The Order Ch. 02bypurefire©
Something told her too look up. Nadia sat silently in the back corner of the library, furiously typing notes she found on Forcas. She spent the night researching everything she could on him on the internet. Being attacked was actually a blessing; she couldn't sleep as visions of her attacker's face haunted her. She saw the twitch of his lips as he pressed the blade against her throat, she smelled the awful stench of his skin, and heard the taunting tone of his voice. She would awake with a scream on her lips, her body dripping with sweat, and her heart on the verge of explosion. After the third dream, she refused to try sleep once more.
So she booted up her computer and researched Forcas. She was glad she did; she learned that because of his shape shifting abilities, he'd spent a large amount of time recruiting humans as workers for The Order of Zebulon. It was rumored that many of the top business of the nation were actually in league with The Order, allowing them the opportunity to control many avenues of human culture.
Forcas also cavorted with many common people, mostly needy college students. They were highly paid to ensure dealings with small business owners were in line with their deal with The Order. Nadia wasn't clear on the technicalities or even if what she read was true, but she knew a lead when she saw one. She hoped that it panned out.
The library was the only place she thought of going after class. She was anxious to get her notes in order so that she could work on the leads. She knew that if one gave her a positive result, it was sure that everything else had to be true. She couldn't stop now.
She did stop, however, when she felt the eyes boring into her. Suddenly hot, she looked up and locked eyes with him. He stood on the other side of the computer desk staring at her in a way that made her clothes feel tighter. It almost hurt to breathe. "Andrae... What are you doing here?"
Andraemalek stared down at Nadia and fought the urge to become upset. She wore the tan jacket again and underneath she wore a thin burgundy t-shirt which split in a deep V. Had she not been wearing what looked to be a white tank top underneath, her breasts would have been on display. As if the tank top covered much of her. Her breasts were high, soft looking, and entirely too luscious for his comfort. Her cleavage made his hands itch. Why did she have to dress so alluringly?
He had to take his mind off her body. He looked down at the piles of books beside her and thought quickly. "Magic and demons are one of my interests."
Nadia hid her surprise. He didn't look like the type to be as entranced in the supernatural as she. "You know a lot about demons?"
For the first time in over one hundred years, Andraemalek found himself smiling. Not the sarcastic knowing smile he wore before a kill, but an actual smile, one that reached his eyes. "I know a few things." He watched as she nodded and noted the sparkle in her eyes. Did he put it there?
Shaking the ridiculous thought out of his head, he looked at the pile of books beside Nadia. "The Order of Zebulon?" This was the perfect opportunity to pick her brain.
Nadia looked at the pile of books and nodded slowly. "Yeah..." She fingered the brown leather cover gingerly and fought the sadness washing over her. If it wasn't for The Order, her parents would still be alive. "I need it for my final paper." She became confused; she didn't want to talk of her work with anyone, least of all Andrae. With those dark, brooding eyes, he made her want to tell him anything he wanted to know. She didn't know him therefore had to watch what she said. It didn't help that she trusted him with her life. How could she not after what he did for her?
Andraemalek watched as she stood and noted the way her hair shifted around her shoulders. Was it too uncomfortable for her to tie it up? "How's your head?"
Nadia looked up at him with wide eyes. She did not want to be reminded of the attack. It made her think of him in her bedroom staring at her hotly. He heart began to pound. Why was he making her so nervous all of a sudden? Slowly, she shifted and faked a smile. "I've had worse." She picked up her bag and three books from the pile. "Don't worry about it." She didn't mean to be rude but she had to leave. She was silent as she walked to the front desk.
Andraemalek felt a wave of satisfaction wash over him when he smelled her nervousness once more. It was different this time; still on the salty side but there was something else... Something fruity. He realized the smell from the night before was mixed in with fear and shock. This was something completely different but he didn't know what it was. He wanted to find out.
He followed her to the front desk. Their conversation wasn't over. "Final paper?" He liked the way her hair hung around her shoulders. Mixed with the light, her hair looked like plums dipped in espresso. He wanted to touch the soft looking locks.
Nadia didn't turn as she continued to walk. "Yeah. I've been working on it all semester." She placed the books on the counter and smiled at Janine, the night librarian and a close acquaintance of hers. "I'll take these three."
Janine shook her head slowly as she scanned the books into the computer database. "Nadia, why not check out something normal like a romance novel or a travel book?"
Nadia smiled at her friend. Janine reminded her of an imp with her short green tipped brown hair, heart shaped face, and big brown eyes. She had a dimple in her left cheek when she smiled, accentuating her look. "Because romance novels and travel books have nothing to do with my final paper." She giggled when Janine shook her head and picked up her books for the evening. It was nearly ten; a half hour later than she intended to stay out. After last night, she would never walk home that late again. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Janine raised a brow when she noticed that the very large man was waiting for her friend. This was interesting, definitely something she would enquire about tomorrow. "Have fun."
Nadia smiled as she strolled toward the door. It was when she saw Andrae's reflection in the mirror that she realized that she wouldn't be leaving alone. "Are you following me?"
Andraemalek waited until they were both outside until he spoke. "Possibly." He watched as she pulled a burgundy hood over her head. He didn't know the shirt was hooded. It both annoyed and pleased him that she covered her hair; on the one hand no other man would be able to see the rich locks. On the other, he wouldn't be able to see them either. He reminded himself that he didn't care about her hair. His goal was to learn what she knew before he killed her. Then he would become the sixth member of The Order. A flimsy human would not ruin his plans.
Nadia nodded slightly as she walked with Andrae. It felt weird to be with him in public. She'd only known him for two days but it was more than enough time for her to realize that he was a dangerous man. He would never hurt her; she could see that in his eyes. But there was a rugged carelessness about him that made her want to know how deep the attribute went. That would only get her into trouble. It was best that she kept things on a distant level. "So how's life at the gym?"
Andraemalek raised a brow as he looked down at her lowered head. She looked at her feet when she walked, he noticed. The trait only added to her innocence. Her nervousness, he was pleased to see, had faded to a dull aroma, overshadowed by the smell of that maddening oil. He concentrated on her question. "It's good." He placed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket and walked silently for a moment. "What's the fascination with The Order of Zebulon? It has to be more than some class assignment."
Without thinking, Nadia answered. "The Order had my parents killed." She looked up at Andrae with wide eyes. She wasn't supposed to tell him that. She wasn't supposed to tell anyone about that. She had to change the subject before he started asking questions. "So you're pretty new around here, huh?"
Andraemalek knew when to stop pushing a subject. He would get what he needed in time. "Yea, I moved in last month." He pulled out his pack of cigarettes and pulled one out. After placing the pack in his pocket once more, he reached for his lighter.
"That's cool." Nadia didn't know what to say. She wasn't used to walking home with anyone. She was sure that he did it to make sure she made it home safely, but it took her out of her comfort zone. Being used to being alone a majority of the time, she'd learned how to remain quiet and say things only when necessary. Walking with Andrae meant she actually had to talk to him, something she both anticipated and dreaded doing. She feared she would say too much, risking her chance of completing her mission.
Andraemalek laughed. "You're such a small talker." Quick and efficiently, he lit his cigarette and took a long drag. It was a pleasant feeling, simply walking with her. She was becoming a mark he would regret killing.
"Hey, I'm trying." Nadia shook her head as she smiled. Talking to him would be easier if he wasn't so attractive. His eyes alone almost made her forget to breathe. "Where are you originally from?"
Why did she have to as such questions? Not one of his other marks asked him questions. None of his other marks lived this long either. He needed to be careful or they would become friends. He couldn't afford to become attached. "Uh... South..."
Nadia frowned. "You don't have an accent." She assumed he spoke of the southern states. If that was the case, he should have had a twang.
"Working with so many people at gyms has helped me lose it." It was a weak excuse but the only one he could think of on such short notice.
"Ok..." Nadia remained quiet. It was an odd reason for a loss of accent but she left it alone. She didn't want things to get awkward. She noticed that they were at their apartment complex and felt a small tug of relief. She wouldn't have to come up with excuses to talk. There was a small part of her that became saddened. She liked being with him, around him. He made her feel safe and acknowledged. They were nice feelings. "Do you want to come in?" She didn't look at him as she fiddled with the books in her hands so that she could pull her keys from her pocket. She quickly unlocked the door then stood against the jamb while she waited for his response.
Andraemalek should have left. By seeming disinterested in her, even after implying that he was, she would push to spend time with him. She'd look for reasons to keep him around, even if it meant talking about things she normally didn't speak of. It was then he would know everything. "Sure." As he put his cigarette out, he cursed himself. He wasn't following his own protocol. What was wrong with him?
Smiling, Nadia stepped back for him to enter. "I left the light on this time." She heard him grunt as he brushed passed her and sighed at his scent. He smelled of smoke, and faintly of shrubbery after it rained. It wasn't feminine in the least, which surprised her; rain always reminded her of flowers. "Make yourself at home." Closing the door, she set her books down. "Do you want something to drink?"
"No, thanks." He watched as she pulled the hood off before she ran her fingers through her hair. It was surprising how such a simple action could make his chest constrict. She walked toward the kitchen, giving him a chance to look at her living room. The room was of medium size, approximately the same size of her bedroom. The pale yellow walls were adorned with pictures much like the ones in her bedroom. The photos were of the neighborhood during the varying seasons of the year. It made him smile inwardly to know that she preferred showcasing her everyday life rather than expensive paintings that held little meaning to her.
To the left were large bay windows that allowed a view of the garden in the quad of the complex. Beneath the window was a large and very plush tan couch littered with throw pillows of various colors. He wondered if there was any room to sit because of the pillows. To the right was the loveseat to match the couch. It too was covered with pillows. Thrown over the back was an orange blanket which clashed with the setting of the room but also served to add a flair of light. Between the two pieces of furniture was a large crème colored area rug. It was the only plain piece of furniture in the room.
Looking straight ahead, Andraemalek found himself looking into the small kitchen. It was separated from the living room by what looked to be a counter, much like the ones found in a diner or a bar. On it was a small bouquet of daisies, a telephone, and a stack of magazines. Nadia knew how to make the most out of the bare essentials.
In the kitchen, Nadia tried to calm her suddenly racing heart. He was in her apartment again. It was up to her to make sure she didn't bore him to death. The fact that they weren't in her bedroom helped matters tremendously. She wouldn't have to worry about the way he looked at her while she sat on her bed.
Preparing herself for what was to come, she walked into the living room with a glass of iced water. "Wow, you're the first guest I've had in over a year." She sat down on the far end of the couch. Resting her arm on the back of the couch, she supported her head with her hand and looked at him. Lord, he was a handsome man.
That was an interesting way to start a conversation, Andraemalek thought. "Who was the last?" He saw something flicker in her eyes before she hardened herself. He knew then that he would not like the story.
Nadia shrugged causally. "Just someone I thought wanted a serious relationship." She took a sip from her glass. "You don't need to hear about that."
"No, tell me." He knew from experience that speaking of personal matters was the first step to telling him everything he wanted to know. He was on the right track.
Nadia took a breath before she spoke. "To understand this you need a little back story." She scratched her head, searching for an easy way to tell her story. "The guys at school call me 'Everest' because I'm the one girl the guys can't sweet talk into bed. A thousand have tried but to no avail. I even had a guy offer to marry me so that he could sleep with me." She shrugged in an effort to ward off the impending pain. "Of course I said no..."
"Of course." Andraemalek wanted to hear it all. He wanted to hear the whole story so that he could get the names of the bastards who hurt her. He would be quick with the kills, he promised himself. The sooner he rid the human world of such scum, the better. He listened closely.
"So I met Earl and he seemed like he was different. Sex was the last thing on his mind and we had fun." Nadia felt herself smile even though she didn't mean it. This was the part she wished she could forget. "Seven months later, he tried to get me into bed but I wasn't ready and he flipped out. It was then I knew that he was just the most patient out of the bunch. I broke it off with him." She remembered the hurt she felt when he walked out the door. She loved Earl, wanted to marry him one day. But he only wanted the impossible. "I guess I should thank him. He reminded me that people usually want one thing from me - the boys, sex, the girls, usually tutoring of some kind. No one ever just wants me." She shrugged again. "Something I have to deal with I suppose." The topic was too morbid. Shaking her head, she looked at Andrae. "I haven't had anyone over until you. And that, I think is a happy thing."
Andraemalek didn't agree. He felt like one of the bastards she spoke of, only he didn't want sex. Not completely. He wanted to know what she knew of demons. In a sense, he was like everyone else. He didn't like that at all. "Where does he live?"
"Who? Earl?" When Andrae nodded, she laughed. "What are you going to do? Knock on his door and beat him to a bloody pulp? It happened a year ago."
"Even still. I'd like to talk to him." And beat the life out of him. What kind of man did such a thing? He was only half demon, but he had more sense than to do such a monstrous thing.
Nadia shook her head. "It's cool. Don't worry about it." She took another sip of her water. "Besides, you aren't some kind of contract killer. Don't act like one."
Andraemalek didn't say anything. She had an odd way of mentioning things about him without knowing how true they were. If he wasn't careful, he would slip.
The sudden tapping on the window had him standing, ready to defend her. He noticed that she stood as well, but she smiled that sunny smile that distracted him. She walked to the window and opened it, pulling in a fluffy white cat in the process. He watched as she cooed and cuddled the feline as she walked to the kitchen and for a moment considered killing the animal. He couldn't stand to have her touch anything else, especially when the unmistakable scent of affection oozed off her. It was sweet, warm and even more intoxicating than her natural scent. He wanted it for himself.
"I've been looking for you." Nadia walked to the kitchen and set the cat on the counter as she prepared a bowl of milk for it. "Andrae, this is Ivory." She placed the bowl before the cat and gave her an affectionate pet before she walked to the living room once more.
Andraemalek watched the cat lap at the milk gingerly before he turned to look at Nadia. Her eyes were bright and happy, he noted. He wondered what he could do to bring that light to her eyes. "Is she yours?"
Nadia shook her head. "No. She belongs to the elderly woman in 3B. The one with the oddly blue hair." She smiled as Ivory jumped from the counter and rushed to her. Unable to resist, she lifted the cat into her arms and kissed its neck. "Who's a pretty girl? That's right, you are."
As Andraemalek watched her, he realized what a kind hearted woman she was. He wanted that kindness fixed on himself. No, that was impossible. He had a mission to complete. Getting attached would complicate things. The last thing he needed was complication. But as he watched her with the cat, he wondered how long he could stretch this one mission.
* * * * *
"You dare to summon me while I am on a mission?" Andraemalek gazed at the ruddy and wary faces of the council members as he stood on the summoning table. This was a close call; not two minutes before the summons had he walked out of Nadia's apartment. He'd decided to leave while she coddled the damned cat; his jealousy steadily mounted the longer he watched her fawn over the animal. He never even bothered to announce his departure; he simply walked to the door, turned to smile at her shocked expression and left. But in reality, he didn't. Andrae found himself standing outside her door, longing for another whiff of her intoxicating scent. How was Nadia so able to affect him?
Andraemalek never got a chance to analyze that question as he suddenly found himself in the presence of the The Order. Immediately, his mood became thunderous. "I was with the human. She could have seen."
"You would have found a way to remedy her problem," Botis replied.
Astaroth noticed the threatening step Andraemalek took toward Botis and immediately worked to remedy the situation. "Andraemalek, pay no mind to him. It has been a month since you have been assigned. What is your progress?"
Andraemalek narrowed his eyes at the leader and glanced at the dank walls of the cavern as he contemplated an answer. He could have easily lied to give himself more time with Nadia, but knowing The Order, they would have assigned someone else to finish the job. Telling the truth, however, would allow them to try to force him to quickly finish the job. "I saved her from an attacker."
"You saved her?" Nebiros asked incredulously. "That was the perfect opportunity to rid ourselves of her annoying existence."