Lukas stretched, attempting to find a more comfortable position for his leg. He considered popping a couple of Paracetamol, but decided that the last thing he needed at the moment was a pill dependency. Instead, he tried to concentrate on the program playing on the small television in the corner.
The program was an American reality show, documenting the exploits of a real-life team of ghost-hunters. Initially of some interest to Lukas, the program had rapidly palled, as the the team, most whom seemed to be part time hairdressers or plumbers, or firemen, probed a supposedly haunted lodge-house in some rural backwater.
Lukas was alone in the house. Helen and MacKenzie had gone off together to explore Lancaster. Lukas had declined the offer to tag along, claiming that his leg was not up to the strain.
And, although that was partly the truth, it was not the real reason that Lukas wanted some time on his own. He had a lot to think about.
Mackenzie Church. And himself.
Him and MacKenzie; no matter how he looked at it, it was going to take some adjusting to. The idea that MacKenzie had feelings for him, was not one he would ever have considered seriously, had it been proposed by anybody else. And yet, it seemed to be true.
After leaving Helen in the kitchen, MacKenzie had taken the unresisting Lukas by the hand, and had led him through to the small lounge. Sitting him gently down onto the sofa by the simple expedient of placing her hands gently upon his chest, and pushing. She had taken the seat next to him, almost before he had landed. Lukas had been marginally aware of a soft chuckle, as the lounge door closed softly, pulled from the other side.
Over the course of the next three-quarters of an hour, Lukas had been persuaded, as to the depth of MacKenzie's feeling towards him. It had been, he decided, quite the emotional eye-opener.
They had talked; or at least, MacKenzie had talked. Lukas had mostly just listened. He realized, with quite some surprise, that he liked the soft northern burr of Mackenzie's voice; the almost sing-song lilt of her words. There had been little physical contact between them, apart from MacKenzie's hands, which refused to relinquish their grip upon Lukas' fingers; her thumbs moving constantly ' stroking the back of Lukas's hands.
On the whole, Lukas reflected; the experience had not been unpleasant. Not at all. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he had actually enjoyed the time spent with MacKenzie
Finally, she had kissed him softly; merely brushing his lips with hers, and had risen from the sofa.
'All I am asking Lukas,' She had said, one hand on the door handle, 'is that you think about what I have said. Think about us. All I am asking for, is a chance. I know how I feel; I felt this way for quite a while now. I would like to think, that you might feel the same, if we were but to spend some quality time together.'
Lukas had just nodded, and then Mackenzie was gone; presumably, Lukas thought, to report to Helen about how the discussion had gone.
Fifteen minutes later, they had left the house, heads together, giggling like a couple of schoolgirls. Lukas had watched from the window, as they entered the waiting cab; watched it reverse out of the cul-de-sac and disappear.
The house was silent, and Lukas suddenly felt alone. This was not usually a problem for him, being solitary by nature. But, today, the silence and the emptiness played an uneasy melody upon his nerves. He didn't want to be alone, he realized; he wanted company.
He wanted MacKenzie.
Lukas drifted back towards the sofa. As he passed, he lifted the remote control from its resting place atop of the television, and pressed the power on button. Absently, he sank down onto the sofa, and for the next few minutes,he channel-surfed, not really seeing the images; flicking from channel to channel aimlessly. As he sat, his mind replayed details of the time spent with his agent. Her face drifted into the view of his minds-eye; her dark-eyes regarding him from beneath finely arched brows and auburn, coppery hair, that reminded him so much of autumnal trees.
Lukas wondered how MacKenzie would look with her hair unfettered; he suspected the result would be spectacular.
On the television screen, the ghost-hunting reality show had just started, and Lukas attempted to lose himself in the somewhat over-dramatized antics of the American plumbers and firemen cum ghost-hunters.
Twenty minutes later, Lukas switched the television off. Moping around the house was doing him no good at all, he decided. Maybe a bit of fresh air was the answer. He rose stiffly to his feet, wincing as his injured leg voiced its disapproval of this new plan of action. He bent to massage the leg, but as he did, a sudden stiffening of the hairs on his neck made him pause. Slowly, he twisted; turning towards the window.
Standing in the middle of the circle of houses beyond the window, facing Lukas, stood David Jackinson. Despite the bright sunlight, the figure was shadowy; almost a silhouette. Yet Lukas had no doubt who it was. Jackinson's dark gaze seemed to bore through the glass and lace barrier of the window, and into the room beyond.
Right into Lukas' soul.
For long moments, that matured into minutes, neither man moved. Finally, Lukas seemed to shake himself back to reality. He blinked several times, and shook himself visibly.
'Right.' He muttered. He patted a pocket, then another, until he located his cellphone. A quick glance assured him that the phone was on, and had a signal. Then he turned towards the door.
For one of the few times in his life, Lukas was angry. He had had enough of Jackinson. This attempted intimidation was going to end.
With a rage that was slow to burn, Lukas could count on the fingers of one hand, the times in his life he had ever actually been angry enough to take overt action. Ignoring the sudden sharp shards of pain from his leg, he stormed from the lounge and down the hall. Flinging open the door, he strode down the path towards the waiting Jackinson.
Jackinson had not moved. He ignored Lukas approach, his shadowy eyes giving nothing away. His posture was relaxed, but immobile; unnaturally so.
He stood, the bulk of his weight resting upon his right foot, slightly forward from the left. His hands hung at his side, open, palms against his thighs. These facts registered vaguely in Lukas's mind, as he closed in upon the stationary figure.
'What the hell do you want?' He stopped, a prudent distance away from Jackinson, one hand clutching his cellphone. 'Shove off now, or I'm calling the police. I saw you, the other day, watching the house; Spying on me.'
Jackinson's gaze remained fixed unblinkingly upon the house, his lips slightly apart. Lukas raised the cellphone, his thumb keying in the digits that would summon the police. His thumb moved to the connect button, ready to press down.
'Last chance.' He warned.
'Jackinson turned slowly to face him, his only movement a slight twisting of the hips. His eyes remained fixed in his skull, his gaze swiveling towards Lukas as his torso shifted.
'You are warned.' Lukas froze, his thumb still on his connect button. 'Yet you persist.'
The sound that issued from Jackinson's unmoving lips was inhuman; an alien sibilance. It was impossible to discern whether there was a single voice, or many; to a stunned Lukas, it sounded like nothing less, than a mass of snakes; all speaking in almost perfect harmony.
'I will not give further warning. Desist or measures will be taken.'
'Desist?' Lukas asked cautiously. 'Desist what? I've done nothing to you; whoever you are.'
'Nevertheless.' The sibilant voice became one; clear. 'You are warned. This affair is not of your concern. Desist, or consequences will ensue.'
'I don't understand.' Lukas lowered his phone. 'Help me to understand, please. Who are you?' He knew, or suspected he knew now, what was talking to him.