When he looked at her mouth, he moved a step closer with a look of never-sated hunger in his eyes…
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by Marie Dowd
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Emma shook the clumped snow and ice off her winter boots, desperate for a drink after shoveling yet another layer of snow off her sidewalk and front door steps. Stomping in to her liquor drawer, she cursed when she saw that all that was left was some habanero vodka that Mikey brought for Emma’s last party.
Ripping her ski cap off her sweaty mahogany hair, Emma didn’t want to put it back on and stuffed the knit into her pocket. The quick-mart was only two blocks away. They had to have booze, even if they were out of milk and bread.
By the time she left the house and locked it up, another walker with clumps of snow was about to pass her home. He had the brightest auburn hair that still seemed bright in the overcast day.
Emma turned aside and waited for the hunk to pass by, listening to the neighbor’s poodle, Spike, sounding off. Attracting the attention of strange men on your doorstep was never a good thing.
Once he was more than a dozen meters away, she stepped gingerly down to the sidewalk and set off for supplies.
Emma cast her eyes up to the sky and took a breath, and she thought that it would snow again later. She believed that more than most forecasters.
The quick-mart wasn’t too crowded, and a handful of people were collecting food and de-icing stuff. Some children were buying candy, trying to maximize the sweets for their money. One of the other customers was the man who had passed her, his hair even brighter in the light as he studied the one ice cream case.
By the time Emma reached the counter with her jug of wine, loaf of bread, sandwich fixings, and overpriced oranges, she had to cough to get the clerk’s attention.
Sue stopped ogling that new guy with a flush. “Did you get those tickets for your father?”
Emma frowned because she thought they were a waste. “Yeah, he only wants a ticket every time I check on him. He’s awful to shop for.” Emma picked out two tickets and added them to the pile before paying.
Sue hurried the transaction, squishing the bread and clicking the jars together… all to clear the counter for the new customer and shoo Emma out the door. Holding her brown plastic bag, Emma was almost knocked over by some teens as the stranger spoke sharply to Sue.
Emma felt a little guilty for how much she treasured Sue getting flack for her service today, but she wanted to get home and make a sandwich for lunch, thick with peanut butter and preserves.
“Hey, Emma! Wait up!” the baritone voice wasn’t familiar.
She slowed only a little, just enough the see the red-head hurrying to catch up. She sighed and stopped halfway home; Sue must have squealed. “Do I know you?”
He smiled and spread his arms, his bag swinging wildly. “You may, my name’s Jair. Though I kept trying to convince Mrs. Potts in our second grade that I was “Junior,” like Indiana Jones.”
Emma returned his smile. Her memory for faces wasn’t that good, but Mrs. Potts wasn’t that common a name to guess it. “I can’t know that much after almost twenty years.”
“I’d think you’d remember who spent all their time in the other corner. I wasn’t sure why you looked familiar until the clerk mentioned your name.”
She smirked when she imagined how that went over with Sue. “She must have loved that.”
Jair stepped closer and lowered his voice. “I can be very persuasive, Ms. Midnight locks.”
“Wasn’t that how you got into the corner?”
Scratching in his curly hair, Jair grinned. “Learning curve problems, I’m much better now.”
Looking him up and down, Emma thought her old classmate grew up cute. “You want to come in for a quick lunch?”
He held up his bag. “They ran out of some things I wanted to get for lunch, but I got the ice cream.”
“That’ll do.” Emma led the way back to her small home.
The kitchen was crowded with both of them in it, and Emma was surprised when she saw that he’d bought her favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream when she put it in the freezer.
“So, you’re single?” Jair asked while laying out the bread and reaching for the peanut butter jar.
Emma had a gripper in hand and got the jar first. “These jars were put on with Terminator grade hydraulics. The preserves are on the table.”
Jair pouted. “Can’t I demonstrate my masculine strength to impress you?”
Emma didn’t take his joking tone too seriously, and began to spread the peanut butter. “I have a stubborn pickle jar if you want to do that.”
“I’d love to help you get some pickles, as big as you want.”
She looked up from the layer of brown paste spread over two pieces of bread, her eyes wide. Had he…?
With a hollow metal pop, Jair loosened the lid off of the glass jar. “Behold, pickled cucumber and… cauliflower chunks.”
Emma resumed making the sandwiches. “So what do you do, when you aren’t getting put in the corner and slip sliding through the snow?”
“I could give you the title, which includes something like contract negotiation specialist, but it’s more simply traveling salesman.” Jair watched, leaning back against the stove, his sweater almost too form-fitting. “And you, Emma?”
“Substitute teacher, but I went on sabbatical when my mother got ill.”
Smile fading for a moment, Jair said, “Sorry.”
Emma could smile a little now. “Dad’s doing a little better and is visiting my sister until spring.”
“That’s good, or he might scarf all the ice cream.” Jair’s voice was slowing down as he stared at her hands with a still silence as she assembled the sandwiches and placed the pickles.
“And we’re done.” Emma felt a little nervous. So she took an extra large bite of her sandwich before she looked over again.
Jair was stuffing the uncut sandwich into his mouth.
Emma’s eyes boggled and she froze. Her brow creased as she caught glimpses of pointed teeth.
His eyes were a glowing red and she hoped the flames were a delusion.
“Emma…” His voice was velvet honey that made a spine become jelly as he stepped closer. “Give me the jar.”
Drawing a careful breath, Emma slid half the sandwich and jar over so Jair could lick, suck, and swipe the paste out of the jar with his fingers.
Emma had trouble finishing chewing.
Jair still appeared a handsome specimen, but she wasn’t sure if she had imagined the teeth or bone nubs. Even with him drooling over lunch and her own doubts, she hadn’t moved away.
When the jar looked empty, Jair got closer and kissed her. His hands pulling her against him and tongue tasting hers.
Emma felt that some of his teeth were sharp, not that it bothered her right then. She had trouble focusing when he pulled back.
“I want all of your peanut butter, right now.”
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From the author of the coming tales from another format:
Hunting the Demon, Demon’s Quest, Autumn Demon, Sleepy-bye Demon, Demon-in-Law, and the Missionary Demon
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(this is a joke/parody and just for fun, because not everything is epic)
Marie Dowd, 14 February 2014