Alexis awoke to the sound of her name. For a moment she was confused, opening her eyes and starring at her ceiling trying to get her mind to focus. The ceiling was popcorned with flaking white paint that would need to be fixed. When her name was called the second time, she leapt from her bed in a fright. A thousand thoughts went through her mind. Was something wrong? Throwing open her door, she yelled back. “Yes?”
“A boy is here.”
The words left her confused. Not only was her father speaking in Korean, meaning he didn’t want the guest to hear, but he was yelling. Usually he would knock on her door. The situation was urgent. He wanted her to understand fast. He was surprised. They all were surprised. What time was it?
Alexis looked over to her sister’s room. Nia was starring back at Alexis with a confused look. The light wasn’t even coming through the windows yet. Alexis was certain her sister’s face mirrored her own. Complete confusion had Alexis in a fright. Quickly, Alexis threw her door shut and rushed to get ready. She pulled on a skirt, a blouse, socks and tied her hair back with a ribbon before she flew down the stairs. Jordan fucking Brooks sat in her living room drinking tea with her mother and father.
He looked so at ease for the murder that was radiating off of her father. Her father was not fully dressed. Her mother wore her robe and her bonnet. Jordan Brooks did not seem to notice that complete distaste and irritation erupting from both of her parents. It was six in the morning and way too early for a house caller.
“Good morning Alexis.” Jordan greeted her. He smiled at her. The tips of his fingers were pale, and the steam of the tea seemed to be warming him. How long had he been outside?
“If you don’t mind me asking. Why are you here?” She decided that since he had decided again pleasantries that she would as well.
“We are headed out to the lake, remember?” Jordan asked her. She vaguely remembered agreeing to it the night before. The days had blurred together after she had been absorbed in music and ignored the rest of the world. Even if she could vaguely remember it, she was not certain she agreed to anything. Hearing him say it made her think that yes, she had. She’d need to check her messages. She most certainly did not agree to seven am. She was not that lost in music.
“Yes. Right.” Alexis said, not wanting to admit to her parents that she was not sure if Jordan showed up unannounced. “I thought you meant later.”
“The best time to go is in the morning.” He smiled. The smile told her that she had not agreed to a time at all. He had shown up when he felt like it. There was the longest of moments when Jordan smiled at her and her parents starred at her, before Alexis realized that she needed to move. She was already dressed. Tossing out words about returning, she raced up the stairs to grab a bathing suit and a towel. Into her bag she threw a bluetooth speaker and a few other items.
“Why is Jordan here?” Nia asked Alexis before Alexis could get Jordan Brooks out of her house.
“I agreed to go on a date with him.” Was that the word for it? She was not certain. Flipping through her messages on her phone she saw that their conversation had been little more than a question and answer. The two rarely talked unlike her and Nate. He had mentioned the lake but she had not expressively agreed. There was a phone call to him in her listing the night before, but had she talked to him about the lake? The call was short according to the record.
“What about Nate?” Nia asked.
“We aren’t dating.” Nate was also only talking to Alexis again, but they had not discussed what had happened before. A part of Alexis wanted to get past it, but she also knew that Nate would apologize to her at some point. Jim had made it seem that way at least. She wanted to believe it. Besides what she was doing with Jordan could not really be considered a date when she had no expectation for it. Right?
“They’re best friends. You aren’t a home wrecker Alexis.” Nia’s words stung. She knew that there was a truth to what Nia said, but Alexis let it disappear. The sinking stomach would have to be ignored for the time being.
“It’s all fair game.” Alexis did not care if she remembered why she agreed to Jordan. Now that the opportunity was in her hands, she wanted to see if Jordan was as terrible as Jim and Nate made him out to be. Was plausible deniability necessary? Focused, Alexis changed her entire demeanor. Skipping back down the stairs, Alexis told Jordan she would meet him out in the car before she looked to her dad.
“Do you trust this boy?” Her father asked her. He looked more tired than frustrated now that Jordan was out of their house. He gave her the look asking her if she really liked the bad boy.
“He’s not bad.” Alexis wanted to believe it. “Do you have a bad feeling about him?”
“He’s too pretty. Almost like a painting. Anything without flaw can not be flawless.” Her father shook his head. “Be safe. I’ll be tracking your location. If you have any issues, call the authorities.”
“I’ll be okay.” Alexis believed that her father was serious. He wasn’t often serious about tracking where she was. She had shared her location with him years ago and he rarely used it. “But okay.” She then hugged her father. “I don’t have a bad feeling.”
She felt her father relax at the words. He breathed out and then kissed her head. Alexis looked to her father and he nodded. He understood her gift. He’d supported her through trying to understand it better. She also did not doubt that he would still watch the location periodically.
Alexis rushed out to see Jordan with a convertible mustang. He stood at the front of it smoking a cigarette, breathing out to the air and starring into the sun as i in longing. She stepped up to him and when he looked down to her she swore she saw the entire universe in his eyes. She pointed to the car wanting to make small talk. “We’re going in this?”
“Yes.” Jordan answered, tossing out his cigarette and squashing the embers. He got in, sat back with one hand on the wheel, and slid his sunglasses on. As he smiled his flirtatious grin at her, she knew she was done for. Whatever minor noncommittal she’d had regarding never being interested was gone. Her father was right. He was far too pretty. Getting into the car, Alexis steadied herself as Jordan drove off playing pop tunes that Alexis knew. Unlike her time with Jim and Nate, Jordan found no need for small talk and instead pointed out the sights, and asked her about herself.
By the time that they had arrived at the lake, Alexis was certain that he knew everything about her. he had never once questioned or commented on any of it in a way that made her feel defensive. It made her trust him, and she wondered if it was how falling in love felt. She also knew that she knew nearly nothing about him, and she had to be vigilant even as her heart fluttered.
“Be careful.” Jordan said he walked towards the lake, giving her privacy to change. Hoping into her suit, she found him standing in the lake, shirtless and starring out towards the trees. Unlike before when he stared into the sun, him starring out to the lake was with a sense of loss. It was as if he would go to the water and never return, almost like a fear. For a moment, Alexis felt herself starring at his frame and expression. There was a sorrow to him that she could not fathom. He had lost something to water, and yet he returned to it? She hurried to find any sort of conversation as she joined him at the waters edge feeling the coolness against her feet.
“You like comics?” She started.
“And video games. Do you know Illusion’s Mirror?” He asked her turning back to her, his sunglasses on.
“Yes.” It was one of the few games she played through.
“Beautiful soundtrack no?” He wove for her to get closer to him. Hesitating, she did as he said. Together they walked deeper into the lake, submerged to their waists, before they found rocks to sit on. Perched out under the morning sun and the cool lake waters, Alexis did not feel chilled but serene. It was beautiful, and warming up quickly. People raced on their boats far away and others fished in deeper waters.
“It is. Beautiful. The soundtrack.” Alexis finally said returning to their conversation before. “What is your favorite comic book?”
Jordan paused for a moment. “I don’t have one.”
“Come on.” She did not believe it. He was a major nerd. She knew that. She saw that. How could he not.
“I call bullshit.”
“The Feather Falls. Its a small print.” Jordan finally admitted. “Its about dragons and elves.”
Alexis wished she had brought her phone for a moment before she decided to ask him more. “Only fantasy creatures?”
“Its the fated love story of an elf and a dragon that ended in flames.” Jordan answered. Once again he looked out into the waters, this time she followed his gaze to a set of trees on the edge of the lake and what looked like a river going deep into the forest.
“It’s over?” Alexis asked, trying to understand why he was looking at the forest.
“No, it’s on going.” Jordan looked back to her.
“Then how do you know?” Did the series begin with a prologue? Why would he put himself through that?
“I’m the author.” Jordan lowered his sunglasses a bit and smirked at her.
“No?” She gasped. She needed to look up the series. “Art too?”
“No. Jim found me a guy. He’s a great artist.” Jordan answered. “Its also not out yet.”
“That doesn’t count then!” She laughed.
“If I’m not my greatest fan, who will be?” He feigned being hurt. She wondered if, for a moment, he had said it to get her to stop asking. “I like anything with elves in it. Or dragons. They’re my favorites.”
“I like them too.” She agreed. Was this her way in to learn more?
“And the folk?” He asked her.
“Sure?” Not that she was certain what it meant. He then went on about a few other mythical creatures, which Alexis figured were related to each other. He started talking for a long while about magic creatures and people. They sat a good time into the morning on the rocks and in the sunlight before Jordan jumped into the water and made his way further out.
Alexis watched as he waved someone down and how he approached them with his boat. “Who is that?”
“Ride?” Alexis asked looking back to her things that had mysteriously disappeared from the beach. Had she put them back in the car? Jordan offered a hand and without thinking twice she followed him deeper into the water and then to the boat that was waiting for them. Jordan got up into the boat first and then helped her. They were riding off by the time she realized that she had followed him without question. Fear rose in her heart. “Where are we going?”
Jordan pointed on ahead where the lake became a river. The thick of trees that had caught her attention earlier was their new destination and only fear was in her heart. Before she could say a thing, they were surrounded on all sides by the trees. All at once, Alexis felt like she was transported to another world. It was dark, shaded, cool. There was a mist floating above the water and lulling her to listen. The energy of the world rocked at her in such tranquility and power that she felt safe, secure, and heard. She felt her soul singing with the trees and when the song met her lips she let it flow through her and outwards.
She sang as they boated through the river, and Jordan hummed along with her creating a beautiful harmony. It swelled about her, calming her heart and making her hear herself for the first time ever. She heard her soul in a way she had never fathomed and created the melody she always heard and sensed but could not put into words. When she stopped she felt a deep connection to her heart that she had not in a long time since leaving New York the first time.
“Its beautiful to meet your soul.” Jordan smiled at her before directing them back.
“I don’t know why I did that.” Alexis huffed out looking to her hands that were shaking. Jordan placed his hand on her’s and she looked up to his calming demeanor. She starred into his eyes that were blank. There was no window there for her to gaze into.
“Your blood was resonating. It’s okay.” He said the words in such a way that made her more confused. When he began singing himself, on the way back, she lost all her questions and let herself get lost in harmonizing. It was as if she knew him in a deeply intimate way that she had never known another person through.
Once they got back to the lake, back to the shore, Alexis went to ask him about it again, before she saw another car and what looked like familiar figures.
“Is that—“ Alexis cut herself short as her sister waved.
“Guardian, is that all?” The boat driver asked Jordan.
“Yes. Alexis. Let’s go.” Jordan jumped into the water and began back swimming without her. Alexis wanted to ask about the name but as she looked at the boat driver she felt as if she had to leave. It was not as if he were unapproachable, but the drive to leave overpowered her. Jumping into the water, she swam after Jordan who walked up to the shore and grabbed Nate in a big bear hug. Nate yelled at him, trying to push him off but finally gave into the hug. Then Jordan gave one to Jim who accepted it more willingly. Nia greeted Alexis.
“Why are you here?” Alexis asked her sister.
“I messaged Jim why Jordan had gotten you and he insisted that we follow you.” Nia explained. “Where did you go?”
“Out to the magic forest.” Jordan answered for Alexis. “So Alexis could learn of the land.”
“Magic forest?” Nia repeated.
“If magical creatures live anywhere, its there.” Nate shot Jordan a glare before turning back to Alexis looking at her with a look of hurt and frustration. She would have to talk to him. She should have talked to him before she agreed to go out there with Jordan.
“Come.” Jim dragged Jordan to the water and Nia followed them in, laughing as she did.
“We aren’t—“ Alexis started knowing it made her seem even worse.
“I know.” Nate sighed stripping off his shirt. “Be careful with him. Don’t forget what we told you Alexis. He’s not—“
“I know.” She agreed looking back to the flirt who had almost captured her heart, and joined them all in the water. She still knew nothing about him.