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Duel of hearts -2

The next evening found Captain Kevin "John" Sawyer staring thoughtfully into space pondering something unknown while staring at the numbers that lit up the elevator indicating the different floors as he passed them.
“ These skirmishes are getting worse and worse all the time," he thinks. " Its exhausting me out. Is there ever going to be an end?"

He ruefully thinks back to the three recruits that he has just lost today. Leading the elite mobile squadron in charge of protection of Bangor city is no easy job. Its made much worse though by the fact that he himself feels responsible for every death on the line. Its something you cannot help but feel. God knows people, Susan mostly, have told him enough times that he cannot guarantee the safety of his men. Out their in the field of battle it is every man for himself whether they like it or not.

He closed his eyes and thought of Claire. Claire who had returned after all these years and bought with her feelings, that were old yet sharp. They had spent a lot of time talking. She had woken up in the middle of the night and after that they talked to each other, conversation flowing so smoothly that it seemed they had never parted. He liked that and plus they had a lot of catching up to do. Their catching up was interrupted only by Lieutenant Commander Susan Marshall's call asking him to report to duty quickly. That had angered him slightly but he was all over that now.

Wearily his thought drifted back towards Susan, his commanding officer and First Officer of the Bangor Defence Force, the best in the land. Susan, the woman he has come to regard as a friend, confidant and sometimes something more. Susan, the woman who also continues to frustrate and confuse him to no ends at times.

He suddenly becomes conscious of a desire to kiss her and the thought sends shockwaves through him. It also chills him to the bone and he does not know which is worse.

'I wonder what she'd say if I asked her to dinner?' and he smiled amusingly at the thought. 'She'd probably have me thrown in the brig.'

"Bride of Frankenstein" he had called her the first time they had met some three years ago now. He still calls her that at times especially when she really ticks him off, but now it has become almost a private joke between them, like an endearment of some sort that only they understand the origin.

Susan…the perfectly stoic, regal woman, with cheekbones that would cut him, if her green eyes did not at first. He wondered where she was and what she was doing.

At that moment, the elevator door opened and Susan stood there. She looked deep in thought for she hadn't even noticed him yet. Worse, she had look about her that made her seem so vulnerable, lost and lonely to him and along with that so very desirable. He wondered what had made her so sad.


Looking up to see who had called her name Susan sees that it is Kevin. She quickly walks into the elevator and stands facing him while the door closes behind them. He does not step back as she half expects, half dreads he will do. They stand very close to each other, their bodies almost touching and she can smell his warm breath on her forehead. For a second that lasts a thousand years, they stand like that and then Kevin, gentleman that he is, steps back to give her more room.

'What floor?' he asks, a smile forming on his lips. He is glad to see her.

'What…uh huh…ummm…my quarters…that would be the…'

'Seventeenth.' He finishes for her. 'Honestly Susan, I do know where you live. I am not completely ignorant of everything you know.'

You so are ignorant of everything that matters, she thinks but says nothing.

'So…how was work today?' he asks, forcing himself to keep the conversation flowing.

She looks at him, surprised, and then smiles. It makes her look beautiful that smile and it makes butterflies soar in his stomach.

'The usual, you know. A couple of squadrons down, some more needing reinforcements, deciding when to send out whom. The uprising isn't small you know. There is a lot of decisions involved.'

'Tough huh?' he says, empathizing with her.

'I'm used to it,' she says brushing back a rouge lock of hair that had somehow managed to find its way out of the tight ponytail she always wore her hair in.

His heart is beating at the rate of knots now. His hands feel clammy and he feels detached from his body. Its now or never he thinks, and goes for it.

'So what are you uh ..umm doing later on tonight?' he asks his teeth clenched expecting some violent reaction.

She seems not to notice. "Nothing much really. Rest and relaxation. Maybe a walk in the park."

" In that case why don't I meet you for dinner or probably coffee at the park…..say in an hour.' Its taken him every ounce of his will to get this out.

Shocked, her eyes widening, she swallows hard. A flush sweeps over her face almost down to her neckline and her stomach turns to jelly. She can only mutter out some incoherent reply.

' Are you…um…asking…me out on a date?' she manages and it takes her every ounce of will to say it. She is blushing furiously now.

'Ummm…well yeah,' he says now smiling at her. Her insecurity has helped erase his fears. The fingers of his hand that were crossed so tightly behind his back relaxes.

She looks up and sees him smiling at her and bites her lip feeling a wild urge to smile, laugh, maybe even cry out aloud, for she could not believe that this was happening.

Kevin sees her insecurity and inwardly curses himself. Why don't you ever think before you speak? Maybe she wanted to be alone or had some other plans. You are an idiot, Sawyer.

But he wonders. Have I read her wrong? Has her poignant loneliness been nothing more than an illusion?

' I think,' Susan says slowly, 'I think I would like that very much. I don't usually have too much dinner, but coffee at the park would be good.' She speaks quickly as if getting the words out faster would somehow lessen the warm heat that has lodged itself in the pit of her flat stomach.

Kevin's heart almost leaps to his mouth at the answer but he forces himself to remain calm.

' Coffee at the park then, say in an hour. I need to get home and change, a quick shower. It has been a very long day. Is that ok with you?'

Susan blinked in dismay. How could she have forgotten- he had just come from a battle. In fact they both had.

'That would be fine Kevin,' she says and steps out of the elevator hoping fervently that he hasn't seen her blushing like a school-girl.

'Sawyer,' she called the authorative tone returning to her voice now that she had left his close proximity.

He turns back to see her smiling at him, making her look so very desirable again.

She really should do that more often, he thinks

"I will be waiting,' she says.

Just before the elevator doors close, she can make out the salute that he throws her in reply.

By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam

Card tricks

King of the hill

Before starting this trick make sure to place all the four Kings on top of the deck.

Tell your spectator(s) that this is a special royal deck and the Kings run it all. Make four piles according to the following: - take about one-fourth the deck from the bottom, and set it on the table. Take another one-fourth from the bottom and place it beside the pile made earlier. Similarly make the third pile and place it on the right of the other two piles and finally place the remaining pile in your hand to the far right, i.e. to the right of the three piles.

From the first pile, i.e. the pile placed at the far left, place the top three cards on the bottom of the pile, then deal one card to each of the other three piles. Repeat this procedure with each pile moving from left to right.

After doing so, to spice up the trick point to each pile and shout out "King of the Hill" and then turn the top card face up of each pile, to show that the Kings have magically come to the top.

Ace Party
In this card trick, you take help from a spectator to make four piles of cards. After making the four piles, you flip over each pile to reveal an Ace at the bottom of each pile.

Before starting this trick, arrange the deck in a manner so that three Aces are on the bottom and one on the top.

Holding the deck of cards in your hand, you start putting the cards face down on the table. Ask a spectator to tell you when to stop putting down the cards. Continue putting down the cards on the table until the spectator asks you to stop. After you have stopped, move your hand which is holding the deck of cards under the table and place the bottom card on the top of the deck. This gives you an Ace on the top. Then start the same procedure this time creating another pile beside the one you had just created. Again ask the spectator to tell you to stop and when you stop again take the deck of cards under the table and place the bottom card on top of the deck. Repeat this until you have four piles. After you have four piles on the table, flip over each pile to reveal all the four Aces at the bottom.

Compiled by Ziad


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