My dreams that night were a strange mixture of the man from the mirror and scenes from classic sitcoms. Somehow, I didn't think they were real memories, because I was pretty sure I'd have recognized Mirror Guy if he were part of the standard Nick At Night lineup. My memories of my life may have been nonexistent, but I knew all sorts of trivia about old television shows.
I rolled over and looked at the mirror, seeing nothing in it but my own tussled reflection. I hadn't had any sense of anyone using it to spy on me since Toto came to live with me, so I'd gone back to sleeping in the bed.
Toto nudged my hand, prompting a behind-the-ear scratch. “Do you ever have weird dreams, Toto?”
He head bobbed like he was nodded. Or redirecting my fingers.
“Do you ever think you see people in mirrors?”
The rabbit went completely still.
“Yeah, me neither.” I gave him one last ruffle and sat up with a yawn.
Malindra peeked around the corner. “My Lady?”
Did she never go home? I stifled my annoyance at her constant presence and forced a smile. “Morning, Mal.”
Her cheek flinched at the nickname, but of course she didn't object to it outright. She merely turned the tables and used a name I didn't like for me. “Morning, Princess Victoria. Would you care for breakfast?”
“Sure.” I swung my feet out onto the cold tile floor. It looked pretty, but if there wasn't a way to heat the tiles, then I'd be freezing by the time winter came. Assuming I was here that long. “But I want a shower first.”
“Of course, My Lady. Your robe is in the washroom.”
“Thanks.” The smile I gave her for that was genuine. I honestly was grateful she'd put the robe in the bathroom. My first shower after her arrival, she'd followed me in and tried to help me bathe. Uh... Yeah, not help I needed or desired.
She was gone when I got out, presumably figuring out where breakfast was. I was up a little earlier than normal, so it hadn't been delivered yet.
My hand was on the balcony door when I saw movement that made me spin around to gape at the mirror.
He was there, looking at me with wide-eyed intensity and a vulnerable parting of his lips.
There was book in his hand, a plain piece of paper with a simple message written on it in tight, concise letters from an alphabet I'd never seen before.
My heart hammered as I drew closer and realized that even though I had no idea what letters he'd used, I understood what he'd written.
“My name is Bryant. Do you really not remember me?”
I shook my head. “I'm not really her.”
He squinted, frowned, and shook his head before pointing across the room at a little cabinet I'd opened once and immediately closed because it was empty.
It wasn't empty when I opened it this time. Now there was a stack of thick cream-colored paper and an old-fashioned pen and inkwell.
Slowly, I let out a breath. “Curious and curiouser,” I whispered as I took the writing supplies from the cabinet with hands that not only trembled but pricked with the sensation of over-oxygenated blood flow.
If there had been ink in the well, it probably would have spilled on my walk back to the mirror, but it was dry. I held it up so Mirror Guy could see that and he started smiling.
He was really hot when he smiled.
His eyes where brown, but with broad strokes of gold making them shine behind the locks of hair that fell over them like the sun shining from behind clouds.
As he pointed at the bottle and mouthed something I couldn't understand, I noticed he had calluses on his hands, but kept his nails really, really neat. I wondered if the calluses came from whatever activity had blessed his arms with their strong and well-formed muscles.
He mouthed the word again and I still didn't get it. Not surprising. After Dawane told me that I was hearing a different language than he was speaking, I started watching people's lips and realized they were forming different words than my ears were picking up on. I could only tell when I concentrated, so I refused to concentrate on it. Otherwise, I'd have had a splitting headache that would never let up.
He rolled his eyes and made a series of repeated jabs toward the inkwell.
“Okay...” I gave a mental shrug and dipped the pen into the empty well.
Yeah, it was a magic inkwell. Don't fault me for being slow on the uptake, it was early in the morning and I hadn't had an ounce of caffeine yet.
I put the inkwell on my nightstand and sat on the bed so I could use my knee to write on. “I'm not who you think I am,” I scrawled.
It didn't surprise me that he wasn't happy with the answer, but I had expected him to understand it. I spoke English and people understood it, but apparently that didn't work with writing because he shook his head like he was completely lost and drew something that looked nothing like a question mark but which I somehow knew was one.
I bit my lip and thought for a second, then had an idea. It didn't seem like a good one, but it was worth a shot, so I closed my eyes and wrote the message again.
It looked absolutely nothing like English.
This time, when I held the paper up, I knew he was shaking his head because he was disagreeing with me and not because he didn't know what I'd said.
He bent his head and quickly composed another message, which he held up with a look that sent a shiver down my spine. I wasn't sure if I liked the shiver or not, but it was certainly a reaction that would stick with me for a while.
He'd written, “I know exactly who you are, Tori. I will always know you.”
There were goosebumps absolutely everywhere on my body as I wrote back. “Who am I?”
His smile wasn't the amused one from before, but a tender one, and his eyes swam with emotion. Or tears. Or tears of emotion.
I shook myself and made myself breathe as I waited on his answer.
After staring at me for far too long, he started to write again.
But before he could hold up what he'd written, his head snapped up and the door snapped open.
I glanced away long enough to see Malindra carrying a tray into the room and when I looked back, Bryant was gone. And I had no idea if I wanted to yell at Malindra or shower her with thanks.