Damien’s home was a two story Victorian with a huge wraparound porch. The paint was an elegant porcelain white that glowed in the dim light. Black shutters framed the large windows, black wrought-iron railings encased the porch. Lush green grass swayed gently in the low wind, adding to the house’s charm. “We’re just down the street from your school. You’ll be walking to school with Elizabeth once you go back.” If we were just down the road from my school, then that means my home was approximately 45 minutes away from here. I almost forgot to keep my excitement in check at the thought of being so close. He climbed out of the car, I followed. He must have seen something in my face, prompting his next comment. “We condemned your home. No one is to go in there under any circumstance. Your parents had it in their will that it was to rot or until their chosen beneficiary decides otherwise.” Was that supposed to be discouraging to me? He gauged my emotions for a moment. “Come on, then.”
I walked beside Damien, staring at their door, which had a large, shiny silver cross hanging from the knocker. It amazes me that people think symbols made of metal and wood will protect them. I jumped when a hand lightly touched my back.
“Are you alright?” I blinked, noticing that I had stopped in the middle of the road. I stepped away from him and moved forward, trying to avoid any more questions. He gently pulled me to a halt. “You can talk to me you know.”
’He would love for you to do that. He just brought us here to observe. To get us to slip up and confess.’ I grunted in answer to both of them.
“My parents are gone and I no longer have a home of my own. I don’t know how I feel right now.” He drew me into a sidearm hug.
“Everything will be alright. It’ll just take some time.” He led me onto the sidewalk and up the stairs; releasing me at the door. He motioned me in with a low sweeping bow. “Welcome to my humble abode, Miss Collier.” I rolled my eyes, thoroughly unamused at his attempt at humor. The door closed behind us with a quiet snick and he rejoined me. “The manor’s ladies are awaiting our presence in the den.” He padded forward, his stride full of confidence in his domain.
He led me through a huge archway that presumably led to the den. He ushered me in; two females were settled on the long black sofa. I could feel Damien watching me closely. I glanced at the older woman first. Her spine was ramrod straight with a stern expression set on her face. She was slender with cinnamon-colored eyes and perfectly straight, chocolate colored hair. She was nothing like the teenager settled on the sofa beside her.
The goddess had sculpted her features herself. Her features intricate, yet delicate; like a statue carved from the highest quality marble. Her heart-shaped face with sharp cheekbones and soft lips tempted me to get closer. Her skin was pale and looked silken soft. Long silver tresses flowed to the middle of her back, shimmering even in the dim light. Her eyes were ethereal, unearthly. They were a crystalline blue, black edged the outside of the iris spiking sharply towards the pupil. Long black lashes framed those eerily beautiful optics. She made my heart ache and my breath quicken. Damien’s voice yanked my attention away from the ethereal maiden.
“As we’ve discussed, Christy will be our guest, do whatever you can to make her feel at home.” He gestured towards the brunette, who gave me a chilly smile. “This is my lovely wife,” I wouldn’t have used the word lovely for her, “and my daughter Elizabeth.” My eyes readily flicked back toward the lovely angel who smiled when my eyes met hers. I flinched when Damien touched my back.
“I’m sure she’ll love it here, father.” Elizabeth’s voice was soft and alluring, snaring me in its soft lull. She rose to her feet and strode over to me. That magnificent waterfall of silver shimmered around her. She came to a halt inches away from me. “We’ll get along very well.” Daeori snarled.
’Don’t let the enchantress enthrall you!’ I ignored him.
Just be quiet and leave me be. He hissed and his presence shrank back.
“Show her to her room and get her comfortable. Now out the both of you.” I hated this cold, rude woman already. She reminded me too much of Diane. Long, gentle fingers wrapped around my wrist, urging me toward a grand, winding staircase. She kept ahold of my wrist as we padded upstairs. I knew this girl had to be mine, no matter the cost. She stopped at the top, pointing to the largest room at the end of the hall. A massive wooden cabinet stood proudly on the wall opposite the door.
’Wonder what’s in there…’
“That is my parents’ room.” Elizabeth turned towards the one next to it, “my room is right there and yours is right beside mine.” She tugged me into the room, letting go of my wrist and flopping onto the bed. The room was bare except for a couple of things, a medium-sized bed, dark cherry dresser and a floor lamp. “I’m sorry about your parents.” Elizabeth’s voice was soft and filled with pity. She was lying on the bed, chin resting on folded arms, and her sad eyes focused on me. Anger flared through me.
“I don’t want your pity.” I hissed. She jerked back, surprise flitting through her expression. Something sharp pierced my heart in response.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to take it out on you.” I pinched the bridge of my nose and took a deep, calming breath.
“I shouldn’t get mad at you; it’s just been a trying day.” Daeori snickered, wanting me to scare her even more. I walked over to the bed, reaching out to run my fingertips along her soft cheek. “I really am sorry; didn’t mean to be so harsh.” She leaned into my palm, smiling up at me.
“I forgive you.” She sat up and slid off the bed. “I’ll leave you to rest, if you need anything please come find me.” She flashed another smile at me and left. I slumped onto the bed, thinking about what was in my future.
’Your grandparents, will you allow them to live?’
No, not a chance.
“I apologize for interrupting Christy, but may I ask you something?” I gestured for him to proceed. “Since you’ve brought this up could you explain your relationship with her, if there was one of course. There’s been so much speculation about it. Some say you were possessive of her, much like a dog over its bone. Then there are others that say you loved Eliz-“ I slammed my fist on the desktop, stopping him mid-sentence.
“You have no right to speak her name! Nobody does!” He raised his hands in submission. Squeezing my eyes shut, I struggled to regain control. “I loved her, desperately needed her like you need air.” I swallowed back the pain. “Even I was ill prepared for what she made me feel. If things had been different… If I could go back in time and change everything, I would have given her the life she deserved. I would have treated her like my personal goddess…” I let the thought trail off. Curling in on myself, I let misery overtake me. Goddess only knows how much I missed her, how much I regretted what I did. Silence reigned, neither of us willing to break it.
“I apologize; I didn’t realize that I was poking at such a sore wound.” The guards shuffled forward when I uncurled slightly. “Can you tell me exactly what happened after your adoption? You gave a vague description, but would you like to expand on that?” I could taste his desperation for a subject change.
“On my 6th birthday she found out she was pregnant by miscarrying the child. Livid doesn’t even begin to how angry she was. After she came back from the hospital, she screamed at me. She told me over and over that my presence killed her biological child. I was the omen that plagued her home.”
“Days passed slowly, each one bringing a new tier of anger with it. Her hatred spread from just me to everyone else. She always came back to me though; I was her favorite punching bag. At first she did her best to hide it from Gerald, taking careful measures to keep me from ratting out her abuse. She manipulated him, convincing him that nothing was happening, that I was just clumsy. Eight long years after this started, he found my diary. He demanded to see my bruises and scars, getting my side of the story. He protected me like an actual father should, but by then the damage done.”
“Did things get better?” I snorted, such ignorance.
“Of course it didn’t. He was too much of a coward to stand up to her most times. Yeah, he would stand up for me, but even he backed down quickly. Even with his ‘help’ I was trapped, violated and isolated by that woman. She tormented me until she died.”
I jerked awake, briefly confused at my surroundings. Panic rose in my throat, threatening to suffocate me. I hated waking up in unknown places. ’Maybe we’ll be able to sleep at home soon. Do you think we can head there tonight? Possibly make a stop at your grandparents’ residence on the way?’
As much as I want to, it would not be wise. I need to gain their trust before disappearing for hours. They would panic and hunt me down. How would I explain my absence then? The panic rose higher in my throat; I needed to get out of here, now. I padded through the silent house and slipped out the back door. The cool night air soothed the panic. I settled underneath the massive willow tree, dipping my feet into the small pond. I leaned against the trunk, staring at the reflection of the moon in the water. Tiny waves lapped over my feet and distorted the moon. I felt so peaceful.
I don’t know how long I had been sitting there when lights started rapidly flicking on inside the house. I could hear Damien’s panicked voice snapping orders. Told you. He grunted but didn’t respond. I glanced at the sky and the celestial body in it. Basking in her luminous glory. A few moments had passed when a sweet scent wreathed around me, followed by warmth on my left side.
“Couldn’t sleep?” I shook my head, trying to keep my eyes away from the temptress. Gentle fingers trailed down my arm. I glanced down, watching those delicate digits stop at the underside of my wrist. She slipped her hand into mine, gripping my hand tightly. I leaned against her, grateful for her warmth. “Do you want me to leave you alone?”
“No, I would like you to stay… if you want to, of course.” He snarled.
Have your fun now, but mark my words, this will not end well. The fuming daeminion sank to the back of my mind. I laid my head on top of hers, wishing she could be mine forever and hoping Daeori was wrong.
Days passed by far too quickly for my liking. I spent nearly all of my time with Elizabeth Her parents, and Daeori, became increasingly dismayed at how close we were becoming. The only time that we parted was to use the restroom. We even slept in the same bed, enjoying the warmth and closeness. Damien was the most expressive of his displeasure and wariness; following our every movement, constantly checking on us. He sniped at me, criticizing my every move. I stayed quiet, refusing to engage him. I had to reserve my energy for someone else.
It was becoming harder and harder to control myself. His constant aggravation wasn’t helping. I needed to bathe my hands in blood again. We had finally had enough. Wake up! I groaned and turned over, careful not to jostle Elizabeth, squinting at the bright red numbers on the clock. 12:00 AM. I quietly slipped out of bed, dressed, and padded out into the hallway. After pausing for a few moments to listen for any sounds of someone waking, I crept out of the house. I relaxed as the wind lazily wound around me. The sense of freedom, of not having someone watching you every second was amazing.
’She is but a pawn you know, nothing worthy of your time or attention.’
I’ve made my stand on this. I don’t care what you say about her. She makes me feel whole again. He fell into a disgruntled silence, adjusting my directory. We filled the rest of the walk with a nearly painful silence. He was going to have to learn to get over his aversion to her. I had severely underestimated the time it would take to walk back to my home. It felt like hours had gone by, but it was worth it. The sight of the ugly structure sent relief flowing through me. It roused Daeori from his self-imposed isolation.
This is going to be one hell of a cleanup job. Bright yellow and black caution tape surrounded the entire plot of land, several layers thick in some places. Police had wrapped several more layers around the porch and unraveled it all the way around to the back. He was right, this was going to take forever to cleanup, or I could just leave it and deter people from coming here. Look at it closely, the house I mean. I did as he said. It had changed in a way that shouldn’t have been possible. The entire building sagged with the weight of years it had yet to see. The paint had turned to a darker, moldier grey. Shadows surrounding my home were deeper and more menacing; seeming to writhe. I slipped under the tape and cautiously approached. A frigid breeze briefly swirled around me before dissipating. We have to get moving.
I sighed and padded into the woods just behind my home. Running my fingers along the rough bark of the trees, soaking in the quiet strength they gave. I used to spend a lot of my time in these woods, exploring and hiding and making it my little piece of heaven. I walked until I came to a stop at the edge of a wide clearing. A small, cozy cottage nestled in the center. Pale lace curtains were thrown wide open, allowing dim beams of light to penetrate the darkness. A cold form appeared at my side. I glanced down as a undulating, wispy black claw wrapped around my forearm. Wherever its flesh touched went numb from the intense cold.
’You cannot afford to lose focus, keep your mind on revenge and making them suffer.’ I waved the entity away, irritated. It was common knowledge, he didn’t have to treat me like I was a child and hold my hand through this. I stalked up to the door and knocked as hard as I could. The wood groaned underneath my fist. A few moments later, the door was flung open by my scowling grandmother. Her expression shifted to shock, which quickly turned into a hastily put together smile.
“Christy darling, I’m so happy to see that you’re okay!”
“I’m sure that you are.” Her lips twitched down slightly, shifting uncomfortably in the heavy silence.
“Please come in.” She hobbled toward the kitchen. “It’s far too cold to be standing out there all night.” I followed the frail woman, closing and locking the door before I joined her. The scent of freshly baked brownies drifted through the air. Several long trays of the delicious treats sat on the countertop. “You came at the perfect time, help yourself!” I leaned against the entrance to the kitchen, watching her lumber about inside.
“Were you worried about my safety? Did you wonder if I had gotten hurt too?” Her movements faltered, nearly dropping her mitts. She stared at the stove as if it was the most interesting thing she could look at.
“Of course we were… are. Dan and I have been worried sick about you. We were planning on inviting you to stay with us until you were 18 when you were released.” She flashed me a thin, feeble smile. “We’ve been hoping and praying that you would be okay.” I could practically taste the thick, bitter lies coming from her lips.
“Do you realize how horrible of a liar you are, Lilianna? You can stop pretending to care. I’ve known what you’ve thought about me for a very long time.” Her eyes were wide, shock front and center. “I came here looking for shelter after she beat me one day. I knocked and knocked, finally giving up and hiding in the trees. You opened the door and called out to Dan that ‘the girl is gone, good riddance.’” I waited for her to deny it, to play it off like I heard wrong, that I had imagined it. She just looked at the floor, her mouth stayed shut. “The police called you when I was in the hospital asking if you would take me, you told them no.”
“What do you want from me?”
“There’s only one thing I desire, Lilianna. Revenge. Revenge for everything your family has done to me.” The smaller female scuttled back when I took a step closer.
“You need to leave.”
“Not without what I came here for.” She was glaring at me now, fists clenched at her sides. “Wipe that look off your face before I take it off bitch.”
“There’s something wrong with you, child. I’ve known that since the day they brought you home!” I snorted. The poor old witch couldn’t even imagine how right she was.
“I watched the light leave their eyes, their blood coated my hands. I was the reaper that stole their souls.” She gasped, her back hitting the fridge. I smirked, enjoying the power I held over her.
“God will strike you down, demon!”
“I will suffer no wrath from your imaginary deity. You, however, will answer for your transgressions.”
“You wretched child! Leave and never come back!” She should have backed down and just accepted it. Now I was going to make it painful.
’Melt the witch’s flesh! Make her scream for mercy!′ Make her beg for her life!’ I pinned the frightened woman to the fridge, hand gripping her bicep.
“Killing them had been one of the best moments of my life. You must settle with being second best.” Dragging her over to the hot stove. I slammed her into the counter, making the elder yelp; keeping hold of her with one hand and snatching her mitts from the countertop with the other. I opened the oven door, heat rolled out in one heavy suffocating cloud, I coughed at the onslaught. I pulled out both racks and tossed them on the floor. Lilianna’s ancient body was trembling in fear.
“Please don’t do this.” She sobbed.
“Save your tears, they won’t work on me.” I snatched her arm. She clawed at me, trying to get me to let go. I shoved her in front of me, gripping the back of her neck and forcing her onto her knees. “You look cold, my dear. Allow me to play the part of loving granddaughter and help you warm up.” I shoved her resisting form over until her face was hovering above the red hot coil. Her hands were pushing against the cooler oven door. Whimpers pouring out of her.
“I don’t want to die!” I forced her withered cheek into the coil. Her shrill shrieks of pain filled me with unimaginably intense pleasure. Her wails rose to an ear shattering crescendo, the metal eating through sagging flesh. The sickly sweet scent of cooking flesh made my nose wrinkle. I released her and stepped to the side. She fell backwards, skull thudding on the floor. Slowly rolling onto her stomach, her hands fluttered uselessly about the wound.
I knocked her hands away and gripped her chin, yanking her head up. A wide, gaping burn trailed from temple to just under her jaw. The edges of the wound were black and curled backwards. Blood and pus leaked from the crevice; dripping off the skin of her jaw and trailing down the front of her shirt. She tried to push me away; I slapped her hands. “You’ve dug your grave witch, now lie in it.” I forced her to meet my gaze; her dull jade eyes were miles away, her breathing quick and uneven. Shock was setting in.
Tears continued to stream down her face, mixing with the gore already present. “Was it worth it, Lilianna? Was it worth leaving me to that bitch, letting her do whatever she wanted to me? How does it feel knowing that you could have prevented this?” I slammed her face on the floor, earning a rough cry. Grabbing the kitchen towel off the fridge handle; I rolled the whimpering woman onto her backside. Straddling her, I put my knees on her hands to keep them out of the way and pried her jaw open. I stuffed the towel down her throat. She gagged and writhed, trying desperately to free herself.
I shoved her mouth closed and pinched her nose shut. Her movements slowly ceased as the minutes passed. She fell limp, never to move again. I felt a burst of pleasure as I studied the corpse. It fled almost as quickly, leaving me feeling weak and oddly numb in its wake. ’Now your grandfather.’ Daeori’s excitement hadn’t faded, only grown. I grabbed a knife from the block on the counter and slipped down the hall to the main bedroom. Dan was lying sprawled out on the bed. Gentle snores streamed from the nearly deaf man’s mouth. I padded up to the side of the bed, watching him to enjoy his last few breaths. I raised the blade above my head and swung down on a single rush of breath. The knife severed his spinal cord and came to a rest in the soft pillows. He twitched slightly and stilled. If that hadn’t finished him, then flames would.
I needed to find fuel and flammable objects. I wriggled the knife free and tossed on the floor. The wooden handle would burn, destroying that piece of evidence. I scrounged the cottage, tearing down curtains and lining them up from bedroom to front door. I cut off pieces of them, went to the garage and soaked them in gasoline. Stuffing the cloths into both of their mouths; I laid thick trails of fuel throughout their home. Lighting a match, I tossed it inside, quickly retreating as the gasoline burst into flames. The greedy flames quickly devoured wood and fabric. My job done, I left, I couldn’t wait to get back to Elizabeth.