Solo Stranger Things Have Happened

Shiress meets a handsome stranger

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

Stranger Things Have Happened

Postby Shiress on May 9th, 2021, 5:54 pm

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"His name is Ryhrtwynonolen."

Shiress squeaked and spun around, hand planted firmly over her racing heart.

Her mother grinned, stepping away from the window that Shiress had been staring through, leaving Shiress to scowl at her retreating back.

"Rhy-heart-win-none-a-len?" Shiress attempted, frowned, then shook her head. "How do you even pronounce that?"

Lorna shrugged her rounded shoulders, "No idea." she admitted and grinned "Maybe that's why he said to call him Nolen"

Shiress's frown turned on her mother "You could have just said that." she muttered.

Shiress stepped away from the window and joined her mother at the table where Lorna sat, snapping green beans. Shiress pulled a mound of the beans toward her and began snapping them. After several ticks of silence, she tilted her head and cleared her throat sheepishly.

"Why is he here again?" she asked, tossing a handful of the snapped beans into a huge bowl in the middle of the table.

With her face still angled downward, Lorna did her best not to smile knowingly. "With your father having to return to Syliras to continue his work with the Knight's fleet, he hired Nolen to do some work around the cottage." she shrugged, tossing her finished beans into the bowl. "Mending the fence, patching the roof...stuff of that nature."

Another bout of tense silence, then...

"For how long?" Shiress asked.

Lorna did look up then, grinning knowingly. "A fortnight, maybe longer." she answered, grin widening.

"Oh, stop looking at me like that!"

"Why?" Lorna said, grin morphing into a smirk "He hasn't stopped looking at you since he started working here."

"I'm sure you exaggerate." Shiress glanced toward the window, something sad and resigned, crossing over her features "There's a city full of eligible women out there, ones a lot younger and prettier than me and without kids."

Hands stilling, Lorna studied her daughter with a look of pure exasperation and let out a long sigh. Shiress glanced up, did a double-take at the look she was being given, then shrugged her shoulders.

"What? It's true."

Lorna shook her head, "No, Shiress, it is not true." she paused, studying Shiress before adding, "You're just too busy pining over Caspian to notice."

Shiress's face jerked up with a look of shock aimed at her mother.

"W-what-" she stammered, beans forgotten. "What do you mean? Im not-"

"You are!" Lorna asserted, slicing through Shiress's denial "You don't think I see how you look at him?" Lorna grimaced, going back to her bean snapping. "Staring at him all the time with a look like someone just kicked your puppy. Constantly finding any reason you can to stand near him, to touch him." Lorna frowned across the table at Shiress, one eyebrow arching in challenge. "Leaving the room anytime he mentions the name Rohka."

Shiress looked away. "I do not!" she said petulantly.

"You do, and you are wasting your time on a man who does not, and will never, return your feelings, Shi."

Shiress said nothing, only redoubled her efforts snapping beans, but Lorna saw the tears that had sprung to her daughter's eyes. She shook her head with another sigh, deciding to let the subject drop, but couldn't help but add...

"Nolen takes his shirt off anytime you are home, you know."

Any irritated reply that Shiress was about to give was interrupted by a knock on the door. She flew from the chair, thankful for the interruption, and slung the door open. Had Shiress not been so preoccupied with the conversation she and her mother had just had, she probably would have expected the knock to be the man from outside, but, as it was, the sight before her still shocked her into silence as her mouth unhinged to form a small O.

Ryhrtwynonolen, or Nolen, stood in the doorway. Up close, the man was even more gorgeous than Shiress had first thought, spying him through the window.

Nolen was tall. Very tall. With dark hair that curled at its lighter, sunkissed tips, framing chiseled cheeks, a straight, thin nose, a slightly dimpled chin, currently covered in a dark dusting of stubble, and wide plump lips. Shiress's gaze zeroed in on those lips before sliding ever so slowly south, gliding over tanned skin that dipped and peaked over defined muscles. Nolen wasn't overly muscled, unlike those guys Shiress sees down on the beach hefting heavy logs and thick metal chains.

No, Nolen's musculature was from hard-earned labor, honed and hard in all the right places; even the man's flat stomach, which reminded Shiress of her mother's washboard, with its peaks and valleys. Her emerald eyes followed that path of peaks and valleys down over slender hips to the V between, where a thin patch of dark hair started at his navel and dipped down to...Shiress licked her lips, snapping her eyes back up where they belonged.

Nolen smiled down at her, knowingly, his deep brown eyes only then returning to her's after their own perusal, pinning Shiress firmly where she stood.

"Hello." he said, dipping his chin in a slight nod.

God's, even the man's voice was gorgeous, soft and smooth like silk flowing over skin.

"I'm Nolen." he said.

Nolen reached for Shiress's hand and lifted it to his mouth, pressing his lips to the tips of her knuckles, smiling against them.

"And you are?"

"Mesmerized" she thought.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Stranger Things Have Happened

Postby Shiress on May 11th, 2021, 3:31 pm

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"Ah," Nolen thought, "this is going to be easier than I thought."

Nolen let Shiress's hand drop and straightened to his full height, letting his fingers linger on her's just long enough for Shiress to notice before letting go completely and stepping back.

Shiress blinked up at him, smiling crookedly.

"I'm Shiress." she replied "It's nice to meet you."

"Likewise." he replied, smile widening.

"Was there something you needed?" Lorna's amused voice cut through the awkward introduction.

Nolen's gaze slowly drifted Lorna's way, his attention lingering behind as he gave a quick shake of his head as if to clear his thoughts.

"Oh, yes, my apologies," he said, lifting his left hand before him, "I was wondering if I might borrow a bandage." He turned his palm up, revealing a long crimson line of blood trailing from the top of his palm to his thumb. "I had a bit of an accident."

It was Shiress, then, who jerked as if startled, reaching for his hand, the lust haze that she had appeared to be lost in seeming to evaporate instantly.

Interesting.

Nolen let the young woman lead him to the table and lowered himself into the chair she indicated. He watched Shiress closely as she darted about, gathering a bowl, cloth, and some folded, white bandages, contemplating his next move. Initially, Nolen had assessed the single mother as an effortless target; stereotypically lonely and starved for attention, one to be easily seduced, used, and directed, but the more he watched Shiress, the more he was sure his challenge grew.

Shiress was not a beautiful woman, not by Nolen's standards anyway, and seemed not to hold much use for the everyday beauty routines the ladies in Nolen's past had. However, still, there was something about the Zeltivan that did seem...striking, if not beautiful. Oh, she wasn't ugly, not by any means, with her long chestnut hair that Nolen was sure would reach past her well curved hips if not for the messy knot that held it to the back of her head. Shiress wasn't overly thin, either, something Nolen appreciated, and couldn't help but admire the slender waist that tapered down to her well-rounded ass and full thighs.

Shiress turned toward him, and Nolen dropped his scrutinizing gaze down to his hand, upturned against the tabletop in front of him. Shiress dragged a chair around the length of the table and sat close, reaching for his hand. Dipping the edge of the cloth into the bowl of water, she began to gently clean the blood from the wound that may or may not have been intentionally inflicted to garner his way inside.

From behind him came the sound of a high-pitched squeal that quickly devolved into whimpers and the sound of fabric rustling as Lorna crossed the room.

"I'll see to him." Lorna called, footsteps receding from the room.

"Ian, right?" Nolen said carefully, watching Shiress closely. Green eyes flicked up to his, their pupils visibly contracting to tiny pinpoints.

Protective.

Noted.

"Your father." Nolen commented, answering the unasked question in that suddenly wary gaze. "He told me about your son." Nolen smiled disarmingly, adding "He told me a great deal about you, actually."

Another glance from the woman across from him, but this time it was accompanied by a shy tilt of her full lips.

"Did he?" she questioned, eyes lingering on his a tick before dropping back to her work.

Nolen nodded. "He did, though not that much, I admit. Only that you're a doctor and have a son, Ian, and that you and his father, a soldier I believe, are estranged and that you've only recently returned to Zeltiva from Ravok, three friends in tow."

Shiress's eyes remained downcast this time, though Nolen could tell her thoughts had just vacated the room. After a long moment, she finally spoke, her voice soft.

"Elias was Ebonstryfe, and we are not estranged." A hardness entered her voice then, surprising Nolen. "He's missing. Has been for quite a few seasons. As far as my friends," she glanced up toward the loft. "You've probably seen two of them around. Caspian and his sister Taalviel. Good friends. We've been through a lot together, and I care deeply for them."

That was it. Shiress went silent, deft hands wrapping a bandage around the wound on his. Protective of even her friends, it seemed, not to mention her missing lover.

Ebonstryfe. Something omitted in his information, though an oversight or deliberate, Nolen wasn't sure.

As to not wear out his welcome, he could see Shiress shutting down, he refrained from asking anything further, Nolen instead took mental note of the cottage's layout, where Ian slept, where Shiress slept -probably in the same room-, what rooms had windows and which didn't. He already knew Josiah would be in Syliras a few more weeks and knew of Lorna's weekly visits to friends and the orphanage. Shiress, though, she was one he needed to familiarize himself with, along with her friends, Caspian especially. There was something....slippery about that one.

Shiress stood, gathering up the supplies from the table, and Nolen also stood, stepping close, a deliberate invasion of personal space. He waited, taking in the hitch in her breath, the pulse point at her neck as her heart rate soared, and when she lifted hesitant eyes, he lifted a hand and plucked the pin from Shiress's hair, causing it to dance free and fall down the length of her back and over her slender shoulders. Boldly, he let two fingers glide through the silky locks as his hand lowered.

"Much better." he purred, knowing the words could be taken as a reference to her appearance or the bandaged hand that he idly held up. He'd let her decide. "Thank you."

Nolen turned for the door, making sure Dr. Shi couldn't see the sinister smile spreading across his lips.

Hook

Line

And sinker.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Stranger Things Have Happened

Postby Caspian on May 14th, 2021, 1:26 pm

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“What are you doing?”

Caspian’s poking his head outside the loft window, craned up towards his sister Taalviel, who’s perched in her usual spot upon the highest eave of the cottage.

“Nothing,” Taalviel replies curtly.

“Doesn’t look like nothing.”

Knees pulled up to her chest, arms folded serenely on top, she merely flickers her gaze down to him, then back at whatever she’s watching. “Can’t I enjoy the mystery of the Zastoka in peace?”

But Caspian knows very well she had been looking down at acute angle, and not up and out and glazed over, as one might if genuinely appreciating the mountain range.

Which, he knows equally as well, she has very little special feeling for.

“Please go away,” she says flatly, which naturally only has him clambering up to join her.

Side by side, and frowning deeply, she’s now trained her eyes up over the proximal ranges of the city. But it’s far too late to cover up, and there’s only so much in the immediate vicinity that could possibly have –

Oh.

Oh.

There’s that man in the garden again, all dark hair and broad shoulders and no shirt in sight. Presumably he had come here to reset the cobbles or clear out the stray lumber or whatever chore Caspian pointedly does not do – but now Shiress’ parents have him hanging around fairly on the regular. Today he appears to be fixing the fence, which apparently requires him to be half-dressed.

Caspian looks to his sister, then to Nolen and back again. “Seriously?”

Were Taalviel human, this may have been the cue to blush. But, completely caught out, she merely resumes her heated vigil down at the stranger below. “I don’t know what you mean.”

It’s not that Nolen isn’t good-looking; Caspian very much believes that one would be hard-pressed to find anyone on the continent to argue the fact. He himself had been interested, for a hot searing split of a second, when he’d first caught sight of the man’s strong jawline through the kitchen window. But through that same kitchen window, their eyes had locked, and though the man had smiled –

It was the smile itself, the instant display of familiarity, of pull, that had not sat quite right with Caspian.

Frankly, it’s the trick Caspian himself tends to default to, when he’s spotted someone with something he’s after.

But all the women in the house – Shiress, her mother, and now even his petching sister – they seem far too enamored to notice.

“Came a bit out of nowhere, didn’t he?” Caspian says to Taalviel in an undertone so that Nolen can’t hear them, watching the muscles in the stranger’s back flex as he raises and lowers a hammer.

“There are a lot of laborers in the city in need of work. Shiress’ parents had work at the ready.”

“Yes, sure, but – the timing, Taalviel. How long ago was it that we all went to the Outpost?”

He can feel Taalviel thinking.

“Not that long ago,” he presses.

The small fortune of gold they’d brought back, the majority of it stashed in the loft room with them and the rest scattered in choice places around the cottage, was, for all intents and purposes, practically still warm.

“How could he know?” Taalviel breathes back quietly. The expression on her face, which had previously been the same she reserves for shiny trinkets and silver coins, is now muted and growing in suspicious resolve.

Caspian shakes his head. “There were plenty of people who saw us come and go from the lender’s door.” While on that harrowing journey, he had frantically eyed everyone around them as a potential threat – had in the end consoled himself with the fact that there, they were beneath Xyna’s eye, and no one would dare defy her will by taking what wasn’t theirs.

But they weren’t under Xyna’s watch here, and though he had been certain he’d catalogued everyone who’d come within many yards of them, it’s absolutely possible he missed one.

Although – how likely is it that he would have missed someone as strikingly handsome as Nolen?

“Let’s keep an eye out,” Taalviel says, curt and business-like and now completely onboard. “He seems to like Shiress quite a lot.”

He can feel her watching him, which he immediately resents.

When they’d come back from the Outpost, alone in the shadows of the parlor, Shiress had –

He doesn’t know what to call it; is in the process of convincing himself that what he suspects about it is his own imagination. It had been dark, and the both of them had been tired, and since then she’s gone back to mostly avoiding him, which would have made sense with or without their last excursion.

“Shiress is free to do what she likes,” he says simply. As is he.

He glances down at Nolen.

A close eye indeed.
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