Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.
Throughout today authors from Beaten Track Publishing will be sharing flash fiction, short stories, poems and prose, taking their inspiration from ABBA songs. The link to the rest of the stories etc. can be found at the bottom of this post.
I’m very excited to share a short story with you featuring my characters Sol and Lucien from “Locked in the Moment”. Not only are they an appropriate couple to share some Valentine fluff with you, it is also Locked in the Moment’s 3rd book birthday. Three years since my story was published as part of the Love Unlocked Anthology. How time flies.
My inspiration for this short story is taken from the ABBA song “I’ve Been Waiting for You” and I totally stole the title because I can.
I’ve Been Waiting for You
“Where the hell have you been, Hairy? I’ve been coolin’ my heels fer bloody ages waiting for ya.”
Lucien doesn’t have to answer because I know where he’s been: talking to bloody humans on our bridge. I was watching. They flock here in droves and he talks to all of them. He just walks up and starts a conversation while I stand off to one side and scowl at them until they go away. Who the hell do they think they are, standin’ on our bridge and taking up Lucien’s time? Time he could be spending with me, because, well, time’s precious, ain’t it?
We’re like chalk and cheese, me and him. Three years we’ve been together, and every day I wonder what the hell he’s doin’ with me; why the hell he stays.
“And good morning to you, my wonderfully grumpy troll. So sorry you have been made to wait.” Lucien glances at his wrist, as if he’s going to find a watch there. He doesn’t wear a sodding watch, he’s a bloody fairy. He can make time, if he wants to, with a flick of his fingers. “Oh, a full thirty minutes, you have waited.” He rolls his gorgeous eyes. “Such a hardship.”
Lucien brushes past me without even meeting my eye. Usually he greets me with a kiss. In fact, every morning since that day we found our love-lock moment, he’s greeted me with a kiss and a fluffy speech about how wonderful it is that we found each other, that we’re together and have a home in such a lovely setting, so peaceful and private and all ours.
It’d be fucking idyllic if it wasn’t for all the bloody humans, invading our space, taking up our time when I want Lucien all to myself. At least they don’t hang their bloody love-locks here. They still trip-trap over the bridge when it’s least convenient.
Today, Lucien does not greet me with a kiss, nor even a brush of his delicate fingertips. He just walks past me without so much as a glance. I think I might’ve done something wrong.
I follow in his wake, running to catch up with him because, despite being about two feet taller than him in our human forms, he walks bloody fast when he’s angry. I don’t see this side of him very often, but when I do, it’s like he’s all full of fire and sparks, and I love it. Makes me want to laugh—tiny little thing like him lit up like a firework—except, I’ve seen what he can do. He is a fairy, after all, and when he’s all fired up like this, sometimes you just have to stay out of his way.
Today, though, I’ve done or said something to upset him and I don’t like upsetting him. I want to fix it, but first, I need him to tell me what it is.
“Alrigh’, Hairy, out wiv it,” I say, a little breathlessly, when I eventually catch up with him at our front door. It’s not that far from our bridge to the little mill house where we’ve been living for the last three years, but trolls weren’t built for running.
“Out with what?” he asks, trying to sound his usual bright and cheerful self as he stands with his back to me and his hand on the door latch. His knuckles are white with tension, and I can hear the unhappiness in his tone. I don’t like this one little bit.
He’s always happy, my fairy. What’s happened to make him unhappy? And what’s more important, what can I do to make it all better?
“What’ve I done?” I ask. “Is it somethin’ I’ve said? You know you’re gonna have to tell me. I’m a thick-skinned troll. I’ll never work it out in a month o’ Sundays.”
“This time, you don’t get an explanation.” Lucien pushes on the latch and walks inside without looking back.
For a few moments I’m stunned into immobility. What the hell is goin’ on? How can I make things better if he won’t talk to me?
When I finally walk through the door, Lucien is in the kitchen preparing lunch. Well, I say preparing lunch; it looks more like he’s murdering a lettuce with a very large, sharp knife. I imagine he’s pretending the lettuce is me. He’s also muttering angrily to himself in French. I fight the urge to laugh again. He’s got such a sunny disposition. Muttering angrily doesn’t suit him at all.
“Il est impossible, ce farfadet.” He chops viciously at the lettuce to emphasise each word. “Je suis très fâché avec lui. Il a attendu trente minutes? J’ai attendu toute une vie.”
After three years of living with Lucien, I have picked up a few words of French. I don’t need to translate everything he’s said. I can guess from the context—and his dark mood and the fact he’s committing side-salad-slaughter—that he’s mad at me and thinks I’m impossible. That’s nothing new. I am impossible. What’s he on about after that, though? Attendu? What does that mean? Wait? What’s he been waiting for? When was he waiting? I was waiting an age for him to finish making out with the bloody neighbours.
The knife slams down hard on the bench, making me jump. When am I ever going to remember that he can read my thoughts as if I’ve spoken out loud?
“I was not making out with them, Sol. I was being nice. You should try it sometime.”
“Oh, yeah?” I snort. “Because that’s something I’ve been practising for the last two thousand years, bein’ nice. It’s like second nature to me.”
Lucien clicks his tongue.
“You can be nice when you want to be.”
There’s even a hint of affection in his tone, except he’s picked up the knife again and is now assassinating a couple of defenceless tomatoes.
“What would I even say to them, eh?” I ask. “You’ve tried to get me to interact with the local villagers before with mixed results. I made a kid cry just by smilin’ at them. I know I don’t smile that often, but in human form I’m not that fucking scary, am I?” I gave up after the third baby cried and I saw the horrified look on their parents’ faces. “Why the hell would they want to speak to a grumpy old troll like me?”
“They don’t know you’re a troll, Sol. They don’t even know I’m a fairy.”
“Yeah, but they like you. Everyone likes you. They speak to you for hours, while I wait off to one side, coolin’ my heels. Do you think I like watchin’ you flirt an’…”
Lucien stops chopping and turns, waving the knife under my nose.
“Firstly…” He stops when he realises he’s waving the knife close enough for the pointy end to make me go cross-eyed. He puts it down on the bench behind him with a huff and then continues, “…I do not flirt. With anyone. Except you, not that you would ever notice.”
“When did you flirt wiv me? What did I miss?” I ask. Dammit, I missed it? I like it when he gets all flirty.
“And secondly,” he continues, his lips twitching because he’s picked up my thoughts again and I can tell he’s finding it difficult to stay angry with me, “waiting thirty minutes while I forge good relationships with our neighbours is nothing compared to—.” He stops, snapping his mouth shut.
He turns away with a frustrated huff through his nose and picks up the knife to commit grievous bodily harm on some poor unsuspecting spring onions.
I frown. What did he just stop himself from saying? I could try and pick the thoughts out of his head, but I’ll bet all the fairy dust in his glittery little pockets that he’ll stop me from seeing anything he doesn’t want me to.
“You’d be right.” He huffs, without turning around.
I see his shoulders slump ever so slightly, and his tone isn’t nearly so angry as it was. In fact, I think some of those radishes he’s now decapitating might even survive.
“Oh Sol.” He sighs, dropping the knife and turning to fling himself into my arms. “I’m so sorry. I should not have been so angry with you.”
I don’t even hesitate before I wrap him up in a furry, troll hug. He’s even tinier when I’m in my troll form and he’s gone fairy, but I never make the mistake of thinking he’s fragile—not until now when I realise my fur is wet with his tears.
“Oh my god, Lucien. What the hell is wrong? Tell me, please. I hate arguin’ wiv ya, sweetheart. I know I said something to upset you, but I don’t know what.”
“It’s nothing, just me being silly, mon amour.”
He pulls away and looks up at me. We both change back to our human forms because it’s difficult to make eye contact with him with an overhanging monobrow. It gets a bit crowded in this kitchen when it’s full of troll, plus my fur gets in the food and he gets a crick in his neck looking up at me.
I reach out and caress his cheek with smooth, brown, clawless fingers. He closes his eyes and leans against my hand, linking his delicate fingers with mine before turning his head to kiss my palm.
I gasp as his lips brush my skin. He’s so…beautiful, and he’s smiling, but the tears clinging to his long eyelashes make his eyes look sad.
“It’s not nothin’ though, is it?” I ask as I wipe away two tears that are tracing lines down his face. “I want to fix this, Lu, but I don’t know how.”
“There is nothing to fix, Sol,” he assures me.
“Well, forgive me for thinkin’ otherwise,” I snap, then shake my head as his eyes widen. “Sorry, but you’re cryin’ and I made that happen, and now I have to fix it.”
For a moment, I see defiance in Lucien’s eyes, and his chin lifts, as if he’s going to refuse to tell me. He’s stubborn like that sometimes. However, his chin lowers and he looks away with a sigh.
I think again about what he was muttering before. Despite living with Lucien for three years, my French is still abysmal. He said something about waiting. Finally my brain translates it.
“He’s impossible, that troll. I am so angry with him. He waited thirty minutes? I waited an entire lifetime.”
Oh my god. I hate myself. I look down and meet his gaze. I can see by his expression he knows that I know.
“I waited for you,” he whispers so softly I can barely hear him. “For three hundred years, yet you get impatient waiting for thirty minutes.”
“I know,” I whisper back. He’s never going to forgive me, but I need to apologise anyway, or I’ll never forgive myself. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t’ve been so angry.”
“No, you should not.” He narrows his eyes before his expression brightens and he reaches up to pat my cheek.
“I’m such an arse, Lucien. How do you put up wiv’ me?”
“Because I love you, you great furry oaf.” He smiles and suddenly everything is all right. “Of course I forgive you.” He smirks, his expression playful. “You said you wouldn’t be able to work it out by yourself. I’m so proud of you.”
“Shut it!” I huff, grabbing his ribs and making him gasp and giggle.
Suddenly, we’re kissing, rolling about on the floor, giggling and breathless, fingers tangled in hair and his legs wrapped around my hips.
He turns me so I’m lying on my back. My hand is halfway inside his floral pattern shirt as he straddles my waist when everything he said finally sinks in. I know he loves me, and I love him, with all my stone heart, but he loves me with a heart that’s the size of a fucking planet and it blows me away.
“Sol?” he whispers, touching my face in concern.
“I know I’m impossible to live wiv, Lucien.” I lower my eyes, unable to meet his gaze as I lay out my faults before him. “I’m a bloody nightmare most of the time. My fur gets everywhere. I’m grumpy as hell, usually in the morning, and sometimes mornings last all day. I get stupid jealous when you’re talkin’ to other people and I know I shouldn’t even worry, because you’ve always had eyes only for me. I don’t want you to stop being the lovely, friendly, fluffy, glittery fairy that you are, because that’s the person I fell in love with, when I didn’t even know I needed anyone. I spent two thousand years on my own, Lucien, but I didn’t realise it was such a prison until you released me. I unlocked all those love-locks on my bridge that day, but you unlocked my heart. I don’t even know how you did it, it just happened. Sometimes, when I see you with other people, smilin’ and makin’ them smile, I wonder what the hell you’re doin’ with a grumpy old sod like me.”
“You know why I am with you.” Lucien reaches down to caress my cheek, running his thumb along my bottom lip and making it tingle. “We were meant to be together. I knew this, even before I had set eyes on you. I knew this every day I watched over your bridge and waited. I knew, even when everyone else told me it was making me sick, and every time I woke up in my own bed because I’d fallen asleep at my post and someone had carried me home. I would still go back the next day to watch and wait.”
Such devotion, before he even met me, and I had no idea.
“I could hibernate again,” I tell him, watching his face for any signs that this is not what he wants to hear. “Not soon, not for years, but I will sometime in the future. What will you do then?”
His expression doesn’t change. He’s still smiling, his eyes tender, his fingers caressing my jaw.
“I will wait, Sol. I will watch over you and wait.”
“But what if you get sick again?” I can’t let that happen. “Maybe I should just stop hibernating.”
“I could never ask you to do that, just like you do not wish me to stop being nice to everyone we meet. It is your nature, Sol. If you do not hibernate, you will get sick.”
“But if I do, you will.”
“I won’t, not this time.” He sounds so certain, but I need to know more.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Last time, you did not know. You woke up to find that I’d been watching over you, but while you were in hibernation, you had no idea why I was there. This time, when you wake up, you will know I’ve been waiting for you.”
He leans in to kiss me, pressing his lips to mine. I respond instantly as my brain mulls over what he’s said. He loves me, and I love him, and that’s all that matters. And then there isn’t time for thinking.
“What if I hibernate for another three hundred years?” I ask when we finally come up for air.
“Then that is how long I will wait,” he assures me, his head resting on my chest, his delicate fingers playing with the curls of thick hair he finds there. “I would wait a thousand lifetimes for you, Sol.”
His confession takes my breath away, and I wrap my arms around him, holding him tight.
“I won’t ever complain about waiting for you, not ever again. I promise,” I whisper. “I love you, Lucien.”
“And I love you, Sol.” He sighs happily. “Now, maybe we should eat that salad I just murdered before it goes all limp and soggy.”
“Ooer, Hairy. It’s nasty when your salad goes limp.”
I hope you enjoyed this. Now for the links.
To find all of the other awesome stories, poems etc from the rest of the Beaten Track Team, click here. There is a free ebook to download with everyone’s contributions in one place. Oh look, another anthology from Beaten Track Publishing. We’re just unstoppable. Find it on Smashwords. Also, if you would like to download a copy of my story to keep for later it is available from Smashwords. Click here
If you enjoyed meeting the characters in this short story, please do consider buying the original book to find out how Sol and Lucien found their “love-lock” moment. Locked in the Moment is available from Beaten Track Publishing, Amazon and Smashwords. The Love Unlocked Anthology is available here.