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This is the third part in a story series known as the Fab Four Fables. The rules are listed at the end of the post. Catch up on the story by reading part 1, written by SAM, and then part 2, written by Shannon.

He smiled at her again, his shining eyes reflective of something that Hazel couldn’t quite identify. Amusement? Joy? Hunger? In spite of the mild warnings voiced in her mind, she brushed the unease of the moment aside and returned his smile. After all, this was the moment she had waited for. She could still picture him coming home sharply at six, arriving for the still-hot dinner and being welcomed by their children as he pulled into the driveway. The fantasy was still alive and well.

“I have been looking forward to meeting you as well, mister…?” she trailed off, giving him the chance to reveal his name at last and complete the scene replaying in her mind. He seemed not to catch on to her subtle hint, instead turning toward the hostess and asking for a private table. The eyes of the hostess lit up when she looked down to see the bill he slipped into her hand. Hazel wondered when he managed to do that without her noticing. It had the desired effect, though, as the hostess snagged a pair of maroon menus and led them to a quite table in the back.

Hazel stood in awe at the elegant lace tablecloth, her eyes soaking in the intricate, romantic designs. A silver candelabra stood in the center of the table, the flickering light casting shadows on the chairs. Two maroon napkins, folded in the shape of a swan, towered protectively over their sets of polished silverware. Somewhere in the background the melodious chords of a harp rang in the air, adding enchantment with elegance. Hazel pictured them sitting together at the table, gray streaking his hair, celebrating the anniversary of the day they met. It was the perfect spot.

He held her chair out for her, smiling. Hazel blushed and went to sit down, but froze midway through. She saw it again, that cold and sepulchral glimmer, flashing in his eyes as she sat down. A voice of reason rang in her head, urging her to leave now. The signs along the way flashed in her head, forcing the daydream fantasies to dissipate like her breaths on a cold winter morning.

With some effort she calmed the alarms, giggling in embarrassment as she sat in the chair. Her hostess rolled her eyes before letting them know that Antoine would be their server tonight, leaving the two of them alone at the table. The glint in his eyes was gone, replaced by a warmth that complimented his disarming smile. In that moment Hazel felt as though she could melt into his arms and find comfort and security. But even then the voice persisted, a whisper drowned by the crashing waves in her mind.

He asked questions about her, wanting to know what she did at home and at work, what she liked and what she disliked. Hazel answered each question without hesitation, rattling off the answers and embellishing generously to keep him interested. When she finished telling him a mostly false tale about how she saved her neighbor’s life, she realized that she still knew nothing about him. Every time she tried to get some sort of detail from him, he deflected the focus back on her.

The first few times she was flattered, but now it was getting irritating. Every time he shifted the conversation back to her, the voice got louder. The warning signs flashed in her mind with increased intensity. She was determined to get something out of him, even if it meant threatening to leave.

“So what was the name of your cat, Hazel?” he asked in a syrupy voice, smiling as he leaned in closer.

“My cat is named,” Hazel started, but cut herself short. “His name isn’t important. Here I am babbling about myself and I still don’t know your name.”

He frowns, his face growing darker with the change in expression. The warning signs scream at her, but his frown quickly departs. His smile suppresses the voice in her mind once more. “How rude of me,” he said as though he meant to tell her all along, “my name is Brock Hurston.”

Immediately the fantasy burst back into her mind. She was Mrs. Hazel Hurston, and he was her Brock. Her stone to lean upon in hard times, sheltering her from harm and raising their children together. She reached to take a sip of her red wine, pausing briefly to wonder when she ordered red wine. She shrugged it aside and lifted the glass to her plush lips.

And then the worst thing imaginable happened. She spilled some wine on her shirt. She leaped to her feet, spilling more on the white tablecloth in the process. Her cheeks changed color to match the wine stain on her clothes, and she excused herself to the bathroom.

She wished she hadn’t ditched her sweater earlier. She could hear the laughter of fate ringing in her ears as she rushed from the table. Her composure was gone, and her dignity with it as well. She locked herself in a stall and fought back tears of embarrassment. This wasn’t how this day was supposed to go.

In the silence of the stall, the oddities of the day replayed in her mind. Nothing had gone her way today, apart from how handsome and courteous Brock was. Except for those momentary flashes of…something in his eyes.

And somehow his name seemed familiar, but she couldn’t imagine where she might have seen it.

The warnings in her mind pounded through her thoughts, demanding to be heard. She tried to brush them aside, but they refused to leave this time. They could not be dismissed without the distracting presence of Brock.

Where had she seen that name?

She took a deep breath and shook her head, biting her bottom lip. She has suffered through worse first dates in her life. None of them were dreamy as Brock Hurston, though.

If she could only figure out why his name resonated with her memory, perhaps she could enjoy the rest of the date in peace.

She got up and left her stall, stopping to wash her hands and dab at the stain with a moist paper towel. Every part of her was screaming for her to leave. Now, before he noticed she was gone too long. But that seemed like a childish thing to do, and Hazel was going to prove that she was neither clumsy nor childish.

Brock. Hurston. Brock Hurston. Hurston Brock. Something still seemed off.

She opened the door. She looked to her left, her body urging her to go. She started to turn when a voice broke through.

“You aren’t planning on standing me up,” Brock said with a grim smile, “are you, Hazel?” She thought she saw the chilling look in his eyes again, but when she blinked it was gone. She stammered, trying unsuccessfully to indicate she thought she left a jacket in the car.

Brock Hurston. Suddenly she remembered…

Her face flushed and her stammering increased. She remembered where she saw that name, and in that moment she started to wish she had never come.

—————-

This was my installment in our second round of the Fab Four Fables. For those who don’t know, the Fab Four consists myself, SAM, Shannon, and Eric. For this round SAM started us off and then tagged Shannon, who ended her piece by tagging me.

This awesome Fab Four Fable image is courtesy of SAM.

THE RULES:

1. No one will be privy to the story until it is posted.

2.The next person won’t know who they are until they are tagged, when the post goes live.

3. The person publishing the most recent part must adhere to the following:

  • choose the next person to write the story
  • keep the title and stay within the genre provided
  • provide an image of their choice at the top of their post that relates to their piece
  • the story must continue as a whole and not combined with any other prompt or meme

4. There is no word count or time limit.

And since I have been elected to be third again, I am left to tag Eric for the final part. Which will be awesome, like all of his writing.