dialogue excerpt from Tales of Blood and Snow
“So I have something to ask you. And I am asking this with the full knowledge that I may regret it.”
Kryzstof arched an eyebrow and favored me with that grin I was entirely too fond of. “All right. What would you like to ask?”
Taking a deep breath, I steeled myself. “Why me?”
“Everyone wonders that. I can’t answer. Aristotle had some interesting theories-”
I cut him off by punching him in the arm. He laughed as I glared. “You smart ass. No, I mean – the night we met. Why did you choose me?”
The laughter stopped and he looked at me, considering. “Are you sure you wish to know? You’re not going to like all the reasons.”
“I know,” I said, and ran a nervous hand through my hair. “But I still want to know, all the same.”
He nodded, and looked away from me for a moment, gazing at the sky as he organized his thoughts. He looked younger in the soft moonlight. Almost vulnerable. I fought a snicker at how completely inaccurate that image was.
“You’re a pretty woman,” he said, finally, and looked back at me. “You’re not a great beauty, but you are pretty. In truth, your average woman is some spectrum of pretty. Most of them aren’t terribly aware of it. My guess is because every female presenting creature I’ve ever met seems to think that the only options are ‘great beauty’ or ‘hideously ugly’. Which is clearly not true. But I digress.”
He sighed and got back to his point. “You’re pretty. And despite what you may say otherwise, you know it. I don’t think you know how attractive you are, but you are aware enough to know you’re not a hag. However, you also know you’re not a great beauty, even if you don’t like me saying it. And that balance is important. Too little self-confidence, and you would never have believed I was interested in you. Too much, and you would have expected it, and dismissed my interest as your due.”
“So you found me attractive, but also figured I wouldn’t be a hard sell.”
“Yes,” he responded bluntly, but his tone was not unkind. He gave me a measuring look. “Do you want me to keep going?”
I really didn’t. My ego was already smarting – I mean, I knew I wasn’t Helen of Troy, but who enjoys having that pointed out? I also did not enjoy how calculated it all sounded. Taking another deep breath, and not trusting my voice to betray my discomfort, I simply nodded and motioned for him to continue.
The hesitance in his expression said a lot about what must’ve been written on my face. “So, attractive and likely willing. I needed to feed that night. I had gone a little longer than I should have. Also, I didn’t-,” he paused. It looked like he was searching for the right words. “I didn’t expect you to be so intelligent. Or strong willed.”
I blinked. “Huh,” I asked, intelligently.
He winced a little. “You were not projecting well-read and determined that evening. You were with your friend, and following her lead. On pretty much everything. You got your drinks at the same time, danced at the same time, sat down at the same time, and it was always you following her.”
“Amyra,” I said, nodding. “If you knew her, you’d be less surprised. But why was that important?”
Whatever reaction he had been expecting, that wasn’t it. He arched an eyebrow again, surprised, but recovered quickly enough. “Because a girl who was weaker willed would not have remembered. And a girl who wasn’t quite as bright would not have pieced it together, even if she did.”
“Wait,” I held up my hand as disbelief filtered over my face. “Let me get this straight. You picked me because you thought I was pretty and stupid!?”
He grinned again, somewhat sheepishly, and held up his hands in a hopeless gesture. “That’s about it, yes.”