A Tower Built Upon a Dragon’s Cave

Timeline: November 29, 2008 — Evening

Ann-Marie had sent Jesse away to vacation with her friend. Despite the risks, she trusted the girl, and cared for her a great deal. For the last six months the majority of her time was spent with her kind building relationships and establishing her territory. Despite it all, she had always found time to teach and work with Jesse, party with Ironclaw, play music with John and building upon her coven and artwork. Less with Lyla than she would have liked, but Lyla was quite busy lately building her own interests. Kudos for her, Ann-Marie thought; she deserves the success.

With the majority of the establishing work done, Ann-Marie thought it was time for the next step. When she was hungry, she made mistakes and was gone far longer than she wished to. People died. She needed to know her companions better. Johnny was a given, but not for granted. Lyla was remote lately, but she was busy to everyone, not just her. Ironclaw was, well…constant, and as caring as she could expect and no more demanding than she could give. She still relished their time together. So that was good, but again not something she took for granted. The others were more of a mystery.

Inspired by the Morrigan, she decided upon a personal challenge. Get to know the others. Michael, Ramiel, & Chaska for starters. One by one if possible. The obvious first choice was Ramiel. Like Vortigern’s tower, she knew Ramiel and her’s personal relationship was built upon an unsteady foundation. However perhaps that could change?

She arose early and dressed herself in a stylish contemporary outfit, witchy but not overtly gothic. Something sophisticated. With her coat on she left the Beckett house, her haven to find out if Ramiel was up for a short road trip. Pausing she decided not to do the usual, he has been through a lot lately, politeness dictated certain things. Going to the phone, she called the ‘House’…

“Hello,” Ramiel’s familiar voice answered.

“Ramiel,” she replied, “Good evening. I apologize for the short notice, but I was wondering if you were interested in a short road trip? Do you want to meet at the Brew to discuss it or should I just dive in on the phone?”

Ramiel blinked. Did I hear that right? She wants to road trip with me? “Where to?” he asked.

She replied immediately, “I’m thinking W&B’s in Manchester for starters or perhaps Club 313 in Concorde. While I have friends in Concorde, I know Manchester well and maybe you’ll like it better. I know 313 has a wild party planned for tonight. W&B’s though farther, is much larger and wilder. I think tonight is ‘Naughty & Nice’ night, but I’m not sure. Without Jesse here I’m not so good at this internet thing. Anyway, plenty of opportunities for the both of us. You in?”

“Yeah I could use a getaway.” He said. Looking at the sweat pants he was wearing he knew he would have to change, and sighed. “Meet me here I need to get ready.”

“Good enough, I’ll stop by in about 45 minutes and we’ll go to the Hub and away from there. I can borrow Johnny’s car or you can drive. Bye.” She hung up. She was surprised he said yes, but then again he was just as likely surprised she asked, at least that’s what she got from the tone of her voice. They both needed a break.

She arrived at the house at the appointed time. With her gloved hand, she knocked on the door.

Ramiel sighed as he looked in the mirror, What am I doing? His hair was in stark contrast to his clothing and eyes. The deep brown of his eyes was nearly black, his pants were black leather, his shirt a sheer black mesh that came down over his hands. Then his hair flowing about him in a white curtain.

Stained in crimson as it ran down her arms. Shit. He leaned on the dresser eyes shut and fought the images in his mind.

Then came the knock at the door. He grabbed his jacket and keys to his bike, secured his personals and went out closing the door behind him. “Hope you like the wind in your hair.”

“Well, you look dressed to kill,” she said, complimenting him. “I’ve always liked bikes, so yeah wind is fine. How long has it been you’ve just cut loose and went clubbing Ramiel?”

“At least six months,” he said as he began walking toward the hub. “Why?”

“No reason really, I thought you might want a break; and I wanted to go out with someone I knew. Personally, I try to find time for it every week. Jesse, Lyla (sometimes), or others I meet and know are sometimes there, depending. Sometimes I just go by myself. Different places and faces you know, keeping one connected,” she said.

“I see,” he said.

The ride had been cool, the air as beginning to hold winter’s edge to it. Ramiel parked the bike a block away from the club. “We walk from here,” he said as he took the braid out of his hair. It had been pulled back to keep it out of Anne’s face, and keep it from getting tangled.

“Okay,” she said, “lets go there and make others envious.”

He laughed inside at the thought of that being her driving force. But smiled.

The sound from the club was filtering out the entryway. Club goers lined up, waiting for entry in the cold. Others, within the place, had spilled onto the heated, raised balcony having private conversations and laughing at the night, drunk and thrilled with life. It didn’t take long to get in, Ramiel and Ann-Marie looked a) like beautiful people, and b) like they had money and confidence. They breezed past the bouncer into the technotronic throng within, a wall of energy and sound permeating the atmosphere. “I’ve got the first round, what do you want?” she said, leaning in to make sure he heard her.

“Nothing for me, I’m good for now.” He followed her toward the bar remembering the first night they had met.

She nodded. “Grey Goose martini,” she said to the bartender, who whipped one up for her in no time. Odd, she thought, he’s normally a heavy drinker, but c’est la vie. She returned and said, “So, see any prospects? What about the attractive red head in the silver club wear?” She was subtly indicating a young college-age party girl on the dance floor. “Or do you mind tearing up the floor with someone who never gets tired?”

“Sure, but then people would look at me strangely for dancing alone.” He smiled at her as he glanced at the red head.

She laughed, “Let’s go for it. When you find a potential target, I’ll play wingman. Should be easy, but don’t disappoint me. You have two reputations to maintain.”

“Okay Goose, did you drink someone on crack before you left?” he said. What is she going on about?

“No,” she smiled, “I want us to have fun. No strings, no preconceived notions, a fresh start. I want to drink up the emotion and energy of this place, not to mention a patron or three. Nothing wrong with a bit of partying.” She finished her drink, smiling and catching the glances of singles and couples staring at the two of them.

“Why don’t you go out there and get a head start.” He said with a wave of his hand in the general direction of the dance floor. Leaning across the bar he told the bartender he was the designated driver, and was given a free cola in return. It had become the fashion of most bars to do as such to help encourage the behavior.

“Very well, meet you on the dance floor.” Ann-Marie was well known for her music and dancing amongst those who knew her; which in Eldon Well were few. She strolled over and down to the pulsating lights and joined the throng of humanity. In time, a well-built Latin man began dancing with her and she disappeared into the crowd.

Ramiel sighed and turned around to the bar. He playfully teased any girl who had the courage to approach him, but took none up on their offers.

After a time Ann-Marie returned to the bar. Seeing Ramiel there, sitting like he was, she was quite surprised. She passed an obviously disappointed party girl leaving him. She sat down on the stool to his right with her back leaning against the bar.

“She seemed pretty enough. What’s up with you; I thought you were supposed to enjoy yourself?” she asked.

Ramiel watched the latin man approach her from behind. “It seems your fun is not happy being put on hold.” He said with a smile.

The man took her by the arm and led her back out to the dance floor. Ramiel laughed and took another drink of coke.

Ann-Marie, caught in the moment, let him take her back. What the hell, she thought, enjoy it. He might make a good meal later. She waved a faux exasperated ‘bye, turned, licked her lips and continued to the dance floor.

Sitting at the bar, Ramiel caught a glimpse of white hair to his left. He looked that way in time to see a reflection in the bar’s mirror of a girl with hair so pale it seemed white standing in amongst the crowd watching him.

Ramiel turned and stood in one motion pushing away from the bar moving in mid motion toward the girl he saw in the mirror. Serena? His hand missed the bar and the glass shattered on the floor. He moved forward without pause.

She seemed to have disappeared but a quick mental calculation of where he was sitting and the angle of the mirror gave him a guess where she could have been standing in the crowd. For the moment she had disappeared, but there was only one direction she could have gone — deeper into the crowd and farther away from the front door.

As he snaked his way through the crowd, his progress crossed Ann-Marie’s line of sight. He was so intent, he didn’t notice her dancing with her latino partner.

The shattering glass hadn’t Ann-Marie’s ear, but she noticed others closer in reacting to it and then returning to their dates, dancing or both. Seeing Ramiel pass by through the throng moving somewhere, she excused herself from her dance partner with a warm whispered, ‘I’ll be back’ and moved deeper into the crowd, calmly looking for Ramiel.

Ramiel caught a glimpse of pale hair slipping away as he moved through the crowd, always just ahead of him. Things didn’t slow down until they arrived near the rear of the place, where there were a few densely populated tables. He saw her again, only some thirty feet away. Her back was to him but now he could see she was dressed in a blood red top with laces and black fishnet sleeves. A matching red skirt clung to the young girl’s hips (was she just a teenager? how did she get in here?).

Then Ramiel’s blood ran cold and his heart thundered in his chest as he saw her approaching someone from the back. He’d recognize that long, lustrous black hair and gorgeous body anywhere. It had to be Lyla and she didn’t see Serena coming.

As his adrenalin coursed through his veins, Ramiel saw in slow motion Serena raise her hand and aim it at Lyla’s back. She had something long, black, deadly.

“Lyla!”

Ramiel ran up behind her and gripped her wrist with his right hand while his left arm went around her neck. Both pulling her back into him and trying to get her to drop the weapon.

The girl screamed in shock and panic and tried to escape, but his grip was locked hard around her throat and wrist. He bashed her wrist against a chair back and she dropped the weapon. Lyla turned and stared in open-mouthed shock.

Ann-Marie heard the scream, as did many people around Ramiel and the girl. As she watched in surprise, she saw Ramiel bash a girl’s hand and force her to drop a camera, which hit the hard floor with a final crunch. The girl was pretty, had platinum blonde hair, and delicate features. Ann-Marie guessed there was maybe a remote chance the girl Ramiel had grabbed was 18 but she really looked more like 16. Her friend, a slightly older girl with long black hair had turned around in her seat and was staring in slack-jawed surprise.

Her first fleeting thought was to tear him out of there, but no, that wouldn’t do. Quickly, before anyone can react, Ann-Marie slid up behind Ramiel (though he should notice her with his peripheral vision), whispering calmly in his ear, “Cambian, this can’t be right, that isn’t Lyla. Let’s not start something with strangers. Let’s go.” One warm hand simultaneously went to his that still held the girl, gently lifting to hint he should let go, the other around his waist, gently as if to turn him away from the the unfortunate situation. She didn’t know what caused this, but he obviously was confused about something.

The girl in his arms was already shaking in fear and pain. As Ramiel’s grip loosened and he could see more of her face, he realized that he might be wrong. The girl he that was Lyla was looking at him and she clearly was not Lyla at all. She was yelling some demand to let her friend go and calling him an asshole. Some of the bigger men nearby were looking his way and getting angry. Worse, he knew he’d hurt that girl’s wrist and glance at the floor told him that what he thought was a gun was no more than a now-broken compact camera-phone.

It’s never her. His anger welled inside his eyes narrowed and he pushed the girl away form him and toward her screaming friend. He turned and began to move toward the door. Anne Marie could see the anger and frustration in his eyes, but what was missing was any apology over what he had done.

A burly, bald man, grabbed Ramiel’s arm. “Hey mister, you can treat girls like that. You okay sweetheart?” he asked of the girl. She rubbed her wrist and looked at Ramiel, who was forced to look at her by the man’s interference. She still looked hauntingly like the girl he thought was his daughter. Her eyes were full of indignant anger.

“Fine,” she said.

With Ann-Marie still holding his waist and one arm, and the big bald guy holding his other Ramiel’s frustration and rage was building all the more. But still he couldn’t ignore the eyes of the girl with the pale, pale hair. They were watching him — and Ann-Marie could saw it, too.

She calmly said to the man using all her wit, charm and strength of will, “Let’s not let things get out of hand. It was an honest mistake, a misunderstanding. She’s fine, as she told you. We’ll take care of the phone, apologize and go. No reason to take this any farther.” The last part she looked deeply at Ramiel breaking his direct line to the girl, hoping beyond hope he’d snap out of it, apologize and diffuse this. What the hell was he thinking? Ramiel, if he was looking, could see that she was both surprised and confused by his actions. She hadn’t crossed yet into anger and disappointment, still trying to keep any emotions at bay.

Just past his shoulder, Ramiel could see just enough of the girl’s face that he thought he saw cold calculation in her eye. But Ann-Marie’s words had narrowly staved off a bunch of guys pouncing on him. His magic wouldn’t work very well here, surrounded by the Sleepers and the odds were bad. Making another move at Serena would be serious trouble for him.

He glanced at the girl again. If that even was Serena.

Ramiel met her gaze and held it. What is she up to? How many can I take out to get to her, one, two maybe three at best but she would be gone before I finished with hefty here. Anne Marie could take out a few but would she? Can I trust her with my back?

He stepped back forcing Anne to move with him as he jerked his arm free from the big man.

As more bouncers and concerned persons moved in, the girl with the pale hair said, “Wait. I want to hear why he attacked me.”

Ann-Marie looked at Ramiel with concern. She herself thought it must be some kind of misunderstanding as he had said Lyla’s name before striking. But she didn’t know. She did know that he was a bad liar and cringed as what would come out of his mouth. Anticipating this, she gave him a lead in, hoping he’d take it, “I believe it was a misunderstanding, like I said.” She waited for Ramiel to take lead and fill in the gaps; hopefully not making it worse.

“What she said.” He mentioned as he backed away to leave, forcing Anne to move with him as she had refused to let him go.

The crowd helped expedite their departure. Finally they were outside in relative privacy.

Ann-Marie couldn’t help but ask, “What was that all about?”

Ramiel removed himself from her grip. “It seems to be nothing.”

She didn’t protest his removal of his hand, the danger such as it was, was past but the answer he had given annoyed her. “Obviously not. You attacked that girl. It isn’t nothing. We drive all the way here, try to have fun and perhaps connect a bit and this happens! I believe I deserve an explanation.”

He let a laugh slip out. “You weren’t having fun?” She could see he was calculating something as he spoke.

“I was to a point. The point you decided you really didn’t like some girl’s camera phone,” she answered with a slightly sarcastic laugh. She wasn’t mad now, just caught off guard by his chaotic display. Noting his calculations she continued wryly, “What are you contemplating in that brain of yours?”

“I want to know what she was up to.” He said coldly. But the coldness was not directed at her, no it was more at the subject of the conversation.

Bemused, Ann-Marie replied, “A lot of women like a direct, strong approach. But, I don’t think this was one of those. Have you met that woman before, you seem to, well… dislike her. At least dislike her cell phone.”

“It wasn’t a …” He stopped himself. “It doesn’t matter now, it is over.”

“For now, perhaps…” she responded, her voice naturally and gently turning to one of concern. “But more happened back there. It does matter. Ramiel, we may not see eye-to-eye, but we’ve always been honest with each other. Did you see something the others in the club, myself included, couldn’t? Please, let me help.”

“Follow her then and see what she is up to, I can’t let her get away again. So take flight and see what she does.” He was starting to pace, as he tends to do when thinking or anxious about something. Anne had never before been in any position to learn this about him. One thing was certain, he was focused to a point of what seemed to be obsession, and the look in his eyes was nearing non-human.

“The girl you mean, the one with the platinum hair. She’s still in the club, and I doubt she is supposed to be there.” She stopped him focusing his attention to herself, “Ramiel snap out of it and think for a second. I can wait and follow her when she leaves but I need to know what is going on. What is it about that girl?

He was tense and on alert from being grabbed by so many people at once. When she touched him he pushed away from her. “Who she is, who she could be, is not important. At least not right now, but it looks just like — I need to know what she is up to. She may or may not be who I see but she is definitely up to something. I can’t risk letting her go so are you going to help me or get out of my way?”

Here she was, ready to help and he still was evasive and demanding. Annoying. She answered his demand, not angrily but disappointed, “Don’t want to tell me, fine. You know, you never seem to change. You expect trust, but refuse to give it.” She paused, “But as you seem quite rattled and tense about this, I choose to help you anyway. That’s the type of person I am, but you never seem to get that either. But since I’m helping you, I’ll eventually want to know why. You owe me that.”

She thought for a moment, “As far as the girl, we need to find a pay phone to make an anonymous call to the police. She is far too young to be in that club and if the police bust it up we’ll get an opportunity to follow her now. Otherwise we best be prepared to wait all night.” Ann-Marie commented.

Ramiel’s jaw clenched as he stared at Anne. “Go ahead and make the call I will watch here.”

Ann-Marie found a phone booth across the street and put in a call to the police. As with any call, they had to follow it up, so Ann knew they’d be here soon. She hung up and together with Ramiel, they waited and watched from across the street so they could get a view of both the front door to the bar and the side door as well.

But a few minutes after the call was made the police still hadn’t arrived. A cab pulled up and waited in front of the bar and then the girl and her friend came outside. They got into the cab and it pulled away.

“There they go. I’ll follow as the crow flies. Once they get out I’ll call you with the address. I’ll meet you nearby. You have your phone with you?”

“Yeah,” he answered.

“Good, I’ll fly ahead.” Stepping into the alleyway, she disappeared into the darkness. Overhead a crow’s call was heard and the beat of wings. With the night sky, she couldn’t be seen as she pursued the cab from above.

The cab led her for a twenty minute flight until it pulled up to what appeared to be a fraternity house. Lights were on and music could be heard inside. It was definitely a party going on in there. The two girls got out of the cab and headed up to the house, where she lost sight of them under the cover of the porch, but Ann-Marie heard a door open, the music blare loudly for a couple moments, then quiet returned as the door shut again.

She moved away from the house to an obscure shadowed line of trees across the way. Carefully observing around her for witnesses and seeing none, she resumed her human form. She pulled her phone (set on vibrate), and called Ramiel.

“Yeah,” his voice answered.

She said, “They went into a fraternity house near campus. I believe it is Delta Theta on the Hesser Campus. I’ll text you the address. I’m across the street near a stand of pine trees next to a red brick garage. They seem to be having quite a party.”

Ramiel put his phone away and hopped on his bike. He drove quickly across town trying to figure out what he was going to do once he got there. Again he parked a block away and walked to where Anne said she was.

Seeing Ramiel she waved him over. “They went in there about twenty minutes ago,” she told him quietly, looking to see if some of his agitation had subsided.

“Damn, maybe she is just a student.” He thought about it for a while. “But you saw the look in her eyes, there was more to it.”

Ann-Marie answered the best she could, “To be honest all I saw in her eyes was fear and confusion; perhaps some anger. But then again, I didn’t see the beginning. What did you see?”

“Cold calculation, like she did it on purpose. She was fucking with me and I want to know why,” he answered.

Still confused about the ‘it’ in ‘did it’, she followed up, “Did what on purpose exactly, take a picture? All it seemed to me was you smacking the woman’s hand letting the cell phone crash on the ground. Did she have a concealed weapon (though in those clothes I couldn’t guess where she could really conceal it), cast a spell, or some such? And why would someone be in Manchester of all places waiting for you? Only you and I knew we were going here.”

He looked agitated again. “She had a weapon, she was going to kill Lyla. There are many ways to find someone besides knowing where they are going to be.”

Ann-Marie stayed calm. Any emotions from before had faded away to simply wanting to help. “Ramiel, focus for a second and try not to let this get to you. You are a smart guy. You know empirically from what I told you I witnessed and what you saw after the incident that the girl neither had a weapon, nor was Lyla there.” She paused for a moment, “But that doesn’t mean you didn’t see something. Could it be that you are visualizing something else, something similar? A premonition, or perhaps a side effect of the Wheel. You were quite shaken when you returned, but I didn’t ask why assuming it was the trip.” she remarked continuing with a theory, “Was there a woman in your life, an old flame perhaps or enemy that this girl reminded you of?”

“Why do you have to ask so many questions? Maybe she targeted me and made me see what she wanted me to see? Forget it, I am not up for being arrested tonight.” Ramiel said.

As they debated their next move, Ann-Marie and Ramiel saw a police car with no emergency lights flashing, pull up to the fraternity. Two cops got out and headed up to the fraternity.

“Shhh,” she whispered, “it looks like someone else may be getting arrested. Look there.”

Seeing the cops Ramiel had only one response. “Shit.”

“Patience my friend. Let’s see how this plays out. If she gets arrested, perhaps Johnny could use his contacts to get her info,” she responded.

A moment later, the music had silenced completely. Two more police vehicles arrives. One was another police car, and another was a van. Six officers were now on the premises and the mage and the vampire had a reasonably good view of the proceedings.

Shades were pulled aside, allowing them to see a little of what was going on inside the house. Ramiel immediately noticed the girl he thought was Serena standing in the middle of a room surrounded by couches. An officer had a hold of her arm, though she was otherwise not restrained.

As they continued to watch they saw the party break up with considerable speed. College-age kids disappeared quickly, escaping out the back while a few were now being pushed up against the walls and cuffed. The reason was clear — the two young girls were clearly underage and apparently someone had given them alcohol. Someone else must have called the police. Either someone saw the two girls go into the fraternity and knew there was alcohol being served there and so called the police, someone at the party called the cops, or something worse than just serving alcohol to a minor had occurred and someone at the party called the police. Whatever the case may be, clearly some people were going to jail tonight.

Four young men were taken outside and put in the police van. The pale-haired girl was taken to the first police car and Ann-Marie and Ramiel were in position close enough to see she was very angry — to the point of tears, in fact. Though she wasn’t handcuffed, they deposited her in the rear seat and shut her in where she was forced to wait until the officers finished dealing with the remaining fallout from the party.

Shortly, the van left as did the second police car. Finally, the first police car, which contained the girl Ramiel had taken to be Serena, began to pull away. The girl’s friend, whom Ramiel had previously mistaken for Lyla, was nowhere to be seen in all of this. Presumably, she’d disappeared with the majority of the party-goers.

Ramiel sprinted for his bike, followed by Ann-Marie, and shadowed the cop car.

Surprisingly, the car didn’t go to the police station. Instead, it took her to a large brick house near downtown. Ramiel stopped the bike and turned off the headlight so as not to be conspicuous and watched from a safe distance. The officers, flanking her one on each side to be sure she didn’t run off, took her to the front door of the place where they were met by a frazzled-looking middle-aged woman. She was stout and wore an apron. As they spoke to to her, she dried her hands on her apron and appeared to assume a resigned look as they spoke. She sighed, nodded something at the officers, then guided the wayward girl into the building. The cops then left.

But then they noticed something. The big, sturdy-looking home had a discrete sign posted on the wall outside, one they could just barely make out in the dark. It said, “Youth Shelter Services”.

Ramiel’s pulse sped. It could be her.

Ramiel disappeared before Ann-Marie. She whispered to herself, “Great…nice to be informed.” This was useless, she thought. Without him cooperating or at least coordinating, she didn’t at this point know how to help. She checked her watch and waited.

Leaving Ann-Marie to wait near the bike, Ramiel used his invisibility spell to slip up to the youth shelter building. The windows were shuttered and locked but he could just see inside through a crack between the heavy wood shutters by reaching up to the sill and pulling himself up high enough to peek. The glass was thick and the windows well-made enough that much of the sound was muted. He couldn’t quite make out what was said, but he could see what was going on and so, with arms and fingers quivering with the strain, he listened and watched as intently as he could.

The middle-aged woman was talking to the girl. Though she hadn’t raised her voice, Ramiel could tell from her posture she was reprimanding the girl who stubbornly refused to meet her elder’s gaze. Finally the older woman threw up her hands and went to lead the girl away by the arm. But Serena flinched reflexively and Ramiel could see a tear escape her eye. The older woman stopped and let go in surprise.

He couldn’t make out the words, but the tone was softer and concerned. Serena said something and the older woman left the room a moment. When she returned she had a medical wrap. While she wound it around the girl’s injured wrist she shook her head and quietly listened as the girl spoke to her about it. It didn’t take long. The older woman sighed and took the girl out of the room and up a set of stairs, where Ramiel lost sight of them.

Ramiel eased himself back down and returned to where he left the vampire. He made sure no one was around and released the spell. Taking a crumpled napkin out of his pocket he made some quick notes about the location and such. “Ok, I think it is time we get out of here before we end up in jail. I have a start anyway.” He headed back for his bike.

Ann-Marie was a bit annoyed, “Sure, but do you mind telling me what is going on? What happened up there? Why is that girl so important? You’ve answered none of my questions and only left me with more. I’ve helped you, I deserve answers!”

“You keep saying that,” he said. ” I have given you all the answers you needed to decide if you would help me or not. Thanks by the way, are you ready to go?”

“Yes I am. You are welcome,” she replied, the emotions balanced between frustrated anger and exasperation with an edge of laughter. With a resigned smile she continued, “Know that all I want to do is understand Ramiel, and you don’t make it easy. All I wanted to do is have fun tonight, get to know the real you and start again. Now the night is mostly ruined, and I don’t even really know why you acted like you did.”

He almost laughed. “Not used to not getting your way?” He sat on his bike. “By all means go back and salvage your night, but I am leaving so you will need to find your way back if you do.” Ramiel was still focused elsewhere, she could see the gears turning, as well as the fact that he was not going to divulge any more than he already had. “What’s it to be?”

“Go on. I’ll fly to Concorde and have fun there. There isn’t room on your motorcycle for you, me and your ego. You know, this night was supposed to be for us to get to know each other, but you are determined for that to never happen. And I doubt you care.” She started to leave, turning back, “Don’t attack anyone, I won’t be there to bail you out.” she turned and left.

Just let her get the last word in or this night will never end. He thought as he stared at the house. Should I go up there now? Would that be stalking, hmm. I bet they would call the cops. Tomorrow, I will wait for tomorrow.

Ann-Marie had left and walked away into the night. This had been a miserable failure, she thought. It had been frustrating as she had hoped he would cooperate with her more. But then again, she thought, she had pressed him a bit too hard. Perhaps she should have gone on that bike, and went with? Too late now.

The whole point was to get to know him better and yet when the unexpected happened they ended up going down the same old path again. But why, she thought to herself. Is it truly that he is afraid to share anything of himself? Is it more likely that I can’t leave things well enough alone and must know everything? Or simply did I miss something completely, a misunderstanding?

She went over the evening in her head as she flew on to Concord, taking a light snack along the way. Thinking about the girl, the club, the shelter and Ramiel’s words and reactions. After a time she thought in disappointment, “Oh, missed that.” He had said basically everything in his comments and expressions but the name and the relationship, but she hadn’t recognized the nuances at the time. She thought he was stubbornly stonewalling, but it wasn’t the case. He likely couldn’t come right out and say who she was without putting himself in a bad position vis-a-vis Ann-Marie. “Hmm,” she thought.

In any case, no reason to fret at this moment. Like all things, this night was a learning experience, she said to herself upon landing and resuming form, “At least he said ‘Thank You’.” She smiled. It’s a start.

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