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Arrowpoint Innzone

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6 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:45 am

"Oh," I frown apologetically. "Sorry." I try not to look at her as she shifts her bag around uncomfortably, my gaze on the line in front of the innkeeper. After a moment, I steal a glance at her and lower my voice. "He smiles sometimes... just out of nowhere. We'll be sitting in the van, driving quietly, and he just smiles... When I ask him about it, it's always, I was just thinking about something Ljuba did. He's very fond of you."

I want to say more, but my jaw clamps shut as the line creeps forward. As cliche as it is, I want to warn her against hurting him. I play through a dozen different ways of saying it - threatening, pleading, friendly warning... but nothing sits right. Instead I just leave it hanging, giving her a short look of mingled concern and consideration as I try to size her up before it's finally my turn to talk to the innkeeper.

Sighing, I drop my money on the counter and tell the man what I want. It's short and sweet, and he doesn't give me any shit about the reduced pricing that I've haggled with him. He even hands me a bag of trail mix before nodding at me just as I'm about to leave.

"Braddock with you?" he asks, the name catching me off-guard. No one ever calls Marnin that.

"Yeah..?" I ask hesitantly, glancing toward Ljuba as I try to convey the unusualness of the name he's used - if only to alert her that something isn't right.

"He's got a package," the man says as he squats down to grab something from under the bar. I'm still a little tense as he drags the large package up, the box wrapped in silken paper with a silken bow. I feel a little anxious touching the package, the glint of silver and gold catching my eye as I notice the fine metal inscribed with intricate lettering marking the parcel for Marnin.

"From..?" I ask skeptically, the innkeeper growing impatient as I linger at the bar.

"I don't know, some guys in suits," he scowls before waving me off. "Now get out of here, I've got ten other people waiting on me."

Sighing, I take the parcel and nod toward Ljuba to move out of the way of the bar so I can hand it off to her.

"I'll let you handle it," I say with a frown. "If he gets upset, give me a holler. I fucking hate it when that dick sends him shit."

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7 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:19 am

Taking the package, I look down at it held in both hands curiously. I want to ask if gifts from his brother come often, but the question is left unsaid when I spot the others heading in from the cold.

"Got rooms yet?" Teagan asks, bouncing towards us with her own youthful zeal as Marnin and Jean wander in behind her. "Do they have baths!? I'm dying for a bath."

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8 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:25 am

"Yeah, they've got baths," I say, shaking my head in amusement at her excitement. "Us three will be sharing a room, though," I add as I nod toward her and Jean.

"What about Lju and I?" Marnin asks with a faint frown, his head cocking to the side slightly as he seems to take note of the parcel in Ljuba's arms.

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9 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:29 am

"No rooms big enough for the five of us," I lie quickly, "so we're in a second room."

I hold the package out towards Marnin, stepping closer as he takes it. "And the keeper said some men in suits left this for you?"

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10 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:39 am

"That was fast," Marnin comments as he puts his hand out to touch the soft wrapping. After knocking his knuckles against it gently, he seems to nod contently at the sound it makes. "We'll see if it's what I actually asked for."

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11 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:46 am

"Asked for?" My eyebrow pinches towards the other as I notice Jean heading away from us, Teagan close behind as Cael seems to pull away as well after he's left us with the key to our room. My stomach twists a bit as I realize it's just us, my attention falling back to the large parcel.

"What'd you ask for?"

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12 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:57 am

"Come on, I'll show you upstairs," I respond as I head toward the rooms. I can tell she's a little antsy, but I'm not sure where it's coming from so I don't say anything about it. Once we're in the room, I put the package on the bed and start unwrapping it. My thumb grazes over the metal tag, and I can feel my lips twitch in a frown at the familiarity of it. I had stopped noticing the expensive packaging long ago, but with Ljuba's watchful gaze, I now feel very self-conscious of it.

I can tell the moment I've started opening the box that it's the wrong item, and I tense angrily as I stop and stand up straight. I told him a dozen times the exact specifications - he'd gone into the store with me on the phone to look through the stock and describe them to me so I could select the one I wanted sent.

"This is wrong," I say stiffly, shaking my head sharply. "We have to send it back."

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13 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:15 am

"What's wrong?" I frown, dropping my bag near the dresser as I peer over towards him curiously. "What'd you get that you want to send back..?"

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14 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:29 pm

"It's wrong!" I say again as I huff and drop my bag on the edge of the bed to start tearing through it. "I said ash, and it's not ash. It's some dark wood, I don't know, mahogany or something. It doesn't smell right."

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15 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:40 pm

"What are you talking about?" I frown, glancing down at the box before stepping towards him. "What's a smell got to do with anything?"

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16 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:19 pm

"Just forget it," I frown as I start to tape the box shut again, the tape going on sloppily as I try to be quick about it before she has a chance to see what's inside. "I bought something and it's not what I asked for... just - I'm going to the bathroom real quick, I'll be right back."

I can sense her frowning as I drop the wrapping back on the box and pull out my phone, my thumbs already typing across the keypad furiously as I walk. I hear the tittering response before I've even shut the door to the bathroom, an infuriating, What's wrong with it? Grinding my teeth, I hit the call button, and bring the phone to my ear as I pace around the tiny space.

"What's wrong with it?" I demand the moment I hear Richard's voice on the other end. "It's not what I asked for! I told you, I wanted a spruce top, ash back and sides, and a rosewood fingerboard with the silk and steel strings! The one you sent has a mahogany back and sides - now it's just a stupid guitar, it's not Ljuba's! The smell is all wrong and the sound isn't going to be right, it's just-," I grit my teeth angrily as he interrupts, my ears growing hot as I shake my head sharply.

"It will NOT sound better!" I practically yell. "I don't need an improvement, what we had was already perfect! Stop trying to sell me on something different! I know what I like!"

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17 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:37 pm

Marnin's yelling catches me off guard, though it definitely draws my attention in as I take a seat on the bed. I'm not intending to eavesdrop, but it's too easy with only the thin door to the bathroom separating us. 

A guitar? My ears perk at the word, my gaze falling to the box at my side as I try to quietly shove the wrapping off of it, frowning at the tape preventing me from peeking. When Marnin's yelling only amplifies, my curiosity gets the best of me and I find myself tugging at the stray ends of the tape - the adhesive giving easily before I push the top of the box off to the side. 

Inside lays a pristine guitar case, not even the faintest sign of wear tainting it, and I shift onto my knees to look it over in awe. He got me a guitar..? The idea seems preposterous, it seems quick. It's hardly been two days since I lost Maja's. I push myself to unclasp the case, lifting it open when any sense of shame or self control disappears. This guitar is exquisite

There's a tightness in my chest as I shove the guitar case open fully, my fingers tracing the edge of the fingerboard before I pull the guitar out to inspect. Lush dark woods, nary a finger print on it. If I didn't know someone had to make it, I'd think I was the first human to ever lay a hand on the instrument, it's that perfect. Like a child with a new toy, I pull it into my lap and twist it in every direction, looking for every impressive detail when I spot something that brings a tightness to my chest. 

At the top of the neck, just below the head stock, is my name. Ljuba, carved in an elegantly lavish script, exactly where Maja's name had been on hers. I can feel the emotion stinging at my nose, just behind my eyes as I run my fingers over it appreciatively. Without even thinking, I right the guitar in my lap, my fingers running over the strings before I strum them loudly.

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18 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:57 pm

The back and forth is cut off as I hear Ljuba's playing in the next room. I was right. It does sound different. But I'm not sure it's a bad different yet, the rich mellow tones drawing me from the bathroom with the phone held distractedly away from my ear.

"Ah, I see she found it," I can hear the faint voice coming from the other end of the phone, his smiling coming across even with the phone held a foot from my ear. "Ask her if she likes the little treat I left on the head stock."

"You-," I frown as I hang up the phone to take in the scene, Ljuba's expression split into a broad grin as she glances up at me. I can smell the salt from her tears, and I can hear the excited beat of her heart - noting the way it mingles with the instrument's unfamiliar scent and sound. There's a difference in the way she holds this guitar, too - a happy kind of reverence rather than the sad way she'd held onto Maja's, both figuratively and literally... I'd swear, I could feel the weight that settled on her when she touched the old one. Right now, though, she seems lighter. Freer.

"You... like it?" I start again, my confusion tempered by a kind of relief despite my anxiety at the 'wrongness' of the instrument. "Can I..?" I ask as I come forward to touch the headstock, searching for the 'treat' Richard had left.

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19 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:01 pm

"I love it," I say weakly, my voice wavering weakly as I hold it up to him so he can inspect it. "It's beautiful."

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20 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:09 pm

I take the instrument gingerly, trying not to show my surprise that she'd let me touch it so willingly. Still, my touch is light as I run my hands over it, my thumb tracing over the finely etched name in the headstock. That's when I can feel my insides turning cold. It's exactly what I had asked for: Ljuba carved where Maja's name had been, the letters in just the right size... except it's Richard's neat cursive script that's carved it there.

"It is," I finally respond with a little reservation as I hand it back to her. "It's different, though... you're sure you're okay with it?"

Part of me wants her to change her mind, to tell me she hates it. But the part of me that can hear the thrilled little elevation of her pulse as she takes it back into her lap, her fingers picking at the expensive strings in awe, can't stand the thought of taking that delight from her.

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21 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:11 pm

"I like that it's different." I smile broadly down at it, strumming out a short tune before I look back up at him. "And I like that it's from you."

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22 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:16 pm

I scratch my cheek at that, trying to hide the flush there as I smile and finally nod. "I suppose I could get used to it," I admit as I go to move the packaging so I can take a seat beside her. "As long as you're happy and playing again, I'm happy."

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23 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:32 pm

"You got me a guitar," I smirk pleasantly, looking back at the guitar as I run my fingers over the body of it. "A really nice guitar. Maja's was so old, it was falling apart, and it wasn't very good to begin with... But this one? This one's going to be mine." 

I set the guitar off as I scoot towards him, reaching forward to grab his hand. "Thank you."

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24 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:39 pm

I feel another flush as she squeezes my hand lightly, my gaze dropping to avoid hers as I shrug.

"You needed one of your own," I say softly. "I'll be honest. The more you wore through the top of yours, the more I thought about getting you another one... I almost did a couple of times - nothing as nice as this, just stuff I'd found - but I didn't want you to think I was trying to replace Maja's. I just really didn't want you to stop playing if it ever broke."

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25 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:54 pm

I smile as I squeeze his hand, looking back at the guitar fondly. 

"A few days ago, I probably would've hated this, but I needed it. I-" I hesitate, my touch pulling from his as I draw my hands into my lap. "Hers needed replacing."

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26 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:06 pm

"Heh," I laugh lightly as I tilt my head to listen to the noises in the room, taking it all in for a moment before I sigh and shake my head. "Some week this has been, huh? I never thought you'd be parted from her guitar. Now it's gone, and you've got a new one... and I don't know why, but it feels like it changes everything. Like it's started a new chapter in our lives. It kind of makes me nervous! Like if that could change, then who the fuck knows what'll happen next. I don't know how I feel about it yet... I kinda liked the certainty, the consistency."

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27 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:09 pm

I laugh softly as I nod, picking at my nails as I look back at him. 

"Seems like it's been forever since we left Old North," I remark, "But I like all the change. I didn't realize how unhappy I was there."

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28 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:18 pm

"I'm glad you're happier," I smile as I lean into her side to nudge her gently. "I can't lie, I always felt kind of smug that you only ever spoke to me... but I also kind of worried about you because of it. Especially when I'd leave for awhile. I was always afraid something would happen to me, and you'd just never speak again."

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29 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:31 pm

I smile slightly at his concern, bumping back against his side before I slide off of the bed to replace the guitar in it's case. 

"You're probably right," I say, admiring the luxurious leather case as I clasp it shut and pull it out of the box to set near the dresser. "I never said it before, and I went out of my way to make sure Itsy wouldn't either, but half the time? When you were gone?" I frown as I glance towards him, "I didn't even bother playing in the bars until my fridge had been empty for a few days. I hated how lonely it was, and the way people would look at me. It took a few days worth of hunger pangs to muster the courage to get through it."

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30 Re: Arrowpoint Innzone on Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:42 pm

I try not to frown too heavily at that as I shift uncomfortably. I can tell my eyes are wandering aimlessly, something I don't usually tend to notice, but I can't help it. It's a nervous habit.

"It's better now, though?" I ask hopefully. I've long suspected that was something she was prone to doing whenever I'd leave only to return to find her kitchen incredibly bare compared to the full shelves she would usually have when I was home. I hate the thought of her going hungry, so much so that I've often put off trips until long after my own pockets have run dry and my shelves have gone bare.

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