Character Name: Filch
Alternate Identities: Janie
Player Name: NPC
|Born on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Filch is an attractive blonde with a great tan who isn't averse to showing off if it will take someone's eye off whatever she is trying to 'filch'. Normally seen on rollerblades and in a tiny bikini that barely contains her ample breasts and covers the escentials below the waist, she fits in very well in the San Diego beach scene.|
The warm California sun felt good after the long bus ride from Fort Lauderdale. A sea breeze through her long blonde hair and the familiar scent of salt lulled her as much as the steady clunk-clunk of her rollerblades across the concrete expansion joints of the Mission Bay boardwalk. It was almost like home but without ‘him’.
Sedately she angled left and off the boardwalk, heading up one of the many narrow streets that crisscrossed the few hundred yards of land between the man-made Mission Bay and the very natural Pacific Ocean. A figure stepped from behind a concealing bush and grabbed her by the upper arms, lifting her from her feet. A huge black man used his weight to slam her against the corner of a stucco garage, her stuffed back-pack the only thing saving her from serious injury.
“You some hot ass stuff, bitch,” the man growled.
The girl struggled to move away but her attacker held her helpless. His body pressed against her and memories flashed through her mind. She couldn’t scream, she couldn’t even get a breath. The world began to fade as terror clutched at her belly.
“No,” she groaned. “Not again . . . “
Abruptly the hands and the press of his body were gone. Her skates hit the asphalt and, off balance, she landed hard on her ass.
“This ain’t your territory,” a voice said calmly.
Wide-eyed, she stared up at a confrontation between giants and she felt as if she’d been elected as the prize for the victor.
“This ain’t your business, beach boy,” the black man growled. “Me and dis bitch was gonna get to know each other real well!”
Dressed in nothing but cut–off jeans, his blonde hair sun-bleached, his body deeply tanned, the ‘beach boy’ faced off with her attacker. Rollerblade wheels spun as she struggled to get to her feet. The hand that helped her to her up was slender but surprisingly strong and she looked up into the dark brown eyes of a girl about her own age.
Curly black hair with lighter streaks of a deep red cascaded to slender shoulders and framed an exotically beautiful face that was at the moment clouded with fury. Pulling her effortlessly, thanks to the blades, away from the two men, the bikini clad girl stopped when they were a few meters behind the surfer.
“It will be alright,” the other said, a British accent tingeing her words, before turning back to face the situation.
Forgotten now by the other three, the girl began to roll slowly back toward the boardwalk, not daring to turn her back and flee. Flashes of memory and pain brought tears to her eyes as she realized the surfer was even taller than her attacker. He was scary tall, just like…
Flipping his long leather coat open, the black man gripped the handle of a baseball bat and in one fluid move swung at the surfer’s head. The skater stifled a scream with a hand as the surfer stepped in, ducking the bat and brought a fist up into the black man’s solarplexes. She heard the explosion of air as the man doubled over, the bat clattering on the street, forgotten. Spinning on her skates, she powered into the crowd, hip checking a trashcan as she did. With a crash, the metal container spilled its noxious contents forcing the strollers to part and giving her a temporarily clear path. Not slowing, she vanished into the mob.
Roger and Maddie Dickerson didn’t notice the scruffy girl with a heavy backpack as they watched the sunset from a wrought iron table in front of an ice cream shop. They did, however, notice Roger’s missing wallet with $250 in cash when they got back to their hotel. Dutifully they reported it to the police. No, they didn’t remember anyone bumping Roger. No, they hadn’t left the wallet on the table. Yes, they remembered having it when they paid for the ice cream but hadn’t checked it until they returned to their rooms. In the end the Dickerson’s were forced to put it down to experience and forget the whole thing, just as the SDPD would do within the hour.
The girl crouched between two dumpsters and thumbed open the wallet, ignoring the credit cards and ID. Sighing in relief she hurriedly folded the stack of bills and stuffed them into her jeans pocket before dropping the rest into the dumpster. Stepping out into the alley once more she hitched up her pack and rolled off in search of a place to sleep.
Never hit the same area twice in day. Never be seen running, or in her case rolling quickly, away from a scene. Stick to the tourists, as they were less likely to report anything. And never go down an alley without checking it first!
She’d discovered her powers, as minor as they were, during one on ‘his’ visits. It had manifested as a knife appearing suddenly in her hand. The wound hadn’t been deep because she had no idea how to turn a blade so that it slipped easily between ribs. Instead there’d been a lot of blood, a lot of yelling and a visit from the cops. While her mother and ‘him’ had been explaining a kitchen accident, she’d stuffed everything she wanted into her school backpack and climbed out her bedroom window. Taking money had been out of the question as her mother didn’t have any and for two days she fought hunger pains and hid in the bathrooms of public buildings until she remembered the knife.
It started small, a left-over dinner roll on an abandon plate at a diner. From there she figured out how to make her grabs without even entering a building. With the profusion of 7-Elevens in the greater Fort Lauderdale area she found keeping herself fed wasn’t much of a problem and no one ever noticed a missing hot dog or bottle of Coke. The thing was, she couldn’t stay in Lauderdale, not with ‘him’ so near and the possibility of the cops looking for her but where did people just leave money lying around?
She tried grabbing tips off tables at eat-in restaurants but it didn’t net her more than ten or twelve dollars and most of that in change. Then as she was hanging around a bar late one night, she watched a drunk stagger out the door fumbling with his car keys. As he pulled his hand from a pocket his wallet dropped to the ground and he didn’t notice. With a quick thought the wallet was in her hand and she faded back into the shadows to wait.
It took several minutes for the drunk to get the key into the lock on a newish Acura and several more for him to get it in gear and spin tires out of the parking lot. When the taillights disappeared she pulled out the wallet and, with trembling fingers, opened it. Nearly $300 in bills made her heart race even more. She’d never seen so much money in one place. Crushing the bills to her chest she began to plan her escape from Florida.
She watched the chaos of the beach party from the retaining wall, wondered how long it had been going on. For the three weeks she’d been on the beach it had been running nearly non-stop with lulls in the early morning hours or on the rare occasion of rain. No one seemed to be in charge or acting as host, maybe it was just a neighborhood kinda thing.
No one paid the least attention to the blonde girl in the pink bikini as she sat down on the stairs that led to the beach and unlaced the rollerblades. At her side was a paper grocery bag with a six-pack of Coke, a bag of chips and container of green onion dip. She tied the laces of the skates together and threw them over one shoulder before coming to her feet and hefting her bag. As if she had been doing it all her life she sauntered into the midst of the party and deposited her bag on a table that she gathered was for such offerings. A middle-aged woman smiled at her.
“Hi,” she said. “I’m Cass.”
The girl hesitated.
“Um,” she began. “I’m ah Janie.”
“Welcome, Janie,” the woman Cass said. “Grab a plate and get some of those shrimp Nat brought before they disappear.”
Cass indicated a stack of paper plates. Janie obliged and took up one but stood pensively, unsure what to do. The woman watched her then laughed softly.
“Hun, don’t be shy,” she said pushing past the girl. “Sammy, let me have those tongs!”
She retrieved tongs from a man about her age and dropped two huge piles of shrimp onto Janie’s plate.
“Cocktail sauce over there, lemon, and try some of that macaroni salad,” Cass pointed each item out.
“HEY!” someone called out. “Wren’s going out!”
The woman Cass rolled her eyes and, along with the majority of the party, began to drift toward the tide line. Janie took the opportunity to snatch another scoop of shrimp and spoon on some cocktail sauce before retreating a little way up the beach to watch what had caught everyone’s attention.
As she powered through the shrimp she watched the couple that had saved her ass on her first day in San Diego wade out into the ocean, the boy with a surfboard under one arm. As wave crested the girl gave a little hop back and the guy caught her around the waist, lifting her above the next. To Janie it looked like she said something snide to the guy but it didn’t seem to affect him. He simply set her down and waited for her to act.
With the grace of a seal she dove into the next wave and disappeared. The guy laid the board down and waded into deeper water. When the girl came up, he boosted her up onto board with a hand on her ass. It looked like a pretty familiar gesture to Janie and the thought of a man touching her ass made her tremble. She had to close her eyes and force the bad memories into a corner of her mind. When she focused again on the scene the pair had made it out past the breakers and sat on the board, the girl pressing back against his chest.
After a few moments they made their move, the wave they’d chosen was bigger than anything she’d ever seen in Florida. Dropping down the face the boy came to his feet then steadied the girl as she joined him. As their speed increased, the wave began to curl, forming the tube and Janie was sure they were about to eat it. When they disappeared behind veil of water and foam, she more than half expected to see the board shoot out followed by the tumbling bodies but the boy kept his feet with the girl encircled by his arms. They shot out of the tube as it collapsed and coasted in to shallow water. The boy scooped up the girl and stepped off the board into knee deep foam.
Slowly Janie sat. She felt exhausted, like she’d been the one on the surfboard instead of the girl. The shrimp lost all flavor and even the cocktail sauce seemed bland. Why had she imagined herself in the girl’s place? The surfer scared her shitless. He was so…monstrous!
Carefully she set the paper plate down on the step and lifted her skates off her shoulder. Still trapped in her memories, she pulled on her blades and snugged them tight. For a long moment she couldn’t move, the fear and pain as harsh as the first time ‘he’d’ come into her room. Swallowing hard, she used the hand rail for balance as she came to her feet. He stood head and shoulders above the small group of well-wishers that had greeted them at the end of their ride and she shivered. Turning her back on the scene, she headed north, telling herself she wouldn’t be coming back this far south again.
Not everything she ‘acquired’ was cash. Once in a while she’d come up with a camera or watch and she had no idea how to get rid of that stuff. It was a Rasta named Bingo that told her about a ‘guy’.
Picket rented wind surfboards at La Jolla. He was typical for a California beach bum, tanned like old leather, sunglasses, open Hawaiian shirt, white shorts and flip-flops. Feet propped up on the railing around his little shop he eyed the girl as she approached.
Maybe 5’ 6”, blue eyes, long, straight blonde hair, well-tanned with great tits. He figured her for maybe 18. She looked scared but determined. Standing in front of him, her back to the setting sun she rummaged in a fanny pack at her waist.
“Bingo said you might be willing to give me something for this,” she said, holding out a bulky men’s watch.
The only thing that moved was Picket’s eyes behind the sunglasses. Expensive, maybe two grand. No way could this chick afford that kinda shit. He let her sweat a moment, then just as she made a move to put it back into the pack he spoke.
“Where’d ya find it,” he said.
She blinked and he saw understanding dawn in her blue eyes. At least she was quick on the uptake.
“Up the beach about a mile,” she said, gesturing in the general direction.
“Didn’t think to turn it into the lifeguards?” he asked.
He could see the gears turning in her head.
“One I talked to told me to turn it over to the cops and if no one claimed it in thirty days I’d get it back.”
Picket nodded. “That’s how it usually works.”
She held it out to him again.
“I ain’t got no money for a place to stay tonight,” she said. “Maybe you can give me a few bucks and turn it in yourself, for like a reward or something.”
“Or something,” he repeated. “How ‘bout I give you a bed for the night and you turn it in. I am sure we can work out some kinda payment for the room. I’ll even throw in breakfast.”
Panic flooded the girl’s eyes and before she could bolt Picket snatched the watch from her hand.
“I can give you maybe $50,” he said. “I’ll lose money if there’s no reward or it’s not that much but you look like you could use a little help.”
“$50, okay,” she said, visibly relaxing from her flight instinct.
Picket leaned back in his chair enough to force a hand into his pocket and pulled out a sheaf of bills. Peeling off two twenties and finding a ten, he held it out to her. She hesitated then the bills were gone so fast it made Picket blink. He’d never even seen her move. Without a word she turned and started to push off on her skates.
“Hey, babe,” he called. “If ya find anything else, let me know.”
She paused, looking back at him and nodded slowly. Then she was gone.
“Goddamn,” Picket said to himself. “They get younger and stupider every year.” He hefted the gold Rolex and smiled. Two grand easy and for fifty bucks.
Snap was a skinny, non-descript man of about thirty with a slimy look about him. He loved the beach, he loved all the girls wandering around mostly naked. He loved the ones with the big boobs the most. Beside him the slim black girl with skin the color of creamy coffee snorted. He turned to look at her.
“WHAT?” he demanded.
Cream shook her head.
“Man, why don’t you just go ahead and drool,” she chided. “What’s the matter don’t you get enough watching me through the lens?”
She pointed at the high-end Nikon digital camera around his neck. He snorted.
“Girl, I seen your ass from every angle, some of them pretty much impossible, a little new scenery keeps a man going.”
He lifted the camera to his eye and sighted in on a teenage girl with great tits and fired off a series of pictures.
“That her?” he said with out taking his eye from the viewfinder.
“Matches Picket’s description,” his companion said.
Snap licked his lips. This girl was luscious.
“You gonna do her,” he asked the woman next to him.
“Why?” She shrugged. “Ain’t no money in it.”
“Then do it for me,” he leered. “Besides, I could get something for the pics on the internet.”
“One of your kiddie porn sites? She doesn’t look all that young if you ask me. Probably already 18.”
The woman pushed off and strolled toward Picket’s place, Snap taking pictures of her ass as she walked away.
Janie rolled away from Picket’s pocketing a wade of bills and almost knocked over an attractive young black woman in a white bikini, white straw hat and sandals. As she opened her mouth to apologize she stopped, puzzled.
“Oh,” the woman said. “Clumsy me. Are you okay?”
“Um, it was my fault,” Janie began, and then stopped as a flush of heat ran up from between her legs to her face.
The woman held out a hand and Janie took it without hesitation.
“I’m Cream,” she said in the most melodious voice Janie had ever heard. “Let me buy you an ice cream in apology.”
They sat across the table from each other, sharing a huge banana split, the woman, Cream, speaking to her softly about life in San Diego. Janie was entranced by everything about this woman. Her voice, the color of her skin, the way the white bikini accented her curves, the way her lips moved as she talked. Never before had she been so drawn to another person.
“Where are you staying,” Cream asked her for what must have been the second or third time.
Janie blinked, coming out of the spell.
“Um,” she shrugged. “Where ever I got enough money for the night.”
Cream shook her head.
“That will never do,” she said. “You are new to San Diego and it isn’t all sunny beaches and tourist. There are some pretty bad people in this city.”
The wind, originally coming from offshore, shifted and was no longer blowing into Janie’s face from the direction of Cream. Janie eyed the woman, suddenly suspicious.
“No, thank you,” she said. “I prefer to be on my own.”
She rose so quickly the chair rocked back, almost toppling.
“Thanks for the ice cream,” she said then slipped back into the crowd and disappeared
“Fuckin’ WIND,” Cream hissed as Snap strolled up.
“Never thought I’d see your charms fail,” he snickered.
“Shut the fuck up,” she snarled.
Slugger snatched the picture from the table and held it up.
“That BITCH!” he snarled.
Mask looked up at him.
“She turn you down?” he said mildly.
Slugger wanted to take the bat to the man and wipe that urbane smirk from his face. Arms wrapped around his chest and firm breasts pressed against his back. A tongue darted out and licked his earlobe.
“Having a hard time, Slug,” a cool feminine voice breathed in his ear.
“Tara, don’t tease the hired help,” Mask said without looking up.
Slugger hated it when the girl did that, AND when she called him Slug. He grabbed one arm and pulled her around in front of him and gave her a push onto the couch. It nearly overset and she laughed.
Tara Ap, pronounced ‘Trap’, didn’t bother to pull herself together but let the short skirt she was barely wearing remain high up on her thigh revealing the nearly transparent panties she chosen that morning to remain expose. She was as black as Slugger and nearly as tall in heels, but slender, with long legs and arms. Her dark chocolate eyes danced in amusement.
“Not every girl is aware of your . . . finer attributes, Slug,” she cooed.
Mask glanced at her, his eyes hard.
“Not like I’d have any personal experience,” she added hastily. “But girls DO talk.”
The tip of Mask’s pen tapped the photo.
“What about her?”
“I’ll tell you,” a sultry voice purred from the door.
Cream slunk in and gracefully sat next to Tara giving her exposure a brief disdainful glance. Tara lifted her ass and pulled the skirt down.
“Picket says the girl’s an unbelievable pickpocket,” Cream said. “Brings him more merchandise in a week then most bring in a month.”
Picking up the photo Mask said, “Then let’s get her working for us.”
“We need something beside my hot body to bring her over,” Cream said.
“Doesn’t work on chicks?” he smirked.
“It works on everyone,” Cream leaned toward Slugger and he forgot to breathe.
“Knock it off, Cream,” Mask snapped.
“Let me have her, Boss,” Slugger looked like a tiger about to jump a lamb.
“And how would you bring her over?” Mask asked. “Get her addicted to crack or your dick?”
“Whatever it takes,” he said.
“And I am sure you would break her in right,” Cream sneered.
Mask held up a hand before Slugger could respond.
“Pickpocket is an art, Slugger,” he said. “You don’t get an artist drugged up or fuck her to death.” He considered Cream. “You’ve talked to her?”
Cream nodded, “Over ice cream.”
“Good,” he said. “This is what you do.
Janie saw Cream again the next day and the woman was very kind again. Strangle she didn’t feel the attraction she’d had the day before and their lunch together was very pleasant … until the huge black man parked himself beside their table and stared at Janie.
“What is it?” Cream said, leaning toward the girl.
Janie barely whispered “That guy right there, tried to rape me the first day I was in San Diego.”
Cream arched a perfect eyebrow.
“He did, did he?”
She pulled a cell phone from a little holster strapped to her bikini at the hip and punched in a number.
“Mack? It’s me. Can you do me a favor? I seem to have a little problem I need a hand with.”
Five minutes later the rumble of a massive diesel engine shook the world and a huge semi tractor pulled into the parking lot on the street side of the ice cream shop. From the cab a man of about six feet climbed down, jeans, cowboy boots, ball cap and plaid shirt, a stereo typical trucker. From behind the seat of the cab he pulled a tire iron. Slamming the door, he stalked directly toward Janie and Cream.
Janie shrank back, leaning into Cream’s side. The man stopped before the table and touched the bill of his hat. With the tip of the tire iron he gestured to the huge black man leaning against the wall.
“That the one, ma’am,” the man said with a southern drawl.
“Yes, Mack, that’s him,” Cream confirmed.
Suddenly the bat was in the black man’s hand. It looked like a toothpick. The man Mack grinned.
“Y’all can move on quiet now,” he said. “And leave these here two ladies in peace. Or I can whip our ass all over this here beach.”
For a moment Janie thought it was going to be a battle then the black man backed down. He tucked the bat back into his long coat and turned away, heading for the parking lot.
“And don’t you come back here, ya hear,” Mack said, pointing the tire iron at the man’s retreating back.
Cream stood and gave the trucker a peck on the cheek.
“Thanks, Mack, you’re a prince,” she said. “Oh, let me introduce you to Janie.”
For the first time in months Janie slept without nightmares. Cream and her friend Mack had assured her that all she had to do was call and they would be right there to help. They’d even given her a pre-paid phone to use. San Diego was turning out to be nicer than Florida.
Over the next few weeks Picket spent hours teaching Janie how to spot the big marks and showing her all the right spots for a lift. Her haul began to improve in quality but only so much as to allow her to rent a room by the week instead of the night. Behind her back Mask and his crew raked in the money from the girl’s haul of expensive watches and jewelry and all the while Slugger would show up and look menacing enough for Janie to call Cream or Mack. They would arrive like the cavalry and ‘scare’ Slugger off. It became a game for them but for Slugger, the girl became an obsession.
“Hello,” a soft male voice made Janie jump. She spun around and found herself eye to chest with the huge surfer. “I’m Nat Ryan.”
She didn’t take his offered hand but stammered “Janie.”
The girl joined them, offering a bottle of water to her tall boyfriend.
“Janie,” he said. “This is Wren Collins.”
Wren looked like an ice princess with curly black hair and Janie immediately knew what to expect, haughty distain. She was very wrong.
“I am so pleased to meet you,” Wren said with a genuine smile. “Won’t you come join in the party?”
Janie shook her head.
“I know you’re supposed to bring something,” she began.
“Nonsense,” Wren held up a hand. “Be our guest.”
The aroma of grilling steaks was almost overwhelming. Janie considered Ryan more than the girl. He had a look of . . . she couldn’t quite figure it out but she did know he was a gentle person. She nodded.
“Thank you very much,” she said.
The couple was very open and friendly. They talked of school and the beach and the people at the party. Nat spoke of surfing, Wren of her love of dancing and their plans for after graduation. Janie was tight lipped, offering as little as possible about herself but neither seemed put off by her silence. By the end of the evening she found she was more relaxed than even Cream and Mack had made her. Sometime about these two made her feel safe.
“You have a place to stay?” Nat asked.
Actually Janie hadn’t found a place for the evening and her hesitation was evident to at least Wren.
“You can ‘crash’” Janie could almost see the quotation marks when Wren said the word, “on our couch.”
“No,” she began to protest.
“Come on,” Nat said, offering both girls a hand.
Wren took it without hesitation and Janie only paused for a second. He pulled them both to their feet as if each were a feather.
“We only live a few blocks from here,” Wren said.
“And you are welcome to a shower if you’d like,” Nat added.
“Okay,” Janie said. “A hot shower sounds so good.”
“No,” Wren eyed her. “I think you would like a nice long bubble bath. I know it relaxes me so after a long day at the beach.”
“A bubble bath?” That was one thing Janie had never tried.
“Well, in Wren’s tub it’s more like a bubble swimming pool,” Nat gave Wren a sly grin.
“Bath, swimming pool, it is all the same,” Wren replied.
Not far off the beach Janie froze as they started up an alley. The others stopped with her.
“Aren’t you afraid of getting mugged or raped going down these alleys?” she asked, realizing this was where she had first encountered the man with the bat.
Wren laughed softly.
“Never with Nathaniel around,” she assured Janie. Nat was looking at her strangely. Janie blushed and tried to hide her face.
“It was you,” he said softly. “That guy grabbed you and threw you against the wall.”
“Ah,” Wren sighed. “That is why you look so familiar.”
Janie hung her head.
“I am sorry I didn’t thank you,” she said.
Nat’s quiet words surprised her.
“You never have to thank someone for doing what is right,” he said.
“He has this ‘White Knight’ complex, it is very endearing but he is also correct,” Wren added. “No thanks are necessary.”
Janie recalled the fear she’d felt, not only from the situation but from the two huge men she thought that might fight for the right to take her as a prize. She had been so wrong about this tall surfer. He was possibly the nicest person she’d ever met, including Cream and Mack.
“Come on,” Nat said gentle, placing a hand at the small of Janie’s back. “You haven’t lived until you’ve had a bath in Wren’s tub.
The house they took her to was more of a cottage then a real house and they led her around to the back of the place where Nat stepped into a screened porch while Wren stood under an outdoor shower. She pulled a triangle handle and a stream of water washed over her. Nat returned with a pile of towels and hung them over a bar apparently design for just that. When he had finished, he took the pull handle from Wren and held it down while she rinsed her hair.
They entered the cottage through a screened porch that was remarkably uncluttered, having neither the usual accoutrements for yard work or such things as bicycle parts and sports equipment, instead a washer/dryer combo designed for apartment living was stacked in a corner under a single cabinet. The concrete floor offered scant evidence of the sand that pervaded every place she’d been since arriving at the beach and she had followed her hosts’ examples at the screen door and brushed off her bare feet before entering.
The door into the cottage proper opened into a hallway with three doors, one just inside and to the left, the other two opposite each other further along the hall. All neat, clean and pretty much what she would have expected . . . but the bathroom, first door to the left, stunned her. It was the most opulent room she had ever scene. Wren had opened the door with something of a flourish and as Nat had intimated, the tub, though not quite swimming pool-size, was huge. She had barely gotten into the room when Wren turned on Nat and glared up at him.
“No, you don’t get to watch,” she said almost playfully. Pushing him backward with a hand in the middle of his chest she closed the door in his face.
“Men have no appreciation for the more important things in life, like a good hot bubble bath,” she said.
Wren touched a panel on the wall and the tub began to fill. Janie stared, open-mouthed.
“All the latest features,” Wren said with a half smile. She opened a cabinet that looked like it belonged in a museum and extracted two thick towels. After hanging them on a weird looking towel rack she turned her attention to Janie. “The towels will be warm, there is shampoo, bath salts, body oils, and body washes there.” She gestured to the rows of bottles. “Feel free to use whatever you like.”
She opened removed something from the cabinet and shook it out. A robe. She hung it on the back of the door.
“This locks the door,” she demonstrated. “Anything else you need?”
For a moment Janie just blinked then said, “How old are you guys?”
“Sixteen,” Wren said.
“And you live here together?”
Wren nodded slightly.
“Where are your parents?” Janie asked.
“Dead,” Wren said flatly with a lift of her chin.
“Nathaniel’s mother as well,” she replied.
“But why didn’t they put you in a foster home?”
The corner of Wren’s mouth lifted.
“Excellent lawyers,” she said.
She turned and started to open the door.
“Can I ask you one more things?” Janie said.
“You already have,” Wren replied. “But I shall allow you another.”
“Do you guys . . . like . . . sleep together?”
“That is rather personal,” Wren replied.
“I know,” Janie hung her head. “I was just wondering because you get along so well together and I’ve never seen two people that got alone like that AND were sleeping together. I was just wondering if it was possible.”
Wren silently closed the door.
“No,” she said. “We do not sleep together. We have agreed to abstain until such a time as we are both comfortable with more intimacy and somewhat more mature.”
“Would you? Right now? If he was willing?”
Wren smiled slightly and slipped out of the room.
Janie nearly fell asleep in the tub but roused herself and, pulling on the thick robe, made her way out to the living room. Wren and Nat sat together on the couch, his feet up on the coffee table, she leaning against him. She had changed into a pair of yoga pants and a tee shirt, he was only wearing cut–offs. On the TV an old black and white movie was playing, something with a leopard and an old man trying to make leopard noises. Nat looked over at her and smiled.
“I thought I was going to have to pull you out and give you mouth to mouth,” he said.
Wren, without raising her head from his chest punched him in the stomach, very hard it seemed to Janie. Nat didn’t seem to notice.
“Come on, Miss Lazy,” he said, shifting his body so that Wren moved. “School in the morning.”
Wren sat up and glared at him.
“I fear I am going to hurt Mark Law very badly if he insists on attempting to instruct me in hand to hand combat again.”
“I think I can get Chris to keep him . . . off balance,” Nat said, coming to his feet and offering Wren a hand.
“You go to a school that teaches self-defense?” Janie had never heard of such a thing.
Wren accepted Nat’s offered hand and was pulled into what looked like a very careful embrace.
“The school has a rather all-encompassing curriculum,” Wren’s cheek was pressed against Nat’s chest as she spoke, her arms tightly around his body. Her eyes were closed and everything about her told Janie she was exactly where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. Nat towered over her, one hand with fingers spread, at her waist, the other cupping her head as it rested against him.
“I get up early,” Nat informed her. “Usually before sunrise so if you hear banging around in the kitchen, it’s just me getting coffee and breakfast started. Of course, you are welcome to both.”
Wren’s eyes opened and she turned her head slightly to see Janie. All of the hardness Janie had seen all day in them was gone, replaced by something more . . . tender.
“If you wish, you may use the washer and dryer on the back porch,” she said. “Until then, if you need something to wear I shall see what I can find.”
“The only thing you need to find,” Nat said to Wren. “Is the bed.”
She looked up into his eyes.
“You are such a bully,” she said with a little sigh.
Janie blushed, the intimate display making her uncomfortable.
“I’ll use the washer if you don’t mind,” Janie said. “Please, don’t let me keep you up.”
Wren gave her a short nod then pulled away from Nat.
“To bed then,” she said almost staggering down the short hall to the door on the left. Nat followed her, hovering, as if to catch her should she fall. She turned in the door and looked up at him then stood on her tiptoes as he leaned over. Their kiss was brief and light then Wren disappeared into the room and closed the door.
Nat turned to Janie and said, “Laundry soap and bleach are on the shelf and don’t forget to check the lint trip on the drier. Good night.” He disappeared through the door on the opposite side of the hallway. She heard it click softly.
Janie started awake at the sound of a soft footfall. She sat up on the couch and drew the quilt up to her chin. In the pale morning light she could make out a towering figure moving slowly up the hall toward her. Her body began to tremble as vivid memories flooded her consciousness then the figure flipped on a light in the kitchen. Nathaniel Ryan didn’t look over at her but carefully opened a cabinet and extracted a large can of coffee.
After washing and drying her clothes the night before, Janie had dressed, preferring to sleep in a strange place fully clothed. Carefully she threw back the quilt and swung her legs off the couch, slipping her feet into her tennis shoes. Silently she rose to her feet. Nat’s voice made her jump.
“How did you sleep,” he said without turning.
“Fffine,” she stammered.
“Coffee will be ready in five minutes,” he said then turned to face her leaning against the stove. “I brought home a couple of steaks from the beach, was planning on steak and eggs. Interested?”
Janie looked across the breakfast bar at the massive surfer and for the first time she was able to look at a tall man and not see ‘him’. She closed her eyes and a tear broke from her lashes, streaking her face.
“Are you alright?” She could hear real concern in Nat’s voice and she wiped her eyes.
“Yeah,” she managed. “Steak and eggs would be wonderful.”
For a few minutes they said nothing as the coffee maker gurgled and Nat removed eggs and a tin foil packet from the refrigerator. He piled a cube of butter on top and caught the handle of a pitcher filled with orange juice on a finger. Everything went on the breakfast counter then he turned for three tall glasses. One by one he filled them with juice, finally sliding one across to her with a finger.
“Pull up a stool,” he said, gesturing to one of a pair of bar stools before the counter. “What do you like in your coffee?”
He turned and found sugar and an actual silver pot into which he poured real cream. Setting both before her, he poured a cup of coffee for her. The cup and saucer looked like translucent porcelain. The contrast of the tiny, almost humble cottage and the opulent bathroom was further enhanced by what was plainly expensive China and silver. She sat.
|Janie is a Gen 2 meta-human and 'one trick pony' capable of incredible speeds but in very limited ways. She can snatch a tip from a table or pull a watch off a wrist without anyone noticing. She also has an uncanny ability to disarm police or trip them up when she is trying to escape.|
|Filch has been traumatized, read molested, by her mother's live-in boyfriend and when that situation became untenetable she fled Florida for California. Now she steals to live and fears a time when she is forced into something terrifying, like prostitution. She has a fear of tall men and her first encounter at the beach with Slugger did not improve her opinion of big men. Nat Ryan has been something of a surprise to her with his gentle ways and kind words. She doesn't trust him though and figures at some point he's going to hit on her or just take what he wants. If she were to encounter him while he was alone, it is highly doubtful she would approach him, especially in an alley.|
If you have questions
or comments please contact