I look up at the impossibly handsome stranger again, noting his unchanged expression.
He isn’t taking the hint.
Or, more likely, he’s ignoring it.
It looks like I’ll have to be straightforward with this one.
“Can you move so I can get out of your chapel?” I quip. “You know, since I’m trespassing and all?”
He leans in, his gorgeous face now mere inches from mine, completely ignoring my request. “What were you doing with the chalice?”
My eyes immediately shoot downwards as I turn my attention to the object he’s speaking of and its spilled contents laying on the floor next to us. I’d all but forgotten about it since this fellow stunned me into oblivion.
“Oh…I just…I was just looking at it,” I say.
“Liar,” he smiles.
Okay, whatever. I guess I’m a liar.
But I’m not admitting that to this stranger, no matter how good-looking he is.
“I swear that’s what I was doing,” I insist, avoiding his eyes so I won’t focus on how endearing he looks when he smiles. “Just. Looking,” I repeat, trying to sound as sincere and grounded as possible.
He scoffs. “And you just so happen to look at things with your lips, right?”
My eyes shoot right back to him in shock, realizing that he’s been watching me for longer than I thought.
Oh gosh, did he see all of that? How long has this creeper been stalking me?
His eyes instantly narrow at me and he’s beginning to scowl again.
“Stalking?” he admonishes with another scoff. “You barge onto private property and I’m the creeper?”
“I told you to cut that shit out!” I snap, no attempt to veil my annoyance, the words escaping me before I can stop myself. “Stop reading my thoughts!”
He arches his eyebrow and cocks his head slightly to the side, almost mockingly. “I can’t help it.”
I huff incredulously, placing my hands on my hips in frustration. “Yes, you can. You just don’t want to.”
“And you would know that because…?” he counters.
I just shake my head in resignation. “Look, I don’t have time to argue with you.”
Goodness, am I still dreaming? I need to wake the hell up then because I’m not really sure where else to go, and I don’t want to be stuck with The Annoying Hottie over here for much longer.
I see a smirk forming at the corner of his mouth. “You don’t like my company now?”
He may have the best lips I’ve ever seen, dream or not, but I’m not going to let him get away with violating my personal space.
“I swear to God, if you invade my thoughts one more time—”
“Settle down, kitten,” he interjects, his tone amused. “No need to get hostile.” He seems to be inching even closer.
I cross my arms over my chest again, partly in defiance and partly because I’m getting nervous. “You’re the one who won’t move out of my way,” I say, trying to sound firm despite my increasingly frazzled nerves. “And I’m not your kitten,” I add with a sneer.
He stares at me intently, with no response for my words.
Suddenly I feel like a chihuahua being stalked by a coyote.
A really, really big coyote.
I swallow audibly, and immediately hate myself for showing such obvious discomfort.
He’s already pushing me around as it is. My display of anxiety will only encourage him to keep doing just that.
I really need to not be here right now…
“What’s your name?” he asks suddenly.
I frown. “What’s yours?”
He crosses his arms casually, the gesture smooth and effortless. “I asked you first.”
My forehead scrunches up, mirroring my growing irritation. “And I asked you second.”
He arches his eyebrow mockingly again. “Wow, you certainly worked up an attitude in the last five seconds.”
“Well, boo hoo,” I retort, letting the sarcasm roll off my tongue, childish as it may be.
I don’t care for his smart-assed remarks but I decide to disregard them. He clearly isn’t letting me leave so I figure I might as well be the one asking the questions.
“So…where are we, anyway?” I say, changing the subject. “What is this place?”
And what was in that bronze cup?
“You mean the one you tried to drink from?” he smirks.
I can’t stop myself from scoffing. “Are you just trying to be disrespectful?”
“Are you just trying to deter the conversation because you know you were caught stealing?” he counters, the amused grin still toying with his distracting lips.
My eyes widen in disbelief. “Stealing? You’re calling me a thief?”
“I didn’t say you are,” he says.
“But you insinuated it.”
He takes in a deep, audible breath. In spite of his mocking facade, I can tell he’s starting to get mildly irritated as well.
Not that I care.
“I apologize if it came off that way,” he says after a pause, his voice calm, deep. “But if anything, I should be mad at you for trying to take something that isn’t yours—without the permission of its owner. That is the definition of stealing, you know.”
I want to give him a mouthful of my own definitions—ones that’ll wipe the smugness right off his gorgeous face—but…he’s right.
The chalice isn’t mine, even if the dream is.
I don’t have a real comeback for his statement, so I decide to move the conversation in a direction that I’m more comfortable with—without the negative attention on me.
“So…the cup is yours?” I say, looking back to the toppled chalice on the ground. “And this is your…chapel?” I add with uncertainty, gesturing to the vast space around us. “No offense, but you look a little young to be a priest.”
“No offense taken,” he says. “And you presume incorrectly. I’m no priest.” He chuckles as he adds, “Quite the opposite, actually.”
“You’re a cult leader then?” I mock, mirroring his previous facial gesture and arching my eyebrow.
He full on laughs at that, the delicious sequence of sounds rumbling from deep within his broad chest, followed by a slight shrug. “I suppose you could say that, yes.”
I pale at that statement.
I was only kidding about the cult leader thing.
A small but noticeable pause ensues. I’m unsure of what to say, but I don’t want to freak out, especially if he’s just trying to pull my leg.
I take a deep breath, figuring I’ll just go with it; play along with this little game of his.
“Sooo…you’re a Satanist?” I quip.
He winces a little, as if offended. “That’s kind of a strong word, don’t you think?”
My eyes bulge at that response. “Y-You’re not denying it?”
I’m alarmed now.
But how can I know what he’s saying is true?
Maybe he’s a liar, too.
“Are…are you being serious?” I ask, waiting—hoping—for him to say he isn’t.
He shrugs again, his expression turning nonchalant. “I’m not a Satanist, but I am what you would call…a soul reaper.”
A pause ensues.
And another one.
I’m almost not sure I hear him…
And then, for some reason, those two words resound and register in my head as clear as a cloudless day: