He spotted her immediately. Despite her height, or lack of it as was the case, she stood out in a crowd. He smiled, this one genuine and one reserved only for her. He really was glad to see her. It'd been too long.
He wondered if she realized the effect she had on people. They gave her a wide berth, probably without realizing they were doing it. It wasn't fear exactly. He didn't think it had anything to do with her picture being plastered in newspapers across the country over and over again either. She just demanded respect and had a presence that reflected she wasn't someone to be messed with or hassled.
He'd helped hone that look. He'd taken a basic innocent (though some might argue whether a necromancer was an innocent) and made her into his protégé. She'd exceeded his wildest expectations for her by far. It was in her to begin with, he hadn't done anything she didn't already have the wherewithal to do. He wouldn't have been able to help meld her into what she was today without it. A killing machine. The preternatural world feared her despite the fact they could outmuscle her from here to Europe and back. She had clout as leader of a misfit pard of leopards and as mistress to the Master of the City.
It helped that her word was gold. If she said she'd do something or protect someone, she'd die trying to see it got done. Not too many people were like that, even Edward could respect that about her. Anita said what she meant and meant what she said.
He hadn't seen her since Albuquerque. He'd had no reason to. He cared about her in a way he couldn't quite identify and needed to stay away. It wasn't romantic but it was more than friendship. Kindred souls. He'd meant what he said to Olaf about soul mates and Anita being his. Two halves of the same whole.
He should feel bad he supposed, that he'd taken her out of her world and brought her knee deep into his. He could probably blame himself for the fact she was involved quite personally with the monsters he hunted without remorse. They weren't supposed to get involved with that which they hunted.
There was no sense, though, in feeling guilt or regret. If he asked her if she forgave him, she'd say yes. He knew that despite seeing regret in her eyes once in a while. He doubted she'd go back to where she was when he'd found her.
And for that he knew he was absolved of any wrongdoing in the making of Anita Blake into what she was today.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com