Nikki stepped back, but not to leave, not to recoil in horror from me, but to sit in the chair in front of the desk. She carefully arranged her skirt, showing the perfect amount of leg according to some arcane formula only she knew, but I couldn’t argue with the results.
“That won’t work, Matthew.”
“Hmm?” I said, still staring at her legs. She wore some kind of micro fishnet, the holes in the stockings bigger than in regular nylon—who am I kidding, Nikki wore silk—and ordinary fishnets.
Wonder if they factor into her equations.
“Staring at my legs will not relieve you of telling me the story.”
“How about your heart. That’s looking fairly unprotected, right now.”
“My breasts are not enough to distract a mind like yours for long. Do credit me with knowing you like I do.”
“Do you?” I flounced in my chair, sending up puffs of dust. “I don’t think I even know myself, anymore.”
“Stop evading, Matthew. You were gone for weeks. Jennifer and Jessica were worried sick. Your curt messages did nothing to allay any fears. They—we—deserved better than that.”
I took a deep breath, prepared to argue the point, especially as the events of the past week flew through my head. I hadn’t realized it was weeks, here, but it made sense. Time was relative, according to Einstein, and he didn’t have to take into account mythological realms. I blew out the air as a long sigh. “Yeah. Yeah, you do. I could offer up excuses, but that was lousy. I’m sorry.”
“The best apology is an explanation. You might be able to fool mortals, as they have not seen what I have, but I perceive a change in your down to your soul. You have been through much in the time we’ve known each other, and though you have suffered through traumas, I have not seen the like affecting you so.”
I gave a slow nod. “It’s still pretty raw in my head, Nikki, so don’t expect a tight story like one of Marlowe’s.”
“As long as there is a femme fatale,” she smiled.
“Ha! Yeah, you could say that. More than one, actually. God, where to start?”
“As with all stories, Matthew, the beginning is traditional.”
“Okay, you ever heard of Storm Riders. . . ?”