Here's a little introduction to Peter in his own words as I present to you a segment of another Tale of the Navel, 'Unwilling to Be Yours'.
I’ve never liked hot weather. It causes a strange shimmer in the air, which rises off the stones of the street and all the shop walls. Plus, it makes my clothes stick to my skin, plastering both with sweat. I’ve been assured of my sexiness, when I’m sweating. Such assurances are less than assuring, when you feel gross. Plus, I like long sleeves and vests. T-shirts, tank tops, and shorts have never appealed to me.
The boy leaning against the Navel’s wall didn’t like the weather, either. I could tell from the scowl on his face and the sweat dripping off his brow. He should have expected it, wearing black jeans and a turtle neck in this heat. Not that he didn’t look pretty in both, especially with his hair. It might be a little too short, curling right below the ears, but the color more than made up for its shortness. It was a golden chestnut with bright copper and bronze highlights, which captured the light of the sun.
The boy didn’t look up at me, or even seem to notice I was there. He was grumbling, having an animated conversation with someone I couldn’t see.
“I hate being human, sometimes!” he growled. He shot a particularly malevolent glance at the sky. Perhaps he was talking to it? I might have worried more about in his sanity, if I hadn’t been so distracted by his appearance. I’d never seen so slender a boy, nor one with such delicate features. It made me wonder if he was actually a girl, but his voice was too low to be female. Not deep, not by any stretch of the imagination, but not female. “Why anyone would ever enjoy hot weather is beyond me!”
“I quite agree,” I said. I decided to take a step closer to him and act like he’d been talking to me. “There are far more agreeable ways in which to sweat.”
The boy nearly jumped out of his skin. His violet eyes, which were already too big for his small, heart-shaped face, got even wider.
Perhaps my joke had been a little too coarse for this shy little blossom, for that’s exactly what he seemed like to me at that moment.
“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to startle you,” I said, gentling my entire manner. “Is this the center of all things bizarre?” I knew quite well where I was, but perhaps using Gabrielle’s catch phrase for the Navel would put this boy at ease.
The boy stared at me. I smiled my most winning smile and waved a hand up at the sign hanging over the door. It was an old-fashioned sign using a picture, rather than a name. There was a woman’s belly and a woman’s belly button painted on the sign. It was cute. This little town was already called ‘Omphalos’, so having a shop called ‘The Navel’ in Omphalos was an additional helping of cute. Calling the Navel ‘the center of all things bizarre’ was more cute poured on top of far too much cute already, but it had been Gabrielle’s idea. You didn’t accuse your potential boss of laying on the cute too thick.
“This is the Navel, if that’s what you’re asking,” the boy said. His manner became even less friendly, if such a thing was possible. Speaking of too much cute, no one should be that adorable when they scowl at you. It inspires one with the desire to do wrong. “What do you want?”
“Are you this charming to all your customers?” I asked with a certain arch disapproval. The mischief in me decided to let him think I was an insulted customer, trying to be a good sport about his attitude. “Or am I just special?”
“That depends,” the boy said, his eyes narrowing. “Are you truly a customer?” Clearly, he didn’t believe I was one. “Or are you after Damian’s job?”
Ah, there’s a reason for this beautiful boy’s scowl and his name is Damian. “Actually, I’m here about a job opening,” I said, raising my hands in a gesture of supplication. “I didn’t realize I was taking someone else’s job away from them.”
“I suppose you’re not.” All the hostility and suspicion seemed to run out of the boy, as his shoulders slumped. I almost felt a little guilty. “Yes, you’ve come to the right place.” He sighed, looking down at his feet, as if he couldn’t bear to look at my face. “I’m sorry. I’m still getting used to that job opening myself.”
I studied the shadows under the boy’s eyes, the slight trembling of his lower lip. Before I could say anything else, the boy was moving, turning his head, so I could no longer study his face. He opened the door for me, causing a few chimes to tinkle, as he did.
“Go right in,” he said, not meeting my eyes. “Gabrielle is expecting you.”