In New York City again. I've been here many times during different decades, as if my body keeps trying to bring me back home, but continues to overshoot it. I know it's the Big Apple because of the telltale markers; car horns, yelling, doors slamming. I'm not sure what the exact date is till I have climbed out a teenaged boys room that I must have appeared in last night before he woke up.
I ran down the street, wearing flats, tight black leather pants, and a matching top. My hair in a mass of self-made curls. It took about ten minutes of facing the chill in the air before I came across a newsstand. While the man was busy reading his own newspaper, laughing lightly at what must be the comic strip, I snagged a paper and hugged it to my chest as I briskly walked away. Unnoticed.
Yeah, I stole a two dollar paper, so sue me. Once I turned the corner of the block, I lean against the cold brick of the corner bookstore. I scan the front of the first page till the date, November 15, 2015, was visible near the top of the text.
I'd jumped a good thirty years since I was last in New York. Was there a reason for my return here, now? A wind blows my hair into my face; I reach to push the hair behind my shoulder with one hand and the newspaper gets snatched away by another swift breeze. "Shit..." I mutter under my breath as I watch the newspaper tumble across the street into an alleyway.
I look around to see if anyone was watching before running across the street. Jaywalking, theft; I'd already committed two crimes and I've only been awake less than an hour.
I look frantically around for my stolen paper, at least to read the comic and decide what to do for the rest of the day; maybe visit the zoo. I see it finally, snagged on the side of a building by the alleyway by the wind. No way to escape. I grab for it before I hear the unmistakable sound of a fist hitting a brick wall.
I freeze, turning my head down the once empty alleyway to see three men engaged in a fistfight. Two against one, that's just pitiful. I press my lips into a hard line when I see one of the guys grab for a man in a black jacket, his back still to me. The other man punches the guy in the stomach as his friend holds his arms down.
I'm about to abandon my newspaper and unleash some of my black belt skills on their asses when black jacket guy hits his head back against the captors face. By the scream he uttered, I knew his nose was broken. He lets go of black jacket guy, who in turn connects his elbow into the side of his neck. The other guy with blond hair goes to punch black jacket guy in the face, but he dodges it almost too easily; leveling a punch at the guy's throat so hard he falls to his knees.
I'm shocked into immobilization when he finally turns around; I have never seen someone take down two huge guys like that before and win. Impressive, to say the least.
But then I saw his face. He had bruises around one of his cheeks and a cut bottom lip...not that that stopped him from looking heart-stoppingly beautiful. I couldn't think of another word to describe the way his face was built. I feel my heart skip a beat when his dark gray eyes land on mine; dangerous and shrouded with secrets.
I'm frozen, staring into their endless depths, my breathing becoming more and more erratic as he meets my stare; unflinching. Unapologetic.
"I'm guessing you saw all of that." His voice is no more than a murmur, but I hear it as clearly as if he were standing beside me and not a good five feet away. I nod, too in shock to be sheepish or afraid. I catch the corner of his full lips turn upwards in a smirk before he looks back at one of the men. He picks him up by his collar. "Tell your boss, I'm not for sale." He hisses, making even me flinch. He tosses the man to the ground before turning back to me.
"Are you mute?" He asks me with a slight narrowing of his eyes. I'm not exactly sure why this upsets me, but it does.
"Of course not," I say with an edge to my voice. He starts to slowly stalk towards me as his eyes roam free over my body. I must still be in shock because I feel my heartbeat speed at the look he gives me.
"I was only wondering because, during the whole fight, you didn't utter a single sound. Even when I punched someone in the throat. Now either you've seen worse..." He trails off when he's in front of me, towering over me.
"Or?" I breathe, eyeing the cut on his plump bottom lip. Why did I feel the instant urge to kiss it and make it better? Lick it? My breathing is becoming erratic and he's not even touched me. Yet...
"Or you've done worse," he mutters, his voice smooth with little edges every other word he says. "Now I'm curious. I don't get curious often." I swallow hard and break eye contact.
"Curiosity killed the cat," I mutter to the cracked concrete below my feet. Such a lame thing to say, but that's all I've got. He laughs; such a rich warm sound that reaches every inch of my body. I look up to see him glaring daggers at the men who cowered with fear clear in their eyes. They slowly walked around us, then took off down the street. Neither of them looking back.
"Are you a boxer?" I blurt out before I can implore some sort of filter to my thoughts. He raises an eyebrow at me.
"Wasn't it you who just mentioned to me that curiosity killed the cat?" His lips pull up in a smirk again. Oh, funny guy huh?
I pretend to look down at my body, even behind myself as if looking for a tail. "As you can perfectly see, I am not a cat." Ha, take that pretty boy. I got jokes too. He tilts his head back and laughs again, this time a bit louder. When he looks at me again, he holds out one of his hands; sporting cut knuckles.
"Lukas. And you are?" His voice has returned to that rich murmur as if he only wanted me to know his name. I take his hand, jolting at the sudden electricity that attacks my senses. My breathing accelerates and he seems to stiffen, pressing his lips together in a hard line.
"Carlie," I breathe, feeling him suddenly rubbing his fingers gently against my palm.
Suddenly, I feel a red alert go off in the back of my mind with a flashing sign:
You only have 24 hours! Tick Tock, no time for Hot Boys on your clock!
I take a rushed step back, swallowing hard. "It was nice to meet you, Lukas but I only have so much time in the city and—"
He cuts me off. "And spending it with a random guy you met in an alleyway isn't how you want to spend your time." He finished incorrectly. It's not you, it's me...
"I can't...I never said I didn't want to." My eyes widen as I realize I'd said that last part out loud. He lifts an eyebrow at me, his eyes blazing.
"If that's true, you'll let me take you out tonight. If you want to spend the day with me, then do it," he says it as if that solves the issue. Plain and simple. A part of me wanted to argue and decline, to even explain how very complicated my life was and how being around him already was far too intense.
"What time?" I hear myself whisper...and for once I don't really regret my lack of control.