Yar, there be major spoilers ahead if you haven’t read A Deathly Compromise.
A little snippet I wrote some time ago and just polished up. Some changes will undoubtedly occur before the first draft is compiled, but this is just a taste of what’s to come. Enjoy!
I downed another Scotch, watching fragments of human beings through the bottom of the glass and clouded windows walk to their homes, or at the very least, to distractions. From left to right, they became long, ghastly figures, then scrunched stumps of flesh before becoming themselves again. If only it was so easy to change.
I exhaled, the heat from the liquor pleasantly burning my throat as I set the glass down with a thumb on the oak bar. I should really stop. “This time on the rocks, Bex. It’s too damn hot today.”
“I’ll say. It’s the 9th circle of hell out there,” the bartender replied.
I tapped a knuckle on the wood. “It’s cold.”
“Hmm?” He poured the Scotch in generously, sliding the tumbler back into my hands. My palms were actually sweaty.
“The 9th circle of hell- it’s not warm. It’s frozen in ice.” I should know.
Bex seemed annoyed at the correction but took it in anyway. “Well, then I’d happily welcome it on a day like today.”
“Don’t tempt me,” I whispered under a smile, gleaming teeth reflecting in the sides of the glass as I put it up to my lips and kissed the ice cubes amongst the gold elixir. The condensation from the glass trickled through my fingertips, dripping on the oak. I thought of copper and crimson and it left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I looked over at Bex as he attended to another customer. Rare to have more than one messed up person in a bar this early. Between the smell of draft beers and darkened rum, Bex’s smell came through, tinged with decay. Soon for him, but not now.
A blast of wind erupted by my side, sending locks of hair into my eyes. I smelled him before I saw him. It took every ounce for me not to turn my head. Instead, I tapped my fingers on the glass, waiting for Bex’s acknowledging nod. “What do you want?”
“You can look at me for one,” Lux uttered, his hands folding together on the bar.
“You assume that I’d want to look at you.”
“Dee,” he began.
“No, stop it. Just…stop. I,” I let out a scoff. “I don’t think I can.”
He slowly reached out his hand towards me, gently touching my jaw. It burned, but not in the same way it used to. I closed my eyes, listening to the sound of Scotch and glass clinking once again. “Dee, you have a friend that needs you.”
“She doesn’t need me. She needs you. The less she sees of me, the better.”
“Things are not like they were before. You can do both, you can be both.” I finally dared to look up. His eyes were just as vibrant as they were when he was alive, not even I could change that. “There she is,” he whispered. He searched my eyes as if he could bring back what he left behind.
I shook my head. “Lest you forget, the last time I chose to be both, shit got real. All over. I’m not making the same mistake.” I grabbed the glass and downed it, the liquid nearly evaporating before it went down my esophagus. “If you know what’s good for you, Lux, you’ll stay out of my way.”
I slid off the stool, leaving some cash for Bex and turned to leave. Lux’s hand slipped on my waist, his thumb and index finger gently squeezing. “Dee, do you want to know why I came back?”
A low grumble came from my throat. “If I wanted to know, I would ask. It doesn’t matter now.” I motioned for my feet to step back from his hold but they didn’t move. Instead he stood, coming closer. I took a deep breath and exhaled. His hand went back up to my jaw, his fingertips holding my chin up. “Lux, I swear, I’m going to punch you if…”
His eyebrows furrowed then, his attention wavering to some unseen noise. His eyes darted back and forth and he backed away, listening. “Something’s wrong.”
“Get out of here, find your sisters.” In a blink, he was gone, the feeling of his hands still scorching my skin.
And then I heard it.
The gurgle of blood clotting in a throat.
A laugh, one that I knew but had hoped to never hear from for a long time.
It was too soon.
Then a whisper, soft but sharp as a knife, “Sweet, sweet girl, oh how I’ve missed you.”