Melisandre Chambers rolled up the long steep driveway to Wakes Peak cottage, parking her cherry red vintage Mustang coupe under the shade of a tall eucalypt. Stepping out of the car she gratefully breathed in the wonderful ocean air, delighted to finally be home at last. It was all so wonderfully perfect, the sun was shining but not too fiercely, the air was alive with the sound of crashing waves, and a cool gentle breeze bathed Melisandre in the glorious fresh seaside air. At last she had made it, this was home now.
Mel reflected that she had worked so very hard for this opportunity, and had endured so much turmoil and pain to get here. But this was her time now, her chance to start all over again, to leave the pain of the past behind her at last, and begin again with a blank canvas. To build a new life for herself in whatever form she fancied or fashion she cared to invent.
Melisandre’s inheritance of Wakes Peak cottage had taken her entirely by surprise, Mel barely knew her uncle Alexandru. Indeed she hadn’t seen the dear old mariner since she was a child. She remembered Uncle Alex to be a jovial enough fellow, but also rather melancholic and oddly secretive. But also wonderfully mysterious as well, and to her childhood imagination almost magical.
She remembered there being a certain depth to Alexandru, as though he was keeping the most beguiling secrets. But a kind of distance and awkwardness also, as though he had never quite found a way to fit into the world. Her most vivid and enduring memory of Uncle Alexandru, was when he would speak animatedly of his travels to distant and exotic lands. He had spent practically his entire life as a merchant mariner, and loved to talk about the innumerable countries he had visited on his adventures. Sometimes he would talk longingly of the ocean, as though his brief sojourns on dry land were an intolerable separation from his one true love.
There was a gentle kindness to Alexandru, but even as a child Melisandre always sensed a profound sadness about him as well. Mel always wondered if the poor old soul had perhaps seen more of the world and its ways, than was entirely good for him. For there are horrors and abominations in the world as well as wonders and delights, which fact Melisandre understood all too well.
Alexandru’s memorial service had been a rather melancholy affair, even for a funeral. There was no family other than Mel and her sister to wish him well on his final voyage, and Penelope hadn’t been able make it up from the city. There simply wasn’t anyone else but Melisandre and Penny left anymore, and the only other attendees were passing acquaintances and casual well wishers, rather than friends. Perhaps in the end, his only real friend was the ocean, his one and only true love. The thought was admittedly rather sad, but also wonderfully romantic.
‘Just like you Uncle Alex.’
Mel held her hat down to prevent it flapping away in the breeze, and took in her surroundings. Alexandru’s little old bluestone cottage sat at the top of Wakes Peak, a high promontory overlooking the seaside city of Whalers Rest. On the city side of the narrow Hartford peninsula were the gentle, reef harbored swimming beaches that attracted the annual tourism trade, and the commercial area of Whalers Rest. But on this side was the vast open ocean, crashing relentlessly at the ever eroding cliffs.
There were beaches here too, hidden along the ancient, time worn and ocean battered coast. But they generally proved too difficult to attain, and too far removed from the amenities of Whalers Rest to attract casual visitors. These ocean beaches were usually only frequented by locals, seeking respite from the perennial crowds of tourists. Had Melisandre thought to imagine a fantasy escape where she might begin her life again, she felt sure that she could conjure no more perfect a place than this.
Mel had saved enough to quit her job at the publishers, and strike out on her own as an independent editor. Work as a freelancer was coming in steadily, a fraction too steadily in fact and she was confident that she could live comfortably the way things were. Most of the work coming her way was academic, and Melisandre had built up enough of a network of contacts in academia to feel secure about her future.
There would be a steady stream of work from the universities and professional journals, sufficient to keep her working indefinitely. In fact her real concern was that the workload would become too much, and that she’d have to reach out for help. But too much work coming in was something of a quality problem. Mel felt safe, she felt strong and finally in control of her own destiny, no longer at the mercy of misfortune. And this place, moving here to Wakes Peak cottage helped her sense of freedom immensely, this was her opportunity to finally make a place for herself in the world.
Mel’s final breakup with her partner Lee, almost a year to the day since the last miscarriage had been unspeakably painful. Losing the baby had been the final death knell for their already turbulent relationship. The excruciating loss had torn them apart as individuals, and although neither of them could see at the time, it was tearing them apart as a couple as well.
The IVF process had been long and difficult, firstly there was the humiliation of the mandatory counselling sessions, which as a same sex couple they were obliged to attend. As if two women were somehow constitutionally incapable of raising a child together without the participation of a man. There were the endless appointments and innumerable tests, and there had been a multitude of failed attempts. All of which had ended in heartbreak, before Lee had finally fallen pregnant successfully, and carried a child beyond the first trimester. Miscarriage early on was hard enough, but getting so close to full term only to know heartache and loss yet again, had been too much for either of them to endure.
It had been such a joyous and hopeful time for them in the beginning, the world had seemed so full of opportunity and promise. Such wonderful plans they had for their little family, and such gorgeous dreams they had conjured for themselves. And they had come so very close to realizing that dream, but in the end they had found only heartache and loss.
Mel remembered the terrible day like it was yesterday. Lee had called her at work in tears, inconsolable with anguish, Mel recalled rushing to the ultrasound clinic to find out what was wrong. There was no heartbeat, that’s what was wrong. She was a girl, their little girl, their baby. And her precious heart had simply stopped.
The news had drained the life from Melisandre in an instant, but somehow she had found the strength to keep moving forwards. She had taken Lee straight to their doctor from the ultrasound clinic to find out what do next. Both of them so filled to the brim with agony that their entire reality, became an ocean of suffering and grief.
The doctor couldn’t provide any answers why, there were no answers why. Sometimes they simply don’t make it, there was nothing to be done, and the dream was over. Neither of them had the strength left to go through the whole process again, and the journey so far had left them broke. It had been their last chance, and the miracle simply hadn’t happened.
The doctor had prescribed some drug or other to induce labor, but for whatever reason it didn’t work. Lee endured as best she could, but two days later she simply couldn’t take it anymore. Mel had driven them to the hospital at ten o’clock in the evening to see someone, about the moribund fetus that lingered stubbornly in Lee’s womb.
Mel could remember the doctor as clear as a bell. She had been wonderful, so kind and so gentle, Mel would never forget her compassion for as long as she lived. The next day they were back at the hospital for the procedure. D and E. Dilation and evacuation. A horrible, brutal term. Anything would be better than those dreadful words. And then it was over and they went home.
The months that followed had been horrible, Lee was simply inconsolable with despair. She had fallen into a pit of depression and of anger and grief, and she was fast drowning in her fathomless sorrow. And there wasn’t a thing Mel could do to help her, she was just too far beyond her reach.
But the drinking, it was the drinking that had made it catastrophic. Lee was brave and strong, she wasn’t at fault for seeking oblivion. But she had fallen hard and she simply couldn’t get back up again, she couldn’t bear to be sober with her grief. And in the end it had destroyed them, loss and alcohol had simply ruined them. Torn the hearts right out of them as individuals, and torn the heart out of their relationship too.
Mel had occasionally edited horror novels when she worked for the publishing house, she didn’t understand why people read them. Wasn’t life horrifying enough on its own?
But that was all in the past now, Melisandre’s future lay ahead of her. She was young, strong and ready for the future, and the adventure started here and now at Wakes Peak cottage.
Mel brought in the boxes of necessities she had packed with her in car, and went to work setting up the kitchen. Coffee was the priority at the moment, and she soon had the kettle singing. And before long, she heard the beeping of the reversing removal truck, and the sound of truck tires crunching on the gravel of her driveway.
The movers worked quickly and efficiently. And with Mel directed the incoming furniture and boxes, everything was in its place and they were on their way again in less than an hour. Mel had decided to keep most of the precious few items of furniture, which Alexandru had left behind him. A sturdy old kitchen table with six matching chairs, a beautiful old sideboard and a threadbare but gorgeous armchair, which she intended to have reupholstered. Several beautiful old mahogany wardrobes and some matching dressers, but precious little by way of personal effects.
Old Alexandru’s life must have been Spartan indeed. The clothes he stood up in, the chair in which he took his ease and the bed in which he slept were all that remained to offer any reflection of his personality. That and Wakes Peak cottage itself.
The only pieces of furniture that Mel had discarded were Alexandru’s bed, and the old bed in the spare room. These she had replaced with the biggest and most luxurious bed she could justify spending money on for herself, and another slightly smaller guest bed. This, as far as Mel was concerned was the most important piece of furniture in the house, and the center of her life.
Mel had fallen into the practice of rising early and sitting up in bed for an hour or so before work, writing whatever came to her mind. She found the practice very meditative and grounding, and before long she found herself dwelling longer and longer at a stretch.
All kinds of ghosts and personal demons were coming to light in her early morning fiction, as she reflected her personal experiences upon her characters. The loss of her parents, her childhood as an army brat, her experiences with psychological illness and the difficulties of growing up queer.
She ran her protagonists through the same wringer that she had been through, and in lovingly crafting her characters, she was coming to understand and love herself. She had to now, for with the death of her parent’s years before, the passing of Alexandru and the dissolution of her marriage, it was just her and her sister in town.
Eventually the practice writing fiction had become Melisandre’s passion, to the point where she had produced a modest collection of novels and short stories. To the critical eye of an editor, they were actually pretty damn good, still rough but worth taking seriously. Mel fully intended to submit several for publication when they were complete, but that was still some time off yet. For now Melisandre’s mind was occupied by the more immediate concerns of setting herself up in her new home.
The local lawyer, Blaire Perry had been tremendously helpful in helping her settle Alexandru’s affairs. There were various legalities associated with the transfer of the property and the execution of his will, and Blaire had been genuinely compassionate to the old fellow’s memory.
It hadn’t really struck Mel until after her last meeting with Blaire, that the lawyer had been a little more curious and compassionate than she would have expected. Maybe she was just being friendly, but Mel got the distinct impression that there was more to it than that. Blair seemed rather fascinated with her, and a good deal more attentive than professional diligence required.
And there was a spark there for sure, an easy rapport and a distinct sense of familiarity. And Blaire was cute, thirty something, smart and infectiously animated and cheerful. Her tanned face was bright and obviously much accustomed to laughter, and her athletic in build and broad shoulders suggesting a love of swimming.
And she was generously proportioned in a way that some might describe as maybe a little overweight. But which suggested to Mel, that here was a woman who loved life and who wasn’t always prepared to sacrifice enjoyment, in favor of a thin waist and flat belly. And that kind of attitude to life was just fine with Mel, and Blaire’s voluptuous figure all the finer.
Perhaps Mel’s fresh start in Whaler’s Rest held more in store for her than she imagined. But even if Blaire was gay, even if she was interested, Melisandre wasn’t ready to go there quite yet. She needed a little time to find her bearings and get settled in. And she wanted to take the time to get to know the people of Whaler’s Rest, before getting involved with anyone.
Blaire had gone over the will with her pretty thoroughly, and Mel ultimately found herself the recipient of a surprisingly large sum of money. It wasn’t a fortune by any means, but it was enough to give her a little breathing space for a while, should she strike any problems while establishing her new life.
And In addition to the cottage and the money, there was also a rather cryptic letter from Alexandru. The content was rambling and oddly mysterious, old Alexandru wrote rather vividly of the fathomless mysteries of the sea. Speaking obliquely of the secret hazards of the ocean, suggesting rather vaguely that there were influences beyond the ebb and flow of the tides.
The old mariners mind was apparently haunted by kraken and mermaids, and all manner of preternatural creatures and entities. And haunted also by mysterious and unspeakably ancient secrets, which abided entirely hidden from the ken of mortal minds. Mel couldn’t decide whether it was the onset of dementia, or simply the romantic meanderings of a lonely and landlocked old mariner. Ultimately she chose to believe that it was sentimentality rather than intellectual decay, inclined as she was to think fondly of her Uncle.
Putting such speculations aside, Melisandre spent the rest of the day unpacking her belongings and getting accustomed to the old cottage. She had hired some local cleaners and a handyman cum gardener to give the place a thorough going over, and they appeared to have done a fantastic job. Everything was in good order and spotlessly clean, the lights were on and she had hot running water.
Mel unpacked all of her clothing first, and set up her kitchen before finally establishing her work space. There was a spare room with plenty of light and a wonderful view of the ocean, which would serve admirably as her office. And sharing her workspace with the spare bed, offered the happy prospect of afternoon naps.
She had arranged for the telecommunications company to come out and bring the place into the modern age. And everything seemed to be in perfect order, she was connected to the world. And Melisandre could see where the electrician she had hire to bring the place up to code, had replaced wiring and various outlets and switches here and there. The work hadn’t been cheap, but Mel had no intention of living in the penury of her apparently skinflint hermit uncle.
Melisandre moved a few items of furniture from one place to another, sometimes moving them back again, but was ultimately satisfied that everything was in its place. There were of course a number of boxes containing the sundries and miscellanea of life, and far too many books. But she had directed those to the garage, which aside from a useful selection of tools, was solely occupied by Alexandru’s bicycle. Apparently his sole method of transport. There her boxed up memories could stay, until she could deal with them at her leisure. There were far too many ghosts contained in those crates to deal with just yet.
The afternoon was drawing on but evening was still some time away, the bulk of the work was done and everything had gone wonderfully smoothly. In fact Mel felt at something of a loose end, she had expected problems but there simply hadn’t been any. Everything was perfect.
Eventually Melisandre decided to visit one of the secluded little beaches, at the bottom of the cliffs. So changing into her bathing suit and grabbing a towel, Mel set off on the short trek to the ocean.
And before long Melisandre was walking a narrow path through the dense brush, and tall grass through which the path to the beach below was cut. Mel couldn’t imagine that the path was created by human foot traffic, it was too far removed from any roads or parking spots to attract visitors. Mel speculated that it was probably created naturally by rain and erosion, and by the creatures which made their home amongst the undergrowth. It was a pleasant walk to the beach, although she did find herself scrambling to maintain her balance once or twice, when the descent became steep. And after perhaps ten minutes of walking, Mel emerged onto a gorgeous little secluded beach.
This isolated little stretch of coastline was created by a natural shelf, bordered on each side by insurmountable cliffs. Soft warm sand stretched from the cliffs and disappeared into the ocean, blanketing most of the area save for rocks that had broken free of the cliffs. There were several natural sandy rock pools here and there, all remarkably clear and free of seaweed and kelp. The inviting little tidal pools appeared to be home only to little silver fish which darted about in small schools, temporarily imprisoned by the receding ocean.
Mel checked her watch and realized that she would have only an hour or two, before the tiny creatures were released once again by the rising tide. She was not aware of the presence of the girl for some time, not until she spoke.
Mel started in fright and searched about in confusion, until she located the source of the voice. She held her hand to her racing heart and laughingly replied.
“Oh my god….”
“….you startled me.”
The girl emerged from her resting place and swum towards Mel with remarkable agility and grace. Her extraordinarily long raven hair streaming along behind her. Fanning out like sea grass as she came to a stop, and treaded water at the edge of the pool.
“Would you like to join me Melisandre?”
“How do you know my name…?”
“Alexandru.” The girl replied simply with a most beguiling and enchanting smile adorning her gorgeous Mediterranean features.
The reply put Mel a little more at her ease after her initial fright, she had not expected to find anyone else on the hidden beach, let alone someone who knew her name. It was more than a little unsettling at first but she soon regained her balance.
“You knew my uncle?”
“He was our friend….” The astonishingly beautiful girl replied.
“….he’d come and talk to us sometimes.”
Eventually Mel realized that the girl was completely nude. Her lithe and powerful body evidently much accustomed to swimming, as evidenced by her muscular thighs and broad powerful shoulders.
“Us…?” Mel asked searching the beach for others.
“My sisters, Seraphina and Ariana and I….”
“….my names Chloe” the girl added.
The girl possessed an easy and captivating charm and allure, an inviting warmth that Melisandre found profoundly engaging. In particular there was a queer lyricism to her voice, a kind of musicality that Mel found wonderfully engaging and energizing. The feeling was quite overwhelming and Mel found herself entirely disarmed by the stranger’s haunting charisma.
“Are your sisters here too…?”
“No, there both at home.”
Chloe was impossibly gorgeous, and Mel found herself obliged to prevent herself from staring, and to disguise the flush of fascination that came unbidden to her cheeks. The girl chuckled at Mel’s obvious self consciousness, and sought to put her at her ease.
“It’s just you and me and the little fish….”
“….why don’t you join me?” the girl continued as she swum about in the pool.
“The water’s glorious” she cooed “warmed by the sun all afternoon.”
Feeling a little awkward at the girl’s nudity, Mel averted her eyes under pretext of searching the area.
“….I’ll leave my things with yours, where are they?” Mel asked.
“Don’t have anything….” the girl chuckled.
“….just me in my skin.”
Mel found Chloe’s joyous abandon remarkably infectious, and she soon found herself smiling brightly in response to her obvious pleasure.
“What are you waiting for….?”
“….come in and join me.”
And Melisandre found her initial fright entirely banished by the sweet lyrical sound of Chloe’s voice, and her self consciousness likewise melted quite away. And divesting herself of sandals sunglasses and hat, she lowered her body into the gorgeous water. Sighing deeply with bliss as her body grew accustomed to the initial chill of the trapped ocean water. And Chloe laughed in her delightful and entirely bewitching way in response to Mel’s obvious pleasure.
The two swum around one another, Chloe occasionally playfully flicking water at Mel.
“I told you the water was divine, didn’t I?”
“Yes” Mel laughed.
“I saw you moving in today. Are you going to stay at Alexandru’s house now?”
“I can come and visit sometime if you want….”
“….would you like me to come and visit Melisandre?”
And Mel found herself laughing once again, this time at her apparent inability to communicate in anything other than monosyllables. Discovering that the queer girl’s easy charm and profound beauty were proving rather stultifying, but also profoundly engaging.
“You laugh a lot Melisandre, I like you.”
“Mel….just call me Mel….”
“…and it’s you Chloe, you make me feel like laughing….”
“….you’re so alive….so….”
“….I feel like I’m falling in….”
The overly affectionate confession had almost escaped Mel’s lips before she reined in her emotions. She sought to disguise the lapse in social propriety by adding.
“….and the water’s glorious.”
“You’re funny.” Chloe chuckled as she regarded Mel and played in the water, a bright smile adorning her lips, and dancing in the darkness of her eyes.
Mel was quite astonished at her reaction to the girl. She found herself feeling strangely weightless, with a sense of contentment and of freedom and optimism. Moving to Wakes Peak cottage and leaving the pain of the past behind her, had a lot to do with it of course. But there was something curious and beguiling about Chloe, meeting her seemed to set Mel’s heart free. Unburdening her soul of grief and sorrow, and banishing her fear and trepidation.
There was a remarkably contagious sense of freedom and abandon about the girl, a spirit of adventurous joy. And she was just so heart achingly beautiful. The simple and natural beauty of her naked body, the long and lustrous black hair that trailed behind her as she moved through the water. She was captivating after a fashion that Mel could only think to describe as magical.
But Melisandre began to register that there was a curious dimension to Chloe’s beauty as well, some aspect of her features which were somehow alien or inhuman. Melisandre was acutely aware of the queerness of her assessment of the girl’s features, but the impression persisted nonetheless. There was something about the ever so slight sloping recession of her forehead and chin, the prominence of her eyes and the preternatural largeness of her pupils that was just so odd.
“I like it here….” Mel sighed joyously.
“I like it here too….with you….” Chloe replied softly with a hint of seduction in her tone.
And as the two dwelt together, Mel discovered that arousal was rapidly rising in her heart, setting her pulse racing, and her body tingling with avid desire. She looked into the girls almost preternaturally large dark eyes, occasionally flicking water back at her as both smiled and laughed happily.
It was Chloe’s lips, they were the hook that snagged Melisandre. So full and smiling with suggestion and Mel found herself hoping invitation as well. Those gorgeous lips seemed to whisper of secrets and mysteries although Chloe said little. How she ached to swim to the girl, to hold her gorgeous body close to her own. To gaze deeply into those wonderfully eerie dark eyes, and kiss those gorgeous smiling lips.
The sudden intensity of her attraction took Melisandre quite by surprise, and she had to fight the insistent urge to immediately attempt to seduce this girl into her bed. To take her home and explore every mystery of her glorious body, to learn her secrets and uncover her deepest mysteries.
To reach out and take her, right here and now.
‘Yeah right….’ Melisandre thought.
‘….this complete stranger who you met like five minutes ago’
Melisandre and Chloe spent some time idly playing and talking, as they lingered together in their secluded tidal pool paradise. Chloe was full of curiosity and Mel found herself speaking quite openly and freely in response to the queer girl’s questions.
She seemed unconcerned, or perhaps more properly unfamiliar with the usual affairs. Mel’s occupation as an editor and her transition into freelance work seemed somehow beyond the strange girl. Likewise the mundane affairs of Whalers Rest, and the other inhabitants of the Hartford peninsula. Not that she was uncomprehending or unintelligent in any way, far from it in fact. She seemed singularly agile of intellect, and unusually emotionally insightful. It seemed more the case that more mundane subjects were simply beyond the girl’s experience, almost as if she lived in a completely different world.
She seemed far more concerned with Mel’s feelings, and with her emotional experience of the world than anything else. And it charmed and delighted Melisandre that Chloe seemed so spellbound with who she was deep down, rather than with the superficial things with which people usually concern themselves.
And Chloe was so remarkably empathetic, astonishingly attuned to Melisandre’s feelings. As though she knew her thoughts and the turmoil in her heart, like she could see straight through her to her very soul.
And Chloe’s presence was extraordinarily calming, and also curiously warm and inviting. And Mel found herself opening up on subjects she would not ordinarily even countenance sharing with a complete stranger. But there was something so oddly reassuring and familiar about the girl, Mel had the queerest sensation of safety and comfort. In fact the weight of the world seemed to fall from Mel’s mind, the more she talked with Chloe. She felt strangely protected, as though no calamity could possibly visit her while she was with her. Chloe had a profound magic and charisma about her, an almost supernatural quality that suggested she was too amazing to be real.
The girl was a contradiction of charming simplicity and sweet natured humor, juxtaposed against a tremendously profound depth of soul and intellect. And her voice, the way she talked, the queer impression of poetic musicality to her voice, seemed only to grow in intensity. The song of her voice was just so intensely beguiling and so captivating and mesmerizing. The crashing of the waves as they rolled inexorably nearer with the encroaching tide, seemed somehow muted when she spoke.
Even the wind blowing in from the south seemed to fall to a gentle hush, as though quieted by the lyrical sensuality of Chloe’s song. And Melisandre found herself overwhelmed with the insistent urge, to swim into Chloe’s arms. To lose herself in her embrace, and to surrender entirely to the fathomless depths of that sweet romantic music.
But their time together passed all too quickly, and soon the little tidal pool began to rise as the ocean crept inexorably towards the shore.
“We should go, the tide will be in soon.”
“Mm….” Chloe replied. “….would you like to swim with me again sometime Melisandre?”
“Yes.” Mel replied, her heart jumping at the prospect.
“When? Tomorrow afternoon, like today?”
Melisandre shook her head and found herself smiling broadly as she took Chloe’s hand in hers.
“Not soon enough….”
“….tomorrow morning? Maybe we could have lunch after.”
Melisandre’s impetuosity and bluntness took her quite by surprise, she was never this bold. But Chloe was just so engaging, and Mel wanted to see her again with such fervor that caution, and her natural shyness had quite departed from her mind. Feeling nothing but the most profound desire to immerse herself entirely in Chloe’s magic, to surrender herself to the strange and wondrous girl.
“Okay” Chloe laughed “I’ll be here tomorrow morning.”
“Okay.” Melisandre replied dreamily.
“But wait, before you go….”
Chloe seemed to search the pool for a moment or two before diving underwater, and digging around in the sand for what seemed like several minutes, eventually she surfaced again, apparently not the least bit short of breath and clutching some object.
“Close your eyes and give me your hand.” Chloe insisted.
“Why….what are you going to do…?” Mel giggled.
“Nothing bad, just do it” Chloe smiled.
Mel obeyed and closed her eyes extending her right hand. Whatever this game was, it was delighting her sense of playfulness and adventure. She felt Chloe take her hand in hers and slip something onto her middle finger.
“You can look now”
Mel inspected her hand to discover the most beautiful and curiously designed ring she had ever seen. It was thin and delicately wrought of bright lustrous gold with a faint blue tint.
“Oh my god…! Chloe It’s gorgeous….but….”
“….are you seriously telling me that you just dug that up out of the sand?”
“No it’s not” Chloe laughed “There’s treasure all over the place here. But you can’t tell anyone, or it won’t be a secret anymore….”
“….do you promise Mel?”
“….oh, of course. I promise I won’t tell anyone….”
“….oh Chloe, thank you. I love it.”
“Welcome home Melisandre….” Chloe smiled.
“….but you should really go now. The high tide coming in.”
The ocean was becoming thunderous as waves began to reach ever nearer the shore, making Mel feel a little uneasy. She pulled herself up out of the tidal pool and grabbed her towel and wrapped it around her. Chloe however remained where she was, treading water while Melisandre collected her things.
“Do you want to walk back up with me?” Melisandre enquired hopefully.
“No.” Chloe replied “I go a different way.”
A little puzzled, Melisandre searched the isolated cove. She couldn’t imagine what this other way was, it looked like sheer cliff all around.
“Okay…well, I better get going. Thanks for my gift” Mel smiled brightly “I love it.”
“You’re welcome….” Chloe answered, still remained in the pool showing no apparent intention of getting out.
“…see you tomorrow?”
Mel lingered awkwardly for a moment longer before finally departing, making her way back up the beach. And as she ascended the narrow path back to Wakes Peak, it occurred to Mel that Chloe must have been waiting for her to leave before she got out of the rising tidal pool. Maybe the water provided for Chloe, the modesty Mel’s bathing suit afforded her. It wouldn’t be the oddest thing about the girl.
She felt a dunce for not catching on sooner, for lingering a moment too long before leaving. But Mel’s self conscious criticisms were once again overwhelmed by Chloe’s infectious playfulness and beguiling beauty. And half way up the path where a break in the trees that afforded Melisandre a view of the cove below, she turned to see if Chloe was still there in the tidal pool, or if she was ascending the path in her wake. But it had all vanished now, the secluded little beach, the pools with their little silver fish, everything. All consumed by the high tide.
Whatever ‘other way’ Chloe had intended on taking, Mel guessed she must have taken it, because she was gone now too.
This is an excerpt from a work in progress titled
Thank you for reading