Ivey swore under her breath for the umpteenth time as she tried to open the door to her hotel room. No, wait, not a hotel, she corrected, but a cell. A hotel didn't keep visitors from going in and out. This was more of a prison, and she the prisoner. Even after removing the locks on the door, it still wouldn't budge, as if there were some sort of force on the other side preventing it from opening.

"Lady Ivey, what are you doing?" The deep voice suddenly came from behind her.

Startled, Ivey spun around to see who it was and came face to face with the man in her dream. Well, technically, from her dream. Okay, of her dreams.

The attractive stranger stood in the middle of the room, more appealing now than back when he first appeared during the hostage incident. He sported a tan as if he spent his days outdoors. Lengthy, untamed hair swept across his face and shoulders, enveloping him like standing under a willow tree.

From the tip of his nose to his well define cheekbones and concrete jaw, he was the epitome of an angel—or a devil. No scars or wrinkles marred his face. He was tall, seemingly around 6 feet or so, compared to her measly 5' 6. Ivey raised her head, looking straight at him, and those eyes pierced right back—captivating—just like the first time.

One could get lost in the colors—were they blue, or gray, or shades of in-between?

"What are you doing?" The chocolate voice crawled across her skin and shivered down her spine.

Ivey needed to think of another adjective to compare his voice, too. Chocolate was getting kind of boring. Maybe velvet, but no, she had already used that one earlier. Perhaps mellow or flawless?

"Who are you?" She answered his question with another.

Ivey ignored the way his eyes wandered below her neck, stopping briefly at her breasts before traveling back up. She had gotten rid of the large comfort blanket earlier, choosing to wrap herself with the white bedsheets instead for more movement. One could barely see the skin underneath the bedsheets; however, under his penetrating stare, she felt like he could see everything.

"You called my name earlier."

Ivey frowned, a little exasperated. Under his scrutiny, there was a slight blush creeping up from her neck while trying to recall when she had done that.

Nothing came to mind. "I don't know who you are."

He paused, as if realizing something, then agreed, "Of course not."

Ivey blinked. "Excuse me?"

He threw a bundle of clothes at her. "Get dress. Our location is compromised. We need to get out of here."

Ivey caught the bundle in mid-air. "What makes you think—" her voice faltered as she saw a shape begin to form behind the man, near the window. "What…is that?!"

Seymour turned around, mouth already in a tight line. "They are much quicker than I remembered."

"Who, or better yet, what are they?" With his attention focused on something else, Ivey hastily pulled the shirt over her head.

"Impair," she heard him exhale.

Seconds later, the shape that was creeping through the window started smoking. Ivey stared as the smoke turned pitch black before eventually dissolving into thin air.

"Your pants?" The stranger had turned his attention back to her.

Ivey gawked. "It…you…impair…?"

"A word spell," he explained.

Before Ivey could ask him to elaborate, another movement caught her eyes. "Behind you!"

He didn't blink as the window…or thing started to smoke, but he turned around to give Ivey some privacy. "It will only last for a bit. We need to get out of here."

Ivey didn't have to be told twice, leaning over to insert her legs into the holes before pulling them up to her waist before dropping the bedsheets around her. The pants felt a bit large, but at least it was better than being too tight. Ivey finished zipping and was about to button the top when she felt strong arms encircle her.

"I'm surprised you can see them," he stated, pulling her against him before she could protest.

Good thing he did, too, because white shapes were already forming at the spot where she had just been standing. Other white, oddly figures reached out from underneath the door, grabbing the bed sheet Ivey ditched for clothing. It was gone in a flash, appearing to have been swallowed up by the shapes.

And the noise...she could hear it now, a high pitch whistle, almost like a fierce wind, gradually getting worse. It shrieked, seeking revenge. Its cries filled with grief, screaming in agony. Some of the screeches were loud and shrill; others, a constant echo.

"What are those white things?!" Ivey's voice shuddered. It was unlike anything she heard of before. They were crying to her, reaching out for her. It felt like her entire being was on fire from the inside out. And she was weakening.

What are these things doing to me?!

"Seymour," Ivey's flat voice caught his attention, warning him first before her body started to shake uncontrollably.

Surprisingly, she did know his name after all. It came to her as easily as if recalling an old lover.

Seymour swore under his breath. He expected a reaction, but not this. He wasn't sure if she was trembling from the chill that the creatures conjured or if she was terrified. One was preferable over the other. Cold he can handle. If she was shaking in fear, it meant they had gotten under her skin.

"I'm c-c-cold," Ivey gave him the answer unintentionally. "What is-is going on, Seymour?"

"You will be fine," he promised, and strangely enough, Ivey believed him. "It's the effect of the Whites," he held her even tighter against him (perhaps too tight), sharing some of his body heat with hers. "As long as you show no fear, they can't get to you."

"W-w-hat a-are you going t-to d-do?" Ivey struggled to keep her composure. Oddly enough, it was his presence that calmed her, keeping her from feeling scared.

What would have happened without him?

Everything that's happened so far played out like a movie—or nightmare, and she, the main character, caught up in it all. Nothing made sense. Everything so far seemed unbelievable. The only sane thing at the moment was Seymour. Real and in front of her, not a figment of her imagination.

What was even more strange was how easy it felt to be in his presence.

However, this wasn't the best time to examine and make sense of it all. Ivey couldn't even discern everything happening around her, so how could she make sense of these feelings?

"Focus," Seymour assured her. "I'll take care of this."

"H-h-how?" Ivey was a bit skeptical.

The Whites surrounded them, slowing draining away Ivey's strength. If she had enough energy to walk, even run, they might stand a chance. Ivey was growing weaker by the minute. Unless Seymour had a way of disappearing out of here, they were fried chicken.

Smoked humans to be more precise. There was no way they were getting out of here.

Ivey scowled up at Seymour. Why were they draining her strength, but not his? And how in the world did she know that these things were sapping her energy?!

He grinned down at her, reading her mind, and for a moment, Ivey forgot everything.

Could he not get any sexier? Not only was he strong, but also confident and (she flattened her palms on his chest purposely) all hard muscles underneath.

Chaos all around Ivey swallowed back her thoughts. Ah, but what more could a lady ask for?

"This would be a lot easier if you knew how to use your powers," Seymour whispered against her ear, "You're still pretty weak, but since we aren't traveling far, it should be all right."

Ivey opened her mouth to question what he meant by traveling; however, before she could utter a word, Seymour tapped the ground once with the sole of his feet, "Expel."

Once the word left his mouth, there was a moment where everything around Ivey halted, even the Whites. The feeling, the atmosphere, it all felt eerily similar to the hostage incident from before. And then…there it was, everything...stalled.

Her breath caught, stopped as if waiting for a blast of something—anything!

"Inhale," Seymour reminded. Ivey found herself gasping for air just before the ground beneath her shifted.

"Easy, easy," he murmured. At the same time, his fingers rubbed Ivey's back, continuing onto the shoulders and then her arms in an attempt to calm her. "Breathe deeply, exhale slowly. There's a lack of oxygen within the portal, so you'll need to control your breathing."

Ivey barely caught a word of what he said before the world broke into a hundred, no thousands of pieces just before her eyes.

Just when Ivey thought to have a moment of reprieve, a chance to process all the moving parts, to compute the logic of right now, it all became a blur of tunnel vision. Ivey stood on the top of a cliff—or the tallest peak, and then—gravity seized her approach to a bottomless pit.

The fresh, crisp scent of soap and forest engulf her senses. Wrapped safely against Seymour's chest, they both dropped.




Ivey shut her eyes, petrified of what she would see if she opened them. Nothing. Makes. Sense! This was much akin to a roller coaster ride without the actual physical ride and track!

The only thing she could do was hold onto was Seymour, and she clutched him as if her life depended on it. Now...now it was time to start screaming!

Except…nothing came out.

The world turned dark instead.