Unnatural Lover #6

Book Cover: Unnatural Lover #6

Tony arrives back and finds Amanda chipper on the surface, but buried beneath both of their smiling faces are secrets which threaten to harm their relationship. Accusations are made and truths revealed as these two people, bound by their shared knowledge of the creature, decide what road to take and whether their paths shouldn’t part.

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“So have you decided who’s going to be staying with you while I’m up battling the dragon on the mountain?” Tony asked Amanda after they’d got through cleaning the dinner dishes. Amanda paused while putting away the last dish, and there was a frown on her lips.
“I haven’t really had time to decide. Maybe I don’t even need anybody to stay with me if I stay at your apartment.”
“Unless you plan on going out a lot on your last day away from work, I’d feel better if you had someone to entertain you, here or at your apartment,” Tony insisted. “You know, someone to acclimate you back into the real world.” She tilted her head and looked at him with her hands crossed over her chest.
“And you’re not one of those people?”
“Hey, maybe I’m not real, either.” He raised his hands over his head and wiggled his fingers. Then he puckered his lips and made a soft oohing sound as though he was a ghost. “I

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m the spirit of your boyfriend come to haunt you.” Amanda flung the drying towel across his face.
“You sound like something from a cartoon, and those never scared me,” she countered, but there was a smile on her lips. He tore off the cloth and was glad to see that pretty mouth turned up in amusement.
“Well, even if I don’t make a good ghost I still make a great boyfriend, and because of that I’m begging you to find someone to stay with you while I’m gone. It could be anyone, just pick them and make sure I have their cell phone number, too, in case I call while I’m out hunting for monsters.”
“Skip the hunting and just do some poking around like a good, safe sleuth,” she scolded, though he noticed there was a devilish glint in her eyes. “And as for inviting anyone, would you still be such a good boyfriend if I asked a guy to come over here?” Tony frowned and the towel in his hands got the worst of his displeasure when he twisted it in his hands.
“I’d prefer you not do that,” he warned, but Amanda didn’t take his tone seriously. He wasn’t the jealous type, and indeed she laughed when he flung the towel over his arm and held it out in front of him like a dastardly cape. He leaned down and his eyes barely peeked over the edge of his arm. “I might have to kidnap you and hold you my prisoner until you learn your lesson.”
“And by the time that happens I’ll be an old woman and you’ll be wanting somebody young and pretty,” she pointed out, but her laugh rang out through the apartment. Tony couldn’t verbally express how grateful he was to hear that sweet sound again. It’d been gone too long, even before this whole cabin incident, back when she’d heard about her inability to have children.
“Well, maybe I’ll just stick you in the home and order you to cook and clean for me.” He tossed the towel aside, along with his evil persona.
“I suppose that could happen, but your job’s going to have to start paying more if you want to afford me,” Amanda joked. She primped up her hair with one hand and tilted her head to the side as though she was posing for dozens of paparazzi cameras. “I’m a glamour girl, you know.”
“My pay might go up if I get a big scoop.” Amanda frowned when she recalled his attempts to use her suffering for the scoop. He backed away and held up his hands. “But not on you. I swear it’ll come from somewhere else.” She partially turned away from him and again folded her arms across her chest.
“It better, I don’t want my face plastered on all your newspapers next to sightings of UFOs and the yeti.”
“We don’t do yeti, we do Bigfoot.”
“Either way, it’s a no-go, got it?” At her order he clicked his heels together and saluted.
“Yes, ma’am. Anything for you, ma’am.”
“Are you ever going to run out of those old jokes?” She didn’t realize he had such a large supply of cliched personalities.
“To be honest, I’m running on empty.” His shoulders slumped and he glanced at the time. “Only seven o’clock and already I feel like an old man. Tomorrow’s just gonna be worse, too.”
“Are you still going to go up there tomorrow for sure?” Amanda asked him, and he nodded.
“I still think I have to do it, scoop or not scoop. I’ve still got the day after tomorrow off like I said, so I can check out what I miss tomorrow and then get back here with plenty of time to tell you what I found, if anything.”
“That’s if you come back,” she whispered. He frowned when he recognized the familiar dreary tone of the last few days.
“I am coming back, hell or, well, hell creature. I promise I’ll do everything I can to avoid being up there at night so it can’t grab me. Besides, I’ll be able to get back your food that you left up there. I noticed it all looked okay when I went in there the other day.” Amanda shuddered at the thought of those items laying in there so close to the thing coming back to her. She already had enough complications with a rock, she didn’t want to think what a box of cereal would do to her sanity.
“I think you can just leave that stuff up there. I didn’t take much with me, so it won’t make too big of a dent in my grocery bill.”
“All right, if that’s what you want.” She frowned and shot him a glare.
“What I want is for you to know go up there at all.”
“Come on, Amanda, do we really want to be fighting the day before I’m going to leave on this super-secret, dangerous mission?” She just turned her head away and hunched her shoulders up to block him from her sight. He wouldn’t be put off so easily, and moved over to wrap his arms around her own. His voice dropped to a low, soothing whisper. “Come on, Mandy, have a little faith in me. We can both make it through this with our lives and sanities intact.” Amanda held out for a moment longer, but couldn’t fight his encouraging words when he gave her a squeeze. She melted beneath his hopeful attitude, and he was glad to feel when her tense body softened. “I’ll take that as you believing in me, because I definitely believe in you.”
“I guess I’ll believe in you, but you’d better not let me down.” Her voice was lighthearted with a tinge of seriousness. She was still worried, but she’d let him go off to find the answers he so desperately wanted.
“Good.” His voice was chipper and he gave her a shake to know her out of her thoughts. “Now about where you’re staying, my place or yours?”
“To be honest I should probably stay at my place. I have to go to work the day after tomorrow, and my apartment’s a little closer to where I work than yours.”
“And you’ll definitely get somebody to stay with you while I’m gone?” Amanda winced at the thought of a babysitter. For one, she didn’t want to be coddled like she was a child, and for another, she wanted to see what that small chunk of the rock would do, if anything. That would require privacy, particularly if the effects she hoped for came true.
“Actually, I’m not really sure that’s going to be very easy. I mean, what am I supposed to tell them about coming over? That I’m suddenly afraid of the dark and don’t want to be alone?” That sounded incredibly stupid and infantile to her, and went back to her wish not to be treated like a kid that needed babysat.
“How about you ask them to comfort you about your, well, um, your other problem.”
“My other problem?” Amanda blinked and glanced over her shoulder. “What other problem?” Possibly not to Amanda’s credit, the entire episode with the doctor and her very reason for traveling up to the cabin had completely left her mind.
“Your visit to the doctor, remember?” For the first time that night Tony looked her over with genuine concern. He couldn’t see how anyone could forget something as important and life-altering as finding out you were barren. Her forgetting gave him a glimpse into how terrifying a distraction the creature had been for her these last few days.
Amanda’s hand flew to her mouth, which was agape from his recalling words. She, too, couldn’t believe she’d let that slip her mind, and for remembering she was left with the depression such memories brought her. Tony noticed her crestfallen face and her quivering shoulders beneath his hands.
“I-I’m sorry, really. I didn’t mean to bring that back up. I just didn’t realize you’d forgotten about it.”
“It’s…it’s all right.” She turned to look up into his apologetic face, and her own reflected a soft, trembling smile. Her tears simmered just below the surface. “I had to remember some time, right?”
“Yeah, I guess, but I wish I wasn’t the one to remind you…” Tony countered.
“You’re going to feel worse when I tell you that nobody’s knows my reason for taking a vacation. I had to tell my boss about it because otherwise he wouldn’t have given me the time off.”
“You’re right, that does make me feel worse.” His face fell and his hands squeezed her shoulders, as much to comfort her as for himself. “That also leaves me out of ideas for how to get someone to stay with you.”
“Why don’t I just ask them for a girl’s night out on the town and a sleepover?” Amanda suggested. His eyes narrowed and his lips pursed together.
“Does that really work, or are you just teasing me?”
“Why wouldn’t it really work?” She was insulted that he wouldn’t take her suggestion at face value.
“Well, because it sounds just too, well, girly to work. You know, like a cliche from a movie or something.” Tony struggled to explain his reasoning without displeasing his girlfriend, and from the look on her face he was failing miserably.
“Well, it might sound girly, but it’s just our way of hanging out. You know, like guys do, but without all the beer.”
“What’s the fun in that? Without beer that means you remember all the stupid stuff you did the night before. We men rely on our hangover amnesia to get us through our wild romps with the guys.”
“You are such a, well, a guy.” Tony puffed out his chest and let her go to flex his non-existent muscles.
“Yep, as manly as they come.”
“Well, use some of that manliness to get yourself out of any trouble you get yourself into tomorrow, all right?” Gone was the jesting in her voice, and back was the dire seriousness.
“You don’t think I’d not come back and let another man step in my place by your side, do you?” He wrapped one arm around her waist and hugged her to his side. She laughed when she looked up into his face and he waggled his eyebrows at her. “Nobody’s going to get between us so long as I’m around.”
Amanda held her smile on her face, but inwardly she was swallowing her heart. Only an hour before she’d broken off a bit of the strange rock to keep a part of the erotic pleasures it offered. If that wasn’t a betrayal of Tony’s undying affection, she couldn’t guess what was worse. She felt doubly dirty now, the first for enjoying the touches of the creature, and the second for actively seeking out those same sensual feelings the thing stirred inside of herself. She felt like a housewife that was cheating on the milkman to liven up her life.

COLLAPSE

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