Let's check in with Cloe and Eldor in modern-day Greece...


Scene 12: Yes

A.D. 2015

The Greek isles so far had been even more incredible than Cloe had imagined. Each island had its own distinctive style and character, drawing from its landscape and its culture, but among all of them, otherworldly grandeur was a common feature. The skies here seemed higher and brighter, the sweeping seas deeper and wider, than anywhere else on this earth.

No pictures or descriptions of such breathtaking splendor, it seemed to her, could ever do it justice. But of course, her job this summer was to write pages and pages of descriptions of the places that she visited on her travels, and to take hundreds of photos, as if any words or images could capture such beauty, or even come close.

As ever, she just had to try and do her best, Cloe supposed. And so she did, devoting hours each day to compiling her research and composing her reviews as she and her princely island-hopping buddy traveled from Mykonos to Naxos to Ios. Her itinerary only allowed for a brief stay in each place, so she and Eldor had covered all three of those islands, including a daytrip to Delos, in the span of several days.

Next up was Santorini — the most stunning of all, reportedly. Whenever Cloe thought about this isle, she tried not to dwell on the chance that she had so narrowly missed, of possibly crossing paths there with a certain someone again. There was no use in languishing over what might have been. Nor any use in holding out hope — she had run into him in Athens weeks ago, and honeymoons rarely went on for so long; by now the newlyweds had surely flown back home. If she and Mr. Campion ever were to meet, it seemed, some force of fate would have to intervene.

Some force of fate such as her own written word... but in spite of how enticing it was, arranging an encounter with Ryder was one purpose for which Cloe was sure that she would never use her power.

Presently seated at a table in the poolside cafe of her hostel, on an island-breezy sun-kissed afternoon, she struggled not to be seduced by the distraction of such musings as she thumbed through her handwritten notes and typed up some reviews.

"Still hard at work?" Eldor asked as he approached and took a seat beside her, freshly showered after having taken a dip in the pool. The dip had not lasted for long because, on an isle where hormones ran wild — and, in particular, in a hostel that epitomized the raunchy Ios lifestyle — the sight of him without a shirt in the vicinity of hordes of super horny girls had proven to be quite a serious hazard.

Cloe smiled at him and nodded, ignoring the envious glares shot her way by virtually every female within a mile radius — in all the time that she'd spent traveling with Eldor, this was something to which she had become very accustomed. "Yep. Writing up my review of this hostel right now. Trying not to be too biased by my own experience..."

Eldor had already heard all about it: Cloe's sleepless nights thanks to the deafeningly phlegmy snores of one bunkmate, and the shamelessly loud sex between another couple of bunkmates in the bed that was barely three feet away from hers. She and Eldor were staying in different dorm rooms at this hostel, due to availability at the time of booking, and he had been somewhat luckier.

"Oh, and did I mention that I saw a monster millipede thing in the shower this morning? And by the way, how sucky is it that the water temperature controls here still aren't working," Cloe added, going on to describe the thousand-legged creature as roughly as thick as her forearm, and equally long, which was hardly even an exaggeration.

Ebon eyes widened. "Okay, you know what — it sounds like you've suffered enough. I think it's time that we stay in a nice hotel for once."

She blinked. Had he said 'we'...?

"There's a great one on Santorini, where I could book rooms for us easily."

Oh, thank goodness — 'rooms' plural. She should've known that he was far too virtuous to suggest anything else.

"I know this place wouldn't be in your guidebook, given the price range," he continued, "but you've already had to review plenty of hostels and hotels without actually staying in them, so on Santorini, you can just do the same."

Cloe shook her head. "You know I'm on a budget, though — and in case you're going to generously offer to pay for my stay, let me just say no way."

"It'd be free, actually, so no worries. The hotel owner is a close friend of the Ambrose family," Eldor assured her. "I don't often take advantage of preferential perks like this, but sometimes it's worth it."

She paused and blinked again. Well, damn if that wasn't tempting.

"After suffering through all these mosquitoes and millipedes and dysfunctional showers and fornicating strangers in the bed right next to yours, and after all these weeks of hard work, I feel like you deserve it," he asserted. "We can decide later tonight; just think about it."

At dinner that night, sharing platters of spinach pie and stuffed grape leaves and salad topped with hazelnuts and hearty local cheese, Cloe decided that she was up for it. Figured there was no harm in it, and in light of her many horrible hostel experiences — and how stylish and swanky she inferred this 'nice' hotel on Santorini must be, given that friends of the Ambrose family probably rolled around in money — she was excited.

But nowhere near as excited as she was about the news that Eldor shared later that night, as they headed out toward the seediest nightclub on Ios, of course for the purpose of research.

"Oh hey, remember that military friend of mine who I mentioned was in Greece on his honeymoon?" he asked her.

It took an unhealthy amount of self-control for Cloe to play cool.

"Turns out he and his wife decided to stay on Santorini for a while longer. He told me earlier today. So it sounds like we can all meet up there, if you'd still be down for that — let me know and I'll make plans."

And now it took impossible amounts of self-control for her to play cool, but she did her best and was proud of herself just for managing to keep her heart from exploding out of her chest. And for answering out loud with a casual 'yeah' while her happily hammering heart screamed hell yes!!


I hope all my dear #Cloder fans are excited!!  As I've promised often in comments, the star-crossed lovers WILL cross paths again before Book II ends ;)

Next scene, we'll end Episode 9 with #Axria...

** And if you liked this one, please don't forget to vote! :) **

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