Him & Her

By: Shelby Mitchell

"Yes, yes I would, in a heartbeat," I promise, holding up three fingers like a Boy Scout. “There is no way I'm going to sit idly by when I know you could be out here alone and vulnerable. This thing," I wave my hand at her busted camper, "is no defense against the low life scum or rapists if they decide they want in here." I can tell she's processing my argument. Good, I want her to rethink this cockamamie idea of staying in this trap.

"So what do you propose instead, Captain Save the World, aka great hope of us all?" Her sarcasm is sexy as hell. Yeah, I like Nori, a lot. She's someone different—refreshing.

"I propose that if you won't be my chef, then at least come spend the night or a few as my guest, in my guest room.” She looks contemplative. “I've got more than enough space and you'd have the run of that area. It's on the ground level and my sleeping quarters are upstairs, so there's no reason for me to be in your way. What do you say?" This ambitious proposal has tumbled out my mouth before I have time to think it through but it feels right.

This is a first. I can see a little bit of hesitation. There's no quick comeback, just reflective thought happening behind those beautiful deep pools of chocolate she has for eyes. That special look of hers that grabbed me earlier today is back as she looks away in thought. It’s feminine, determined and… exhausted. The look of unrestrained vulnerability overshadows her facade and makes my heart clench. Finally she sees the potential danger of being out here alone and hopefully that she’s not alone. She’s got me to help her now.

But in a second it’s gone, replaced with a steely resolve.

“Ha! You arrogant, narrow-sighted bastard.” She chuckles low in her chest shaking her head as curly ringlets move in reaction. “I’m not your latest charity case you can parade around to make yourself feel good. You better go rescue your own life, and take several seats where I’m concerned, because I’m not having it. You can’t order me around and you’re not the boss of me. What makes you think I can’t take care of myself anyway? I’ve been successfully doing it for twenty-eight years. You’ve got some nerve. How dare you get all high and mighty on what you can’t tolerate where I’m concerned?” Her response sets me back. I thought she understood the danger. Instead I’ve managed to set off a powder keg of calculated indignation, precisely directed at me.

On top of that, her rebuttal is eerily calm and smooth but dangerous with promise of action. Nori is not like any woman I’ve ever encountered. There’s not a single highly emotional gyration to be seen, almost too calm. Oh…she’s a warrior—no more like a lioness—expending only the energy it takes to subdue her prey. And I feel like I’m locked into her sights now. What is she going to do next? She takes her time sizing up my reaction, but I refuse to betray a single indicator. With a shake of her head as if she doesn’t think I’m worth another thought, she says, “Take your Dudley Do Right ass back to wherever you came from and let me the hell alone.”

But I won’t back down, not on this. She’s in real danger and I’m not sure she realizes just how much. This is a seedy part of town after dark. She’s been lucky, but luck runs out sooner or later. And, I have to admit, there’s something pleasurable about verbally sparring with her that excites me like little has in a long time.

“Nori, I’m serious about calling the cops. I can’t bear to know you’re out here in such a dangerous place.” I lower my voice an octave for emphasis and say, “Don’t call my bluff on this one.” I stare back up at her in direct defiance, fully intent on translating just how serious I am.

“No? How about I call the cops on you pretty boy.”

“Go ahead. Call them and tell them what? That you’re trespassing on private property while…” I look around to make sure my suspicions are right, “illegally tapping into the property’s power supply? Yeah, I noticed the electric generator and know there aren’t any proper docking stations back here for power. I hate to be the bearer of news you don’t want to hear, but either you give me solid proof you have somewhere safe to go tonight or you take me up on my offer. I’ll even be happy to let you call the cops on my phone,” I say waving my cellphone in the air to mock her.

Top Books