He grinned, showing sharp canines. “You think you would be used to it. I have been here since you were a child, little one.”
“You would think.”
“Off to work?”
“Drinks with friends.”
He blinked, tilting his head to the side. “I see.” He got off the bed, stretching. “Then let’s go.”
She knew it was useless to fight with him. Mischievous, direct, and not one to shy away from violence when it came to her. Her protector, her guardian demon. “Just be good.”
“Of course.” The shadows pulled back, wrapping around him, making his clothes look far darker than they were. She had asked that he try to blend in when he came with her.
She thought again how surprising it was he hadn’t quit looking after her now that she was an adult and lived a relatively safe life. Anything could happen, but she had even told him once he didn’t have to look out for her anymore, but it had seemed to hurt his feelings more than anything. He had acted irritated and told her he had to watch her for her entire human life but she could tell it wasn’t about that. She had known him all her life so she recognized the hurt in his eyes that he tried to play off. They could still be friends if he quit watching her, but she hadn’t brought it up again. Besides, sometimes his protection was a pain since he could over react, but she could do anything without worry because of him and she genuinely appreciated it.
“Alcoholic drinks then?” He asked when they stepped out of her apartment and headed for her vespa.
Belus nodded as he held out his hand for her keys. “I ask that you don’t venture to far from me then.”
“You know I’m an adult right?” She answered as she handed them over. She knew he preferred to drive when they went out together like this. Generally he just showed up wherever she was going, but when he was pretending to be human, he refused to ride on the back of her scooter.
“Of course, but you know I want you safe.”
They got on and he waited for her to put her helmet on before switching it on. Her arms went around his waist, her body pressing close to his and his heart stuttered. “Where to?”
“I take it Angel picked the place?” He pulled away from the apartment complex and onto the road.
“She said that you would probably like it. I think she wanted to find a spot you felt at home in since you’re always with me.” Shara replied with a laugh.
He huffed. “The only places I call home are where I came from and your apartment, but for the sake of watching over you, I will go anywhere.”
Shara smiled, knowing in the way he said those words he’d truly rather stay by her side than go anywhere else and it felt good to have someone care about her as much as he did. Traffic was surprisingly absent as they drove, getting there in amazing time. Another moment she was lucky since it had taken her a bit longer than she had planned for to get herself ready. They hopped off her bike and headed inside, Belus staying especially close as he often did at bars.
“There they are.” It was Angel who noticed them first and came running over to hug Shara as she got off the scooter. “Belus, it’s good to see you too.”
“Where Shara goes, I go.” He replied.
Angel laughed. “Are you sure you’re not dating him?”
“I’m sure.” Shara answered with a laugh.
“Well come on then, the others are waiting inside.”
Belus followed behind them, staying close enough he could grab her if need be, but far enough away that he wouldn’t be crowding her. Her other friends waved at them when they stepped into the dimly lit club. He let his senses flair out, taking in all the people around them. The bar had a gothic look to it from the art to the young woman behind the bar. It was different, but seemed clean, the atmosphere laid back.
Just as Angel thought he found himself feeling more comfortable here than he did at a lot of other bars, but it was more than just the look of the place. The people here seemed good at first glance. He couldn’t sense any malicious intent from a soul. He’d still keep an eye out since this was a bar, but he felt tonight would be easy on his nerves. Shara already looked so happy anyways, she was a social butterfly and one he was happy he got to watch so closely. Soon she was talking, drinking and laughing. As always she drug him into the conversation when she could, making him smile.
“Hey, Belus, are you sure you don’t want a drink?” Shara’s friend Anthony asked.
“I’m sure, I don’t drink when I’m out with Shara.”
Anthony chuckled. “I think you’re just a lightweight.” Anthony teased. “I bet Shara could drink you under the table.”
Shara waved her hand. “He’s the designated driver.”
“More like designated boyfriend.” Angel teased, causing Shara to blush.
“N…no, he’s just…”
“I just like knowing she gets home safe. I drink on my own time.” Belus said.
“Maybe we’ll have to have a get together one of these days then, we’ve never seen you just relax.” Her friend Rose added.
Belus knew they were still curious about him, about his relationship with Shara, about why he insisted on accompanying her every time she went out. “If Shara wants to, then so do I.”
“I do, maybe I can host it to be sure he wont worry. I’ll already be home.”
“Yeah, we can all bring stuff to make our favorite drinks.”
“Maybe some games?” The conversation went on and on from there, seeming to get the entire friend group excited. It was an uneventful night at the bar beyond the new plans for him to really hangout with Shara’s friends. He was happy with it, whatever got him more interactive time with Shara. Belus could tell she was tired from being at the car so long and drinking with her friends so he wished her goodnight and settled on her couch. He didn’t like leaving her after she had been drinking, just in case anything happened. He didn’t want a fire to start or something like that and her be knocked out too hard to wake up in time.
Shara woke the next morning feeling thirsty and rolled onto her back, stretching her arms and legs then getting up. The sound of her opening her bedroom door and stepping out woke Belus who sat up and looked around, his eyes locking with hers as she stepped into the living room. “Everything alright?” He asked.
“Yeah, just thirsty, sorry I woke you.”
He shook his head and stood, stretching. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the fact he was shirtless and she felt a blush creep up her neck. She had never noticed how built he was. He was lean, but all muscle. He ran his fingers through his hair and gave her a questioning look which had her looking away. “You alright?”
“Yeah, of course.”
He crossed over to her and leaned down so their faces were close, studying her. “Are you sure? Hungover maybe?”
“I’m fine, I didn’t drink that much, I’m just thirsty.”
He guessed she was just a little groggy and had simply stared into space a few moments due to it. He let Shara by so she could make her way to the kitchen. She grabbed a glass and turned on the faucet, filling the cup then gulping it down. “Feel better?” Belus asked, shirt back on. Shara still had that image though and wondered why a man that attractive didn’t show off more. He seemed to make a point to keep himself covered which is how she had gone this long without seeing him shirtless. Being he had been around her her entire life was a testament to the fact he seemed to make a point of keeping all his clothes on. It had never occurred to her he did that until just now. It wasn’t something worth bringing up though, it would be an awkward talk at best.
“Want some coffee and breakfast?” Belus asked.
“I can cook.”
“That’s not what I asked.” He was already starting a pot of coffee. “Chocolate chip pancakes sound good?” He looked at her and she felt her cheeks flush. “Are you sure you’re alright, you’re red.”
“Yeah, I’m fine, pancakes sound good.”
“Alright, as long as you’re sure. Do you have work today?”
“Are you planning on going out?”
“Maybe just around town. I want to get ready for our get together. We could go to the party store, get some themed dishes or something.”
“If you wish.” Shadows drifted out from his body as he found the dishes he needed, grabbing the ingredients for pancakes and depositing them on the counter next to the stove.
Shara eagerly awaited the coffee, getting up and grabbing a mug the second it was ready. Since Belus was making chocolate chip pancakes she returned to the table rather than add any creamer or sugar to it. She didn’t like too much sweet in the morning and to Shara there was no such thing as bad coffee. Any brand, any way was amazing to her. It wasn’t long before Belus set a stack of pancakes in the center of the table and sat down himself with a plate for each of them and his own coffee. “Thank you.” Shara said and he smiled, “Pancakes are easy.”
“Its still nice though.” She took her first bite and that was the end of talking until they were done. She had finished first so already started on the dish’s. Belus came up to the side of her and began drying them.
“Do you want to leave a little later or once these are done?”
“Maybe we can spend the day out, just us two.”
He nodded. “I’d love too, it’s like a date.”
Her heart skipped a beat. “A date?”
He smiled. “I’m just teasing you little one.”
She let out a sigh. “I’m not little anymore, Belus.”
A chuckle slipped past his lips as he sat the plate he was drying on the counter and pulled Shara against him, causing her skin to warm. “You’re so adorably short, Shara, my little charge.”
He leaned back enough to look at her and she swallowed as she raised her gaze. “You’re red.”
“You’re being embarrassing.”
He cocked his head to the side. “It’s just us.” He reached up, tucking some hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry, I’ll ease up.” He let her go and put the dry dishes away while she tried to calm herself down. “Decide what all you want to do today, I’ll go with you anywhere.”
Shara went back to her room, quickly getting into something she wanted to leave the house in then brushed her teeth. When she came back out it seemed Belus was ready to so she said, “Party supplies, we’ll start with that.” Her voice was back to normal, but it made him happy he had been able to affect her like that. She was much more than a job now.
“The party store near Target?” He asked as he pulled her keys out of his pocket.
“Yeah, things cost a bit more there, but its such a fun shop. It’s not like I’ll need to buy too much, just enough so they won’t dirty all my dishes and for us all to have fun.”
“What sort of games do you think they will bring?”
“They seemed pretty intent on Get a Grip but it seemed they were thinking of trying to find some new ones.”
“The one where you have to sculpt and draw and all that without using your thumbs?”
“That’s the one.”
His shadows swirled around him. “Do you think I’d get in trouble for using these?”
“I think you’d scare everyone and that’s cheating.”
“But they’re not thumbs.” They slid back over his clothes, darkening them to an unnatural shade of black.
He rolled his eyes and she giggled, the sound making him smile. “Fine, I won’t use them.” They left, her climbing on her scooter behind him, her blush returning as she wrapped her arms around his waist and held herself against him. “Ready little one?”
“Yeah.” She answered, resting her forehead against his back. Why was she suddenly so aware of him, of his warmth and attractiveness? She had managed to fight her blush down by the time they got to Party City and stopped herself from jumping off the scooter once they were parked. This was Belus, she should be able to act normal around him. He pocketed her keys and they headed inside, him staying close to her, looking nonchalant as always.
Party City had obviously gotten new things since she had last checked it out so “Oh my gosh look at this Belus.” She lifted up a package of 80’s themed plates. It looked like an arcade game and had radical 80’s across the top. “Too geeky?”
“Not for your group of friends. I like them.”
“Awesome, now we have plates.” She grabbed a few packs of plates and cups, resisting the other cool things that went with them so her home wouldn’t end up looking like a child’s birthday party. When they made it to the costume part of the store she couldn’t help but grin at the thought of Belus in a few of these.
“I know what you’re thinking and I won’t be wearing any costumes ever. We talk about this every Halloween.”
“What else do you want to look at?” He asked and she laughed.
“Awe, come on, you’d look cute as a vampire.” He crossed his arms and she laughed again. “Okay, okay, candy then.” Belus followed her, helping her decide on different types of candy until she caught sight of the cookie cutters. “If I make some cookies, would you help me decorate them?”
“Oh I see, as long as food’s involved you’ll help, but if I want you to dress up it’s a no go.” She teased.
“Well, I can eat food. Besides, you dress up enough for the two of us.” He picked up one of the cookie kits. “These look cool, galaxy cookies and they’ll go great with your plates.”
She smiled. “You act grumpy, but you’re actually really sweet, you know that?”
He huffed. “I just like doing things with you.”
Her cheeks reddened. “I like spending time with you too.”
His heart warmed and she could see it in his eyes which only made her more embarrassed. Something was changing between them, becoming something more and it was becoming more obvious by the day. Party City was hardly the place to talk about it and she didn’t want to make things awkward right before a get together so she broke their eye contact. “I’m pretty sure we have all we will need from here. I um, know my friends are going to bring snacks but I want to go to Publix to see if there’s anything worth grabbing.”
“Alright, we will take this stuff back to your place then go.” They checked out and quickly went back to her home to drop their things off before heading to Publix. The awkward tension in the air seemed to dissipate and they were back to normal as they picked up a few desserts and some chips.
They made another trip home when they were done and Belus helped her put everything away before they were leaving again. “Where to now?” He asked.
“The mall? I know that probably sounds boring, but…”
“I could never get bored with you, Shara, you should know that by now. I’ve watched you do homework, so walking around the mall while you decide what you want to do is fine with me.”
“You spoil me too much, Belus. You can be selfish sometimes you know, you’re a person too.”
“How do you know I’m not being selfish?” He sat down on the vespa then held out her helmet.
“What do you mean?”
He shrugged. “Perhaps I selfishly spend time with you.”
Her heart stuttered and it was then she pieced many interactions together and started to wonder if maybe he was falling for her. She didn’t realize she was just standing there, but Belus didn’t say anything. He hoped she was realizing how he felt and more so hoping she’d feel the same. She blushed when she finally noticed she was standing there like an idiot and took her helmet. She got on and held tight to him, wishing she could sense how he was feeling as he could with her. She didn’t want to make things awkward before the party, but all she could think about was what he said before she got on her Vespa and all the little moments it had her thinking about “Belus?”
“Do you stick around now because…” she wanted to hide under a rock , why had she brought this up. There was no backpedaling now however so she continued with her question “you have feelings for me…I’m sorry if I’m being an idiot but…you’re just so over protective when it comes to men hitting on me and…wel…l” god why was she doing this in the middle of the mall. She could curse how open and honest she was right now.
Belus smiled as he reached out and took her hand, letting his thumb brush lightly over her knuckles. She swallowed, barely managing to hold his gaze. She really was the most adorable creature he had ever laid eyes on. “Do you think I would stick around for so long if I didn’t?”
“Well…well you’re just my guardian, right?”
“It started out that way, but Shara,” he pulled her into his arms, hugging her close, “I’ve grown very attached to you, I love you.”
Her heart fluttered, her blush almost feverishly hot. “You…love me?”
“Is that too much? I can always take it back.” He teased.
She pulled back, giving him a little glare. “Don’t you dare, I…” He leaned down, pressing his lips gently against hers, surprising her.
He pulled back, grinning at how shocked she was. “Then I won’t, sweet little Shara.”
“I…” She realized some people were actually looking at them and thought she might die on the spot she was so embarrassed. “We should keep going.”
He chuckled. “Your friends are bringing plenty you know, we could always go back to your place and get some alone time.”
“Ah…um…maybe we should grab a bite to eat in the food court before we think about leaving.”
He smiled, taking her hand again. “Alright, come on beautiful.” She tried to relax as they walked. This was Belus, the man she had grown up with. However he was now holding her hand and she could still feel his lips against hers. It had been such an intense feeling and as nervous as she was she wanted him to do it again. “What would you like to eat?” He asked once they arrived at the food court.
Shara blushed the whole time they ordered and when she glanced at Belus she could see him smiling, fully aware of how hard her heart was beating. “Want to go pick a spot for us, Shara?” He asked and she nodded, moving quickly away, causing him to chuckle. She found a table and sat down, burying her face in her hands. Why was he so much more intense now? She knew he always had been, but now he was so much more so. “Are you alright my love?” He asked as he sat down, handing her her sandwich.
He leaned in close, letting his forehead press against hers. “You’re burning up.”
“It’s your fault.”
“I’m sorry, should I stop?” She shook her head and he kiss her cheek. “I love you and I can’t wait to have you all to myself.”
“I guess this seems sudden to you, but I’ve had these feelings a long time and it’s nice to finally be able to hold your hand and kiss you. Being patient has been hard.”
“You could have said something.”
“Thats easier said than done. You had a hard time talking to me yourself Shara.”
“May I take you back to your home after we eat? Please, I promise to stay in whatever boundaries you give me…I mostly just want to kiss and hold you.”
“You’re a cuddler?” Shara asked in almost disbelief.
“Hey, even demons as big and bad as me enjoy holding their loved ones.”
“We can go home after this…I do want to do those things with you.”
He kissed her cheek again. “Then let’s eat so we can go, if I have to wait too much longer I may just start cuddling you right here in the food court.”
She ate slowly in her embarrassment and all Belus could do was smile, enjoying how cute she was. “You’re going to give yourself a fever, Shara.” He teased when they finally started to make their way out of the mall.
“I can’t help it, it’s your fault.”
“Well, if you weren’t so adorable.”
She was happy when they were finally back on the scooter. The cool air helped ease her blushing. It was short lived because once they got home and she had her helmet off, he scooped her up and carried her up to the door. She let them in and he went directly to the couch, sitting with her in his lap. He ran his nose over her cheek, smiling at her goosebumps. “I have never been so happy in my life, Shara.”
He gently ran his fingers over her cheek and let his lips brush over hers. “I really love you.”
“I love you too.”
His smile grew as he said “You do know I’m never leaving your side anymore right?”
He kissed her. “I want to live here.”
Direct as always but she liked that about him, she was the same way. “Okay…you can stay here, but if we share a bed you…you have to be good.”
He chuckled. “Oh, I am good.”
She was near instantly blood red. “B…b…b…b…Belus, you know what I meant.” Shara stuttered as she pushed him away.
He pulled Shara back into him. “I know, I know, I couldn’t resist. I can be patient my gorgeous little Shara.”
Belus’s flirtations, his need to touch and kiss her, lasted through the rest of the day. Even when they made dinner together, he would brush kisses to her cheek any time he got the chance. Shara didn’t know how she was going to survive him. When it was time for them to go to bed, she was a ball of nerves. “I’m going to shower.” She said as she grabbed shorts and a t-shirt out of her drawer.
“Can I come?” He asked and her heart tripped over itself.
Belus chuckles and pulled her into his arms. “Shara, I’m kidding, don’t be so nervous, I promised to be good and I will. Trust me.”
“I do, I’m sorry, it’s just you’re so honest and…and forward.”
“It’s how I’ve always been and I never want to hide anything from you.”
“I know, it’s one of my favorite things about you, how honest you are.”
He pressed a kiss to her lips, smiling lovingly down at her. “Go shower, I’ll take one once you’re done.”
Shara took a quick shower then allowed Belus to do the same. Shara wasn’t surprised that he wanted to cuddle up to her that night, but it was surprising how much better she slept wrapped in his loving and protective arms. Shara was glad he was planning on truly always staying by her side now because she didn’t think she could go back to sleeping without him or getting through her day without someone kissing and touching her. It felt amazing and she hoped she made him feel just as good.
~ The End