Yay new chapter! (If you are just joining you may want to start here)
Daddy Long Legs and a pang of fear. J R Manawa.
Their first dance came to a close. Or possibly it was second, third or fourth. Nadine wasn’t so sure, but what she was sure of was the fact that she was getting the hang of it.
She was learning to dance.
She, the orphan raised in foster homes across the entirety of South London in buildings where the word Waltz would never have been used and Polka only in reference to the bad dotty clothing your foster mother thought was in fashion.
She had learned the trick was to look at Caleb, not at her feet, which wasn’t the most difficult task in the world. And when she did focus entirely on Caleb, to the point where she could have completely lost herself under the shadow of his stupidly thick eyelashes while she counted the pools of gold and auburn within his eyes, she found that the dance came easy, mesmerisingly easy.
She closed her eyes to break away from Caleb’s stare for a moment and fell into the rhythm of their feet and the tension of his hand on her waist, cooling the heat of her body. A change in the beat caught her off guard, and she missed a step, catching Caleb’s toe with the point of her heel. Her eyes shot open.
“Over confident, a little?” He asked.
“I’m sorry, that must have hurt,” she said, though she was sure the killer heels were hurting her more.
He tilted his head to the side as he said “Just a little,” as he spun her away from him.
She turned and turned, the ballerina of her own dark little music box, but the spinning ended abruptly. Caleb pulled her back toward him with a sudden firmness and urgency that she hadn’t expected. He wasn’t looking at her anymore either, he was staring at something else, over the top of her head.
“Caleb?” She asked, turning her head to try and look at what he was looking at, but he reached up to take her cheek and turned her face up towards his, kissing her quickly.
“Stay with me,” he whispered the words against her lips with sudden urgency, his breath like icy menthol, and then he spun her again, so she was now behind him.
Levi materialised out of the crowd at that moment and took a step forward to stand beside his brother.
“Ahh Caleb, Levi.” A strong voice greeted them both. “Naturally you have made it just in time to miss all of the laughing and most of the dancing,” the voice was warm in sound, mocking in feel, and cold in delivery. “I assume we will be able to pry you away for a few short moments to address the agenda before us?”
“I’m sure it can hardly be a matter of life and death if I am not there, Levi may go in my stead,” Caleb replied, and Nadine noted the change in Levi’s stance as he reacted to what Caleb said. She also noted that the boy turned his head toward her just a little, like he was questioning in his own mind whether she was the cause of Caleb’s response.
Which she knew she was. Caleb’s voice had been urgent when he asked that she not leave him.
Curiosity go the better of her very quickly, and she peered around Caleb to observe the tall, spider-thin man he spoke with.
Even the small glimpse of him made her skin crawl with discomfort. Elbows and knees at angles that were almost unnatural, slender limbs that reminded her of a daddy long legs, and a gaunt face with beautiful, narrow eyes. She wondered that Caleb had placed himself in front of her, like he was attempting to block her from the man’s view.
The thin man let out a delicate snort that mutated quickly into a laugh, and then a knowing smile, “Most of it, no doubt. However, the coven of bastards rising in London beneath your very noses is most certainly a matter of life and death in your concern.”
Nadine felt Caleb’s grip tighten on her as she tried to look around him again, and his body stiffened completely when the man mentioned the ‘Coven of Bastards’.
Nadine held her breath. She had felt a curious pang of fear — the kind of fear a young fox must grasp when it realises for the first time that the hound has not come to play.
“But those matters are a moment away yet. May I have the pleasure of meeting this delicacy you have shipped us from London?” The spider-thin man leaned around Caleb’s shoulder.
To her left, Nadine felt Levi pull away from the tete-a-tete, as it ended, and Caleb slowly — without pleasure — spun Nadine around in his arms to face the man. He took her hand and kissed her like Levi had, with lips as thin and cold as his fingers were. “Ahhh, Caleb,” he inhaled and sighed into the kiss he placed upon Nadine. A moment later he raised his head and smiled, “I trust we will all enjoy you more — a little later.” He dropped her hand in an awkward, lingering way that stole the warmth from her fingers as his own slipped away, and he took Caleb’s arm to lead him off, toward whatever meeting about bastard covens needed to take place.
“Did I imagine that he looked hungry, for me?” Nadine asked, scrunching up her nose in the aftermath of their departure. “I actually worried he was going to chew on one of my fingers,” she added jokingly.
“We are all hungry, my dear,” Levi replied.
Nadine raised one eyebrow, quite unsure how to respond as she looked down at Levi, “You know, I had no idea Caleb had a brother. He didn’t tell me. I’m sorry.”
Levi smiled, “That means I still have the element of surprise, something I quite enjoy.” He offered her his hand, “Perhaps we grab a glass of wine? And then I teach you how to dance to this song?
“How old are you, Levi?” Nadine laughed as she took his hand, brushing off the discomfort of moments ago.
“Embarrassingly older than I look.” He laughed.