Convoluted (part 2)

Here’s part two of the short story. If you haven’t read part one, I highly recommend reading that first. Next week will be the final part in this story. Can anyone guess how it will end?

James introduced Nolan, Kraven, and Isaac. Nolan and Kraven were about her size, between five eight and five ten. Isaac was just a bit taller than James, his thick red hair adding to his height. They each took her hand and kissed by way of greeting. Alexa felt a jolt shoot up her arm when Isaac held it. They looked into each other’s eyes for a moment in mutual shock. Then he cleared his throat and stood back with the others.

All of them had the same embarrassed reaction to her clothes. They stood awkwardly for a moment, each of their faces beet red, and Alexa absolutely puzzled over their reactions.

Finally, she cleared her throat. “Is my outfit… offensive?”

“You look like you’re wearing just your under things,” Nolan answered, his light brown eyes stuck on her bare shoulders. He had the grace to look shamed at what he’d blurted.

Alexa threw her hands up in exasperation. “If you guys aren’t Amish, then what the hell are you?”

All four of them looked appalled and it took a second for Alexa to realize that they didn’t like it when she swore. “It wasn’t even that bad of a word,” she mumbled to herself.

Isaac stepped forward and led her to sit back down on the settee. “Tell me, Miss… uh, Alexa. Where do you reside?” His tentative smile traveled to his blue eyes. They were dark and quite warm.

“I live in Chicago. I just came out here for a vacation.”

Isaac snapped his fingers together. “America! That explains it.” The trio behind him nodded their agreement. “Obviously, we stem from different cultures, Miss Alexa. We do extend our apologies if our conduct is strange to you.”

Alexa didn’t feel the same relief that they exuded. “Are you all from England, like James?”

“Kraven and I grew up on this island, but Nolan and James lived in England until about four years ago. We each run our own plantations and are quite successful.” Isaac’s chest puffed with pride.

Alexa looked up at James and Nolan. “If you two grew up in England, then my appearance shouldn’t be that strange.”

They shared a look, and then James spoke. “Beg pardon, madam, but where we grew up, women were modest and never even showed their ankles unless they were in a brothel.”

“In what universe did you grow up in?” She knew it came out rude, but couldn’t stop herself. “You guys are acting like we’re living in the seventeen hundreds or something! Women have been showing their shoulders and ankles since, like, the twenties I think.”

They all looked uncomfortable. Nolan glanced away. “I beg to differ, Miss Alexa. We lived in England during the twenties, and I doubt that once it became the year eighteen thirty that fashion changed so drastically.”

Alexa cocked her head to the side. “What are you talking about? The year is two thousand twelve.”

Each of the men blinked hard at her statement then looked at each other with discomfort. The pregnant silence that filled the room was too thick to break.

Suddenly, Tessa poked her head in the door and announced that dinner was ready.

Everyone strode toward the door, breaking away from the awkward situation. Alexa followed more slowly, not sure if she was hallucinating or not. Maybe there really was a good reason people weren’t supposed to hike to that waterfall. The idea of time travel was laughable, but she couldn’t argue with the evidence before her.

Throughout dinner, she scrutinized everything. Spooning another delicious bite, she saw that there was no evidence of electricity that she could find. The men spoke properly and without any slang. Even the dishes were made out of baked clay. Though she still had difficulty thinking that she was somehow sitting with men from the eighteen hundreds, she couldn’t think of a better explanation.

Alexa had asked each of the men questions about themselves and their background, and the theory of time travel seemed the most logical explanation for their responses. Alexa rolled her eyes at the thought. The words “time traveling” and “logic” did not go together. But what else could this be? The men were all lucid and polite. She couldn’t dredge up any reason they would go to such lengths as build buildings without electricity and put on such an act just to trick her.

Coffee and small cakes were served after dinner. The men pulled out pipes to smoke. The smell of bitter coffee mixed with acrid tobacco somehow made her feel tired. The long day was finally getting to her.

Isaac seemed to read her expression and called for Tessa. “Show the lady to her room, if you will.”

Tessa bowed her head and turned to lead Alexa up the creaky wooden stairs. “The mastah be in this room, here.” She pointed to the left once they reached the top of the stairs. They walked down to the end of the hall and Tessa opened the door to a sparse, small room with no closet. There was a crudely made dresser and a decent-sized bed. The only other thing ornamenting the room was a strait-backed chair next to the bed. “There be extra clothes for you to use in them draw’rs.” With that, Tessa closed the door behind her.

Though the day had been puzzling and somewhat exciting, Alexa fell into bed and into an exhausted sleep.

             * * *

The next morning was a little more comfortable for Alexa. She had come to terms with the idea of time travel and had worn a baggy gown that was in the dresser. It seemed to make the men more at ease and the conversation around the breakfast table flowed more smoothly this time.

“Do you always come to James’ to eat?” Alexa asked no one in particular.

Isaac spoke. “No, but we love Tessa’s cooking and come here often.” He smiled and it was contagious. “Nolan, Kraven, and I are not the best of cooks. James was fortunate to be able to purchase Tessa. Not much trading comes in to this island.”

Licking her lips, Alexa was uncomfortable with the idea of slavery. For some reason, she had just thought that Tessa was a servant. She forced herself not to say anything on the matter.

With breakfast over, Alexa stood to say goodbye and was going to go back to the waterfall and, hopefully, her own time. Isaac protested the most, trying to convince her to stay just a few more days.

“We rarely are graced with such feminine beauty as yours, dear Alexa,” Isaac cooed. “Please say that you will treat us for a day or two.” He attempted to smooth down his curly auburn hair as he awaited her answer.

Looking between each hopeful set of eyes made her waiver. When she made eye contact with Isaac, she felt her heart flutter, and Alexa consented to stay for a day longer.

The guys decided they would each take a turn to show her around their vast plantations. First, Kraven took her to see his plantation, then brought her back for lunch.

Alexa was surprised at how delicious everything tasted. She had always thought that food from this time would be bland. When she complimented Tessa, the housekeeper confided that she used lard and butter in almost everything she cooked. Alexa wrinkled her nose at the news, but then decided she wouldn’t think about the ingredients of what she ate. She would just enjoy her time while she stayed.

After lunch, Nolan walked her to his plantation. His polite and proper manner was amusing to Alexa. He seemed the equivalent of a human teddy bear, with his light brown hair and matching eyes, combined with his manners.

Dinner was also delicious and was accompanied with a rich brandy. Everyone was having a great time, and the atmosphere was getting more raucous by the moment. Suddenly, Isaac stood and turned to her. “I believe, fair maiden, it is my turn to stake my claim upon you!” With dramatic movements, he pulled her from the chair and tossed her over his shoulder, running out the door and screaming, “I have slain the dragon! She is mine!”

Alexa couldn’t stop giggling while Isaac ran, and then walked, with her hanging over him the entire time. Once he had reached his home, he kicked the door open and made a show of draping her onto his plush couch. Then he bowed his head. “What would you have of me fair lady?”

She was absolutely giddy. Today had been one of the best days of her life and the three men had lavished her with attention. “What would you wish me to request of you, sir knight?”

He looked up and smiled charmingly. “Why, a kiss of course.”

Acting on impulse, Alexa leaned forward and kissed Isaac soundly. He was surprised at first, then quickly reciprocated and took control. His hands ran through her hair then down her shoulders while his tongue, teeth and lips worked up a hot magic. Alexa couldn’t believe how strong the chemistry was that sparked between them. She’d never felt anything like it. When Isaac drew back, Alexa took a deep breath. That had gotten passionate way too fast.

She had to watch herself. After all, it’s not like she could stay here in hopes that this thing she felt for Isaac would be a forever situation… could she?

“I’m sorry, Alexa,” Isaac murmured, watching her closely. “I got carried away.” Standing, he pulled her to her feet and they walked out into the night air.

Isaac was good conversation and he made her laugh a lot on their way back to James’ home. Just before she walked up the steps of the porch, Isaac leaned in and gave her a short, but tender kiss.

“Don’t leave tomorrow,” he pleaded. “I would really love it if you would stay.”

Biting her lower lip, she looked up into his blue eyes. “For how long?”

That seemed to make him blush and he looked away. “I don’t know.” He glanced back at her. “But I would really like to see if…er, I mean…” He ran a hand through his hair. “I’d like to, you know… um, court you.”

Alexa couldn’t help the big grin on her face. She had to admit that what she felt for Isaac was more than she’d felt for any other man, and she’d only known him for a day.

Before she lost her nerve, she answered, “Alright, Isaac. I’ll stay for just a few more nights.”

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