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Old 06-12-2010, 02:10 AM   #1
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Stroke of Midnight (Closed)

8:30pm at Cafe Latte. Candace had been in the now packed cafe for almost two hours. University has never been easy for the twenty one year old when finals were a mere week away. On the table were her notes, a cup of coffee, and two thick books. One of the books was a Philosophy book that covered reasoning and theory, while the other was a History book. Her laptop was propped open, containing her notes for one of her classes as well as a website. Something to kill time when she wanted to take a break.

She glanced outside the window, adjusting her reading glasses. Light snowfall sprinkled down at the streets as others passed by the cafe.

Candace crossed one leg over the other, tapping the end of her pencil on the wooden table. The noise in the cafe grew louder as customers ranging from teenagers to adults crowded in to the cafe. She was lucky enough to have showed up earlier when the place had been peaceful.

Her feet propped up on the cushioned seat across from her. Often, she lied to those who wanted to share a table with her, explaining that she was waiting for her friend to show up.

The truth was simple. She just wanted her own peace and quiet in her own little "bubble".
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:26 PM   #2
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He was hungry and Roland was out looking for an appetizing meal. He was stalking the streets when something in the window of a coffee house caught his eye. A girl sitting alone at a table studying, a girl that belonged to him.

Eighteen years ago he'd saved a woman's life mostly on a whim, but in return he'd been promised her daughter once she was of age. The woman and her newborn daughter had run and finally two years ago they'd disappeared. Now the girl that was owed to him was sitting alone studying.

He was hungry, but that could wait. As far as he knew she didn't know what he looked like, it was time to see if that debt was worth collecting on. The coffee house was still busy and Roland had to push past several people to get to her table. He ordered a cup of coffee, to blend in a bit better if nothing else and turned back to her table. The table next to hers had just emptied, but instead of sitting there he sat at the chair opposite her, Candace was her name he remembered.

“History and philosophy, interesting subjects. You must be in college by now. Tell me, what are you studying?” He had a friendly smile on his face and spoke as if he'd known her for years, not even bothering to introduce himself.

Tonight Roland simply wore jeans, an old leather belt, and a plain black t-shirt. He stood at six feet one inch and his light brown hair was just long enough to occasionally fall across his face.
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Old 07-31-2010, 02:46 AM   #3
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Candace's eyebrows raised when she heard the random stranger talking to her. Her eyes looked up enough to see him sitting in front of her. Well, now that was rude, considering that the table right next to hers is empty. She peered at him through her reading glasses with a suspicious look.

"Yes...yes they are." She flipped a page in her philosophy book. "Look, the seat's saved for someone else." Candace looked up at the cafe, then pointed to the table right next to hers.

"Table over there is empty if you want to sit down." She made an attempt to sound polite, hoping that she could get this person out of her hair. Candace just wanted to be alone at the moment, and had been successful so far, until this guy happened to show up.
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Old 07-31-2010, 03:05 AM   #4
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Roland set his steaming cup of coffee on the table on brushed the snow off his shoulders. He didn't get cold and so he tended to forget t-shirts seemed out of place in the winter.

He gave a wide smile nonchalantly responded to her request he move, “You are a terrible liar. Then again maybe you were just waiting for me and didn't realize it.” He rocked in his chair a bit and looked her over again. Definitely attractive, likely smart, and he liked the glasses on her.

“You didn't tell me your major.”
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Old 07-31-2010, 03:35 AM   #5
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Oh ho, this is going to be one of those guys, huh? One of those smart-alecky guys who, in their chauvinistic glory, want to impress the ladies by acting all manly, make some stupid pick up line to impress her, ask for her number, and through all that, hoping for a quick fuck. Despite Candace's attempts to be polite, the hint of frustration was evident by the restraint in her voice as well as the way her fingers gripped on the book just a tad tighter.

"Well you didn't tell me your name or why you're here." She forced a smile, keeping her gaze to her book. "I guess that makes us even."
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Old 07-31-2010, 04:02 AM   #6
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Roland laughed a bit, she wasn't meek either that was good. He didn't want to think he might get bored with her. “How right you are. My name is Roland Roux. I've studied most philosophers and have strong experience with European history.” He extended his hand for her to shake if she wanted.

“I forget my manners on nights like tonight.”
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Old 08-01-2010, 02:50 AM   #7
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He's still around. Her mind rattled. Closing her book shut, she dropped it on the table in front of her. It's not as if she could move to a different table since they were now all taken. And here was this stranger who thought he was going to impress her tonight. The fact that he said that he had a strong background in philosophy and European history did make her skeptical. Maybe he saw her books and went based on that.

"Really, strong background in European History?" The smile was still there, although still forced. That smile slowly turned in to a grin. Maybe she could give him a near impossible question. "All right Roland, I'm Candace. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and let you stay. That is, if you could answer a simple question. If not, you'll let me go back to my studies."

She picked up her coffee cup, and took a sip from it. He's definitely not going to be able to answer this question right. Her fingers twirled her pencil while her other hand pushed her reading glasses back.

"Why don't you explain to me about the East-West Schism?"

Candace let out a small chuckle, watching Roland think over the answer.
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:13 AM   #8
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Roland sighed. Being tested always put him in a foul mood, but from her it was worth tolerating, at least for the moment.

“I can only assume your talking about the split of the church into the Latin and Greek branches. They tried to patch things up in 1274 and again in 1439, but that was just church politicians making noise, they were too different to compromise. They couldn't even agree whether to use leavened or unleavened bread. I don't know what you want me to explain though, I wasn't ...” Roland stopped himself. He'd been going to say he wasn't at any of the councils, but that wouldn't do to say at all.

“I mean, I won't waste all night giving my views on what happened in the past when I'm more interested in the present right now,” he told her. He looked down at his coffee, it had stopped steaming, but he still hadn't touched it. He was still hungry, maybe that was what almost made him slip. “Are you satisfied with my passing knowledge or had you wanted something more out of me, Candace?”
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:23 AM   #9
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Candace bit down her tongue when Roland gave her the right answer. Damn it...damn it...damn it...damn it... was all her mind could repeat over and over. Maybe it was just by pure luck that he had figured it out, or she had him pegged all wrong this whole time. Whatever it may be, there was no way he was going to leave her alone.

Still, she couldn't help but be surprised and yet suspicious at his politeness. Maybe it was because most of the guys she knew and were friends with weren't all...deep, perhaps the word may be.

"No, it's satisfying enough." She let out a small, inaudible sigh, crossing one leg over the other. Looking him over, she noticed that other than his unusual mannerisms, his choice of attire was another odd thing. Considering that it was a thirty degree weather and he had nothing close to a jacket or sweater...

"You're not from around here, are you?"
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:11 AM   #10
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Candace is an entertaining girl, he thought to himself. “I'm from a little bit of everywhere, Candace,” he chuckled. Roland's eyes unintentionally came to rest on the soft skin of her neck. He sat almost in a daze for a moment before snapping out of it. Eating while traveling often proved risky and he had been on his way to his first meal in New York when he'd spotted her. If he'd been thinking he would've eaten first, but her presence had taken him by true surprise.

Roland stood from his chair and moved close to her. He placed a cold hand on her shoulder and said, “I'll find you again Candace, I think we'll have a lot to talk about.” He gave her a warm smile and then rushed out of the cafe. His hunger was starting to really gnaw at him. All these people around he could almost hear each heartbeat and imagine the warmth and taste of that life giving liquid in their veins. He nearly knocked over a guy and his girlfriend in his rush out of the restaurant. Somehow he knew if he didn't do something about it now he'd end up draining and killing the girl even if it wasn't until later that night. Something about her was very appetizing and right now he had little self control to spare.

Once outside he stopped and listened intently. Down the street in an alley he heard what he needed. He rushed down the street and found a couple huddled along some grates putting out warm air. They were making out and both of them, as far as he could tell, reeked of liquor. The crunch of snow beneath his feet wasn't enough to alert them to his presence.
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Old 08-03-2010, 03:46 AM   #11
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She wasn't surprised that his hand was cold. Given the weather outside and Roland's attire, that was to be expected. When he said that he was going to see her again and that they'll have more to talk about, she decided to humor him.

"Um...sure you will. Lots to talk about." she replied with an earnest smile.

In her mind, it basically meant Great, you're leaving now. Get the hell away now.

Candace, wasn't really outgoing, but she wouldn't mind a chat here and there. But when she was in her study mode, studying for exams that would determine if she could go to the next level in her courses and be that much closer to her degree, she really wanted the solitude.

She watched as Roland literally stumble his way out of the cafe, knocking in to a couple that was just coming in to the cafe. Either it was by accident, by natural clumsiness, or that Roland was drunk. Given his odd attire and demeanor, she could only assume he was a drifter. An inebriated drifter. Who in their right mind would go out in light clothing at this weather, of all things?

Hours passed until 11:30pm struck, indicating closing time. Gathering her things, she made her way out the cafe and headed down the streets. One of the stores she passed by, an electronics store, had their HD TV in their display window playing the news. The news reporter spoke of another string of disappearances, this time including a few people her age, one even in her class she recognized. One body had been discovered along the Hudson River this morning with bite marks on her neck.

Adjusting her coat, Candace made her way down the train station to take the train to her apartment all the way in Brooklyn. Sure, it would have been easier to live somewhere in Manhattan closer to the university, but as much as the city was nice, the prices for the apartments were way out of her league with her part time job as a model, scraping with what she could get by.

As she headed down her street, she had a strange feeling that someone was watching her. Turning around, there was no one there. She convinced herself that the feeling was perhaps natural, as she was returning back to the apartment at a rather unsafe hour.

-----

The next evening, she had once again hit the same coffee shop. One exam down, one more to go within the next few days. The philosophy exam was a lot tougher than she thought having to memorize massive amounts of complicated deductions that her professor loved to give out. Then again, the philosophy exam was perhaps the lesser of two evils with the history exam coming up, which featured an essay that had to be written at least four pages minimum before the time was up.

This time, she chose to take advantage of the second floor loft in the cafe. On the upside, maybe she wouldn't have to run in to that crazy Roland again like last night. As she neared the top of the spiral staircase, she noticed that there were some students that occupied the couches and tables with their books. Candace chose to go to the far corner where a vintage coffee poster hung close by. Her laptop and coffee were on the desk along with her history book as well as papers.

Lying on the floor close to her seat with today's newspaper was the article of the Hudson River killing.

She removed her black coat, revealing to wear a red turtleneck with a black belt around her waist, a black skirt and matching black leggings. Her hand twirled around her neck to unwrap her scarf. Candace reached inside her bag and fished out her glasses case, having nearly forgotten to put on her reading glasses.
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:18 AM   #12
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Once he'd fed Roland sat and watched her from across the street. He followed her home once she either finished her studies or became fed up with the busy place she'd chosen to study. Once he was confident she was asleep Roland climbed up to Candace's window and peered in. It was strange how many people had that same peaceful look as they slept. He wondered if he had looked the same when he slept, back when he was alive.

Roland went back to the his new basement apartment for the day. It had a single bored up window and the metal door was battered and had peeling paint. He hadn't fully furbished it yet, but it was starting to become home. It was just how he liked it, ratty and harmless on the outside, and comfortable and only occasionally terrifying on the inside.

The next night Roland went out seeking his debt, worried Candace might not be found until she went to bed for the night. Fortunately however she seemed to actually like the coffee house he'd found her in the previous night. When she went in he followed in relative silence amongst the idle chatter and the ding of utensils against plates and cups. She was just putting on her reading glasses when he placed a cold hand on her shoulder.

“Funny place to try to study quietly,” he told her as she jumped a bit in her seat. Tonight the only change to his attire was a beaten and worn leather jacket.
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:40 AM   #13
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Candace had flinched, startled when she felt the familiar cold hand press down on her shoulder. She didn't need to look up to know who it was, as his voice was enough for her to distinguish it.

Great, he's back again, she loathed. She lowered her reading glasses, watching as Roland took it upon himself to sit on the seat across from her without asking. Unlike last night, Candace didn't protest against it, more so on the fact that Roland wouldn't budge even if she asked him to get out.

I gotta find a new coffee shop. she shook her head and pushed her reading glasses back to her face, opening up her paper notes.

"I like the noise," Candace replied as she flipped through the pages of notes. She noticed for the first time that Roland actually had an old leather jacket, albeit a very old one given its beaten characteristics. Well...at least his attire to battle the cold weather has improved.

"Have you thought about buying yourself some gloves or something. Hand's still frozen from last night?" She asked in half jokingly manner.

Seeing that Roland was most likely not going to leave her alone any time soon, she picked up today's newspaper that was close to her feet and handed him the front page that talked about the Hudson River murders.

"Something to entertain you. Look, I'm sorry if I don't seem to be...chatty...tonight. Big exam in a few days. Big...big exam..." Her voice trailed off.

On the other hand, she hoped that her apparent snob-ish attitude was enough to prompt him to find another table. Not that she had intended to be snobby, just that this Roland was giving off uncomfortable vibes around him. Something about him...
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:11 PM   #14
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Liked the noise. In his life it was easy and almost necessary to forget people were people, but Roland understood the comfort their white noise might bring. His eyes wandered across the people of the cafe. Still, finding one he didn't feel like he'd already seen a thousand times was difficult. Maybe why he was bothering Candace right now.

“It takes a lot to warm me up, maybe I'll let you find out for yourself some night,” Roland joked back as he took the seat across from her. The newspaper she handed him however deadened his mood. “I need to find a new bank,” he murmured as he scanned the page. He hadn't been in town long, but he was being sloppy. He hated bagged blood, but there wasn't much of a choice, for a time at least. Leaving her to her studies for the moment Roland began studying the story in greater detail to see if he needed to do any more work covering his tracks or if it might be worth breaking into the police station to read what they had on him.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:19 AM   #15
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Candace rolled her eyes at Roland's pick up line of her eventually warming up to him. Twenty...thirty minutes passed on as she caught a quick glimpse of him at least twice. At least he wasn't bothering her like he did last night. Occasionally, she would mutter a few things, sometimes the same thing over and over, in an attempt to memorize some of the events and people that were bound to be on the exam.

She couldn't wait until this exam was over. She had been pulling all nighters for the past week.

Candace took a sip on her coffee and was about to review the rest of her notes when she heard Roland say something about finding a new bank.

"So...what do you do for a living? Some kind of business man or something?"
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Old 08-09-2010, 12:37 AM   #16
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Roland looked up at her a bit startled. He'd been so lost in his own thoughts he'd almost forgotten where he was.

“So there isn't so much studying to be done I haven't caught your curiosity,” he mocked finally. “I've had many fingers in a lot of pots in the past, but most of them lost my interest eventually. Now I've got enough put away to be comfortable, so I just supplement it with the odd pet project and risky venture.”

Though vague, his answer wasn't really so far from the truth. The advent of computer technology had made it much easier to manage funds and years of watching economies and empires rise and fall had taught him what to watch in the stock market. Now he lived off of dividends and occasional poker games with organized crime families. As for the pet projects, at the moment, that was her.

“If you get to ask me I get to ask you, Candace. You study obviously, but what are your grand designs? What do you think your future holds?”
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:18 AM   #17
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"Pet projects, huh? And what would that be? Unless if it's one of those top secret super agent things you're not supposed to say?" The last question was intended to be sarcastic. Placing her notes away in her folder, as well as packing her bag of most of her things, save for the laptop, Candace decided that enough was enough for tonight, as far as studying goes. She still needed to recover from the massive Philosophy exam that she had today.

But as far as what she wanted to be, career wise, in the long run, it wasn't always easy to choose one.

"Philosophy's a requirement to get my general education agenda over it. I like historical stuff and was hoping to travel the world, check out other places on my own for once without my parents. Except I don't think it'll happen any time soon, especially with my part time job."

Twirling her pen between two fingers, she placed it down, contemplating an answer.

"I guess, if anything, maybe eventually becoming a lawyer. Started school a little late. Last year, really. Gonna be a while until law school can be an option."
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Old 08-10-2010, 01:56 AM   #18
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Roland laughed at her little jest, but didn't give her an answer. After a moment she started telling him about her studies instead. “A woman of law, that would certainly be an interesting compliment. Still, you don't sound very excited. I don't think you've found what you're meant for yet, but you will.”

Roland stood and moved over close to Candace. “Ever thought that since you were born you were meant for something?” he asked her and took her chin and moved her face so she was looking up at him. “Do you believe in that kind of thing Candace?”
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Old 08-12-2010, 02:13 AM   #19
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"Well, one can have doubts. A lot of people in college go through that."

The minute Roland placed his fingers underneath Candace's chin, she gave him an unamused look. Keeping her gaze on him, she used her hand to move his hand away from her chin and dropped it on the table. How dare he? Even if this was their second meeting (unintentionally), what gave Roland the right to start making the moves all of a sudden?

"I remember my mom always saying that if I really want to be what I want to be, I'd have to focus and work on that before I can actually get there."
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Old 08-12-2010, 02:58 AM   #20
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He shook his head and half turned away from her as if he was hearing an argument that he'd heard hundreds of times before. His fists clenched for a moment, but then relaxed.

“You don't know what you want though. So few people get the chance to find out. And once you have all you could want, then what? You'd expect to be happy, but all they can think about is how to keep from losing it. The world is fluid, staying a dedicated course will run you aground when the waters shift.” Roland retook his seat before finally looking straight at Candace again. It was easy to forget how young she was.

“I am being too critical, too bold. You have enough studies to concern you now, no reason for me to be complicating things. I will find you again after your last exam.” Roland thought back on his own life and unlife. His rises and falls. For a time he'd had purpose, but those Machiavellian schemes fell flat after a time and he returned to simpler living.

He stood again, pushing the chair back to the table, and started to leave. “Sweet dreams, Candace.”
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:15 AM   #21
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Both of her eyebrows raised when Roland wished Candace sweet dreams before taking his leave. Was he being too much of a gentleman? Was his personality a facade for something else much more, or was it a natural thing for him? After all, New York has built a reputation for having some of the snobbiest people, especially in the cities.

Watching as Roland left, she glanced at her reflection on her computer screen that had gone in to screensaver mode. What in the world did he see in her to start making moves, if anything?

When the coffee shop was reaching its closing hour, once again, Candace gathered her things and headed back to her apartment by means of taking the train. As she passed by the park along the way, she could have sworn she heard some moaning coming through. Both male and female. Probably it was some young couple getting down and dirty in the bushes. It wouldn't surprise her.

It was strange, however, that Candace was still standing there after a few minutes, almost as if she were listening in. Her instinct kept screaming at her to run but another side of her, got curious. She knew what was going on, it was none of her business. But why the hell was she still standing at a distance enough to not be seen, but most certainly enough to hear. Well...it had been a while since she got involved with that sort of thing but that was because she was focused on other things.

Clenching her fist, she quickly turned on her heel and bolted before she either got caught, or would do something she would regret.

----

The next few days were an equal blur as Candace had been studying like mad in different other coffee shops in the city. The good thing, oddly enough, that came out of this was that she had not seen or ran in to Roland. Even in the different coffee shop by her school, the tension looming over exams was high strung as she wasn't the only one affected by it.

----

The day of the exam was a cloudy day with the ground covered in snow from its last snowfall. As she made her way around the campus, Candace rambled thoughts and answers to her studies. Whenever she screwed up on an answer, Candace easily got frustrated.

Making her way up the stairs to the second floor, Candace looked up at the door number and exhaled in a stressed tone.

----

Three hours later, the exam was finally over. The stress of the exam, while she managed to get through with a half hour remaining, had caused her head to throb. Migraines? Possibly. She wouldn't know what grade she had gotten for the finals and semester until her professors e-mailed her.

So the stress might not be fully gone. But at least she didn't have to read anymore books for the next month and a half.

Candace made her way down the subway station, popping two Tylonel in her mouth before making it to the train that would take her to her apartment. It was nice that at this hour, there wasn't as much people as the chaotic morning or rush hour afternoon.

Relaxing in her booth seat, with her bag on the seat beside her, she rested her head on the window. Candace couldn't wait until she got home so she could get some sleep.
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Old 08-15-2010, 11:33 PM   #22
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It had taken more money than he'd wanted, but everyone had their price and his fridge was now stocked with bagged blood. The police had actually stopped in to question him, but so far it seemed just as a possible witness. Still it had been too close and for a while at least he would stick to bagged blood. It never tasted right, but it did the job.

He'd taken a look at her schedule one night, today was Candace's last exam. He'd followed her, but she was rushing home and he didn't catch up to her until the subway. He got in the car behind hers and waited for the train to move. She didn't even notice when he came in the car and got his first good look at her for the night. She seemed exhausted.

“That last one must have been the worst, Candace. You look worn out,” he said playfully, letting her know he was there before he took the seat next to hers. The car was almost empty, with just some punk who looked a little out of his mind at the other end, so it was just the two of them.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:34 AM   #23
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The subway ride to Brooklyn had placed Candace on the verge of dozing off. What startled her awake, however, was hearing the all too familiar voice that she had come to know(and not love) for the past three days. Candace watched as Roland, once again without asking permission, took a seat beside her, placing her bag on his lap.

She was too tired to physically do something about it. That is, except grab her school bag off of his lap and continue resting her head against the window.

"You always stalk women you just met?"
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:44 AM   #24
Erlind
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Roland chuckled. “I'm just doing what I said I'd do, Candace. I waited until your exams were done to come find you. You seem tired, but I don't think its the kind of tired sleep can fix by itself. I think your tired of studying and being the good little school girl too. Most college kids are out partying by this point, but that doesn't seem your style. So tell me Candace, if there were no consequences and you could let loose any way you wanted, what do you really want?”

He pushed a stray hair out of her face. He had made sure to drink warmed blood before coming, so maybe his touch wouldn't feel so cold to her tonight. He was almost certain she would throw his question back in his face, but at this point he didn't mind. He was having fun with his games.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:27 AM   #25
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As the train pulled up at a station, Candace looked outside the window to see which one they were on at the moment. Turns out she was one stop away from the station that she got off at. The punk looking kid exited the train with his hands in his pockets before the door closed, leaving the two alone in the compartment.

One more to go...just one more to go...

Candace was about to relax beside the window when Roland pestered her with more questions. Given what he had just asked, she couldn't help but roll here eyes. Was this guy living in the fifties or the old ages where women didn't seem fit to take on jobs that were usually reserved for men?

As her stop was approaching, she got up from her seat and maneuvered her way to the aisle.

"For your information, I like studying history. It's the philosophy that sometimes gets to me."

Making her way towards the door, she tapped her foot on the floor before adding.

"I wouldn't tell you what it is." She smiled with satisfaction. In fact, now that she thought about it, she gave way more information about herself and had known Roland way less. "But I guess for starters, wished I didn't have to pay for my rent. Some jobs don't come easy."

Her fingers gripped on to the hand rail, waiting as her stop was getting closer.
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