-He, from whom all others are made
A simper tugged Lyn’s lips. She stared at Drake, mesmerized and enthralled by his presence alone. They lied together nude, both of their hearts racing and bodies in a light sweat. Drake sat up and looked at nothing in particular. Lyn continued staring, rubbing his copper-colored skin and pelting it with soft kisses. Drake sighed.
Lyn made a face and giggled. “That wasn’t so bad was it?”
Drake made a face. “It was good…”
He kicked his legs over and sat on the edge of the bed. His face was visibly distressed. A chill brushed through Lyn. His countenance was cryptic and cold. She pondered. Was it the sex? Was he not pleased with her body? Perhaps he no longer found her attractive. All these things festered in her mind, making her restless.
Lyn rose and wrapped her arms around Drake from behind. “What troubles you my king?”
“Don’t call me that,” Drake answered curtly.
He looked over to see a pair of jeans, and a plaid shirt folded on a chair. He stood and ambled over to it. Lyn fell forward on the bed and whined. All she could do was watch him slip on the jeans, no longer able to admire his trunk size legs and iron glutes. She wore a frown and pouted. As Drake buttoned the jeans, he glanced at her and raised a brow.
“How did you know my pant size?”
Lyn shrugged. “Lucky guess.”
He slipped on the plaid shirt and rolled the sleeves. Lyn placed a pillow between her stomach and the mattress and kicked her legs. She watched Drake study his arm meticulously. Then he turned to her, his face perplexed.
“I was sure my arm was crushed. But there isn’t a scratch on it…”
“I told you all we had to do was make love. It’s the best remedy after all.” She grabbed the waistline of his jeans and pulled him towards her. “I wouldn’t mind going again…”
Drake stifled a gasp. He pulled her hand away and stared blankly, pondering. Lyn clenched the sheets. Every ounce of her being wanted to scream. To plead with him. To beat him to a bloody pulp; anything it took to help him remember. Her heart hung askew, ready to fall and break at any moment. Over the last six months, it had grown frail and weak like glass.
She was sure three nights ago he had awakened; sure that all he required was her blood. She was wrong. But one thing never escaped her mind. She pictured him as he stood in the butcher shop holding Acheron. Dacre the werewolf stood before him. He glanced at her over his shoulder and glared. She saw the hate fester in his eyes, not at his enemy, but at her.
The entire ordeal lasted only five minutes, and Dacre was slain in one stroke. But she knew deep in her heart that he remembered everything in that moment. Drake collapsing that night was a saving grace. For now…
Lyn could no longer bear the taciturnity and asked him: “Did I do something that displeased you?”
Drake shook his head. “Back at the butcher, that guy, Dacre. He tortured me for hours and said a lot of things about you and this guy named Sullivan.” He shared a glance with Lyn. “Why would he tell me about that?”
Lyn looked away and sighed. “I don’t know. You were delirious; it could have been just the pain and the drugs he gave you. You were probably… just hearing things.”
Aaren sat within the darkness of the safe house holding a syringe filled with a crimson liquid. He removed his tan cloak and the blouse and body armor beneath it. Sweat poured from his body and his mask clattered to the ground, shattering. He extended his arm and rotated it before tapping it with a finger. But the vein in his arm didn’t bulge and his face grew dark with anger.
He looked across the room, shaking and struggling to tie the tourniquet above his elbow. Total darkness engulfed him save for a single red light glowing in a corner. Aaren’s teeth turned into tiny blades that resembled a shark. His face and ears became more bat than man and a thin membrane grew from his arms that formed into wings. The physical structure of his body changed and his back hunched.
The syringe fell but didn’t break. The tourniquet loosened from his arm. Just before Aaren lost control, a blinding light made him blanch. He bellowed, and a man rushed to his side from the door and grabbed the syringe. He plunged it into Aaren’s thigh and he bellowed once more. Then his body relaxed and shrunk, turning back into that of a man. Aaren crumpled on his knees.
Royal patted his back and handed him a bottle of water. “You’re alright. You’re alright,” he said.
Aaren caught his breath and gulped the water. He took what remained and drenched his body with it. All he could focus on was the rising light ahead. He turned to Royal, who still wore the animal mask. The porcelain mask in the likeness of a dog. It occurred to him. He had seen Royal’s face once, maybe twice. The man seldom removed it.
“It’s getting worse,” Aaren said.
“Your body is developing a tolerance for the serum,” Royal replied.
He sat on a crate across from Aaren, observing him. Water dripped from a leaking pipe, plopping to the ground rhythmically. The A/C unit buzzed as its fan kicked on, growing louder and flooding the room with cool air. Aaren turned to Royal. He wondered what kind of face he made behind that mask. Disgusted or maybe pitiful. He didn’t know. He didn’t want to know.
“I tried to kill myself, Royal…”
Royal tilted his head. Aaren twiddled his thumbs and stared at the ground. The blackness from his eyes faded, leaving them blank and devoid of color.
He took a breath and spoke: “I tried. But, I didn’t succeed. My wounds kept healing. I tried shooting myself in the head. I tried overdosing and jumping off a building.”
Royal folded his arms and crossed his legs.
“That night when he gave me his blood- I lost something. I lost my sight when I turned. The only time I could see again was when I was on the brink of falling. Falling so far off the cliff that my humanity would never return…”
Royal chuckled. “You’re not one to sit here and just sulk. We’ve got a job to do, right?”
Aaren formed a grin. “That light in the corner. I can feel it. What color is it?”
Royal turned to the light. “Red. Aaren, the killings haven’t stopped. In fact, it’s gotten worse. Another woman was found murdered yesterday…”
Aaren clenched his fists and stood up. “So, there were two of them…”