Beauty or a Beast

Beauty or a Beast

“Nell,” the barista called out before setting her latte on the bar and moving on to the next order.

Nell grasped the coffee mug with both hands, letting the warmth seep into her icy fingers. She settled into a cozy chair in the corner with a sigh. She inhaled the cinnamon scent wafting from her mug before gingerly taking a sip. She felt the hot liquid warmth spread through her body and sighed again. She pulled a book out of her bag and was ready to lose herself in the story when she saw someone sit in the chair next to her. 

She hated when that happened, but being polite, as always, she threw the man a quick smile. Something made her look back. His face had almost seemed blurry, but when she checked again she paused for a different reason. 

He was so handsome. Like, straight-out-of-a-novel stunning. From the perfectly tousled dark hair that looked effortlessly good to the lopsided grin and sparkle of mischief in his piercing hazel eyes. Nell cleared her throat and smoothed down her messy curls. 

He smiled at her in a way that said I know I look good, which she would have hated had anyone else done it. But she felt he was justified. 

“Good book?” he asked gesturing with his hand. 

“Uh, yeah, if you’re into fantasy…which I am. So I like it, so far,” Nell stopped herself before she rambled on, blushing.

He leaned forward. “Fantasy? Like magic and monsters?”

Nell just nodded, unsure if he was truly interested or mocking her.

“I’m Silas,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Nell,” she replied, taking his hand.

He didn’t drop her hand as he looked into her eyes. “Do you believe in magic and monsters, Nell?”

Before she could answer, a barista interrupted them. “Here’s your latte,” the girl said as she held out the cup, blushing. Once he took the cup from the barista, she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. As he turned back to face Nell, leaving the girl sulking, for a moment his face seemed to blur again.

Nell rubbed her eyes. I need more caffeine, she thought. She took another sip of her coffee as he tried his. 

“So,” he asked with a spark in his eyes, “are you a believer in the fantastical?”

It felt like a test. Something soared to life in her gut, making her feel that she should be honest with this stranger. “I think I just might be.”

Silas took her hand and led her out of the coffee shop into the biting cold. Looking into his deep eyes, she felt no hesitation about braving the weather with him. 

“Tell me about some of the monsters in your books,” he said. 

Their feet crunching on the ground was the only sound, everything else dulled by the powdery white snow. Nell began telling him of horrifying slimy creatures and fearsome furry beasts, of monsters with claws and fangs and wings. 

“Aren’t some of their appearances ever deceiving?” he said with a wink.

“Oh, of course. There are vampires and sirens. They lure their victims in before they…strike!” On the last word Nell turned and grabbed his arm, her fingers like claws.

A burst of loud laughter came from his mouth. For a moment a look of surprise passed over his face, like someone who hadn’t laughed in a long time, but then it was gone and replaced by an easy amusement. 

Nell paused to pull on her gloves, embarrassed by her silliness in front of this gorgeous stranger. But he pulled off his scarf and wrapped it around her neck, and she was reassured that she hadn’t frightened him off. 

“Have you ever dreamed of one of these monsters luring you away?” he whispered, his breath fogging between them.

Nell chuckled. “Not at all, but a charming roguish prince…”

Silas let the scarf fall and took a step back. Before he turned away, she thought she glimpsed a look of frustration. They continued walking on.

“To be honest, I don’t dream of a prince either.”

“Then what do you dream of?” he glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, almost shyly.

“Someone to share stories with…and adventures. Someone to be with at the end of a long day, who will leave me feeling at peace. Most importantly, someone to laugh with,” she smiled lightly. “And maybe a fierce warrior to protect me from the monsters of the world.”

Silas laughed again, this time in a comfortable way, like with an old friend. “I think I can laugh with you, Nell. And I wouldn’t mind protecting you from the monsters.” But at the last words, his face twisted into an unreadable grimace. There were secrets behind those piercing hazel eyes.

What do you think of the story so far? Do you think Nell should trust Silas? Let us know in the comments! Click here for part 2!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

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