1.4. Turn Around, Look at Me
Luna loves winter. It’s a completely new experience.
Sure, it got chilly in Lucky Palms, and Sunset Valley had a light dusting of snow on the mountains a couple of months a year But she’s never seen anything like this: white, glistening snow so deep her boots make a satisfying crunch as she walks.
She smiles as she falls backward. Spreading her arms and legs outward, she makes a snow angel.
Quentin--less prone to fits of whimsy -- opts to stay inside, in the warmth of their home. Despite his frugal tendencies, Quentin has the heat so high it’s like a sauna inside. After she’s had her fill of the snow, Luna gingerly walks up the front steps. She’s careful to shake all of the snow off of her boots before she enters the house.
Quentin is sitting at the table, reading the newspaper.
“Any good coupons today?” Luna asks as she strips off her outerwear and throws it into the washer. She pulls a fresh dress off the clean laundry pile and slips it on. It feels so warm against her cold, damp skin.
Quentin doesn't immediately answer her, so she saunters over and peers over his shoulder. She catches a glimpse of the headline: “Local Woman Publishes Riveting Freshman Novel.”
“It’s a review of your book,” he finally says, his eyes moving as he scans each line.
“What does it say? Oh, I can’t read it. I don’t want to know! Do they hate it? Ugh, just tell me what it says.” Luna has intentionally avoided reading any reviews of her book because she doesn’t think she can handle anything negative, but her curiosity is eating at her.
“Hold on, I’m reading,” he mumbles.
“But you read so slow,” she whines, her impatience growing. He doesn’t answer, so she taps her foot and sighs loudly.
“Well, there’s good news and bad news,” he says as folds the newspaper. Luna’s heart sinks.
“Good news first,” she says weakly.
“The review is glowing. The reviewer praised your ‘outstanding characterization’ and he predicts that you’ll be one of the best authors in Simnation if you continue writing.”
“That’s great!” Luna perks up, “So what’s the bad news?”
“They used a picture of you eating a hot dog. I guess they had it on file.”
“No,” Luna gasps as she snatches the newspaper away from him. There it is, in black and white: a picture of her eating a hot dog with what can only be described as gusto. “Oh nuts,” she mutters. She vaguely remembers a photographer taking her picture when she won the hot dog eating contest.
“But it’s a good review! That’s what’s important,” Quentin gives her a charming smile, “I’m so proud of you, Luna.”
“Oh, so it’s okay if I focus on writing, then? Or am I not working hard enough? I better be productive, or you might send me to work in the salt mines...”
“I said I was sorry,” Quentin sighs. She’s never going to let him live that down.
Luna’s agent calls her up a few weeks later. While her book isn’t a best-seller, academic circles seem to appreciate what they call the “skillful use of sci-fi pulp imagery to explore societal ills that plague the marginalized classes of Simnation.” Luna wishes she was that brilliant--really, she’s just retelling the stories her mom told her. All similarities to the platform of the progressive left are just coincidence. Point is, her agent wants to know if she has any other ideas.
Oh, she’s full of ideas. And she has a muse. As she begins her second novel, Quentin strums at on his guitar. He sings softly, but his tenor voice seems to bounce off the walls and fill the room. He sings a few folksie standbys, then settles on an acoustic of a song Luna hadn’t heard before:
There is someone walking behind you,His voice is smooth, and he plays guitar dexterously. Still, the song gives Luna chills.
turn around, look at me.
There is someone watching your footsteps,
Turn around, look at me
There is someone who really needs you,
Here's my heart in my hand.
Turn around, (turn around, ) look at me,
(Look at me, ) understand, understand,
“Okay, I love your singing, honey. You know I do. But you need to stop, like, now,” Luna smiles sweetly, hardly looking away from the computer.
“But I’m inspiring you, sweetie,” Quentin smirks as he continues to play,
I've waited, but I'll wait forever for you to come to me.Luna rolls her eyes and puts her headphones on. She glares over her shoulder as Quentin snickers.
Look at someone (look at someone) who really loves you,
yeah, really loves you. Turn around, look at me.
Annoying her is how he shows that he loves her.
The next day, Quentin has to work all day, prepping for a show at the theatre. Quentin is part of the house band for a new show called Cringe where people read their teenage diaries out loud to an audience. Luna doesn’t see the appeal of it. She would prefer to keep her embarrassing teenage moments to herself.
Riding one’s bike in winter--now that’s an underappreciated activity. Luna grins from ear to ear, even as she feels like her ears might shrivel up in the cold and fall off. Despite the freezing weather and icy streets, she presses on. She hasn’t gone to town in ages, and cabin fever is setting in.
Her first stop is the bookstore. The owner has asked her to do a book signing event. He was so excited when he called Luna--a famous author, right here in Aurora Skies! She didn’t have the heart to tell him that her name isn’t well-known outside Aurora Skies and a fringe academic community. Still, she sets up a book signing with him. She also signs a well-worn copy of his book. It feels good to know that someone is enjoying her work.
As she leaves the store, though, a chill overcomes her. Someone walked over my grave, she thinks absently to herself. She can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched.
Her next stop is Björn Cafe. She could make coffee at home for much cheaper, but she enjoys the atmosphere. Gentle acoustic music lilts from the wall-mounted speakers, and one wall of the cafe is completely lined with books. Unlike the library, the owners of Björn Cafe don’t mind a splash of coffee on their books. A damaged book is a well-loved book.
As Luna flips through the pages of a romance novel (she can’t help herself--she knows she should read more dignified literature, but she enjoys it) she feels like someone’s eyes are burning holes through the back of her head.
She peeks over her shoulder, then quickly looks back to her book. A man sits behind her, but she doesn’t see much of him: black nails, and a mess of magenta hair. That isn’t so unusual, she thinks to herself, The alternative look isn’t that uncommon in Aurora Skies.
She reads a couple of chapters before she decides she can go without finishing the book. The heroine is obviously going to end up with the hunky stable boy instead of the devious (and also hunky) prince. Though maybe a hunky pirate will show up somewhere towards the end and sweep her off her feet. Point is, the ultimate hero will be hunky. She returns the book to its shelf and waves at the barista as she leaves.
I wonder how much I could make writing romance novels, Luna wonders as she wanders. She doesn’t have a place in mind, but the snow is so gorgeous she wants to enjoy the day. She ends up at the deli at the grocery store, where she has a quick lunch.
She shivers again as she leaves the grocery store. Snow crunches under her feet as she walks. Something is off, though--she hears two sets of crunching, but the street is empty. She looks back, and catches another glimpse of a magenta haired figure. He ducks into an alley when she looks at him. Is his skin...green? She shakes her head. No way. She tells herself she’s just seeing things. She hasn’t seen another Alcyonian outside family and close friends in a long time, so what are the chances she’d see one now?
Still, she feels like she needs backup, so she pulls out her phone and texts Quentin: Hey, I’m by the theatre. Can you come out real quick?
He replies simply: k.
She rolls her eyes. Would it kill him to type out a whole message? “K” is the bane of her grammarian existence.
“‘Sup?” Quentin says as he walks out of the theatre, his hands in his pockets.
“I think someone’s following me,” Luna whispers and nods her head backward, indicating the alley between the theatre and the grocery store.
Quentin shifts his weight between his legs and huffs, a fruitless attempt to keep himself warm. God, he hates the cold. Why did he move here?
“Hey,” he yells towards the alley. He has no patience for this, “stop following my girlfriend, you son of a bitch!”
He turns back to Luna and winks, “there, that should scare him off.” Luna wants to smack him, but she knows there’s some validity to his action. Some men won’t leave a woman alone until they know she has already been “claimed” by a man.
“My hero,” she rolls her eyes.
“Aww, anything for you,” Quentin wraps his arm around her and pulls her in for a kiss. It isn’t an entirely altruistic gesture--she really is quite warm, and he’s completely willing to suck the warmth out of her if it means he doesn’t freeze to death.
She hesitates for a moment, trying to decide whether or not she should tell Quentin about the man’s appearance. He could be...like her. Or it could all be in her head, a paranoid episode. She hasn’t been immune to them. But she opts to stay quiet.
So they enjoy the idyllic moment: a young couple kissing on an empty, snow-covered street.
Quentin is a kind man. Quentin is a smart man. Quentin is a man who knows what he likes, and what he likes is to not wear pants when he doesn’t have to. And so, when he arrives home from work, Quentin’s pants are promptly removed, leaving him in his tighty whities.
Luna doesn’t complain.
After dinner, the couple sits on the couch and watches the snow fall through the living room window. They obviously don’t have a television.
“I’m glad you got home safe,” Quentin says, “did you see that guy again?”
“No,” Luna pauses, “but there’s something I meant to tell you about him. He looked...green.”
“What, like he was sick or something?” Quentin is a stupid man.
“No, green like me. Well, not literally like me. Just in the way I’m blue...ish, he was green...ish.”
“Oh.” Quentin knows about Luna’s heritage, but they don’t talk about it.
He also knows about the Incident. They don’t talk about the Incident.
It’s silent, and then Quentin responds, “no one’s going to hurt you, Luna. I’ll kill him before he touches you.”
She laughs, but his face is grave. “You can’t be serious.”
He narrows his eyes at her. “I’m deadly serious. I'll peel his flesh from his bones and feed him to the wolves.” He manages to hold his very serious face for a moment until he starts to snicker.
“You jerk! I almost had a heart attack,” she playfully smacks at him, “I was afraid that you were a secret psychopath or something.”
“I'll protect you in any way I can, but I ain’t going to prison for you," Quentin shrugs in mock apology.
“Who said chivalry was dead?” Luna pulls him close to her.
It’s a playful moment, insincere in every way. But Luna looks so striking. She may hate her yellow, watercolor eyes, her flaming orange hair, and he minty green skin, but he loves it. He decides in that moment he wants nothing more than to maul her. He grabs Luna and kisses her deeply.
Luna instinctually digs her sharp nails into his back and returns the kiss. He shivers as she breaks the skin.
“Bedroom?” she asks breathlessly.
It’s a compelling argument in favor of the living room. They roll from the couch onto the floor, and Quentin begins tearing off her clothes.
Outside, the man watches from the shadows. If he stays just outside the glow from the window, they can’t see them.
He didn’t know there was a male with her. Pesky male.
Author’s note: Okay, maybe there will be a little drama in Luna’s life. Just a little.
For those of you who don’t remember/didn’t read my other legacy, Alcyonian is the alien race Luna (half) belongs to.