She cut him off. “Please, Melody.”
That thin smile came across once more as she folded her hands in front of her. She certainly had a presence. Something warm and comforting. At once he was both inexplicably intrigued and quite unnerved. He held a long blink, returning her smile as best he could. “Melody. I have this sinking feeling that you’re holding us at one hell of a disadvantage.”
Aaron had cracked the book open. Its heavy cover touched the tabletop with a puff of dust. He flipped through its pages, each one intricately detailed in purple, black, and red inks, none of which he could make any sense. Every so often a page would have a diagram or picture. He let a short sigh loose.
“You’re held at your own disadvantage, Mr. Matthews,” she said the name with a grin and enough emphasis that Ryu himself couldn’t help but return a flustered smile. “I hold no responsibility for that, I assure you.”
Aaron, for his part, was never one for cat and mouse games. Ryu knew that much from their first encounter. “Even so, you clearly know quite a bit about us. Enough to invite us up here and show us your collection of real ‘books of magic’.”
Melody leaned back in her chair and crossed on knee tightly over the other. She flattened the wrinkles of her dress. “I certainly hope that you of all people, Mr. Matthews, don’t doubt the power of ‘real magic.'” Her tone had dropped and she was looking right at Aaron.
“This is what I’m talking about.”
Aaron shook his head. “I never said that.” He closed the book and slid it back to her. “But clearly you’re trying to glean something from us that you seem to already know. Or think you know.”
“Why did you come here?”
Her abruptness caught him slightly off-guard. “I… I’m not exactly…”
“Not exactly sure,” she finished for him. “As you were walking by something grabbed your attention. You would normally pass it off as a gut feeling – a sixth sense – your spiritual intuition. In fact, most people do just that; pass off the feeling and go about their daily routine.”
“There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?”
“A foolish monkey doesn’t have to spend any time in a wolf’s clothing to realize that,” Melody said without taking her eyes off Aaron. “But, you wouldn’t be who you are without acting on that intuition.”
Her mouth had stopped moving, but her voice rang inside his mind, One wonders why the Blue One’s thoughts are so clouded. One should know exactly what brought one here.
One is not one’s self at the moment.
Curious. One thinks that one has traveled without a pack for far too long. That one has lost touch with one’s self and that is why one’s self now occupies more than one.
“What are you saying? That we brought this on ourselves?” Aaron asked aloud.
“Saying? Neither of you have said anything for the past five minutes.”
Melody looked sharply at Ryu. “You heard nothing of our conversation?”
“I heard the dust settling downstairs. I heard an ambulance ten blocks away. I heard a girl two blocks down… well, let’s just say she was enjoying herself,” his face flushed slightly. “What I didn’t hear was anyone in this room talking.” Her lips pursed as she studied him carefully. She said nothing. “Nothing. Not a sausage.” She remained silent, still looking somewhat puzzled.
“Ryu she wants to help…”
Ryu turned to Aaron, the man had gotten to know him better than almost anyone else in his whole life over a few hours. “Is that what she told you?”
Aaron paused a beat. “It’s not about what she told me.”
He knew what Aaron meant, and it sort of hurt. He looked from his reflection over to Melody, who was still looking at him. Even with all that had happened he had never felt less like himself as he did in that moment. “I see.”
“Have you been on the road so long that you’ve lost everything you learned?”
Ryu slumped down in his chair. “And then some.”
“Or perhaps you feel that you’ve come so far on your own that you feel you are beyond yourself?” She paused, holding him there. With no response, he folded his hands together and propped his chin against them looking back. “You need to remember how to listen.” She looked between the two of them. “To remember how to see. To learn to look beyond yourselves. To see why you are where you are.”
“Ok,” he said taking a slow focused breath. “I’ve never been one for exposition, but I don’t suppose you could tell us why we are where we are.” He smiled “Mainly, why I’m here and there… and vice versa.”
Melody Chang shook her head. Her dark hair fell over her shoulders. “I’m sorry. Truly I am. But I can’t give answers I don’t have. Nor can I learn your lessons for you.” Her smile returned as her tone brightened. “But I can help you with your predicament. I cannot place you on your path, only guide you to it.”
“If I had a penny…” Aaron gave him a look. “I’m kidding.”
“Fair enough, Melody.” Aaron thought for a moment. He could not explain the complete feeling of trust, but there was just something about this woman. Either she was extremely adept at hiding her true intentions, something for which – regardless of the body he inhabited – he knew his ‘gut’ would ferret out, or she was truly genuine. His ‘gut’ was telling him it was the later. It was for that exact reason that he felt no restrictions for what he was about to say.
“We have a… friend, that says he can right what’s wrong with us.” Regardless of how much he felt he could trust Melody, he would not simply out Kardiac. He noticed the look that Ryu was giving him and held up a hand to calm him.
“There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?” Melody parroted Ryu’s earlier comment.
“But, he can’t guarantee it will work at all, and he’s certain that we’ll lose the memories of everything that’s happened since the whammy was put on us.”
“And we, being the kind of fellas that we are, would rather not have that happen.”
“There is…” Melody Chang paused a moment, her fingers pressed against her lips pursed in thought. “There is more to your situation then science can properly solve. Forces greater than that of your ‘attacker’ have drawn this upon you, powerful forces that draw maps upon the sands of time.” She looked between the two men.
“Then it sounds like we didn’t chance upon your bookstore.”
“It’s possible. Not all events play out as intended…”
Aaron hadn’t heard truer words all day. “But you can help.”
She nodded, shifting in her seat. It was almost imperceptible, but Ryu could see there was something wrong, something making her nervous. Melody was silent for a short while. “I’ll need time to prepare. Certain precautions need to be taken.” She slid back and stood up. Their time was up.
She smiled extending her hand to both men. “Come by tomorrow evening, 11:30. We should be ready by then.”
Aaron and Ryu saw themselves out and headed to the car. Ryu spoke first. “She’s unsettled by something. Almost afraid.” Aaron nodded. They said nothing until they reached the car. Fishing the keys from his pocket, the BMW chirped as the doors unlocked. “Think it’ll work?”
Wolf grinned, “It’ll take a miracle.”