I looked down at the plate in front of me. Bland chicken, bland broccoli, bland potato. The same thing I’d had for dinner last night… and the night before that. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had something besides what currently slumped on my plate. It was quick, it was easy, and it was healthy.
I sighed. When had I gotten so boring? I looked around my apartment. Everything was neat and orderly. Nothing was out of place. Books were lined up on the shelves like little soldiers, their spines aligned perfectly with the front edge of the shelves. Fiction was on one bookcase arranged alphabetically by author, and the non-fiction was on another arranged by subject. My movie collection was separated out much the same way, only the fiction DVDs were in order alphabetically by title. Everything in my space was meticulously organized and meticulously cleaned. The dishes I had used to cook my unappetizing dinner were already washed and put away; the towels were waiting to be thrown into the dirty clothes hamper as soon as the simple place setting on the table before me was washed and put away as well.
Without taking a single bite of my dinner, I rose from the table and scraped it all into the trash. With trembling hands, I left the dirty dishes in the sink and made myself walk away from them. I sat down on the couch and started contemplating my food options. Should I order in or go pick something up? I was in full rebellion mode, and ready for anything… or so I thought. I was considering the finer points of ordering a pizza versus Chinese, when I heard a firm knock on my door.
I jumped a bit. These kinds of things don’t happen to me. I could count on one hand the number of times someone had knocked on MY door, and it had always been an expected visit from my mother. No one else knew where I lived. No one else knew me. Heck, I was pretty sure no one else even cared. I brushed the knock off as someone with a mistaken address, and went back to my food pros and cons list. The knock came again more insistently. I shrugged to myself as I walked to the door. No problem. I’d just have to let whomever was knocking know they had the wrong address, and then they could go on their merry way. No big deal. I peered through the peephole and my hand froze on the first dead bolt. Big deal I thought. VERY big deal!
The man standing on the other side of my door was at least 6’4”, and roughly 200 pounds of pure muscle. Impatient brown eyes seemed to bore through the door at me as if he knew I was staring at him. He had short, sandy brown hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. His dark blue jeans and black leather jacket molded to his muscular frame as if made just for him. Janice, one of my man crazy coworkers, would say he was “smokin’ hot”. Me? I thought he was incredibly intimidating.
For several seconds, I seriously thought about not opening the door. He obviously had the wrong apartment, and there was no way he knew I was home.
“Marlina Olivia Jackson!” He bellowed through the door. “Open up. I know you’re in there!”
I swallowed. HARD. Okay. He knew who I was and that I was home. Not only that, but he had used my first name. No one used my first name. Well that’s not true. My mother used my first name, but only when I’m in serious trouble. Everyone else knew me by my middle name, Olivia. Not Livvy, not Olive, Olivia.
The giant banged on the door again, and I resigned myself to opening the door. If he kept on the way he was, my neighbors would get involved, and I really didn’t want that. I Cautiously undid both deadbolts and the lock on the door. A woman living on her own couldn’t be too careful after all. As such, I left the chain on the door as I slowly opened it as far as the chain would allow.
“Yes?” The word came out a bit breathier than I had hoped, so I cleared my throat and made myself stand up straighter. “Can I help you?”
“Open the damn door,” he barked at me. He must have heard something, because he glanced down the hall, and his hand hovered near his hip. My eyes widened and focused on that hand. Did he have a gun under his coat? Who was this man?
“I’m sorry Sir, but I don’t know you.” I tried to stay calm, but the impatience in his eyes when he glared at me had me stepping back and starting to close the door.
“Oh hell no you don’t,” he muttered, slapping his hand against the door. “We don’t have time for this shit.” He threw his full weight against the door, and the chain ripped from the wall. I fell back into the room, and he followed me, slamming and locking the door behind him.
“Who are you?” I gazed up at him from my sprawled position on the floor. I had thought he looked intimidating from the other side of the door. From my current position, he was downright scary.
For the first time, a small smile creased the corners of his lips as he looked down at me. His eyes strayed from the top of my super straight, mouse brown haired head to the tips of my stocking feet, the smile on his face getting bigger as they traveled down. I squirmed slightly under his regard and slowly stood up as he looked around my apartment. That annoying grin was still on his face when his brown eyes again met my gray ones.
“Boy you weren’t kidding, Marly,” he said.
I stared at him incredulously. “Kidding? What are you talking about? I don’t even know you!” the fear I had felt was slowly being replaced by anger.
“You’re right, you don’t… yet. But you will, Angel. By the end of the night you’ll know me very well.”
Was he implying that I was going to sleep with him? My mouth opened and closed, but I couldn’t quite get the indignant words in my head to come out.
I heard a loud crash outside in the hallway, and the sound of booted feet running towards my door. The man in front of me peered through the peephole and swore.
“They’re here, Angel. We’re out of time. You’re going to have to trust me. I can help you.” He looked back at me, and this time his eyes were warm with concern and a touch of fear.
“Why should I trust you? I don’t even know you,” I whispered.
He walked towards me and took my hands. Someone started hammering at my door; not to get my attention, but to actually break it down. His fingers slid under my chin and brought my eyes up to his.
“My name is John Hunter. In two years, I’ll be your husband.” I stared at him. “Look, we don’t have time to talk about this now,” he said, gesturing to the door that was starting to give way to the onslaught. “I came back from the future to make sure you end up where you’re supposed to. Safely. I can prove it to you, but not here, not now. Now we have to get out of here. You’re going to have to trust me on this, Marly.”
I looked from him to the door. Any second now whoever was trying to get in would be coming through that door. I looked back at John. At least he had knocked, I thought. In that instant, I knew my orderly life had changed forever.
I took a deep breath. “Lead the way.”