The Sanguine Chronicles
Galina Antonescu and Kristian Sleipnir
Present Day – Atlanta (Little Five Points), GA –
At eleven o’clock on a Saturday night, The Thrifty Nymph usually bustled with customers. Though the air was crisp, even for early October, the streets just beyond the shop teemed with people. Galina Anton frowned every time a passerby peered into the window, obviously contemplating whether or not to enter, and then wrinkle their noses in distaste before continuing on. Puzzled, Galina retreated to the office in the back of the shop. Once seated at the large and ornately-carved mahogany desk, she couldn’t fight a frustrated grumble as she tapped the power button on the store’s antiquated computer. She’d forgotten her laptop for the third time this week and would be forced yet again traverse the information superhighway in the slow lane.
Ten years(or was it minutes?)later, after The Machine had finally ticked and clicked itself into a semblance of functionality, Galina was typing an email to her boss. Carys Morgan, the eccentric Wiccan who ran the place, was known around town as a bit of a slut. That she owned a store which specialized in love potions, herbs for passion enhancement, and other erotic hocusy-pocusy paraphernalia didn’t help. If she’s gone and broken up another high profile marriage, it may be time for me to start looking for a new gig!
As Night Manager of The Thrifty Nymph, an absolute institution among born-again pagans and other members of the incent-burning, black-nail-polish-wearing, dragon-con-going crowd, Galina was the second-most important person in the company. “Nymphty” made most of its money at night, since the majority of its patrons preferred to do their shopping under cover of darkness. So in essence, she was the face of the store. Or the one most often left with the task of explaining away the spirited and exuberant albeit wanton and indiscriminately debauched behavior of her boss. If whatever Carys had done this time was bad enough to actually keep the people away, then it’d be the worst thing she’d done in a while.
What/who’d you do THIS time?
Galina decided that short and to the point would be the best format for this email. After hitting send, she looked around the office for something to do. She’d already taken care of the bookkeeping, organized the shelves, and put up a display advertising their newest erection enhancement elixir. The Thrifty Nymph wasn’t a terrible place to work. In fact, she truly loved her job. Carys had taken a chance and hired Galina when she was eighteen and just starting college at the urging of her mother. Roxy ran with the same circles as Carys, so when she heard that there was an opening at the shop for a nighttime associate, she’d pounced on it. That was four years ago, and what a blessing it had been! Galina had followed her heart and majored in Creative Writing. Though her diploma had Emory University’s seal on it, there weren’t a ton of well-paying jobs out there for writers, no matter how creative or well-educated they may have been.
Nymphty had become a sort of a second home for her, and Carys like an irresponsible older sister. For Galina, coming into the store was like stepping into one of those fancy hanging lanterns. The light inside was always a dim yellowish glow that lent a golden hue to the purple and pewter vertically striped walls. Ornate glass lanterns hung in every corner of the hexagon-shaped front room, and their tinted panes shimmered in the candlelight each evening. Incense and aromatic oils burned constantly and Galina knew that the scent of lotus blossoms and lavender would always remind her of the shop.
With a sigh, she finally gave in and reached for the stack of romance novels that Carys kept on the corner of the desk. She flipped through the pages and read the blurbs of each book before settling on one about a bad-boy demon and his prudish charge.
She was just about to delve into the book when she heard the chime of the front door. The first customer of the night! “And it’s only 11:30,” Galina muttered sarcastically as she carelessly flopped the novel onto the desk and stood from the chair.
“Welcome to The Thrifty Nymph, your mystical source for all things erotic!” She said the greeting with more flourish than usual because that was the first, and, let’s face it, probably last time she’d say it that night.
Silence was her only reply and for a moment she thought she may have imagined the chime. Then she saw him.
He stood, nearly as tall as the seven foot bookcase before him, with his back to her. Though she couldn’t see his face, she didn’t imagine that a man with a body as strong and well-built as his could be ugly. His ebony hair brushed the collar of the black leather jacket that fit so enticingly over his muscular back. Dark, almost black jeans, hung low on his hips, and Galina blushed as she stared at the most perfect man-ass she’d ever laid eyes on. From behind, he was with a doubt the most exquisite man she’d ever seen. So, much like a confused dog might, she titled her head and cocked an eyebrow when she noticed where he stood and marveled over the fact that such a man might not be perfect after all. He was perusing the section on erectile dysfunction and impotency. Pity…
When he turned to face her, though, Galina’s mind went completely to mush all over again. Sweet BAWLS! He was fine. Beneath thick black eyebrows were the greenest eyes she’d ever seen and the intensity within them was unsettling, to say the least. It didn’t help that she had already pictured him naked…now she wanted him naked and staring at her all intense-like! His nose was straight and aristocratic-looking, and she followed the line of it to his perfect mouth. Though his lips were thin, they were perfectly formed with the bottom one just a fraction fuller than the top. As if the features of his face weren’t captivating enough, he also had a chiseled jawline that attributed a rugged edge to his handsome visage. Broad shoulders? Check. Well-defined abs visible even beneath fitted white shirt? Check. Tanned skin contrasting so deliciously against previously noted white shirt? Check. Narrow waist perfect for gripping? Check. Where the hell did THAT come from? This was M.A.N…all caps.
He must have been frowning down at her for a solid ten seconds before she realized that her mouth was literally hanging open. She pretended to yawn, though she could sense that she’d definitely been busted. When his frown only deepened, she was sure of it and decided that it was time to take the focus off of her.
“Can I help you?” She asked, noting with a shudder that her voice was shaking. Get. It. Together.
He glanced behind him to look over the display again and Galina noticed that he clenched his jaw, actually heard the grinding of his teeth. His green eyes flashed with some kind of emotion. Was it embarrassment?
When he turned to face her again, his expression seemed to dare her to laugh. He seemed defiant somehow and his mouth remained firmly shut.
“Um…ok,” she decided to try again, “Are you looking for something in particular? Are you having issues getting an erection or maintaining one?”
She may as well have slapped him. He actually exhaled a disgusted breath before shaking his head and crossing his arms over his chest. Finally, he spoke. “I’m not here for any of these…these ConCOCKtions as you call them.” He gestured to the small chalkboard over the display that did indeed have the word “ConCOCKtions” written in bubbly pink and white print.
Holding her hands up in mock surrender, Galina shrugged and looked around the store. “Well, is there anything else I can you find?”
His voice was so rich and deep that he seemed to growl his next words. “I am looking for the one called Galina. Galina Antonescu.”
“What?” Now she was thoroughly and completely confused. “I think you’re looking for me. My name’s Galina, although I think you’ve got the last name wrong. It’s Anton, not Antonescu.”
He frowned again – he was good at that – and shook his head. “Are you certain? I have strict instructions to find one Galina Antonescu. My source told me that I would find her at The Thrifty Nymph.”
Galina leveled a suspicious glare at him. “You, a man I’ve never met, were sent to find me and you say you have…sources? Am I in some kind of trouble? I’m on a payment plan, and I have never been late! Not once!”
“I’m not a debt collector,” he seethed through clenched teeth.
WhatTheFuck, party of one! She must have looked as bewildered as she felt because he nodded then and said, “My name is Kristian Sleipnir, and I’ve been sent to protect you.”
SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK SO FAR?