Trigger warning: Strong depictions of sexual content and abuse. If this bothers you, please consider skipping this chapter.
The flaps to the entrance of her tent blew back and forth, slapping against each other. Rain opened her eyes and rose from her cot. A chill touched her heart, and she hugged herself before grabbing a thick beige robe to cover herself. Her teeth clattered, and she peeked outside her tent. Heavy machinery whined in the distance as a crane hoisted Aspasia’s sarcophagus from her tomb. Workers yelled in Arabic and scurried across the excavation like ants.
A snake slithered across the sand, going past her feet and burrowing into the ground. A yellow moon lightened the desert and fine lines running parallel to each other covered the vast dunes. She had forgotten how cold the desert was; even for a heart of stone such as hers.
She heard something rustling in the sand and grabbed her great blade. Wielding it one-handed, she directed it towards the stranger standing at the threshold. He raised his hands submissively.
“Whoa!” Sullivan said, pointing the blade away with his finger.
Rain sighed and lowered her blade. “What do you want?”
Rain scowled. “Hardly…”
Sullivan formed a grin. He ambled past her towards the dresser in her room. A bottle of perfume caught his attention, and he grabbed it. Chanel No. 5. A vintage blend that was no longer made. But its odor remained just as strong. A blend of flowers such as jasmine, iris, and warm vanilla. He sniffed the opening again before closing it.
“Where did you get this?” he asked. “This perfume seems very… familiar.”
Sullivan appeared pensive and stared at nothing in particular. But Rain knew who he was thinking of. She could read him like a book; seeing through people was an unwanted talent.
“You’re thinking of Lyn, aren’t you?”
“So what if I am?”
Rain scoffed. “It’s a little late to be ruminating about her now. She’s dead-”
Sullivan raised a hand. His golden locks dazzled under the moonlight as he approached her and rubbed her pale cheeks. Rain backed away and turned her head. Sullivan lurched and pinned her face against the cot. His strength was overwhelming and an invisible pressure manacled her body.
He ripped her robe away and tossed it aside, exposing her bare back and ass. Then he grabbed a fistful of her hair. “This will not be over quickly…” he growled, “you will not enjoy this…”
She yelped as he yanked her hair and her eyes watered. Then Sullivan did as he pleased…
It felt like an eternity before Sullivan finished; his body recoiled violently as he climaxed and moaned. She closed her legs and turned to her side, shaking and coiling herself in a ball. Sullivan chuckled as he slipped on his pants and buckled his belt.
He hovered his lips over her neck and whispered: “If you weren’t so useful, I would have devoured you already.”
She gasped and whimpered. He had defiled her, humiliated her in every way. And she was powerless. But Sullivan served her mother, Aspasia. His words drifted away like specks of sand in the desert. She heard nothing more than the wind howling. Then the smell of pastries and fresh bread came to her mind. It felt like yesterday when she heard that door bell ring.
As Rain’s body matured, she masqueraded as the adopted daughter to a baker named Amsel. He was an elderly Italian man who had lost his wife and daughter to Spanish flu. She took pity on him even if it meant using deception. Her powers made humans more susceptible to command via a special pheromone emitted from her body. It enticed every customer to purchase pastries from their bakery. All except for two: Drake and a woman named Anna.
She thought of Anna’s soft golden eyes and her warm laugh. Her fiery hair and the way she danced and twirled for no particular reason at all. Anna smiled at Drake with profound jubilation, and he reciprocated with equal infatuation. It was the smile that every woman wanted from their lover. But to her, Drake was a forbidden fruit.
Rain gritted at the thought. A few days later, Anna’s blood lingered in the wind on a bleak winter’s day. She smiled, knowing the red-headed she-devil had been killed.
“I need you to do something for me…”
Sullivan’s voice pierced the veil of her fantasy. He sat on the edge of her cot, rubbing her back. A hand wrapped around her throat and pulled her towards him. His cinnamon eyes were fervently wide with a hint of madness.
Rain blanched but repressed a cry.
“...I need you to go back to Bordeaux. There’s an abbey next to a vineyard. Kill all the nuns and bring back a girl who goes by Ella. Our mother has spoken to me and this is her will. Can you do this for me, Rain?”
She nodded meekly, and he released his grip.
“I knew I could count on you.”
He slipped on a henley over his sinewy frame and departed.
Ruined mascara left black stains on her face as she sat at her dresser, combing her disheveled hair. She showered, but it did nothing to wash away her sorrow. She stared at her reflection, looking at the broken woman before her. Strands of her pink hair stuck to her brush, and she continued brushing until her scalp bled.
Amsel manifested within her mirror and looked at her somberly. Then the old man said: “Rain, what are you doing to yourself?”
He looked the same as she remembered: light brown skin with stout forearms, a pointed nose, and deep blue eyes. She sniffed and tried to suppress her cries.
“You always had such beautiful hair,” he said.
Wads of hair fell from her dresser and drops of blood splattered its surface. However, no matter how many times she ripped her hair it grew in an instant. Amsel formed a frown and shook his head.
“Don’t be coy! I know what you really think of me! You think I’m a monster!” Rain shouted. “I could never really be your daughter! Admit it! I was nothing but a-!”
Her body tensed, and she hurled the brush into the mirror, shattering it. Amsel’s reflection remained in the few shards of glass still attached.
“I love you, Rain,” he said, his voice meek.
Her voice broke. “Amsel, I- I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill you. It was an accident, I swear…”
She glanced at the broken mirror. Amsel was gone.