The sun lit fire to the still and quiet water as it set. It was the exact opposite of how Melanie felt. Her insides boiled like an acid stew, her shame the meat of it. What she’d ended had poisoned her so deep that she would never be clean again. Beholden to her creator, she’d done even worse to herself. Time had stopped, holding its breath to see what she would do next as she sat on the black beach, the place was not familiar, but there was nowhere to go. All she knew was she was dead.
Callum had made promises, promises that had held Melanie together for a long time. To find out they were all lies…
The picture of his lean and muscular body came to her mind. He always got out of bed without a care about his nakedness. She lay sated after a forceful and wild coupling. He had marked her skin, making it red, his grip tight and unforgiving, just how she liked it. When she stared at him as he dressed, she had become quite aware of what he was doing when, with a satisfied and smug smile, he pulled out a gold band and slid it on his ring finger, slicing apart her heart as if he held the knife himself.
The one word, “married,” echoed throughout the small one room cabin that they had been coming to for over six months, bitten out through her swollen pink lips, as she lost all control.
Melanie had screamed her rage making her throat raw, attacking him with fists, teeth and nails, making him bleed for what he had done to her. His grunts joined their struggle until he grabbed her by her arms and threw her away onto the bed. Melanie looked around, her eyes wild, until they lit on the knives in small kitchen. Before Callum knew what she was doing, as he drew on his coat and headed for the door, she grabbed the biggest blade and launched herself at him, the knife coming down and into his chest over and over as she kept yelling, “Bastard, bastard, bastard,” with each strike of the knife.
She yelled the word now at the still water, the scream so powerful, if she had had super powers the water would have rippled as if hit by shockwave after shockwave of sound. She looked down at the blood congealed on her wrists, hers and Callum’s blood mixed as one. The tears that came did not wash away her sin.
“Melanie,” the male voice boomed all around her, behind her, inside her. She froze, her hands digging into the sand as if she could hide the gaping wounds she had cut into her skin. Afraid to move, afraid to speak she waited for her punishment.
“Melly. Stand up.” Her entire being, down to her soul, jerked with the word. She stood instantly, her body not in her control. Fear raced up her spine. The only person who had ever called her Melly was her mother. Social workers had taken Melanie away from her. She was only six.
“Turn to me, Melly.”
Her body shook as she complied with his command. The choice to turn was her own as she stamped down her fear of what might happen.
Melanie’s mouth went dry as a surge of heat, so strong, went straight to her core, almost causing her to fall to her knees. He was the most magnificent man she had ever seen. His chest bare, the muscles forming like he were a god, his skin tone glowing bronze to the suns red, the black designer slacks he wore fitting as if born to him, and his eyes hot as he took her in from her polished toes to unruly golden hair. She shook her head back and forth. Melanie shouldn’t be feeling anything for anyone. She didn’t deserve to feel good.
“You turn to me freely?” She shrugged her shoulders, not willing to show how much he unnerved her. There was nothing really to say anyway. Melanie was ready to accept whatever punishment she deserved.
His gaze bored into hers as if he was reading her soul. Maybe he was. Eyes firing brighter than the sun, she couldn’t cover her own as invisible arms came around her holding her body still. There was no need. It was as if the light was coming into her, filling, pressing to every corner of her mind; peeling away all her layers, her secrets. Everything.
“I know what you have done to your lover.” She said nothing. He came closer lifting one of her wrists. “You dare take your own life.” His words reverberated through her making her shiver.
“There will be an agreement between you and me,” he said, his arms wrapping around her in truth, his light surrounding them both. The light was cold and fractious. It wasn’t warm, as she would have thought, making her bones ache and her want to wrench herself from his arms. His grip tightened. “The agreement is really no agreement at all. You are mine, one of many in my army, but special nonetheless. Your sins demand it.” His hand reached out as he looked down on her, as his fingers stroked her cheek and came down to her neck and back to her nape. He gripped hard and she sucked in a breath. “For taking your own life you are mine to command and do with as I will it.” She thought about what she had done to Callum.
With a piercing tear, Melanie’s body arched as his fingers became claws tearing through her skin and bones, just below her shoulder blades, reaching in and taking hold. She screamed and screamed. The pain was so great she couldn’t see and collapsed, but his arms still held her until he drew his claws out, his hold now onto something else that felt foreign yet a part of her. Her breaths bellowed from her chest and out of her mouth, her distress searing his skin. Her heart beat frantically banging against his chest as he held her with one arm, when suddenly, she saw lustrous black wings, spread so wide behind him, she stopped breathing. And when he let her go raising his arms behind her back she tried to step away but then he yanked hard on something that was…attached…to her.
She wrenched her neck around and gasped. Mirroring his wings, were a pair of wings so black, so grand, they sucked up all the light. She had no words.
Melanie looked up into this being eyes, not a man at all. “What are you?” she whispered grabbing onto the taut skin of his shoulders, her balance unexpectedly shifting.
“I am what you are.” He paused, taking her shoulders and bringing her up so her lips were an inch from his. “I am vengeance!”
She licked her lips as her eyes dropped to his.
“And you are mine.”
His lips came down hard on hers and somehow she knew that the promise in his kiss was more than anything she had ever known, the warmth that starved the original chill suffusing them both, sealing something between them forevermore.