Coming March 1st
When Ben came to, he remembered everything…much to his chagrin. It was another thing that made him a good journalist. His brain and memory worked better under duress than most. So the minute he opened his eyes, he flinched and searched for the cat, and immediately registered that he was no longer in the clearing. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t outside at all. He was in a cave.
He knew it was a cave because of the way the walls looked carved by decades of natural erosion. He knew it was a cave because the walls and ceiling all seemed to meld into one, except that the ceiling had protrusions hanging down that looked almost artistic. And he knew it was a cave because it smelled like what he would expect a cave to smell like—wet, dank, and musty. Kind of like the apartment where his family had stayed before moving out to Rochester, the one right below them where the woman with all the animals had lived.
Ben would have marveled at it, but the next thing his brain registered was that his back was pressed to one of the cave walls. His wrists and ankles were bound by rope. He recalled then the blow to the head and searched around, frantic and afraid he’d been kidnapped by terrorists. But when his gaze came to rest on the figure in front of him, his thoughts went in an entirely different direction.
He was convinced he was sitting across from some kind of jewel. He wasn’t even sure he could consider it, her, human. The blue in her hair was much darker than he expected, dancing in the space between royal and navy and perched atop her head like rolling hills of cotton. Two braids dangled by each ear, decorated by beads. Her legs, long and lissome and lithe, rode up to the round hips and full thighs the women back home no longer wanted. He could almost smell her skin, like apple and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. A generous mix of clove and nutmeg and cinnamon. She could have been molded by the very same earth she walked on.
And like the finishing cherry on an ice cream sundae, her eyes were a wavering mix of light and dark. Her left was a pensive, suspicious deep brown while her right was silver, curious and cautious. He was, in a word, mesmerized.
“Uh…” For a man who never ran out of things to say, he wasn’t entirely sure how to greet the gorgeous creature. “Hi.”