After all of the craziness that happened so far with Portentia, I wanted somewhere that I felt I could relax, so I asked Mila to drive us to the Intergalactic House of Awesome Sauce. “You seem rather excited for someone who doesn’t need to eat.” I commented. Her eyes were locked on the restaurant the moment we pulled into the lot. “I do still enjoy eating. Plus, I’ve heard some pretty crazy things about this restaurant from Jarod. He told me that the rooms don’t make sense, like there’s some odd magic taking place when you enter. He also told me that he wouldn’t be surprised if criminals use this place for covert meetings, since overhearing conversations seems virtually impossible. How could I not be interested? We might stumble across drug dealers, mafia members, or some other shady types! I wonder if Maxine ate here while she was in town. I really wish I had my suit and Midnight, just in case.” explained Portentia. I rolled my eyes and barely kept from sighing. No one should be that excited about running into shady characters. I would rather have a nice, peaceful meal with no more criminals or police involved. The worst part for me about Portentia’s enthusiasm was that I occasionally wondered if she were right in a way. If I persuaded Alma and Aaliyah to help, I probably could help cut back criminal activity here, but I doubted that would really happen, considering Alma’s family was involved in said activity. Then there was the little fact that Aaliyah was the assassin, an occupation that surely wasn’t legal.
The bright light of a setting sun over an ocean dazzled me and stole away my thoughts as I opened the door for Portentia. We stepped inside, slack-jawed and gazing around in bewilderment. I knew there had to be some technological trickery happening, but the sand beneath my shoes seemed perfectly real, though it was a dark blue. The purple waves lapping at the beach beyond the table before me seemed perfectly real as well. My attention was torn away by someone clearing his throat at my side. Our host looked as out of place in his fine suit as I felt. He seemed familiar to me. “Hello again, James. I’m Abdel, and I’ll be your host again this evening.” he told us. “Oh! You were here when I came on my Prom night. So sorry. I knew you looked familiar but couldn’t remember your name.” I replied. He nodded and said, “If you would care to get changed, your assistant, Mila, warned us that you didn’t possess appropriate attire for our current theme, so feel free to get changed in the rooms just over there as I set your table. The current temperature might distract you from your meal, dressed as you are.” I nodded, but Portentia was already jogging to the changing area. Noticing a similar symbol for male and female as those used on restrooms, I didn’t have to wonder at how Portentia knew which to use.
When I stepped inside, I found numerous clothing bags hanging on a pole. Looking inside one, I discovered green swimming trunks, sandals, and a shirt that belonged in Hawaii. Portentia would probably love it. The others each held the same basic attire in different colors, but all of them were the same size. Well, Mila had probably given them that information. I decided on the blue trunks and quickly changed, not wanting to keep Portentia waiting. I placed my clothes in the bag as I changed, but then wondered whether or not I was supposed to leave the bag there. What about the other diners? I stepped outside and looked around only to realize the beach was empty save for the single table, which now held various dishes and a burning candle. Portentia waved to me. As I approached, I felt a bit uncomfortable with how the pink, knit shirt she wore did little to cover the red bikini beneath. Well, bikinis weren’t indecent in any way, but this atmosphere wasn’t precisely what I had in mind when I decided to eat. Still, I could understand the attraction of a warm beach to anyone who was already missing the summer.
“The ocean smells so real! I dipped my foot in just to see, and the water is real! How do they do this?” she asked. I shrugged and told her “I have no clue. Aaliyah probably does. I believe she helped with some of the tech here.” I frowned, wondering if I was allowed to mention that much. I was guessing she wouldn’t mind, considering tech work had nothing to do with her other job. “That girl is amazing. I’m really glad I met you, James. Since I started working for you, I’ve met and helped so many interesting people! Well, not all of the helping is on the job, obviously, but being a best friend for people is pretty cool too.” I smiled and replied “I’m glad you are doing well. I was honestly being a bit selfish when I started the business. My father wanted me to get a job, but I couldn’t think of anywhere with the flexibility and variety of work I desired. Then I decided to start my own business, and I wouldn’t be doing nearly as well with it if not for all of the help I’ve received. Aaliyah’s made my business grow by leaps and bounds. I know some of my past jobs were a result of Alma arranging them. When my parents were talking about having me drop the business, Jarod was the first one to volunteer as an employee. At this point, I’m just happy that things are going so well. I never had grand dreams like you do.”
Portentia continued smiling at me as she told me “But you inspire people, James. Whenever I’m around you, I feel so… full of hope. I know the other girls feel it too. You’re not some average guy who just happened to get lucky. You’re amazing.” Portentia touched my hand, and I pulled back. “Sorry. What you’re probably feeling is magic, actually.” I told her. She looked confused, and I could understand why. She needed to hear this though. Jarod took this news amazingly well, but I needed to warn the others now. Portentia might as well be next in line. “I found out a while ago that my body absorbs residual energy and creates this sort of magical field which causes people to like me. I can’t control it. There’s no way for either of us to know if anything you feel around me is real or not.” I explained. Portentia looked uncertain as she gazed at me. “You mentioned this before when we first met.” she told me after a moment. I nodded, vaguely remembering I had mentioned it. She then said, “You’ve gotta be one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, but you let your abilities bother you too much.” I stared at her, trying to discern whether or not she was messing with me. Her lips parted into a smile as she told me “Well, you have to admit that sounds pretty lucky as things go. Vampires have to deal with finding a source of blood. Werewolves have to fight the urge to eat people. I have cold skin, which freaks guys out. You have to deal with everyone liking you.”
“I see your point, I guess, but aren’t you bothered by the idea that you’re forced to like me?” I asked. She took a bite of her food before grinning and saying, “How can I be bothered by liking my date when we’re eating on a beach during sunset?” My magic really wasn’t fair to anyone, least of all me. How could I have a serious talk about it when everyone just brushed off my concerns? I decided to let the subject drop and started eating as well. Things became a bit awkward after eating when Portentia insisted that we swam for a while. With how she flirted, I worried that she had been spending far too much time around Emma. Being alone with this exotically beautiful girl on this surreal beach quickly made me uncomfortable. I was far too aware of how her red swimsuit clung to her white skin. Her pale blue eyes were constantly on me, unless I tried to say anything remotely serious. Being deaf gave her a distinct advantage at ignoring anything she didn’t want to hear. When I suggested we should probably leave, she turned her head before I finished speaking and dove back into the water. I felt so grateful when Carl appeared and told me “Sorry to interrupt, but Aaliyah just called and informed me that you’re going to be late for your practice with Alma if you don’t leave in the next seven minutes.” Despite how Portentia ignored me, she paid attention to the elderly-looking man in his strange robes. “Why didn’t you tell me you had practice tonight? I don’t want to make you late!” she exclaimed before running to the shower by the changing rooms. I was certain everyone knew about my regular sessions with Alma, but what could I say to the girl who refused to listen? Girls enjoyed complicating my life.