Natalya is not really possessed by the death god’s minions but that does not stop the local priest from contacting the god in this region, his patience having snapped from her previous misadventures before.
“Nat, please,” begs her baby brother, his face twisted in disgust because he knows that this is a big misunderstanding that could’ve been avoided if only Natalya had been more mature.
She hesitates, mainly because she doesn’t want to hurt him, but now that the god ruling over them has been contacted, her hands are tied. “You and I both know I’m unable to do anything since he’s been called in,” she explains exasperatedly, running her fingers through her hair.
“Screw you,” Jason sneers, leaping up suddenly from his seat on her bed, and throws the book he’d held in his hands onto her stomach. “You never care about this affects any of us! I’m so sick of it. I hope he smites you.”
She’s not the least bit surprised at his anger, but more the hatred in his voice. “Jace, come on, don’t be like that—”
“No. You don’t get to call me that, you stupid bitch. Leave me the hell alone. I don’t want anything to do with you,” he growls and darts out of the room.
Natalya lies on her bed for what feels like a millennium, staring at the ceiling that’s painted light teal, her stomach in knots over causing trouble for her family once again. She’s always been a trickster, and as a little girl, she was able to get away with it, but now that she’s almost twenty, all it does it wreck havoc on everyone’s lives.
Angry tears burn her eyes as she glares up at the ceiling. She knows she can be so much better, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone treats her like a little kid, waiting for her to mess up. This time, she isn’t sure she can wiggle her way out of it.
It’s as she sits up, picking the weather beaten copy of some book she gave Jason for his birthday, that she feels it. The shift in the air, electricity in the air, the hairs on her arms standing at attention. The ball of dread in the pit of her belly is back with a vengeance, and she breathes deeply. Even the air has a metallic taste, making her stomach turn with fear and nerves.
Pushing past her fear, she pulls open her bedroom door and peers down the dimly-lit hallway. There are no angry priests, screaming brothers, disappointed parents so she makes her way down to the main staircase. Staring down from the landing, she drinks in the view.
Her father is holding her stepmother tightly, his other arm attached two her stepsister’s hand, and she can see her brother sulking near the back of them.
She spots the priest speaking to a...boy, her age, that exudes a commanding presence, drawing her attention to the unmistakable gleam on his skin, the way his clothes seem to glow, and then his head slowly lifts, his wavy hair pushed out of his eyes, and she’s paralyzed by his dark, hungry stare. It is not lustful in the manner she is so accustomed to see when being looked at by any man, but one of a god.
Her breathing is short, and her heart’s pounding, but she forces herself to walk slowly down the stairs, to not rush, to let this god know that she is scared.
“Fear not, trickster girl,” a dark, thunderous voice laughs soothingly, and she wants all the problems in the world to fall on her shoulders if not to be comforted by that voice. “I am not the one who is to judge you. I am but a messenger.”
She swallows hard. “A messenger, huh,” she says and watches his face for any sign of outrage towards her disrespect.
“My Lord has had his eyes on you for quite some time, trickster girl. Today’s disturbance has only provided him the perfect excuse.” His smile does nothing for her nerves, only fueling that swirling fire more violently.
“Perfect excuse for what?” she barks.
“Natalya!” her stepmother whispers, a stricken look on her face, pulling out her husband’s embrace to stand beside her stepdaughter. “Please, forgive her impertinence. She’s but a child!” Adalaine’s thin arms wrap around Natalya as though she could ever protect her from the god’s wrath.
He has the tenacity to laugh.
Natalya puffs up, ready to tear into him not unlike a wild animal, her hackles raised, but Adalaine shakes her head at her stepdaughter. There’s a glossy, pleading look in the woman's frightened eyes that has Natalya backing down reluctantly; even though he is a god, he laughed at her stepmother’s fear, and he will go down the same as a mortal man.
“Natalya, I beg you,” her stepmother whispers in her ear, but Natalya casts a glance at the god, who is pretending to engage her father and younger brother in conversation but by the way his eyes keep straying to them, she knows he can hear.
The god turns to them.
Natalya realizes he still hasn’t introduced himself. “Who are you?”
A ghost of a smile touches his lips. “I am Demetri. And you are Natalya, Adalaine, Jason, Kraestus, and little Daphne. You are to leave with me; your things are to be brought to the Lord’s castle shortly.”
“Leave?” Natalya echoes, uncertainty and anger coloring her tone, and Adalaine tugs on her arm firmly. When the girl turns to her stepmother, Adalaine’s face is white with terror and fear.
“You’ll be joining me on the journey back. I will leave you to say goodbye.” With a thunderous clap that shook the heavens, he vanished from sight, and the family was quiet.
All was quiet.
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