L-J-L 76 - All of your questions will be answered. In time. Btw, I couldn't help but notice that you gave fb on ch 1+2. Just wanted to make sure that you hadn't missed the update of ch 3 last week Thank you for your feedback
Eve - Hun, that's no problem. I know what it means to have your real life interfere with your hobbies… It's what kept me away from this place for a very long time. I hope you're enjoying your new work and I'll enjoy your feedback when you find the time to read Thank you!
Evans3 - Thank you!
Sarah (HypnotiqBlueEyes) - Thank you and welcome
Okay, you guys. I'll post two chapters this week as well, since I realized that chapter 5 was very short. We're still kinda building up the background and the characters; the interesting meetings between our favorite characters will come later
Thank you all so much for the feedback. It sends warmth through my heart and down into my toes. <3
It had started out with a fascination. Like a good mystery book. Because to Alex Whitman, Elizabeth Parker had been a mystery. And the more he learned about her, the more the plot had thickened.
Alex had first met Liz when she had transferred to his school. The ‘Nerd School’ as it was referred to by kids going to the public school. When he complained about being different, his parents would tell him that he was special and that was the reason why he went to a special school. But no one wanted to be special at the age of sixteen. However, when Elizabeth Parker had joined his class, being special had jumped up the scale. Ms. Parker had suddenly made Alex’s existence so much brighter.
Alex Whitman was something of a mathematical prodigy and his parents had decided to move him to Simon’s Rock, a liberal arts college located in Great Barrington, for the eleventh year of his education. Whereas he had been considered a genius (although somewhat geeky) at his previous school, at Simon’s Rock he was in the company of the elite of brainy kids. He had fit in quite well, acquiring more equal-minded friends than the total number of friends across his years of living up until that point.
But no smart kid’s résumé compared to Ms. Parker.
The rumors followed her like a trail of crumbs from the second she set her foot in the academy. How she had presumably survived a horrific car crash that had killed her mother but had given her super powers. Well, super intellectual powers. Apparently, there had been small marks, the size of fingerprints, covering a vast majority of her skin several days after the accident. Her body had otherwise been unscathed. Even though they had lingually gifted kids at the school, no one came close to how quickly Liz picked up a language. There were even talks of how she could read minds. That one, obviously, was not true.
At first, she had been a specimen to observe from afar. To the girls, she was obnoxiously beautiful, but at a school where intelligence was prioritized, jealousy of one’s exterior held no true value so the girls had accepted her. To the boys, she was gorgeous and compelling. Somehow, she remained untouched. Many tried their luck, asking her out on dates, trying to steal a kiss and maybe more. Some succeeded, but none lasted.
In Alex’s eyes she remained untouched and out of reach. Like a butterfly that would lose its ability to fly if you were too rough in handling it, brushing off the powdery scales of its wings disabling its flight. So Alex held her very gently, treasuring the friendship that had started to bloom between them. To Alex, there had been non-platonic feelings blossoming as well, but Alex had never acted on it. Instead he had watched the trail of men move through Liz’s life, being tarnished in various degrees by Elizabeth’s indifference and aloofness.
Ms. Parker seemed unable to connect. Unable to trust.
Alex would rather not experience that first-hand, hence he had remained the friendly bystander to her romances. But his feelings had lingered, never really evaporating.
“Ms. Parker,” Alex announced with a smile as Liz walked towards him with assertive steps. The black skirt was billowing around her knees, the bright green and white dotted blouse flattering while effectively covering her upper body as if designed specifically for Liz’s alluring mysterious nature.
She responded to his welcome with a warm smile of her own. “Mr. Whitman. How do you do?”
He focused briefly on the warm pink gloss on her lips, feeling a familiar longing tighten in the center of his body, before he moved to her warm mahogany eyes. After almost six years of friendship, those eyes were as familiar to him as the ones looking back at him every morning in the mirror.
“Why, Ms. Parker. Looking ravishing today.”
Liz fluttered her eyelashes in line with their traditional exchange, playing her part to the tee. “Thank you most kindly, Mr. Whitman.” She scooted around his shopping cart and touched those admired pink lips loosely to his cheek. “Hello, my friend.”
His somewhat thin lips briefly touched her cheek. “Hi, Liz. How was first day at work?”
She pulled back and her face shone brightly. “Absolutely amazing.”
He raised an inquisitive eyebrow. “That good, huh? So you picked the right firm, I presume?”
A faint shadow played across her face, unnoticeable to most, but Alex documented it and shelved it in his memory bank to ask about later. “I have a really good feeling about this one…”
The way she let her statement linger told Alex that the time to ask her about that fleeting moment of darkness across her face was now. “But..?”
She shrugged and quickly jumped subjects. “Let’s talk about it later. What are you getting?”
Alex watched her out of the corner of his eyes as she helped him search out his groceries, wondering what was off about her new job. Liz might just be the most intuitive person he knew and he was afraid that she might have stumbled onto something that might jeopardize her future at the architectural firm of her choice. But apparently, that discussion was not going to happen now.
As they continued their walk through the grocery store, things ‘not on the list’ were added to the cart, the cashier added up the total and they left the store to spend the night in front of Alex’s humble TV in his modern apartment.
They had been discussing everything except what was actually bothering Liz. Alex could tell by the fact that Liz never allowed herself to truly relax that night. She usually laid down on the sofa, resting her legs on Alex’s lap (something that was both delightful and tormenting for Alex), while popcorn and chips would end up on his floor and between the cushions of his sofa because she would continuously drop snacks on the trip from the bowl to her mouth. Today, her back was as straight as if it had been nailed to a wooden board, as she supplied Alex with bits of information about her first day at work while apparently watching the movie.
Alex had not been fooled. A quarter past ten he wouldn’t allow her to beat around the bush anymore. “Come on, Liz. What happened?”
She turned large eyes to him, going for the theatrical surprised look. “What do you mean?” She really wasn’t a very convincing liar.
“Something happened at work, didn’t it?”
She shrugged. “Nah. Just nerves, it being my first job and all.”
“You might be able to convince your father about that, him believing every word you say, but not me.”
Liz paused and unconsciously worried her bottom lip. “There’s this man at work.”
Alex felt a chill rush through him. He didn’t like her grave tone. It was a foreboding of bad news. Leaving only silence as a reply, Alex waited for Liz to continue. “Unfortunately he’s my boss’ right hand and he’s the person in charge on my first project.”
She was pushing back the cuticles on her left thumb with her the nail of her right thumb, her voice taking on a soft hesitant tone. “He… he scared me, Alex.”
There was a sheen of moisture in her eyes as she looked up at him, which awoke a fierce protective streak in Alex. “What did he do?”
“Nothing,” she swallowed and shook her head. “Nothing.”
Alex frowned. “Then how-“
“It was just a feeling,” Liz interrupted. “The way he was looking at me… I don’t know. Like he had plans for me.”
Alex guffawed, despite himself. “Plans? What kind of plans?”
She shook her head again, “It’s ridiculous.”
“Tell me,” Alex encouraged.
Liz paused, now working over the cuticle of her left index finger. “Like he wanted to eat me.”
At a loss of an appropriate reply, Alex gave a short laugh, “‘Eat you’?”
“Devour me,” Liz clarified, deadly serious.
Alex felt the chill run down his back, spreading goose bumps in its wake. “You’re serious?”
Liz nodded. “I can’t explain it better than that. His eyes…” She turned introspective, thinking of David Perkins’ black eyes and how they had burrowed into her soul, seemingly draining her of warmth. She shivered in the warmth of Alex’s apartment.
“Did he make any advances?” Alex asked, his tone authoritative. He might have to have a little chat with that man…
Liz answered in negative, “No.” She retrieved the blanket from the back of the sofa and started to spread it across her suddenly cold legs. “Not yet.”
“But you think he will?”
“Either that or kill me?”
Alex laughed again, a humorless and disbelieving laugh. “You’re kidding.”
Liz closed her eyes and leaned back against the back of the couch, no trace of humor in her countenance. “It’s probably nothing.”
Alex watched her contemplatively. “How long is this project for?”
Liz opened her eyes and met his worried ones. “Approximately eight months, give or take.”
“Great,” Alex murmured.
Liz held his eyes for a couple of seconds before mentally shrugging herself out of the depressive state of her thoughts. “It’s probably nothing. Of course it’s nothing. I’ve only just met this guy; I don’t know anything about him. Maybe we just don’t click. I mean, bad guys only exists in the movies, right?”
Alex smiled faintly, Liz’s darkness now having infected his thoughts. “Possibly.”
“Just forget I said anything,” Liz added and took a deep breath. “Let’s just watch the movie, okay? Could you rewind? I have no idea what this movie is about.”
Alex considered Liz’s words for another second or two before picking up the remote control. “We might as well start from the beginning.”
TBC… (in the next post)