Good morning and Happy Hump Day ! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.
So Tyrone managed to send the nosy policeman on a wild goose chase? Is that cause for celebration? What is he thinking? See what's going on in this week's chapter of An Unholy Alliance. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's happening with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!An Unholy Alliance #14 (4.2)
Enough of that. I still had work to do. No time for back-patting or smug self-congratulations, or whatever else Tyrone had in the back of his feeble little mind. After generously acquiescing to the hand gesture, I slid gracefully back into my seat and opened one of the two books that lay on the table. That should give him a clue that I was otherwise engaged and he should now gracefully take his departure from the scene. Ride off into the sunset (figuratively or literally, didn’t matter to me).
Of course that didn’t happen.
“That was a close one!” he exclaimed as he resumed the seat he’d never been invited to take. “I think we handled that rather nicely, don’t you?”
I made no response as I searched the index of each book for those subjects I was interested in, taking note of the appropriate page numbers. On the whole, the general history book was disappointing. The only information I found of interest concerned the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which was fought about ten miles outside of Springfield, Missouri in August of 1861. Which was about the time when I lived, and the place where I disappeared from, or so I’d been told. I couldn’t be sure the events were connected, but I also couldn’t swear they weren’t. Dominique was always tight-lipped when it came to information regarding my origins. As if she had something to hide. I couldn’t imagine what that might be, but I also didn’t put it past her to have lied to me. Deceit came naturally to that woman. Even the Families knew better than to trust her, and they’d known her far longer than I had.
The genealogical history seemed more promising. I pulled out my phone, which I had quickly pocketed when I’d been so rudely interrupted, and began to add names of various families to the spread sheet. I would cross-check that against the census lists later. Reaching for my tea, I took a sip, allowing the warmth to flow through me in a welcome tide.
I wonder if green tea is really better for me.
I shook off the intrusive thought with a growl. The last thing I needed to do was take advice from that clown.
I mentally braced myself for further annoying conversation that I would choose to ignore, considering his tendency to babble. When that wasn’t immediately forthcoming, I briefly glanced his way. I knew he hadn’t gone, as I would have felt his departure. Besides, I was fairly confident that he would have said something to announce the fact he was leaving. To my surprise, he had his nose quietly buried in a book he must have pulled from a nearby shelf. He actually seemed quite engrossed in it.
I peered at the open pages, without the slightest hint of subtlety. From what I could make out, the object of his keen curiosity was a textbook on hematology. I frowned, even as I wondered what his interest in that particular subject was, then decided I didn’t care and returned to my own business.
A few minutes passed in silence between us. I could hear patrons coming and going, interacting with Casey in hushed library voices. I could hear the sounds of motor vehicles on the street, a moderately light day for traffic. And yet Tyrone managed to maintain a level of quietude I was surprised he even possessed.
Perhaps it was this unnatural level of stillness on his part, when heretofore I’d noticed a profound propensity for excessive verbiage, which prompted the question that under other circumstances I would not have deigned to utter.
I had to repeat myself twice before he looked up from his book with a slightly dazed expression, as if he’d been so focused he’d forgotten where he was. He blinked at me a couple of times, resembling a sleepy owl, before he responded.
“Why what, Char?”
I tried to swallow a growl at his persistent familiarity, but I failed somewhat, to my chagrin, and he flashed me a small smile, as though he considered this sign of my perturbation to be… cute, maybe?
Why did he have to push my buttons so easily? Better question was why did I let him? I’d always considered myself impervious to such machinations. I’d hardened myself at the hands of masters—namely, my mother and brothers.
Forcing myself to regain my composure, I continued. “Why are you studying… that?” I waved one hand blithely toward the tome in question.
“Oh… that,” he echoed. Was it my imagination or did his cheeks just pink a little, as if he’d been caught doing something he’d rather not admit to? I knew I wasn’t imagining the blush. I was an expert when it came to blood flow, after all.
“Just doing a little research,” he finally admitted. Raising one hand to his forehead, he scratched at it lightly. Probably a delaying tactic while he sorted through his thoughts for some reason I would accept and not examine too closely. “I have a theory about something, but I wanted to dig into it a little before I said anything.”
Before he said anything to who… me?
“What the devil are you talking about?” The more he spoke, the more confused I grew, and that was a feeling I did not care for.
He help up both hands now in a defensive posture. “Honestly, just give me a little time. I don’t want to get your hopes up, in case what I’m thinking doesn’t work out.”
I was on the verge of telling him I had no hopes, and nothing he could say or do would dash these nonexistent hopes, but at that serendipitous moment, Casey appeared, obviously excited about something.
She waved a piece of paper at me, even as she cried,
“I think I’ve found someone you’ve been looking for!”
to be continued
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