The Curse Mark: Chapter Seven

A MOON AT STAKE:  ADRIENNE CYNZIA

When Adrienne woke up the next morning, Cara de Vries had managed to become shoved to the very back of her mind, becoming the least of her worries even though she should have been the most concerning problem in Adrienne’s bank of future disasters to come.  However, even though the sun was gloriously baking Adrienne as she lay in her bed, unwilling to force herself to complete her daily pre-bar opening routine, Adrienne could only think about the events of the night before.  She was here.  Selene was here, or as she went by here, Cynthia Kaminski, well known model.

Groaning, she rubbed her temples, blinking up at the plain cream ceiling.  Part of the ceiling was peeling to her left, tucked away in a corner that it was almost barely noticeable.  If you weren’t lying on the bed like Adrienne was, you wouldn’t have noticed it.  But right now, all Adrienne seemed to want to do was to stare at this imperfection on her ceiling.  Stare and stare until it became the bane of her existence forcing her out of her bed and into work clothes.  She wanted this imperfection gone, and while she wasn’t much of a handyman, she could fix a wall. It couldn’t be that hard.  So long as it was fixed, and the blemish was finally gone after living here for such a long time.

This was how Algor Rosenberg found her a few hours later when he arrived at the bar to help with the pre-bar opening routine.  He had just walked in downstairs when he heard a string of angry French swear words explode from above, and with one glance around, it was obvious that there was no one else around.  With no other indication of any other living soul within the building, Algor took it as Adrienne getting mad over some home project or another.   This was unusual, since Adrienne rarely partook in personal home projects alone, let alone by herself.  They were just not something she was good at, yet, Algor had come to realise the woman only reacted in such a way when she was piss mad at something, or distracted, or had a mind that felt like it was going to explode.  Whichever of those reasons were currently preoccupying her mind, Algor hoped that it wasn’t all three.

He was wrong.

And when he walked upstairs and into her room, invading Adrienne’s personal space, all he could say was, “whoa…”

Adrienne’s room, a place he was absolutely forbidden to go, and had only been once (the time in which he had been forbidden), was no longer much of a bedroom anymore.  Furniture had been covered in plastic and sheets, there was dust everywhere, and plaster—or was that paint?—coating every surface, and crouching on a ladder, on one side of the room was Adrienne holding a scraper.  Whatever she was doing, Algor was a hundred per cent sure that she was doing it wrong.

The scraper scratched along the ceiling, sending Adrienne forward.  She had been working all morning like this, and for most of the time she had managed to keep her balance, but this time, she was out of luck, since without realising, she was careering forwards, following through with the scraping action that had missed, and was now facing a night resting in bed with a broken neck if she was lucky.  Letting out a scream, she closed her eyes and wished that one of the powers she had when she chose mortalhood had been telekinesis or some kind of ability that would allow her to catch her fall.  But as it was, that wasn’t the case, and with no such physical ability, her arms were braced in front of her face, waiting for the impact.

But it never came.  Clichéd as it was, she landed with a soft thump and a groan.  Groan?  Adrienne had not thought her groan could be that deep, and it took her a moment to realise why. Lying below her, acting like her own personal cushion and landing mat was her bartender and only employee.

“What the hell are you doing here!” She growled, sitting up and looking down at him angrily.

“Saving your life apparently, I thought it was polite to thank the person who does that.”  Algor just glared at her.   “Can you get off me now?”

Adrienne pushed herself off him.  “Where’s my scraper?”  She muttered to herself, looking around.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said dryly eyeing the tool that had been embedded into the wood through the dust cloth that protected the floor centimetres from the side of his head.

Seeing it, Adrienne yanked it out of the floor, and said, sitting on the ground next to him looking exhausted, “what are you doing up here?”

“How long have you been working on this?” He asked inspecting the ceiling.

“What are you doing up here?” Adrienne sighed.  I am not going to get irritated over him invading my private space.  I’m definitely not…

“Looks like all morning,” Algor said, answering his own question and completely ignoring hers.

This should irritate Adrienne if she was as young as he was, but she wasn’t, and she knew better than to let him get to her.  But Algor seemed to enjoy working his way under her skin whether purposefully or not, Adrienne would like to know.

“Shouldn’t you have seen this happening?” He asked as though she had not just given him the silent treatment.

“I don’t see things like that,” she said, faint annoyance showing in her voice.

“Sure you don’t,” his voice was light with laughter.  Mocking her.  How wonderful.

Glaring at him, Adrienne pushed herself off the ground, “what are you doing here?” She felt like she was repeating herself, but well, at least she hadn’t asked him why he was in her room again.  Hand on ladder step, already hauling herself up, she gingerly climbed back up.  Adrienne wasn’t afraid of heights, she was just afraid of falling.

“I have learnt how to swear in French, and wanted to demonstrate it,” he said looking innocently up at her.  This made Adrienne scowl and almost lose her footing.  She felt her foot slip along the metal step and the muscles in her face shifted pulling at the brows and at the corner of her mouth. Oh no.  Refusing to fall again, Adrienne grabbed on tighter to the ladder and took another step up.

“I can do that for you,” he offered.

Adrienne sniffed, “I can do it myself,” she said.

“Can you do everything yourself?”

“Yes,” she didn’t think twice before answering and wished she hadn’t.  She’d caught the innuendo too late, and looking down at him, she glared at him.  “Shut up.”

Algor let out a small laugh, as he looked up at Adrienne in her white marked black clothes appreciatively.  “Oh no, you can’t take that back now.”

She smirked at him, not going to let him get the better of her, again, and said, “I wouldn’t, it’s true, some things are better done by oneself.”

“Sure, it might feel good and be better, but a tango with two is more fun to watch than a tango with one,” he said, leaning back.

Adrienne just looked down at him, her eyes most likely smouldering with dislike.  And yet, there was amusement in her eyes, no doubt making them shine brightly.  For as long as Al had been working for her, Adrienne found that there was hardly a day where she would roll her eyes in boredom.  There was also the fact that even in her moodiest of moods, Al hardly blinked an eye.  She liked to think that it wasn’t just because she had offered him asylum by letting him work in her bar.  But still, she narrowed her eyes at him and made sure he knew that she was a kind and generous person for letting him work in her bar despite his big mouth.  Lifting a foot, she meant to climb up another step, when she slipped.

Thump.

Damn it.

“Saving your life again,” Algor huffed from below her.  His arm was around Adrienne’s waist, and Adrienne was looking up at the messed up ceiling.  She would be lying if she said she disliked the closeness, but she was not used to it.  It had been a while since anyone had put their arms around her waist.

“I think I’ll call a handyman for this,” she said.

“Good idea, I didn’t think my pay covered rescues.”

“Shut up.”

“I know a guy who can help,” he said after a few minutes of silence in which Adrienne accepted defeat.  And in accepting defeat, she knew next she would have to go and face Selene once more.  Honestly, no matter where she went, she could not seem to shake the woman off her trail.

“Yeah, that’s nice,” she replied, suddenly feeling extremely exhausted.  Letting out a sigh, she wiped hair off her forehead.  “I didn’t think you had friends.”

“Tch, I have more than you know.” Adrienne felt him shift beneath her.  “You’re heavy.”

“How rude.” She was insulted, but being a rather rational being, she was highly aware of her weight in comparison to his.

“It’s true,” he mumbled against the back of her neck.

Lifting her arm, Adrienne turned it several times over to spin the clock face of the wristwatch on there to face her.  Seeing the time, she groaned, for a woman of her age, even she had things she did not want to do.  Spending another night manning the bar in which Selene would most likely turn up once more, was not a night she would enjoy.

She felt Al put his head next to hers and peer at the wristwatch before huffing lightly, blowing cool air over her shoulder.  “That time again.”

“Yeah.”  Adrienne forced herself to sit up and shifted off him.  “That time of the day again…”

Last night after Selene had turned up, she had left with a few words.  Adrienne thought she would stay, but the woman surprised her.  If it weren’t for that mean glint in her green eyes, Adrienne might have been more willing to hope that she would be leaving her bar forever.  But of course not, that woman, for many years had done nothing but follow Adrienne around pointlessly bringing up old arguments.  Arguments no longer relevant in this day and age, and in this form and shape of theirs. The last time Selene had found her was around a decade ago when Adrienne has been phasing from her modelling career to her current one, bar owner.  Even though she had made it pretty far in the public sphere, Adrienne had gotten tired of the cameras and the eyes always watching her, and thus had wanted to end her career before she stepped onto the international stage.

There weren’t many people in Riverton who knew the true nature of Adrienne Cynzia.  Only a handful was aware that Adrienne was once a Titan Goddess.  That handful included Cara de Vries and Ichirou Yoshida.  Algor did not know, not entirely.  If he guessed, he didn’t let it show.  What difference, she wondered, would knowing that she was a former Titan Goddess make to his life?

Looking over at Al, she considered him.   He had sought sanctuary with her from his own kind and while she wouldn’t always do such a thing, she had granted it to him.   Adrienne had not forgotten when he had come to her, after all, it was perhaps the most arrogant request she had ever gotten.  At the same time, it was nice to know that afterwards, his personality didn’t change.

“You need to shave,” she said, her eyes drawn to the shadow over his jaw.

Rolling her neck, she sighed, “and I need to get to work.” Thinking about what she had to do for the week, she realised she needed to take an inventory of her stock as soon as possible.  Groaning again, Adrienne fell back, lying flat across his stomach, her head top resting on the ground on the other side.   Even if this was her choice, that didn’t mean she wanted to do it.

When Al laughed, Adrienne felt the amusement in his stomach heaving her up and down a bit.  She turned her head to look at him.  He was somehow leaning up leaning back on his elbows so Adrienne got a good look at him.  With tufts of short dark hair sticking out a various angles, it took Adrienne a moment to realise he must have just woken up before he had come to work.  It was kind of adorable, but he was still so much a child.  Just like Cara de Vries was to her.  Too young.  Why was everyone so young compared to her?

Sitting back up, and straightening her tank top, Adrienne stood up.  She turned on her heel and heading to her bathroom, she called after herself to Al, “get out of my room.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Even though his answer was incorrigible and impudent as always, a smile tugged at her lips.

“If Cara de Vries turns up in my bar again, call me, okay?” She said popping her head back in her room, her fingers running through her hair, untangling it while looking down at him.

“And what about that other chick?”

By other chick, he means Selene, doesn’t he? She thought looking away from him, hitting a bad knot in her hair, and wondered if she should pretend he didn’t know what he was talking about.

“Tall, attractive, alluring green-gold eyes, has that same mysterious aura as you…” Al said, watching her carefully.

“She is nothing like me.” Adrienne looked back at him, aware of the emphasised accent lilting her words.  When she was annoyed, it happened.  Why did it feel like she knew he was going to know what the emphasised accent meant?  “Tell me if she arrives too.” Turning away, she added, “but don’t be lured in by her.”

Click Here:  Chapter One: The Devil’s Children/Cara de Vries

Click Here:  Chapter Two: A Moon At Stake/Adrienne Cynzia

Click Here: Chapter Three: Can Angels Lie?/Lennox Vanderwerken

Click Here: Chapter Four: Why We Fall/Blayke Feray

Click Here: Chapter Five: Murderous Intentions/Kenichi Ai Gravitas

Click Here: Chapter Six: The Devil’s Children/Cara de Vries

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