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Bride of The Red Dragon

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"Oh God that was..."

Jamia was holding herself up over Frank as she leaned on his chest. She was glistening with the sweat of a good sex workout...even if she had to do most of the work. She had her work cut out for herself with this one, but he came from a good family and it would make her parents happy. Also Frank worked for an international company so he was always going away. She's sure she could find other means to keep her entertained from her job. Then once they were married, they would move out of this little shit town and Jamia would be free from her parents reign.

"...amazing as always baby."

She moved him out of her careful of the condom. Having a baby was not in her immediate future...if at all. She let him deal with the mess and lay down next to him.

"Good...I'm glad."

Jamia grabbed her cigarettes and offered one to Frank.

"So you are leaving on Wednesday baby? How long you gonna be gone this time?"

Frank graciously accepted the cigarette, his mind craving for one after what he made himself do. He grabbed his lighter from the nightstand and lit it up, taking a long drag.

"It'll be a couple weeks, hun,"

He blew the smoke, letting the nicotine filled air veil around them.

"Well I will miss you, but I know I will be busy at the bar too. It will help keep me from worrying about you around those skimpy bathing suit clad women. I know they will take.one look at you and try to steal you."

"Don't worry about that, honey. You know I wouldn't stoop that low,"

"Good."

She gave him a peck on the cheek.

"So you gonna bring me back something from Italy?"

"Of course, hon,"

 He smiled, knowing he must do anything to still keep her content, even if it meant spending tons of money on her till it left him nearly broke.

"I want a ring. Something old like an antique. Maybe a ruby. Yeah, I want a ruby."

"Old and antique?"

Frank sneered.

 "Both those words mean the same, y'know..."

"Listen to me Mr. College degree; don't get an attitude with me over what I say! I may not be book smart but you sure as hell ain't street smart. One day someone is going to take advantage of you and you will be lying in a ditch somewhere begging for me to find you!"

"I'm sorry, honey,"

 He sighed, knowing that its futile to start a conflict with Jamia. She was the one that always won, no matter what. Her poor use of grammar, though...it really, really bugged the ever-loving hell outta him.

"I swear that will not happen. I'd never pick anyone over you,"

"You are lucky to have me Iero with you self-confidence.

She put her cigarette out and got up.

"I'm going to shower."

"Alright, hun,"

He took another good king drag from his cigarette. He knew he had to get out of the house. Two weeks wasn’t enough for him, nor two months. He needed to be away longer than that. He had to get away from the manipulative Jamia. He had to go somewhere--anywhere but here.

***Time Stamp: One Week Later***

"This is the life huh Frankie?"

Ray took another shot.

"No wives, no kids, just freedom traveling...well not for long for you."

"I know, man. Got my girl back at home,"

Frank gulped down a double shot of whisky, letting the liquor and his craving for it consume him whole.

"Bet she asked you to buy her something."

"She did, actually.”

 He made a face from the taste.

 "She wants me to buy her a ruby ring"

"Damn she don't pull no punches does she?"

Ray looked at his phone.

"Well everything is just about closed so you better get going."

"Alright...will do. See you around,"

Frank was thankful he didn't have to even attempt to hide what happened behind closed doors between him and Jamia. No one has got to see those damn bruises on his arms and chest. No one has got to know...or else he knew he'd be a goner

"Nah man, I ain't gonna abandon you like that. Us bros.gotta stick together."

Ray put an arm around Frank drunkenly and led him out of the tavern to the main square. All around them were shops closed or closing.

"Man it doesn't look good huh?"

"No, it doesn't... literally everything is shut down,"

"This one still has their lights on."

Ray points out a little shop a few feet away. The outside of the windows has wooden filigree painted green and red.

"It looks kind of Christmasy."

"it's an antique jewelry store!"

 Frank exclaimed, his eyes bright and luminescent as the gemstones and diamonds in the display windows of the ornate store.

 "Perfect!"

Without hesitation, Frank walked right in. Ray walked in and was shocked at everything.

"These look like real antiques Frank, this is gonna run you and..."

"Good evening gentlemen, can I help you find something?"

Ray jumped as a man dressed in all black spoke behind him. He swore no one was there before. Frank instantly felt chills run down his spine at the sight of the dark-dressed man. There's something very off about him...something terribly off, but the question is...what was it?

"Perhaps a piece of jewelry for a loved one back home?"

"Oh...y-yeah. for my wife,"

Frank stuttered, finding himself barely able to speak to him. Seriously, what is it that's so off about him?

"Don't you mean your fiancée?"

"Wh-what? Oh...yeah,"

Frank knew he messed up in his wording there. It's like the dark man seemed to have made him almost speechless. But...how did he know that Jamia was Frank's fiancee, and not his wife?

What else did he know?

"So then, do you know her size?"

"Uhhh....size five,"

"Delicate fingers, she must have a small frame."

The man picked up Frank's hand and held it up examining it.

"You have delicate fingers too."

His touch felt cold against Frank's perspiring skin

"You are shivering. Here, come warm yourself by my fire."

The man led Frank to the fireplace. He then poured him a cup of tea.

"There, that should help."

"Oh...th-thank you."

Frank reluctantly took the tea that may or may not be spiked by the dark man.

"There is nothing in the tea other than something natural to help you sleep tonight. Your mind seems be weighted."

"Oh...okay then."

Frank didn't know whether or not to believe his words. He could still not figure out what was wrong with him. What about this man made Frank so uneasy, so cold, so on edge? Frank brought the tea to his lips, tasting nothing but the purest of herbs.

"My own special blend. I drink it every night."

The man took a sip of his own cup.

"Now, let's find that ruby you were looking for."

"Thank you, sir."

Frank smiled a bit, taking another sip of the surprisingly tasty tea. The man disappeared and returned with an ornate black box.

"I think this will be perfect for you."

Frank opened up the box to find exactly what Jamia had demanded--the finest antique ruby ring to ever be conceived by man. His face lit up as bright as the ring itself as he took it out of its case.

"Oh my god...yes, she'll love this,"

"Here, let's try it on. I am sure it will fit perfectly."

The man took the ring out and then carefully picking up Frank's hand, slipped it on his ring finger.

"There, a perfect fit."

"W-wait a minute..."

 Frank gaped as the man slipped the ring perfectly on his finger.

 "This isn't for me, though. It's for Jamia, my... fiancée,"

"Oh yes, you did say that. Well let's slip it off then and put it back in the box."

Frank tried to do just that, but it wouldn't budge. He pulled and tugged and twisted, just to have it stay in its place on Frank's finger.

 "Wh-what? It won't come off!"

"Shhhh, don't do that you will break your finger. I have some salve that will help, but I am out right now. Come back tomorrow and we can work everything out."

"What? Not even a little bit?"

Frank sighed deeply, knowing that something as simple as taking off a piece of jewelry is yet to be a chore.

"Thank you..."

"It's alright. I will see you tomorrow, have a good night Frank."

The man disappeared behind a curtain.

"H-how did you know my name?"

"Frank? You ready?"

Ray appeared out of nowhere.

"Huh? Yeah, sorry...,"

Frank wondered where the man went. He swore he was right in front of him before he disappeared...

"Dude, if you are not going to get anything, we should go."

"What? No, I have this, but...it kinda got stuck on me. The merchant he'll have some salve for me, but...the friggjng thing just won’t come off!"

Frank showed off the ruby ring to Ray, the gemstone luminescent in the darkness of the night road.

"Uh...there's nothing there. Dude, how drunk are you? Anyway, we haven't been here long enough to do anything really."

Ray showed Frank his phone. They had only been in the store for five minutes.

"Come on, let's get back to the hotel and get some sleep."

Frank wondered if Ray was right. He did remember having a bit more whisky than the usual. Maybe he was right. He needed to sleep. That man wasn't real, nor was the ring on Frank's left ring finger...