Open Heart Shadow (XVI)

Tristan walked toward the open door with an energetic swagger.  He ignored the pitiful moans coming from the mangled figure behind him.

He could feel a tingling rush of energy, power, and virility, surging through his body.  It had been a considerable time since he had this type of sensation.  He tried to recall when he last experienced a similarly intense surge of strength, and muscle-flexing fortitude.

He stopped, mid-stride, while walking through the open, doorframe of the strangers residence, when he internally ascertained the time he had last felt a similar, vigorous rush.

He pondered the revelation briefly, before continuing on his way.  Contemplation upon his epiphany would have to wait, he had to make up some time.

She hadn’t seemed in a hurry as he tailed her from their house.  And, she certainly had no idea that he was following her.  She casually strolled through the streets, occasionally stopping at a vendor to pick at their offerings, before continuing at her languid pace.  She navigated in, and out of crowds, swaying, and shifting, in such a lackadaisical way, that she may as well have been a black bird. coasting, and gliding through the air with nary a care in the world.

He had maintained a considerable buffer between his front, and her posterior, so that, if she were to turn suddenly, there was little likelihood that she would note his presence.

He had accompanied her on her routine walk from their house to her shop, and knew it the distance to be approximately, one mile.  When they had taken these walks, hastelessly, the total time involved would be about one half of an hour.

At her pace, on the day that he followed her, and given her litany of deviations, she would arrive at the shop later than the estimated half of an hour.

When the oblivious, and her shadow, came within a few hundred paces of her shop, her, two hundred, and him, about four hundred, a curious thing happened.

He thought that she would continue walking forward, toward the store front, a short distance away.  But she took an abrupt left, down a narrow side street.  Tristan increased his pace slightly, ensuring that he wouldn’t lose her.  He was puzzled by her shift in direction, his curiosity was piqued, and his anxiousness, considerably spiked.

The side street was uncongested, forcing Tristan to pursue cautiously, leaning into the walls, and hugging the shade, lest he be discovered.  But his discretionary measures seemed unnecessary, as her attention was focused forward; she never looked back in his direction.

The resultant detour wasn’t drastic, as several minutes, a few turns, a couple of side streets later, she approached a door, one that they had never approached together, nor that he had previously seen.

An unknown character answered at her third knock.  He cracked the door slightly, and peered out suspiciously, before noticing her standing on the doorstep.  A passionate warmth spread over his face, as he flung the door wide open.  He drew her close to his body in an embrace that seemed to express incredible familiarity, and she wrapped her arms loosely around his neck.  He pulled away from her, shifted, and guided her inside, with his arm wrapped around her waist.  With his trailing arm, he pulled the door closed behind them.

From his vantage point, with an ideal view of the door to the strangers residence, Tristan waited.  Internally, he seethed.  A burning rage welled up inside of him, as he replayed the motions of the day.  A volcanic bubbling began in his gut, moved to his chest, coarsed through his shoulders, and down his muscular arms, as his veins became engorged with wrathful, crimson, blood.  He bit down on own his teeth with such ferocity that his jaw began to hurt.  The exhalations from his nostrils, so saturated with vexation, were violent enough to heat the air.

In such an agitated state, he waited, with volatile patience, watching the door.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes, and she emerged from the door.  The strange man spoke to her as she exited, but Tristan was too far, to hear the words.  The gestures he made, though, were beckoning, and imploring.  It was clear that he did not wish her to leave.   She wriggled away from his attempted grabs, turned, and walked down the steps.

Knowing that it wasn’t there when he was following her, as she exited, Tristan clearly saw, the worn leather band, circling her neck.

She moved in the same way as she had when she left their house, nonchalant, and lazily, seemingly with little care in the world.  She passed by the alcove where he hid, obscured in the shadows.  He was so close to her, that he caught wisps of her unique scent as she passed, and that time, it disgusted him.

When she was out of sight, he slunk from his hiding spot, and moved slowly toward the strangers door.

Needing to make up time, he powered forward, toward their house.  Considering the pace that she had used earlier, he supposed he could make it back at least ten minutes before her arrival.

Just to be safe, he accelerated, and took a slightly different direction, down the cobblestone streets, to make sure that he wouldn’t run into her.

Before long, he had launched into a run.  He ducked, bobbed, and weaved between shoppers, vendors, and hawkers of bizarre wares.  He skirted around small children playing with trinkets in the street.  He careened around a scuffle between two teenagers.  He bolted past a vendor waving delicious smelling, skewered meats, salivating as he passed.  He shot past the flower merchant, where he had procured many a bouquet, he flashed a quick smile, and ignored her quizzical gaze.

His trajectory rocketed him toward the building, that of burnt ruby brick, with mountain air frames, and storm grey panes. He burst through the door, knowing that it was impossible for her to have arrived before him.

He quickly unlaced his boots, ripped them from his feet, then dropped them haphazardly behind the couch.

He circled the furniture, and sat down slowly on the couch, in front of the fire. He did his best to compose himself, and hoped that his heaving breathing would stop, before she returned.

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