“A Prince and a Monster Went into a Bar…Have You Heard This One?” Excerpt from Tethered

From the chapter titled “A Prince and a Monster Went into a Bar…Have You Heard This One?”

“Celeste?” The wooden door subdued Arc’s resonant voice. She smiled.

“Yeah, come on in.” She shut the water off, grabbed a towel and then opened the curtain as she was wrapping the towel around her wet body. Arc merely watched her, leaning on the door jam, the look of a hungry jackal on his face. She tried to ignore that.

“You’re packed, I see. I checked the Jeep and saw your bag. When do you want to leave?” Celeste went about her drying and primping routine while Arc was still in the room. He didn’t avert his eyes as she unwound the towel, feeling ever so slightly self-conscious, but hoping to make an impression. She thought of it as enticement.

“I’ll be ready in a few minutes. Sound good to you?” He didn’t answer her so she turned to look at him and saw that he was watching her differently now and she tried to slip discreetly into his mind and see what was going on.

Arc was remembering the day on the beach when he had almost killed Celeste. He wasn’t remembering the killing part though; he was remembering their nearly joined and very naked bodies entwined and happy. He cringed when realized she was trespassing on his thoughts, but he didn’t kick her out.

“I hadn’t thought of you like that in a few years. I had done a pretty good job of turning you into an enemy instead of a lover.” He paused waiting for her to challenge him. When she didn’t, he continued.

“It kept you alive though, hating you. It certainly wasn’t fun. I would have preferred more nights on the beach.” He moved closer to her, Celeste’s body shivered in anticipation and then Arc stopped and backed away. A wry smile spread across his beautiful face, distorting it into a sarcastic mask.

“What is it?” Celeste was growing cold and started to dress in the clothes she had draped on her bench seat by the bathroom window. The day’s events were wearing on her and she needed to get something to eat.

“We should go if you still want to.”

“Of course I do.” Celeste looked up in surprise at Arc, wondering what he was getting at. “What do you mean?”

“Nothing, just want to make sure. That’s a long drive for me and I don’t want to do it, if you are uncertain of your desires. That’s all.” They went around shutting down her computer, unplugging large appliances and making sure the windows and doors were locked.

When they were done, Celeste stood in the door and looked back at her home. She was sad to be leaving, of course, but somehow she felt like she was moving towards her true home. She looked at Arc, already by the Jeep, and wondered if it was more that he would be joining her there—this strange and enigmatic man who had captured her heart and never truly given it back.