I did not write this one. This was a collaborative effort between my sister (A very talent writer who needs her own blog) and Riley. This is her D&D character meeting Andrew, who you guys have met before!
May 2010 ish?
Though he had more than one plainly displayed noticing indicating that food and drink were Not Allowed in Hallis’ Mystic Books, these rules did not apply to Andrew and he honestly didn’t mind if customers tried to argue with him, over bringing their Starbucks or Slurpees into his shop, when they saw him sipping coffee in a kitschy Thoth travel mug behind the counter. One gentleman, who Andrew had only just minutes before successfully persuaded out of his shop, had momentarily threatened to call the police because of discrimination regarding coffee consumption freedoms.
Now, having gotten rid of that belligerent man and his beverage, Andrew was alone in his shop, enjoying his coffee and rereading It, skipping the parts where King went off the deep end. A couple of special orders set beside him on the counter, as he expected them to be picked up soon. One was for Adrian, the other for a new customer, a heavy work on Occult Symbolism in Art. It had come pre-wrapped in plastic, or Andrew would have flipped through it himself. As it was, he’d have to wait to see if the buyer would open it in the store.
Kate was annoyed at her father. She knew that she should not be; he rarely asked anything of her at all, but she just wasn’t in the mood today.
A project had brought her out the direction of a rare book store where her father had placed a special order. He had asked her to pick it up for him. It would only take her a few minutes to pick it up, and it really was not a burden to drop by the house and see him tonight, but again she just wasn’t in the mood.
Walking through the door, the bell jangling made her want to snatch it off the wood. She felt like she would rather be invisible, and this stupid thing had announced her presence to everyone in there.
Not that there was anyone in there right now. The room appeared to be empty.
That isn’t true. The room was far from empty. Books seem to fill every possible space. After a very casual perusal, it appeared most of them were quite pedestrian and for the casual occultist. She had rather low hopes that this book her father had ordered would be anything of interest.
Pretty quickly a youngish man stepped from the back room. He may have been close to Kate’s own age, but she couldn’t quite be sure. There was something… A little different about him.
Always preferring to have the upper hand in any situation, Kate spoke first. “I am here to pick up a special order for a Mr. Withers, please.” her voice was very professional and a bit haughty. She looked at a spot just to the left of his left ear. A disconcerting way to be addressed she knew.
The bell summoned him from the back, but Andrew stopped short when he saw the woman who had entered. She was not one of his regulars, nothing like them. He wondered if she was from the circle, and if so, if she was a threat. She certainly looked nothing like his usual customers, who were either true practitioners, or hippie dippy types. He’d guess a lawyer, or businesswoman of some kind. If he didn’t think assumptions were a futile pursuit in this case.
Tilting his head just slightly, as her gaze was slightly off-center, Andrew smiled at her disarmingly, trying not to be put off by her attitude, or trying to alter it to his advantage. “Yes, of course. I have his book right here. And you are?”
“Picking it up for him. How much?” She pulled the ostrich leather wallet out of her purse and stepped up to the counter.
So apparently she wasn’t interested in social niceties. Andrew stepped back over to the counter, in front of it. “I’m sure that you are, since you wouldn’t know about it otherwise, but you can understand that I still have to be a little cautious, since you’re obviously not Mr. Withers.”
Andrew looked her up and down, unsure. Most of all, she just struck him as out of place, but there was something else that he couldn’t pin down. “My name’s Andrew, we could start with that, at least.”
Kate ground her back teeth and tried to not let irritation show on her face. “Great” she thought. “Aggressively social. Just what I want.” Out loud she said, “Kate. Kate Withers. I am picking up for my father, Andrew. How much do I owe you?”
There were times when Andrew had to wonder if he wasn’t nearly as reckless as Adrian. It was becoming clear that toying with this woman was definitely the wrong thing to do, which only made him more inclined to do so. He wasn’t even interested in women, and yet there was something about her.
“It’s nice to meet you Kate,” Andrew lied, moving back behind the counter, in part just to get a solid object between he and Kate Withers. “Your father’s book is $85.50, including the shipping cost.”
What was it about her? She wasn’t even his type – considering his type was masculine, this wasn’t saying much – but the cool professional style and attitude didn’t do anything but irritate him. Yet there was something in her way that was both attractive and repelling at the same time. “Is there anything else you’d like to get him while you’re here?” he asked, attempting again to charm her.
While flipping through her wallet to find the right card, Kate felt an almost familiar wave of warmth wash over her. It was not quite like the feeling she got when she charmed some poor, unsuspecting target, but it felt more like being enveloped in a blanket than catching something in a net.
No way! Her eyes got wide, but she could not feel angry at Andrew. She just felt happy that he was still looking at her expecting an answer. She almost felt giddy. She wanted to know who he was (other than just Andrew). Would he open up and talk to her?
She smiled and half closed her eyes as she handed the card over, letting her fingers brush the side of his hand. “So,” she almost purred as she leaned forward onto the counter and rested on her arms. “You know my father is a warlock. His patron is some art loving ArchFey who asks him to make him beautiful things. He is a musician, a singer, a painter, and a landscape architect. That is his patron’s favorite. The plants, I mean.”
Why was she stumbling on her words? Why was she babbling?
“I am an artist myself. I mostly appraise and consult on curation now, but I am quite a painter and actor too.” Oh this was going poorly. What was he thinking!!!! He needs to say something right now!
Andrew didn’t have to guess whether he’d successfully beguiled her. Suddenly, she went from being stand-offish and cold, to bright and chatty. As well as almost too familiar. He almost prefered the previous version, but it was too late now to back off, though he did attempt to cut off any further affect, afraid he may have overdone it as he doesn’t usually use this much on women, still strangely attracted to her.
This was more than he’d ever learned from Mr. Withers himself, Andrew wasn’t even sure if he’d known the man had any family. At the mention of the ArchFey patron, his eyebrow rose, but it could have been worse. Andrew nods politely, actually interested but hoping she wouldn’t realize what was going on. Whatever she was, her father was a fairly powerful warlock and she couldn’t be nothing with that ancestry.
“An actor, really?” Andrew chuckled. “I’d guessed you were a lawyer when you walked in here, I guess I’m not very good at reading people. What do you paint?” He rang up the book, no longer interested in selling her anything, but in managing this interaction so she didn’t become suspicious.
“I have had my share of dealing with them, but no, not a lawyer.” she was please he had found her demeanor professional though. Maybe too professional. Looking down she discreetly lowered the neckline of her sweater and used a very subtle polymorph to go up about ½ a cup size and trim her somewhat hawkish nose down a bit. Why was he not looking at her?
“I mostly paint landscapes. I am very fond of impressionism and pointillism really. I also have painted a fair number of nudes. I … prefer the male form.” Oh god. What was she saying! She did NOT paint nudes. Ever.
He was not responding enough! He was looking away and fiddling with the book. This was not working! Kate felt a rush of panic. He had to pay attention to her. Almost as a reflex she prepared to cast Charm on Andrew. Thinking of her ability to charm others tickled at the back of her head, but in her rush to impress him, she dismissed it….
“Landscapes, really?” Andrew couldn’t help feeling that Kate Withers was more pleasant than he’d originally thought. He had made a few unfair assumptions about her. “And nudes I’d like to see those, sometime.”
Andrew wondered if she was going to open her father’s book. He suspected there was some information in there that would be more useful than simply, an explanation of the artist’s symbolism. Kate wasn’t leaving. Not that he minded her looking around, in fact, Andrew was pretty sure he wanted her to be there. Andrew smiled at her. “Is there anything else I can help you with? A cup of coffee, maybe?”
“That sounds nice.” she leaned a bit further over the counter to crowd his space a little bit a pick up the wrapped box. Her arm rubbed against Andrew’s in the process.
“Let’s see what dear old dad is up to these days. Interested?” She pulled off the wrapping and hopped up on the counter so Andrew was invited to look over her shoulder at the book.
He blushed slightly as her arm brushed against his, and Andrew frowned, not entirely sure what was going on. Surely she should have gotten the picture when he’d said he wanted to look at her male nudes but now he was considering posing for them. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t considered something similar before.
“Yes,” relieved by the introduction of the book, suddenly hoping there weren’t any erotic depictions inside the book. It almost seemed too much to hope for. “Just, let me get that coffee first. How do you take it?”
“Hot” was her simple answer. She hummed happily as she flipped through the book. So many of the early occult rituals depicted involved a lot of nudity. Who was she kidding. Modern practitioners seemed to think it was necessary too.
Wow. All of those people we naked… and most definitely male. She was just about to change the page when Andrew came back. She started to fumble a red faced apology.
He had spent entirely too long trying to decide which travel mug was most appropriate to her, finally settling on the plain silver. Andrew returned to offer her the mug, catching a hint of her embarrassment and tilting his head at her. “Is there anything the matter? Something wrong with the book?” Andrew moved entirely too close to her legs perched on the counter, absently handing her the coffee as he glanced at the book.
“Ah.” He studied the depictions of naked men in the book a moment. “Anything like your own art?” Andrew looked up at her, trying to figure out why she was so attractive. He definitely shouldn’t be feeling this way.
Flustered she took the coffee. “Ah hem. No. More classical, less… uhm social.” the last was more of a squeak. “sorry if it made you uncomfortable.”
He didn’t really seem uncomfortable.
He had asked to see the (non existent) drawings.
“Really, Kate? Learn to read a room for Christ’s sake.” she chastised herself. She quickly hopped off the counter feeling equal parts embarrassed and devastated. She didn’t even know why she found him so attractive, but she had to leave right now.
“Thank you for coffee,” she mumbled as she fumbled with her purse and book and turned to leave.
Just before she reached the door, she had one more flash of desperate inspiration. Her ability to polymorph could not make her look totally like a man, but I could definitely give her more masculine features.
A few quick words and she has a more square jaw, drastically reduced curves, shorter hair, and a bit more muscle. It wasn’t drastic, but maybe it was enough?
Andrew continued studying her face, until she seemed embarrassed and he looked away, back toward the book. It was a huge relief when she finally seemed to realize he was gay, because he was starting to wonder. And he’d never really questioned that before.
“Yes, of course. Anytime.” There was something different about her now. She was definitely more attractive now. Andrew stared at her for a few moments, wondering if he did want her to leave. “I’m sorry, I have a lot of work to do right now. I think I’d better . . . get to that. But please do come back.”
Why the hell had he said that? Andrew waited for her to leave, trying to collect his thoughts. What the fuck had just happened?