Lexa’s eyes snapped open at the barest touch of a cold steel’s sharp edge against her neck. She reached behind and grabbed a collar, swinging its bearer over her shoulder. The man in black rolled to his feet with ease, an intrigued grin on his face. Lexa stared at him in surprise and uncertainty—she had never met another person in the dreamscape before.
“You’re quick,” he remarked with strange satisfaction.
Lexa narrowed her eyes and circled him like a wary lioness. “Who are you?” He sidestepped to match her movements. His all black get-up, from his simple shirt down to his somewhat faded boots, gave him the look of a poor pirate, though not as filthy. Long, light-colored hair tied at the nape of his neck framed rugged features and a sharp jaw line. A slight accent colored his voice, but was too diluted to tell its origin.
“And rather attractive.” He took a moment to look her up and down, his brows lifting in appreciation. “I’ve heard there was another walking the dreamscape. You’re much more appealing than I expected.”
Lexa cocked her head to the side. “Wait till I draw blood.”
“Ooh, feisty, too,” he said while waggling the knife in his hand. “At the moment, I’m the one who’s armed.”
She smirked. “At the moment.”
Lexa raised her arms into a defensive stance and dealt him a swift sidekick to the face. Her boot connected with his jaw and knocked him back. His arms shot out to break his fall and the knife fell into a clump of grass. Still leaning over, he kicked at Lexa’s leg, sending her to her knees. He jumped to his feet again and bounced on his toes as though he found this an entertaining workout. Lexa glowered at him. Rolling onto her hip, she swung her legs around to knock his out from under him. He landed on his back with a grunt, and she arched her leg down to jam her heel on his throat.
He caught her foot, softening the blow, and still he didn’t lose his haughty grin. Around a cough, he smiled and said, “You must tell me your name.”
She snorted in disgust and tried to pull her leg back, but he held fast and yanked her toward him. They both rolled, grappling with each other and laying in well-aimed strikes. Lexa’s elbow brushed the knife lying in the grass and she grabbed it, slashing at his chest. He rolled into a crouch out of reach. Both combatants were breathing heavily from the exertion, but neither lost their air of confidence.
The man got to his feet and backed away. “It was nice meeting you, my lady. I’m sure I’ll have your name soon.”
“Not if you always give up this easily.” Lexa took two steps forward.
He laughed and pressed a hand to his chest. “We’ve only just met. Let’s not rush things.” He bowed with a flourish and tipped an imaginary hat. “And for your pleasure, I am called Dirk.”
Lexa hurled the knife at him, but he vanished into the waking world. It struck the wall before melting into mist.