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.”

Stories, Writing

First Meeting

I reworked Amara’s first interaction with Tucian. I think I like it better from his point of view instead of hers. Let me know what you think!

Tucian had been watching her for a while now, this woman in the supermarket. Never in his life had he seen someone so radiant. At first she had looked at him with skepticism. She would look him over carefully as though she were sizing him up, seeing if she could take him down. Her calculating eyes had drawn him in, intrigued him.

After two weeks she seemed to let her gazing guard down. The looks that followed were even better. He adored the way she would blush each time he caught her eye. And her smile ignited his whole world. He admired how she moved with strength and purpose. It seemed like she knew who she was and what she was doing. This beautiful woman never meandered in the store and he suspected she didn’t meander in any other aspects of life either. She usually came to the store with who he assumed was her sister in outfits that looked like they had been in combat training. Today, however, she was alone and in a tee shirt and jeans.

“Excuse me, miss?” Tucian finally braved. She whirled around and froze under the intense gaze of his grey eyes. He didn’t say anything for a moment. Her bright green eyes stared at him. They were even more intimidating up close. He thought it would be easier to speak to her alone. It wasn’t.

“Yes?” She asked as she looked him over once again.

“My name is Tucian Rhodes,” he finally spoke. “I was wondering if you would let me take you out sometime?”

“It’s nice to meet you, Tucian. I’m Amara Sinclair. And I am certainly flattered. But um…” Amara trailed off, biting her bottom lip.

“But?” Tucian reached for her hand, brought it to his lips, and kissed it. He hoped she wouldn’t notice how nervous she was making him. He kept his eyes on hers, not dropping her hand. “Are you already seeing someone?” He wouldn’t be surprised if someone else had already tried to make her theirs. She was too spectacular not to have men fawning over her.

Amara chuckled a little. “No, that’s not it. There’s no one else.”

Tucian was both shocked and glad.

“It’s that I don’t know you.” Amara pulled her hand back, tucking her light blonde hair behind her ear. Tucian tilted his head curiously. “I can’t go running off to be alone with someone I barely met,” she explained. “For all I know, you could be the serial killer in town.” She laughed.

Tucian enjoyed her magical laughter and laughed too. “I understand. But I can’t be the serial killer. He’s been on the loose for months. I only moved here three weeks ago.”

“That’s good.” She gave him a wavering smile. “But I still don’t know anything else about you.”

“If I can’t take you out, then how will I ever get to know you, my beautiful stranger?” He puzzled, stepping closer.

“What if we double up? You bring your dark and mysterious friend, I’ll bring my sister, Avery. If things go well, maybe we can arrange for something more private down the road,” Amara offered.

“You mean Jett?” Tucian laughed at her ‘dark and mysterious’ reference. He found himself glad that she hadn’t used the term ‘dark and handsome’ about Jett. “He’s my brother. I suppose I could convince him to tag along.” He paused to stroke his hand down her cheek. “If it means I get to spend some time with you.” Butterflies collided in Tucian’s stomach. He hoped Amara was feeling the same. From the look in her eyes he guessed she was. They stood quietly, staring at each other.

“You’ll need my number.” Tucian broke through the silent haze building around them. He reached down and pulled Amara’s phone out of her jean pocket, brushing her hip. He smiled at her surprised eyes. She must not have expected his forwardness. But her shock turned into a half smile as she watched him add himself to her contacts. He took her hand and set the phone in it, sliding his fingers along hers and noticing the shiver that rushed through her. “Would you like some company while you shop? Maybe I can become less of a stranger.”

“I would like that very much.”

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

Cliff

I haven’t posted original content in a week. I’m sorry. I didn’t have time make a new character profile or anything. I had costumes to sew and Halloween swallowed me whole! But I do have a little excerpt from my Amara story. Here you go!

Amara crashed into the upstairs of her parents’ home, her home. Emerald green sparks flowed around her as she fell to the floor.

“Amara!” Her mother, Kiva, ran over to check on her.

“I’m okay,” Amara huffed out as she tried to catch her breath. “I’m okay,” she repeated as her mom helped her from the floor and her sister, Avery, joined. They sat her against a wall, sat on each side of her and waited.

It took Amara a minute to realize where she was. She hadn’t been as focused as she would have been normally. She looked around the room. It was a large rectangle with thick black mats on the floor. Weapons lined the wall in front of her and a door stood to her left on one of the short walls.

She was in one of her family’s training rooms. The second floor of their house held four of them, each with an identical setup. But the second floor was also hidden from anyone outside the family. To everyone else their home was a single level house.

Amara let out an exasperated sigh and stood as she shouted, “He threw me off a cliff!” She was glad her mom and sister hadn’t pushed her to talk until she wanted to. They were good at that.

“Who what?” Avery asked in confusion from her spot on the floor.

“The killer! He threw me off a cliff! A frickin’ cliff!” Amara repeated as she threw her hands in the air. “When I catch him, he’s gonna regret every little—“

“If you catch him.”

“Ugh. Avery, you’re not funny.” Amara sat back between them.

“Shut up. I’m hilarious,” Avery chuckled.

“Not right now.” Amara sighed.

“I know you’re frustrated, sweetie.” Kiva set a hand on Amara’s. “But you’ll get him.”

“You should probably give him a better name than ‘the killer’ though. He did just throw you off a cliff.”

“So he’s earned himself a nickname by nearly killing me?” Amara raised a brow at her sister.

“Welllllll…..” Avery stalled. “It is pretty impressive.”

“And creative,” her mom added.

“Yes, he’s impressive and creative. And, oh yeah, he’s a murderer!”

“You do have to call him something unless you want to keep calling him ‘the killer’,” Kiva said.

“What would you recommend I call him?”

“How about Cliff?” Avery laughed and Kiva joined.

“Ha ha laugh it up. I could have died!”

Stories, Writing

WIP Summary

Okay. I wrote the story. I’ve tried to write a summary and… I can’t? Why can I write a whole book and not be able to summarize it? I don’t know. @mcvreates asked if I had a summary and I don’t. So I’m going to try. Remember I’m awful at this. Here goes:

Edifice

It all started with The Warden and Demon Master, embodiments of love and hate. Demon Master created six more demons. The Warden took measures to keep the demons under control and humankind safe. He trapped them within people with powers, Edifices. He also found Keepers to help his Edifices.

Lenci is one of six Edifices. She contains the ice demon. But her Keeper has been killed. She needs to find a new Keeper. Beck has lost everything but is found by Lenci. He agrees to be her Keeper and many adventures follow. Kidnappings, hostile takeovers, demon escapes and attacks.

Lenci and Beck grow close but rules prevent them from being anything but friends. Tension grows high as they battle demons and intense feelings for each other. Can they make it through?

Stories, Writing

History Lesson

To highlight my previous character profile for The Warden, here’s his background story as told to Beck by Lenci.

“It all started centuries ago. There was only one demon and The Warden then. It’s said that the demon was made from the first human who felt hatred. The Warden was created when humans first felt love. The two were forever locked in battle against one another, neither was able to defeat the other. Such is the way of darkness and light.

“Eventually the Demon Master created more demons from different elements of the Earth: brimstone and lava, a tree of a dead forest, a rock from a deadly cliff, water from the darkest depths of the ocean, lightning from a storm, and…” She paused. Next on the list was her demon’s element. She didn’t want to say it. She hated it.

Beck finished his hot cocoa and looked over at her with concern. The fire snuffed itself out and her head snapped toward it. She ran over and restarted it quickly.

She let out a sigh and said, “Ice. He made a demon from the coldest, most isolated glacier. Six demons total.” She didn’t look back at Beck. She’d gotten lost in thought and fear and almost lost her control. She would need to be careful until tomorrow night.

“And what did the uh… Warden? Do?” Beck did his best to recall what she’d called the protector.

“The Warden created his own army. He chose people who had been born with the opposite gifts of the demons. They couldn’t kill the demons though.” Lenci paused to warm her cooling hands. She stuck them straight into the flames and turned them up and down. She could feel the ice and needed to combat it with her own warmth. It was getting worse as the time neared.

Beck, now curious, sat on the floor next to her and watched her fingers play with the flames. “Amazing,” he whispered.

Lenci laughed. “Yeah, I guess it isn’t a bad power to have.”

“Not bad at all.”

“On with the story,” she continued. “The Warden realized he couldn’t kill or imprison the demons. The only way to keep the demons in check was to trap them in a body. One by one they trapped each demon into an opposite warrior’s body. It worked!” Lenci’s face lit up for a moment and then fell again. “Until it didn’t.

“Things were fine short term. They found that they could only tolerate the demon for one moon cycle. The Warden learned that if the human could be given their control back, they could again keep the demon under control for another moon cycle.

“He recruited more humans to help his warriors battle their demons. These helpers were given the warrior’s powers for the night. They would keep the demon under control for the night and bring the human back at the sun’s return.”

“Smart,” Beck commented.

“Very,” Lenci agreed. “The warriors were given the title of Edifices, holders of demons. The helpers gained the title of Keepers. They recruited and trained ranks of each to be possible future Edifices and Keepers should anything happen. And now, here we are.”

“Wow.” Beck leaned back on his arms. “What a story.”

“You believe it? You’ll help me?” Lenci looked at him hopefully.

“I don’t know if I believe it. I at least believe that you have cool fire powers.” He chuckled.

Stories, Writing

New Amara Intro

I said I was rewriting my Amara story a while back. I’ve made some progress. This is now the opening paragraph!… for now… We’ll see if it stays that way. I’ll post more of the new draft later. Today, enjoy this little teaser!

He pushed her against the wall and smiled at the gasp he forced from her. Her blonde hair fell in her face as he pushed tight against her. Pressing her wrists up, he became distracted by her heavy breathing, her chest heaving. She shoved off the wall and they spun around the room like a pair of dancers. They were light on their feet and precise with their movements. To him, there was no greater ballet, no better thrill, than fighting Amara.

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?”