Chapter Seventeen -
Lisbeth entered the room awed by the scene laid out before her. The ceiling had some kind of projection to make it appear full of stars, a slow moving comet, and a colorful recreation of the aurous borealis. In the corner hung a large orange moon it's light drifting thru the leaves of several giant trees. The trees seemed to grow from the walls, thick roots stretching out onto what appeared to be a grass and moss covered forest floor. There were lighted footpaths leading to various sitting areas and a large dance floor made to look like a reflective lake, mirroring the sky above. The sitting areas were so varied, from a low hanging branch large enough to seat four to overly large toadstools carved with areas for sitting. There was an area with a swing supported by vines interwoven with flowers. The most impressive seating areas were secluded booths semi hidden in hollowed parts of the large trees. The DJs equipment was sitting on top of an small stage built to look like the stump of a once large giant oak, hidden behind a trellis of white and pink flowers.
"This is truly amazing," Lisbeth whispered in Diane's ears.
"I told you the Professor goes all out for these things, but this is insane!" Diane replied.
"Why is everyone looking at us?" Lisbeth asked both friends feeling insecure and hoping she did not look foolish.
"Are you kidding?" Mary Margret laughed, "We are the hottest little things in this place."
"I guess I can take my shears off the rack and tell Harold's to suck it!" Diane said as she enjoyed the looks from the various men in the place. All three girls laughed out loud, relaxing into the scene around them.
As the three moved deeper into the room, Lisbeth could not help but sense Aidan's presence; but this feeling was something all together new to her. It was she like she had a swarm of butterflies in her stomach, a feeling of excitement deep within her that made her think of a puppy's restlessness when it's owner returned home. "Simmer down, I doubt he is here, you just miss him because you haven't seen him in so long. God, I hope he comes to me tonight." She thought to herself trying to calm down her nervousness.
"There is Professor Atratinus, let's go say hello." Diane said as she grabbed Lisbeth's arm pulling her along one of the footpaths towards a group of three men. The three were standing in the shadow of one of the trees, their faces obscured in shadow. It was only until the Professor stepped into the light coming from the moon that Lisbeth could get a good look at him. He was a tad shorter then the other two men in his presence, slim but muscular with collar length black hair. He had large almond shaped light brown eyes, an aquiline nose, full lips, and a small but square chin.
"I tell you this much," Mary Margret said in Lisbeth's ear, "I surely wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers." Lisbeth turned red and laughed with her friend.
"Professor, this place is breath taking! How on earth did you pull this off?" Diane asked catching the man as he stepped away from his guests.
"Well, my dear Diane, magik of course!" He replied, holding his hand up pretending to tell her a secret, "And a hell of a lot of money."
"Professor, you are so bad!" Diane laughed resting her hand on his arm while flipping her hair off her shoulder with the other. Lisbeth and Mary Margret rolled their eyes in unison.
"Constantine, please, no need for formalities on a night like tonight." He said catching her chin with long finger. It seemed that Diane was going to melt right there in front of him like those girls you see in old news reels about Elvis or the Beatles. "Mary Margret, a pleasure as always. I take it these wonderful tattoos are your work?"
"Yes, they are. You really like them?" Now it was Mary Margret's turn to melt.
"Of course," He smiled turning his attention to Lisbeth, "And you are?"
"Oh, um right," Diane responded composing herself, "This is my friend Lisbeth."
"Pleasure to meet you." He smiled, "Let me introduce you to my friends." He said as he took Diane's arm in his own, leading the girls back towards his friends. As they approached the other two men stepped forward. Lisbeth's heart stopped when the man in the red mask stepped forward. Although most of his face was hidden behind the mask, she knew that jaw line and chin anywhere, no doubt was left when she saw the brilliant green eyes shining thru.
"It's best if you pretend you don't know me." Aidan's voice rang in her mind, "I am sorry, but it is safer that way. I don't know who I can trust here. I did not think you would be here tonight or I would have warned you away. I am sorry, little bird." Lisbeth nodded slightly, signaling that she understood.
"Ladies, this is my good friend Gideon Talbot." Constantine remarked patting the tall blonde man on the back. Lisbeth had to think hard to recall where she had first seen that face before, it seemed so familiar, it was not until he bowed before the women that it came to her.
"Ahh, the great rescuer of wayward oranges." Lisbeth smiled at the memory. Gideon smiled in return, but Lisbeth saw his nervous glance at Aidan, and Aiden's simmering gaze.
"That would be I my lady." He winked with a deeper bow. Lisbeth looked over at her friends who both had open shocked mouths.
"We bumped into each other on my street. Some jerk tried to run me over with a bike, my groceries went flying, oranges everywhere." She explained to her friends but mostly for Aidan's sake. "Gideon this is my friend Diane and Mary Margret. Diane designed and made our costumes for tonight." Lisbeth added trying to change the subject.
"Really? They are marvelous, Diane, quite breath taking."
"Thank you," Diane replied trying to catch her breath.
Constantine stepped in motioning towards Aidan, "And this masked man is Aidan Ollipheist."
"It is a pleasure to meet you," Aidan replied, taking Diane and Mary Margret's hands giving them a quick kiss on their knuckles causing a nervous giggle to erupt in both women. Aidan turned towards Lisbeth taking her hand, "And you are?"
"Yours" she sent him the thought, seeing the playful smile on his lips, she almost lost her balance. "Lisbeth, my lord." She said out loud continuing her playful jest from before.
"Diane, look his mask matches her costume perfectly! How divine!" Mary Margret said clapping her hands like a child on Christmas morning.
"And so they are a pair then." Constantine quipped. "Diane, I take it you are a water faerie or is it a Siren come to draw me into your dangerous waters." A flush of red smeared across her cheeks.
"A water faerie" she replied turning quickly to show the way the cut of the dress would flare out, giving the appearance of waves on a light blue ocean.
"And you Mary Margret, a fierce warrior of the woods?" Gideon asked picking an arrow from the quiver resting between her wings.
"Yes, so watch it Mister!" She answered lifting the bow she carried, "Oranges ain't got nothin' on me." Gideon smiled back as she laughed.
"Now Miss Lisbeth, I can't quite put a finger on your costume." Constantine said, placing a finger over his lips.
"Dragon faerie." Lisbeth replied with a curtsey.
"We thought it crazy at first but she insisted." Diane laughed, poking Lisbeth in the shoulder.
"Well, I have a soft spot for dragons, you see." She said softly, winking at Aidan, who smiled warmly in return.
"Well Ladies, I am afraid my guests and I have some mingling to do." Constantine cut in, Diane visibly deflating at the words, "But promise to save me a dance or two before the end of the night." He added again lifting her chin up to meet his gaze.
"Yes, of course," She beamed.
"If you are giving out dances, I think I would like to take a turn with the warrior of the wood, saving you don't poke me with one of those arrows."
"I don't know, sometimes people need a good poke, keeps them in line." Mary Margret flirted shamelessly, "but perhaps I can behave myself for one dance."
Gideon nudged Aidan, "Lisbeth, you will make sure my friend Aidan won't be left without a turn on the floor right?" Aidan turned, his mouth dropped open.
Lisbeth brought her hand up to her face, trying to hid her smile.
"I am sure we will work something out." She laughed, turning and taking her three friends by the arms, leading them to the bar.
"Ladies," Gideon yelled after them.