Stories, Writing

Beach Day

When they arrived back at the house they settled in for lunch. But they didn’t get the chance to eat. They were standing in the kitchen, getting ready to cook, when the floor shook. Lenci fell onto Beck. He caught her and held her up with him against the counter. He held her tight until the shaking stopped.

“Hey there.” He looked down at her.

“Nope.” She stood up quickly, using the same thing he told her the night they met.

He laughed and asked, “What was that? An earthquake?”

“No. We’ve moved again. Let’s go see where we’ve landed.”

“Why would we have moved again?” Beck followed her to the front door.

Lenci opened the door and smiled. “Because he thought we might like a warmer vacation.”

“He?” Beck peeked around her to look outside. Before them was a sandy beach and turquoise waves. Not a soul in sight. It stretched on as far as they could see.

“Warden.”

“I won’t complain. I hope he got me a swimsuit.” He turned around and headed straight for his room.

A few minutes later they both emerged from their bedroom doors to face each other in their swimsuits. Beck was in a pair of black swim shorts. Lenci was in a green one piece with mesh and no lining on her nearly flat torso. A short, flouncy, white swim skirt hid the tops of her round legs. Sunglasses sat on her head like a headband, keeping her hair out of her face.

Beck leaned against his door frame as he looked her over. “Yep. This is my best vacation ever.” He smiled at her as his eyes meandered over her well supported and much less covered than usual chest.

“None of that, you!” Lenci laughed even though she couldn’t help but notice his body too. He looked fit but not carved, with a healthy thin layer of fat over his abs that still allowed for the nice V shape she loved at the bottom. His chest looked firm and his arms strong. He looked like he took good care of himself, which made her happy. “Come on!” She grabbed his hand and pulled him along to the beach.

Lenci and Beck swam around, splashed, played, and laughed in the waves. Lenci was enjoying herself when she heard a quiet voice in her head. She knew who it was. It was the same voice she’d been hearing and fighting off for two centuries. She froze in the water. It was cool and refreshing. Her body was losing heat quickly. As the voice echoed in her head she wondered if she’d stayed in too long.

“Edifice,” Braithe whispered to her mind. “Edifice.”

“No,” Lenci answered silently. She noticed Beck staring at her. A few moments passed as Lenci pushed Braithe down deeper. “Sorry,” she said aloud to him. “I think I need to get some sun. Some heat.”

“Alright. Need me to get something to lie on?” Beck asked. He watched her with concern in the waist deep water. The waves didn’t budge her. Her eyes were distant and shimmered oddly.

“Sure. There are some light blankets in the closet.” She didn’t move from her spot in the water.

“I’ll go get one. Come on, Lenci.” Beck took her arm and pulled her hesitantly to the shore.

As he turned to walk away she grabbed his arm and said, “Thanks.” He nodded and went inside. She stood in the sun for a few minutes as Braithe tried to persist. Lenci closed her eyes as Braithe’s grating voice faded from her mind and she sighed as the sun warmed her skin. Beck came back as she let out a long breath. He saw her chest rise and fall dramatically.

“Everything okay? Are you in control? Should I get the lighter?”

Lenci opened her eyes. “Everything’s okay,” she answered. “Everything is good. I should probably stay out of the water the rest of today.”

“Here.” He laid out a large blanket for both of them to lie on.

“Thanks.” Lenci lied down, pulled her sunglasses from her head to her face, and basked in the sun’s warmth.

After a long period of silence, Beck turned on his side and propped his head up on his hand. “What’s it like, living for so long?”

“It’s weird.” She laughed and turned to him too. “You see things come and go. People come up with the strangest things. Some are amazing, some are bonkers! Cars, phones, computers… the internet! The fashions are interesting to watch change. I’ve loved watching the progression of equality so far. My favorite is the food. Oh the things people have done with food! You have no idea how excited I was when the cupcake came about!” She gushed. “Chocolate milk, ice cream, burgers and fries, tacos, oh my heavens. Who knew?!”

Beck laughed loudly. “Of all the things you could love about being immortal, it’s awesome your favorite is the food.”

“It’s not all good.” Her face fell. “People are born and die while I don’t age. I watched my family grow old. My siblings got married and had children of their own. I stayed with them until all my immediate family was gone, held their hands as they died. I even kept a distant eye on my siblings’ great grand children. Eventually they branched out too far and I was left with no family. There are horrifying wars and devastating illnesses. As much good as there is, there’s an equal amount of awful.”

“I’m sorry you’ve had to see all that.” He tilted her face back up. “That’s a lot.” She looked into his hazel eyes and didn’t say anything. “Maybe I can help you through the next little bit.”

“I’d like that.” She gave a small smile.

“I think I might too. If I can manage not to get killed,” he chuckled.

“I’ll do my best to teach you what you need to know.”

“No small task.” He sat all the way up and picked at the blanket. “I’m not quite sure why you chose me. I’m sure there’s someone out there better for the job. Maybe someone who knows how to fight.”

“Fighting skills I can teach.” She sat up, put her sunglasses back on her head, and put a hand on his shoulder. “What I can’t teach is a sense of right and wrong. I can’t make someone learn how to have a conscience or a strong moral compass. I most definitely cannot teach someone to have an intuition like yours. You have what is needed. I can teach you the rest.”

“You really think so?”

Lenci threw her arms around him, nearly knocking him over. “Oh Beck,” she whispered, “you have no idea how hard it was to find someone like you.”

“Thanks.” He hugged her back tightly. His stomach growled and he laughed as he let her go. “I guess I’m a little hungry.”

“We did skip lunch. We should have a picnic dinner on the beach! I’ll go whip up some sandwiches.”

“I’ll get drinks and chips.”

After their dinner, they sat on the edge of their blanket sipping sodas and watching the sun set. They were side by side, their shoulders close to touching.

“I know you can’t be in a relationship. But have you ever been in love?” Beck asked.

Neither of them looked at each other as they stared at the vast array of colors before them. The pink and orange sky reflected on the water and it looked as though they could dip their toes into the sunset. Lenci loved the thought of it. She thought a sunset ocean would be supremely warm. She wasn’t sure how she should answer his question though. He deserved her total honesty. She also didn’t want to give him any ideas.

“Yes,” she answered after a long moment of silence. She would give him the truth. “Not being able to be in a relationship doesn’t stop feelings from arising. I’ve learned to break off connections early if I begin to develop real feelings that could lead to love. So I haven’t been in love in a long time. I don’t give myself the chance any more.” She dug her toes into the sand.

“You should.” Beck rested his hand on hers. “I imagine a long life without love would get lonely.”

“Let me guess, I should give it another chance with you?” She looked at him with a wry expression.

He broke into laughter. “No! That’s not what I meant! …Although I wouldn’t complain if it ended up being me.” He winked at her.

“I’m not going to fall in love with you, Beck.” She shoved him a little but not hard enough to knock him over.

“We’ll see.”

“Yes, we will.” Lenci twisted around suddenly as the house’s alarm blared. This time it was flashing blue. “Inside!” She shouted and heaved Beck to his feet.

They dashed into the house and back to the mansion. Doors slammed behind them. The house shook once again and they both fell to the floor. When the shaking stopped, Lenci stood and helped Beck up.

“Did we move again?” He asked as he regained his feet.

“Yes. That was an emergency move. I wonder why.” Lenci walked to the front door. “Let’s see where we are now.” She opened the door and groaned. “Crap.”

Writing

Nope

Hey guys! I know, I know, I’m awful at posting. And I’m sorry! But here’s another excerpt from my book, Edifice. Enjoy!

Trigger warning: Talk of assisted suicide

Nope

“You were an awkward kid, weren’t you?” Beck laughed.

“I was. Especially for back then. I was much too free spirited for those times. Maybe that’s why…” she trailed off.

“Why what?”

“Why Warden chose me.”

“I’m sorry about what he did. He had no right.”

“I know. And I don’t understand it. But there was something I wanted to talk to you about because of that.”

“Yeah?” Beck cautiously set the photo album down and turned to face her on the couch.

“I had an idea. I need you tell me if I’ve completely lost it.”

“I can tell you already. You’ve lost it. You’re crazy. I told you that the night we met.”

Lenci laughed. She remembered that. And she had agreed with him. “That’s right. I remember.”

“There you go. But seriously, what is it?”

“What if…” she paused. It sounded very dark in her head and she was sure it would be worse out loud. But it needed to be said. “What if I could get rid of Braithe for good?”

“That would be amazing!”

“Right?”

“Definitely.” Beck nodded, liking the idea of not having that demon around any more. Even better, the idea that Lenci would be free from the torment of it all. ”How?”

“I need you to kill me.”

Beck stared at her. Neither of them spoke. After ages of silence he shook his head, said, “Nope,” and walked out of the room.

“Beck, wait!” Lenci ran after him. She caught up and ran around in front of him. “Hear me out, please.”

“Any plan that ends in your death is going to be a no, Lenci. I want to protect you, not take your life.”

“But did you hear what The Warden said?”

“I did. I heard it all. It’s an awful thing to do to a person. But that doesn’t mean you have to go and die. I didn’t hear that mentioned at all.” He went to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of whiskey.

“Not all that. He said whatever happens to me, happens to the demon. If I die, she dies. Forever.”

Beck took a sip and set his cup down. “That’s not a strong enough argument. Sorry.”

“Saving the world from a murderous demon, literal demon, who will have nearly unlimited power if she’s united with her master, isn’t a good enough argument?”

“Nope.”

“It would save countless lives.” She looked at Beck in unbelief. She didn’t understand why he wouldn’t want Braithe gone. It was the best possible solution to all their problems.

“If it worked. This all sounds pretty experimental to me. You could die and your demon could take over for all we know. I’m not going to risk it and I’m not going to kill you no matter how much you try to rationalize it.” He frowned and took a long swig.

“Please, Beck, don’t make me do it myself.”

“Don’t make you—“ He shook his head. “Come with me.” He grabbed the whiskey bottle and walked briskly to the secure room.

Lenci followed him, wondering what he was thinking. He opened both security doors for her. At the second one, Lenci paused. She hated this room where she gave up her will to her demon. She looked at Beck, who nodded that she needed to go in. She stepped up into the room and sauntered around. There were no chains today. Beck had taken them out to clean the blood from them and hadn’t put them back yet.

Beck closed the door behind her and bolted it. He stood at the viewing window and turned on the sound.

“What am I doing in here? You know I hate this room.”

“I do know that. And I hate it too. I hate putting you in there. I hate seeing you suffer as a demon takes control of the body that is rightfully yours. I’m sorry to have to ask you to be in there. But you, my friend, are not going to kill yourself. This is the only way to ensure that. So we’re going to sit here until we’ve worked this out.”

“We can’t sit here forever. I’ve made up my mind. Sticking me in here isn’t going to change that.”

“I’ve got time. And I’m pretty sure you do too.” Beck winked and raised his bottle to her before taking a gulp.

Lenci couldn’t help smiling and almost laughing. The way he said things lifted her heart. He had a playfulness about him. “What can you say that will change my mind?” She folded her arms.

“I’m not really sure yet. But I’ll come up with something. Give me some 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.”

Stories, Writing

Crazy

“I told you, I need your help.” Lenci stood and walked past Beck. She made her way to the kitchen and looked in the fridge until he joined her.

“Right,” he looked over the fridge door at her, “with demons.”

“Not demons plural. Demon singular. Just one.” Lenci took the milk from the fridge. She gathered a few other ingredients on the counter and got a pan out.

“Because that makes it sound less crazy.” Beck rolled his eyes and leaned against the counter she was using.

“Oh no,” Lenci reached around Beck to grab the milk, “nothing makes it sound less crazy. But it is more accurate, which I think is important.” She poured the milk in the pan and put it back in the fridge. She continued reaching around Beck to get to her ingredients, paying him no mind as she cooked. Chocolate chips, salt, and peanut butter followed into the pan.

“You’re crazy,” he commented.

“I know.” She stirred her ingredients as he watched her. “Mind putting those back in the cupboard?”

Beck shook his head in disbelief and turned to put her ingredients away. She reached into another cupboard for two white mugs and poured the contents of the pan into them. She topped the drinks with whipped cream and mini Reese’s candies.

“So where’s this demon?”

Lenci stood close to him, handed him a mug, looked him right in the eye, and said, “You’re looking at her.”

Beck stared at her silently as his hands warmed around the mug. He looked at her curled red hair, her brown eyes, her coral lips, her freckle dusted cheeks and nose. She didn’t look like a demon to him. But he could tell she was serious. She meant it. She backed away a little and clinked her cup to his before taking a big gulp of her drink.

“You?” He asked with noticeable skepticism.

“No, not me, silly.” She continued drinking as she walked away.