Timeline: April 10th 2008
Lately Lyla seemed to enjoy standing out from the crowd. For a year she’d been avoiding dressing in the often risque attire she traditionally enjoyed wearing, especially around town and instead simply wearing simpler jeans or cutoffs and t-shirts, jackets, etc. She only mixed it up if she was really going out of town or to battle the latest supernatural threat. But she hadn’t been out of town for a while now, and her “fighting leathers” had been shredded (again) for the last time in the latest round of battles with the wererats.
Over the past few days, Ramiel had begun to notice that she was wearing much more stylish clothing, things she’d avoided wearing in the past for fear of having them ruined if she had to shift, or because of the amount of time she spent as a wolf. As far as he knew, she didn’t have much talent for dedicating clothing to herself such that it would shift with her instead of simply tearing when she shifted. Even if someone dedicated the clothes for her, it didn’t help long — she didn’t like wearing the same clothes every day, as many in her pack did. And since she seemed only able to keep one set dedicated to her at all, she just didn’t bother anymore.
So it was that he found her wearing a very attractive little black dress designed more for summer than for April. It was unseasonably warm for this time of year, however, so it wasn’t surprising she would leap at the chance to wear something a little more bare than perhaps wise for the temperature. It was something new he hadn’t seen before, and as sexy as all “LBD”s were. This one had a dramatically dipped V that went all the way to just above her navel, providing Ramiel’s roving eye with delicious slices of soft, pale breasts to either side, though not enough to be disgraceful. The loose V preserved her modesty just barely with a narrow piece of fabric that cross the wide V between her breasts. The back was cut low enough to require being held by three delicate strips of horizontal, evenly spaced fabric near the small of her back. And perhaps most tantalizing was the way the dress clung tightly to her hips and had just enough transparency to drive a man’s imagination wild without giving anything away. The dress barely came midway down her thighs. And appropriately enough, she wore open-toe, high-heeled black shoes that let her look Ramiel almost at eye level.
She wandered through the door of his little shop and chose a meandering route toward him.
The shop was cozy but large enough not be claustrophobic. Ramiel had arranged the layout in open sections that were seperated by either a step up or down to change the level. The different levels served as rooms, some to ingredients, others for books, charms and talismans, to supplies, and finally to jewelry.
The shop smelled of light incense; african violet to the experienced nose. There was what seemed to be a waiting or reading room to the front with a fountain near a bay window.
Ramiel was sitting at a desk in the back. It was in an area sectioned off by half walls of old stone covered in moss and creeping ivy. This particular section was elevated and had a wall of windows in it.
Ramiel was dressed in a very elven-looking outfit. His pants were loose material like his favorite work out pants. The top had a high neck. long sleeves and hung loosely on him. It was reminiscent of the undershirt Legolas wore in Lord of the Rings. Even the color was a shimmery silver.
He watched Lyla approach him. “Kitty on the prowl?”
She smiled. “Do you like it? I ordered some things online. I’d never done that before because we were never in one place that long so I thought I’d give it a try. Do you like the way it fits?”
She turned around slowly. Her hips moved sensually as she did so. Her movements always seemed unconsciously graceful and drew the eye, as if her body found it simply natural to be sexy in every way. Yet, his knowing eye could trace the faintly aggressive posture in the way she stood, as well. Compared to most other werewolves he’d seen, who were obviously, overtly aggressive and predatory even in human form, Lyla seemed to be more than capable of hiding her lupine nature — or perhaps it simply wasn’t as pronounced in her as it was the other members of her pack. But as he thought about it, it seemed likely it was a combination of those things.
“Yes, it is very nice,” he said as he watched her show off the clothes for him. Though to Lyla Ramiel did not seem to have his normal reaction to her, though he smiled all the same.
Lyla walked around his desk and sat on a clear spot to his left. She turned toward him and leaned down. He could smell her minty breath faintly over a subtle aroma of some kind of flower. She hadn’t worn perform for the better part of a year, either. “Something on your mind, handsome?”
“Isn’t there always?” he asked.
She leaned down and teased his lower lip, tempting him with a little tug of her teeth. When she pulled away, she asked, “Would you like to share?”
He leaned in and returned the kiss. “Is this what you were looking for?”
She smiled but said, “Not exactly.”
Ramiel returned her smile. “What then can I give you my dearest?”
“I guess I’m not sure. I want to go somewhere. Get out of town and do something fun,” she said. “I have a car…”
“If it pleases you.” He said as he stood and straightened the desk. Papers were shuffeld away, his journal went back into his black canvas bag. He made no mention of the fact that Lyla suddenly had a car. She had been going out a lot lately with Annie. Much of what Lyla did anymore did not come as a surprise.
After securing everything he flipped the sign in the window and locked up. The sign read /no gaurantee of being open/.
“Hold up a moment,” she said. She touched his arm and slid her fingers down it to his hand. “You seem pretty ready to get out and about,” she said. “But is there something in particular you’d like to do?”
“No, not really. I was just surprised you asked me along so I wanted to take advantage of it,” he said.
“Oh darling. You’re my favorite playmate,” Lyla said. “What do you say we just get away for a couple days. Boston, maybe?”
“If that is where you would like to go then we will,” he said.
“No powers, no weirdness, just you and me,” Lyla said with a dreamy note to her voice. “To remember the good times we had on the trail and the hard times, too. All those times are precious to me.
“And you don’t have to worry about a thing. We’ll wing it. All expenses on me.”
Lyla reached for the phone on his desk, the one connected to a land line. She dialed “0” for the local operator and then asked for carriage service from Ramiel’s shop to the hub. She put the phone down after saying thank you.
“Except instead of hiking all the way across two states, we’ll take the,” she said with a grin. “I bought when I was going down to Concord and other cities with Ann-Marie because it’s just too expensive to hire a cab to come all the way out here and using rentals is such a pain. So I got a used car, something cheap with good gas mileage that we won’t care if it gets beat up or stolen.”
“No powers, no wierdness.” He said in a quiet voice. “Like that can happen.” Ramiel was somber and from what she could tell depressed. Had she ever seen him like this? she had to wonder.
They took the carriage down to the hub and headed for Lyla’s little Ford Focus. “Hey, wanna drive?”
He laughed. “That thing, no way!”
She grinned back at him and dangled the keys as if they were tempting. “It’s a stick,” she said in her seductress voice. “And I know how good you are at handling a stick. Plus it might free me up for some on-the-road entertainment we’ve never done before…”
“You have no idea how well I handle a stick,” he said as he mimicked her tone. “But since you put it that way I think I can drive for a little while.” He took the keys and made sure to adjust the seat for the length of his legs.
Long, lonely roads in New Hampshire seemed ideal for recreational (and possibly illegal) activities while driving and Lyla made sure Ramiel enjoyed every moment of it. Before they knew it, a couple hours had already flown by and they were crossing into Massachusetts. A sign indicated a rest stop was coming up.
Ramiel took the welcome opportunity to stretch and relieve himself. “Ten minutes,” he said as he walked off to the restroom. Lyla did her thing, too, and met him back at the car. They switched off drivers as Lyla took the wheel.
It was only about 30 minutes of further driving when they found themselves surrounded by the massive Boston metro area. They were visually assaulted by a number of signs tempting them to veer off the main highway to sample various restaurants and recreational sites, but Lyla maintained their course until they found themselves traveling through the Cambridge area.
“Cambridge. Oh! Harvard! That means we’re in the area of one of the nation’s largest and most respected schools,” Lyla mused. “And that means bars, clubs, and other culture is right here. Let’s find a place to stay and begin to explore. Since it’s Thursday now, we can scout to find what places we really want to experience through the weekend!” she said with growing excitement.
“Harvard, huh. I could have taken it,” he said with a smile. “You pick out where we are staying and where we are going. I am just along for the ride.”
Lyla smiled. She took the exit and glided smoothly toward the Holiday Inn Express, but with a delicate “hrrmph” she drove right on by. The next place was near the river that separated Cambridge from Boston itself. It was called the Royal Sonesta Hotel. She stared at it for a few moments, then took the next turn into its attached lot. “This is the place!”
Despite not having made reservations in advance, they were fortunate to find that there were plenty of spare rooms. Lyla purchased something the hotel called the “Escape Package” which included parking for the duration of their stay. She booked three rooms. It had an Executive suite with a view of the Charles River and the Boston skyline — sure to be an amazing sight. It wasn’t cheap, either. Ramiel saw it cost Lyla well over a thousand dollars, but she secured everything including a cash deposit without using a credit card.
The woman at the desk was very helpful and responded well when Lyla offered her a large tip to make an effort to be discrete about their stay and the fact she’d paid in cash. Lyla left instructions at the desk that they would call if they wanted maid service and that service should not come to the room otherwise.
What was a man to do in this situation? He looked like her boy toy, so he played it up. He smiled shyly to the girl behind the counter and kept quiet.
Someone offered to take her bags, but she stated they didn’t have any at the moment. She turned to Ramiel. “Okay. First priority is to shop around for clubs. It’s too early to go out yet, but that’s good because it’ll give us time do some shopping. None of this hitch-hiking or walking in from the trail to grab a dingy motel room. That wasn’t the fun part. We’ll get something nice for us to wear for the next few days, then we can go out,” she said smiling.
Several shops and clubs later they had a plan for the night and an empty stomach. “I want burgers.” Ramiel said absentmindedly.
They found a hickory and steak house to satisfy their hunger, then proceeded with their evening. The first club was kind of a bust. It looked like a cool place from the outside, but it turned out they only played rap there. And while Lyla could enjoy dancing even to rap, it wasn’t a favorite thing for Ramiel so they decided that with all the bars and clubs in town, they didn’t need to settle for this one.
They wandered outside and were examining options and how to get to other places when they walked by a large park filled brightly colored tents huddled between tall, old trees that were bathed in bright lights. It wasn’t terribly crowded as the weather was rather cool for a carnival this time of year. Most people walked quickly from tent to tent to see what was there, play carnival games, have their fortunes read and to be entertained by magicians.
Lyla paused. A mischievous grin spread across her face. “A carnival… hey! Let’s have some fun with this! You hardly ever see a real live carnival, especially one in April.”
“How much fun are we talking about?” he asked with a smile to match hers.
“Carnival fun,” she said with a laugh. She took his hand and they wandered into the strange world of the carnies.
The first stop was a shooting gallery. They gave customers little air pistols and they had to shoot down seven moving rabbits with ten shots as the darted between little tin trees along their track. If all seven were hit, the prize was a choice of one of several cartoony stuffed animals.
“No one’s ever won me an animal before! Can you do it, Ramiel?” she said. The look in her eyes was both daring and excited.
“One way to find out.” He stepped to the line and placed his money on the fake green grass that lined the counter. He used one shot to gauge the sights then did his best to knock the little bastards down. The gun gave it’s little airy retorts and the tin rabbits dinged loudly as he hit not seven but nine! rabbits with his remaining ammo. The skinny proprietor looked impressed and ducked his head in congratulations while grinning widely.
“Good shooting, sir!” he said. With a wave he indicated his largest stuffed animals. “Would the lady care to choose the prize?”
Lyla laughed and nudged Ramiel. “Here that? I’m a lady.” She looked at the selection pensively as she ran her eyes over the
selection. “That one!” She’d chosen a two and a half foot tall stuffed Wile E. Coyote. With that same, simple grin, the proprietor took it down and handed it to her.
They proceeded through the carnival. Next up was a mirror maze. Lyla and Ramiel were about to debate the merits of that kind of entertainment (Lyla didn’t think it very amusing to see what she might look like if she were a fat dwarf) when the tent nearest them opened a flap. An attractive young woman in a green gypsy outfit stepped out carrying a big fold-up sign which read, “Fortune Telling and Truth Saying by Zora, $40 per Telling.”
As they looked on, she suddenly looked up at them. The movement made her long black curl bounce. She had startling green eyes. She paused a moment, blinking at Lyla’s strange, silver eyes and then at Ramiel’s near-white hair.
“Would you like your fortunes read now sir and lady?” she asked. “Madame Zora is expecting you.”
Ramiel met her green eyes and moved forwrd. “Why not.” He smiled as he led Lyla into the tent.
The pretty, dark-complected gypsy girl led them to soft, comfortable chairs to wait while she checked something at the back of the tent. The place seemed to live up the concept of a fortune-teller’s abode. There were bead curtains, a few small paintings depicting gypsy gatherings, candles, burning incense, and a number of Tarot decks apparently for sale set out on a counter.
The girl returned quickly and said, “Lyla?” Lyla looked up in surprise. “Madame Zora will see you now. Please come this way.”
Although startled but also impressed, she smiled at Ramiel, winked, and followed her host to the Seer. Watching through the beaded curtains, Ramiel saw that the tent was just an atmospheric front for an old beat-up RV at the back. Lyla disappeared into the RV while the gypsy woman turned back after the door shut behind her. She returned to the counter and sat upon a stool, took up a small paint brush and began working on a piece of canvas board she took from somewhere behind the counter.
“Do you typically take people into the RV?” he asked the girl.
She looked up and smiled. “My grandmother — Zora — is very old. She needs the air conditioning, Mr. Dr– Cambion.”
Ramiel let no surprise or anger show in his eyes. Instead he let lust filter through. He stood and moved over to the girl looking over her shoulder at what she was painting. He whispered into her ear. “How is it you are familiar with us?”
She jumped a little, startled at how close he’d suddenly become despite having seen him stand and walk to her side. She put the paint brush in a little vial of water and blew on her water color portrait of a unicorn while she tried to put her thoughts back in order. “I’m not,” she explained. “I don’t know you or Lyla at all. But my grandmother described you by name so I assumed you’d met her before.”
“Only the purest of maidens may hunt a Unicorn.” He poke gently. “Have you seen one?”
“Unicorns don’t exist,” she pointed out.
“Don’t they.” He said with a smile. “I take it you have never seen one then. You know what that means don’t you.”
She rolled her eyes but had a small smile on her lips. “Why don’t you tell me?”
“It means that you are my kind of girl,” he said with a playful smile.
She raised an eyebrow at that. “Aren’t you with someone already?”
He laughed. “At times. It is a open relationship.”
She was young enough to be curious about that. “Oh,” she said, unsure if that was really cool, or if it meant their relationship was having problems. “I thought that only happened in, ah, Hollywood lives.”
“Would you like an autograph then?”
“I’m not sure,” she said with a pointed look. “What would you sign?” She had set a trap for him, and now waited to see if he fell for it.
“A name of course.” He reurned to his chair. “Unless you would prefer otherwise.”
She laughed. “And where do you think you’d sign?”
He smiled, “Lady’s discretion of course.”
“Good,” she said. She removed a clipboard with a guest list from under the counter. “Then sign here please. And it’s $40 for each of you, $80 total for the readings.”
“A sadness to my heart,” he said as he paid and signed the registry, Elvis Costello.
She raised an eyebrow at him and teased, “Life is pain.”
“May you never know the truth of those words.” He sat back and waited for Lyla to return.
The nameless gypsy girl went back to her watercolor painting. A few more minutes passed and then Lyla appeared from the back with a thoughtful look upon her face.
“There is a look I don’t see often,” Ramiel jested as Lyla was clearly focused on something.
She smiled widely. “Good reading! Your turn,” she said. She stooped and gave him a deep kiss.
Ramiel walked to the RV and knocked on the door. After a moment, the gypsy girl followed him and opened the door for him with a serious look in her eyes. “Go ahead,” she said. “It’s your future.”
The interior was darker than the tent, dimly lit by a single, yellow bulb somewhere within the bowels of the trailer. As he made his way through another beaded curtain, a puff of freshened, cool air from a vent blessed him and cooled his skin. An old woman in a black dress and wearing a thin shawl sat on a small, u-shaped couch before an equally small table. There was a padded folding chair on the other side, obviously encouraging guests to there instead of next to the old seer. She watched him with deep, unreadable eyes as he approached.
“Welcome, young man. We should get on with this. Please sit.” Her voice, despite her obvious age, still sounds youthful and strong. It was charming and sweet, still, not shaking or weak from age.
“Guess my future is a short one then if are in a hurry.” He joked as he sat down. Ramiel had some qualms with knowing his future. Why do I want to see what I become, the monster or the demon which will it be. He thought as the womans gaze never left him. I wonder when she is going to call for Carol Ann.
“We shall see child,” she said. She took his hands in hers and closed her eyes for a moment. Something must have frightened then, because a horrified look swept across her face. She dropped his hands and recoiled as she stared back at him. “Tragically, I think you will have a longer life than you will wish.”
“Is this where you tell me of the doom that awaits me? Because I kinda know that already.” He said.
“Fool boy!” she cried suddenly. “It is you who will bring doom to the ones you love! You’ve set foot upon a path and unless you turn from it, you will make the same choices you always do. She will make the better choice — and die of it.”
The old woman leaned forward and stared into him with her foggy, aged blue eyes. “If you do not make ready for your own future, you will never change it.”
“So how exactly does one prepare for that which is always changing?” He asked with a half smile. Wondering who the she was, after all Lyla had said she got a good reading and death was not something she considered good.
The old woman sat back and cackled gently. “Ah, now that’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it? How indeed? But then I already told you enough to allow you to make the correct choices. No, your future is only dark because that is what you choose. What’s the right choice?” She shook her head. “No one can tell you that. But you’ll know it if you listen to this shriveled old thing.” She tapped him on the chest with a withered old finger to indicate his heart. “And just maybe it won’t be so shriveled up anymore.”
“You don’t ask much do you.” he laughed and stood to leave believing the reading was done.
Lyla and Ramiel walked away from the tent and back into the throngs enjoying the carnival in the park. Lyla was thoughtful.
Ramiel was quiet for a while, then asked, “So what next?”
She arched an eyebrow and smiled. “We enjoy ourselves.”
“Good.” Ramiel picked her up and took her to the most private place he could find, and then took adavantage of a very willing subject.