Warnings: This title contains graphic language and explicit sex.
Word Count: 60,775
"Pudge!" her uncle said, getting up from his desk and embracing Clarissa in a hug.
"Hi, Uncle Frank," Clarissa said with a slight irritation in her voice as she hugged him. She hated the nickname he still used. She was far from the pudgy little kid any more.
"What brings you back so soon?"
"Didn't Ava tell you? I know she and Max interface from time to time. She said she knew of James already."
"All she told me was you had a new house guest and he was from the past."
Frank directed Clarissa to the overstuffed sofa beside his desk. He sat down beside her, noticing that she didn't wear her gloves. He pointed to her hands. "So what gives? Why no gloves?"
"That's why I'm here, Uncle Frank. I need to explain some things to you."
Clarissa proceeded to tell him all about where and how she found James, right up until earlier in the day when she'd tried to get him home. She left out the part about the most recent erotic vision she'd inadvertently shared with James, but she did tell her uncle about the kiss.
"Don't you see what's happening, Pudge?"
"No. That's why I came to you. I want to know what's happening and why I no longer have these visions with James."
"Your father never told you anything about your gift, did he?"
"No—well he told me a little. He told me anyone who was a blood relative would be able to touch me and I wouldn’t experience visions." Clarissa shifted impatiently in her seat, waiting for her uncle to get to the point.
"Well." Frank sat back on the sofa. "If you come into contact with the one destined to be your partner for life, the visions will stop, but only with that person."
Clarissa gasped at the information her uncle had just revealed. James? My partner for life? Despite how she felt at the fact no one had told her, she couldn't fight the smile spreading across her face or the sudden increase of her heart beat. "Why didn't you or he ever tell me before?"
"I don't know."
”Uncle Frank, James is with me. I'd like for you to meet him."
"I'd like to meet him, but before I do, I need to know something, Pudge."
"Do you love him?"
Clarissa broke eye contact with her uncle, turning her gaze toward the door where James stood waiting on the other side. She'd only loved one other man in her life and it was so long ago she wasn't sure if this was the same way she felt now. No, it's not the same. These feelings are so much stronger. She took a deep breath before she spoke one simple word.
"Then don't work to get him home, work to win his heart." Her uncle rose to his feet and headed for the door. He opened it slowly, smiling as he made eye contact with James. Frank could see it in his eyes James was indeed Clarissa's other half.
"You must be James. I'm Frank Hiller, Clarissa's uncle."
Nice to meet you, Mr. Hiller," James replied as he shook the man's hand.
Frank stood the same height as James. His short brown hair and well kept mustache were starting to show traces of grey. James guessed Clarissa's uncle had to be around the same age as his father. He had broad shoulders and looked to be quite fit for a man his age.
He wore the same clothing as everyone else, only in black and he had the same shoes as Max—vintage Nike's with the red swoosh. He held James' hand firmly and smiled at him when he caught a glimpse of Clarissa with James in his mind.Oh yes, they’re definitely well suited for each other, Frank thought as he brought his hand away.
James decided immediately he liked the man. His brown eyes sparkled with life. His smile was warm and inviting.
"Stop with the formalities, James. Call me Frank.” He turned and walked back into his study. He directed James to the sofa where Clarissa was. "Can I offer either of you something to drink or a snack?" His hand hovered over a small button on his desk.
"No thanks," James and Clarissa answered together.
"Very well." Frank took his seat behind the massive desk. "So tell me about yourself, James."
James fidgeted nervously, not really liking the way Frank was sizing him up.What did she tell him about me? “I don't know what Clarissa has already told you, Frank."
"I don't want your life story, James. Just the basics. If we’re to get you home, I need to know how you got here."
"I came through The Mirror of Broken Hearts."
"Okay. What else?"
"And what have you tried with Clarissa?"
"I haven't tried anything with her! I've been the perfect gentleman! I don't know what she's told—"
"That's not what I meant, James, relax." Frank smiled wickedly even though he knew he shouldn't have. "I meant, what have you tried with Clarissa to get you home?”
"Oh," James said, blushing. "She explained to me what Madame Dorina did with my mother to allow her to travel through the mirror a final time, Frank. Apparently Madame Dorina transferred her energy to my mother. We tried the same, but were unsuccessful."
"Come here, James.” Frank motioned to the chair opposite him.
James rose slowly to his feet, glancing at Clarissa over his shoulder then taking the seat offered by her uncle. He sat down on the edge, his body rigid with nerves. He wasn't sure what to expect, but hoped whatever it was wouldn't cause him harm.
"Give me your hand."
Frank took James' hand when he held it out and turned it so his palm was facing up. Frank studied the lines on his palm then turned his eyes to James. "What kind of work do you do, James?"
"I'm a chef. I was hoping to open my own restaurant someday."
"Well you have a long lifeline here, James."
James pulled his hand away and rested both hands in his lap. "What does this have to do with getting me home, Frank?"
"Then how do you intend—"
"Let me ask you something, James."
"I can tell by looking into your eyes you're an honest man, so I know you won't lie to me."
"I have no reason to, sir."
"Do you want to go home?"
"Then why did you agree to come here today? I thought you knew Clarissa's intentions were to ask me to help in getting you back to your own time."
"I only wanted to come with her because I thought it's what she wanted."
"So you came here, willing to let me try to get you home, just to please her?"
"Why would you do something like that?"
Clarissa stared at James, waiting for his answer and wondering exactly why she was so anxious to hear what he'd say. Frank tapped his fingers on his desk, glancing over at Clarissa, then back at James.
"She's been good to me in the short time I've been here, Frank. I know I've probably turned her world upside down. If she wants me to go home, I’m more than willing to do what she wants."
What I want is you, Clarissa thought, blushing and turning her eyes away from her uncle and James.
"That's very noble of you, but let me ask you this: do you want to go home?"
"Yes and no," James replied, turning his eyes away from Frank.
Frank raised an eyebrow at James' response, waiting patiently for him to elaborate.
"I want to know my parents and my sisters are safe. I want them to know I’m safe. That's why I want to go. But, I feel a very strong urge to stay because I—" he paused, casting a quick glance over his shoulder at Clarissa. "I—uh—I think I'm falling in love with your niece."