Alex planted a long, lingering, tender kiss on the forehead of the bloody old homeless woman he was carrying back to his place, where he had all the medical supplies needed to attend to her wounds properly. He dropped his voice an octave, to the gentlest purr. “You have nothing to fear from me.” Then he pulled his head back slowly, not wanting to alarm her with any sudden motions…as if she were the bird with a broken wing Alex had rescued the week before. Studying her, he looked deeply into her still beautiful eyes, hoping his words had had the desired effect.
They hadn’t. She still looked at him warily. It cut Alex to the quick, and he had to fight back a flash of his infamously uncontrollable anger. Why didn’t any one understand him? Why didn’t any one see the kind of person he really was?
But he caught himself this time, able to appreciate that with all this poor woman had undoubtedly suffered being homeless, it was understandable that it might take a while for her to believe in Alex. Eventually, though, she would. Alex would see to that. “How could I?” he purred to her. “How could I have failed to notice your need immediately? I’ll take care of you, attend your wounds. Don’t worry.”
He reached his trick corner, where he could always loose anyone following him…and he knew he was being followed. That young woman with the twitchy lips and sharply straight, dark hair. In shoes way too dressy for daytime but with heels that clattered over the sidewalk such that it was easy to gauge her distance and rate of approach.
Alex listened to those shoes, slowing slightly before turning the corner. He didn’t want to allow enough distance between them that his follower would think he’d made it to the end of the next block and turned another corner. On the other hand, he did want to maintain enough distance between them that she would think he’d had enough time to disappear into one of the buildings on that block.
Instead, as soon as he turned the corner, he ducked into the all-but-unnoticeable space between the first two buildings where he knew a hole in the back fence would allow him to escape to the block behind. A little power walking and he’d backtracked to a completely different block. Through all of this the homeless woman he carried wrinkled her brow, but Alex was gratified by her clearly visible wonder when he carried her inside the building that was his alone.
“All that stained glass…original Tiffany, is it not?”
Her voice was even more beautiful than all the sunlight streaming through his helter-skelter collection of stained glass that was, in fact, original Tiffany. Alex beamed, his heart leaping when he saw her astonishment replaced by a huge smile of sheer delight. “I’m a bit…Noveau Victorian,” he demurred, “as you’re about to see from my library.”
With a bit of flourish, he swept her into a dark-paneled room with a huge stone fireplace and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. But the expected leather-bound books were not there. Instead, his eclectic found-object sculpture dripped off the shelves, along with such an extensive collection of high-tech gadgetry that he liked to think he put Q in the latest James Bond movie to shame.
“You’ll be comfortable here,” he purred, laying her out gently on a huge, commodious, chase lounge. “I’ll be right back.”
In moments he returned with water, a collection of delicacies for her to eat, and his medical supplies.
The homeless woman looked him up and down. “Clearly, you’re not really homeless.”
“No,” he acknowledged with a laugh.
She looked puzzled again when he brushed some feathers aside from his medical supplies.
“A bird with a broken wing that I rescued last week.”
She smiled broadly. “May I see it?”
“Sure.” He retrieved the bird’s shoebox, meticulously lined with soft cloth.
“But…” She seemed troubled. “It’s dead.”
Now it was his turn to be puzzled. “Of course it’s dead. I had to kill it when it pecked me.”