Ivey opened her eyes with a startled gasp.
For a couple of seconds, she gawked at the white ceiling in front of her. At the same time, memories of earlier events rushed in. As memories resumed one by one and with her vision still blurry, Ivey jolted forward in an attempt to move—to run.
Too late! Something wrapped around her!
Arms flailing, Ivey ventured to re-adjust herself, but there was nothing to hold onto. Her arms grasped only air, doing nothing to prevent her from toppling forward, no thanks to her earlier impulse.
Ivey shut her eyes, waiting for the pain.
It never came.
Her face never collided with the hardwood floor. Instead, a pair of strong arms gripped her, shifting her body up and away from the ground.
Dizzy, Ivey immediately grabbed hold right back, just in case.
A few minutes passed before the world no longer turned. This time, Ivey remained perfectly calm when opening her eyes. It was still unfocused, but nothing a few blinks couldn't handle.
A set of cerulean eyes stared back.
"W-what happened?" She managed to squeak out.
I already knew that!
"I mean, what happened to…earlier with…," her voice trailed off. Gentle jazz music floated in, muffled through a wall on her left. There were minor vibrations every now and then, remarkably similar to being in a car. "Where are we?"
"Bus," Seymour's eyes lowered to her hands. "Did you miss me that much?"
Ivey followed his and realized both of her hands were still clutching his arms, fingers curled around the hard muscles underneath. She paused, almost flattening her palm against its roughness.
Regrettably, Ivey moved her hands back to her sides instead and pretended she didn't hear him.
After a second glance around the compartment, Ivey realized Seymour missed the word Coach before Bus. Buses were smaller, more compact. They also didn't have a lot of room for movement, and this one did.
The interior was long and quite wide. Instead of carpeted floors, it was hardwood. In the middle of the room sat a small-sized couch, entirely pulled out into a bed where a few pillows and blankets laid. On top of all of it was Ivey.
Seymour was situated a few feet away on another smaller sectional. It was probably how he had managed to intercept her so swiftly. In her haste, she had almost tumbled off.
Ivey's eyes wandered a bit more, spotting a small counter with items such as a coffee maker, cups, and plates. A mid-size bowl sat a few feet away with some leftover fruits.
"Chief, we're about forty-five minutes away," the stifled voice came from behind the wall. It was also where the music was coming from.
Ivey gave a small sigh and leaned back against the couch. Now that the initial shock had worn off, the beginning of a headache was developing. "Where are we going?"
"How are you doing?"
Ivey gave him a look. "Why can't you just answer my question?"
"You'll find out when we get there, anyway," Seymour answered, returning her look.
Ivey brought her hands up to rub her temples. She didn't have the energy to argue with him. "Who's driving the bus?"
This time Ivey turned her head slightly towards him. "What?"
"Even if I say his name, you don't know him."
Ivey closed her eyes. The throbbing at her temple became a pounding headache. "I don't understand any of this!"
Seymour didn't answer, and she didn't expect him, too. She no longer had the energy to hold a conversation with him. Instead, Ivey gently smacked her head with her palm, attempting to alleviate some of the pressure.
Seymour spoke up after a few moments, "It'll go away pretty soon, here."
And, just like that, the loud pounding became a faint pulse.
Ivey frowned, wondering if it was another spell he cast. But then how would he know? Plus, she didn't hear him cast anything. All she heard were a few comforting words. So far, his magic or word spells were really limited to just that—one word.
But then again, there was something about him. Ivey leaned her head back against the couch, partially closing her eyes. His voice—his words—warmed and soothed like no other medicine could.
She briefly wondered about its effect.
And then she wondered about her mental health.
Given everything that happened within the last 72 hours or so of her life, how could she remain so calm? Was she really going to sit here quietly while a stranger drove her to…to…wherever he wanted to take her?
The flashbacks played out like a movie inside her mind, from the dispatcher's voice on the radio to confronting the suspect. Then everything around her coming to a halt following a fired shot. The stabbing by her kidnapper, waking up without blood, nor her clothes on. Even the chill of the Whites and then…what was that? Seymour had said 'portal' like an actual rift or gateway.
Along with the dulling ache, her head slowly started spinning again.
"Seymour," Ivey spoke his name.
"Lady Ivey," there was his name for her again. Why couldn't he just call her Ivey? Did he have to add the word lady in front of it? And why was she so irritated by it?
"Why are we driving?" Ivey brought her hands up, this time to keep her head from moving. "Why don't you just…do whatever you did back there?"
And why do you keep staring at me like you want to eat me up?
"You mean, why don't I just open up a portal to our destination."
Open a portal? She pressed the insides of her palms against her eyes for a moment. The man wasn't just fucking gorgeous; he was insane. "If that's what you call it."
"Your body was too weak. It wouldn't survive another portal," he spoke casually. Like, this was an everyday occurrence--as one would when discussing the weather. "You barely made it out of the last one."
"We're almost there. It doesn't make sense to do anything now."
"Almost where?" She could not bring herself to sit up and look outside. Not yet. Everything was still spinning, and there was still the dull ache at the front and back of her head.
No answer from Seymour again.
Point taken—don't ask about where we're going.
Fine, two could play that game. "And that trick you did at the gas station?"
"It wasn't a trick," his voice was low, deep, and vibrated across her senses. All of them. "It was magic."
"Very well," she was staring at the ceiling now, ignoring the way her senses tingled. The roof was a rather boring one. "Magic?"
He might be insane, but she was just as nuts for asking him.
"I slowed the time to get to you; otherwise, you would be dead by now."
"Aren't I?" she countered. "You stabbed me."
"I returned your Souls to you."
She laughed, startling herself. She didn't think she'd have the energy. "Portals…magic…Souls… did you just escape from an asylum?"
He tilted his head and smiled slowly at her, proving her theory, "How do you explain everything so far?"
The slow smile across his face stumped her, baffled her senses. Ivey blinked, losing her train of thought, "Seymour, where are we going?"
Never mind that she had already asked him that question. He really was an insanely impressive piece of work. And his eyes were the best feature. The multi-color universe of his irises called out to her like a siren, singing for her demise. The way he tracked her every moment evoked an image of a wolf stalking its prey.
"We're here," before she could say another word, he pushed away from the furniture, and she found herself settled comfortably on his lap, her back to his chest.
"Quiet," he pulled her hands away from her head. "Your headache would have gone away if you didn't think so much."
"Excuse me?!" an irked Ivey brought her hands up to stop him, "What do you mean by that?"
He pushed her hands away, again, and touched her temples with his fingertips. "Just that you overthink when it's better just to let it go."
Ivey couldn't help but listen to his words as he took her head and leaned it against his shoulder before his hands moved back to her temples. His fingers were warm and gentle against her skin, rubbing her scalp from front to back. They hit all the right nerves, undoing just the right knot that Ivey closed her eyes in bliss. She couldn't form any coherent words of argument against the physical onslaught he was doing to her senses. His thumbs worked in a circular motion around both her temples. At the same time, his fingers grazed her scalp, easing the tension that had been sitting there ever since she found herself alone in the hotel room.
God, the man, knew how to use his hands.
Somehow, he not only got rid of the headache that had been plaguing her but also conjured up a bag of other emotions that must not be named and didn't make a whole lot sense.
Ivey's lips parted, letting out a slow, faint moan wondering where else his hands could be really good with.
Oh! And what was that? There's something very hard poking my butt—
Ivey darted off him, bumping her head on his chin, nearly tripping herself in the process to escape. She leaned against the sectional, barely any strength in her knees to stand and remained that way for a few moments until her head cleared, and logical thinking resumed.
Was that…? Did I…? It felt more abundant than average like it would hurt if…..
Her face turned red. Her legs grew weak again.
"Lady Ivey," Seymour…quick, magical, Seymour presently stood outside, his back towards her. The bus's door was also opened, leaving Ivey to wonder if she had been so distracted that she didn't hear him exit? But then he couldn't have moved so fast and opened the door without her noticing?
Some much-needed fresh air blew in as Seymour's voice drifted to her ears, "Now that you're feeling better, let's head out."
She coughed, glad he was currently nowhere near to see her expression--nor the color of her face. Ivey collected herself before walking out the bus and taking the three steps down to land.
"Was that magic as well?" She brought her hands to cover her mouth, but the words were already said. She had meant to agree, not blurt out more idiotic nonsense! Besides, she was obviously talking about how skilled his hands were at getting rid of her headache!!
However, his body froze for a couple of minutes before he threw his head back to laugh. It was a sincere and genuine laugh, indicating he knew precisely what she meant by her question. Ivey didn't think she could turn any redder, but just in case, her face lowered, hiding the blush that was creeping to her head.
Now would be an excellent time to portal out and as far away from him as possible.