As Mrs. Brisby fascinated over the necklace she was currently wearing, she continued to wonder. Was she in a dream? Was she really in a world where multicolor lights and technical wizardry existed?
She knew she spoke to the head of this world, Nicodemus, mere seconds ago. She knew he told her that the rats living here were once ordinary ones like she was. She knew he told her that her late husband had been among their number and that he meant to give her necklace as a present before his untimely death.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Brisby remained perplexed by the unfamiliar surroundings. Walking down the gloomy hallway past Nicodemus's room did little to ease herself. She was so small, after all, and the miraculous creatures themselves so advanced. It made her feel like she had no business being here despite the fact that she had a very good reason to. Memories of the previous scorn and skepticism, hurled in her direction by the rats at the council, flashed through her head in succession.
Mrs. Brisby instinctively clutched her necklace, unaware until too late that she had walked right into the doublet-clad torso of another in the hallway. She froze in embarr**censored**ment.
Only then did Mrs. Brisby look up. What she saw caused her heart to race.
It was Jenner, the tall, imposing presence at the council, the one who took her tiny hand into his frightfully larger ones. How could she forget that low, sonorous voice and the feelings it brought?
Superficially, it could be compared to the blissful fluttering in her stomach when she met Justin but "blissful" it certainly was not. It was a new emotion that felt elusive, sickly sweet, caused her mind to wander dark places she'd rather not risk.
"J...Jenner," Mrs. Brisby said, the breath caught in her throat. "What are you doing here?"
Jenner's blank expression unexpectedly shifted to form a smile. "Funny you should ask. You see..." He paused, tilting his chin down to the side, hand resting on his hip. "Something has been bothering me since you first arrived. The way you were with me. I just sensed that something was" - his shrewd eyes carefully focused on Mrs. Brisby again - "off."
Mrs. Brisby didn't like the way Jenner was looking at her, exposing her with those eyes. A shaky smile of her own reached her face.
"Whatever do you mean?" Mrs. Brisby replied, turning her head in many directions for escape while hoping that the feelings bubbling inside her would go away.
Jenner knitted his bushy brows at Mrs. Brisby's *****censored**ered movement. In a swift gesture, he lifted his hand off his hip and cupped her entire jaw, forcing her to be still. "I think you know exactly what I mean," he stated boldly.
Mrs. Brisby kept quiet. She watched as Jenner peered at her from his towering height and prayed he would soon lose interest. Then his thumb landed on her parted mouth and slowly rubbed around its shape. Fresh blood started heating Mrs. Brisby's cheeks and her vision glazed over.
In response, Jenner chuckled. "Yes, I thought that's what it was. How interesting." His sly grin was nothing short of victorious. "And what's this?" he declared, grabbing Mrs. Brisby's necklace as if he didn't notice it before.
"Give it back," demanded Mrs. Brisby weakly as she came out of her trance.
"Why?" Jenner asked.
"My husband," Mrs. Brisby explained, "he made it for me. Please let it go."
Jenner continued staring hungrily at the necklace, lost in thought. A crueler grin emerged from the old one and he redirected his hunger towards Mrs. Brisby, resembling more like a cat in demeanor. Still holding the necklace, he used his other hand to pull her close.
"Your husband meant much to you, didn't he?" murmured Jenner into Mrs. Brisby's ear. "Yet a cold stone is all he left to remind you of him. He never even told you what it's for. No, he never trusted you. You had to discover everything on your own."
It was difficult for Mrs. Brisby to concentrate. Jenner smothered her body like a shroud in such an intimate embrace. "He had his reasons," she whispered. "Nicodemus told me - ah!" She gasped when Jenner suddenly bit her ear and tugged at it lightly with a growl.
"But who knows what else he's been hiding?" Jenner said afterwards, deliberately being ambiguous in who he was talking about. He brushed his thick fingers along her side.
Much to her dismay, Mrs. Brisby found herself leaning against the caress. "Jenner, don't," she hissed past her teeth. Why was she letting him do this to her?
"Mrs. Brisby? Nicodemus?" Justin's bright voice rang through the halls and Mrs. Brisby sighed in relief. She broke free of Jenner's loosened grip and began heading down the way she came, only for Jenner to seize her arm - even if his hold was now more relaxed.
"Think on it, my dear," Jenner beckoned. "If you need anything, I'll be more than willing to help you."
Once Jenner's hand released her, Mrs. Brisby ran and didn't look back. However, she was unable to shake the sensation that a part of her faith had fallen, never to rise again.