Alexis leaned against the wall, looking up to the blue sky in the sweltering heat. Her thighs were sticky and her entire body felt as if she were melting. It was terrible. Her hair was a mess of humidity induced frizz and she was certain that whatever makeup she’d had on was gone. Sipping on her water through her straw, she thanked the heavens for ice. When Nathan tapped her shoulder, she jumped almost three feet into the air like a frightened cat, before pulling her headphones off her ears and starring at him. He had changed out of his work uniform.
“Sorry.” He apologized before Alexis could say hello. After he said the words, she did not have the heart to tell him that it was her fault and that she should have been prepared for him to appear. She had been the one to call him out and see if he wanted to go out on a date after his shift. She was the one waiting for him outside of his work place. She should have been expecting him, however she had not heard him approach. What was it with these southern boys and their frequency she could not track? She was going to have to do more to get to know the land so that she could sense when someone was approaching her.
It was going to be a date. She had framed it as a date so that there would be no confusion between the two of them. She had not known him long but she had gone on dates with less information before. Boys on dating apps were always hits or misses, and Nathan seemed like a far better option than any of them. She told him was a date when it was an information scout to learn more about the door. The date and hanging out with him was a bonus. She had asked him to show her around town, and to all of the cool music spots. He had agreed. She had told him it was a date, and had flustered him.
“Well?” She smiled at him holding out her phone. “Where are we headed?”
“The antique mall.” He answered, taking her phone and putting in the address to it. “There is street parking…”
“I learned to parallel, don’t worry.” Alexis tossed her hair over her shoulder and smiled as bright as she could with her sunglasses on her face. With that she started towards the car. Her father had bought a second vehicle as his second large purchase after arriving. He had told her to drive it, as he could not have her driving the truck everywhere. In a way it made her feel less safe, being in a smaller vehicle.
She knew to drive, but she had grown up walking and taking public transportation. The idea of a small vehicle was more daunting than she wanted to admit. Tiana had been the one to convince her that it would be okay. She was not certain, but she had no issues as of yet.
Alexis put her gps on volume, turned on music, and waited for Nathan to buckle his seatbelt before she started them off towards the antique mall. Alexis felt a bit guilty that she was using the date as a way to get closer to the door and the enigma that was Jordan. Something about him did not seem natural to her, but not in the ghost sort of way. It was in the supernatural sort of way.
The door haunted her dreams and she had to know more.
“So your car is in the shop?” Alexis asked him breaking the ice, knowing that he was nervous while she had none of the same butterflies. This was to solve a mystery.
“It… Yeah. I rarely drove it and it decided to give up on me. I lived on campus, and when younger I had Jim or Jordan.” Nathan answered a bit embarrassed.
“It’s okay. I won’t tell Tiana.” Alexis hummed along with the music, wondering how she could organically bring up the door.
“My best friend.” Alexis picked up her phone with her hand, and showed Nathan her lock screen without looking at it. An image of Alexis and Tiana from spring break that year was the screensaver. The two had gone to Paris and standing under the Eiffel Tower holding hands and smiling at the camera. “We met in college and she taught me.”
“She seems lovely.”
“She is. She’s mixed too. You and the guys met when you were kids right?”
“Middle School.” Nathan nodded. “Jordan is a collector of misfits. I was not bullied like Jordan and Jim were, but I was the odd one out in most social situations until I met them.”
“I got into that when I was a kid. My dad had me in kendo from a young age. He’s the one I got my love of swords and all things sharp from.”
“He sounds lovely.”
“He was.” Nathan sighed looking out the window for a bit. “What sort of music instrument are you looking for?”
Was that the excuse she had given him as an item to search for? “An old keyboard. I like old instruments and old music players. I’ll have to show you my collection sometime.” She glanced at him for the smallest of moments, seeing the way he met her eyes. The moment was interrupted by the gps telling her that they had arrived. Looking about, Alexis spotted a space and parked the car.
The two got out and Alexis looked around at the variety of antique stores and shops. There were tens of them, bustling with people dressed better than Alexis could hope to pull off herself. There were clothing rails on the sidewalk with people browsing them. There were children running across the street as if there weren’t cars driving 5mph. With the amount of sidewalk space, and the speed bumps, the location was pedestrian friendly over cars. The only people driving by were people trying to park.
“Good?” Nathan asked her when she stepped to the sidewalk with him.
“This is amazing.” She hurried to take a few photos and send them to Tiana. Nathan took the lead and led them towards a store, opening the door for her. There were antiques of all kinds, in booths set up by private sellers. Her eyes darted to all the beautiful things, and she made her way to the music instruments as if her soul harmonized with them.
Nathan did not say anything to her as they looked at the antiques. Her hands hovered over the old strings, before her heart was drawn somewhere else. Meandering through the shop, Alexis was pulled in all directions, until she found an old pink casio keyboard and she almost squealed.
“Look at it.” Alexis looked to the price tag and calculated the expenses in her head. It was too cheap, which made her wonder if it were broken.
“It says here that it’s not working.” Nathan pointed to a laminated sheet of paper behind it that explained that it would not turn on.
“I have Tiana. It’s fine.” Tiana could fix it. If it was a machine, Tiana could fix it. Gathering it into her arms, she pulled a couple of records and music scores, before returning to the front to deposit it. She then went on to find more.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why music?” Nathan asked as Alexis sat on the floor to go through old music scores and records. He sat next to her and she looked at him seeing genuine interest in his eyes.
“It calls my soul.” Alexis let her voice fall into its rhythmic tempo. Tiana had told her that when she talked about music it happened and Alexis had always been proud of it. “Music is a part of me as air is to humans. It is so woven into my very existence that I want all of it. Older music. The older something gets the more it ages and gets a life of its own.”
Nathan nodded to himself.
“Is that like how it is for you? With anything sharp?” She used his words for it.
Nathan paused for a moment, his eyes drawn to a sword. “Yes. I suppose that it is. I like different sword and fighting styles. Things you can do with blades and staffs have always intrigued me and I am drawn to them.”
“I think you’ll make it as a fight scene coordinator.”
“Thank you.” Nathan then laughed. “Jordan wanted for me to start an online video channel of doing free running and sword fights.”
“We don’t know anyone who is good with cinematography and editing.”
“You can hire people for that. Jordan has money, make him pay for it.” Her words made him laugh and in his laugh she saw beauty. Nathan already had a pretty smile, but his full laugh was alluring. “Your friends call you Nate. Can I call you Nate?”
“Sure.” His smile turned a bit sultry as their eyes met again.
By the time that they left, Alexis had bought far too much and had forgotten about her goal. It was as they were loading the car that she remembered. However, by that time Nate was directing her to the next location. From store to store, the two jumped around the block, before he got her in her car and took her to an empty lot that was filled with tents for a showcase. They walked around the street fair listening to the indie live music and looking at the art as Nate bought them food.
For hours they traveled from the booths looking at the trinkets and items that were being sold by indie artists. Eating street food when they were hungry, the two decided to take a break well into the night. The musicians that played were not a band that Alexis knew, but she found herself drawn to them until she recognized the songs. Alexis sang along with the covers, convinced Nate to dance. He was less awkward than she would have expected from him. Above them there were hundreds of stars shining down at them saying hello. She found herself starring up at the stars that she could not see from where she had grown up. She fell in love with them. She never wanted to leave them. Something about this new place was beginning to root within her and it seemed to know her better than any big city ever had.
“You okay?” Nate asked her when she had gone silent for a bit too long.
“Can’t you hear it?” She whispered looking up, sensing it on her fingertips. The familiar hum, she had found it. Changed, but she had found it.
“I…” She paused and looked at him. Her mouth was moving before she believed that he would believe her. “I can feel, sense the rhythm of the world. It’s like seeing colors for sounds, only its vibrations. Everyone has a rhythm that interacts with the world and I can understand intentions from that. It’s why…”
“You knew to trust us.” Nate smiled softly at her taking her hand. She felt her heart flipping at his words. “You don’t get believed often do you.”
“Why do you say that?”
He moved the hair away from her eyes, his hand lingering over her cheek for a moment. “Your eyes say that you don’t.”
Once more he heart flipped before it spiraled out of control. She believed him, just as she believed Tiana. He believed her and she never wanted to let that go. “It’s hell down here. I have never sweat so much in my life, but it really was fun today.” She smiled at him, before she shifted on her feet. Their eyes held each other searching for answers in each other’s subtle cues, before Alexis leaned closer and Nate met her half way. It was sweet, short simple, the first one. The second was more passionate as Nate pulled her closer to him and she felt herself melting into him.
The second kiss was a symphony to Alexis. She felt her body resonating with the tune she had never heard. This person with her, he was made for her. Just like Tiana. Only this one was a different song. He was a harmony to her and she wanted to pull him closer to understand the intricacies of the notes. She wanted him to understand her melody, no matter how much the idea embarrassed her. She wanted him.
Alexis was still thinking of the kisses long after they got into her car and were headed to his house. They talked about their friends and interests and funny stories of the past as she drove.
“And then I almost opened the d—“ Nate stopped talking immediately as if his tongue had burned.
“The door?” Alexis had heard it and her heart raced at the word. How had she forgotten all about it? How did that happen? As she starred into the window before her, out to the street at the lights, it was as if something became clear to her again. “At the end of the hall?”
“You saw it?” Nate asked her starring at her through the window with a bit of hostility in his eyes. “Forget you saw it.”
“There are some things that are better off ignored. One of them is Jordan’s family secrets.”
“You make that sound like he’s dangerous.” Alexis forced the laugh but watching as Nate’s mood shifted she knew she shouldn’t press. He did not say another word as they pulled up outside of his house.
“Plausible deniability, Alexis. Do you understand me?” He did not unbuckle.
“Why?” What was behind the door? It had made her feel so safe. They did say that the greatest evils were calming. had she been lured by the most classic of horror traps?
“Plausible deniability.” Nate answered once again, unbuckling. She helped him with his few things he had bought before they stood facing each other. The moment she was outside, all of the hostility, worry, fear, disappeared on the wind. As if it never existed to begin with.
“Thanks for today.” She smiled smiled softly. He eyed her as if seeing her for the first time again.
“Drive home safe.” The way he said the words made her feel as if she were being dumped. Confused, Alexis stumbled out a goodbye before driving away. Nia helped Alexis with all of her things.
“You look haunted.” Nia told her as they unloaded the bags into Alexis’ room.
“Do you have James’ number?”
“Jim.” Nia corrected her. “He goes by Jim with his friends and sure. You need it?”
Alexis’ was driven. If she did not get some sort of answer, she was going to drive herself mad. Getting Jim’s number from her sister, she messaged him some half assed message about how Nate had told her that Jim knew of some cool musicians. She had to see if he reacted the same way to the door. She had to know if she had almost been seduced by evil, and to recalibrate her mind to reject it. Nate had been thrown from her after such a magical night. She needed to know what Nate would not tell her. She had to make up what she had ruined by curiosity. She…
Calling Tiana, Alexis told her about everything, ignoring the door once more. She told her that the mood had gone sour and that she now felt disheartened. She had thought the date had gone so well. Tears ran down her face as she said the words, thinking of the kiss. Tiana told her that Nate may have just gotten cold feet but Alexis wondered if it were more than that. He had reacted to her seeing the door and rejected her in full. She could not ignore that, but Tiana could pacify her for now.