Hell's Company

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Chapter 13

Luca held nothing of his professional life back from me. If he needed to leave, he would bring me, unless it was gathering new souls and other official sector leader-only business. He didn’t want them knowing our business and neither did I. I also opted out of attending the welcoming parties, simply waiting at his house for him to return. I was brought to various deals that usually involved guns, drugs, and alcohol and realized the parties were just a cover for what Luca and his associates did.

The associates started recognizing me as his second, which I thought was humorous because I usually just stood there and looked pretty. I started to gather nods of respect on the streets even when I wasn’t with him. I became untouchable and more renowned than I ever had been before. Regardless, Luca insisted on daily training sessions that combined self-defense and actual fighting. The lessons usually ended up with us tangled together on the mat and pinning each other down in other ways.

Luca and I did our best to keep up professional appearances to the public but it was hard to stay away from each other’s gravitational pull. We would wait in agony until we were alone, only exchanging brief whispers of what we wanted to do to each other or subtle teeth grazing against earlobes. Finally, after every successful job, long, passionate kisses were becoming tradition.

This was Sector Violence so, naturally, jobs didn’t always turn out in our favor. Many times fights broke out when things went south. Guns and knives would be pulled, people would be hurt, and depending on the situation, Luca would join in with a wild glint in his eyes.

It was dangerous and it was fun.

We would attend all kinds of parties. The more high-end, to the raves, to house parties, to the actual tournaments held in Violence’s arena. Luca’s substance abuse problem became clear early on, though I thought he had tried to hide it from me for the most part. The excessive drinking and continual drug use were almost scary. He had the highest tolerance I’ve ever seen, even here. When I questioned him about it, he snapped at me that being here for eternity drains you, he can take temporary happiness when he wants, and that I had said I wanted to know him. I didn’t ask him about it again.

So when he bent over the glass table and inhaled white powder into his nose, I watched and said nothing. This was the fifth line of cocaine he had snorted. He tipped his head back and breathed deeply, wiping his nose quickly and his eyes dilating as they settled on me.

“Any plans tonight?” I asked, leaning against the back of the couch. Tonight I was wearing more casual attire, a skater skirt and a cut off top, and hadn’t planned on going anywhere. I took a small sip of my White Zinfandel as I watched him.

“Relaxing.” He stretched and leaned back, his arm resting on the top of the couch behind my head and his fingers played with my hair absentmindedly.

“You don’t do coke if you want to relax. That’s more of a Xanax thing.”

Luca wasn’t able to sit still for very long. He was already leaning forward and pouring himself a glass of tequila. “You’re right. I was thinking maybe a night out but just for fun. No work-related activities.”

I sighed heavily. “I was hoping for a night in. I’m tired and sore.” I rubbed my neck for emphasis but I was really sore all over. His lifestyle was hard to keep up with when I wasn’t used to it.

Luca jumped into action. “I can help with that!”

I was careful not to spill my wine all over his couch as he jostled me around and began massaging me after he moved my hair out of the way. Yeah, he was high on drugs, but no, I wasn’t going to not reap the benefits. His fingers kneaded into my skin, rubbing the soreness out of my muscles. I cringed several times because of the force he was using but sighed with bliss. “Oh, Luca, please do this more often.”

He kissed the base of my neck, sending me into the chills. It felt like electricity under my skin when he was massaging me. This was definitely waking me up. “What do I get in return?”

“My neverending gratitude.” I cracked a smile and took a few more sips of my wine.

He snorted. “That’s it?”

“Maybe a kiss or two, if you make it count.” I laughed which cut off abruptly with a moan that escaped involuntarily as Luca started to rub my back harder. He paused. “What’s wrong?” I asked, leaning forward to set my wine down and turning slightly to him.

In quick, precise movements, he had me pinned back against the couch and was on top of me. He looked at me with his dilated pupils. “That was so sexy.” He was serious.

I blushed and turned sarcastic. “Thanks, I mean, obviously I tried so hard, thank you for acknowledging my--” I stopped talking when one of his hands went around my throat and his thumb skimmed across my skin. My heart started racing immediately.

Yeah, I wasn’t very tired anymore.

His eyes were watching my lips closely. I licked them self-consciously and watched how his pupils dilated further. “May I… redeem that kiss now?”

I didn’t trust my voice so I nodded.

Immediately, Luca pressed his lips to mine softly, repeatedly, and he tasted of tequila. They started gaining length and intensity, and when my hands started getting a mind of their own and began to wander, Luca pinned both my wrists together over my head with only one of his hands. The other slipped from my neck and trailed across my chest, his kisses following. His hand pulled against the fabric of my shirt slightly, just enough to pull it down a bit, and his lips moved there. His lips remained on the same spot, kissing, sucking, using his teeth lightly. I tilted my head back and enjoyed every second of it but I was dying to run my hands through his unruly hair and mess it up in other ways…

I licked my lips again and pulled in the oxygen I unfortunately needed. “You owe me a hell of a lot of massages now… that was more than just one kiss…”

He laughed, his voice husky. “I intend on repaying you in full.” He always knew exactly what to say to give me the chills.

“I think I’m in love,” I teased as he sat beside me.

“Are you still tired and sore or can we go out now?” He poured himself another glass of tequila and drank it.

I grinned mischievously. “I don’t know, my lower back is still pretty sore…” I quickly slipped off my shirt and lied across the couch on my stomach.

Luca began to rub the rest of my back, kneading the muscles between my shoulder blades and all down my spine. I sighed as chills spread across my skin. I don’t think I’d ever get used to the feel of him touching me. He started to shower kisses down my back as well. “You’re so beautiful all the time, every little part of you, even your skin or when you wake up in the morning and your makeup is all smudged off…”

I admired how kind he was being, even after being high on cocaine, but I was glad he couldn’t see my blush. “Thank you.”

He didn’t reply, only kept up his massage. I was really starting to relax now and the electric tingles that raced through my skin because of his fingers were starting to feel normal. My breaths grew deeper and I closed my eyes and started to drift off.

I was half asleep when murmured into my ear, “You better not be asleep, Persephone.”

“Uh uh.” I let out a muffled and sleepy disagreement.

His fingers started to play with my bra strap, sliding his fingers across my skin underneath the fabric, and it took me a few moments before I realized what he was about to it.

I jolted up. “Luca, don’t you dare!”

I wasn’t quick enough because

his fingers still unhooked my bra in one movement. He laughed as fumbled to catch the bra as it slid forward and tried to hook it back together with my other hand. “You awake now?”

“That wasn’t funny, you asshole,” I huffed as I finally hooked it again and pulled on my shirt. “You want to go out so bad? Fine, let’s go out!”

Luca grinned at his victory. “Finally, but you aren’t going to the party sober.”

“I’m not sober. I’ve been drinking wine.”

“But that’s only wine.” Luca leaned forward and grabbed the bottle of tequila, swishing it in my face. “Put on your big girl panties and take your hard liquor.”

My stomach grumbled its disapproval but I couldn’t ignore Luca’s challenge. Pride was a funny thing. “You want a repeat of my welcoming party? I didn’t think you cared for alcohol poisoned women.”

“I don’t plan on drugging you, like you claimed you were last time, so you’ll be fine.” He handed me the bottle and sat back with a big grin on his face.

I narrowed my eyes. “What are you smiling about?”

“Just that time I had to take you home. It wasn’t so bad, you were very talkative and compliant.”

My eyes widened in horror. “What did I say to you? What did I do? Why didn’t you tell me this already?”

“You just went on and on about how I was the hottest guy you’ve ever seen. It was very amusing.”

“How embarrassing,” I muttered. “But I was being honest.”

Luca caught my eyes and he smiled slowly. “I know.”

I looked at the bottle in my hands, slightly apprehensive of it. I had been avoiding any potent alcohol lately, sticking with champagne, wine, or mixed drinks.

“Go ahead. I’m a pro at knowing how to drink and not throw it up.” He reached over and screwed the cap off the bottle. “Take three shots and we’ll leave.”

I shrugged and did it as quickly as possible. Raising the bottle to my lips and tipping it back, one shot went down my throat and into my stomach, burning and making my stomach do a flip. I suppressed the shudder that threatened to reveal my weakness and took another shot. This one was not as bad because my taste buds were still in shock and slightly numbed from the first round. I took another before my stomach decided it wanted to vomit. I handed the bottle back to Luca when I was finished.

He screwed the cap back on and smiled at me with pride. “Need a chaser?”

“Uh, sure?” I looked around but there was nothing else to drink. I reached for my wine.

“You don’t chase alcohol with more alcohol. You’re supposed to drink water in between drinks. It helps, I don’t know. Here, let me get you some.” He jumped up off his couch and got me a glass of water which I drank gratefully to get rid of the awful taste of tequila. “Alright, now we can leave.” He offered me his hand.

I certainly felt those three shots on top of the two glasses of wine when I stood up and I knew it was going to be a crazy night.

We went to several different parties with lively music in a couple different sectors, including mine. Who knew Sector Pride threw parties? I thought Michael and I were the only ones who knew how to party in that sector. I felt a very dull twinge of hurt when I thought about Michael, numbed with the alcohol, and pushed him out of my mind. He had been my best friend and couldn’t tell me something like that? He was the biggest hypocrite I knew.

Stay away from the sector leaders? He was her second!

Luca gave me different mixed drink concoctions that were potent but didn’t taste like it and glasses of water right afterward. They were all delicious and went down easy, and bathroom breaks were taken frequently because of it. Despite being a good bartender, he didn’t seem like much of a dancer, so I danced with other girls and he would watch me. I was having a good time because I was justifiably drunk and alcohol made me love dancing. Glancing over to see how his gray eyes watched exactly how my body moved was exhilarating. How could he send a warm electric feeling through me without even touching me?

I found it amusing when he would start to get agitated if they touched me in any way. He sat forward and sent a murderous look our way. I laughed at him. If he was jealous, he could dance with me. The look I sent him told him exactly that and he sat back unhappily. He downed the rest of his drink. I noticed he didn’t publicly do drugs for whatever reason. Maybe he didn’t want to be labeled an addict but I really think people didn’t care about that here, so I wondered what his reasoning was.

One thing about Hell is that you’re on the same level as everyone else. We all did bad shit in life to get here, some worse than others, but that didn’t matter. No one even talked about how they got here. Everyone continued to do bad things here and recreational drinking and drugs were hardly cared about. It was a social norm here.

Towards the end of the night, I was sick of not dancing with the person I wanted to dance with the most. I stalked towards him, hips swaying, and lowered myself so I was straddling his lap. His hand skimmed down my arm to rest on my hip, the pressure his fingertips exerting was telling me he was being possessive. I started moving in time with the new song, rolling my hips against him. He grinned as I rested my arm on his shoulder for support. I was not very well practiced with lap dancing, but he seemed to be enjoying himself so I didn’t care. The alcohol always made me feel a hell of a lot more confident than I really was.

He started kissing my chest as I ground against him, in the exact same spot his hickey had already started to form. I continued dancing but leaned down to kiss him passionately, my lips dominant to his and his tongue dancing with mine in his mouth. He groaned almost inaudibly and pressed me into him harder as he shifted under me. I circled my arms around his neck and kissed him harder, pulling away slightly to playfully bite his bottom lip.

“What do you want?” He asked in a husky voice and chuckled.

“I want you…” I trailed off, grinning when Luca began to look incredibly enthusiastic about my statement, and continued, “to dance with me.”

He sighed heavily and leaned backward, away from me.

I turned pouty. “You drag me out here and you won’t even dance with me? That’s bullshit.” I stuck my bottom lip out. “At least I’d make it worth your while.”

He cracked a smile and sighed, leaning towards me to kiss me quickly. “How am I supposed to contain myself with you dancing on me? All I can think about is…” He trailed off but his gray eyes blazed and I knew exactly what he was thinking about.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.” I slid off of him and pulled him up with me as the song changed.

It was upbeat and my body synchronized with it immediately, dancing close to Luca but not touching him. I continued dancing by myself until I heard him growl and his hands guided my hips to his. One hand slipped under my shirt as we danced together, his fingers splayed against the skin of my stomach, my hips rolling and grinding against him in time with the music. I could feel his toned stomach pressed firmly into my back and I reached my arm up to hold the back of his neck. He ducked down and kissed my neck passionately. My knees almost gave out.

I laughed faintly. “I’m going to be covered in hickeys tomorrow.”

“Good,” he growled. “It shows you’re taken. You’re mine…”

I was completely fine with his statement.

We continued dancing together and kissing nonstop for the rest of the night. I was completely exhausted by the time we fell into bed together. Luca pulled me against him securely and we kissed goodnight, several times. We were tangled together under the sheets and I eventually fell asleep to the sound of Luca’s breath ruffling my hair, but it was hard to sleep at first. I was still awake, buzzing with energy and a drunken revelation.

I think I love him.

Naturally, I didn’t remember that in the morning, but what I was forced to remember was all the places Luca kissed me over the course of the night because I was covered in hickeys from my neck to my chest. I awoke to Luca kissing them softly, a deliciously nice way to wake up.

“Hey, I didn’t throw up last night,” I grinned, laughing softly, merely pushing air through my teeth as I grinned. “Or did I? I don’t remember if I did.”

Luca glanced up at me, his lips still against my chest. The contrast of his steel eyes and dark hair was even more prominent from this angle. He seemed to ponder for a moment as if he was struggling to remember. “No, you didn’t.”

“That’s good.”

He mumbled his agreement into my skin but my hands guided his lips to mine. “Good morning, Persephone.”

“Likewise, Luca,” I smiled. Everything felt so peaceful and languid at times like these. “So what’s going on today? I’m assuming work because last night was the only night you’ve taken off in forever and I’m sure it won’t come again for awhile.”

“You’re right, more stuff to do.” He kissed me quickly again but got up, rubbing his face. I could see the stubble growing in as he stretched and cracked the bones in his neck.

I groaned and pulled the covers tighter around me. “I’m still exhausted. Do you need me for anything today or can I stay in bed?”

“Some second you are.” He muttered to himself, walking down the hallway.

“I didn’t know I was your second!” I called out, smiling to myself.

“At this rate, you won’t be!”

“Mind getting me some breakfast while you’re out there?” I heard a loud groan in response, so I added, “It doesn’t have to be solid. Just get me some tea or something!”

I heard him clanking things around his kitchen, which I didn’t know he even knew how to use, and came in a few minutes later with a mug of something hot and an apple. “How’s this?”

“Lovely.” I kissed him when he bent down to give the items to me. He got into the shower while I ate the apple and drank the coffee, which was black, far too strong for my tastes, and I could taste the alcohol in it, but at least he tried. “A for effort.”

I tried lying back down, but I tossed and turned and couldn’t get comfortable. I gave up going back to sleep and got up, slipping one of Luca’s shirts on and bringing my empty cup into the kitchen. I shuffled through the few food items he had in his fridge but found nothing I’d really want to eat or anything I’d risk checking for freshness.

“Nice view,” Luca commented while I was still bent over and checking the fridge. “Nearly as nice as the view in your closet.”

I straightened and turned towards him. He was smiling as he ran the towel over his skin and through his hair in an effort to dry off. His smile widened when I faced him. “What? You smiling is usually never a good thing.”

“I like your choice of attire today, that’s all.” He chuckled and disappeared down the hall to his room to get dressed.

I looked down at his oversized shirt that clung loosely to my body and ended at the top of my thighs. “Well, I’m glad you like it but I’m certainly not wearing it outside.”

“I thought you were going back to sleep!” He called out loud enough for me to hear. “Change your mind? Want to come do more business?”

“No, but I was thinking about going home today,” I replied without much thought.

He didn’t answer me right away but I heard him walking down the hallway and saw his head pop out from around the corner. He suddenly looked very moody and dark, like the Luca that everyone else saw. “Why do you want to go home?”

“I haven’t been back there in weeks and I need more clothes. Don’t sound so worried, Luca, it would only be for the day. I can come back tonight if you’d like me to.”

He sighed. “You do whatever you want to do.”

“Luca, did I just hear you properly? Are you giving me… free will?” I exclaimed in mock shock.

He stormed over while he was trying not to grin, scooped me up in his arms, and gave me a powerful and possessive kiss. “Just a little. I don’t think you’d be very fun if you were… tame.”

I laughed. “You’d never tame me, giving me free will or not.”

His gray eyes sparkled with humor and happiness. I was starting to think I was the only one to ever make him feel this way. “I know, Persephone.”

I gave him a little kiss and hugged him for several moments, but slipped back to the ground lightly. “Besides, you can easily do your stuff without me. You’ve been holding up for an eternity already.” I paused, thinking. “Christ, do we have an age gap…”

Luca rolled his eyes heavily. “Shut your mouth, Persephone.”

“No, you gave me free will, remember?” I ducked when he tried to grab at me and laughed as I danced out of his reach. “I’m going to get dressed. I hope you have a lovely day!”

“Lovely, right.” Luca used heavy sarcasm.

“I know, you’ll miss me terribly!” I yelled back, closing his bedroom door and starting to get dressed. I never heard the front door shut while I was changing and came out to see Luca forming lines of cocaine on the coffee table. “Ah, the morning routine, I forgot.”

He ignored me as he grabbed a small plastic tube and bent over the table, inhaling line after line after line and alternating nostrils. He tipped his head back when he was finished.

After watching him silently, I asked, “What does it feel like?”

He stiffened in response to my question. “Why do you want to know?”

“Curiosity. I’ve never done anything other than alcohol, you know. I wouldn’t know what it feels like.”

I saw his cheek muscles move into a smile from my view of the back of his head and heard a soft chuckle before he turned to me. “I still can’t believe you were sent here. You’re almost too good.”

“I’m bad enough,” I replied and crossed my arms.

He eyed me up and down with hungry, dilated eyes that sent electric currents through my body. “I know.”

“Are you going to explain or no?”

“It’s so boring here, after an eternity, everything just gets so dull and repetitive. It helps. It makes things more exciting and makes me sharper.”

“But what does it feel like?”

“Good. You get very confident, among other things. It’s almost like the way you make me feel but less so.” He grinned.

“Nice pickup line. Use it on all the girls?” I teased in response and to cover up my embarrassment to his directness.

His smile lessened. “No.” I didn’t reply so he added, “If you’re so curious, would you like to try it?”

I was more than slightly apprehensive. “What’s the downside of it? I don’t want to get addicted to it. I’ve seen those people…”

“You won’t get addicted.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I know you.” He said very seriously. “Listen, if you don’t want to, don’t do it. I don’t want to pressure you.”

“No, I do. I just never tried them because the drawbacks seemed to outweigh the good things. I always worried about addiction and withdrawals and comedowns.”

“You won’t get those here.”

“But the others do.”

“You aren’t like the others, trust me.” Luca paused before continuing. “If those were your only reasons why not to experiment, then I’d say go for it. You’d finally find out what it feels like. You also can’t die of an overdose, not like I’d let that happen in the first place.”

At that moment, I realized I did trust Luca because I found myself saying okay and assuring him that I wanted to do it myself and that it wasn’t because of him. “You’re going to have to walk me through it.”

“That’s fine. You should probably only do a small line.” He went to work spreading the white powder and forming it into a thin line as I came closer and sat next to him on the couch. He handed me the straw-like tube. “Put this to one of your nostrils. Make sure your lungs are empty, so exhale. Then you inhale the powder, moving down the line. After that, you tilt your head up and clear your nose like this…”

I followed his instructions, bending over and confronting the drug.

I’m dead so did it even matter that much?

I felt like I was forgetting something important. Someone had said something to me about being led down the wrong path about Luca and it felt like something that happened a long time ago, but I didn’t know how that could be possible. I just died. I just met Luca. I remember all the people I met here.

I ignored it and inhaled the powder like he instructed me to. “Jesus Christ, Luca! It burns!” I could feel it traveling down my nasal passageways, into my mouth, and down my throat. After the burning coursed through the interconnected breathing ways in my head and neck, a sort of cold numbing could be felt in my gums.

“I had forgotten that it burns.” Luca mused, looking at his packet of cocaine. “You’ll start feeling it soon. It’s not like a daze of happiness or hallucinations you would get from dropping acid or taking mushrooms, cocaine is more subtle, I guess. It affects your confidence level and your mood, that’s all. You’ll probably get your laundry done fairly quick today.” He grinned, leaned over, and captured my lips with his in a long kiss. “I really need to get going. You’ve all but destroyed the little punctuality that I had.”

“What can I say?” I asked, smiling and laughing. “I’m a great distraction.”

“Too great.” He rolled his eyes, got up before I could do anything else, and left.

I gathered a few bags of my stuff and headed home. It was a quick, safe trip through Sector Violence. The sector was still the same as ever, gang wars crossing the streets and blood spilling into cracked pavement. No one bothered me. They would pause if I walked past and some even bowed. I was known here. I was Luca’s second and they knew I was not to be messed with. It felt very good.

Despite my confidence that was continuing to inflate, I was apprehensive to go home, though I wasn’t sure why. Arriving in Sector Pride, I felt like something was different and off about the place but realized it was me. I didn’t belong there anymore. It wasn’t my home. I no longer feared the people I passed because they seemed too mild and dull, much unlike the people in Sector Violence.

Even when I reached my building, I waited before going in. I didn’t want to catch Michael here but I wasn’t going to let him prevent me from going to my own apartment. I raced inside and didn’t pause until I was in my apartment.

It was dark and quiet in my apartment. It smelled foreign to me, like stale air and cleaning supplies and so unlike rusty pipes and Luca. I flipped light switches on as I went and headed towards my bar to grab a drink or four before I started doing laundry, turning on the washing machine. I threw my heavy bags of clothing into the laundry room and grabbed a glass and a bottle of tequila. I drank the first two glasses staring out the massive window in my living room.

Hell was starting to look a lot smaller and a hell of a lot less frightening to me. I had changed. I was now in control of my fear instead of it controlling me and making me hide in the sanctuary of this apartment. Luca had done that for me. He knew getting me fired would anger me in such a way that I’d forget my fear and come storming over to his sector, the most frightening of them all, just to confront him. It worked flawlessly. I stole a few more moments looking out over the glittering, lively city full of sinners before starting the laundry.

I had to blow my nose a few times, which must have been from the cocaine, but other than that and my good mood, I didn’t feel very different. I turned on some music and sat down with the tequila on the couch to continue looking at the view.

I suppose you couldn’t get a view like that at Luca’s place or anywhere in Sector Violence, all the buildings were short and sturdy. Any glass would always be broken. That was a rule that went unsaid in his sector. Even Luca had given me a baseball bat one night and told me to go wild. I ran and smashed windows as I went, Luca chasing after me shouting and laughing at our game.

I missed this part of my apartment more than I thought but not anything else. It was empty. I had no friends, Fia had been taken to never be seen again and Michael was just a hypocritical, lying asshole that I didn’t want anything to do with.

Wandering around my ghost-like apartment, filled with happy memories that all seemed false, I found things that reminded me of everyone who had been in here. The dishes Michael always seemed to have made from different meals I’ve cooked, the articles of clothing and neon pink lipstick I would never be caught wearing that Fia had forgotten, and rumpled sheets and open closet that reminded me of Luca.

Luca was the only person I had left but I wasn’t saddened by that fact. I truly cared about him and it seemed it was reciprocated.

I fell into bed after throwing my clothes into the dryer and stretched out, feeling the familiar silk against my skin. The sheets and pillows enveloped me in familiarity and comfort and I smiled. I suppose I had missed this bed a bit as well. There wasn’t something quite the same as your own bed. Luca’s was nice enough when he was in it, but it was a little too hard for my tastes.

I must have fallen asleep while enjoying the comfort of my bed because the next thing I know, I’m hearing the front door open and close and I’m struggling to sit up and make sense of my surroundings. “Luca, I told you I’d be back later tonight, you didn’t need to…”

“Persephone?” Michael stuck his head into my bedroom.

The grogginess disappeared. “Get out of my apartment.”

“No, I need to talk to you.”

“I don’t care. Nothing you say is going to matter.”

“I don’t care if it doesn’t change things. I don’t care if you’re mad at me. What I am going to tell you is fucking important, Persephone, more important than what I did to you.”

“What is it?” I snapped. “You lied to me, Michael! You kept secrets from me, big ones! You were my friend!”

“I know I was.”

“You’re a hypocrite.”

“Maybe I am, but I didn’t want you to get involved with them like I did. I wanted to save you from it. Little did I know, there was nothing I could do, even from the beginning. You were chosen for this, I guess.”

“Chosen for what?”

He opened his mouth to answer me, but the front door opened and closed again, causing him to look behind him.

Suddenly the door was pushed all the way open and Lucielle stormed into my bedroom, all red hair and queenly stature. “There you are, Luca’s beautiful second in command.” She rolled her eyes. “Glad you’ve decided to join us.”

“I was going to tell her…”

“No need. I’ll handle it. I’m sure she’s quite upset with you.”

“Please just get on with it, I’ve been dying to know all the secrets that have been withheld from me.”

“This is why I liked you in the first place, but now it’s getting on my nerves… Oh, well, comes with the responsibility, I guess.”

“What is going on?” I raised my voice in frustration. “What was I chosen for?”

“Chosen wouldn’t be the word I would use. Perhaps destined is, if you believe in that type of thing.” She sat down on the chair next to my bed like Luca had done the night of my first welcoming party. “There’s a war going on right under your nose, Persephone Flemming, and you were destined to be right in the middle of it.”
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