Binding Moonlight

Reads: 1016  | Likes: 11  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 2

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: January 07, 2019

Reads: 562

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 07, 2019

A A A

A A A

“The renovations are coming along nicely.”

Putting down the electronic notepad she was reading, Nrekeeka pushed her hair out of her face. She smirked at Tobi. A messy bun restrained his long purple hair, and streaks of dirt and paint colored his face and clothing. When he hired the people doing the renovations, he insisted upon helping.

Reaching up, Tobi pushed the end of a paintbrush into his hair, returning the smile. “What is the expression on your face right now? Amusement? Giving your mouth a vacation from your perpetual frown?”

Crossing her arms, Nrekeeka’s expression quickly fell back into a scowl. “How long until they’re done?”

Tobi flopped onto the couch, propping his feet on the coffee table. “A few days at the most. Why?”

“Read this,” said Nrekeeka uncrossing her arms and tossing her ENP at Tobi.

He scanned the article, frowning. “Stamos still isn’t giving up, hey?” he said as he gave the device back. “What is he planning on doing with it?”

Nrekeeka shook her head. “I don’t care what he’s planning to do with it, Tobi. The only thing I care about is he's had it for months and he won't turn it over to the PDHW.”

“Health and Welfare aren’t exactly happy about it, either.”

“It doesn’t change the fact they haven’t done anything to get it from him. Shelsea's dying and he’s withholding the Amaran cure. We need to take it from him.”

Tobi stared at the woman for a moment, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly. “’Keeka, we’ve talked about this. I want Shelsea back as much as you do, but there’s nothing we can do. We’re only two people. Two people lacking the skill or knowledge to do what you're thinking,” he told her yet again. She wasn’t the only one who was unhappy; millions of people had friends and family with the virus.

“He’s one man, Tobi. How hard can it be, really? I mean, with the knowledge of weapons you have, we could just barge in and make him hand it over, couldn’t we?”

Tobi’s heart broke a little each time he met Nrekeeka’s icy blue eyes these days. “Just because I can use a gun doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for us to raid a government building. We would probably get killed.”

“But what if it wasn’t just the two of us?” Nrekeeka asked, eyes on her hands.

Raising an eyebrow, Tobi sat forward, propping his elbows on his knees. “What are you talking about?”

Nrekeeka slid two file folders across the table and leaned back in her chair, watching him.

Tobi sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, worrying it between his teeth. He held her gaze for a few heartbeats before turning his attention to the files. Flicking them open, he glanced between two photographs. The first photo was of a man who appeared malnourished and tired like he hadn’t slept in a month. The second photo was another young man with soft, kind features.

Tobi scrubbed his hands over his face, smudging the dirt and paint. “Who the hell are these guys?” he asked. “And how would they help us get the cure?”

Nrekeeka sat forward again and tapped the first picture. “This is Adonis Atwood, age eighteen, mercenary for hire. He’s got experience, intelligence, and skills. He’s good with computers, he can fight, and he’s got both Pyromorph and Pyrokinetic gene mutations,” she explained as they studied the photo. His long silver-white hair hung well past his shoulders, disappearing past the bottom of the photo, and his silver eyes held no expression. His face was thin, eyes neither big nor small, with a sharp nose and a mouth which could be kind if not for his scowl.

“And this guy is Theo Sheridan, age fifteen. He doesn’t have any experience, but he comes cheap and he’s a Panacea Hand. Oh, and according to his skill set, he can cook. It would be nice to have someone around who can cook,” she finished, actually smiling at Tobi.

“Hey, I can cook,” Tobi muttered with an exaggerated pout.

“In your dreams maybe,” she teased. “I’d try a stranger’s cooking over eating your food again any day of the week.”

Tobi turned to the second photo again, taking some time to study the kid’s face. His eyes were big and kind, deep violet in color. His hair was somewhere between short and mid-length, brown, layered and styled in a cartoony, winged fashion. His appearance exuded sweetness, but with an undercurrent of something darker.

Getting up from his seat on the couch, Tobi walked around the end of the table and sat down on the arm of Nrekeeka’s chair. He put his hand on her shoulder, pulling her to his side. Grimacing at the paint on his fingers, she leaned on him as she had so many times in the past.

“This may sound odd, but I like when you tease me,” he told her.

“What? Why on Earth would you like that?” she asked, frowning. They had been friends four years now and she still had trouble following his logic sometimes.

“Maybe because it’s very…you.”

“Still not clearing anything up, Tobi.”

Tobi poked the tip of one of her ears. “You used to tease me and bug me all the time. Shelsea’s the good girl.”

Nrekeeka arched a brow. “Oh really? You think so?”

“I know so,” he answered smugly.

“Well clearly you don’t know very well because every time you thought she was being nice to you she was actually plotting devious things in her head,” answered Nrekeeka, jabbing Tobi in the ribs.

The man chuckled, pulling away from Nrekeeka and grabbing his side. “Devious things? Like what?”

Nrekeeka’s cheeks colored. “Why are we even talking about this?”

Tobi just smiled, shaking his head at her not-so-subtle attempt to steer the conversation away from Shelsea. “Never mind. So what’s with these two guys? You planning a rebellion behind my back or something?”

“Or something. I was thinking since we’ve got some extra bedrooms we could hire them, pay them in room and board for now until we’ve got something a little more permanent for income…”

Tobi’s eyes widened. “Is my multi-million-dollar savings not permanent enough for you?” he asked in mock horror. “Y'know, I would love to tell my parents and extended family the money they threw at me in place of affection is going to you and your sister. Freaking xenophobes.”

Puffing out a sigh, Nrekeeka shook her head. “I’m not going to mooch off of you forever. You already pay for everything, including Shelsea’s medical bills.”

“You know it’s because I want to. I would rather spend my money on you and your sister instead of useless garbage I don’t need. So stop dwelling on it and tell me more about your plan.” Pushing himself to his feet, Tobi removed the paintbrush from his hair, pulling the elastic band free as well. His hair fell in waves down his back, making him appear softer and friendlier.

“Here’s the thing…” Nrekeeka began, gaze flicking to one side, away from the man. “I don’t have a plan, exactly. You said we couldn’t do this by ourselves, so I found these two. I’m sure I’ll come up with something, I’m just not sure what.”

“What would you tell them in an interview, then?” asked Tobi, taking a seat on the couch again. “Chances are pretty unlikely they’ll come work for us without a reason.”

Nrekeeka’s expression darkened as she rose to her feet. “I know. Just because I don’t have a plan doesn’t mean I don’t know what my objective is!”

“I didn't say you don't know, ‘Keeka. Calm down and think about this, okay? Robyn Stamos works for the government. He’s got money, equipment and a higher IQ than both of us put together. He’s practically untouchable. He’s also got two other prodigies working for him for tech and security. If we end up hiring these two guys, all we’ll have is your natural agility, my guns, a medic, and a guy who can control fire with his mind. Frankly, we sound like the plot of a bad movie,” explained Tobi, combing his fingers through his bangs. He folded his arms over his chest while hooking one leg over the other. He knew he was pissing her off, but he could deal with her anger. He couldn’t deal with her in prison. Or dead.

“Well too damn bad, because I called Mr. Atwood earlier today and we have a meeting with him tomorrow night.”

It was Tobi’s turn to feel angry. “Excuse me? Why would you go behind my back?”

“Because I knew you wouldn’t be willing to help me. If you had your way I wouldn’t be allowed out of my room.” Nrekeeka took a steadying breath, closing her eyes for a few seconds to calm herself. She muttered a quick goodnight to Tobi on her way out of the room.

Walking down the hall to her bedroom, she went over the conversation in her head. She didn’t know why, but it seemed like all she and Tobi did lately was argue. It was almost as if Shelsea had diffused the tension between them, even when she wasn’t in the same room. It wasn’t Tobi’s fault. He was still trying to be his usual, silly, friendly self. She knew the tension was on her shoulders. All the stress from the last five years had come to a head and she was unfairly using the only friend she had as an outlet for her frustrations. In reality, if not for him she wouldn’t be here today.

Entering her room without turning on the lights, she decided she would apologize to Tobi in the morning. She was too tired to do more than sit on the end of her bed and watch as the Day Lamps outside her window dimmed, indicating the shift from day to night.

 

***

 

The next morning, Nrekeeka was awoken by an overly cheerful Tobi shaking her shoulder. He stood over her, grinning like a moron. His hair was loose, and he wore nothing but his bright yellow pajama pants.

“Wake up, sleepy head!” he chirped.

Nrekeeka glowered at the clock, squinting at the bright numbers before turning the dark gaze on Tobi. “Why? It’s barely nine. It’s not like I have anything to do today.”

Putting his hands on his hips, Tobi stood up straight and made a face. “But I made pancakes.”

“I don’t feel like being sick all day.”

Tobi huffed at her, walking to the end of the bed. His eyes roamed down the length of the bed, a mischievous expression passing over his face. Bending down, he whipped the blanket off the bed. “Get up,” he commanded.

“What the hell was that for?” squeaked Nrekeeka, scrambling to cover her lower half with a combination of pillows and her baggy shirt.

“For forcing you to get up and eat breakfast. We have stuff to do today.” Tossing the blanket back onto the bed, he sat down next to Nrekeeka. With too much enthusiasm for so early, Tobi picked up the breakfast tray from the nightstand, handing it to her with a flourish. The only thing remotely appetizing was the fresh fruit. Even Tobi couldn’t screw up fruit.

“So, what exactly is it we have to do today?” she asked between mouthfuls. As far as she knew there was nothing pressing requiring her to be awake so early.

“Well, we gotta be downstairs to make sure our appliances are correct when they arrive, we’ve got the meeting with the fire guy today and we’re gonna scope out the building where Stamos works,” Tobi listed, counting each point on his fingers.

Pausing with an orange segment halfway to her mouth, Nrekeeka narrowed her eyes at Tobi. “Are you saying you’ll do this with me?”

Tobi gave her a slow, deliberate nod. Ever since Shelsea had gone into the hospital, no, since they met, he had trouble saying no to Nrekeeka. She didn’t ask for much, and it just made it easier for him to roll over on this kind of thing. “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I want to help Shelsea too, and I can’t think of any other way to do so. I was up half the night trying to come up with something less suicidal, but nothing came to mind. Somehow, we’re going to have to steal the cure from Stamos without going to jail or getting killed in the process. Which is why we’re going to do some surveillance today.” As he spoke, Tobi pushed himself to his feet and went to Nrekeeka’s closet. Pulling open the door, he peered in at the contents, hands on his hips.

“What are you doing?”

“Do you own any clothes that are both sexy and functional?”

Nrekeeka's jaw hit the floor. “What?”

“I know the war is over now, but there are still quite a few people out there who are anti-Deldin. We can’t hide your ears, but I think if you wear the right outfit, those will be the last thing people see,” explained Tobi, turning around to face her.

“I thought you liked my ears.”

“I do!” Tobi threw his hands up in defense. “But I’m not a xenophobe.”

“But I’m only half Deldin. It’s not my fault the only thing I inherited from my mom was her ears,” mumbled Nrekeeka, reaching up to touch the six-inch, pointed appendages. She considered herself lucky her ears were only half the length of a full-blooded adult Deldin.

Tobi shrugged as he continued searching through Nrekeeka’s closet. He removed a few articles of clothing, holding each item up to examine before putting it back in its place. He took out a floor-length article he loosely defined as a dress, as it didn't have much cloth.

Grinning, he quirked an eyebrow at Nrekeeka. “How come I’ve never seen you wear this?”

“Because I never have.”

“Why not?”

Nrekeeka’s head lolled on her shoulders, her chin resting on her chest. “It was a gift from my sister. I never had the heart to return it, but it isn’t exactly my style.”

“You’ll have to model it for me sometime.”

“Tobi, get out of my closet and out of my room. I’ll find my own clothes,” grumbled Nrekeeka, setting the tray aside and crossing her arms.

“Aw, here I was hoping you’d let me stay and help you get dressed,” teased Tobi, directing his most charming smile at her.

Nrekeeka chucked a pillow at Tobi’s head as he ran for the door. She didn’t know anyone who was as much of a flirt as Tobi Nexarius. She never got used to it.

Shaking her head and pushing herself out of bed, she made sure to lock her door with her personal code before stripping out of her pajamas. Her bed and bathroom had been two of the first rooms renovated, so she was thankful to have her shower in peace. Though she didn’t want to keep Tobi waiting too long. She towel dried her long blonde hair, dressed in a gray tank top, snug jeans and a pair of black, knee-high leather boots before meeting him downstairs.

She found Tobi in the incomplete kitchen, drinking coffee while a few men milled about, waiting to install the appliances. When she came into the room, Tobi let out an appreciative whistle, making a few of the workers glance in her direction. Nrekeeka ignored them, pouring her own coffee.

“Very nice choice,” Tobi told her, admiring her clothes. He smiled over his mug, enjoying the hint of color in her cheeks.

“Cut it out, Tobi,” Nrekeeka scolded. He had a bad habit of making her feel self-conscious and it never ceased to annoy her. Shaking her head, she sat down at the table across from Tobi. “Are we just waiting for the delivery guy before we head out?”

“Yup. He should be here shortly. Oh, and there was a voice mail for you on the main terminal,” Tobi replied, eyeing up one of the workers who was none-to-subtle about checking Nrekeeka out.

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” complained Nrekeeka.

“Because it wasn’t there earlier,” he stated as she went to the console by the kitchen door. She put in a password and hit play. A grainy audio file crackled through the speakers.

Kanean’s Bar, nine o’clock tonight.

Tobi arched a brow. “You seeing someone behind my back?”

“Why would I be seeing anyone at all, let alone behind your back? It was Adonis. He doesn’t really talk much,” Nrekeeka answered with a shrug as the kitchen door slid open beside her. The delivery people had arrived.

Pushing himself to his feet, Tobi grinned. “Perfect timing, guys!”

Nrekeeka stood back and watched as Tobi went over the delivery invoice, checking each appliance as the delivery people brought them into the kitchen. It was amazing how fast he could go from goofy to professional, and back again. It was rare to see the professional side, so she enjoyed it as she drank her coffee.

“Okay ‘Keeka, let’s go! We’ve got a long day ahead of us!” Tobi called as soon as he finished giving the instructions to the crew working on the kitchen. She didn’t even have a chance to reply as he grabbed her arm to drag her out of the kitchen. He was in such a hurry to sit and stare at a building all day, she still had her coffee cup in her hand when they took off.


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments:

More Science Fiction Books