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“My Amelia, I’ve missed you terribly. Tonight is worth, to me, any consequences that may come of it.” -- Espionage
For all of Miriam’s beauty and natural poise, her severity was unmatched. -- Glow
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 Five

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Scottie Elisabeth
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PostSubject: Five    Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:41 am

When the light of dawn finally peeked through the window, I took my eyes from the clock. The sun had risen, even without Sophie. Things had to go on. My phone had buzzed incessantly all night, it seemed, and now I finally looked to see why. Several texts from Miriam, a few calls from her as well; loads of calls from Henry; and a message from a number I didn’t know, in a text conversation that couldn’t be replied to:

Meeting tonight. 20:00, City Hall basement. Enter through the back.

My head tipped backwards as I stared annoyed up at the ceiling. Now? I dialed Miriam then, ignoring the notification about her texts. It was only when she answered groggily that I realized dawn might not be the best time to call.

“Did you get the text?” I asked without apology, and Miriam remained silent for a moment as she undoubtedly checked.

“Oh shit,” she finally responded, now sounding fully awake. “What’s happened?”

“I hoped you’d know. You go to the monthly things, don’t you?” Again, my eyes returned to the clock.

“Not recently,” she confessed almost apologetically. “Give me a few and I can be at the office.”

My mind snapped back to the office then, to Henry. “No,” I answered curtly, making my mind as I again stared at the clock’s second hand. “I’m not going in today.”

“Oh?” she responded nearly instantly, clearly wanting me to continue, but I couldn’t be bothered. “Are you feeling okay?” she finally asked. Was I?

“Henry broke our agreement,” I heard myself saying without realizing I had even formulated the words. “He took more than his cut last night and now I don’t have mine or yours.”

Miriam sighed then, but her voice remained calm. “Stay home then,” she reasoned, “and I’ll call you later. I have to get ready for work.”

“Miriam—” I wanted to stop her. Henry wasn’t safe. But she wasn’t having it.

“I’ll call you later, Collin.” And the call ended. I looked at my phone then, incredulous. Really? She’s going to work? After all the shit she’s given me about being alone with Henry? I rolled my eyes and released my phone to where it fell on the couch cushion.

So now what? I had hoped that dawn would bring answers, explanations, and yet here I was, still watching the clock. I could see movement in the hour hand now, as it crept across the clock’s face, edging closer and closer to the hour with every pass of the second hand.

There was only one person in my professional life that knew Sophie. She had loved her too, at least in the time I had known her. And she had warned me not to get attached. But I had, as had she, so perhaps…

I zipped my coat as I stood, shoes still on from the night before. I retrieved my phone from the couch and considered dialing, but didn’t. I hadn’t spoken to my friend since she had left Henry’s and now I owed her more than a casual phone call.


“Lily,” I breathed when the haggard version of my old friend opened the door. Her camo had failed her significantly, but not yet completely. She still maintained the shape and resemblance of a woman, yet she was covered in a thick fur and her nose was longer, nearly a muzzle now.

“Collin,” she responded in a gravelly whisper, concern in her voice as she gripped the edge of the door with her clawed hand. Her canines peaked out from behind her black lips. “Who told you?”

“Who told me what?” I hugged her then, though physical contact hadn’t ever been our norm, and it clearly took her by surprise. It was just so nice being washed in the fondness of my old friend’s company. “Holy shit, I’ve missed you.”

She was silent then and I broke the embrace, now eyeing my former companion as she stared through me as if I were a ghost. Her nails dug lightly into the door then, the sound causing my back to straighten.

“What’s wrong?” I asked then, suddenly unsettled where I stood in her doorframe. The inside of her apartment was dark, the windows clearly covered, with the only light emitting from a blaring television somewhere in the adjacent room. “Lily?”

“Why are you here?” she demanded, her tone immediately changing to one of defense, her voice underlined with a growl. “What do you want?”

“Lily,” I started again, incredulous. It had been a year, sure, but what had changed? “I wanted to see you.”

“Now?” she demanded still, her eyes piercing, her fur bustling near her shoulders. “Why now?”

My stomach knotted. Why not now? Were we not as close as I had thought? Did I really have no one? “Sophie died,” I blurted, and I numbed where I stood.

Lily’s fur settled then, but she still bore a snarl. “You need to go,” she insisted, her voice firm. “You can’t be seen here.”

“Lily—”

But her door slammed, and I stood on the wrong side of it, dumbfounded. I can’t be seen by who? Had her physical changes altered her personality as well? Or was she just finished with me after a year apart? I had thought she would be pleased to see me on an occasion that wasn’t business, and yet here I stood.

My phone vibrated in my pocket then and I answered it without looking.

“Collin,” that familiar, seductive voice teased in my ear. “Can we meet? I’ve got your cut.”

“Where?” I finally tore myself from Lily’s door. As I found myself back in the street, I rubbed the back of my neck, assessing where exactly I was in the brighter light of morning.

“Where are you?” was her response, and when I rattled off the intersection, she paused. “What are you doing on that side of town?” I was taken a bit aback then, though it wasn’t common to go into the lycanthropes’ side of the city unless I was collecting. For Miriam, who had never collected one of those marks, it was probably unexplored territory all together.

“It doesn’t matter,” I shrugged off the encounter, my curiosity peaking at how Miriam had managed to retrieve our Glow.

“Okay…” she seemed put off by my deflection, but only temporarily. Her next words were back to her unintentionally sultry usual: “Just meet me at my place, then. Have you eaten? I can grab something fast on the way.”

“I haven’t.”

She didn’t ask me for my order before giving me the address and purring a “see you soon.” My heart thudded at that, but I shook my head as I returned my phone to my pocket.

My thoughts turned then to that barmaid. Sounds like love to me. What a joke. I had never loved anyone, and the slutty secretary certainly wasn’t going to change that. I wandered the streets, unimpressed by the morning traffic. Never could get the hang of driving myself; it just wasn’t the same as feeling your environment all around you, hearing the fauna and smelling the flora. And now, hearing the horns and smelling the exhaust.

But that was the trade for living in the city, and you’d think after several decades, I’d be used to it. And yet still, my mind would drift to my marital home, the first home that was well and truly mine. It was small, a single bedroom separated from an all-purpose living space that had included the living area, hearth, and table, with an outhouse in the back, but it was perfect.

I could still see the look on my wife’s face when I brought her inside for the first time, the home I had purchased the day before our wedding that we entered together immediately following the ceremony. The way she had looked at me, so proud of me, like no one ever had before…my stomach knotted now. Did I ever give her such a look? She was a wonderful wife, with the house always tidy and the hearth always working with either a meal or a treat. There was always food on the table when I came home, regardless of how much money we had at any given time. She made sure my dollars stretched, even when I was spending my time elsewhere.

The smell of her breads filled my nostrils, a memory I held even now. I had never tasted anything as delicious as my wife’s cooking, and I cringed now as I remembered the end, where her plates for me went cold in my absence, eventually discarded as I started spending evenings, weekends, weeks away without notice.

As I crossed through an intersection with the light, I tried to imagine what she looked like, but the memory faded more and more with time. I rarely looked at her, not out of malice but mere disinterest. She was lovely and attentive and I was selfish and gluttonous. Though her features were lost to me, I remembered her as plain, short but not too stout, intelligent enough but not very pretty, but doting. And I wondered how she would look at me know, if she saw me, so different from what I was when I was hers.

A chill startled me from my mind, my shoulders shuttering as it went through me. I saw then the street Miriam had relayed, and my eyes scanned the building numbers to dictate my next turn. When I finally found the tall building at the end of the street, I found and pressed her apartment number, unsure if she would have been able to make it before me in the traffic. A harsh buzz affirmed that she had, and the door clicked as it unlocked for me.

The ascent was a long one, but I forgot it as soon as I smelled her chosen take out from the floor below hers. Chinese at this hour? But then, my mouth watered. Her door was open before I reached it. She leaned against the doorframe, her curves accentuated with the angle. A cardboard box was in her hand and chopsticks near her face as she accepted and slurped a long noodle. She eyed me then, blushing slightly as her tongue traced her lips for sauce.

“Finally,” she teased, as if she had been waiting forever, though she couldn’t possibly have been that much faster than me. “I was about to go after yours.”

“Mine?” I inquired, ever curious what she could come up with when we had never so much as shared a meal.

“Chicken fried rice—the shredded kind, not the slices—with a side of spring rolls, no sauce.”

I looked at her then, my brow raised. “Good guess.”

She winked then, leaning back so that I could come in from the landing. I sized up her place as she closed the door behind me. Her living room and kitchen were combined, but sizeable together. There was a small hall off the corner of the room, next to a floor-to-ceiling window that nearly took up a wall of the room on its own. Her furniture was clean, but none of it looked overly new. She seemed a sucker for second hand, and for some reason, thinking of Miriam rummaging in a flea market was endearing.

The apartment was spotless, but little bits of clutter revealed it to be lived in: a pair of heels left haphazardly next to the table, where the Chinese was spread, a small stack of books near her TV stand, embroidery peeking out from a basket next to a high-backed armchair in the center of the living space; it was hard to imagine Miriam having hobbies, or even existing outside of work and dates, but here was the proof.

“Stop assessing me,” she teased, her breath tickling my ear as she leaned over my shoulder. “I’ve barely been here a year.”

And yet that made it all the more endearing that she had outfitted this shiny new apartment with her motley collection so quickly.

She sat her box down on the table then, her face both playful and curious as she eyed me. “What’s going on with you?” Her face fell a bit then as she approached me, eyeing me carefully as I stayed planted, words escaping me. “Collin, did you even sleep?” she reached to touch my cheek then and I pulled away, recoiling from the contact as if it burned.

“Can we just do the transfer?”

Miriam looked offended by my curtness, but she kept her annoyance to herself. “Come on, then.”

Without looking at me again, Miriam started toward the hallway in the corner of the room and I followed, staying several steps behind. I don’t know what I was expecting of her room, but the simplicity of her bedframe and sheet set took me by surprise. It was cozy and warm, with a laundry basket in the far corner and a small stereo on her dresser. It wasn’t obvious even in her most intimate space that she lived as promiscuously as she did.

“I’ve never transferred to you before, but I assume…” she gestured to the bed then and I found myself already undressing, tugging my shoes off as soon as my jacket hit the floor.

“Yeah, I know what I’m doing,” I reminded her, losing my patience with her by the second, though I wasn’t exactly sure why.

“Okay then.”

It was quiet then as we undressed, and I found myself falling into my usual routine, treating this, and her, like any mark. We started the transfer and I had to resist her natural Glow pull, instead increasing mine to overpower hers. Her brow furrowed initially, clearly unfamiliar with being on the giving end of a harvest, but after a moment her eyes closed and she seemed to relax into the process.

Miriam was beautiful, and I could see it even now, despite my attempts to ignore her. She carried herself with dignity, even now, and I was impressed with the trust she was able to put into me, to take only what she afforded me, the same trust I had afforded her in our time together. And though her body was incredible, enough to make any man lust, it was the curiosity behind her eyes that intoxicated me now. Had she ever been with an incubus?

She smirked then and I felt suddenly self-conscious.

“You’re thinking too much,” she chastised as she reached up to stroke my cheek, and this time I didn’t pull away from her. And it was only then the realization hit me. She could hear everything.

My stomach knotted with Miriam’s giggle. I had lost track of the Glow now, focused only on my embarrassment, being careless enough to think of Miriam when she could hear my thoughts. And knowing she could hear me only made me think of all the things I didn’t want her to know, like Lily, like Sophie, like—

I separated from her then, mortified as I sat back from Miriam, my face hot.

“You’re usually so exhausted, with the machine,” she pulled the covers to her chest as she sat up, a playful, but hesitant, grin on her face. “It’s just funny to actually be able to hear your thoughts race. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

“Stop,” I insisted, willing myself to be anywhere else but there.

“You didn’t get your full cut,” she offered apologetically, but I couldn’t think of anything but my burning cheeks.

I raised my hands to my face, wishing I could just disappear behind them. There was nowhere to escape to other than the cold wood of Miriam’s footboard, and it was against that cold wood that I now rested, anxious thoughts flooding my mind. I was so used to ignoring the thoughts of my marks that listening to Miriam’s hadn’t even crossed my mind, and yet I felt betrayed by her doing so.

“I’m sorry.” She twisted the sheet around her then as she stood, securing it as she made for the door. Her tone was no longer playful, instead embarrassed. “Come eat when you’re ready.”

Her shutting the door behind her was both relieving and lonely. I took a moment to suppress my frustration before dressing. I again assessed the room around me. I never imagined I’d be here, buttoning my shirt next to Miriam’s bed.

When I’d calmed, I returned to the living room, where Miriam sat fully dressed at the table. Her clothes remained in the bedroom, and I mentally chastised her for wasting her Glow, but I didn’t speak.

“Come on,” she coaxed, pushing a chair out from under the table with her foot. “Sit. Eat.”

I avoided looking at her but obeyed, sitting at the pushed out chair across from her. Chopsticks sat on the unopened box in front of me, but instead I went for the fork on the table.

It was quiet then, as I ate and avoided Miriam’s prying eyes. Her curiosity was palpable but I wasn’t about to encourage it. “What happened with Henry then?” I forced, feeling her stare on me.

She laughed a short, beautiful laugh then that bordered on devious. The hairs rose on the back of my neck and I immediately squelched the fondness. “He’s aged a bit in your absence.” I heard her chopsticks click then and I could only imagine the smugness on her face. I’m sure she loved having one over on him.

“I take it we’re unemployed, then?”

“On the contrary,” her flirty tone was as apparent as ever, but the nonchalant inflection proved it unintentional. “When we’re finished with our paid week off, we’ll return to 5% fiscal raises.”

I couldn’t help but smirk at that, prodding my rice with my fork. “Good work.” I looked at her then only to see her attempting to suppress a wholehearted smile. Her eyes were so genuinely happy, I found myself staring into them, until she took a deep breath and I again returned my gaze to my rice.

Another silence fell, but this one not nearly as tense. Instead, I felt comfortable in the unassuming apartment, in the company of someone who demanded nothing of me.

“So did you see Lily then?”

I flicked my eyes up to her, surprised at her boldness, but she didn’t seem malicious. “I tried,” I finally conceded. “But she didn’t want to see me.”

“Oh,” her eyes avoided mine then and I wondered if she was jealous of her predecessor. “Can I ask you a question?”

“What?”

There was a pause then and I grew anxious. We both knew I wasn’t going to like whatever it was she was going to ask. “Lately, you’ve been really…” she took a moment to sip from the glass in front of her, buying herself time. “Really…stressed, whenever you think of…”

I lifted my eyes to hers then, fostering a glare I hoped would silence her, but she just took another breath.

“Who’s Sophie?” She met my eyes then, challenging me in the softest way she could. “You just always seem to be so sad about her, especially today.”

My fork clattered on the table before I realized I had dropped it, startling us both. When the pounding of my heart settled, I couldn’t find an excuse to give her. “She was my best friend,” I confided out of nowhere, and the moment the words left my mouth, I was angry at Miriam for them. And yet, I kept speaking, unable to stop the floodgates she had unlocked. “She’s been at my side for 70 years. She welcomed me into her home for decades and she…” I shook my head, willing the outburst to end as quickly as it had begun. “She died.”

Miriam’s face fell then. She knew what it felt like; that was obvious in her eyes. She leaned forward in her chair then, her hand reaching for my balled fist. When her fingers made contact with mine, I released my fist, allowing her fingers to curl tenderly around mine. “Collin, I’m sorry.”

Her touch was warm, comforting against my emptiness. I didn’t respond, and could look nowhere but her fingers, but I was so grateful for the act.

Until I wasn’t. Before I knew it, I was to my feet. She might have objected as I exited, she might not have. I couldn’t hear her. I couldn’t hear anything. I was numb and stressed and exhausted, and I wanted to be anywhere else.
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PostSubject: Re: Five    Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:20 am

The sun had risen, even without Sophie.--- Love this. It’s a phrase you might hear often, but it’s one of those that really never gets old.

----What I find interesting about Collin and Miriam’s phone convo is how selfless Miriam is being toward him, and how he seems to be ignoring it. He did just lose Sophie, but I think it speaks so much about his character.

“What’s wrong?” I asked then, suddenly unsettled where I stood in her doorframe. The inside of her apartment was dark, the windows clearly covered, with the only light emitting from a blaring television somewhere in the adjacent room. “Lily?” ---- <3 <3 <3 That description of the television light, though. Damn. Love.

“Now?” she demanded still, her eyes piercing, her fur bustling near her shoulders. “Why now?” ---So cool how she’s somewhat human, and this detail about her fur bustling doesn’t see odd at all! I love it.

My stomach knotted. Why not now? Were we not as close as I had thought? Did I really have no one? “Sophie died,” I blurted, and I numbed where I stood. ----Nice inner dialogue. And his blurting this out is the most accurate response to her coldness.

Lily’s fur settled then, but she still bore a snarl.----Nice picking this detail back up!

But her door slammed, and I stood on the wrong side of it, dumbfounded. I can’t be seen by who? Had her physical changes altered her personality as well? Or was she just finished with me after a year apart? I had thought she would be pleased to see me on an occasion that wasn’t business, and yet here I stood. ---I like this inner dialogue, but I think the first line says most of it pretty powerfully, especially the “the wrong side of it” bit. It was evident that he felt flabbergasted by her reaction.


As I found myself back in the street, I rubbed the back of my neck, assessing where exactly I was in the brighter light of morning. -----I can’t even being to tell you the number of times I’ve used and reimagined this one line, “in the brighter light of morning.” I think all my scenes take place in the morning, and I may have just realized why.

My thoughts turned then to that barmaid. Sounds like love to me. What a joke. I had never loved anyone, and the slutty secretary certainly wasn’t going to change that. I wandered the streets, unimpressed by the morning traffic. Never could get the hang of driving myself; it just wasn’t the same as feeling your environment all around you, hearing the fauna and smelling the flora. And now, hearing the horns and smelling the exhaust. ----Miriam is so digging him, and he so ignores it! He obviously has some disdain for her, as we discussed before, but damn. This chick isn’t throwing herself at him, she’s doing it with kind gestures. Lol. I feel like I know Collin so well at this point. And I love the detail of him walking the streets!

----I said I feel I know Collin so well, but it is so nice to read some backstory on him. And nice that you are consistent as well. His backstory only affirms his current personality.

As I crossed through an intersection with the light, I tried to imagine what she looked like, but the memory faded more and more with time. I rarely looked at her, not out of malice but mere disinterest. She was lovely and attentive and I was selfish and gluttonous. Though her features were lost to me, I remembered her as plain, short but not too stout, intelligent enough but not very pretty, but doting. And I wondered how she would look at me know, if she saw me, so different from what I was when I was hers.----<3 <3 <3, I would love to see something about Collin’s appearance possibly tacked onto the end of this. Not like describe him word for word, but something to tease at his features.

Chinese at this hour? But then, my mouth watered. Her door was open before I reached it. She leaned against the doorframe, her curves accentuated with the angle. A cardboard box was in her hand and chopsticks near her face as she accepted and slurped a long noodle. She eyed me then, blushing slightly as her tongue traced her lips for sauce. ---First of all, Chinese at every hour, Collin! Perfect imagery there of Miriam. Slutty, but not slutty all the same. It’s hard to explain. You write her so well. She’s appealing, but not vile. She’s sweet, but not annoying. Love.

“Finally,” she teased, as if she had been waiting forever, though she couldn’t possibly have been that much faster than me. “I was about to go after yours.” --- <3 <3 <3 This dialogue is the most accurate thing that could have come out of her mouth at this moment.
----Their little banter is cute, and welcoming, as the story is getting quite harrowing. The part about her high heels <3.

It wasn’t obvious even in her most intimate space that she lived as promiscuously as she did. ---One of those beautiful details. Beautiful. <3 !!!!!!!11!!!!!!!

She carried herself with dignity, even now, and I was impressed with the trust she was able to put into me, to take only what she afforded me, the same trust I had afforded her in our time together. ------Love this line. Suddenly, he speaks of her without discontent. But I love his curtness with her and her lack of response to it.

When I’d calmed, I returned to the living room, where Miriam sat fully dressed at the table. Her clothes remained in the bedroom, and I mentally chastised her for wasting her Glow, but I didn’t speak.-----Hmmmm, Glow can be used to stop time? Teleport? Dissapear? This is one of those little details that often gets looked over, and I may have done that the morning I was reading it before bed. Interesting! I like the little hint. I love it.

“Come on,” she coaxed, pushing a chair out from under the table with her foot. “Sit. Eat.” ---Love how she seems to be mimicking his former behavior here.
----Their recovery from this awkwardness is nicely transitioned to. I mean, the two don’t owe each other words. They have no relationship status. But they look past it and banter as if they do. That’s a unique relationship, an intriguing one. It makes me even more intrigued by their characters, and I want to know more about them, and see them in more situations together. They definitely feed from one another. PS: I like how they both say ‘then’ at the end of their sentence. Either you’ve been in the UK for too long, or they were both being slightly smug. Either is endearing.

“She was my best friend,” I confided out of nowhere, and the moment the words left my mouth, I was angry at Miriam for them. And yet, I kept speaking, unable to stop the floodgates she had unlocked. “She’s been at my side for 70 years. She welcomed me into her home for decades and she…” I shook my head, willing the outburst to end as quickly as it had begun. “She died.”---- <3 <3 <3 Especially the, “I was angry at Miriam for them.” I like the ride here. Collin is going from one extreme to the next. He’s taken aback, suddenly vulnerable, slightly angry, then abashed. All of that in one tiny paragraph. That’s fucking impressive.

Until I wasn’t. Before I knew it, I was to my feet. She might have objected as I exited, she might not have. I couldn’t hear her. I couldn’t hear anything. --- This ending though!!!!11!!!!! I so admire the way the two paragraphs are formatted at the end: he being grateful for the contact. Paragraph break. He’s not grateful. LOVE.

-----I told you on the messenger how much I absolutely loved this chapter, and I meant that; despite being very, very tired when I read it. This is a huge character development chapter. We finally get an extensive scene with Miriam and Collin, which is def what the reader is craving right about now. You made me love Miriam. She’s so appealing, but not in a hoebag way. You obviously love her, and it shows. You write her, and about her from Collin’s eyes, with such beauty. I can recognize that, because I do the same thing. Everyone else gets this almost autonomous language, while these characters we adore really get to stand out with the prose surrounding them. Because you love Miriam and Colling, I love them. That doesn’t mean everyone else blows, that just really affirms them in the hearts of your reader. I believe this is just. If you write about everyone this way, it’s going to get hard to kill them off!!!!11!!!! Tee hee. Tee hee hee. *Guilty face* But really, beautiful effing chapter. I also am intrigued by the part about her clothes being in the bedroom, her using her glow, then having them on. Say what?! Also, more on Lily, please! Moving on to the next.

Love, BF
!!!!!!11!!!!!!

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