Time and Again

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Amateur

Dave peered out the window and discovered Kathy’s car had pulled to the snow covered curb a little sooner than he had anticipated. He grabbed his shoes and socks and ran down the stairs to greet Kathy and her friend at the door. He had sat down to pull on his socks and shoes while they came up the walk when he heard a cry out on the porch. He looked through the front door’s window to discover that one of the women had slipped on the ice at the base of the porch stairs and tumbled into the snow pile beside the sidewalk.

Without thinking, he opened the door and ran down the steps to pull her out of the snow.

“Are you okay?” he proffered his hand which the woman gladly took and pulled her to her feet as gently as he could. A jolt shot up his arm as if he had grabbed a live wire. Then it was gone.

The woman look very surprised for a moment then seemed to calm down. “You’re barefoot.” She pointed at his feet.

She looked at him with a frown that Dave did not understand. How could she be unhappy with him? They had only met.

No, it isn’t that. I’ve surprised her in some way. Probably me coming out here in my bare feet.

“I figured that I had better get out here quick when you fell.”

He grabbed her arm and guided her across the ice and up the steps to the porch. There was no shock this time.

“I’m Ella, by the way.” She brushed the arm of her coat. “Am I covered in snow?”

“There’s a little back there,” Dave scanned her back and bottom, “Want me to brush it off?”

He started at the shoulders and made his way down to her butt where the majority of the caked snow was.

“Can I go lower? You have a lot on your butt.”

Ella nodded, and Dave couldn’t help but notice what a nice firm butt she had.

“There, let’s go in, my feet are cold.”

“How was your trip?” Dave settled onto the beat up couch and pulled his socks and shoes on.

His off campus student house had been decorated in early Salvation Army. The common room contained one beat up couch and a mismatched love seat. The yellowed chintz curtains offset the muddy red faux mahogany coffee table nicely. A threadbare area rug in a faded floral pattern covered the floor. Dave had seen worse, but it had been waiting room in a muffler shop.

“It wasn’t bad. We got out of Lansing before the snow hit. I think it followed us all the way here.” Kathy looked out the window at the snow beginning to drift down. “They’re calling for a couple inches this evening and overnight.”

“Jack isn’t here yet. His last class ends at three and he should be here soon. In the meantime, if you give me your keys, I’ll get your bags out of the trunk and into the house.”

Kathy handed him the car keys.

Dave hustled out into the big fat snow flakes beginning to drift down, hauled two suitcases from the trunk of Kathy’s ancient Oldsmobile. He had a wait a moment as a car with tinted windows drove slowly past followed by a VW beetle and a delivery truck. When it was clear, he trotted back to the house.

“Kathy, I’ll put your bag up in Jack’s room and Ella, you’re going into mine. Both of our house mates went home this weekend for winter break and one of them is letting me sleep in his room. We’ll have the house to ourselves all weekend.”

“The green suitcase is mine.” Kathy said as the girls followed Dave up the narrow stairs.

Dave dropped off Kathy and her bag in Jack’s room before escorting Ella and her bag across the hall to his room.

“Here it is, such as it is.”

Ella scanned the room.

“It’s nice.”

“I try to keep it picked up, but it’s not always this neat,” Dave said in a fit of honesty that had come out of nowhere.

Ella nodded. She was tall coming up to his nose on his 6’1″ frame. She had red, almost orange hair that she kept short. He liked her height, but not so much her hair color. The sprinkling of freckles across her nose was cute though, and accented her blue eyes. She wore a green MSU sweatshirt over a white blouse and a pair of jeans.

“Are you looking forward to the concert tomorrow night?”

She shrugged. “I’ll like it if you do.” She frowned at him. “I’m not sure you want to go though.”

“How so?”

“Kathy, are you up there?” a voice bellowed from the foot of the stairs.

Kathy looking preppy in her jeans and sweater stepped out of the bedroom and called, “We’re up here, Jack.”

Jack came up the stairs taking them two at a time. Kathy wrapped him in a hug at the top of the stairs. They broke the embrace and walked up the hall arm in arm.

“Ella, I see you’ve met Dave.” Jack said as he pulled Kathy to him. “Would you mind if Kathy and I visited for a few minutes alone?”

Without waiting, they turned, stepped into Jack’s bedroom and closed the door.

“They’ll be in there at least an hour.” Dave smiled at Ella. “Now, tell me how you know that I don’t like rock concerts.”

“Pretty easy,” she pointed into his room. “No stereo, no radio, no rock posters on the wall and no albums laying around. Lot’s of book, however, I like that.”

“You a reader?”

“Yep.” güvenilir bahis She nodded her head.

“What are you reading now?”

She walked over to her purse sitting on the bed and pulled out a paperback. “The Plague by Albert Camus. What about you?”

Dave pulled a well thumbed paperback from the shelf over his study desk. “Ringworld.”

She pointed a finger at him. “I bet you read a lot of history too.”

He nodded. “I do. I recently finished a book on the Scotch-Irish. For some reason, that group fascinates me from their beginnings as clans occupying the debatable lands on the Scottish/ English border all the way up to their participation in the War of 1812 in America. They were a tough, fearsome people willing to die for their lands.”

He smiled at her. She was looking more attractive. He found intelligent women very attractive, and any woman who could deduce that he wasn’t overjoyed about going to a rock concert by looking around his room had to be really smart. Her figure wasn’t bad either. “Do you read history too?”

She nodded. “I’m especially interested in the middle ages between the fall of the Roman Empire and Charlemagne establishing the Holy Roman Empire.”

“I’m drawn to that era, but I confess I haven’t devoted much time to reading about it.” She nodded knowingly like, of course, he would be attracted to that period in history.

There was a lull in the conversation. Not as awkward as it might have been before they began talking about books, but still a little awkward.

“I’ve forgotten my manners. Have you eaten?” Dave tried to fill the silence.

“I skipped lunch, so yeah, I could eat.”

“There’s a little hole in the wall Mexican place not far from here. The food is good, they give you a lot, and they’re reasonable. Want to go?”

She grinned. “That sounds like my kind of place. Let’s ask Kathy and Jack if they want to go.”

She walked out of the room into the hallway and tapped on Jack’s door. The door opened a crack and there was a whispered conversation, and the door shut.

“It would appear they are otherwise occupied. Shall we go?” Ella said with a smirk.

Before they stepped out the door, Ella stopped. “I nearly forgot. I’m supposed to call my mom when I get here. Can I use your phone?”

Dave gestured to it hanging on the wall. “I’ll be out on the porch.”

Ella dialed the number, “This is 47365. I’ve located the soul I’m paired with.”

She scanned the room to assure she was alone.

“Was that the psi spike over Ann Arbor, Michigan half an hour ago?”

“Yes.”

“Stay with him. We’re dispatching a team, but it will take a while to get there. Count on the fact that the others will be sending agents also.”

She hung up the phone and buttoned her parka.

“Ready.” Ella said with a smile as she stepped out on the porch.

The walk wasn’t long even with the snow falling. An inch of snow coated the sidewalk and streets. The traffic wasn’t snarled yet, but it was coming.

Dave led her to a quiet restaurant. They grabbed a table by the window and looked out on the falling snow.

“What’s good here?” Ella asked.

“The chunky beef burritos are good. People have told me the chicken enchilada is good also.”

After they ordered, Ella grabbed a corn chip and dipped it in the salsa.

“So is that how Jack and Kathy act when they’re together here?”

“Pretty much,” Dave grabbed a chip, “they’ll come out around eight looking for food. They’ll go out for some pizza, and then go in the room for the night.”

She gave a knowing chuckle. “So what are we supposed to do?”

He liked that little chuckle. She was kind of cute after all.

“I plan to treat you with courtly manners until you tell me otherwise.”

That elicited a smile. “So what’s the ‘otherwise’?” she grabbed another chip. “These are pretty good.”

“If the past is any indication, the ‘otherwise’ is when you call me a geek and tell me that you never want to see me again.”

“Why do women chase you off?”

He grinned at her. “I’m too much of an egghead. First of all, I’m a chemistry major. That puts at least half of the women off. Then being your average introverted bookworm pretty much seals the deal. In truth, I don’t really know how to talk to women.”

“You’re doing okay with me.”

He crossed his arms and sat back. “You know, you’re right. How about that? I feel very comfortable around you. I know that sounds like a come on, but it’s true.”

The food arrived. As they ate, an older man looking like the professor type sat at a table close to them and ordered food before opening up a paper and reading. Ella eyed him carefully. Demons could and did occupy humans. They were hard to pick out, but sometimes you could get them to reveal themselves.

After a few bites, Ella put down her fork. “This chicken burrito is excellent. How’s yours?”

“Very good,” he wiped his mouth on his napkin, “I’ve told you my major, what’s yours?”

“Nursing, but my real passion is photography. In fact, I brought my camera with me.”

“Nursing türkçe bahis means you’re smart, willing to work hard, and not afraid of responsibility. The photography means you have an artistic flare. Not a bad combination. I’m beginning to understand you.”

“Don’t think you know me, I’m also a witch and a competition shooter.”

“Now you’re lying to me.” Dave smirked at her.

Ella nodded. “You’re right, I’m not a competition shooter. I tell guys that on the first date to keep them guessing.”

“But you are a witch?”

“Yep. Bona fide, card carrying witch.” She placed her elbows on either side of her plate and rested her chin on her fingers blinking her eyes rapidly while smiling.

“So have you put me under a spell?”

She nodded. “I have, but it has nothing to do with magic. I find all I have to do is smile at a man to enthrall him. You’re in my grasp even as we speak.”

“Prove it.”

She looked deeply in his eyes. “You will take me back to your place and make love to me all night.”

“No.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “You don’t want to make love to me?”

“Not right now. I still have my burrito to finish.”

“You’re one crazy guy, Dave.”

“And hungry.” Dave saluted her with a fork full of beef burrito.

“And hungry,” she agreed.

When they got up to leave, Ella activated her wraith cutter blade. It was invisible to humans, but would certainly get a demons attention. It shot out of her right hand gleaming with an eerie energy. The man who had been reading the paper next to them recoiled in shock.

So you are a demon. I thought so.

Her magic was far stronger than most her age, and even more so now that she had come in contact with her soul mate. No one had told her that would happen.

Two inches of snow lay on the sidewalk and street when they stepped out of the restaurant, and the wind carrying a load of falling snow swept up the street. The snow storm was turning into a blizzard.

“I’d almost say it looked beautiful if I wasn’t standing in it.” Ella said pulling the hood up on her parka. “Ooh, look up ahead. There’s a jewelry store. Can we stop and look in the window?” She wanted to pick up an uroboros for Dave, a snake in a circle biting it’s tail. Demons would know that Dave would be avenged if they killed him. It was the symbol of her order, and would offer Dave some protection if he wore it.

Dave looked at the jewelry store window, then down the street. “We need to cross the street now.”

Dave grabbed her arm and escorted her across the street before she could object.

“Why did you…”

Dave pointed to a van racing up the street far too fast for conditions. The light turned red at the intersection and the van spun out of control when the driver hit the brakes. Auto horns blasted as the car careened through the intersection sideways, jumped the curb, and smashed into the wall below the window of the jewelry store. The crash was followed by the blare of a burglar alarm going off and the shouts from the men crawling out of the car. Men that looked like they may be demonic to Ella.

Ella stared at Dave with open mouth. “How did you know?”

“I didn’t, but sometimes I get a strong urge to leave a particular spot. I’ve learned to act on those hunches. A hunch like that saved me from getting injured at the steel mill I worked at last summer.”

She stared into his eyes. “Are you magical?”

Dave shook his head. “There isn’t a magical bone in my body.”

Ella grabbed his arm and hugged it. “Well thank you for saving my life, my hero.”

Dave blushed. “Now you know I’m a freak.”

“Can you walk through walls?”

“No.”

“Time travel?”

“No.”

“Fly?”

“Nope.

“You’re not much of a freak then, are you?”

“You’re not creeped out?”

Ella shook her head. “No, should I be?”

Dave shrugged. “I saved a woman from stepping out in traffic once, and she couldn’t get away from me fast enough.”

Ella reached up and kissed him on the lips. “Well, thank you. I hope this makes up in part for how that woman made you feel.” A spark of energy passed into her body leaving her breathless.

This guy is a walking dynamo.

“You may have to do that a few more times to make up for her,” Dave said with a smile.

They began walking toward the house into the snowstorm.

Ella walked along beside Dave holding onto his arm. Destiny sometimes moved with breathtaking speed, but this had her reeling. A scrying witch in her coven had told her that her true love would pull her from a snow drift while barefoot. She had laughed at the prediction at the time then Dave had done exactly that. Then the magical equivalent of the atom bomb exploded when the first touched. How was that even possible when mages spanned the world looking for the magically talented? On top of everything else, he was tall, and strong, and intelligent. He also was attracted to her. It was too bad they were meeting about five years too early.

She squeezed his hand. “Man, it is tough walking into this wind. The güvenilir bahis siteleri snow really stings when it hits my face.”

Dave took the scarf from around his neck and handed it to her. “Wrap this around your nose and mouth. It’ll cover most of your face.”

She took it and put it on noticing that it smelled like Dave. She liked his aroma. It resurrected memories of times long gone, and places that had disappeared.

“We’ll turn the corner up ahead. That should make it a little better.” He pointed at the next intersection up. “I really know how to show a girl a good time, don’t I?”

“I suspect things will pick up once we get to the house. Warmth is good for a start.”

A few steps later she said, “How do you know Jack?”

“We were roommates in the dorm our freshman year. We’ve stuck together every since. How about you and Kathy?”

“We live on the same floor in the dorm. I’m better friends with her roommate. Kathy mentioned that Jack had a really cute house mate and I thought I might as well check you out.”

“And?” Dave grabbed her arm to guide her over a curb hidden under the snow.

“You’re doing pretty good so far. I’ll give you more feedback later.”

They turned the corner and the wind now hit her from the side. Her hood protected her cheek. “So here I am in a city I’ve never been in, in a snowstorm counting on a stranger to keep me warm and safe.”

“You don’t have to worry, if this were a romantic novel,” Dave chuckled, “I’d be the rogue with the heart of gold.”

“You can’t be. You’re wearing a shirt. Rogues must be shirtless. It’s a rule in the romantic novel handbook.”

“I assure you rogues with a heart of gold and everyone else in Michigan wears a shirt in January. Maybe they strip down to their long underwear to be sexy. I have a red pair that shows a lot of forearm.”

“Be still my heart,” Ella said fanning herself with a mittened hand.

Ella took the time to scan up and down the street as they brushed the snow off at the house. Nothing seemed remiss. If demons were descending upon them, they were taking their time. Once inside, they slid out of their parkas.

Perfect weather for a weekend visit, don’t you think?” Dave took her coat and hung it on a coat tree beside the door.

Ella smiled, “You’re doing pretty good at entertaining me. I believe this is where you try to get me drunk and seduce me.”

Dave brightened. “Now that’s an idea.”

“Which part? The getting me drunk part, or the seducing me part?”

“The drunk part. Have you ever had home brewed beer?”

She shook her head. “No, and I’ve never drunk wood alcohol either.”

“It’s pretty good, actually. At least, we’ve never had to take anyone to the hospital because of it.”

“That’s hardly a recommendation,” She waved her hand like she was displaying a banner, “I can see the advertising logo now. ‘Home brew, we haven’t killed anyone yet’.”

C’mon. You have to at least try it.”

Ella followed him down a short hallway into a kitchen where the ancient wheezing refrigerator competed with the plumbing for who was the oldest. Dave rattled around in the fridge until he came up with a brown quart bottle.

“This is it. I knew it was back there,” he squinted at the date written in wax pencil on the bottle, “this was bottled before Christmas vacation. That means it’s aged for almost seven weeks. I think that’s a record. Most stuff gets drunk before it’s a month old.”

“How long is it supposed to age?”

“About three months.”

Ella couldn’t help but smile. In his enthusiasm, he had totally forgotten to be self conscious. This Dave was cute, funny, and sexy.

Get a hold on yourself, girl. This is too soon.

Dave opened the bottle over the sink and carefully poured beer into mismatched tumblers. “You have to be careful pouring. The yeast settles to the bottom of the bottle. You don’t want to go anywhere near that bitter stuff.”

When he was finished, he offered her a glass which she took and sipped.

“It tastes like a mixture of cough medicine, cold coffee, and baby vitamins,” she took another sip, “it’s not horrible. But it is thicker than I thought it would be.”

He nodded. “The baby vitamin taste comes from the yeast. I’ve tried filtering the yeast out, but the filter paper blinds too quickly and the paper imparts a taste. You get maybe half a glass and the paper is clogged.”

And just like that, he drifted back into geek speak.

“I can absolutely see you as a chemist. You have a white lab jacket with a lot of pens shoved into your pocket protector, don’t you? Throw in a slide rule and the picture is perfect.”

She held an imaginary camera to her face and said, “Click.”

“Guilty as charged, but this is the 1984, we don’t use slide rules anymore. We have pocket calculators.”

He had chosen chemistry this time, he had never seemed interested in anything like that before.

“Why did you choose to study chemistry? I would think a big guy like you would be interested in something outdoorsy like forestry, or even the Army.”

Surprise crossed his face. “You can see that? It took me a long time to decide on chemistry as my major. I was really drawn to ROTC, and to business both, but I wanted to try something that would challenge me. Does that make sense?”

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