The subtle sound of leaves rustling on the ground prickled my heightened senses. “If you could see a change in the world, then your efforts were not as successful as I was led to believe, Little Worm.”
“Pax, thank you so much for helping me. I heard your voice while I was inside the Yolk.”
Pax nodded his head slowly, “It will be the last time you hear me. My blood is all but gone from your veins. By all accounts, you did well, but I needed to confirm your condition for myself. “I reached out to Pax and found only air. He opened his clawed hands and motioned toward the ground. “This empty vision moves easily. I will see you in person when I can.”
I was confused and panicked. “Can’t I get more of your blood?” His counsel was vital to me. Why take his help away now?
“Too much time with my blood in your veins.” He shook his head and curled his lip. “It will harm you.” The wind blew the curtains away from the slider revealing two sleeping naked men and the narrow empty piece of the mattress I previously occupied between them.
“I understand.” I smiled, but the loss of his direction felt like a small death. It surprised me how much the thought of Pax missing from my thoughts upset me. I blinked my eyes and tried not to let him see my disappointment.
Pax gazed at Leo and Henry. “I see much in that room. One your soul’s other half and one you protect—the angel turned human. But nothing there is just for you. Neither can satisfy your need for magic blood, and neither will put you above their own desires.”
The breeze was cold, but I felt a chill deep in my core. Nothing lasts forever, but I hoped somehow this new chapter in my life would linger unchanged.
“I haven’t considered what I desire in some time now,” I chuckled.
“Hmm,” Pax responded. His tall, dark image was frightening, I suppose, but it’s truthful. He didn’t hide the unpleasant parts of our truth. “The next trip inside the Yolk, you must take many more with you. The demons you dispatched marked your every move. A greater demon who remains in the Yolk is devising a strategy to kill you. The strength your group showed during the Sacrifice infuriates many who dwell in the darkness.”
“The Sacrifice?” I huffed. “I need to see a set of flashcards. The rules keep multiplying.”
“Rules, why? There is only what you need to comprehend to survive. Don’t bother with anyone’s rules.” The late afternoon sun dropped, providing Pax with dramatic backlighting. He moved his dark clawed hand in the rays of sunshine, extending his long appendages toward my heart. “A choice clouds my mind.”
“Really, interesting. What could possibly bother a big, nasty demon?” I sat back at the edge of the patio chair and looked carefully at his hardened skin. The reddish-black pallor reminded me of a lobster’s shell and the lacquered Japanese jewelry box that sits on my dresser. His armored skin was exquisite and ancient.
“A monster with a heart as dark as pitch.” Pax looked through me. A chill ran down my neck, crawled over my breasts, and died between my legs. “She is dark and raw and pure. I would take this monster with me as my equal.” Pax turned around, slowly displaying the full width of his wings and tail. “But I recently acquired a new body.” Pax turned again, morphing into a tall, tan-skinned man with several tribal tattoos and deep brown eyes.
“Wow, is this the new form you were talking about at the party?” The human form was tall with thick dark hair and a disarming bedroom smile. I swallowed down my shock. This man’s body was too incredible, looking to be a drug addict.
Pax nodded his head in agreement. “I planned well. I should be able to keep this form and stay here for some years.” His hands outstretched covered the lawn in shadow.
Remembering Pax inhabits the living, I swallowed down my judgmental tone and formed my question. “Did the man agree to your long-term plans?”
“In a fashion. This man was dying. I saved him and took away his many addictions, healed his body, and purified his blood. I want to try a human life for ten or twenty years. It doesn’t fit with my plans if you meet your end in the Yolk.”
“It doesn’t meet with my plans, either.” Pax crouched down in his human image, pulled at the grass blades, smiling at me. The man Pax choose to inhabit was uncommonly handsome. I shook my head slowly. “You are going to get into so much trouble walking around in that thing.”
“There is a gift I want to bestow.” He extended his human hand in my direction and smirked. “A dark gift to match your deliciously dark and monstrous heart.”
“Interesting, go on,” I said playfully.
“To know so much is a burden.” Pax put his large human hand to his chest. “To know so little is cruelty.” He nodded at me. “Together, my Little Worm, we are a beautiful tragedy.” Pax looked at me as if he were reading a text message from my forehead.
“What are you looking at?”
“Do you understand the power a word spoken into this realm can have?”
“I mean, you can’t yell fire or bomb into a crowded room, but if I say turkey or pizza, it’s not like one will manifest in front of me.”
“In short, no, you do not understand. I’m going to show you a word.” Pax extended his human finger into the dirt and began to scratch out the letter K. Several letters later, the word Kasdeya appeared. Looking up at the gathering clouds, I noticed how deathly quiet the once chattering animal noise became.
“Don’t utter this word but commit it to memory. Kasdeya is one of my many names. Saying it aloud will bring me to you. I give you this information but understand using my name puts you at a disadvantage. Many think to know the name of a demon gives you power, but it only gives you my undivided attention. The two are not the same.”
A tingle of fear filled my body, accentuating how much I needed food. “Thank you for this gift, Pax.”
“Hmm, it is not a gift to use lightly.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” I replied too quickly to remove my smug tone. “You have been a good friend to me and an even better teacher.”
“Of course, I am a predator of men. What else would I need to be to gain your trust but a teacher and a friend?”
“Truth be told. I like your true form best. It suits you, and strangely the purity of your design, the armor of it excites me.”
“There is something very wrong with your mind, Little Worm.”
“I know. There must be. I’m alone in a crowd.” I pointed back to the room. “It feels like everything around me is smoke and mirrors. I don’t even feel real anymore.”
“Hmm, this will pass. Your mind is not accustomed to traveling between dimensions. Drink, eat and lay with your men. The emptiness will subside.” Pax stood. The sun caught the thick hair on his human image, turning it red. “I will not be welcome with the spectators next time you enter the White, but I will be there all the same.”
It sounded like Pax was telling me goodbye. Something changed. I was on the outside of his world now. “Won’t I see you for more lessons while I sleep?”
“Hmm,” Pax shook his head slowly and looked down at the ground. “our lessons will be held in the flesh now, my beautiful monster.” Pax vanished as quickly as he appeared.
For all I thought I understood about the hidden realm, I was now confused. My trip inside the White divided me from my human life. Entering the space was the death of one life and the birth of another. I didn’t understand why.
With no fear to distract me—my hunger pains returned even stronger than before. I needed to clean up enough for public view and find some food.
Halfway through my shower, Leo woke up and joined me, taking a moment to pee in the corner of the shower before running his huge hands through my shampoo covered hair and down my back.
Henry woke up while I was rinsing off, claiming he was dying of starvation and could barely move. I helped Henry find his way around the shower. We all dried off and raided Henry’s bag of clean clothes before going to the little attached diner for food.
Sitting in the middle of two starving men waiting for their food is an interesting situation. Both were on their best behavior, no doubt trying to establish themselves as the head honcho in our new trio.
The waitress who seated us was an older woman with a subtle smile and tidy braided hair. She patted me on the shoulder when she led me to our table at the far end of the room, away from all the other patrons. I couldn’t tell what her intention was. Did she give me a subtle high five, or did she imagine some scenario where I was to be pitied?
Our drink order of orange juices and waters arrived quickly. The coffee was on its way. Besides me reading off a few food selections from the menu for Henry, the conversation hadn’t moved away from basic pleasantries.
“So that was fun this morning. Next time maybe you guys can get a little closer to each other. My arms are only so long.”
Leo was in mid drink on his second glass of water. He looked up at me with his signature wide-eyed, blank stare.
“I’m okay with that,” Henry agreed. “I just don’t want anything, you know. Stuck where the sun doesn’t shine.” Henry situated his water and juice on opposite sides of his plate bullseye and sat up straight, repositioning his dark glasses.
“Oh yeah, that goes without saying. Unless you’re up for something like that, Al.” Leo attempted to get me to try new things every so often. Henry turned toward me and was very quiet.
“That might be something we try at home,” I offered quietly. Looking around to make sure no one was listening in on our conversation.
Leo dropped his hand near his drink, rattling the table and startling everyone in earshot.
“How long is the trip home?” Henry asked.
“Six very long hours,” Leo replied. Pulling at the zipper flap on his jeans.
“Check, please,” Henry joked, resituating himself in his chair.
Leo fiddled with his phone for a few seconds before showing me a picture of two men and a woman in bed. “I found her a picture.” Leo snickered.
“Oh yeah, I can envision the whole thing.” Henry took a long drink of his water. A big smile spread across his face.
“I can’t believe you two, but that doesn’t look physically possible. It’s got to be photoshopped.” I turned Leos’s phone around to try and get a better view of the threesome he found. “Double anything isn't going to work. I’m not a porn star.”
“I don’t think you need to be.” Leo sent me a link to the article with a devious smile.
It was a ridiculous situation, but the shared fantasy seemed to instantly bond the two men. They both lightened up considerably and seemed to lose the need to prove who was the alpha male.