[center [pic http://i59.tinypic.com/20rwf8n.jpg]][center [font "Times New Roman" Mature - Murder - Psychological - Deceit - Mind Games - Fantasy - Mystery - Misc]]
[center [font "Times New Roman" Humans, such fragile and sensitive creatures. Turning a blind eye to the oddities that happen around them in their day to day life. You think you are alone on this planet? '[i Top of the food chain]'. That those stories of monsters and dragons are but mere stories? That we do not exist outside of your foolish little novels and fantasies. You are so wrong, my little one. So very very [b wrong]. With those self-made blinders set in place, you may believe that you are right. That the creatures you write about may never hurt you, may never [u hunt you] down. I assure you that we are there, watching you in plain sight, waiting. We are your next door neighbor, your accountant, even your school teachers and loan sharks. '[i Waiting.']]]
[center [font "Times New Roman" Just like most cats, curiosity is often your downfall. Once you've taken off those blinders, once you've almost caught a [i glimpse], you take it too far. You call attention to yourself, to [i [u us]], and to your [b family]. For that, you must pay the price. While most of us find you harmless, others see your meddling as a [u threat]. Oh. Don't worry, they warn you first, maybe in a way you didn't quite grasp, but they [i did] try to warn you. Now it is not only you, but your family that must pay the price. What, little one? You don't understand why? Well, we did [b try] to warn you. Now [b [u run]]. Run before what has befallen on your family catches up to you too.]]
[center [u [b The Gist;]] You've managed to stumble upon something you shouldn't have. Congrats. Now your family lays slaughter and your younger sister is missing. You've even made a contract with [s someone] [i something] in exchange for power, you've given up your life force. Why were they murdered? Where is your sister? [i What have [b you] done?] Well. We will find out, now won't we...?]
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She felt heavy, depressed by the reminder of her loss. It wasn’t only hers either, but Peter’s too. It tore her apart inside, and try as she might she couldn’t make the images of her family abate. Exhaustion had finally caught up with her after resisting the Kelpie’s tempting offer. She sniffled, as tears trickled down her cheeks. Her family was gone, and no one was going to fix that… even though she would give anything to hold them again. She wouldn’t bring them back… fractured. Which was exactly what they would be if she had taken the Kelpie’s offer. She’d read enough books and seen enough movies to know better than [i that].
She sat on the edge of the empty pool, staring down into the cracked concrete that spider webbed along the bottom of the pool. Mother Nature had done her work, growing grass between the cracks, and allowing life to flourish. Separated from the world by a concrete bowl, the insects buzzed among the flowering weeds. Over head she could heard the birds flying away from the noisy traffic, and kids shouting in the streets. It was the city’s symphony, and Leila had always found it comforting. Unfortunately, she found no comfort in anything, not even the way the light flickered off the wings of a bee hanging lazily over a dandelion. She felt hollow, but heavy, angry but at peace… she was a contradiction. She wanted her vengeance, she wanted her story, but she had fear… fear of her inevitable death if she pursued this path. It caused her to shiver with a chill, even under the warm August sun.
She heard the door open behind her, but she didn’t glance back. She knew who it was, and she believed more than ever that she had not met him by accident. He stopped just shy of her and told her what she already knew. That they could have been brought back, but they would not have been the same. Figured. He told her she did well, and he was right. She did not feel like she had done a job well done. She couldn’t find the words to speak, and she didn’t trust her voice. She didn’t want to face him either, her tears still fell renewed by his words.
She felt so lacking. How did she truly expect to get to the bottom of who murdered her family and all those missing people without getting herself killed just like them? What made her so damn special? Luxe started walking towards her again, and Leila quickly raised her hands to wipe her tears away. She knew it was pointless, and that he’d see her bloodshot eyes. She didn’t know Luxe well, but she knew enough to know he was no fool.
She opened her eyes and blinked, startled by how close he suddenly was. It halted her tears on the spot, and the moment his fingers raked across her jaw, a blush flared across her cheeks.
[i “If you truly want to pursue this...I will form a contract with you.”]
Leila was stunned by his words. Was this for real? Apparently it was as he laid out the stipulations regarding payment. She felt he was taking it easy on her with his storied explanation regarding the legends of Demons. So was that what he was? A Demon? She hadn’t really asked him to clarify that yet.
He gave her a chance to ask whatever she wanted in regards to her payment, and offered her an out if she wished. She frowned, debating her options and thought back to their conversation in the cafe.
“Twenty years to find your soulmate… to find love… to find peace.” She murmured and frowned at Luxe. “It seems so cheap. If I lived a full life and traded twenty years? What’s that in the grand scheme? I’d trade so much more for just one more moment with my family.” She sighed in thought, before she looked up at Luxe. “I don’t imagine vengeance is much different from its opposite. Both could pose a risk. Both are a means to an end… but one will not make me happy, and the other…” She stopped, a grin forming on her face. She was about to rationalize a lie. Love could be painful and tragic, and just as hollowing as revenge to the soul. So what did it matter? She might not feel better after getting her revenge, but she might as well have some fun doing it.
“I’m asking a lot from you. We have no idea who’s behind my family’s murder, the missing people, and these stolen contracts. I believe the research I’ve done already, and the connections I’ve put together are helpful to you and your kind. You have to have a governing body of some kind. They’d want to know if there was a group of fanatics wanting to enslave humans, or take over the world, right? Maybe I can’t get this story out to my kind, but I can to yours. That’s got to give me a discount right?” At his look, she shrugged that spark returning back to her jade eyes. “It was worth a shot, and I was completely joking. I think this is worth a good couple decades of my life at least, if not a bit more. I won’t give you less than twenty, but no more than thirty. I was thinking a solid twenty six years in exchange for my vengeance. I could probably get myself killed before we ever figure out what’s going on, and you know what I just realized?” She asked suddenly, but it was blatantly rhetorical, as she answered it herself. “I never even asked you what you are. I figure I should know what sort of [i person], I’m doing business with.” She said giving him a one over, her tears long gone, and the resilient Leila returning to the surface. By the time she finished looking him up and down, she was grinning at him, with hands on her hips. “Luxe, what are you?”
A song of despair, the kelpie pulled that Leila’s freshly cut heartstrings all the while Luxe and Nova merely watched. It wasn't their placed to step in, not when the journalist had made it clear that she wanted to get the bottom of this blood filled barrel. She was going to have to learn to harden her heart against sentiments such as family and friends. The kelpie was doing a good job at luring her in. Step by step, Leila had crept closer to the decrypt creature as it sugary words sang to her memories. Love, family, reunited. All wicked promises.
The sounds of tiny bones snapping, cracking, and pulling back together made his eyes shift from the song and dance in front of him to Nova. It only took a few minutes for the harpy to revert to her human form, but the process was gruesome and often unappealing to watch. Once the harpy had slipped successfully back into her human skin, she sauntered over to Luxes side, rolling back on her heels with her eyes fixed on Leila.
Seconds ticked by and as Leila took a few steps towards the Kelpie, Nova’s body went rigid ready to jump in a save the girl before the broken down monster in front of them could. Luxe placed a hand on Nova’s shoulder to hold her in place, giving the harpy woman an intense look before dropping his hand back into his jeans front pocket.
Not even a full minute later, Leila broke free and took off out the door, slamming it shut behind her. Luxe had mentally put the emotional war that had just played out before them as fifty-fifty odds. One-half Leila winning, the other half the Kelpie. A smirk played on his lips as he nodded wordlessly towards the Kelpie giving Nova the go-ahead while following after Leila’s trail. He paused for a moment at the door, giving Leila a moment to herself before continuing on after her.
Not that she had gone very fair. The door opened with a loud groan while Luxes leather shoes made tapping sounds against the faded white titles that surrounded the vacant pool. The dark hair man stopped a few inches away from her side, his brown eyes scanning the cracks in the cement at the bottom of the pool, discolored weeds decorating most of them.
“Even if you took that offer,” he began his voice soft, “they would not have come back...whole.” Bring back a few dead humans wasn’t a large order to fill. However, they never came back right. “They wouldn’t have most of their memories and they would act only on impulse.” Luxe raked his long fingers through his hair, the dark raven locks following back into place easily. “You did well, it might not feel like it now, but it will someday.”
There was a lull, leaving silence between them. Taking a deep breath, Luxe took a few steps forward, turning on the balls of his feet and stopping in front of Leila, less than an inch of space between them. Carefully, he reached out, his fingers lightly brushing down her jawline. “If you truly want to pursue this...I will form a contract with you.” Luxe took his hand away and took half a step back. “I won’t ask for all of your life, you must offer what you think this is worth.”
Luxe turned his head, eyes focused on the empty pool once again. “If I don’t think it is worth it, I’ll decline your request.” Luxe shot her a small sad smile. “This is just how these things work, some parts of your literature can be accurate at times.” Most of the human authors always put in airs of mystery around demons, always putting in bets and favors. Most of the time, they got it wrong. However, there were bits and pieces that they did happen to get right. Luxe wasn’t sure if it was because they actually had contact with one of his kind or just dumb luck.
“Ask whatever you want now. I will answer to the best of my ability.” He held up a hand to pause her. “I can’t give you hints on how many years you need to offer. I gave you all I could on that if you want too. Should you not want a contract with me, I understand of course.” He wouldn’t understand, but humans were fickle little things sometimes.
Don’t Fret… yeah, easier said than done. Leila wasn’t sure what she was expecting behind that door, but a winged Harpy was not one of those things. Nor was a horse made of seaweed something she was prepared for. Leila stood with mouth agape in total and complete shock. The only that kept her from making a fool of herself by tucking tail and running as far and as fast as she could, was Luxe’s hand on her shoulder. He hadn’t been pulling her leg when he said things were never how they seemed to be, and that there really was a whole different world living within her own.
He spoke to the Harpy, who’s name was Nova and introduced them both. Leila could only stare and raise a hand to wave. She was still too shocked to be herself at the moment.
[i “Charmed.”] Leila gasped at the sound of her shrill, inhuman voice. [i “Are you the one Luxe here ran off too? Leaving me to do all of this work by myself.”] Leila stuttered for a moment, still so stunned by the sight of everything and the voice she had heard. Though, eager not to look like an idiot, she quickly snapped her mouth shut and attempted to answer the question.
“I-I suppose so. I’m sorry-“ Leila managed, but from there Luxe passed her and began conversation with the Harpy after her little quip about ‘pretty ones’. Leila didn’t realize she had blushed at that. Pretty? She’d always thought she was pretty plain, to be honest. Though if Luxe’s reaction, or lack there-of was any indication, she was sure it was more just a joke than an off handed compliment.
There was mention of a meeting, and when the Kelpie spit a nasty tar substance at Luxe the smell hit Leila and she was sure she was going to gag. The only that kept her from doing so was Luxe’s question. Sadly she hadn’t heard of the name before. “I can look into it and do some digging though,” She told them both, making sure to write herself a note in her phone to research the name when she was back with her computer. She was saving the note when she heard the siren like sound of the Kelpie. It rang in her ears hypnotically and made her look towards him. His yellow eyes glowed with power and threatened to make Leila walk towards him.
[b “I can smell the death on you. Pact with me. Help me and I can bring them back.”] Leila felt her heart skip a beat. She knew it had to be a lie, an empty promise, but despite her better wishes she couldn’t look away and took a step closer towards him. Bring her family back? Peter’s mother -her sister… it was most certainly too good to be true. Not even Gaius had been this compelling…
Leila fought the urge to go to the Kelpie, it had to be his eyes, his siren’s voice, his tempting offer… whatever it was, it was a strong urge, but it didn’t feel right. Leila held her ground, staring back and fighting the impulse to walk to him. She had to break his hold on her, never before had she thought being normal could be a weakness, and yet here she was enthralled by a Kelpie.
She could feel the eyes of Luxe and Nova on her, watching… maybe judging. Leila wanted to prove she was strong, that she could do this, and overcome the Kelpie’s enthrallment.
“No,” She finally managed, a rouge tear sliding down her cheek. It caused the Kelpie to hiss at her, and it helped to break its hold over her. She nearly stumbled back, shaking her head free of the fog he had conjured in her mind, and quickly turned her back to him. It was certainly his eyes, they had been the most compelling -and in a dangerous way. “You’re lying. You can’t bring them back. They’re dead… what’s dead should stay dead. I’ve [i seen] Pet Cemetery…I know enough to know I want nothing to do with resurrecting the dead. They’re gone and not you or anyone else is going to bring them back.” She snapped over her shoulder to the Kelpie. The creature began to laugh at her despite his wounds and looked to Nova and Luxe.
“Smart little mortal… she’s going to get herself killed.” Leila glared from where she stood, but she was too frightened to make eye contact with the vile creature again. She had almost been too weak to resist before, if she saw those gleaming eyes again… she wasn’t sure she could look away. She seriously hoped this wasn’t a common power among the Lore or she was going to be a deep trouble. “Still not smart enough though… I might not be able to actually bring your dead back… but there are others who can…” he sang to her tortured soul. Leila only turned on him with a teary eyed glare, and turned that look towards
“I need air… Leila gasped, and rushed from the storage shed. she didn’t bother to wait for the other two to speak, she just ran, slamming the door behind her. Heart racing, and feel so terribly cold and empty she slid down the wall of the building to sit on the concrete. Knees drawn to her chest, she stared out blankly at the half drained pool, her mind racing, and her stomach turning.There were creatures capable of raising the dead, enthralling mortals, and all of them seemed to have their own plans and schemes going on in the background. Not even Luxe was the exception, she could tell from the very beginning he was hiding something from her, and it made her wonder if she could even trust him too. “What have I gotten myself into?” She whispered, though the thought of turning her back on all of this and walking away… just wasn’t an option and didn’t even bother to cross her mind.
The car ride short and sweet, filled with mildly interesting banter, on Luxe’s side. As the journalist seemed to have a bit of difficulty with the situation involving the young boy. Luxe did, however, finally learn the little one's name, so perhaps Leila was warming up to him. Or she was warming up to the idea that he wasn’t completely insane. As soon as the small car slowed to a full stop, Leila was out before Luxe could utter a word of warning. Perhaps it should have been said in the beginning, however, the information was met only for the two of them and not for the ears of their driver. “We won’t be needing a ride from here,” Luxe informed the rather stoic troll before sliding out of the cab himself. From the moment he opened the car door, the muggy air began to cling to his skin.
A brow was raised at your question. “Dear, I think I knew a few things that you don’t.” He chuckled, not meaning it as an insult to her statement had truthfully made him laugh. Yes, she had laid the groundwork, but without knowledge of the supernatural side, she would only hit dead ends. Leila stood by his side briefly, before stepping behind him. Maybe she had meant to use him as a shield - or push him into whatever monster they were going to face inside the small building that hosted all the cleaning chemicals. From their walking distance, he could see that the door was slightly jarred open, the lock having been broken. Well, well, well, it seemed someone had a little bit of fun in his absence. “Don’t fret, love,” Luxe responded to his name as he pushed the door fully open.
Nova’s back was to the pair, but that was enough of a view. Where there should have been a smooth tan skin, was ripped uneven flesh that spread into large grey coarse feathered wings. The feathers looked like they had been dipped in oil and frozen as they pointed their sharp uneven ends towards the dark cemented floor. ‘Monsterous’ was a good word to describe them. Nova’s feet had been replaced with one would describe as bulky chicken feet, with fearsome talons attached at the end. In front of the harpy laid a horse that appeared to be made up of nothing but seaweed, with bright gleaming yellow eyes that seemed sinister in nature. Luxe gently placed his hand on Leila’s shoulder for some moral support. He had tried to ease her into this as easily as he could, though the journalist had been far too weary to believe him. Right so, since most of his kind had been made into nothing but myths and fairytales.
“Nova, dear, we have human company.” Luxe cleared his throat as those chocolate brown eyes travelled from the harpies back to the bloody pile on the floor. His hand that was placed on Leila's shoulder slid down her arm until it gracefully fell back to his side as he sauntered in, taking a stand just an arm's reach away from the harpy. “Leila,” He gestured towards the blonde human with a casual hand that waved towards the harpies body in the same manner after a brief pause, “meet Nova.”
“Charmed.” Nova’s voice was shrill in her natural form, almost as if someone was using a fancy voice changer. “Are you the one Luxe here ran off too? Leaving me to do all of this work by myself.” She gave a dramatic sigh, her talons scratched loudly against the cement as she turned her body halfway to give the human female a once over. “You do have a weakness for the pretty ones.” Nova teased, turning her attention to her victim splayed out on the floor.
“Has he said anything?”
“No, he has been rather uncooperative as you can see. I did manage to get a few little nuggets of information regarding a meeting.” The kelpie that had remained silent up until this point spat out a lump of green tar-like spit towards Luxe’s shoes.
“Well isn’t he precious.” Luxe almost rolled his eyes. Kelpies. Instead to turned his attention to Leila. “Do you know anything about a person named Azariah?” It didn’t sound like a human name, but he had been sorely wrong before.
“Girl,” the sing-song voice of the beaten kelpie broke their conversation. “Do not get involved with these [i low-lifes].” Luxe and Nova both snorted at the poor creatures use of the word low-life. “I can get you what you really want.” Its bright yellow eyes locked onto Leila’s, trying to will her to come closer. “You’ve lost someone recently. I can smell the death on you. Pact with me. Help me and I can bring them back.” It sang its promise sweetly while Nova and Luxe exchanged a glance. If Leila did want to continue down this path, she was going to be met with a lot of promises. Some of them empty and some of them tempting. This time, the two monsters merely listened to the exchange rather than butting in with their own options. The little human was going to have to start dealing with these sorts of things from now on.
Outside, Leila felt she could breathe, and could somewhat relax. She looked around at the hustle and bustle of the area, and finally back to Luxe as he lit his cigarette and offered her one. Leila smoked, but not at the frequency Luxe seemed to, and politely passed on the offering. He made a comment about the other man and how it seemed he’d taken a liking to her. Leila could only wrinkle her nose.
“He was a bit creepy. I have no doubt he’d help me get what I want, but I have a feeing he was wanting more than just a couple years off my life…” She grumbled. “I think I’ll just keep following you for now.” Though Leila was preferring Luxe more and more with each passing moment, though as they shuffled into the car to head to their next destination, Leila had to wonder if Luxe even wanted to contract with her. It had to go both ways didn’t it? Both parties had to be willing and consenting?
Luxe had also commented her on being smart. She had to bite back from frowning at that. Did he assume she wasn’t smart because she was a woman, or because she was human? Her money was on the latter of the two as Luxe didn’t strike her as the chauvinistic type. Besides, she didn’t suspect humans figured out Lorean issues everyday. He made a call to the driver to take them to another location and she turned her gaze outward to the passing city scenery. It was a short lived distraction from blatantly staring at Luxe, or their driver when he mentioned his thoughts on her nephew. That caught her attention quickly, and she was shocked to find that he didn’t think sending the boy away was a good idea. She thought it would be best and she didn’t think she had much of a choice. If the state showed up for her Nephew and he wasn’t there, then she was going to be in a great deal of trouble. She listened intently as he informed her of an open unit in his apartment complex. That was strange, he wanted her closer? What about after the fact? None of the neighbors would be human like her, and while there seemed to be an irritating tenant, Luxe mentioned they were good with children.
‘As long as it’s not a witch who wants to cook him up,” Leila joked. Luxe assured her, that even if she chose Gaius, they would like to keep an innocent child safe. That was something Leila could get behind.
“The state has already said they’re coming to get him. If I keep him from them… I’ll have monsters coming at me from one side and the State coming at me from the other. This is not ideal no matter how I look at it…” Her voice trailed off. She couldn’t bare the thought of something happening to Peter. Perhaps the risks to herself were worth it, death or jail were her future, and life for Peter was worth everything. Still… the father had demanded his rights, and Leila had no choice but to hand him over. “I don’t really have a choice. For now… this is what has to be done, maybe it’s not best, but my hands are tied,” She said putting an end to any debate involving her nephew.
It took them half an hour to get to their destination, and it left Leila puzzled as to what on Earth they were doing at a community pool. She stepped out of the cab and looked at the pool. The sign read ‘Closed’, which wasn’t surprising, and Leila gasped as she realized this was a location on her map! “One of the missing people was last seen at this pool…” Leila murmured in surprise. “You know something I don’t?” She asked moving to stand beside him before following him in. The pool was empty, but not drained, and while it could have used a good power washing to the sidewalks, it wasn’t the worst community pool Leila had ever seen. Cautiously she followed Luxe towards a back building and heard the muffled sounds of who knew what. “Luxe?” She asked nervously as he opened a door and she was shocked by what she saw. Nothing could have prepared her for it, and if she didn’t believe before, she definitely did now.
There were several things that should have been on Luxes mind as the duo stood in a room with people and creatures that he didn’t know. Minus Margo, he had no clue just who the other woman and man were. However, simple questions like that were far from his mind. The only thing that really stuck with him was; [i who wears a trench coat in the middle of August?] While Luxe was still trying to find logic in this mans picked out attire, introductions were made. From the moment that this [u Gaius] began to speak, Luxe decided that it would be the most rational thing for him to do was simply stay silent. Because if he were to open that mouth of his, only insults would pour. Or indirect insults, since the male seemed to have third tier information.
The coins had been a form of passage for [i lower] levels, that did not have the proper clearance to come and go from the underworld as they pleased. The fact that this poorly dressed fiend had lumped them both together in paying meant that he had no idea what Luxe was. Goblins were the lowest of the low and if someone didn’t want to get their own hands dirty, they were the ones you went to. The coins that once got you into the underworld now were the payment that you laid on your windowsill during a thunderstorm. The coin would be gone by morning and whatever you needed to be done and whoever you needed to be gone or broken were taken care of. Of course, Luxe kept that to himself since their dark hair fiend here was keen on him playing the role of protective father. [i ‘Ignorance is blessed.’] His thoughts whispered as Gaius kept speaking.
Luxe said nothing at the little interaction between Leila and Gaius. However, his brow rose up slightly at the show of fang. [i ‘Fangs, who requests those not to be glamoured?’] The little nugget of information was tucked away later. A quick visit to the Witches board would give him enough information on their new [i friend] should he become a problem later. It was easier to scare off tiny tots then to actually take action. Leila’s hand brought him back from his thoughts, those brown hues flickering from her hand back over to Gaius. It was surprising that the journalist reached for him since the only physical contact that they shared had been in the uber right to her family's place of murder.
“Well,” Luxe smiled, patting Leila's hand. “This conversation has been [i illuminating], to say the least. Sad to say that we have a prior engagement and must leave before all the fun is gone.” Carefully, he removed Leila’s hand from his upper arm and looped it through his arm. “Good luck with your…gathering” Luxe gave another head to toe glance at Gaius before turning on his heels. “Thank you for the information, we’ll be in touch.” The words were thrown over his shoulder as he gave a final smile to Margo. The old lady hadn’t thrown any shade when they had arrived so the sudden assault from ‘Gaius had thrown him. Only since he could not recall why the young man had a problem with him in the first place. Though it would not surprise him if he had stolen the younger man's lover at some point in their existence together. Young love.
Stepping back out into the thick air, Luxe let out a sigh and took his arm gently away from Leila. “That little chap took a liking to you.” Luxe chuckled, taking out his carton of cigarettes, wasting little time in slipping one out and lighting it before offering the carton to Leila. He inhaled slowly, his system responding to the smoke, his lungs feeling like they were wrapped in a warm blanket. Taking small, slow draws from the cigarette Luxe rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand. “If you want tall, dark, and ill-dressed to form a contract with, I won’t stop you. But before you make that jump, I think you should come with me…” Luxe pointed towards the little silver car that had brought him that sat in the same spot. “No strings on my end. Since you gave me the information - thought you should see what I found. You’re a smart woman Leila.” Luxe flicked his cigarette into a nearby puddle and strode towards the car. “My offer for finding the right person to form a contract still stands. Of course, if you really want to go after this for revenge….Well, you know where to go.” Luxe opened the car door for Leila before moving to the other side and sliding in.
“To the second address, please.” He commented to the driver while shutting his car door. “While we were being talked at, I thought about your living situation with the little one.” Luxe paused, crossing his legs at the ankle while leaning deeper into the seat. “I don’t think it would be wise to send him off to someone else. These creatures and people are everywhere. There is a room in my apartment building that became vacant recently.” Those brown hues peered over at Leila, casually taking in her slender form. “The other occupants are not…” He waved a lazy hand towards her, implying rather than saying. “However, they wouldn’t let anything happen to the child. One is...good at caring for children.” Luxe struggled with the compliment. “She is annoying - but that is just a personal preference. Should you go with Gaius, that offering will remain open, since we don’t want anything happening to the little one during this.” If he were speaking honestly, the only one in the situation that was innocent was the small child and sentencing a child to his death wasn’t something he was fond of or in favour of.
It was a cool crisp morning, and the weather was only getting gradually colder. Soon it would be winter and it would be so damn cold Leila would never want to emerge from her little motel. Thankfully the house was supposed to open back up in the next couple days, but Leila didn’t think she would be going back. She intended to sell it, and move out of the city, but first she had unfinished business to attend to. She was sipping on a coffee, smoking a cigarette outside the Wicca shop when she saw a taxi pull up. The driver was a grouchy sour looking fellow, and Luxe stepped out just as fashionable as ever. Leila found herself pouting behind her coffee cup. No man should have been allowed to look that sinfully good.
“Morning,” She greeted, and he in turn wished she was doing well and produced his own cigarette. For a moment there was silence between them as they stood outside enjoying their morning dose of nicotine, when luxe asked about her nephew. “He’s at school. I figure that’s the safest place for him right now. However, I don’t think he will remain in my care, I got a call today from the state saying they would be picking him up at the end of the week to take him to his father’s.” Leila shrugged it off, but it was clearly resting on her mind. “There’s nothing I can do…” she sighed heavily and flicked the butt of her cigarette out into the street and turned to face Luxe. “It’s for the best I think. I don’t care about myself, but I do for him. The further away he is from me… the better.”
Luxe seemed to agree and though he didn’t voice it, he did hold the door open for her. She slipped into the warmth of the shop, jasmine and incense filled her nose and she found the fragrance comforting. It seemed they were alone in the store, but the sign said open and the door had been unlocked. In the quiet stillness of the shop, Luxe leaned in to inform her had somewhere he wanted to take her and then he wanted to know why they had come here. Before she could respond though, an older woman who reminded Lelila of the girl from yesterday entered. Leila was mildly surprised that she knew Luxe, and was more surprised by her next comment.
[i “It has been a few years, still handsome as ever, you little devil.” ] Devil… that seemed almost approiate. She glanced at him as the woman informed her that the others were waiting in the back. Leila didn’t hesitate to go into the back room, leaving Luxe behind to catch up with an old friend.
She stepped through one of those fabric door covers, it was woven in fine linen and showed the phases of the moon. She looked around to see that this back room was just as cluttered and whimsical as the rest of the shop, but it seemed the carry a darker aura. Things that clearly weren’t meant for tourists.
“If we get ambushed here,” She heard Luxe say as he came back in ear shot. “I am holding you fully accountable for it...and my dry cleaning after.” She shot him a look, but didn’t answer. Instead the woman from yesterday entered from a door in the back and smiled at them. She was followed by a tall lean man dressed in similar fashion to Luxe. He sported black slacks, shiny black shoes, a tweed trench coat and a black sweater underneath. He didn’t look particularly human himself, and his eyes gleamed a lethal gold. They reminded Leila of a Panther’s eyes.
“Everyone is here, good,” The young Wiccae said clapping her hands. The moment her hands touched, the room was warded and the candles scattered around the room came to life. Leila gasped at that, and looked to the young woman who just smiled. “We don't want any unwanted ears listening in." She then proceeded to name everyone, getting to the tall dark and handsome man behind her. “This is Gaius. Gaius, this is the woman I mentioned, Leila.” Leila frowned. She’d never given the woman her name yesterday. “And this is-“
“Luxe, we know each other.” Gaius greeted curtly. In truth, from the moment Luxe and Gaius had entered the room, Gaius had stared him down with an unreadable expression. Leila glanced confused between the two but decided to put that to the side. That’s not why they were here.
“Ashley told me you could tell me what this is,” Leila removed the coin from her pocket and handed it over to Gaius who looked it over. Gaius looked away from Luxe and focused his attention on Leila. She stood silently as he looked it over and raised it up to the light.
“Do you have an idea of what it is?” Leila glanced to Luxe at Gaius’ question and frowned.
“A form of payment?” She asked. Gaius chuckled and glanced at Luxe.
“Clever, you’re not helping her by keeping her ignorant,” he chided.
He tossed the coin back to Leila who caught it clumsily and frowned. “It can be considered a form of Payment. They used to be quite valuable, but like all old thing, they’ve lost a lot of their power. How well do you know your mythology?” Gaius asked. Leila frowned.
“Not particularly well…”
“You know about Hades, Charon and the River Styx though correct? Basic education last I checked.” Leila nodded that she knew what those were. “These used to be the coins someone like myself or your friend back there,” he motioned with a nod of his head towards Gaius. “Could use when you needed entrance into the Underworld. These days they’re used as a sort of key or password. Where did you get this?” He asked eyeing Leila and twirling the coin between his knuckles.
She was almost hesitant to divulge to the group how she’d come across the coin, but even Margo had come to look at the coin for herself. She told them she had found it a while back, outside of a warehouse out on Peir 17. She had been spying on a Satanic Cult when she was caught and bouncers came for her. It was the night she’d gotten roughed up and went home licking her wounds. One of the goons had dropped their coin, and she picked it up. That was that. Leila’s next question was about the brand she had found on several autopsy reports leading up to this moment, and the event that allowed her to find that coin. She pulled out her phone and showed a picture of a body in the morgue she’d taken weeks ago and showed it to everyone in the room. “Can you tell me about this?” Gaius looked the photo over.
“No.” he stated curtly, a flash of something had gone through his gaze at the sight of it. "This coin you have is nothing more than a trinket, valuable, but also worthless. If you find your secret society again, it might get you inside…” Leila’s eyes widened as she looked down at the coin. He might have said it was worthless, but Leila saw an opportunity with it.
Believing he had finished answering Leila’s questions Gaius turned his attention to Luxe and grinned darkly. It was hard to tell if he was purposely up to something, or if he was just being an asshole.
“I wasn’t expecting to see you here, don’t worry, I won’t attack.” He grinned and instead withdrew a black card from his own coat pocket. It was similar to the one Luxe had given Leila and he held it out to her. “I use different methods now…” he looked away from Luxe to Leila and gave her a dangerous albeit handsome grin. Leila eyed the card that was extended towards her and then looked to Gaius.
"You're..." Leila breathed in shock.
"Like Luxe? Yes. This is my card, if you’re running around with Luxe you should know you have other options.” Leila blinked and accepted the card, uncertain what all of that was about, and feeling she had better take it or anger him. He held the card firm and made her make eye contact. Once that happened, Leila felt she could not look away from the gleaming golden orbs that were his eyes. Whatever he was, he was powerful… and dangerous. He leaned in and lowered his voice. “I smell a hunter in you, I sense rage in your heart, and I can see the fire in your eyes. It’s very appealing,” he crooned. Leila could only swallow past the lump in her throat. Finally, after a sweeping gaze over her, Gaius let go of the card, allowing Leila to keep it. “Call me if you want that vengeance. I’ll see to it you get that, and more,” he said with a grin and Leila watched as he tongued a fang. She quickly pocketed the coin and looked to Margo and Ashely.
“I think I’ve got all the information I need, thank you,” She said and turned to grab Luxe’s arm. She’d never really touched him before, and while she had only grabbed his arm, she could feel the raw strength and muscle under her hand. She could see the way Gaius and Luxe were staring the other down, and she wanted to avoid paying for a Dry cleaning bill.
It splattered into every corner of the room and ruined the dusty memories of the old playroom by the gore of the red, flowing blood. The blood flowed like a lazy river, taking little black feathers slowly down to where the room tilted down, unbalanced. Whoever had down the groundwork on this room did a shit job. Where there had been smooth skin was torn muscle and blood, as raw as any carcass at your closest butchers. Luxe had not wasted much time in tracking down his first victim. It was at a closed down daycare. Some bright, but mostly faded children's toys were scattered around the cold linoleum floor.
[b [size11 “I’m in. Meet me at Fadora’s Shoppe of Wicca in Queens tomorrow at 10 am.”]]
“Well, fuck me sideways.” Luxe lewdly muttered under his breath as he listened to the message. If the dark haired man was being honest, he expected the journalist to turn tail and run with that little child of hers. Maybe it was the red veil of revenge that she was wearing that was blinding her, giving her the ability to go on. The glare from the luminous cell phone screen, made Luxes eyes suddenly felt heavy. They had been in this dark dank room for - gods, an entire day and then some. Harpies could always take a beating, literally. Most of them were not as loyal as this one had been. Luxe commended her for that, but only that. Only a true monster would help whoever was behind this.
“Did you find something on her?” A silky smooth voice purred from across the room. The ‘her’ had been a harpy named Pam. Pretty little thing with long wild auburn hair, jade irises that always carried a deep sadness, and once creamy skin.
“No. Just an unexpected twist,” Luxe replied, slipping his phone into the back pocket of his once blue jeans. He would have placed it in the front pocket of his black shirt, however, it was caked in blood and he would rather not have to explain why his phone was covered in blood. “Are you done, Nora?” Dark eyes did one final sweep of the room before staying on the slender females frame in the far corner.
“Yes. Nothing of real importance, other than the name she screamed out.” Nora her slender fingers through her short spiky blonde hair. This new look reminded Lux of an exotic bird.
“Azariah.” Luxe let the name roll off his tongue, grimacing as if it had left a bad taste.
“Have you met anyone by that name?”
“No.” He replied curtly, picking at the dried blood under his nails as he began to walk towards the exit. “Have you?”
“Wouldn’t have asked if I had.” Nora purred, right on his heels. “Are we going to hit up the usual places?”
“Could you go to the pool house down on Lucy? There is a certain kelpie lifeguard that I would like to speak to. Get him in a talking mood before I get there.”
“You’re not going with me?” Nora rose a thin brow as she fell into step beside him.
“I have another errand to run. Four hours should be enough time.”
“Might want to shower. You look like you’re an actor in a haunted house.” Nora wrinkled her nose at the disarray of his clothing.
“Get [i your] hands dirty and I’ll watch next time.” The suggestion fell on deaf ears once they stepped into the bright morning light. An entire day went, just for a name. “Have fun with your [i errand], she has a nice voice.” Nora smiled, parting from her night companion both going in opposite directions. It was one of the few times that Luxe actually drove, good thing that he had. No cab or uber driver would even let him close to their vehicle and it wasn’t without good reason.
The drive back to his apartment gave him enough time to compose himself and take a needed hot shower. Once Luxe was sure that there wasn’t any evidence of his previous activates, he called for an Uber. This time, he didn’t use a human drive, but a troll. Humans were always interesting and Luxe, for the most part, enjoyed their limited companionships, it would be better to have a brute as a backup then the drive from a few nights ago. When they arrived at Fadora’s Shoppe of Wicca, Luxe handed over two wooden coins, these differing from the ones that Leila had. Each race had their own coins, their own ways of payment. Goblins notably had crude markings on theirs, made out of pine trees and carved with teeth. Whose teeth? It didn’t really matter. “Stay here, going to need another ride after this.” The only response that was given was a loud grunt. Simple and to the point, he liked this troll.
“I hope you are doing well, love.” Luxe greeted Leila as he walked up to the front of the shop. His hand fishing into his royal blue button shirt for his carton of cigarettes. He had left it unbuttoned at the top for a more casual look. “That little kiddo of yours holding up still?” He asked, cupping a hand over his cigarette as he lit the end. Taking a long drag, he opened the glass door, moving to the side for Leila to pass him. “Ladies first.” He waited until she walked past before stepping inside. The store was simple in appearance and the smell of jasmine hit him like a truck. “Once we are done here, I would like to take you to one of the spots you marked.” He paused. “Why are we meeting here of all places?” Luxe rose his eyebrows at the end of his question, letting the smoke slowly slip through his lips.
“Luxe?” An elderly voice rang out from the back of the store. Luxe tried to place it, but it slipped away from him like smoke.
“That is me, dear.” He replied as an elderly woman hobbled out to the front, her hair an alluring silver.
“It has been a few years, still handsome as ever, you little devil.” The elderly woman chuckled, turning her attention to Leila. “My granddaughter is waiting for you - both of you in the back.” He pleasant tone took on an edge of warning and Luxe couldn’t help but pick up on it.
“Margo, my darling, I will make sure nothing gets back you.” It had been [i years] since he had seen her. It wasn’t until the change of her voice that it clicked in his head. In his lifetime, he had known quite the number of humans, it was hard to remember all of them. “After you love.” Luxe swept a hand towards the back, while the other held his cigarette. He followed behind Leila, giving Margo a knowing smile as they passed by the front counter. “My, my. Seems trouble just follows you around, doesn’t it?” He said only half-jokingly as they passed through a doorway that used an old blanket as a door. “If we get ambushed here, I am holding you fully accountable for it...and my dry cleaning after.”
They died. That was simple enough to understand. She listened to him explain how contracts work, how his kind aged. She couldn’t help but believe him. She had the feeling he was otherworldly, and he carried himself as a man who had seen his years of shit and had risen above it. Apparently it was a rather common occurrence. Soulmates did exist, though she doubted she had one, and the little Mermaid was a fraud. He warned her that while she could hold multiple contracts, his kind could only carry one at a time, and in exchange for years of her life she could obtain her goal. In all honesty, she was willing to sacrifice everything to see the killers brought to justice. They involved her family, they involved innocent people, and Leila didn’t think she could just let that slide and leave it to the mediocre abilities of the local PD.
He was biting into his crepe as he spoke. Leila hadn’t touched hers, she was too busy listening and absorbing all he was saying. “When you go to get your nephew today. Pay attention to your surroundings, to the [i people].”
“You want me to people watch and keep an eye on an autistic 6year old at the same time?” She asked incredulously. He gave her a contrite look.
“You will notice odd displacements or maybe strange conversations. Not everything is just humans being human's.” Leila tried to keep an open mind about it, but she just shrugged and shook her head.
“I don’t know, I’m looking for answers to the murders and disappearances… not mythology and lore.” Unless… they were intertwined with one another. She frowned at that, as he told her if she wanted to pursue this story she would want to make a contract with someone like him. What was the point of finding someone else, when she had a prime candidate in front of her? If she didn’t want to continue he suggest she take her nephew and run. Yeah… that didn’t sit well with Leila.
The waitress returned to offer the check and see if they needed anything else. Luxe assured her they didn’t need anything and of all things had to leave for a teacher’s meeting. Leila had to mask her look of mild amusement and resisted the urge to roll her eyes when the Waitress commented on what a cute couple they were. She supposed they could pass, they both had distant personas, wore dark colors, but Leila thought they’d look more like business partners than lovers. When she left Luxe made his own moves to leave as well.
“You have my number. Reach out to me if you decide. I’m sure I can find someone for you.” Leila arched a brow at him but didn’t speak. “Really think everything over. Don’t dismiss. You know something is going on here. You have the proof.” They both looked to the map she had brought, but he was clearly ready to move on. She remained silent as he bid her farewell and left. She remained a moment longer and stared at her uneaten crepe. She had a whole day left to do some research and digging, she had a couple officers she wanted to interview before picking up her nephew.
Luxe had been kind enough to pay the tab, that Leila didn’t have to. She left the cafe and ventured off into the city. She heeded Luxe’s advice and watched the people around her. Honestly, she didn’t see much out of place. People walked to and from work, shopping, and other daily activities. It wasn’t until she met up with one of her insiders at the Hells Kitchen PD that she noticed something off. They stood near a hot dog vendor on the sidewalk while he was on his break and he informed her of what he could.
“We know the missing people had one thing in common. They frequented a club, it’s in Midtown -not too far from here,” He told her. He gave her the name of the club, a place called: The Mad Hatter. “It’s a shit-hole. I don’t know why anyone would go there. It’s one of those lower level clubs you have to climb down into, it’s in an alleyway by the Citi Bank.” It was interesting to Leila to learn there was a dive club in the middle of Midtown. That area wasn’t known for poverty -in fact none of Manhattan really was. Too many wealthy elites, but there was always a place in every district that wasn’t as nice as the rest. It was during this time she noticed a black Cadillac SUV was parked across the street, and had been since she got there. "If you go there, don’t go alone, a lot of shady looking people go there.”
“shady how?” Leila asked. The cop shrugged.
“Gothic kids mostly, people down on their luck type. We haven’t gone in, since there’s no reason, but a buddy of mine went by it and said it wasn’t somewhere he’d want to go. Gave him a weird vibe or some shit, I suppose,” the cop informed her. “By the way, I heard what happened to your family, I’m really sorry.” Leila frowned and shifted uncomfortably at his condolence.
“I think it’s my fault,” she confessed. He frowned at her as he munched on his Sabrett with kraut and mustard. Typical New Yorker. “This story I’m following… I think it goes deeper than some Satanic Cult.”
“We’ve got crime rings, gangs, and cults all over this city, but a lot of this is happening around Hells Kitchen and Midtown right now. I doubt your story has anything to do with it. Technically, I shouldn’t even be talking with you,” he said. Leila studied him for a moment. He didn’t seem to care either way about the carnage happening in the city. It was just another day to him.
“Do you know about any other cases similar to what happened to my family?” She asked, but he had no answers. Said it was the first he’d seen in the City in a long time.
Hitting a dead end with the cop, Leila hopped on the train to take her to Astoria and Queens where a Wiccan Shop was located that might be able to tell her more about the coin she had. Luxe had called it a form of payment, but she had a feeling he was withholding information from her. When she arrived at the shop, she found it nearly deserted save for the woman sitting at the counter. She dressed like a Stevie Knicks wannabe, with her black crochet shaw and flat brimmed black hat. She smiled warmly enough at Leila and sat up a little straighter.
“Hi there, were you the woman who called earlier about the coin?” Leila nodded and approached the desk setting the coin on the counter.
“I was told by a reliable source this is a form of payment, but I’m not sure and looking for a second opinion,” Leila informed. The girl nodded her head and took a photo of it with her phone.
“I’m sending this to a friend I know, we’ll see what he says.”
“Sure thing,” Leila said looking around at all the candles, and other trinkets.
“While we wait, can I show you anything? We have some great talismans, and new tarot decks just came in,”
“No,” Leila said eyeballing a stand full of small budding plants. “Is there a significance to these plants?”
“Of course!” The shop keeper said, jumping out from behind her desk and began to inform Leila about the different plants and what they were used for. Leila began to watch her closely, and for as friendly as she was, Leila noticed that the woman’s expression kept turning more anxious the longer she was there.
“Is there something wrong?” Leila finally asked. The girl frowned and looked around quickly.
“I sense an aura, it’s grown stronger since you walked in here… may I… read you?” She suddenly asked holding out her hand. Leila frowned and handed over her own hand. The Wiccae looked it over, and frowned.
“Oh my… You’re a hunter type… but I sense you are being stalked, and that you are the prey right now. Someone is tracking you. There’s a darkness in your future, and darkness in your past. You lost someone important recently,” She said letting go of Leila’s hand.
“Someones…” Leila corrected. The Wiccae frowned before finally giving a sad sympathetic smile.
“Here… take this,” She said crossing the shop and came back with a white candle, marking engraved in the wax and handed Leila a white flower encased in clear acrylic and on a black leather strip. “The candle is for you… and the necklace is for the little one.” Leila blanched. How did the woman know about her nephew?
“What… is this?”
“It’s for protection. Trust me. I think you should leave the coin here. Let me hold onto it for you. Once I hear word back from my friend, I will call you back.” Leila frowned. She really needed that coin back. It was a small clue, but it was the only hard evidence she had.
“I never got your name…” Leila said looking at the necklace and candle in her hands.
“It’s not important right now-“
“You’re not normal are you?” The wiccan only grinned slyly and escorted Leila to the door.
“Your coin is safe with me. Place the necklace on your little one, and light the candle by their bedside. When the candle burns out by morning the protection spell will be concrete, and you will be able to focus on the task at hand better.”
Leila thought about what the Wiccae had said the entire train ride back to her knick of the woods. She did as Luxe asked her. She watched everything and everyone during her day out. It was New York, oddities were a norm in this city. She felt dumb thinking she might spot a Werewolf in the middle of the city… though she was certain she’d found a legitimate witch. Were those real too? She supposed if Luxe was real, then why couldn’t the witch be? Leila was uncovering more questions than she was answers, but it was all forgotten when she saw the smile on her nephew’s face as she picked him up that afternoon. She took him to the park, they got ice-cream and then she took him back to the motel room they were staying in until the house was cleared. There they did their homework, and Leila fed him supper before letting him watch movies and play with the few toys they were able to bring from the house until bed time. During that time Leila stepped outside and looked over Luxe’s card and the necklace. Before she could call Luxe though, she got a text message from the Wiccae.
-###: Got a lead on your coin. Friend is willing to meet you tomorrow 10am
Leila responded informing the Wiccae she would be there, and then called Luxe. It went to voicemail, as she suspected it might and left him a simple message.
“I’m in. Meet me at Fadora’s Shoppe of Wicca in Queens tomorrow at 10am.”
[i “Not a Satanic Cult, but you’ve eluded to something otherworldly, paranormal, and dangerous. You said 'We' earlier, as if you’re one of them...You could be one of them, I could ask, but you could lie and tell me you’re an ally. Then again if you wanted me dead, I have a feeling I would be already.”] A small smirk played on his lips as he listened to her connect him to the murders in her mind. He could lie, say that he was her ally. He wasn’t. He wasn’t her enemy either. She was just a convenient tool for him to use. Not that he wasn’t going to outright say that to her face, he wasn’t a heartless sod. She had already provided him with a map of places she had connected with whatever bastard had been killing off their kind. It wasn’t so much for revenge, but for a promise. If there was anything redeemable about the dark haired male, it was that he had [i always] kept his end of promises. Even when the other party didn’t. He took another small drink from his ice water just as Leila started on another subject. [i “From what I can gather you’re telling me these missing persons held a contract with some sort of paranormal creature -like they sold a part of their soul to the devil… or some bullshit like that. I’ve got to be honest, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I’m not a religious person, I don’t hold any faith or value in Angels or demons. I just want to know what’s happening to these missing persons, and who’s behind it… I just don’t think it’s going to be that simple…”] Just then their peppy little waitress returned with their crepes in hand. It gave Luxe an excuse to break away from Leila dark glare.
“Thank you, dear.” He called to her retreating form, his brown eyes looking down towards the golden brown crepes. If there was one thing the humans got right, it was sweets. If he had his way and never had to deal with any kind of bullshit from either side, he would just find a nice little town and horde sweets until the end of time.
[“I’m gonna go on a limb and say you’re not entirely human. Great…”] The thought of him being human made him chuckle. Licking his bottom lip, Luxe leaned back in the metal chair, crossing his arms over his black cotton button up. He had other skirts, but this brand was the most comfortable so far.
“Darling, I am not even a sliver human. You’d be surprised at just how many people you meet daily that are not.” He wasn’t about to give her a lecture about how glamours worked. That was a conversation for later.
[i “Can you make these… contracts?”]
“I can, yes.”
[i “Alright… then what would happen if a human made a contract pledging only to have that contract, and they promised all of their life force… What happens to the human once the contract is fulfilled?”]
“They die.” He stated dryly, unwrapping the eating utensils only to be disappointed with a spoon and a butter knife. “The contracts are not one sided. We do not get your life in exchange for nothing.” He cut off any questions she was going to shoot at him or had already begun to piece together in that beautiful blonde head of hers. “Contracts are only able to work if both parties get something out it. Let’s say…” Luxe looked up towards the ceiling, thinking. “You wanted to find your soulmate. Give me twenty years and it is done. Before we even get into the whole soul mates aren’t real speech, let me tell you that they are. Most contracts are for finding love and revenge these days. In the past, they were for war, land, women, men.” The dark ages had been quite an interesting time for him. “You can also make a contract for self-improvement. Like the woman that got the part in the Little Mermaid, for example. Lass couldn’t hold a note until she roped in someone to give her a contract and fix it.”
With some skill and a whole lot of luck, Luxe was able to successfully cut his crepe in a way that eating it with a spoon was doable. Hundreds of years walking the planet and cutting a crepe was a challenge, his age was catching up to him. “There are some out there that...may have some harsh feelings towards others of my kin.” He began slowly, trying to piece everything together in a way that it wouldn’t come out like a history lesson. Luxe doubted she had the time to hear [i that] much. “If I were to make a contract with you. Say, for five years, whatever reason you want. Let’s say the next day, someone comes up to you and offers you something [i bigger and better] than what I have offered and you make a contract with them for all your remaining years.” He took a small bite, a blast of blueberry coated his tongue. Eh. It took him a moment to clear his throat before continuing. “They complete their contract with you before I do and poof. Not only are you dead, but so am I. We do not age like humans, because our life force is [i your] life force. In all of your stories about mythical creatures, they all have oddly long life times, don’t they? Did you ever ponder [i why] that was when you were a child?” He shock his fork at her jokingly. “Before you wrote everything off as just myths.” Another bite. Another regret. He had hoped for strawberries. “When you go to get your nephew today. Pay attention to your surroundings, to the [i people]. You will notice odd displacements or maybe strange conversations. Not everything is just humans being human's.” Luxe set his fork down with disappointment, his face held no such emotion though.
For the first time since they met, those brown held no humor and his lips held no smile. A calm, serious expression washed over his facial features. “Should you really want to continue this. To get justice for those girls, for your family, you will not be able to do it alone. You’ll need someone on your side, someone that isn’t...like you.” He waved at hand towards her body. “I’m not saying make a contract with me, but with someone. If not,” his honey voice turned cold and he leaned forward, “drop this. Walk away from it and get the hell out of here with that little boy.” He leaned back in his chair once more just as the waitress returned.
“How are you guys doing? Need refills?”
“Dear, you have been great.” Luxe’s smile returned, though it looked like it had never left. Effortlessly, the dark haired man reached into his back pocket, pulling out a small bundle of cash that was only held together with a little money clip. “Here you go,” He handed over a twenty and a ten. Human money was still an oddity to him. “Keep the rest as a tip.”
“Do you guys need anything to go?”
“No, no. We are going to be late for a teacher's meeting.” He lied with a smile, eyes turning towards Leila. She did not look the type to even consider going to a PTA meeting.
“Awe. I hope it is good news.” She turned to leave, taking the money Luxe held out as she went. “You two make the cutest couple.” Luxe couldn’t help but snort at the comment. Once the little waitress was out of earshot, he turned his full attention to Leila.
“You have my number. Reach out to me if you decide. I’m sure I can find someone for you.” He paused. “Really think everything over. Don’t dismiss. You know something is going on here. You have the proof.” He looked towards the map on the table, eyes combing over the little red dots once more. There was one that stood out to him among them all. The public pool - kelpie. “Well, my dear, it was a lovely brunch. But I have a few things that I need to take care of on my head. Give my regards to the wee one, would you?” Luxe stood, reaching into his front pocket to pull out his phone, which lit up the moment his finger touched the screen. 19 missed calls and 27 new text messages. It was a good thing that he had placed it on silence before stepping in. “Call or text. Preferably not at four am.” With one last smile towards the blonde, he turned his back and left. It was a good thing that he had decided on wearing black today. It was much easier to get blood out.
According to Luxe the coin was a form of payment for… creatures? Was that supposed to be figurative for Ass Holes? She had an odd feeling it wasn’t and yet it was. He asked her where she found it, advising her to return it or suffer another unwanted visit.
“I found it, in a warehouse where I know the cult has been meeting-“
“It isn’t cults,” he told her cutting her off quickly with an amused expression. Leila’s brows furrowed. Not a Cult? Then what would he call it? A club? Leila didn’t get to ask as the waitress returned with their drinks. Leila was quick to take her coffee and help herself to a hearty sip as Luxe interacted with the peppy waitress. Leila watched her leave with an almost suspicious air, until Luxe interrupted her thoughts. She hadn’t asked the right first question… what did he mean by that? Damnit, this man led to more questions than he did answers.
“I know you are a smart woman,” He began, questioning her with hypotheticals and rhetorical statements. Does this seem like something that a satanic cult would do? Well she wasn’t really sure, this was a first for her. Did her families wounds look like something a hitman would do? Not from what she knew -more like some sick fuck out to have a bloody good time. Hit men were usually clean and quick - execution style. What she’d found was a massacre. He assured her the attack wounds and the markings painted in blood on the walls and those of the earlier victims were not satanic, but something else, something called a contract. He said it was with a non-human. She frowned, her eyes narrowing on him. Non-human. Was this a joke? He spoke of life forces in exchange for power or a want. Then he said something that caught her off guard.
“We can only do one at a time with only one human. The girls that had the markings on their bodies had two, correct?” We? Was he one of them? She looked him up and down but gave a resolute nod of her head. He leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “You have two more questions.”
“Only two…” She murmured, “I’m afraid I’ve got a whole lot more than that right now…” She sighed heavily and looked outside, hands clasping the warm mug of coffee as her mind worked to form two good questions to ask him. “Not a Satanic Cult, but you’ve eluded to something otherworldly, paranormal, and dangerous. You said 'We' earlier, as if you’re one of them…” She frowned at him, a dark expression in her gaze. “You could be one of them, I could ask, but you could lie and tell me you’re an ally. Then again if you wanted me dead, I have a feeling I would be already,” She pinched the bridge of her nose and glared at nothing in particular. She was beginning to regret sticking her nose in this mess. “From what I can gather you’re telling me these missing persons held a contract with some sort of paranormal creature -like they sold a part of their soul to the devil… or some bullshit like that,” she grumbled, and took another sip of her coffee. “I’ve got to be honest, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I’m not a religious person, I don’t hold any faith or value in Angels or demons. I just want to know what’s happening to these missing persons, and who’s behind it… I just don’t think it’s going to be that simple…” she frowned and pinned him with a serious look, and opened her mouth to ask the next question but the waitress showed up again this time with plates of berry crepes.
“Here we are!” She said jovially and set them down on the table. “How does everything look?”
“Great, thanks,” Leila said, the Waitress smiled and nodded and walked away finally. Leila made sure she was well out of earshot before looking back at Luxe. “I’m gonna go on a limb and say you’re not entirely human,” At his small grin, Leila knew she was right. Holy shit, this was going to be a lot to process. “Great…”
She wanted to know what he was, but she wasn’t about to ask that here. Too many ears, and who knew who was listening? She wanted answers to so many questions, but first she needed to figure out how to do this without putting her nephew in danger.
“Can you make these… contracts?” He told her he could and it led her to her final question “Alright… then what would happen if a human made a contract pledging only to have that contract, and they promised all of their life force… What happens to the human once the contract is fulfilled?” She asked. Did they live, die, or become enslaved -rather an extension of the creature they contracted with? It was looking like the only way she was going to figure any of this out was going to be to dive in and join the ranks of poor souls caught up in this strange underworld.
[i “What do you know about the string of kidnappings and murders going on in Hell’s Kitchen right now?”] Her first question wasn’t what was normal. His brows shot up at it as he pondered just how to answer.
“Do I know who is doing it? No. It isn’t just ‘one person or creature’ that much is for sure. I know enough that if you go in alone, they will come after that little kiddo of yours and leave you with the blood on your hands.” He said in a matter of fact way. There was no threat from him in the statement. It was just the truth. If she continued to charge in without any help, they wouldn’t kill her, they would just take everything she had to offer. Whether or not she knew what she even had to begin with. The people and creatures Leila had entangled herself with were not the kind of sweet fairy tales that Disney told them about.
[i “Do you know anything about this?”] Leila pushed a coin towards him, one that he had not laid eyes on in a long time. A small link to whoever was doing this was beginning to form in the back of his mind. [i “Do you know anyone who might be able to tell me about Satanic Cults, and blood rituals? I have reason to believe, I’ve uncovered an underground Satanic Cult of some kind. The majority of the bodies keep getting found in this location, but people were going missing around this district here… I think they’re getting ready to expand, which means more people in the city, more people like my family are going to be in danger.”] She had pulled out a map, spreading it over the small table for him to look at. There were little red dots mixed in with some bright blue ones. He had no idea what the blue meant, though he fully knew that red met death. If she wasn’t being so serious, he would have chuckled. She was pretty glued to the Satanic Cult idea.
“The coin is a form of payment. Not the kind that you use, but the kind that much older creatures use.” He paused in thought for a brief moment. “Just where did you this coin?” Using only his index finger, he slid the coin back towards its new owner. He didn’t deal with gremlins. Almost no one did. Dirty, lying little bastards. Doing whatever anyone wanted so long as they had the right coin and the meat that they wanted. “Because I would put that back. Unless you want another unwanted visit.” Luxe didn’t need to remind the poor woman about what happened with her family. At least she still had a little piece of it left. That was more than what most people got. The dark haired male gave her a moment to answer before he moved onto her next question. “It isn’t cults.” His tone was light, amused. “Since you skipped over the question most people ask right off the bat.” Luxe stopped as their little waitress bounced back with his water and her coffee.
“Thank you, dear.” He gave her a bright smile.
“Is there anything else I can get you guys?” The sweet thing returned his smile, even brighter. It made him slightly jealous.
“Could you get us two of those berry crepes?”
“Of course! Anything else?” She jotted down the order into her little gray notebook.
“No, that it is, honey. Thank you.”
“I’ll be right back!” With that, she was off once more on her waitress journey of orders.
“I hope you like berries, dear.” Important words did not start to flow until the waitress left them once more. “I know you are a smart woman. Does this seem like something that a satanic cult would do? What happened with your family, did their wounds look like something a hitman would do? The cults don’t have actual claws.” The dark haired male took a moment to take a drink of ice water. “The markings are not satanic. Might look it to most. They are a contract.” He sat the water back down. “With a-” Luxe paused, “-nonhuman.” He held up a hand to stop her from using one of her questions and let him continue. “You give us some of your life force, in exchange we give you something you want. Now, humans can have as many contracts as they want. Or as many as they can give out with how much life force they have. We can only do one at a time with only one human. The girls that had the markings on their bodies had two, correct?” He leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “You have two more questions.” Damn, he needed a smoke. If it wasn’t for the health crazed out there, he might have been able to lit up. However, the large sign of ‘no smoking’ hanging just behind him on the wall with stop sign red ink made him pause. He could last two more questions or at least until the crepes came and gave his mouth something to busy itself with.
The past few days had been exhausting. Her nephew didn’t know what was happening, where his mother was and why he couldn’t see her anymore. Leila was running on fumes -coffee and cigarettes at this point. The Police and CPS had allowed Leila to take her nephew and keep him with her, and for the meantime since they couldn’t stay in the house until it was cleaned up by special crews, they were staying at a motel in the area. Leila knew she wouldn’t be able to keep her nephew though, his father had gleaned word that her sister had been murdered and now he wanted his son. So not only did Leila had to figure out who was behind her family’s gruesome murder, she had a custody battle ahead of her -one she had a feeling she was going to lose, if she couldn’t find her sister’s living will.
Leila was not on the radar as being a suspect, come to find out the department was afraid they had a gang or a cult on their hands in the city killing people. Leila wondered if the cult she had stumbled upon was the group killing all these people. After the last woman had been killed, Leila stewed over a glass of bourbon flipping Luxe’s card in her hand, and with her nephew’s head in her lap fast asleep with the credits to some kids movie rolling on her TV. She decided then and there to message him. She had a hunch she hadn’t met him on accident.
That next day, she dropped her nephew off at summer daycare and went right to the coffee shop she had instructed Luxe to meet her at. She got there before him, but not by much. He arrived shortly after, dressed in all black the way he was the first night she met him. There were other women in the cafe who all stopped their conversations, to whisper with their girlfriends and ogled Luxe. Leila wasn’t thinking those thoughts at the sight of him. She saw a means to an end.
“Catch any sleep dear?” He asked, taking the seat opposite of her.
“Not enough. They say that’s common for new parents though.” She caught his grin, and she was further shocked when he asked how her nephew was doing. “He’s doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances,” Leila answered, but before their conversation could begin a bubbly young waitress came to take their order. Luxe asked for water, and Leila ordered a black coffee.
As soon as she came, the waitress was gone, and Luxe wasted no time in staring at her point blank to tell her to ask her questions. She was limited to five. Only five questions? She looked him, he had a mischievous grin on his face that was slightly frightening -because she wasn’t sure what was going on in that head of his. It was also slightly arousing with his Devil May Care look. She steeled herself and leaned in.
“What do you know about the string of kidnappings and murders going on in Hell’s Kitchen right now?” She asked, for a brief moment she could have sworn she saw shock in his features. He’d been anticipating she asked something else. If it was What was he, she’d save that for later, for now he knew he wasn’t normal, and she didn’t care. This whole situation wasn’t normal, and after seeing your family mangled and gutted -Leila didn’t feel normal herself right now. He answered her first question and she produced a small coin from her pocket and set it on the table. “Do you know anything about this?” She pushed the coin across the table towards him. It was certainly no penny, but it was old. It was warm to the touch as if it had been sitting in the sun, and on the front of it was an insignia. “Do you know anyone who might be able to tell me about Satanic Cults, and blood rituals?” She was all business and no play today, her mind was on a single track -find the truth. “I have reason to believe, I’ve uncovered an underground Satanic Cult of some kind. The majority of the bodies keep getting found in this location,” From her bag she puled out a folded up Auditor’s Map of the city. She had circled a space near the large river that cut the city nearly in half. “But people were going missing around this district here… I think they’re getting ready to expand, which means more people in the city, more people like my family are going to be in danger.”
The night had been full of so much promise; aside from the murder and the humidity. Leila had been quick to spring into action, as anyone would once they noticed it was their family that had been on the chopping block. The officer that had been questioning them took off behind her, trying to stop her from crossing the line of police vehicles but to no avail. Luxe causally got out of the car, slow to follow her. Murder in the human world was normal. Sad, but normal. However, the heavy smell that lingered told him that this was not committed by another human. Minotaurs were disgusting. Plain and simple. Satuars did not have a great smell either, but they at least bathed once or twice a year. The smell burned his nose and it took everything he had to hold down the drink from earlier. Weeks old rotten fish and charred flesh, mixed with the delightful fragrance of literal shit made for one teary eyed Luxe. He stopped just inside the police line, not wanting to venture any further.
The minotaur was gone, its stench was the only thing that remained. An eyebrow shot up, almost disappearing into his hairline as Leila emerged from the house. The kid was a curveball. In all honesty, he had not pegged her as a single mother. The only vibe that he had picked up at the bar had been out of sorts divorce. Maybe they had the same feel. The dark haired male couldn’t recall the last time he had had a contract with a mother. He pressed his lips together in thought as he stalked crossed the lawn to her car. Gods above the smell only got worse. It must have clung onto her clothing since it almost knocked him over once he stood no more than a foot away from her. The small child was in a tizzy, which was rightly so. Some children had the ability to see through the glamours that they all had shaped around them.
[i “I suppose you have a lot of questions…I’m sorry, I can’t give you answers… I don’t want to get you involved. This is all…All I can tell you, I will figure out who did this and I’m going to make them pay.”] Anger filled her words while pure fury sparkled in her eyes. The corners of Luxes lips twitched up ever so slightly. Didn’t want to get him involved? Did she really think that her family mattered much in the grand scheme of things? Or did she think with those pretty eyes and tiny arms, she would be able to fight off the horrors that were going to crash down onto her? It was cute, charming even. Gruffly, he crossed his arms, giving a small nod as he cast his eyes towards the ground. She needed to shower, badly. But he wasn’t going to mention that to her now. Thoughts came and went at rapid speed before one clung on.
“If you truly mean that..” Uncrossing his arms, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a solid black business card. “When you sort out your police business,” he offered the card out to her, his eyes no longer their chocolate brown, but a bright shimmering gold. “Call me, text me if you prefer not to speak just yet. Because what you stumbled into love, isn’t your everyday crime ring. What you have is something supernatural.” He smiled, his canines just a tad sharper while his eyes remained their bright gold, the color now seeming liquid in the limited light. The veins in his arms followed after, the gold coloring spilling out from under his rolled up black sleeves to his fingertips. Only then a number appeared on the card. “Just make sure you are ready.” Handing the card over, he quickly departed. Dealing with her and the little tot would have been easy. The police, however, would have had a few questions as to his hanging around. Now the only thing left to do was wait.
[center -few days later-]
Was it a Monday? It felt like a Monday: groggy and disappointing. Luxe had almost forgotten about that night, as another woman had been left murdered. Not as gruesome as the family that had been slaughtered, but he had a strong hunch that it was by the same hands. It seemed that a certain journalist did as well. That morning he had awoken to a brightly lit phone with a rather cold text message. A date, a time, and an address that she wanted to meet him at. All it all, he really couldn’t blame the poor thing for what had happened to her family. On his ride over, he vaguely wondered if she was going to bring the little one along.
The thought was crushed when those chocolate hues swept over the small cafe. Sitting in the middle of a crowded cafe was his target. It was smart, meeting in the public eye so there were no foul plays on his end. Of course, that meant she had to be at her best as well. “Catch any sleep dear?” He asked, taking the seat opposite of her. “How is the little one doing?” The chairs were, as the humans liked to call things, cute. The back was metal, bent into the shape of a flower and painted black while the seat was round and held a floral pattern.
“What can I get you?” An overly excited young girl bounced up to their table.
“Ice water with lemon from me.” Luxe flashed her a little half smile before the girl set her eyes on Leila. He watched the girl dart off after Leila ordered something, truly he hadn’t been paying much attention to the words.
“Alright.” He started once their waitress was out of earshot. “Ask your questions. I am sure you have plenty.” Luxe held up a hand before he could be assaulted with words. “I will only be answering five. Any more and we will be sitting here a lot longer than the shop is open.” Another half smile played at his lips, but it was nothing more than a formality at this point. He hated the first part. It was always the same. At least one of the questions; what are you? He tongue was ready with the answer before it was even asked.
Leila and Luxe did the usual casual conservation. Small Talk. Leila wasn’t generally a fan of small talk, and while she enjoyed getting to learn the basics of a person; if what he was saying was true, she wanted to know more. He caught on rather quickly her dislike for small talk and called her out on it. She grinned slowly at him, but the smile vanished the moment his hand reached towards her face. She tensed, holding her breath as she allowed him to tuck a lock of her hair back. Leila wasn’t generally a person who liked to be touched by anyone or anything. Normally she would have backed away and told him so, but for some reason she allowed it…. For some reason, that fleeting touch made her shiver. He was single, had never married, but there had been one girl. Of course, there was always the [i one that got away]. He then asked her if she was seeing anyone, or if she was strictly work. Leila shrugged after giving it a bit a thought.
“No. Not really into today’s dating scene. I don’t understand Tinder, and the instant gratification mentality my generation has, makes finding another human with a sane and reasoning head attached to it, nearly impossible. So I guess you could say I’m all about the job right now. However, I would phrase it as: Pursuing my passions.” She gave him a sly grin, “what about you? Anyone one special back at home?” she teased.
[i “No attachments, I do have a cat. Do you enjoy animals?”] A Cat… she wasn’t too surprised by that. With his neo-goth vibe, he really didn’t strike her as a dog person, and if he had a dog, she’d guess it would be something sleek and regal. Greyhound? Even that seemed oddly paired, but a cat or two she could definitely see. She wanted deeper information, what made this guy tick? What were his turn ons, who did he talk to, who does he know? Those sorts of things. Still, she knew the small talk was a necessary evil.
“I love animals. Never home enough to take care of one. My family however has three dogs, two cats, and a small family of hermit crabs,” she told him. “So you just a one cat kind of guy, or are you polyamorous with them? Because if you’re looking to expand the cat family, one of the cats we have we are trying to rehome,” she chuckled. She did find it surprising how easy it was to talk to the mysterious Luxe.
"What in the world..?" The driver suddenly questioned. That was when Leila noticed blue flashing against Luxe’s pale skin. She turned to look out the front window as the car came to a stop and spotted the cop cars the were surrounding her Parent’s home. She tense in her seat and stared on hoping it was one of the neighbors. It wasn’t. She spotted two CSI officers exit out her fucking front door. She didn’t listen to what the driver and cop were talking about, but Leila didn’t care. She stepped out of the cab without another word and moved to rush the house when the female officer speaking with the driver stopped her.
“Ma’am, this is a crime scene. You have some identification on you?”
“Piss off…” She murmured and walked as if in a daze towards the house and army of flashing lights.
“Ma’am!” The cop didn’t take kindly to Leila’s lack of respect to officers -and frankly, at the moment, she didn’t care. Leila cared when the officer put a hand on her shoulder and stopped her. ”Hand over whatever you have. We will be needing you to come down to the precinct-“ Leila looked over at the officer and gave her a disgusted glare.
“This is my house! What is going on! I’m going inside!”
“Ma’am no!” The officer tried.
Shockingly, Leila heard Luxe’s voice interrupt them, deescalating the situation that Leila was creating with her attitude. He asked what was happening, not that either of them got an answer as another officer rushed out to empty the contents of his stomach. Leila glanced over and listened as they two officers now bickered. She spared one glance to Luxe before she used the distraction to her advantage and slipped away to her house.
She bolted, running full speed to the house and even though a couple officers tried to stop her, they gave up when they heard Leila shout.
“MOM!?” She called into the empty house. She noticed the door had been broken, the house was in shambles and there definitely signs of a struggle. The first body she saw was her father’s. Prostrate on the ground, his shotgun laying useless beside him. His throat was mangled covering him in a pool of his own blood that he laid in and soaked up through his clothes. It looked like an animal had mauled him to death. She felt her body grow cold.
“Ma’am,” A male officer tried to collect her shoulders, but she pulled from him.
“No… this isn’t happening…” She breathed, feeling sick and sweaty. Outside the dogs lay in the yard dead. She felt a panic attack growing ever near, but she pushed past it to rush further into the house. “MOM!” She demanded, but the next body she found was her sister’s, mangled and lifeless. Her mother was up the stairs to the second floor, her head bashed in with bits of her brain falling out. Body shaking Leila started up the stairs. “Peter?” She called nervously.
The upstairs for the most part looked untouched. Bloody footprints stalked and stained the hardwood of the upstairs hallway. “Peter?” She called again and went for one of the white washed doors. She opened it and found her nephew’s bed was undone. “Peter, sweetie?” She called. She opened up his closet to look inside, be screamed when a mass of white fur came jumping at her. The God Damn Cat! He hissed and spat, running clear from the room and right out the front door of the house. There were no prints in Peter’s room, but she shoved the clothes in his room out of her way and pushed in at a sliding wall compartment. Doing so caused another shout and wail of terror. This one from Peter. Leila lost it then, falling to her knees in the midst of his shoes and toys and pulled the small six year old boy from the storage cupboard.
“Aunt Lala!” He cried diving into her arms. Leila felt tears falling down her cheeks. Her whole fucking family was dead… but not her precious nephew.
By then, several cops had come running up the stairs after hearing Leila scream. Leila sat in the closet hugging and holding Peter as he cried into her chest.
“I need a medic. Male, child, signs of distress…” A cop said into his radio on his shoulder.
“I scared!” He cried and Leila shushed him.
“Oh I know! I know,” she told him. “I’m here, I’ve got you, and I’m going to take care of you, and we are going to be okay…” she told him. Would she be okay? Sitting here, holding her nephew she realized she’d seen her whole family had been brutally murdered. For Fucks sake, she’d just seen the inside of her mother’s skull!
Leila wasn’t sure how long she sat there with her Nephew, but she sat long enough for the Paramedic to arrive. Two adults and one small autistic child in a small closet made for close spaces, but the EMT looked Peter over and determined he was physically fine. Peter had been spared. Now how would his mind process all this? Therapy… they were both going to need copious amounts of therapy.
“Momma with you?” He asked. Leila, bit her lip and shook her head.
“No baby,” she whispered, and stood up, lifting him into her arms and had him lay his head on her shoulder. A Cop handed her a blanket and Leila draped it over his head and her shoulder, trapping him inside so he wouldn’t see the carnage within his home. The Cop with her kindly grabbed Peter’s bookbag, emptied it, and then filled it with clothes for Leila to take with her for him. She grabbed her sister’s car keys off the kitchen counter and carried Peter, hidden under his blanket out of the house.
She kept her head up the whole time, doing everything in her power not to see her family murdered across the house. CSI still walked through taking photos of everything. When she reached the door her father’s body had already been bagged up and removed, the coroner leaning over her sister. Leila thought she might be sick… she was certain she would be once the shock and reality set in. Leila was shocked to see Luxe was still standing there. What a strange man, most people would have just left. She wouldn’t blame him. Who would want to deal with that kind of drama? She looked at Luxe confused as an officer guided her towards her sister’s car. She would have to go to the precinct for interview.
Peter was crying in confusion and with exhaustion. He didn’t want to get in the car, and he certainly didn’t want his Aunt Lala to leave him alone. Leila didn’t mind his tears, or his screams… she was accustomed to all of it. Like most children with Autism, Peter was no different in the way he also had melt-downs. Hell, Leila wanted to throw down with him, crying and screaming too. This couldn’t be real….
With Peter in the car, Leila looked over to see Luxe was coming her way. Now he was the one giving her the hunters look, just as she’d given it to him earlier in the Uber. Now the roles were reversed, he had the questions. She could seem them burning inside him. She didn’t have time to answer questions right now… she was afraid of the truth it might bring…
That she caused this.
She had stuck her nose where it didn’t belong… and now her family was gone.
What was she going to do?
She glanced back at the car realizing she was going to have some fun days in court ahead of her. Anything to make sure Peter didn’t end up with his junkie piece of shit birth father.
“I suppose you have a lot of questions…” Leila murmured when she sensed Luxe’s presence was close enough to hear her. “I’m sorry, I can’t give you answers… I don’t want to get you involved. This is all…” She stopped to hide her face behind her hands, and fought with herself not to cry. The only thing stopping her was the slam of a hand on the car window. Peter was watching her. Leila quickly lifted her head, eyes glassy and bloodshot, and her lips pursed into a tight line. “All I can tell you,” she said to Luxe while she stared at her nephew, in a way vowing to both of them. “I will figure out who did this and I’m going to make them pay.” At her sides her hands balled into tight fists and a spark flickered in her eyes -one that hungered for vengeance and justice.
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