Nonali couldn't believe her eyes. The text was as clear as day, but for some reason, the words just didn't register. That her mother might be alive was a shock in and of itself, but for her father to not even be the man she'd grown up with? That he was a man capable of these horrors?
She wanted to wretch.
"This is why I didn't want her to tell you. I oughtta strangle her," Ezra comments offhandedly, ignoring the glare she threw his way. "Oh don't look at me like that, her pact partner wouldn't let me touch a hair on her head."
"I can't believe what she's been through," she murmurs, thinking back to the day she'd seen her cousin's scar littered body. Dahlia was practically a walking torture ad.
"Don't think on it too much. That's the price she chose to pay."
"You both keep talking about a price, but what do you mean?"
"The human body was never meant for magic, so in order for you to wield it, you have to use a medium, for example, I'm your medium. Magic can kill or maim you, or worse. In order to avoid that, you pay a toll. It's a simple way to extract the magic from your body so that it doesn't start shredding you on a molecular level."
"So the price can be anything, and what do you mean worse?"
"Not exactly. It has to be some form of something being removed from you. Blood, flesh, cum," he wiggled his eyebrows at that. "It can also be extracted from heavy emotions, like fear, and love. Magic can also consume you and leave you a mindless shell of your former self if you let too much of it build up."
"Why don't I have to pay a price if that's the case?"
"I take care of that," he smirks. It takes her a minute to get it.
"Ah, yeah. Why couldn't she have just gone with that option?"
"From what I can tell about her, just from the short time I've known her, Dahlia doesn't seem the kind of person to half ass things."
"She's always had the attitude of go big or go home. Why would that affect her?"
"The more magic you use, the more payment is required. I imagine the amount of orgasms necessary to cover her kind of magic would keep her in bed for days at a time," he mused.
"So he just tortures her all the time? I thought they were friends?" Nonali gaped in outrage.
"That guy doesn't have friends, only people he hasn't killed yet."
His gruff and serious tone was enough to make her wary. Ezra wasn't afraid of anything, but Dahlia's pact partner set him on edge like she'd never seen. She didn't like him simply because of what he'd done to Dahl in the past. Her cousin had changed after all.
When she'd answered the phone all those months ago, Nonali had been relieved. She had assumed that because of the cheerful countenance that Dahlia hadn't been changed by her world's cruelty. In truth, her cousin had known it intimately. She'd become a part of it.
When she'd tortured that demon in the basement, she'd been sick with both rage and disgust. She wanted that demon to suffer. She wanted to see him get what he deserved after so many years. She just couldn't handle the sight of her cousin so casually inflicting pain the way she had. Her stare was cold, but it wasn't unfeeling. No, Nonali could see that she enjoyed torturing that man.
When she'd had enough, she went upstairs and Ezra had comfort her. She wanted to cry for her cousin. She remembered her as a sweet girl, but maybe she'd just never really known her. It made her want to vomit when she saw Dahlia covered in someone elses blood like it wasn't even there.
"Experience is the best teacher."
To think that Dahl had been through those awful things, Nonali didn't want to imagine it.
"You wanted to be a part of this world, you just have to learn to accept it," Ezra muttered darkly.
"I know, but, she's my family. It's- difficult, to see that."
"She doesn't care so why should you?"
He held his hands up in defeat and backed off, turning to dig through the fridge.
"I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that my dad might be Satan."
"Yeah, he really doesn't like it when people call him that," Ezra grimaced.
"Like I care, he murdered my dad and kidnapped my mom."
"Hey, uh, I wouldn't get your hopes up about that being the truth. I don't want you to get hurt," he mutters softly.
"Ezra, this is the first time in years I've had any semblance of hope. If my mother isn't alive after all, I'll be crushed, but it would at least be nice to think that I'll get to see her again."
"Honestly, if it were me, I wouldn't bet on anything. You're too optimistic, Nonali," Dahlia's sarcastic tone drifts through the kitchen and Nonali turns to look at her abruptly.
"I'd like to choke you," Ezra growls darkly.
"Careful, she likes that," Dahl's companion grins. Nonali doesn't like the look of his face. His voice is like oil, and the smile on his face doesn't look natural.
"Can we talk for a minute?" The just us was implied. Dahlia followed her into the hallway, leaving the boys to their own devices.
"Why don't you find a new pact partner? I'm sure there's someone out there that isn't as dangerous."
"Nonali, I couldn't if I wanted to. Sin is my-" she had to think for a minute.
"Paramour is the the word you are searching for my darling, what I am does not have a word like she and Ezra's relationship," the dark man purrs, appearing behind her cousin in the blink of an eye.
"Ah, yeah. You understand then?" Dahl raises a brow.
"Wait. You two are together?" She gapes.
"So it would appear," her cousin responds dryly. "Kind of feels like Stockholm Syndrome," she muses.
"This is a lot to take in. Hasn't he tortured you? He ate your liver Dahlia!"
"He's done that three or four times," she brushes aside, "as long as he grows it back it's not a big deal."
Nonali could only stare.
"Anyway, my relationship isn't what I came here to discuss. If we're gonna take a road trip to Hell to see your daddy dearest you're going to need to step up your game."
"Nonali, you can't even teleport. That's some pretty basic shit. You have access to the family grimoire right? Have you been studying?"
"The grimoire? No, I just listen to whatever grandma says to practice. She gives me worksheets." She could see Dahlia trying to reign in her laughter.
"A proper student, are you not?" Sin chuckles.
"Listen Nonali, you learn from experience. Not a-" she stifled a chuckle with a cough, "- you just don't use a worksheet. Is Ezra even useful to you?"
"Hey! Ezra may have a lot of downsides, but he's good to me!"
"I'll come by tomorrow and pick you up. You're going to learn some real witchcraft," Dahl shakes her head, snickering as she fades away.