Darkness Calling Ch. 02bymadam_noe©
The campus was eerily deserted. Even on vacations and breaks there were still people hanging around, but everyone who was anyone was listening to the great Soren Nightraven speak. Selene would have given her eyeteeth to run after her midterm with everyone else instead of slogging over to the restaurant.
She shared the news with Marcus that the test had been successful and once again refused to call in sick so he could sneak her into the caterer's entrance. Instead she and a few other waitresses ironed tablecloths and napkins, polished silver, and set up for the luncheon.
"So what's the big deal with this guy?" Sharon Lightwind, a second year undergrad, asked Selene.
The older witch raised her eyebrow, surprised Sharon didn't know. "He comes from the most powerful family of witches, he's the highest advisor, and when the head of the COM retires safe money says Soren Nightraven will take his place."
"Hunh. I thought it was 'cause I heard he's hot."
Selene rolled her eyes. "Hot or not it doesn't matter. Anyone in this place with half a brain would kill for an internship with him or a permanent position in his office."
"Hot can't hurt," Sharon said and disappeared into the stockroom.
"Selene! Front and center!" Her boss yelled.
Dropping the iron and napkin Selene trotted over. "Yes?"
"You're the head waiter today so you'll be handling the head table. Drink orders and ferrying. Watch the butter, the rolls, and the cream and sugar. Got it?"
"Y-yes," she sighed out, shocked. She'd been expecting the boss' favorite, Michaela, to get the honor. Now she had the opportunity to hog some face time with Nightraven.
With a bounce in her step Selene zipped through the last of the prep work, daydreaming. Soren Nightraven would be so taken with her calm demeanor and applied knowledge he'd offer her a position right on the spot. She'd graduate, move to the city, and begin a brilliant career. With enough tenure no one would care who she was or where she came from. And perhaps, in time, she'd forget a man made of shadows, a man who set her on fire.
"Fifteen minute warning!" someone shouted and they began to make sure the settings were aligned properly, the food was set, and the carafes were full.
At the mark the doors opened and people began to fill in. Selene was kept busy attending to those who sat at the head table. She was surprised when Professor Whitebloom sat down near the empty guest of honor chair.
"Professor!" Selene exclaimed.
"Oh, Selene, you're only a year younger than me. Call me Sigrid for heaven's sake."
"Sorry, professor, not while I'm on the clock. Coffee?"
"Fine, be that way. Please, and leave room for cream and sugar." She said with a wink and waved a broad brunette over to the table.
Selene poured and checked to make sure everything was set. She did her best to ignore Rhiannon, sitting apart from her parents. Mom and dad were at the end of the head table, Rhiannon was with other rich kids at table four, Sharon's station.
Rhiannon had dark roots and fake blonde hair, deep green eyes she took great pains to line into cat-likeness. She wore a dress that was cut deep enough to show the bottom of a tan line and sparkly enough to draw every eye.
Selene tried to hate her, really tried, but all the girl stirred up was pity. Her parents had long ago poisoned her mind with the nonsense that darker meant purer, and though Rhiannon had lots of natural power she barely had two IQ points to rub together long enough to conjure anything but a glamour spell.
Suddenly everyone was standing and applauding and Selene snapped back into place, ready to pour for the guest of honor. When the crowd began to sit she finally caught a glimpse of Soren Nightraven and her heart stopped.
He was the best looking man she'd ever seen, truly beautiful, beyond handsome. He was beyond description in her mind, though her brain tried to process the details. Cleft chin, square jaw, strong bones, golden hair swept back artfully. Blonde brows, one angled in a cocky manner, framing the most incredible eyes she'd ever seen. They were blue-green, and highly visible because like any level ten witch, they glowed constantly.
Something about him seemed familiar though she'd never laid eyes on Soren Nightraven before in her life. Having heard tales about him she'd assumed he was older, but the tall, broad-shouldered man striding towards her was in his early thirties.
Her heart began again and she tried hard to bury the sudden outcry of her body. Selene knew she should have just brought herself to orgasm the night before but she'd wanted to study instead. Now she was probably going to make a total ass of herself.
He sat and she stepped up beside him, swallowing nervously. "C-c-coff-ff-ffee?"
"Black," he said without looking, instead speaking with the dean. Something in his voice gave her pause, and desire flashed through her.
No, she inwardly groaned, pouring the cup and stepping back. She was not going to be another dog in heat, panting after him. She'd leave that to the Rhiannons of the world. She watched the woman bat her eyelashes and squeeze her breasts together, pouting when Soren didn't even glance.
Selene nearly ran when it was time to collect the salads, frustrated almost beyond control. How could she talk to Soren now? She was bad with men, almost all men, but with men who were handsome she blushed and stuttered. She was fucked.
The salads came out, Marcus came in and winked at her as her heart pounded. "Okay, here we go," she said to herself.
She put the salads down without talking to anyone, and then grabbed the pepper mill. "Pepper?" she asked the Nightstars. They sniffed and nodded like good little rich people. She went over and peppered more salads until she reached Soren.
"Pep-pp-per?" She tried to sound calm but it came out a little squeaky.
He seemed to nod but didn't turn, speaking with the dean deeply still. She went to grind it out and he turned, putting his hand over hers. She felt a spark roll from the light touch over her body, and something low turned over and yawned awake.
Dazed she realized he was staring at her, his eyes glowing like an illuminated ocean. His lips parted and his grip tightened. Selene panicked and jerked her hand back. "S-so s-s-sorry, s-ss-sir."
She moved onto the dean who frowned at her and waved her on. Selene went down the line feeling as if someone was staring holes into her back, until she came to the Whiteblooms.
"Please. Selene, you seem shaken, is everything all right?"
"Actually, I think I feel il-" It hit her then. The spark had felt familiar, something about Soren had felt familiar, more than familiar; it had felt...intimate. The power in him...she opened her senses and sought it out. Instead of the normal taste of power from her mystery man she felt a ping, an instant live connection as if he'd been waiting.
You! The man's voice cried, and it was Soren's voice.
Selene dropped the pepper mill and tore off for the kitchen, her heart racing like a wild rabbit. "Marcus! Tell the boss I'm sick."
He came out from the galley and grabbed her arm. "Lene! Wait, what about the luncheon? Who will cover for you?"
"Michaela can handle it for a moment, the salads were just set. Call Helen, tell her it's an emergency. Look, I have to go."
"What's going on? You're not yourself lately, Lene. Talk to me!"
"Sorry, not now. Call me when you're off."
"I'll do you one better. I'll come over and we'll order pizza in case you 'feel' better."
"Thanks, Marcus." Selene grabbed her coat, clocked out, and took off. What the hell had been going on?! She'd been witness to the private moments of one of the most powerful men? She'd seen his deepest, darkest fantasies, lived them out with him for ten years? Her face burned, her head felt like a cartoon thermometer ready to pop, and the more she thought about it the more she wanted to crawl into a hole.
And now Soren Nightraven knew who she was. Okay, she wanted to die.
The weather turned like her mood, storms were gathering to the west, building. She pulled her hood up just as fat raindrops began to fall and swore. If she took the quickest route off campus to her apartment it meant trees and lightning risks. She had to take the long way.
Wet, heartsick, and scared she trudged along the sidewalk, dodging people spilling from dorms into waiting cars heading for vacation.
"You! Wait!" She heard the voice and picked up her feet into a run, refusing to look back. She'd give anything to have the ability to teleport at that moment. Hell, if it meant human sacrifice she might be willing to deal.
Then Selene hit a wall. What the hell? The path had been clear a moment ago. She backed up and found herself staring at a very wet Soren Nightraven. Before she could run he grabbed her arms tightly and stared her down.
"What is your name?"
She felt her face explode once more. "I d-didn't mean anyth-th-thing. I d-didn't kn-know who I was sp-sp-spying on. I'm s-s-s-sorry."
"I don't want an apology, I want your name."
"Wh-what d-does it mat-t-t-ter? I won't d-d-o it again. I p-promise."
He frowned and looked up at the sky as if noticing the rain. In the blink of an eye the sky cleared and they were dry. The power he wielded was strong and subtle, and left her with the flavor of cinnamon. Her knees almost buckled.
"Don't make me bespell it out of you," he said with obviously thin patience.
"Luna," she blurted out, remembering what he had said in the dream.
He relaxed then and let her go. "Do you know what this means?"
It means I'm screwed, she thought. "Look it was an ac-c-c-ident, al-always an accident. I d-didn't mean anything b-by it."
He touched her face and she flinched from the spark of energy, but when he left his hand there, the world around them melted away until all she saw was him. Beyond the handsome face was a loneliness of endless depth, a hole in his soul that called to her own. This was a man driven by something outside himself until he had lost touch with who he was. She saw the darkness of his power, massive, intense, a storm in a bottle. She tasted cinnamon, saw shadow and candle flame, saw a pain deep inside him.
Selene was a healer and she reached out to touch the loneliness, the pain, to take it from him into herself. Just as her soul nearly found it he broke the spell.
"You're a level one witch. How in the hell can you be a level one witch?"
She lost her temper and with that her shyness. "Look here pretty-boy, we can't all come from high families, breeding children like horses for power. There have to be people at all stations and what kind of spells you can cast do not define you as a person!"
He smiled at her, looking almost boyish despite the suit and the small mustache. "Pretty boy?"
She started to call him arrogant but remembered the power he wielded and groaned inward, realizing she'd shot herself in the foot. Now that he knew "Luna" had been a spy inside his head why would he ever hire Selene Rainn?
She turned away from him and looked around for something to kill herself with. Something preferably sharp and easy to handle.
"Luna, wait. I only asked that because, well, your level of insight, your communication abilities...that's far beyond level one."
She stopped but didn't turn around. "Apparently not."
"Luna, it doesn't matter who you are or who I am. We've been inside each other's heads for years. I feel like you know me better than anyone else and I think I know you. Do you really want to walk away from this?"
"Of course I do!" She turned around. Selene was intimidated by the shadow man in her head, she was scared of Soren Nightraven. Discovering they were one in the same was enough to kill her.
"Please. Just two hours of your time, that's all I ask. We need to find out why this is happening and what we can do to stop it from happening again. I need to get back to lunch but promise me we'll meet."
This wasn't happening, couldn't be happening. But if they could stop it maybe he'd forget her and Luna could die, Selene would just be a stranger.
"All right. Where?"
He smiled and her body tightened in response. "I'll find you." And with that he disappeared, so powerful he didn't even leave green dust, he just popped out of existence.
Selene sat down, afraid she'd pass out.
Soren reappeared in the hallway, and slipped back into the restaurant and his table. Before he could sit he tapped the shoulder of professor Whitebloom. "The, uh, waitress who tore out of here, is her name Luna?"
She smiled up at him. "Close. That's Selene Rainn. She's the one I told you about, helping me with my research into archaic plant spells. She knows more than anyone alive and she'd be a great addition to the COM support staff. Why do you ask?"
He leaned down. "Well, sister dear, she's my soul mate."