A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.


Poppins’ Return

Chapter 5 – After dinner mints

That night, Marly surprised me yet again. We decided to pick it up after dinner, which in the Brightly House was mostly formal with a hint of down-home relaxation mixed in. Grandma thought of dinner as the Holy Grail of meals, so if you were present at the table, you behaved yourself or the wrath of God would strike you dead where you sat. She had rules. Big, broad-spectrum rules of the kind that would change your life if you weren’t careful. They were things like, no “shop-talk,” which consisted of anything and everything that excluded anyone else at the table due to the technical nature of the topic in discussion. No talk about war, which was pretty easy right now. It must have been a real bitch in Gran’s day. Dinner was a time for happy discussions and “catching up” on family news, and that’s how she would police it.

Having it in my mind that if I was at all serious about Marly, which it seemed I was, that sooner or later I was going to have to ask her to dinner at the family table. Most of the time, there was somebody from the upper floors joining us at dinner, either because they were asked to by Gran (an offer you simply can’t refuse) or they were low on cash and could use a hot, free meal. Having your manners checked by an old pro was a small price to pay for Grandma Brightly’s cooking, which by most people’s standard would qualify her to teach at some of the best culinary arts schools in the country… That is, so long as they only taught cooking for meals with at least a million calories per serving. Her stuff was a bit heavy. Which for me, and most active college students, was just dandy. Sitting down at Gran’s table insured that you would walk away (or waddle) with enough food in your belly to last you through the rest of the semester. Tonight, however, it was the three of us.

I was terribly distraught that the hard-handed table ethics, and the mass-quantities of arterial-nightmare food would scare Marly half out of her wits. I need not have worried. From the way the two of them fell into step, you would think that I was the outsider and she was the one who had been doing this sort of thing all her life. By the time Gran had pronounced a quick grace for the food, I was seriously considering the possibility that the two of them had arranged the whole thing ahead of time and were just waiting for me to get a clue.

Marly’s table manners were just as crisp as Gran’s, and perhaps a little bit more current. I could tell that my matriarch was well pleased in my choice of companions, and the smile on her face through most of the meal was so wide I thought her cheeks would crack. Where I expected my date to take a “petite” portion of certain foods, she simply piled them on like she was putting together a scene from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Damned if she didn’t fork down every morsel.

After dinner, we sat around and gabbed about this and that, ate about an entire pie each, and then helped Gran clear the table. She snagged my elbow while Marly was in the kitchen at one point and said in a hushed tone, “Don’t you dare let this one slip by, Mark…” I took it to be her blessing.

Back in her room, Marly was all business again. Which, in her case IS a pleasure, so she could have been tutoring me in advanced flower arrangement and I would have done my very best to pay close and alert attention. As it was, her choice of topics was damn interesting indeed.

“I need you to know, Mark, that even though my goal is to guide you to do certain things at just the right times, and protect you from the outside, you need to try to keep your life as normal as possible. The second that it looks like you are in cahoots with me, there will be opposition.”

“Opposition? You mean like terrorists or something?” I took my seat at her table again. She remained standing.

“Well, not exactly, but terrorist is a pretty good description actually. They have and will be watching me, and when they know for certain that you have agreed to work with me, you will become a target. You can expect attacks on several different levels…”

“Wait a second!” I whined. “What do you mean by target?? Are these people going to try and kill me? If that’s the case, I’m not so sure I want to jump into your revolution so quickly!”

I knew I had said something that upset her by the way her lips became a thin line of pressed pink flesh. She was silent for almost a minute, eyeing me the whole time, before she opened her mouth again.

“If you want me to go, I will. It still may not be too late. The trajectories of history may yet carry you in a safe direction. I’ll pack my things and be out of here by morning.”

I blinked. “You don’t have to do that,” I said meekly. Anger rose up in her cheeks and her face became dark and fearsome.

“Yes, Mark. I do. If I stay here, even another night, it is almost a certainty that your life will be in danger without my help. It may already be set in motion, in which case my leaving will probably sign your death warrant. I’ll do what I can, if that’s the case, but I doubt you will survive the semester.”

“You’re serious…”

“Damn right.”

Now it was my turn to be silent. What the hell was I dealing with here? Either this woman who I had just met was certifiably insane, or she was telling me the truth and I was going to have to rethink the world around me in a big way. It didn’t help that she was perhaps the sexiest female I had ever met in my pubescent life, nor the fact that she was incredibly bright. Listening to her go on with Gran at dinner had left me in awe. Marly was fluent in at least four other languages, and had a profound knowledge of history that would leave most college professors shaking in fear for their jobs. As far as I could tell, she was a few years younger than I was, and she wasn’t even currently in school. So was she just naturally brilliant? These thoughts, and many others were tumbling around in my head until all at once, several important bits of information fell together in a certain way and formed what amounted to an idea. The idea sucked in more bits of data, and tumbled some more, until all at once it vomited from my mouth.

“You’re an Adapt,” I stated flatly.

She was visibly taken aback.

“Yes…” Her voice took on a pained expression as though it had just been revealed that she was a leper or something.

I nodded. “And you work for the benevolent beings that you mentioned earlier.”

“Yes.” She said again, this time a little quieter.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly through my nose. I looked down at the floor in front of me, considering what I could be setting myself up for and what it meant for my future. I also considered what my Grandmother said to me after dinner, and what she would do to me if Marly suddenly up and left. When I spoke, I was still staring at the floor, wondering if it was still too late to enroll in an overseas college extension class.

“Okay. I’m in. You were talking about different levels of…”

Suddenly, she was in my lap, her arms wrapped around my head as she kissed me deeply and passionately. I was stunned, but not so much that I fought it in the slightest, and pretty soon I decided that suffocation by kissing Marly wouldn’t be such a bad way to end one’s life. Then it was over and she was once again in the middle of the room, smoothing down her skirt and trying to look like it had never happened. Which she might have been able to pull off if it were not for the bright red glow that burned her pale skin from head to toe.

Smiling, I let myself indulge in a moment of private fantasy. Yes, sir! The coming days were definitely going to be interesting.

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