You would think all those shots you’ve been devouring might’ve helped you lighten up a bit.”
My steps halted as goosebumps claimed my neck and back, the deep accent rolling over my skin like ice.
“I see your opinion of humans and their social activities hasn’t changed either,” he laughed, continuing as I turned to face him. “Really, Kansas, as much as that young boy deserved what he got, you should give them a chance. For only being a momentarily flicker of very perishable flame, they are fascinating creatures.”
“How repulsively poetic. I suppose,” I murmured, thrusting my chin up defiantly, “that’s why you’ve chosen this as your new home? Can’t resist that flicker?”
His bass rumble of a laugh escaped his chest, dimples sinking attractively into his cheekbones.
“They are impressive,” he stated. “They are completely built on emotion at this age and, while I know you find feelings to be quite nauseating, I find it intriguing. They laugh and drink and joke yet…so many of them are walking around beaten and broken. Not so different from you and I, Kansas.”
“Stop calling me that!” My voice raised an octave, heat flooding my cheeks. “Stop acting and conversing with me and using that damned nickname as if we’re still friends. Let me assure you, Abel, we are not.”
Cringing at the use of his true name, he drew himself away slightly.
“Fine,” he snapped. “Nicknames aside-why are you here, Karoliina?”
In turn, the rush of hearing my true name shot spirals of adrenaline into my fingertips.
“My brother and I…” I started, suddenly questioning how to phrase myself. “We’re here for you.”
Nodding, Abel broke eye contact, turning to glance toward the door.
“Don’t run,” I quietly whispered, knowing full well he could hear me even above the DJ and shouting college kids.
“Oh, I’m not going to run, Karoliina. And trust me, even if I did, you would never be able to stop me. I’m just looking for that bastard of a brother you still claim.”
I watched as he slowly took in our closest surroundings – the group of girls celebrating a bachelorette party at the bar, the loners shooting pool in the back room, couples kissing against walls, and stilled at the sight of what I assumed was my brother.
His broad chest heaved as he sucked in a breath, a very ancient, predatory look filling his green eyes.
“Which one of you is in charge tonight? Tell me the truth,” he growled, glaring down at me. “I’ll know if you lie.”
“Abel…” I began. The anger in his eyes shrank slightly, taking in the way I made no move to restrain him. “I was given this chance to make things right.”
“Ah, so it’s you then. And will you take that chance, Karoliina? I’m sure our opinions of ‘make things right’ differ very much.”
Shaking my head, I looked down at my feet, the four inch heels still barely allowing me to reach Abel’s chest. He’d chosen a very familiar human figure – dark hair and lashes, filled out and lean, athletic, and graceful even at his full height well over six feet. It was the same figure he always chose when we were forced to be human, claiming it was too much work to change skins.
“No,” I replied, pausing at the look of suspicion that struck his face. “I took this opportunity for another reason, Abel.”
I watched his head tilt to one-side so much like a puppy it almost brought a smile to my face. Almost.
“We’ve been looking for you for six days,” I started, stepping past him to lean against the stair railing. “And I’m not letting you out of my sight until you tell me why you fled.”
Smug, cockiness filled his jaw – the flicker of tension fading before I even registered it.
“You came all this way just to hear me say why? Cute. Unfortunately, I won’t tell you that, Karoliina. I find absolutely no reason in my mind why I should trust you nor give you the satisfaction. What happens when I refuse?”
Looking him fully in the eyes, I felt my chest tighten at the realization he would never tell me unless he had absolutely no other option.
Reaching down the front of my shirt, I felt my heart hammer into a millions pieces as I faced what I had to do. In turn, his eyebrows lifted with humor:
“Hey, I like this option better already,” he hummed, crossing his arms over his chest while I groped down my front.
Sliding the necklace free, I watched his humor disappear instantly, replaced with a look I could only compare to absolute fear. I had nothing to truly judge it off of because I’d never seen him scared.
“I shatter this,” I said softly. Gripping tightly to the glass piece dangling from my neck, I looked back into his eyes, “and we both die.”
Copyright © 2016 Pearl Bayou