Mac: 11:18 a.m., November 1
Death. Pestilence. Famine. They surround me, my lovers, the terrifying Unseelie Princes.
Who’d’ve thought destruction could be so beautiful? Seductive. Consuming.
My fourth lover—War? He ministers to me tenderly. Ironic for the bringer of Chaos, creator of Calamity, maker of Madness—if that is who he is. I cannot see his face, no matter how I try. Why does he hide?
He caresses my skin with hands of fire. I char, my skin blisters, bones fuse from sexual heat no human can endure. Lust consumes me. I arch my back and beg for more with parched tongue, cracked lips. As he fills my body, he quenches my thirst with drink. Liquid spills over my tongue, drips down my throat. I convulse. He moves inside me. I catch a glimpse of skin, muscle, a flash of tattoo. Still no face. He terrifies me, this one who keeps himself concealed.
In the distance, someone barks commands. I hear many things, understand none. I know that I have fallen into enemy hands. I know also, soon, I will no longer know even that. Pri-ya, a Fae sex addict, I will believe there is no place, nothing else I would rather be.
If my thoughts were coherent enough to form sentences, I would tell you that I used to think life unfolded in a linear fashion. That people were born and went to . . . what’s that human word? I dressed up for it every day. There were boys. Lots of cute boys. I thought the world revolved around them.
His tongue is in my mouth, and it’s tearing apart my soul. Helpmesomeonepleasehelpmemakehimstopmakethemgoaway.
School. That’s the word I’m looking for. After that, you get a job. Marry. Have...what are they? Fae can’t have them. Don’t understand them. Precious little lives. Babies! If you’re lucky, you live a good, full life and grow old with someone you love. Caskets then. Wood gleams. I weep. A sister? Bad! Memory hurts! Let it go!
They’re in my womb. They want my heart. Tear it open. Gorge on passion they can’t feel. Cold. How can fire be so cold?
Focus, Mac. Important. Find the words. Deep breath. Don’t think about what’s happening to you. See. Serve. Protect. Others at risk. So many died. Can’t be for nothing. Think of Dani. She’s you inside, beneath that adolescent thumbs-in-the-pockets, one hip cocked, thousand-yard stare.
I orgasm without ceasing. I become the orgasm. Pleasure-pain! Exquisite! Mind-melting, soul-shredding, the more they fill me the emptier I am. It’s slipping, all slipping, but before it goes, before it’s gone completely, I get a hateful moment of clarity and see that
Most of what I believed about myself, and life, I derived from modern media, without questioning any of it. If I wasn’t sure how to behave in a certain situation, I’d search my mind for a movie or TV show I’d seen, with a similar setup, and do whatever the actors had done. A sponge, I absorbed my environment, became a by-product of it.
I don’t think I ever once looked up at the sky and wondered if there was sentient life in the universe besides the human race. I know I never looked down at the earth beneath my feet and contemplated my own mortality. I tunneled blithely through magnolia-drenched days, blind as a mole to everything but guys, fashion, power, sex, whatever would make me feel good right then.
But these are confessions I would make if I could speak, and I can’t. I’m ashamed. I’m so ashamed.
Who the fuck are you? Someone shouted that question at me recently—his name eludes me. Someone who frightens me. Excites me.
Life’s not linear at all.
It happens in lightning flashes. So fast you don’t see those lay-you-out-cold moments coming at you until you’re Wile E. Coyote, steamrolled flat as a pancake by the Road Runner, victim of your own elaborate schemes. A sister dead. A legacy of lies. An unwanted inheritance of ancient blood. An impossible mission. A book that is a beast that is ultimate power, and whoever gets their hands on it first decides the fate of the world. Maybe all the worlds.
Stupid sidhe-seer. So sure you had things headed in the right direction.
Here and now—not on some cartoon highway from which I can peel myself, stand up, and magically reinflate, but on the cold stone floor of a church, naked, lost, surrounded by death-by-sex Fae—I feel my most powerful weapon, the one I swore never to give up again—hope—slipping away. My spear is long gone. My will is...
Will? What’s will? Do I know the word? Did I ever?
Him. He’s here. The one who killed Alina. Please, please, please don’t let him touch me.
Is he touching me? Is he the fourth? Why conceal himself?
When the walls come tumbling, tumbling down, that’s the question that matters. Who are you?
I reek of sex and the scent of them—dark, drugging spices. I have no sense of time or place. They’re inside me and I can’t get them out, and how could I have been such a fool to believe that at the critical moment, when my world fell apart, some knight in shining armor was going to come thundering in on a white stallion, or arrive sleek and dark on an eerily silent Harley, or appear in a flash of golden salvation, summoned by a name embedded in my tongue, and rescue me? What was I raised on—fairy tales?
Not this kind. These are the fairy tales we were supposed to be teaching our daughters. A few thousand years ago, we did. But we got sloppy and complacent, and when the Old Ones seemed to go quietly, we allowed ourselves to forget the Old Ways. Enjoyed the distractions of modern technology and forgot the most important question of all.
Who the fuck are you?
Here on the floor, in my final moments—MacKayla Lane’s last grand hurrah—I see that the answer is all I’ve ever been.
Some of my fave quotes
"I pout. But it quickly curves into a smile. I know a secret. For a beast of such power, his self control with me is weak. I have learned this in our time together. I wet my lips, give him a look, and he makes that raw, angry-sounding noise deep in his throat that makes my blood hot, hot, hot, because everytime he makes it I know he's just about to give me what I want. He cannot resist me. It bothers him. He is an odd animal."
"I'll snoop anywhere I damned well please, Ms Lane. I'll snoop inside your skin if I feel like it."
"You just try." I said, eyes narrowing.
He moved forward in one swift, violent lunge but caught himself and locked down hard. I mirrored the move, without conscious thought at all, as if our bodies were connected by pupper strongs. Lunged forward, froze. Fisted my hands at my sides. They wanted to touch him. I looked down. His hands were fisted, too. I uncurled my hands and crossed my arms. He crossed his at exactly the same moment. We both practically flung them down at our sides. We stare at each other. The silence lengthened."
"Our sex is fierce. We will both be bruised.
"I want it to always be like this," I tell him.
"Try holding onto that thought."
"I do not need to try. I will never feel differently."
His laughter is as dark and cold as the place of which I dream, "One day you will wonder if it's possible to hate me more."
"There’s only one question that matters, Ms. Lane, and it’s the one you never get around to asking. People are capable of varying degrees of truth. The majority spend their entire lives fabricating an elaborate skein of lies, immersing themselves in the faith of bad faith, doing whatever it takes to feel safe. The person who truly lives has precious few moments of safety, learns to thrive in any kind of storm. It’s the truth you can stare down stone-cold that makes you what you are. Weak or strong. Live or die. Prove yourself. How much truth can you take, Ms. Lane?"
" His voice worked on me like an aphrodisiac. I was wet and ready. I had been since he began speaking. For two months, I'd been trapped in a Fae-induced sexual frenzy, having constant, incredible sex with him, while listening to his voice, smelling his scent. Like one of Pavlov's dogs, I'd been conditioned by repeated stimuli to have a guaranteed response. My body anticipated, greedily expected pleasure in his presence. I inhaled, caught myself straining for the scent of him, forced it back out, and closed my eyes, as if maybe I could hide behind my own lids from an ironic truth : V'lane and Barrons had swapped roles. I was no longer sexually vulnerable to the death-by-sex Fae Prince. Jericho Barrons was my poison now. "