Publication date: May 23rd 2017
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction
A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.
Alainn resisted the urge to walk to the windows, though from here she could see the familiar towers jutting into the air. The bay lounged behind it all, white sails playing across its waters.
The sun was perched fully in the sky now, though somehow it felt more distant than at sunrise. The tapping of feet yanked her attention away. A man entered the room, though he did not enter exactly. He halted in the doorway—a doorway devoid of that white light. He remained mostly in shadow.
Alainn squinted at him, trying to see past the shadows, but she couldn’t. He stayed where he was, quiet. She felt his gaze on her.
Her body begged to fidget, but she forced it not to. What would Rose do in this situation?
Rose would probably go back to her computations. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work here either.
“You are very humanlike.” His voice was immediately recognizable as the same one Alainn had spoken to the day before.
Because the man she assumed must be Mr. Garbhan seemed like he might be waiting for a response, Alainn asked, “Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“Yes.” His voice came out low. Still, he didn’t move forward.
This was getting awkward.
Well, it started out awkward and it was already becoming more so.
Alainn had no idea if she was supposed to say or do anything, so she just continued to sit and look at his shadowy figure.
Eventually, Alainn couldn’t do it anymore and she turned her head back to the windows. Mist slipped by, streaming around the tower.
Alainn glanced back to the man. “May I stand?” she asked. Her legs were tingling with the need to move.
“Do whatever you’d like,” he said.
Alainn’s eyebrows rose; she couldn’t help it.
His words sounded almost courteous, which was the last thing that she’d thought would happen.
To hide her surprise, Alainn stood and crossed over to the window.
The thin white blanket of sea air continued to pass over the window, obscuring the view of the bay.
“Do you . . . can you appreciate a view like this?” he asked from behind.
Alainn hesitated. “I do appreciate it. It’s pleasing.”
The man did not respond or come any closer.
Somehow, with her back to him and the view to her front, Alainn had the confidence to ask, “What functions do you want me to do here? I can cook, clean, help with business—”
“No,” he said.
She looked back to his shadow, trying to hide the alarm from her expression. She needed to see if there was anything in him she could read.
“No. I don’t want you to do any of that,” he reiterated.
“What is it that you do want me to do?” Saliva filled her mouth as she waited for his response.
“You will have dinner with me.”
“Dinner?” Alainn wasn’t able to hide all the surprise from her voice. Rose couldn’t eat food. This was a detail that Rose and Alainn hadn’t addressed in her mad rush to push Alainn into this. Rose didn’t eat or go to the bathroom. She recharged her biological system on a wireless charging station built into her bed.
How was Alainn supposed to explain when he heard the toilet flushing?
For the first time, Alainn heard the tone of the cold, unyielding man she’d spoken to yesterday. “You will come to the dining room every day at six exactly. If I am not in there, you will wait for me until I am. If I do not come, you will leave the dining room at seven.”
“You will not call me sir. You will call me Lorccan, or Lor.”
“And you will never come out of your room at night. Ever.” This he almost yelled.
“Yes, Lorccan,” she repeated.
His breathing came hard from the shadows, inflating the room with an electric tension. When the room had entirely filled with it, he said, “That is all. I cannot spend any more time with you today. The first dinner will be tomorrow.” He stepped entirely out of view, moving his imposing presence away with him.
Taking a steadying breath, Alainn called after him, “What should I do with the rest of my time?”
“I don’t care. Just stay off the floors above this one before dinner time.” His footsteps echoed as his figure retreated, then quieted to nothing.
Rita Stradling is the author of The Deception Dance series, the Dakota Kekoa series and The Fourteen Day Soul Detox Novella Serial. She has a BA in Art History and a particular love for modern and medieval art.
Rita lives with her husband and son in Northern California.
She has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: romance, paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.
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