I agreed to stay at Melina’s and I no longer thought about going back to Corydon. I anxiously awaited the New Year and Archer’s leave. I suffered through coffees with Mrs. Schneider and Melina, endless matiness of romantic comedies, and boring dinners at home. I told myself it would be worth it to see Archer again.
Whenever the simple peace of the house or Lily’s stony glare wore on my nerves, I would escape for a day of shopping in the city.
It was easier to wander from store to store than to tolerate Melina’s near constant cheerfulness. The only time she wasn’t cheerful was when she was reminiscing about Andrew.
“I just miss him so much,” she said almost daily. “I can’t even imagine how it must be for you.”
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you...
It was easier to just stay gone...Even if that meant wandering from store to store for hours on end. I walked along the sidewalk; stopping to return the same items I just bought days ago as a way to fill time.
It was late November, most of the autumn colors were gone, and now the days were just cold and miserable as I wandered around. I was convinced I would come down with pneumonia before the first of the year.
“I never took you for a compulsive shopper.”
I turned, and there on the crowded Chicago sidewalk, and miles away from Corydon, stood Poe Corvus.
He stood there with his black hair sticking up in an unruly mess, dressed to casual perfection in jeans and a black trench coat, but all I could do was remember how he looked naked.
I felt the color rise up to my cheeks and my stomach began to churn
“Oh God,” I mumbled, fighting the urge to vomit. “What are you doing here?” He smiled widely as if amused by my discomfort, “Wow! And here I was worried that you wouldn’t remember me.”
“After what you did, how could I forget?” I snapped, “You should be ashamed of yourself, naked in front of a stranger like that.”
His laughter teased my cold ears, “Yes, I was naked, but you were there telling one man that you loved him...And didn’t you take another man home?” I blushed and gritted my teeth together, “Not my finest moment.” Poe lowered his head so that he could look in her eyes and raised one eyebrow.
“Somehow I doubt that,” he said wickedly.
I should be offended, but I could feel myself smiling. “Well I’m too cold to worry about how you even knew about Andrew.”
He shrugged, “Word travels fast.”
“Perfect,” I sighed.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” he said with a mischievous smile. “Sometimes the quickest way to get over someone is to get under someone else.”
I blushed, “You shouldn’t say things like that.”
He laughed, “And you shouldn’t do things like that, but I won’t hold it against either one of us.”
“You’re awful,” I said with a grin. “Why are you here?”
“Just boring stuff with the war and vampires—“
“Shh!” I warned and looked fearfully around the quiet sidewalk. “What if someone hears you?”
“What if they do?”
Poe turned to a group of approaching people, “Hey did you know I can change into a raven?
Some people call it shape shifting or skin walkers...” The group just stepped around him and kept on walking. Not a one of them even turned to look back at him. He turned again and this time stopped a young couple.
“That’s right,” he said with a bow. “I come from a long line of raven shape shifters. I’m here because all my werewolf-witchy friends and me are at war with the vampires. What do you think of that?”
The couple hurried away, looking back to make sure he was not following them.
Poe smiled and waved at them before turning back to me.
“See?” He said as he pushed his black hair out of his eyes. “No one cares who or what we are anymore.”
“I can’t believe you just did that!” I giggled, “What if one of them believed you and told the others.”
“No one would believe it and who would they tell?” He said with a shrug, “So why are you in Chicago?”
“It’s a long story,” I answered with a jerk of my chin. “And I don’t want to talk about it.” He followed as I started walking down the sidewalk.
“Well, now you have to tell me,” he said as he matched his long strides to mine. “Don’t tell me that handsome stud you took home that afternoon left you at the alter or something.”
“No, he died,” I snapped. I felt his eyes on me, studying my expression.
“Well, that is tragic, but it doesn’t explain why you’re here.”
“People didn’t think I reacted the right way.”
“You didn’t curl up in a ball and die over a one night stand and it offended the old gifted guard”
I pretended to notice the clothing in a storefront that we passed, “He wasn’t just a one-night stand.”
He looked down at her and winked, “I get the feeling you wish he would have been though.
Did he stick around when you just wanted him to go away? If so, then it’s just a question of numbers.”
“How dare you stand there and—“
“Tell the truth?” He laughed despite me glaring up at him, “So why are you out here every day shopping?”
I shrugged, “I needed to get out for a while...And how did you know I did it every day?”
“Just a lucky guess. Don’t you like where you’re staying?” I wasn’t sure to believe him or not, but didn’t care enough to think about it for long. “No, I don’t like it.”
He shrugged and walked with me as I moved to the next window, “So change hotels.”
“I’m not in a hotel,” I confessed. “I’m staying with Andrew’s sister, Melina Wallace.”
“The same Melina Wallace that is married to the love of your life Archer Wallace?” I glared up at him, “Don’t be ugly.”
He laughed and took my hand, “I won’t say another word about it, but you need to have some fun.”
Poe looked down at me, his dark eyes twinkling as he pulled me along, “Something tells me that you’re real tired of doing what you’re supposed to do. What do you say we go break some rules and have some fun?”
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