April 30, 2010

Artwork by Denver Robbins

The back-to-back explosions rattled the buildings surrounding the courtyard and shattered several of the windows. Kale retreated several steps toward the center of the room, "I'd heard that half-breeds made efficient slayers." Kale said. "I wonder would you classify her as efficient or just lucky?"

"Perhaps it's both." Argus smirked from his position near the window, his sights set firm on Anna. Her technique had been brutish, forceful, and sloppy, but had ultimately been effective.

The fire was spreading quickly through the inside of the buildings; catching on the bare woods, the sheets of canvas draped over the larger furnishings and the fresh varnish and paints throughout.

"Perhaps we should be on our way." Kale suggested.

"Soon." Argus said. "Why is she still sitting there? Why doesn't she run?" he said absently.

"I was wondering something similar." Kale grumbled.

David came running toward her, he pulled her out of her stupor and the two of them ran off together.

Argus turned and the two of them headed quickly toward the exit. Not far down they found the hallway blocked by flame.

"It looks like we may have to get wet." Argus said calmly.

Kale offered him his umbrella as he opened a nearby window, and jumped out. Argus followed, landing deftly next to Kale; he snapped open the umbrella.

"I'd hate for the local authorities to get the wrong impression about what happened here." Argus said as they walked away from the burning building.

"Understood." Kale nodded and took his leave.
 

 

Chapter 18 - Bumps & Bruises

 

David's first priority was Anna's injuries, and Anna found herself once again standing in her underwear in a bathroom while David tended to her wounds.

"I really liked that dress," Anna sighed at the bloody heap of green on the bathroom floor.

"Anna, I'm concerned by the fact that this wound is still bleeding." David sighed. "I'd stitch it if your body knew what the hell to do with stitches." He wiped away a trickle of blood, pressed a bandage over top and taped it in place.

"It's not as bad as all that, David. I'll be fine. It's not even very painful," she lied.

"MmHmm." David grumbled. "Just the same, I think it's best to keep you on liquids for the next little while, at least until this fully heals."

"Liquids!?" Anna gasped.

"Anna please; settle down. You're making it bleed more," David said as he pressed the towel against her side again. "Liquids require less effort for your body to process. Now stop scowling at me. It's not as if I'm suggesting you drink blood." David sighed at the blood soaked towel, set it aside and picked up a clean one. "That's it. You need to go lie down and be still for a bit while I get you some... nourishment. Now, hold this tight against your side," he instructed then reached for her robe.

"Who made you my Doctor?" Anna grimaced.

David chuckled. "You did. Now come on, I can't have you bleeding all over the nice things. I'm going to put you in the room next to mine. I can keep a better eye on you there."

The room was small and practical, free from art and distractions. It was perfect really. She was hungry, but she was also tired and had almost fallen asleep when David returned with a glass full of murky brown liquid.

"It's raw eggs and beef stock," he said.

It tasted better than it looked. Sleep came quickly, and she slept deeply. It surprised her that she was still sore in the morning.

Her bandages were soaked, but the towels were nearly clean. The bleeding had stopped and the wound, though purple and bruised looked as though it were finally starting to heal. She wet her fingers in her mouth and gently brushed them over the wound. It bothered her that is wasn't healing as fast as it should have. She blamed it on the liquid diet.

She crept quietly downstairs to the kitchen and was browning a steak on the stove-top when David came in through the front door.

"Are you making me breakfast?" David asked.

"I'd be happy to throw a couple of eggs on here for you." Anna said casually.

"Come one then, lets have a look." David folded his arms and waited.

"When did you become so fussy?" Anna said, ignoring his request.

"Anna."

Anna untied her robe and showed him the wound. "It's weird isn't it? It's like the blood has dried against it and is acting like a glue."

"It's very weird, Anna. Immortals don't scab. At least it's stopped bleeding. Mostly. I changed out the towels last night, but didn't want to wake you to change the bandages. Does it itch?"

"A little."

"Don't scratch it."

"Can I eat my steak now?"

David sighed. "Alright."

He sat with her as she ate, leafing through a large book from the study. It was handwritten, like a journal with drawings.

"I went back to the scene this morning. There wasn't much left. They've decided to blame it on a lightening strike. And," David turned the book and slid it across the table to her. "I think I discovered why it's taking you so long to heal."

The page detailed an immortal fighting technique in words and drawings of using iron filings with a magnetized blade.

"You're body is trying to expel the filings." David sighed. "Like a thousand tiny bullets."

He turned the page to reveal a drawing of a person sporting a large bruise on their arm. Underneath the drawing was scrawled: The bruising, and seepage continued for almost a week.

"A week?" Anna gasped.

"Oh, stop complaining." David leaned forward and showed her a paper cut on his index finger. This little annoyance will probably take that long to heal."

Anna reached for his hand, licked her lips and kissed the tiny cut on his finger. "All better now," she smiled.

David eyed his finger, watching it heal before his eyes. "Cheater."

Later that afternoon as Anna was resting in her plain and practical room, David came to inform her that she had a visitor.

"A visitor?" she exclaimed. "Who?"

"It's Professor Ambrose." David smiled broadly, and helped her to her feet.

"But...why?" Anna asked.

"Oh, Anna. It's quite obvious he's smitten with you, the poor square."

Anna scowled at him.

"He heard about the lightening strike and fire that you and I witnessed last night, and when he heard that you'd been hurt, well... he's come to wish you well."

Professor Ambrose was waiting in the front parlor, eyeing the peacock in the large stained glass window.

"It's awful isn't it?"

Professor Ambrose turned and smiled. "You don't like it? I thought you liked peacocks."

"It's the eyes. They follow," she said as she gingerly took a seat. Movement had a way of making her very aware of her injury. She slowly settled into the chair, finding the most comfortable position.

"Are you in a lot of pain?"

"Just a bruise and a scratch," she said. "I'll be good as new in no time."

"I'm so sorry about what's happened," he said. "I can't help but blame myself."

"Was that your lightening bolt that got away then?"

"I was really enjoying your company last night, and," he shook his head. "And I didn't even think to bring you flowers."

Anna started to laugh but stopped short as a ripple of pain pulsed through her side. "It's very sweet of you just to think of me Professor."

"Professor," he repeated. "I suppose I should make more of an effort to remember that you're a student and I'm a Professor. I hope you don't think my visit improper, Miss Parker."

"No of course not," Anna suppressed her smile.

It would seem that David was right; August Ambrose was harboring feelings for her. She took a moment to consider the prospect of a liaison. He was remarkably average looking, except maybe the oddity of his dark blue eyes. He was only going to be here for a semester, and she hadn't planned on staying longer than that herself. It was the perfect situation for a romantic fling. The fact that they would have to be secretive about it only made it that much more enticing to her.

"I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable with formalities," she said. "Let's save proper etiquette for society shall we? While it's just you and I, I would love it if you called me Anna."

"Alright Anna." He smiled. "You can call me Gus."

They talked only briefly before he had to go, but he promised he would come and visit again soon.

Standing up again hurt worse than sitting down. Gus was quick to offer his hand as she cringed.

"You're bleeding." He said, looking quite shocked.

"Damn," she said under her breath, as she glanced down at her side. "The bandage must have slipped. It's nothing."

"You're in pain," he said as a matter of fact.

"No, no," she reassured. "Not really."

"You're lying," he said and took off his glasses, looking quite concerned, and serious.

His eyes were rather beautiful without slices of glass obscuring them. "It's nothing that needs to be worried about," she said.

"It's too late. I am worried," he said. "Have you been looked at by a physician?"

"And been well attended to. It looks much worse than it feels," she lied. "And really, it's just a scratch. It will heal soon enough."

He looked at her with doubtful eyes before returning his glasses to his face. "All right," he nodded and gently kissed the back of her hand. "If only a kiss could make it all better," he mused.

"If only," Anna smiled.

For a moment she thought that he might just kiss her, but instead he mumbled a farewell and left.

Back in the perfectly plain room David helped her re-bandage her wound.

"There's never another immortal around when you need one, is there?" Anna sighed.

"What do you mean?" David eyed her quizzically.

"This would heal faster if the salve were not my own," she sighed.

"Anna I've been treating you with immortal remedies in your drinks. The healing time of a week noted in the book was with those remedies. It could be months without it."

"How dare you not tell me," she scowled.

"As opposed to blood as you are-" he started then stopped. "I'm sorry. I should have told you. If you'd like I can give you an injection for the pain. Taken internally, it just causes sleep."

"I wouldn't mind sleep right now," she sighed.

David left, returning with what looked like a small glass of water.

She drank it down in one gulp. "David," she reached her hand out to him.

"Yes Anna," he took her hand in his, and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Last night... that other immortal... he thought we were lovers."

David nodded. "I remember."

"Do you... do you ever think of us - of me, that way?"

David shook his head. "I love you dearly Anna, but not in that way. There are many things I would like to do with this life - school of course, a wife one day, and children. For your part, you have given me the opportunity to make those things happen, but I could never have those things with you. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry." Anna shook her head. "I'm relieved to hear you say it. Would you think it wrong of me to become involved with a mortal? In a romantic sort of way?"

"You mean, knowing that it could never last, and that one day you'll break their heart?"

Anna bit her bottom lip.

David sighed. "Hearts break every day, there's no sense denying yourself love and companionship because of it. It might even be good for you."
 

 

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart