© 2009, Patrick Hester. All Rights Reserved
“You’re so tense.”
Eli felt the warmth of Millie lying beside him, hugging against him. They lay together on the roof of The Widow’s Apron, staring up at the sky. Her scent is strong when they are this close, her head tucked just under his chin, her arm draped across his chest. The blanket is only part of the reason he is so warm in the chill of the night.
“It’s your father, isn’t it?” she asked.
He nodded, eyes focused on the stars above. Part of him couldn’t help but wonder, as it always did, where they came from. Legends told it was from somewhere up there, that they’d traveled on boats that cut across the night sky instead of the oceans. That was so long ago, though, that no one knew for sure if it was the truth, or simply a tale someone had told once to amuse a crowd.
From the time he first heard the story as a child, he’d wanted to know more, know the truth. He’d spent hours upon hours in the library at school, looking for any books that might contain more information, but all he ever found were more myths and legends and most of those contradicted each other.
“You can’t let him get to you,” she said, squeezing him closer. He smiled, briefly. It did bother him. More than he ever thought it could. How could any man feel for a son the way his father felt about him? It made no sense. Yes, they had their disagreements, their arguments, but to do the things his father had done recently meant it was far worse than he ever could’ve imagined.
The stars twinkled above and he wondered if, like their origins, this would be another great mystery to plague his life.
“What if you write a letter?” Millie asked. “Tell him how you feel. I could deliver it.”
He was shaking his head as soon as she mentioned it. Leaning on his elbow, he sat up to look at her.
“Absolutely not. Fesh was right – my father is powerful, he’s rich and he gets what he wants. The last thing I want is for him to know about you, put us together and decide that maybe the best way to get to me is through you.” He pushed an errant hair away from her face, hooking it behind her ear with a smile. “I don’t want you to be hurt,” he said softly.
“Okay,” she said, mouth a thin line. She was only able to keep the stern look for a moment before a lopsided grin spread across her face. “So, you really care for me then?”
She looked up at him, eyes wide and lovely, lashes batting at him and he felt all the moisture in his mouth dry right up. He tried to say something and it came out as a hoarse croak that made her giggle. Somehow, she managed to wriggle her way even closer to him, which he didn’t think possible.
“I watched the ship dock this morning…” she murmured in his ear, her breath hot against his skin, sending shivers down his body.
She shifts, slightly, one leg snaking up and around his leg. Her hand, resting upon his chest just beneath the blanket, slowly slips to down his waist…
“…no,” he says, breathless. “I never.. I mean.. I’m not trying to… I wouldn’t…”
“I would,” she whispered. “I want this, Eli. Want you to come back to me. If you don’t… I want this, Eli.”
Elias pulled her closer, his lips meeting hers, a fire suddenly burning in his chest like a monster beating against a cage, demanding to be set free.
…and the night passes all too quickly.