A Stake in Secrets

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Chapter 8 - Finn

I’m following her. I see the girl approach a pomegranate booth. She places her hand on a pomegranate. I arrive at the booth and stand next to her.

Looking up at the vendor, the girl asks, “Sir, how much does this cost?”

“Two bucks fifty cents.”

Before she lifts the pomegranate from the stand, I place my hand right on top of hers.

The girl turns to look at me, surprised. I find myself gazing into a pair of round hazel eyes, like melted caramels, honeyed and pleasant. For a moment, I lose track of my surroundings, but I quickly catch myself.

I smile smugly at her. “Sorry, but I feel a particular attachment to this pomegranate.” Without removing my hand, I say to the vendor, “I’ll pay you three dollars for this.”

The vendor nods his head absentmindedly as he continues to churn juice behind the booth.

I’m curious to see how this girl reacts, but she merely slips her hand from under mine without a word and looks for a different pomegranate instead.

That’s no fun. However, I’m not letting her go that easily.

When she picks up another pomegranate, I point to the one she has chosen and announce, “Ah! What a coincidence! I was going to take that one as well.”

I inspect the girl for signs of irritation, but she’s as imperturbable as an oil painting of still life.

That is. . . until she speaks.

She turns to look at me, calm and steady. “It appears that you and I have quite similar tastes in fruit. You ought to choose all the fruit you would like first, so I can choose after you.”

I shake my head as if disappointed. I tell her, “No, no. A gentleman must always give way to a lady.”

She places one hand on her hip and tilts her head. “I don’t believe that’s a problem as I don’t see any gentlemen here.”

I feign dismay. “Why! You see right through me.” I whisper, “Indeed, I tend to treat women quite roughly. . . but I can’t say they don’t enjoy it.” I give her a wink.

She laughs and says, “You might want to reassess your ego then. It’s clouding your perception of women.”

She leaves the booth.

After paying for a few random pomegranates, I catch up with her again. This time, at a stand selling lemons.

I watch as she enters the tent behind the stand and comes out with a burly, freckled boy holding a bucket of lemonade.

He asks her, “Where’s the guy?”

The girl points straight at me.

The next thing I know, the bucket of lemonade comes pouring down, and I close my eyes.

By the time I open them, the girl’s nowhere to be seen.

I ask the boy, “Who’s that girl?”

Trying to assume an aggressive stance, the boy steps closer to me. Although he has a stockier build, he’s still shorter. “She’s my childhood friend. Don’t mess with her.”

I smirk. “Ah. . . so not a girlfriend?” His eyes narrow. I continue to taunt him, “But you want her to be. . . How sad. . . It appears she doesn’t like you in that way.”

“Shut up! You don’t know anything.” He tries to throw a sloppy punch at me, but I catch it with ease. Years of having assassins on my tail have given me fast reflexes.

“Now, now. We wouldn’t want you to meet your girl with a black eye, would we?” I say. I let go of his hand when he relaxes it, realizing his small chance at winning this fight.

Scowling, he turns his back on me and walks back into the tent, leaving me wondering why I’m constantly facing closed doors and guarded secrets.

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