Mr. Dark 4

By: Lauren Landish

"You see pretty deep," I replied. "Does that psychological insight help in your work as well?"

"A bit," Mark replied, "But I've carried it into other areas as well. You've got a deep streak of it too, you are like most people though in that it's most difficult to turn that lens on ourselves."

"So what now? Am I supposed to spend the rest of my life double guessing every man who approaches me, or living without love? No offense Mark, but considering what you and Sophie have, that's pretty damn harsh to ask."

Mark shook his head. He started to reach for my hand, and stopped, pulling back. "You're never without love, Tabby. Sophie loves you, and I love you too. Maybe not in the way that a lot of people think, but you're vital to our lives. Sophie said you are thinking of moving, right?"

"Yeah, I just don't feel safe in there right now. I think a change of apartments might be in order, even if only so I can sleep soundly at night."

Mark nodded. "You know if you want, if it helps you feel safe, you can live for as long as you like at Mount Zion. We didn't do that before because we felt you wanted your independence, and it would protect our identities better. But your safety is more important than that. Hell, I'd sleep outside your bedroom door guarding you if it helped you feel better. And I know there is a real man out there for you. They'll be kind, they'll be grumpy at times, they'll be imperfect to everyone else, but they'll be perfect for you. And when that happens, Sophie and I will be the first people to congratulate you and make sure you have the wedding of your dreams."

I looked at this kind, gentle man in front of me, and realized again how lucky Sophie was to have him in her life. I could see that he was speaking the truth, and that he would protect me and Sophie with his very life if need be. If there was a purer expression of love than that, I didn't know what it was. "Thank you," I said. "And in fact, I'll probably take you up on it while I'm apartment hunting. I'll make sure to vet any potential places through you too."

Mark nodded. "That's fine. We're here for you if you want, Tabby."

I nodded. "Thanks. Listen, I know this sounds bad, but if you don't mind, I'd like to have some private time to think about all this. You mind if I come by the house later, maybe just me and Sophie and our old boyfriends Ben and Jerry?"

"Sure. I'll be in another part of the house, you two have any room you want all to yourselves. What's your favorite, I'll make sure to pick you guys up some on the way home."

"I think tonight's a Chubby Hubby night, actually. I don't know what Sophie's current is, I guess I should keep track of that sort of thing more often." I felt a tinge of sadness that I'd lost track so much of my best friend, especially after everything she was doing to make my life better, and after all we'd been through.

"Nah, you remember the important things instead," Mark said. "So, a pint of Chubby Hubby, and a pint of Peanut Butter World, and a pint of Cherry Garcia. I love Peanut Butter World."

He got up and patted me on the shoulder, then walked off. I saw him talk quietly to the waiter, and there was a passing of a small wad of cash, so I figured he paid for the meal as well. The waiter tucked the cash into his apron, and came over after Mark had walked off. "Are you ready to order, miss?" he said, a professional smile on his face.

"Yeah," I said, trusting my gut. "One calzone."

"Great choice. Sausage or pepperoni or veggie?"

I chuckled darkly. I was already blowing my diet, why not? "Sausage please. And can I get a second on the Coke to go with the calzone?"

"Of course. Anything else?"

"No, I think that's enough."

I polished off the rest of the bread sticks while waiting, keeping myself somewhat under control. When the calzone was brought to the table though, I could barely thank the waiter before the tears started to trickle down my cheeks, and the world blurred.

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