I was sitting on a barstool and nursing the same beer that I’ve had for the last hour. The truth was, I didn’t like how the stuff tasted, and was using it more as a prop than anything else.
At the moment, I was in the same bar where Jake and I had hooked up the first time, and I was stilling all by myself. Jake was nearby, though he was keeping his distance, so it would look like I was here alone. We’d pulled this same routine last night too, as we set our trap for Tom, and waited for him to take the bait.
Tom hadn’t been here last night, but he was now. I’d seen him sitting at a table with a couple friends, and checking out nearly every woman in the place. I could almost see the wheels turning in his head, since his thoughts were clearly visible in his lecherous expression. He’d seen me too, and had given me a smirking grin. It was only a matter of time.
I didn’t have to wait much longer before Tom finally made his move. He came walking towards me with a beer in hand, looking cocky and sure of himself. Something about that man, really made me want to dump my beer out over his head.
“Pan,” Tom greeted me with a smarmy grin. “Nice to see you again...”
“Nice seeing you too,” I responded with a forced smile.
“Pan,” Tom repeated, giving me a questioning look. “Is that short for something, or just a nickname?” I had the feeling that he didn’t really care about the answer, and was just looking for an excuse to get my attention.
“It’s a nickname,” I told him. “Actually, it’s an acronym of my full name, Priscilla Annette Nichols. My parents were sadists.”
Tom chuckled at that. “Sounds like it…” Then, his grin widened. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“I’m still good with this one,” I replied, holding up my beer. “But thanks.”
For a second, Tom looked annoyed that I’d turned down his offer, but he quickly covered it up with his smarmy grin. Then, he reached into his jacket pocket, and I suddenly felt a strange dizziness that I probably wouldn’t have noticed or thought much about, if I hadn’t been expecting something odd.
My eyes went to his pocket, which still had his hand in it, then back to his face. Fortunately, he didn’t suddenly seem attractive to me. I was relieved at that, though also just a touch disappointed. If I had begun to feel that way, then that would have been proof he was using an artifact on me.
“I think I need to go out and get a little fresh air,” I commented. “This place is getting a bit stuffy.”
“Good idea,” Tom agreed. “I’ll come with you…to keep you company.”
As soon as I began to walk towards the exit, Tom reached out and put his hand on my arm. Suddenly, I felt a tingle of excitement at his touch, and when I turned to look at him, I realized just how attractive he really was. At the same time, I knew what was happening, so I felt angry as well. Angry and violated.
Somehow, I managed to keep it together enough to leave the bar. However, once I was outside, and reasonably unobserved, I turned to face Tom. He grabbed me to give me a kiss, but I shoved him away, much to his surprise. A part of me was shocked at my own actions, since I wanted to kiss him too. Fortunately, the anger won out.
“What the hell did you do to me?” I demanded angrily.
“What are you talking about?” Tom asked, looking smug, and oh so handsome at the same time. I was starting to get more than a little excited by his presence, and for a moment, I almost forgot what I was really doing here.
“The artifact,” I said, clenching my fists tightly while I tried keeping some semblance of control. “Where is it?”
Tom’s eyes widened at my mention of the artifact. “How did you know…?” Then he clamped his mouth shut and smirked. “Why don’t you forget all about that silly thing, and come give me a kiss?”
He was staring at me with a burning lust in his eyes, which made me realize that I wasn’t the only one the artifact was affecting. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised by that, since Jake had previously been affected too.
In spite of the fact that I knew I was under the power of an artifact, that I was disgusted by Tom, and angry by the situation, that didn’t change the situation. I was still drawn to Tom by the same kind of burning lust I’d felt for Jake on that first night, and even though I tried to fight myself, I started moving closer to him.
“Oh no you don’t,” Jake exclaimed, grabbing Tom from behind and pulling him away from me.
“She’s mine,” Tom snarled, punching Jake.
Jake returned the punch, sending Tom sprawling backwards. “Where’s the artifact?”
Tom scrambled back to his feet, then pulled out a knife. It had a fixed blade and appeared to be a hunting knife. And a moment later, he charged at Jake, slashing out with the knife.
My gun was holstered at my back, and I was tempted to pull it out and end this fight, but I didn’t dare. At that moment, under the influence of the artifact and these burning desires, I didn’t trust myself with the weapon. I wasn’t sure which of them I’d end up helping.
Tom’s knife sliced through the arm of Jake’s jacket, though I didn’t know if it went deep enough to cut flesh. Jake was carefully moving back, his eyes locked on the knife. Then, when Tom lunged at him again, Jake spun to the side, kicked Tom on the side of the knee, and dropped the other man to the ground.
“You FUCKER,” Tom snarled in pain. However, he suddenly had a gun pointed at his face.
“Don’t make me,” Jake said in a cold tone. He held the gun firmly, his eyes glaring at Tom with an iron hardness. “The artifact. Now.”
“It’s in his jacket pocket,” I said. My voice was shaking as I fought the urge to throw myself on Tom.
Tom glared at Jake, then looked at me. I could see the same burning hunger in his eyes that that was probably mirrored in my own. He was nearly drooling, and in spite of the gun in his face, he sported a bulge in the front of his pants. A small bulge. Then, he grudgingly reached into pocket and pulled something out.
I immediately snatched the object out of Tom’s hands, seeing that it was a weird metal sphere about the size of a tennis ball. It looked like metal coils, one silver and one bronze, tied up into something of a knot. From several openings between the coils, I could see small gleams of a reddish glow, as though the coils were actually tied up and wrapped around some ruby core.
As soon as I saw this artifact, I felt a new urge…a new desire that was strong enough to balance out what I felt towards Tom. The other Pandoras had told me that the noise of the living world tended to drown out the whisper of the box. If that was the case, then the box was no longer whispering. It was yelling. And at that moment, I knew exactly what I had to do.
“This is it,” I said grimly.
“Good,” Jake responded.
“That isn’t yours,” Tom snarled, though he remained where he was, his eyes locked on Jake’s gun.
“No,” Jake agreed with a scowl. “But it isn’t yours either.”
I glared at Tom, still feeling an incredible attraction towards him at the moment. “You’ve been using magic roofies on women… It’s disgusting…”
“I’m damn tempted to just shoot your balls off,” Jake said in a cold tone. “But that would just create more problems for us. Because of that, and only because of that, I’m going to let you go. But if you tell anyone about this…” He held up the gun. “Then you’ll have your own problems to deal with.”
“Fuck you,” Tom spat out as he got back to his feet.
He glared at Jake for a moment, then looked to me. I could still see the lust burning in his eyes, but at the moment, his survival instincts were even stronger, so he turned and ran.
Once Tom was gone, Jake turned to me. “The artifact…?”
“It’s…definitely magic,” I said, holding it up for Jake to take a look at, though I didn’t give it to him. “The box is practically screaming at me now.”
“So, what now?” Jake asked.
“Now,” I answered with a scowl. “I give the box what it wants.”
Jake and I went back to where our car was parked and opened the door, using that to help block anyone from seeing what we were up to. As soon as I was sure that we weren’t being watched, I made the box appear in my hands, and carefully set it down on the seat.
“I’ll never get used to that,” Jake commented.
“How do you think I feel?” I asked with a snort. And Jake had absolutely no idea just how much this box had already put me through.
I opened the lid and carefully reached my and out to put the artifact inside. A small part of me was afraid that if I actually put my hand into the swirling darkness, that I’d never be able to pull it back out. A couple seconds later, a series of visions began to flash through my head, making me gasp in surprise.
My mind was filled with images of the artifact, and of an ancient tribe of people who possessed it. I saw them using it on their young women during some kind of mating ritual, charging them with magic. The women then picked a man to father her potential child, and as soon as they touched, they became bound with desire.
“Pan,” Jake exclaimed in concern. “Are you all right?”
It took a moment to shake myself out of the visions and clear my head. “Fine,” I answered a few seconds later. I closed the lid and let out a sigh, then made the box fade away again. “That was…intense.”
“What was?” Jake asked. “What just happened?”
I took a deep breath, trying to decide how I could explain this. “The box told me about the artifact and what it did. Or at least, it showed me…” I shook my head, then admitted, “It wasn’t all clear, but I got the general idea…”
“Oh?” Jake asked, obviously wanting me to continue.
With a wry smile, I said, “Well, I did learn one important thing about the artifact…” Jake gave me a curious look. I blushed and admitted, “It only works for six hour. That first time was the artifact, but after that, it was all us.”
Jake smiled at that, obviously pleased with that news. “That’s good then. But I guess, you’re still going to be drooling over Tom for the next six hours…”
“No,” I responded with a shake of my head. “As soon as I put it in the box, it…stopped. I guess the box insulates its power or something, but I don’t feel a damn thing towards that bastard except disgust.”
“That’s good,” Jake repeated, obviously relieved by that news.
I nodded agreement, though my own emotions were a little more mixed. It was an immense relief to know that I wasn’t being controlled by the artifact, but on the other hand, it meant that what I was feeling, was really all me. It meant, that I had to take responsibility for my own emotions and actions, and accept that my body wasn’t the only thing to have changed.
Before I could dwell on this too much, Jake reached his arms around me and began to kiss me. My body immediately began responding to his touch, and I kissed back. Soon, I was too distracted to worry.
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