Having Emma attend training with Brandon and Brenna was a bit of surprise, but I reminded myself that she was an employee now. Demonstrating positioning was far easier with her help, since she truly was very adept, unless compared with the twins. Brenna was improving well, and she seemed to appreciate another girl in the room. At least, she seemed more focus with Emma than when I was trying to help. Brandon was still, well, Brandon. Some days he was giving training his all. Other days, like today, he let himself be distracted. I had to admit that Emma in spandex would distract most anyone with a heartbeat. My own wavering focus proved that plenty well. Brenna, thankfully, practiced in less revealing clothing, or I probably wouldn’t have made as much progress with her in martial arts or magic. Brandon actually hung around to “watch” when the magic lessons began, though I was fairly certain he was simply there to watch Emma. Again, I couldn’t blame him. I felt a bit odd teaching Emma magic, having been her pupil only months before, but I truly surpassed her knowledge already in some areas.
I was demonstrating a technique to separate the heat of a flame from the light when Alma entered the room with the twins. I almost said something before remembering we were in the East Wing. The twins obviously wouldn’t ban Alma from their wing. I carefully finished my demonstration and started emphasizing how the separation of light and heat could throw off an opponent’s defense. When a transparent field separated the room into two sections, I trailed off. If not for a faint shimmering, I wouldn’t have noticed the field at all. With slow, precise movements, Alma, Ai, and Mai started fighting one another. Ai and Mai were inhumanly graceful, and their attacks seemed perfectly synchronized with one another, but Alma, seeming to move at the exact same speed, always managed to weave her body around theirs, tripping or striking them. Alma’s fighting was very unorthodox, but I saw how effective it could be if a person could apply enough strength and balance. There was good reason that a normal person never tried such techniques. Mai grabbed Alma’s hair at one point, and was sliding off the field the next moment.
The superb control and balance demonstrated by the three was breathtaking to watch as they seemed to dance around in slow motion. The form-fitting, black bodysuit Alma wore had my head straining not to wonder what was beneath it. When spells were added to the bizarre show, things became even more surreal to watch, though I realized Brandon would be missing that aspect. He still wasn’t able to see residual energy, and Alma was obviously causing the spells to dissipate before they could strike. For me, there was continuously moving pinpoints of light that coalesced into spells before being torn apart. Though their physical motion was slow, the spells energy flowed rapidly around the three, which was why I felt certain that Alma dispersed them. The twins seemed to be throwing all they had at her. I missed some queue that caused the three to move faster. For a brief moment, I was able to still follow their movements. Then there was naught but blurs of bodies mingling with the endless spells. I would have stayed watching far longer if my phone didn’t signal my need to leave.
After excusing myself, I hurried to shower and change for my job, running a number of errands for Mrs. Baker. She was getting up in years and had difficulty getting around these days; precisely someone that needed a best friend. Though I felt bad about accepting pay at times, I always felt great when I was able to help someone who truly needed it. Beyond tending to her yard, I took Mrs. Baker shopping, replaced bad hinges on a door, mounted brackets for a curtain rod, and few other odd jobs. She offered to cook me food when I finished, but I declined on account of needing to clean up before my date. Between Sarit not being over her ex yet and Nakita… being herself, I felt that today’s date couldn’t possibly be any worse, giving me a certain degree of optimism that this one would be fantastic. I wasn’t going to let the fact that I was seeing a movie outside of my own theater once again bother me. There were just too many reasons not to bring any girl home without getting to know her well first.
A. Rivers ― she didn’t provide her first name on her profile or in her email ― was a college girl majoring in marine biology. She loved action movies, some video games, and looked to be very athletic, despite not listing whatever form of exercise she did. With my stomach growling, I was wishing we planned to eat before, instead of after, the move. As I waited, I was quite tempted to go ahead and order refreshments, but I really didn’t want to greet her with butter-covered fingers. Besides, she might like if I were to buy her ticket as well. “Gotcha!” yelled a voice as I was tickled from behind. I fought the urge to strike behind me and swirled to find my date grinning at me. “Ever consider surprising someone like that could be dangerous?” I asked. She smiled up at me and replied “Are you dangerous, James?” I rolled my eyes, and said, “Sorry, but I’m mostly harmless.” She laughed and told me “Like that one movie with the depressed robot! I loved that!” A girl who recognized a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference definitely earned points in my book. I smiled at her, but confessed “I’m afraid that I don’t know what to call you.” She shrugged and said with a wink, “‘Rivers’ is fine. It’s like ‘River Tam’, but with a little extra that way.”
“As you wish, Rivers.” I told her as I followed her to get tickets. “Two for The Expendables 2.” she told the man. As I pulled out my wallet, she pushed my hand back and said, “Sorry, honey, but these are on me.” I shrugged and thanked her. Rivers was really piquing my interest so far. I really wasn’t expecting her to make a Sci-Fi reference of her own and most of my dates hadn’t been interested in paying for anything. When we arrived at concessions, I ordered some popcorn, nachos, and a cola, explaining “I’m a bit famished, having missed lunch. Mind if I get yours too?” She grinned and said, “Only if you share some of that. Don’t really need anything else.” I agreed, and we went into the theater. The movie was entertaining in every way one would expect after seeing the last one. There was plenty of gunfire and dead bad guys, but Chuck Norris made the movie in my eyes with his cameo. I was, unfortunately, a bit distracted off and on by the smell of beer beside me. Rivers snuck a few drinks in her purse and was surprised when I declined having one. After the movie, she asked “You aren’t against drinking, are you?” I shrugged and told her “I’m underaged and not experienced with it. Plus, one of us has to be able to drive to the restaurant.” She laughed and suggested we take her car.
After Rivers second beer at the restaurant, she explained with a slight slur “You wanna know why I tell people call me ‘Rivers’? My parents are jerks. My name’s ‘Abundantia Callirhoe Rivers’.” I didn’t see the problem until she went onto say, “Sure, they sound fine, but you should see the spelling on paper. kal-IR-oh-ee is spelled with a ‘hoe’ in it. No girl wants that! Then my first name looksh like ‘abundant’. For real!” I mouthed “oh”, feeling uncertain what to say. Then I went ahead and told her “They do sound pretty enough though.” She shook her head and said, “Nah. I don’t like them. I wanna to be named ‘Anashtashia’ or ‘Ishabelle’. Shomething that shounds like a princessh, not ‘aaah-booon-DAHN-tsee-ah’. No one’s going to look at my name and even pronounce it halfway right.” She continued her rant through her third and fourth beer, leaving me greatly disillusioned about how much I would enjoy dating her. I spent far too much of the meal thinking about how Alma looked today. By the time I was finished eating, Abundantia wasn’t in any shape to do anything but rest. I wasn’t certain what to do as I walked her outside and over to her car.
“Lemme drive.” she said, worrying me more as she reached for the keys. “Umm… no. I think we’ll both be better off if you let me drive you. Where do you live?” I asked. She laughed and told me “Can’t take guy home on first date, mishter. Niesh try.” I sighed and replied “Sorry, but I don’t really want to leave you alone in your state. Can I see your license?” She hugged her purse and said, “No. Bad picture.” After a little begging, I managed to convince her to let me see it. Unfortunately, the address on it was for her home two states away, not her apartment. She was halfway asleep, drooling into my shoulder before I got her to tell me where she lived. On the way there, she kept telling me that she was “too hot” while trying to remove her shirt, but I managed to pin her arms without swerving too much. Her building’s parking lot just needed a tag, so I wasn’t too worried about where to park. I still took a picture of where I put her car and texted it to her, which got her trying to unlock her phone while I carried her upstairs. I panicked more when she told me “I don’t feel good.” on the way up. A little fortune was with me when I managed to get her into the restroom before she lost her lunch. I held her hair back for her while vowing never to be around binge drinking again.
After cleaning the vomit off her face, getting her some water, and getting her to bed, I hurried out and sent Mila a message to get me. I was so very grateful for a self-driving car. As Mila took me home, she brought up new notifications from the dating site, which I wasn’t entirely interested in seeing after tonight. With a bit of urging, she managed to convince me to look, claiming that I was due a good date any time. She did proclaim that none could possibly be as good as the one I owed her though. Most of the messages were deleted before I even read through the whole thing. Out of the few that led me to read their profile, only two really stood out as good possibilities though. I replied to both from the car, and then gave myself a couple hours of Ancient Tribes of Earth with Eseld to improve my night. If only I could meet a girl in my area more like her, I would be able to go without thinking about Alma more easily. As much as I was annoyed by the intrusion, I still couldn’t get the sight of Alma practicing with Ai and Mai out of my head. How was I going to find someone else who could move with such grace? If not for Eseld’s company, I probably would have given up on dating already. Dating was just too hard.