Well, Elyse is finally enjoying a weekend in PS. She is reveling in her new-found freedom away at college, thinking about the classes she’s been taking, the dance class she’s been teaching, and perhaps a young gent she’s met. She slips into a nice hot bath… and slips into a daydream… or could it really be a memory… or perhaps a premonition?
EXCERPT FROM: “PS, BOOK 1”
CH. 10, “TOIL & TROUBLE”
Bubbles, bubbles… lots of bubbles. Ever since I’d arrived at college and started fending for myself, I’d been making various discoveries about life’s little luxuries. One of the most important thus far? Bubbles… and lots of them… are a necessity for a really great bath. Especially when paired with the most deliciously relaxing scent you can think of… like, lavender or vanilla or chamomile. I usually mixed a few scents together to create my own perfectly blended bubble bath cocktail….
This habit, of course, would not be possible if I were living in the dorms. I considered it a clear sign that I’d made the right choice to retain my mental and emotional well-being when I decided to live on my own. The fact that I could step into a hot, deep pool of clear, scented, bubble-infused water each week without interruption was heavenly. I might even be tempted to call it sublime.
Best of all, it allowed me to break away into my dream world without the prerequisite act of falling asleep… transporting me out of Rhode Island, across the Atlantic Ocean, backward through time to a dark, moody Scottish moor….
I imagined myself in a long dark cotton dress whipping in the throes of a temperamental wind, challenging me to remain standing against it. Each layer of my clothing clung to my skin, wrapping around my legs and arms. I pulled my thick gray wool cloak tighter about my shoulders and settled my tartan wrap around my head.
Sinking to my knees on the precipice of a cliff, I looked down into freezing cold water crashing against the expanse of large sea-battered rocks. If I were any closer to the edge, I might fall. If the wind wasn’t pushing against me from the water, forcing me backward onto the safety of the vast range of land behind me, I might be swept away. If I hadn’t heard the brusque paces of the horseman riding upon a nearby hillside, I might stay here forever. Indecisive.
Instead, I turned to face him. Walked toward him to meet his approach. Stood defiantly in front of him refusing to move. He didn’t ask me to. He just stared back at me frustrated, concerned, full of rage — each separate emotion speaking to me from his eyes. He extended his hand to me as though I actually had fallen off the cliff and he was attempting to pull me back up. I reached for him without hesitation and he whisked me up onto the horse in one adept move. I knew the force of his grip around my arm would leave a mark. But I didn’t care now.
I wrapped my arms tightly around him and lay my head against his back as he galloped furiously across the rolling hills, through the fields of green, over low wooden fences, along dusty roads, past little stone cottages, forcing small flocks of sheep out of our way — carrying us forward without regard to our surroundings. His only intention was to return me to my cold, dark chamber — the one in the tower where no one could reach me. Where I had no companionship, no life. Where he kept me as his possession — a possession he never acknowledged; a mere object with which he seldom interacted.
Yet I hadn’t escaped his fortress to get away from him — only to prove to him that I could go. I left knowing he would eventually notice I was gone. I left knowing he would come to find me. I left knowing I would be back in his tower before dawn. I left knowing what he expected of me. And I obliged his expectations, only daring myself to roam within the confines of the walls he built around me; around us. It wasn’t a great distance to travel — for either one of us. Yet it took me forever to get there… to the edge of the cliff; to a place where I could see what was beyond the boundary of the land I was usually only able to experience from a hundred feet up in the air.
I didn’t mind the height, or looking out at the world from a tower. I didn’t mind living closer to the clouds than everyone else on the ground below. I didn’t mind the idea that one day — maybe centuries from now — all of this could just blow away; that I might crumble into a million pieces. I found comfort in knowing exactly what would come next: Nothing. And he was very adept at providing that to me.
But it hadn’t always been this way. For me. For him. For us. There was a time when things were different. Better. In the beginning they always are.
In the beginning, when you know nothing about someone other than what you can see, or hear, or sense, there are always endless possibilities of what’s to come. There are no expectations — only the desire for the other person to fulfill your hopes. And, in the beginning, he fulfilled every hope I had. His eyes were warm and inviting. His voice, sultry and sweet. His scent, fresh and tempting. His essence, beautiful and appealing. He held my hand as though we were old friends, instead of new acquaintances. He talked with me about his life, his responsibilities, his daily activities, his dreams. He shared himself with me, and I with him — until Fate stepped in and War broke out.
After that, we lay in ruins… torn apart… with jagged edges that were untouchable because they hurt too much to grasp. No one would ever notice them from the outside, of course. Our wounds were internal — maybe even imaginary — deep, ingrained, infected. But he wouldn’t let me go. He held onto me in memory of the life we once shared together. I stayed for the very same reason. We were both prisoners — haunted by our recklessness; chained to what had begun as an inconsequential moment, but which had been turned into the catalyst for our slow descent into… h… e… double… hockey sticks….
I laughed out loud at myself. The now-lukewarm water splish-splashed around my feet in the tub. I opened one eye to peek down at my shriveled toes. I should repaint them, I thought. Maybe silver or bright pink this time. The drying time involved in that activity reminded me to look at the small clock hanging on the wall across the room. I’d been in the tub for nearly an hour. I needed to get out.