A Quiet Night In

This is a series of short stories, detailing the adventures of Chelsea Childling. You can start with her origin story or pick any story from the index.

***

Chelsea nibbled on her pencil before placing the curve on her design. She didn’t know what the picture was, but she had drawn many versions of it lately.

She had covered an entire page, again. Broad at the top, it narrowed, but then flared out again at the bottom. Inside the shape was an odd, monochromatic composition. Abstract, irregular shapes with soft, flowing curves and hard, spiky edges.

Except for the outline, the design was never the same twice, and yet she still didn’t feel like she had gotten it right, either.

The slamming of the front door broke her concentration. And the person who slammed it brought a smile to her face.

Amber stalked across the floor. Her bad mood had been continuous the last few days. Chelsea thought it was due to the dragging oni hunt.

She hoped she was right.

Burying her uncertainty, Chelsea followed Amber into the small kitchen area. “What did Scott say?”

Amber rolled her eyes, disgust making her raspy voice outright rough. “Another day of scouting, just in case.”

Chelsea shrugged. “Scott’s cautious.”

“How would you know?” Amber snapped as she threw open the fridge door.

“Because you’ve been bitching about it for a week.” Chelsea didn’t bother to fight down her giggle at Amber’s glare. “Stop it. Come here.” She tugged on Amber’s shirt until the other monster hunter gave in and grudgingly slumped the few steps over to her. “Oh no, the horror. We have to stay home.” Chelsea rose up on her toes and placed light kisses up Amber’s neck and then along her tight jaw bone.

Amber laughed, slung a thick arm around Chelsea’s waist, nuzzled her neck. “So what have you been working on?”

“That design.” Chelsea sighed. “I don’t see what it could be though.”

Amber let her go and started pulling food out of the cupboards. “Maybe you should try working on something else, you know? Clear your head.”


Chelsea shrugged. “There’s nothing else that I really want to work on.”


Amber glanced over her shoulder, eyebrows lifted. “What about that painting?”

Chelsea rmanaged not to glance toward her easel. “Nah, I haven’t felt the urge.”

Skepticism laced her voice, giving her single word reply a hard edge. “Really?”

“Really.” Chelsea forced as much conviction into her answer as she could.

The painting in question was of Jackson Hawk. A mutual friend and lover to both her and Amber, though that description fit most women Jackson came into contact with, he’d taken off months ago.

After I refused to be honest about my feelings or his.

Chelsea waited until Amber turned back to the fridge to swallow her thick throat. Her feelings about Jackson were a riot of confusion and doubt. Despite her common sense, she’d fallen in love with him, and he had, against all expectation, returned the feelings. Not that she’d believed him.

Her uncertainty had plagued her for months after Jackson left. It might have gotten a good man killed. 

If I had just stayed with Alex that night.

Chelsea blinked back tears. Alex was a hopeless knot of guilt for a whole host of reasons, and none of them could ever be addressed.

Amber’s voice cracked and echoed in the warehouse apartment. “You’re doing that guilt thing again, aren’t you?”

Chelsea squirmed, but didn’t answer.

Not that Amber waited for her. “You didn’t get your parents, Dink, or Alex killed. So stop beating yourself up. Accidents happen and life sucks.” She slammed a jar of chili paste onto the counter before stalking over to Chelsea. “Should you call your therapist?”

Chelsea found a laugh and hugged Amber. “I no longer have insurance. Therapy would be too expensive.”

Amber laughed. “Like you don’t have the cash to cover it.”

“I don’t if we want to keep a roof over our heads.” An only child, she’d inherited everything after her parents’ murder. And it was a pretty decent everything. The cottage had sold quickly enough, but the house would take longer. Regardless, it all went into her trust fund, and Chelsea was trying not to spend a cent more than she had to.

“What about your medication?” Amber’s dark eyes turned hard as she gripped Chelsea’s elbows.

Chelsea smiled though. “When was the last time you saw me take it? I don’t need it every day. My current supply will last forever.” The truth, if not the whole truth. She hadn’t taken any anti-anxiety meds in a while, but she didn’t have too many left. And had no way of getting more.

Dr. Kinney won’t prescribe since I’m not a patient.

Telling Amber that didn’t feel like a great idea. So instead, Chelsea draped her arms around Amber’s neck with a smile. “What’s for dinner?”

“Fish amok.” Amber’s voice sparkled with mischief. “You told me that you could handle spicy food, and I’m going to test that.”

Chelsea pressed into Amber, enjoying the warmth and softness. Amber stood taller and broader than Chelsea, and she was round. Large breasts, soft tummy, and fleshy limbs, Chelsea adored the feel of the woman. Especially since she knew under all the soft was a core of muscle and grit that would not quit.

Amber held on tight for a moment and then headed back to her ingredients. “Okay, go back to your pencils. I have a dinner to make.”

Chelsea retrieved her sketch pad, grabbed some pens, and settled in at the kitchen. Slowly, she started to ink in the abstract design.

The warehouse apartment faded away. For Chelsea the only thing that existed was the drawing in front of her. Her whole word focused on the pen’s graceful arc across the page. It took her a moment to even hear Amber.

“Uh?” Chelsea looked up and nearly fell off her chair. The shape, the outline of the design stood in front of her…

Amber’s back. The broad shoulders that tempered in at her waist and the flared out over wide hips. And the design, soft curves and jagged edges…

“Earth to Chelsea.” Amber’s raspy voice cut through her musings. “I asked if you were ever going to finish Jackson’s painting.”

Chelsea shook her head. The last thing she wanted to think about was Jackson “Have we met?” Hawk. “No clue, but I figured out that design.”

“Oh?”

Chelsea slipped off her stool and over to her girlfriend. She ran a hand up Amber’s spine. “Oh yes, and I might have to invest in some special paint.”

This is the best thing to ever happen to me.

Amber shivered and arched her back under Chelsea’s fingers.

She is the best thing to ever happen to me.

***

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