Hitchhiker

In my Star Chamber interview about three months back, there’s a segment where I try to address why I have so many interesting primary and secondary female characters. I end by tossing my hands in the air and admitting, “I don’t know!” Not wanting to get into the weeds of that discussion again, I just wanted to lead this next installment by saying that you are about to meet another one.

How she and Prince Robert start playing one another from the get-go is an interesting dynamic; each misunderstands things about the other.

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The tempo of the rain quickly escalated.  As the driver turned on the wipers, they saw it was mixed with sleet.

“A storm like this?  In May?” Hill muttered before louder:  “Shit!  Slow it down, Grant!”

Peering from his little perch in the back, Robert could just make out what looked like a teen boy holding a cardboard sign that read “Frankfort.” His clothes were usual for the area:  faded and patched jeans and a flannel shirt, but his hair was striking:  white.

“I’m bringing him in,” the centurion said before flinging his door open against the buffeting wind.  The kid was just reaching up and was dragged up and in so fast he lost his sign.

“Catch, Hardt!” Hill yelled, tossing the boy over the seat.  Robert barely had time to get his hands up before they were both thrown back as the truck moved out again.

There was something odd in his hands.  The freezing rain he got but… soft with hard points into his palms.  The boy’s head came up…

“You gonna keep groping me, mister?” the girl asked.  A girl with red eyes, just like his brother Edward used to have.

“Uh, no,” Robert replied, moving his hands off of her.  A demi-human!  In Kentucky and unaccounted for?  How is that possible?  “Hey, Centurion?  Just for clarity, this he is a she.”

“Whatever,” Hill called back.  “Play nice.”

Visibility was down to yards so the truck slowed, then slowed again.  Robert turned to his left and reached under the bench.  He came back up with a blanket.  As a legionary and a prince, he knew his duty.

“Take off your top,” he ordered.

“L…listen, muh… mister…!”

“You’re already freezing and putting this over your shirt won’t help!  Do it!”

To her credit, she didn’t hesitate and peeled it up and off.  Wrapping her tightly in the blanket, he nonetheless looked to see she was rather flat but with hard, light pink nipples.  Part of the blanket he pulled up over her head.

“Wring this out and try to dry it, sir,” he asked, tossing the shirt forward.  Seeing she was shivering now, he tightened the blanket and started drying her hair.  Not only completely white, it was also as fine as silk.

“N… nev… never seen one like me b… before, huh?” she chattered, leaning into his warmth.

Actually, you’d be surprised.

“Well,” he began.  She looked up and pinned him with her eyes again.  Something of a blade of a nose but a face he would call elfin.

“I’m an albino.  That’s what we’re called.” She gave a slow blink.  “You remind me of my boyfriend!  What’s your name?  Oh!  I’m Sky.”

She didn’t volunteer a surname so he wouldn’t either.  And since he looked like a typical north continental American mutt, her observation wasn’t saying much.

“I’m Bob,” he said, nodding.  “As you can see, we’re legionaries from the imperium.”

“Yeah, saw that,” she shook again then leaned her head onto his chest.  He put his arm about her to try to warm her up, little slip of a thing that she was.  “You guys here ‘cause the Canadians?”

Hill had just wrung out her shirt and was trying to use his field knife to steady it over the upper blowers the driver had redirected the warm air to.  His knife slipped and he caught it as it fell.  He tried again but Robert knew his attention was somewhere else.

“We’re just a routine patrol with some supplies for our little base in Frankfort,” Robert skirted the truth, aware of what his centurion had said about him.  “Like everybody, we know the Canadians have occupied the old Midwest, but what does that have to do with Kentucky?”

“I work in Frankfort and hear a lot at my job,” Sky began.  Her chattering and shivering seemed under control but she stayed close to him.  “My grandparents manage the Lexington Trading Post.  That’s where I was when you picked me up:  on my way back home.”

“Sorry!” Sky’s head came back up.  After what his mother had done to his brother, he reveled in her red eyes.  “I totally forgot to thank you guys for picking me up!”

“Y’all up here in Kentucky have been our friends for a generation,” Robert said after a pause, expecting Hill to speak up.  “Friends help each other out.  So, you’re welcome.”

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