Death's Heart - Part One

Era Sokol looked across the subway.  She couldn't help but look away, trying not to smile.  She also couldn't help looking back.  The handsome man before her was too busy with his phone to notice her attentions. 

It would be a shame if he was texting his girlfriend, she thought.  But a man like that has to have one.

She noticed another.  She noticed lots of men.  But this one wasn't usually someone she would remember.  He was okay, average.  He saw had noticed him watching her and smiled.  It was a polite sort of smile.  Body, smile, face, clothes, he was average and easily blended in to the crowd.

Not to meet courtesy with rudeness, she smiled back, slightly awkward.  Their eye contact broke as he looked down and she looked back.  The subway stopped and to Era's disappointment her infatuation of the minute got off.

Just once I'd like for someone to stay until my stop.  For someone to be disappointed as I left before them, a chance not taken.

The next stop was hers anyways.

"Hello.  Samail Viteri, but please call me Sam.  You have such pretty eyes.  I couldn't help but notice."  This was the average, polite man.  He had dark hair and green-blue eyes.  Uninvited, he sat next to her.

"Era Sokol," she said.  "And I highly disagree.  They're just brown and hardly even that.  Now yours, their something.  It's like they haven't decided to be blue or green yet."  His eyes were different, but so diminished in his air of normality.

"Yes, but yours are different too.  I haven't seen anything like them before.  They're brown, but not brown.  More like a gold or yellow brown.  No one has yellow eyes," he said.

Era smiled and looked away. She didn't blush like some, but she always acted like she did.  "Well, it's sweet of you to say, regardless of the truth."

"Oh?  I didn't know lies could be considered sweet."

"Please.  Lies are always sweet.  They're just as bad for you as a double hot fudge sundae with cookies on top.  Too much sweetness, not enough substance,"  she told him.

He nodded, like he believed her but was still unsure, like he believed her because her argument was logical.  "I see."  There was a pause, the digestion of information.  "You're a rather pessimistic person, aren't you?"

Era looked him in the eye.  "What?  No more compliments?  No more sweet lies?"  He didn't answer, not letting her distract him.  So, she continued the conversation.  "I don't see myself that way.  I think I'm rather... realistic.  Nothing but the facts."

He smiled.  A much more amused smile this time.  He reached in his pocket.  He handed Era a ring.  It was a dark-looking silver, like the years hadn't been too kind.  The silver twisted up and separated like the branches of a tree ending in a claw-like grasp on an oval black stone.  "Here.  I'd like you to borrow this for a while.  It might improve your mood."

Era looked from him to the ring.  It was sort of pretty.  She didn't think it was her style, but it was kind of mysterious, alluring.  Era shook her head.  "I don't borrow things, especially from strangers."

"Fine, then consider it a gift.  Keep it if you like.  Please."  He held the ring out to her, his wrist twitched, repeating the offer." 

Era's hand moved toward it, but returned to her lap.  "I couldn't.  Why would you give me something like this?"

"I think you would do well with it.  Please.  Take it."

"It's not stolen, is it?"

"No."  Sam's eyes never moved from hers.  She felt that he was testing her, assessing her, but she believed him.

Era Sokol reached out and took the ring.

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