The Year Package

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Taking Work Home with You

𝕯𝖔𝖒𝖎𝖓𝖎𝖈

I groan loudly. Before I can even open my eyes, I notice my head is heavy, and my throat was on fire. I rub my throat. It isn't something that could be satisfied with water.

This felt like a hangover. I only get hangovers if the person I drank from was intoxicated. Mae d- I sit up immediately looking around the foreign room.

"Jesus, Dominic, don't move so suddenly."

I turn to Mae, who is sat feet perched on the chair. Her knees close to her chest. I get up, and something snags onto my arm. I look down at the piece of yellow fabric wrapped around my forearm holding down the needle.

My eyes follow the plastic tube before it rests in Mae's arm. She is staring at me a pencil tucked behind her ear; her hands rested on her lap.

"What happened?"

Mae stands up, sliding her own needle out of her arm, she lays it on the chair. Tucking what I now realise is a sketchbook under her arm.

"You collapsed at the studio. I couldn't take you to the doctors, and well I don't really remember how to get to your house, so I had to take you back to my place. You've been asleep for two days in and out of a fever. It's good to see you've pulled through." Mae attempts a smile before speaking, "have a shower it's just gone 6 pm. Sybil sent a driver with some clothes and stuff." Mae points and my eyes follow to the black leather duffle. "I'll be downstairs making dinner."

I watch Mae head down the stairs beside her chair. She glances over her shoulder and notices I am still watching her. She smiles slightly at me, tucking some hair behind her ear and continues walking.

Mae's room isn't what I expected of her. It is very light— shades of white, beige and cream is everywhere from the sheets to the floor and furniture. I reach over to the duffle bag pulling it up on the bed before unzipping it.

I can only imagine what Sybil thought when Mae requested my clothes and things. Whether she was sceptical or how Mae even went about asking for them. What could she have said? What did Sybil say?

Somehow, I manage to pull myself off the bed glancing around her room, on the bedside table was a picture. I instantly notice Mae and her mother, and a man and a small boy accompanied them. Her mum remarried had a son. Mae looks the most out of place as though she'd been photoshopped into the picture.

She was stood off to the left slightly, almost out of focus and not all there. Despite her smile, I can see in her eyes that the smile could never reach. Was it sadness? Regret? Both? I shake my head. Who am I to really pry into her family life?

I grab the duffle bag carrying it into the bathroom, just like most of the apartment this bathroom was the perfect place to let in the natural light.

I run my hand off the porcelain sink sitting on the wooden two-drawer chest that had been placed to suspend in the air.

I pull off my clothes, standing in the small bathroom I can tell that I hadn't showered. My clothes seem to stick and cling in every area that produced sweat, and when my shirt came off, you'd think I had just come back from a full-body workout at the gym. I can't even imagine what my breath smelt like.

I turn on the water making sure it was just below scolding. Being dirty is not my thing, and it is certainly not something I am often. Having the hot water hit my back is pleasurable, and as I scrub myself vigorously with soap, I feel layers of grime fall off me and swirl down into the drain.

By the time I left the bathroom I've showered, dressed and brushed my teeth and a bit of me begins to relax. Especially considering I am in a stranger's house. I can hear Mae humming with a song from the kitchen directly underneath the bedroom.

I didn't take Mae as a loft kind of girl but not to say it isn't nice. It was just her bed was like a balcony overlooking the living and dining room.

There is a divide, and if she had guests over, they'd see everything. There is no privacy. I can't' imagine Mae bringing a client home. If I remember correctly, no client is even supposed to know their person's date of birth or even their last name for that matter. I doubt they'd know where they lived.

I head down the stairs and see Mae, her back is to me while her music plays and she talks on the phone.

"No Lara, Magenta said it was fine to bring him home." She is stirring something in a pot.

Her small little island had food ends scattered across it, a blender with a red liquid at the bottom.

I stalk forward as Mae continues to reassure this Lara person.

"What... take him home, which might I add I don't actually know where his home is...I've only ever been conscious twice when I've come and gone from that house..."

I step behind her, watching as she stirs a large pot of what looked like soup.

"Tha-"

Mae screams, turning around. I look down at the knife pressed to my throat. Her hand is still shaking as she tries to calm herself.

"The sneaking, Dominic. God, I forgot you were here." Mae turns around, pressing her earphone.

"Lara...no I'm fine...honestly...I'll call you or see you soon whichever comes first...yes, I'll be." She eyes me slightly. "vigilant...love you too, bye." She pulls her earphones out, discarding them on top of her fridge.

I watch as she drops the knife into the sink and stares at me.

"How are you feeling?" Mae is dressed in a tight fluffy pair of caramel coloured leggings figure-hugging to be exact. She didn't have a top on just a black sports bra, and I wasn't surprised, the heat encased in this small loft is impressive. I feel sweaty already despite only just getting out of the shower.

I turn her around, staring at her back.

Nothing.

The deep gashes, the peeled skin, and crusting blood isn't there. In fact, it was more like it never happened. No scaring not even a small indent to suggest something happened.

"Your back," I whisper, almost scared that I could jinx it and the magic would lift. Mae turns around, almost embarrassed by the whole thing.

"It's fine." She steps back as though she could still feel the pain that had left her crying on a metal slab only a few days ago.

"How...I saw the..." I can't even bring myself to mention the sight. The thought and image of it make my stomach roll.

"Magenta. The doctors did the surgery, and Magenta polished up the scaring. Come." Mae took my hand, running it over her side. It felt exactly as it did when I had left her—smooth and soft. My body releases a held breath as I close my eyes.

"Mae." I open my eyes to stare at her. I place a hand on her shoulder, my tongue running over my teeth as I thought carefully on my next words. Letting my silver eyes guide and caress her brown ones.

"What is Magenta?" I remember the burning in my throat as I regurgitated her blood, how Magenta didn't even squirm after I practically tore her neck out.

Mae stares at me her eyes still captured in mine. My head suddenly whips to the side, my cheek burning as Mae grips her sore hand. I hold my cheek more shocked that she hadn't been compelled and less on the fact that she had slapped me.

"Don't" she points a stern finger at me. "Do that again. You don't think Magenta made sure that I wouldn't succumb to things like that." Fuck. I hadn't thought of that. The witch was a lot craftier than I gave her credit for.

"I'm sorry." My shoulders slumped as I look to the floor. "I know she's your employer and...well that event in the yoga studio baffles me. You've got to appreciate that this doesn't happen at all. I don't have trouble feeding, and I certainly don't sleep for two days in and out of a fever," I explained. Mae listens to my apology as she tidied her small kitchen.

"Understand, Dominic. I don't make it a habit of bringing clients home. What happened in the studio was stressful as it is without you being there, but I'm used to it. What happened to you because of it was another added stress. You're better now, and quite frankly that's all that matters.

"Magenta hasn't called off the arrangement."

Mae shook her head, chucking her blender into the sink. I was sure to expect a two-year suspension and maybe even a legal case in the mail in the next few weeks.

"No, she understood that the situation was very distressing for you."

I watched her run some water over her cookware before turning to me to speak, "if my other client is going to be a problem, then we should call it quits."

I rubbed my chin, scratching the short hair.

"Your client is a werewolf and if that wasn't bad as it is you're partaking in their weird mating ritual. Does Magenta even allow things to go that far? What happens if you guys pass? Where in the pricing is marriage?"

She places her things in the dishwasher next to the fridge, contemplating her answer. As the last utensil went in and Mae had started the cycle, she could finally address me properly, "Magenta will sort it out, Dominic. Will it be a problem?" Her stare was cold, and her eyes were desperately trying to look through me instead of at me, but I could tell she didn't have the answers. There was a chance that Magenta would keep profiting off her arrangement with this werewolf right up until her deathbed.

"No. It won't be," I reply curtly.

A.N. The roles have reversed, now it's Dominic waking up in a stranger's house. Who would've thought that he wouldn't be able to compel Mae. Let me know what you think. Most importantly thanks for reading.


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