Kincaid had managed to secure a loft space in a converted wine warehouse that now advertised modern amenities and resort style living rather than yesteryear’s hard work and hand made products. Dax preferred the simple grandeur of towering ceilings and the colossal steel-framed windows that painted the space with natural light be it warm sunlight or, like now, silvery slivers of moonlight to more contemporary styles that prioritized style and aesthetics over style and comfort. That it was close to the beach was a boon that the sight of a surfboard propped next to the door confirmed.
Dax dropped his gear by the door and pocket dumped the remainder on a table. The moonlight played against the dark wood floors and rugged, exposed walls. The brickwork bore the scars of that former industrial world, worn by time and possessed of countless stories; the whispered secrets of the past were a canvas of history that he could almost hear on some nights. In such a space the boundaries between rooms dissolved and Kincaid navigated the open design en route to a shower first. Seemed he was, in so many ways, forever trying to wash the blood away. Until recently, Dax thought he'd permanently traded rifles for tattoo guns, explosions for bursts of color that went beyond the viscerally crimson. He could no more erase that past than he could permanently remove one of his tattoos yet when he emerged from the shower, he’d covered that part up with the wrappings of an artist.
Stalked by those blue eyes that seemed to remember everything and forget nothing, Dax flowed through the kitchen and past a small living area meant for shared moments and intimate gatherings yet remained mostly empty. He climbed a narrow metal staircase that spiraled up to a small mezzanine above. A cozy sleeping nook overlooked the entire living space and gave Dax both an eye in the sky and a detached place to chase away dark thoughts on pencil and paper in a hammock that stretched and swayed between two anchors in the crisscrossed pattern of exposed steel girders.
Vail’s eyes emerged first on the textured and tactile paper of his sketchbook. Several similar books littered the space, their pages full of ideas and attempted escapes, but tonight he started in a new one. The forget-me-not blue of her eyes, he’d add their Lethean shades soon enough, could make a man forget about his demons. He pulled the trigger on design choices as they came to him, drew from instinct and feeling rather than preconceived ideas. She took shape not as a car hop but as Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. Kincaid’s intuition, that same intuition that had kept him and his guys alive and earned him the Prophet nickname, that same intuition telling him now that she maybe knew something…a lot of somethings perhaps…but wouldn’t or couldn’t speak on it. Couldn’t use that lost voice.
Stylized like a tattoo, the sketch took shape across the page that cradled his ideas and transformed them into tangible expressions. Spontaneity danced with precision and kept the intrusive thoughts at bay as the Little Mermaid posed seductively on the shore over the recently saved, but unconscious Prince. Waves licked at the shell strewn sand, jewelry glittered around wrists while a singular V dangled from the neck to nestle between the soft swell of breasts and sunlight played through her translucent tail. The tidal blue of her eyes laden with bewitching mystery were meant to pull one in while the curl of her lips, subtle and suggestive, hinted at deep sea secrets. That sultry playfulness shielded a certain, purposeful choice to shield certain unnamed vulnerabilities. She invited one to come play…but at arm’s reach and she’d retreat to the enigmatic seas before one ever got close enough to possess her.
Kincaid didn’t know when he drifted off…only that he awoke with a stretch rather than a sudden start gasping for air that wouldn’t come. That was all too often the norm for him. He couldn’t help but think it was because of her when fingers brushed a few stray shavings from the page. She was still there, sketched out and colored on his lap as he gave a languid stretch. Kincaid didn’t know why Rowan wanted her. The mercenary was his typical tight-lipped self when it came to the specific details. Dax didn’t want to think about the worst-case scenarios, just knew he’d do what he could to prevent them. He’d had a good sleep and it was going to be a good morning.
The buzz of his phone on the bedside table and the South African mercenary calling it, however, had other intentions.