Stories, Writing

Dizzy Dewdropper

Hello there! This is a little exercise I did for my book, Edifice. The intro is in the book, but the rest is not. It’s a little snippet of Lenci’s past. Thought you might enjoy it too. It’s only for fun so I won’t be revising, editing, or expanding on it. It’s rough and that’s alright. Have a read and let me know what you think!

“The 1920’s were an interesting time,” Lenci told him. “So much happened, so much changed.”

Beck laughed. “Looks interesting. Looks like you’re happy.” He ran his fingers over a picture of her and another woman. It was black and white and they were in tasseled dresses with curled hair, elegant headbands, and dark lips.

“I was happy. That’s Bridget, my Keeper before Fredrick. She stayed with me the longest out of all my Keepers. We snuck into a speakeasy even though we didn’t drink. The dancing was to die for!”

“How long was she your Keeper?”

“One hundred and five years. We were close.” Lenci’s face showed the fondness for her gone friend.

Lenci and Bridget: A short tale of a long friendship

1923:

The piano player tinkled away at the keys as everyone bopped around to his fast-paced tune. Lenci and Bridget made their way off the dance floor, beads of sweat starting to form along their perfectly manicured hairlines.

“Two waters, please,” Lenci requested at the bar. Bridget took a seat on the barstool next to her.

“How about I buy you a drink?” A surly man leaned around Bridget to ask her.

Bridget’s bubbly personality always led men to her and it never surprised Lenci when they approached her. Lenci apparently put out a ‘leave me alone vibe’ that kept most men away. But that was exactly how she wanted it.

“Sorry, sugar, not tonight.” Bridget flashed him a kind smile and turned back to Lenci, where their waters had been delivered. The man shrugged and resumed his search for company around the dance floor.

“You sure?” Lenci asked as she hastily gulped down some hydration. “It’s been a while since you went on a date. And you are allowed to drink even if I’m not.”

“I’m aware of the rules, Miss Lenci.” She gave her a criticizing glance. “But I haven’t had any hooch in all our thirty two years and I’m not going to start now! As for men, I think I’m taking a little break from gentlemen callers. It’s not like it can actually go anywhere. I would much rather dance the night away with my best doll!” She nudged Lenci’s shoulder.

“Alright, Bridge,” Lenci chuckled. She knew why Bridget wanted to take a break from dating. But now wasn’t the time to bring it up. Instead, she would take her mind off it for a few hours. “Then we better get hoppin’!” She grabbed Bridget’s hand and yanked her away.

They danced like they always did, like the best of friends that they were. Lenci held Bridget at arm’s length as they shimmied, wearing the soles of their lovely shoes and making the fringe on their dresses whip back and forth. Midnight came quickly and brought danger with it.

Lenci twirled and spun as she kept any men from trying to cut in with Bridget. Normally they would allow dance partners to join in on the fun. Not tonight. One particularly persistent man attempted to whisk Bridget away against her protest. Lenci rolled her eyes and followed as he whirled her off the dance floor and into the surrounding crowd.

“I said, let go,” Bridget’s stern voice came from a back room. Lenci headed that direction.

“Not until you give me what I want,” the man told Bridget.

Great, Lenci thought. One of those guys.

“And what I want is your demon,” he continued.

Not one of those guys. Lenci paused outside the door and listened. She heard Bridget laugh and couldn’t restrain a smile.

“You dizzy dewdropper,” Bridget said amusedly. “You took the wrong woman.”

“You’re not an Edifice?” He asked in confusion.

“No sir.”

“Are you a Keeper?”

“Bingo.”

“Bring me to your Edifice,” he commanded.

“You think it’s that easy? This isn’t the Bible. Those who ask, don’t receive.”

Lenci peeked around the corner and smiled. Bridget looked completely bored. She didn’t need any help. She could easily take this guy and so felt no danger and looked relaxed as she stood in the middle of the room. She didn’t so much as flinch when the man put a hand around her neck to threaten her. But there was no way Lenci was going to let anyone treat her best friend like that.

“Give me your Edifice or I’ll—“ he grunted as Lenci threw her elbow into the back of his head.

His head lurched forward towards Bridget who grabbed his head, kneed him in the face, and threw him to the floor, unconscious.

“Time to find a new place?” Bridget stared down at the large man.

“Time to find a new place.”

They walked home together, confident that if anyone else did attack, they would be able to defend themselves. Bridget was Lenci’s second Keeper. She was a great conversationalist, wonderful to live across the hall from, and certainly knew how to handle herself in a fight. Lenci watched Bridget’s blonde curls sway around her headband.

“Was it that bad leaving him?” Lenci asked. “Is that why you’re taking a break?”

Bridget didn’t falter in her leisurely stride, but did loop her arm through Lenci’s before answering. “It was hard. But it was for the best.”

Lenci noticed Bridget wasn’t looking at her on purpose, keeping her eyes set straight ahead with her head held high. She knew if she could see her eyes there would be tears there. “You know, you could have married him. That’s not against the rules.”

“It is if you don’t want to be a Keeper any more. And I’m not ready to give this up yet.” Bridget finally turned to Lenci. She was right about the tears, which seemed to be passing quickly. Her red lips smiled as she patted Lenci’s arm.

“Good.” Lenci returned the smile. “I’m not ready to lose you yet.”

“Excuse me, ladies,” a man in the door of a building called out. “Would you like to have your photograph taken?”

“We would!” They both replied at the same time.

Stories, Writing

Fredrick

“What happened to your last Keeper?” He stared at her seriously.

Lenci paused. She set down her fork slowly and looked over at him. “Did Braithe tell you?”

“You don’t see what happens?”

“I don’t.”

“Well, she said to ask you.”

Lenci nodded. “That’s umm…” She pushed her plate away, put her elbows on the table, and ran her hands through her long hair, pulling it back.

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“You deserve to know. If you’re going to take on his role, you should know what you’re getting into. My last Keeper was named Fredrick. He was my friend.”

“What happened to him?”

“He fell for the demon. I don’t know how long it had been going on. But last month I found him. Fredrick had gotten too close. Braithe killed him and took the heart she’d won.”

“Phew,” Beck let out a long breath. “That’s… that’s… uh…”

“Yeah. Not great. That’s why you can’t ever go in that room on a transformation night. That is, if you decide to stay. I would understand if you don’t.” She looked down at the table.

“Are you kidding? After last night?” He took a bite of sausage. “I’m never leaving you alone again. That thing can never get out. We need to get you ten Keepers! You can never be left alone. Ever.”

Lenci laughed. “She really scared you, huh?”

“Terrified. It wasn’t anything she did or said, although those were disturbing. There’s just something wrong with her, a feeling.”

“That’s a Keeper’s intuition. You’ll get it any time there’s a demon around. Some people, like you, are born with the ability.”

“I have a demon sense? Awesome.”

“It is. Use it. It’ll keep you safe.” She pulled her plate back to her and resumed calorie loading.

“Didn’t Fredrick have a demon sense?”

Lenci chuckled. “We call it intuition. And yes, he did.”

“How could anyone fall in love with something that causes that sense of disgust, terror? I had to keep myself from running or throwing up.”

“Some people have a stronger intuition than others. From the sound of it, yours is much stronger than most. Fredrick had a weaker intuition than most. He felt fear enough to know she was a demon but he must have grown accustomed to it and moved past it.”

“Why take that creature if he could have someone else, anyone else? He was here with you, why would he tolerate her?”

“Mm – another thing to talk about. That’s not allowed.” She took a bite of yogurt.

“What’s not allowed?”

“Edifices and Keepers.” She waved her spoon at him. “We’re not allowed to date. It’s too risky. But consider yourself lucky. Keepers can date as long as it’s not their Edifice. Or the demon, of course. Fredrick.” She shook her head sadly.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright.” She wiped a tear from her cheek. It was a risk everyone involved in this took. She almost knew the day would come. Fredrick was her third Keeper. Braithe was the most deadly of all the demons. Keepers were meant to be a lifelong partner to their Edifice and yet she couldn’t hang onto one.

“You said Keepers can date and to count myself lucky. What does that mean?”

“It means that, as an Edifice, I can’t date. No Edifice is allowed to date. And we’re especially not allowed to have sex.”

Beck choked on his milk. “I’m sorry. What?” He leaned forward.

“I’m not allowed to have sex. Not under any circumstance. Ever.” She leaned in, looked over to him with her most sultry eyes, and wrapped her lips around a strawberry. “So don’t think about it. Ever.”

He swallowed hard and she noticed he was trying not to look down her shirt as she leaned forward. He cleared his throat and looked her in the eyes. “You mean you’ve never…”

“Felt the touch of a man?” She sucked on a straw. “No. I’m completely untouched. Completely innocent.” She batted her lashes at him and noticed him shift in his chair. She laughed. “Sorry. I couldn’t help it.”

“You were messing with me?” He let out a nervous chuckle.

“A little bit.”

“So… you’re not a virgin?”

“I’ll never tell,” she teased. “But for real, no sex for me. It isn’t allowed. Or alcohol for obvious loss of control issues.”

Suddenly all the lights started flashing red and the house made a loud beeping noise.

Stories, Writing

Demon

Beck stood at the viewing window of the control room. He had locked Lenci up according to her instructions and was waiting for dark. He waited and waited.

It should have been dark outside and nothing was happening. His stomach became upset and he felt a sudden sense of fear for no apparent reason. Lenci moaned and rolled over in her sleep on the floor, but nothing interesting happened for three hours. He sighed and turned his back to the window. If nothing happened in another hour, he would go to sleep and let her out in the morning before he went back to his cheap, crappy motel.

“Beck?” Lenci called sweetly; way more sweetly than he’d heard her speak so far.

He turned slowly and said, “Lenci?”

She sat on the floor looking him over. “Of course it’s me. Who else would it be, silly?” She giggled.

“Well, you said it would be a demon. So there’s that.”

“I know. I wasn’t thinking clearly. You can let me out now. There’s no demon.” She smiled at him.

Beck stared at her. She batted her long lashes at him. This didn’t seem like the same Lenci he had spent last night and today with. But that wasn’t a lot of time. It wasn’t like he knew her well.

“Sorry,” he told her. “I swore I wouldn’t let you out until dawn. I’m a man of my word.”

“And what a man you are. Why don’t you come in here and show me your manliness?” She leaned forward on her arms. ”You don’t have to take the chains off to kiss me.”

Beck watched her. It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought about kissing her. She was a beautiful woman and he was definitely attracted to her. But at this point he was almost worried she might have some sort of mental disorder.

“Sorry,” he said again. “I also said that I wouldn’t go past this door. Looks like we’re stuck where we are until dawn. So get cozy crazy lady.”

Lenci stood and laughed loudly. She lifted her arms and blue light engulfed her. Beck watched in shock. When the blue fell he couldn’t believe what he was looking at. It was Lenci, or at least the shape of her. But her colors were all wrong. Her normally warm, barely sun kissed skin was now powdered sugar white. Her adorable freckles were erased. Her autumn orange hair was now bright blue with purple underneath. The maple syrup eyes of Lenci were replaced with calculating crystal blue ones. Purple lips smiled eerily at him.

Lenci, her normal self, was the embodiment of warmth. She radiated sunshine and light. Her other half, however, was not. She was the polar opposite. She ebbed an icy coldness that gave Beck chills. Her pale skin reminded him of cool mist, where anything could lurk. He froze in terror as he took in her features.

“Braithe,” he breathed out in disbelief.

“Yes.” Her misty fingers reached out slowly as she spoke, trying to call him to her. “Come now, Beck. Come in and meet your new obsession.”

But instead of attraction he felt an intense repulsion pushing him from her. He backed away from the window as frost crowded in the edges.

“Never,” he whispered. Lenci wasn’t crazy. What stood before him now was definitely not human, it certainly was not the bossy, strange, but kind woman he’d met.

“Don’t worry, love.” She moved slowly and sensually to the edge of the chains’ reach. “You’ll learn to enjoy the forbidden fruit. It’s disturbing at first. Soon, you’ll tolerate it. Eventually, you’ll crave it.”

Beck couldn’t even think of what to say. He shook his empty feeling head and backed into the wall of chains behind him. The chains rattled and he jumped. Braithe laughed again, a grating, unnatural sound. He didn’t know if he could stand a whole night with this devilish being. But on the other hand, now he knew the demon was real. He couldn’t leave it here without anyone to watch it.

“I’ll never crave… whatever you are.” He approached the window again.

“You know what I am.” She glared at him. Frost spread from the cuffs around her wrists down the chains.

“Demon,” Beck growled.

“Your demon now. I’m yours, Beck.” She dragged a sharp fingernail down the front of Lenci’s hoodie, tearing the top open. She pulled on the neckline, exposing a good amount and showing light blue shading around her collar bone and chest. “I’m all yours. Come through the door and take me.”

Normally, that would have been a delicious amount of cleavage for Beck. On Lenci it would have been very enticing. But looking at this savage, evil thing, he could only feel horror. Braithe was beautiful but something was wrong. It was as though Beck could feel in his heart all the lives this demon had taken. The thought of it made him sick. It showed on his face.

Braithe frowned. “Fine. I wish you would change your mind though.” Her frown turned up wickedly. “You do look yummy.” She licked her lips. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you to get you through that door… or to you… mmmm… The things I would love to do to you…”

A shiver worked down Beck’s spine at the thought of her doing what she wanted with him. He didn’t want to imagine what her idea of pleasure would be. “There’s nothing you could ever do to get me through that door,” he told her.

“Let me out of here!” She tore her hoodie and shirt off in frustration as she screamed again. Icy mist flowed along the floor. Standing in her bra and sweatpants she growled at Beck, “Let me out or I’ll kill you.”

“I think you have that backward. If I let you out you’ll kill me; and whoever you can get your hands on.”

“Let me rephrase then,” she said in a low voice. “Let me out and I’ll kill you quickly. Otherwise, I’ll take my sweet time and savor every moment.”

“I’m not letting you out, Braithe.”

“Fine,” she relented with a pout. “If you’re not going to let me play with you, what are we going to do?”

Stories, Writing

No Escape

“Come on. I’ll show you to your room.” Lenci walked away.

Beck reluctantly followed her. They reached the last set of doors facing each other. At the end of the hall, a few yards away, was a lone black door. It was much bigger than the other doors with rivets around the edges and a thick bolt.

Lenci motioned to the white door on the right. “This is your room.”

“What’s behind the black door of doom?” Beck looked over.

“The Chamber of Secrets. No muggles allowed.” She winked.

“Ha ha ha. Seriously. What is it?”

“It’s a secure room. It’s where I succumb to the demon. It’s safer for everyone if I do it in there.”

“Okay. So you’re like a werewolf? You transform every full moon?” He opened his door and walked in with Lenci following only to the doorway, which she leaned against.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she scoffed. “A full moon casts way too much light. I transform under the new moon, when there’s no light to help you escape.”

“That’s comforting.”