Shaking my head, I mentally chastise myself for being stupidly ridiculous. That’s the problem though. When you find out someone’s trying to kill you, you become suspicious of everything. And what with my dad’s paranoia rubbing off on me, suspicion plus paranoia equals cray-cray.
I walk closer to it and scrawled on the top in chicken-scratch writing is ‘Lily’.
Lowering my hand, I pick up the box when someone clears their throat behind me. I drop the box like it’s hot and spin on my heel to face the intruder. Nox stands in the doorway dressed in his regular uniform of black cargo pants, army boots, a tight, black ribbed tank, and a black leather belt.
All black for the dark and sinister man.
His hands grip the top of the doorframe making his muscular arms look veined and angry hot. He leans into my room, his face void of any emotion. His blue eyes look into mine, “Open it.”
Narrowing my eyes at him, then the box, I ask suspiciously, “What is it? And more importantly why did you get me something?”
He sighs, suddenly looking tired and drawls, “Well, it was your birthday and I didn’t say a thing…”
I cut him off, not wanting him to know that it did kinda hurt, “You forgot. It’s cool. It happens. You’ve got a lot on your mind, and I’m sure my birthday wasn’t nearly as important as the other things you’ve got going on.”
He nods in admission, “I did forget.” He jerks his chin to the box on my bed and says quietly, “That’s something you can use so open it. Please.”
Sitting on the bed, I put the small box on my lap and lift the lid. I gasp wide-eyed and whisper, “Is this for real?”
I look up at him with my stunned expression and his lip twitches, “Yep.” He runs a hand down his face and says softly, “How did I know you were going to be excited about it, princess?”
Lifting the small three inch marble handled switchblade into my hand, I’m suddenly confused. My brow furrows and I ask, “Why this?”
Nox nods as if he’s mentally asking himself the same question, then explains, “That was mine. One of the first I bought. It’s light and easy to conceal. It’s one of my favorites.” Taking a step into my room, he utters, “I can’t be there all the time. In fact, I probably won’t see you again after this is all over. It would give me piece of mind knowing you have it. Just promise me something.”
Listening to his explanation has taken any fight I had out of me. I nod and he says, “You have to keep it on you all the time, even here at the house, and that if you ever feel you’re in danger, you use it. On whoever. No questions. Just do what you need to do to keep safe.”
I shrug and say quietly, “I don’t know how to use this, Nox.”
Smirking at me as if he was expecting me to say that, he tells me, “I’m going to teach you how to use it. You’ll have lessons with me. Every day.”
A small smile crosses my face and I tell him, “Okay. Cool.” I take him in a moment before I drawl teasingly, “You know, this is actually really sweet.”
Nox scowls and says, “Sweet? I just gave a twenty-three year old woman a weapon. A weapon that could kill a person. Not only that, but I’m going to teach her how to use it to kill a person, and how to harm someone well enough to escape a bad situation.” Shaking his head, he goes on, “Sweet? No, princess. I don’t think that’s very sweet.”
Smirking, I turn my back on him and whisper loudly, “Whatever you say.”
“Oh my God. I think I’m gonna be sick.” Blocking my nose with my forearm, I begin to sweat. This is my reaction to seeing a pig carcass hanging from the rafters.
Outside. In broad daylight. As if it is normal.
“Don’t sweat it, Lily. This is the best way to teach you. You’ll be able to see the wounds you inflict and I can show you where to use little force to create maximum damage.”
I open my mouth to speak, but only a high pitched squeak escapes me.
Finding my voice, I whisper, “I think I changed my mind. I don’t want to do this.”
A firm and cautionary, “Lily,” comes from Nox.
Turning to look at him, he offers, “You feel like you need to puke, we’ll stop.”
I can do this.
Okay. I’m good.
Nodding, I tell him, “I’m good now. Where do we start?”
Looking relieved, he takes the small knife from my hand, opens it in record time then, lightning fast, he plunges the blade into the belly of the pig.
The carcass swings from side to side with my switchblade embedded in its belly and I’m surprised that it doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I guess I thought there would be more blood. And there’s, like, zero blood.
“What was that?” I’m proud of myself for the steadiness in my voice.
Nox comes up behind me, raises my hand and repeats the motion over and over again, bladeless. I’m confident in myself. I feel like I know what I’m doing now.
He places the blade into my hand and jerks his chin to the piggie. Clearly hesitating, he asks seriously, “You’re thinking about it all wrong. What if this carcass was a bad guy? A person who was trying to hurt you?”
It’s not very motivating but I get what he’s saying.
Then he utters, “What if it was someone trying to hurt Terah?”
And without thinking, I grit my teeth and attack.
My blade sticks out of the swinging pig’s belly and Nox’s hand lands on my shoulder, squeezing. Pulling me back a little, his lips hit my temple. I feel his smile there. The hand on my shoulder moves up to my neck and with another quick squeeze, he separates himself.
“Again,” he demands.
And I smile.
I can do this.
Today was a good day.
I learned to protect myself in a way I hope I never have to use, but the simple fact is, knowing what I now know could save my life.
Nox is (surprisingly) a very patient teacher. Even when I almost stabbed him in the eye.
I told him! I warned him! I said, “You sure you want me to come at you with something sharp in my hand?”
He grinned. “Lily.” He said this while shaking his head…like it was cute.
Alright, mister. You asked for it.
What Nox was not expecting was for me to incorporate the defensive and attack skills that he, Rock, and Boo had been teaching me for a month. So when he lunged at me and I feinted then jabbed, he didn’t see it coming. My hand with the switchblade jerked back as soon as I realized this.
What actually happened was I got him. I got Nox.
Insert shit eating grin here.
The sharp blade pressed against his cheek bone for not even a second, but it was enough to draw blood.
So, of course, I shit myself.
Dropping the blade as if it was burning a hole in my hand, I stepped back and waited for the yelling and arguments to start.
But they never came.