The figure finally came close enough for even me to see him; Willow had stiffened and snarled and I had prepared for the worst. A vampire henchman working for Tenebrus, maybe, but not him.
“Evening, ladies,” Phoenix drawled as he strolled towards us, coming to a stop a few feet away beside a slim beech tree. Behind those ever-present sunglasses his eyes were appraising us. I became self-conscious of my silk pyjamas and hunched against the fence, scowling.
“What the hell do you want?” Willow said through gritted teeth. I hadn’t noticed the last time, but she didn’t seem to like Phoenix much now. Of course he was completely oblivious to it.
He leaned his leather-clad elbow against the tree’s slender trunk, unruffled by her hostile tone.
He shrugged casually. “I don’t want anything. I thought I’d check that you weren’t out of your depth over here since I wasn’t busy. Slow day.”
He wrinkled his nose a little bit, his grin not faltering at Willow’s irritated expression.
“I could handle it fine on my own if anyone came for her,” she growled. I had never really realised how wolf like she actually was. It annoyed me as well that she was talking like I wasn’t there.
“No one has come for her,” I said, shooting Willow a look, “So you can go away now.”
He laughed out loud for the first time, and it was an oddly comforting sound. His aura of unaffected humour made Tenebrus seem much farther away. Suddenly something registered that my mind had been slow to process.
“But you smelled vampire,” I said, cringing internally at how stupid I sounded after I had blurted the words out. The hostile expression hadn’t slipped from her face as she raised on eyebrow slowly.
“Yes, Ruby, I did.”
Phoenix grinned wider as he cottoned on to what I meant. “You didn’t know I’m a vampire?”
In response my scowl deepened. He hissed mockingly , and I realised that he didn’t have fangs, just very sharp-looking canines. He caught my look and I saw his eye wink at me behind the tinted glasses. I wondered why he was bothering to wear them out at night.
“I’ll show you sometime,” he said, shocking me, and confusing Willow.
“How do you know what I was thinking?” I cried. Was he some freaky mind-reader or something?
“I didn’t. You’re just easy to read. Don’t wear your thoughts on your face,” he said, his tone smug.
I muttered something along the lines that he was going to be wearing a black eye on his face.
“Go away!” I snapped, and Willow was in agreement.
“Don’t you have some hobo to decapitate?” she said in a sarcastic voice, but I didn’t get it. It sounded like an odd and morbid thing to say. But Phoenix just shrugged.
“Nope. Like I said, slow day.”
He spent his free time chopping the heads off of homeless people? Or was he just going along with her? The corners of his lips had tightened a little but he was still smiling. Willow made a ‘humph’ noise.