[01]

The question she posed came out of the blue.

   "Do you believe in… magic?" She asked, that slant in her tone coming to play again.

   "What?" Flynn was hardly present at the time, throughly engrossed with the open textbook that sat in front of him.

   He didn't even lift his eyes from the pages as she reclined in her chair.

   "Would you say that your beliefs extend beyond the borders of reality?" She reiterated, fixing him with a disturbingly steady stare.

   His brow arched at that. It wasn't often that he was presented with such a bizarre inquiry. And he had to admit that although he hadn't before, she sure did have his undivided attention now. Amoretta Thorne was hardly the type whose presence attracted any attention at all, but when she brought it to herself, it was very hard to look away. She was a young woman in possession of a profoundly unique charm, though Flynn would never think to admit it.

   "No," he replied without giving it any thought. "I can't say that they do."

   "Why not?"

   Flynn sighed as he ripped his gaze from his studies, partially in frustration that only flared as he caught sight of the amusement in her jade green eyes.

   "Do I really have to go into this? Where's the proof?"

   "Where's the disproof?" She countered.

   "I would think that the lack of its presence is enough to disprove magic, Amoretta," Flynn said. "Any magic you see here is just smoke and mirrors. Illusions... Lies."

   She scanned Flynn's face for a long moment before pursing her lips into a straight line and lifting her book up in front of her face. He couldn't tell whether she was humored or annoyed with him, but he didn't care enough to ask. Instead he dropped the subject where it lay and returned to his assignment in silence.

   When class ended and they were dismissed, Noelle and Sparrow immediately took to her side. Flynn couldn't figure out what they were so fond of in the young woman. She was not pretty or cute or funny or entertaining. In fact, she was notably unattractive the way her short hair was often unkempt and her shoulders were often slouched. The thick lensed glasses that sat upon the bridge of her nose did little to help her in anything apart from her eyesight. Flynn would at least thing she had an engaging personality to make up for it, but it didn't take him more than a second to deduce that she was decidedly taciturn and mundane. Still, there was something strange about Amoretta, though he could never quite place it. Whether it was the otherworldly sparkle in her eyes or the odd way her mouth often curved, he'd never know.

   He rolled his eyes as the blonde and the brunette continued to fawn over the dull girl when she rose and slipped out of the lecture hall without them after a mild wave. Flynn snapped his book shut as he slid out of his seat and left in the wake of their footsteps.

. . .

   Amoretta could already smell dinner the moment she stepped off the elevator on the seventh floor of the Wakefield building. She had threatened Randall earlier that morning with the promise of horrible consequences if she came home to Taco Bell again. It seemed that Marcus took over tonight because when she entered their apartment, he was standing over the stove with multiple things cooking at the same time. He looked up and greeted her with a smile as she kicked off her black pumps and left her satchel near the couch.

   "How was your day, Amoretta?"

   "It was alright," she said, sliding her glasses from her nose and stowing them away.

   "Dinner is almost ready," Marcus went on to say. "I think Randall is still in the shower. You can relax for a bit if you want."

   Amoretta was combing her fingers through the tousled tufts of hair on her head as she joined him in the kitchen to gather some dishes for their meal. She was mumbling something about setting the table to which the blond man had no choice but to agree to. It didn't take her long, so she ended up perching herself at the short bar top looking into the kitchen area. Amoretta flipped over one of the crystal tumblers and poured herself a few shots of gin to sip on while she watched Marcus mince some greens.

   "You said your day was alright, didn't you?" He squinted at the drink in her hand. "Anything else happen?"

   "No," she replied, taking a longer sip. "Just thinking, that's all."

   Amoretta offered him a slight smile when he took a split moment to glance up at her as well. Marcus shrugged his shoulders, seemingly letting the matter drop as the timer went off and he switched his attentions to his cooking. With his back turned, she polished off the rest of her drink and slid off the stool to fetch Randall. She came upon his door and knocked three times.

   "Randall, time for dinner," she said.

   The door swung open to reveal a freshly showered brunette sporting nothing but a towel around his waist. He flashed her a flirtatious grin that just seemed sleazy as he flicked his wet hair out of his face and leaned against the doorframe.

   "I'll be there in a minute, Amoretta," he said in an attempt at seduction.

   Her face scrunched together in an odd grimace before she turned around and walked away. Marcus was placing everything in the center of the small square table when she took her usual seat facing the balcony. Amoretta only informed him that Randall would be out soon, and he was. It was about three minutes before they were all seated and tucking into their meals before the casual conversations started.

   "How are you liking your Literature class?" Marcus asked.

   "It's fine, there are these two girls that sit in front of me that seem determined to see me outside of class," she mused. "But I can't bring either of them over until I'm sure Randall isn't home."

   "What's that supposed to mean?" Randall frowned indignantly. "Is it my fault that I'm so charming?"

   "Why don't you go out with them one of these days? Randall and I can handle a night on our own, you know," the blond offered.

   Amoretta paused in her chewing. She hadn't even stopped to consider why she was always declining their invitations. Did she really think that Marcus and Randall needed her around at night? Old habits died hard, she reasoned. Even after so long, she had to remind herself that things were different now and she wasn't the same girl living in the modest apartment in the inner city.

   "I guess I could," she murmured before taking a sip of her water.

   "Yeah, you've been here for almost two months," Randall reasoned. "You're all settled in. You should go out and experience the town. But if you're scared, you know you can always ask me to go with you."

   She glowered at him, but they were right. It was time to stop avoiding the inevitable because she couldn't just hide away forever. The key to the game was to remain hidden in plain sight. She was just beginning to truly grasp that concept since finding this place two months prior.

   "Marcus, could you please pass the vegetables?" She asked now, breaking the short silence at the dinner table.

   When he obliged, she took it with a small words of thanks before pushing a good spoonful onto Randall's plate. He was mid chew when he looked down at the assortment of greens taking up the left side of his plate and made an odd noise of protest.

   Amoretta always rebuked Randall's strange offers of kindness in such ways, but it was also her way of showing some form of kindness in return. Or so Randall led himself to believe.

   "I'll agree to go out with them this weekend then," she finally said. "But I'm not bringing them here."

   "Aw, Amoretta!"

The End

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