She stared at me for many moments, grinning without baring any of her teeth. I felt captivated and almost mesmerized by her eyes. They didn’t pierce through me. Her pupils focused on mine. She saw me. She really saw me.
“What is it you like to do for fun?” she asked.
I hadn’t ever been asked that question. I didn’t know how to answer it. Fun wasn’t something that came naturally to me, nor was it something I felt often. My throat locked up, and I found myself unable to answer. I just shook my head to suggest I didn’t know what to say.
“Hobbies?” she added with a snort.
“Drink,” I muttered. “I like to drink.”
Her smile slightly faded as she took a deep drag from the cigarette she took from me. Her eyes never left mine. She only managed to blink once during the entire exchange.
“Me too,” she said, raising the bottle to her lips.
Her tongue slid from her mouth and onto her bottom lip just before she pressed the glass rim to it. She tilted the bottle, her eyes still fixed on mine, and poured a generous amount into her mouth.
When she removed the bottle, her cheeks inflated from the large volume of whiskey in her mouth. She inhaled deeply, swallowing every last drop before she took another drag from the cigarette.
“What am I watching?” Jealousy asked, squinting at her with confusion.
“Mortals call it the art of seduction, Jelly,” Hatred answered. “From this end, it looks ridiculous.”
“Agreed. Din, you’re not actually into this, are you?” Jealousy asked me.
“What do you think? Look at him,” Hatred snapped. “He can’t keep his eyes off her.”
I ignored them. She intrigued me. There was no doubting that, but I didn’t feel any lure or feelings of lust. There was an undeniable pull, one that I didn’t want to ignore.
The only pull I had felt throughout my existence was from strong feelings of hate, jealousy, rage, and anger. It’s what led me to that liar as he bled to death in the snow. But now, I feel something different and so much stronger. I want to know more about her.
“What about you?” I asked. “What do you like?”
“I’m a simple gal,” she answered. “I enjoy the outdoors, the feeling I get when I fire my gun, long drives, and sometimes I like the company of a strong man.”
I stared at her as she gave me her answer. What she said felt calculated, and I got the feeling she didn’t really enjoy those things.
She burst into laughter and walked over to the fire. My minions stared at her in bewilderment, as puzzled by her sudden shift in demeanor as I was.
“You really are a different kind of guy, aren’t you?” she said, sitting down on the floor. “I can’t get a read on you. Even when I did my seductive, doe-eyed routine, you didn’t even twitch.”
“And that’s funny to you?” I asked, trying to hide my anger after she admitted she attempted to play me.
“Oh, don’t be like that, Dinlas,” she replied, leaning back on her elbows to tilt herself closer to the fire. “It wasn’t personal. I just had to be sure you’re as honest and good as you appear to be.”
“And I passed?”
“With flying colors, choirboy,” she said, flicking the cigarette butt into the flame. “Had you made a pass at me, it wouldn’t have ended well for you.”
“Right,” I dismissed, gesturing for her to throw me the bottle. She tossed the bottle over, and I took a good swig until I felt my nerves had calmed down enough to continue our exchange.
My feelings were still the same. I was still intrigued by her, and she had stirred something up inside of me that I had never felt before. It bothered my minions to the point they agreed with each other, and it put my mind at ease, giving me an unnatural peace within my storm-filled mind.
“In all seriousness, do you have family?” she asked sincerely.
“I do,” I answered.
“Are you close?”
“Are your parents still alive?” she inquired.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Where are they?”
“Far from here.”
“And that’s how you want it?” she said.
“It’s how I need it,” I said, lighting another cigarette.
“I’m getting the sense that you’re running from them or something,” she said, peering at me through the dull light from the fireplace.
“I’m not running from anything,” I said, blowing smoke in her direction. I didn’t like that. I’m not weak, and I don’t run.
“But you had to get away from something?”
“Pretty much. Look, I appreciate you wanting to get to know me, but it feels more like an interrogation and less like a questionnaire. I thought we took care of that earlier.”
“We did, in a way, but I’m sorry if I’m making the strange man feel uncomfortable,” she mocked. “The same strange man that tells me half-truths and has remarkable gifts. You can appreciate me trying to assess the situation in a way that makes me feel safe.”
“Maybe she’d feel better if she had her gun,” Jealousy added.
“Who cares?” Hatred growled.
Jealousy stood up and walked over to me. “You know what I say we do, Din?” he said. “When she falls asleep, we should leave her here and continue on the road. Leave this mortal here. She has nothing to do with us.”
“I agree with Jelly,” Hatred said, walking over from the couch. “You feel different, and I’m sensing weird things. I don’t like it.”
I kept my eyes on Samantha. She was already on high alert, and I didn’t need to start talking to things that weren’t there.
“Would it make you feel better if we do something to help pass the time? Something that would keep me at a distance?”
“I’m sure this house has a deck of cards,” I answered, standing to my feet. “We could play poker.”
Her eyes narrowed at me. I could tell the thought or idea of playing cards with me piqued her interest.
“What would we be playing for?” she asked.
“I’ll leave that up to you,” I replied.
“What are you doing, Dinlas!?” Hatred snapped.
“Now, that is really not a good idea, Din,” Jealousy grumbled.
“We play for answers,” she advised. “When I win a hand, you answer my question honestly, without holding back.”