Rachel," came a raspy voice from the upper level, and both Trent and I turned. It was Quen, wrapped in a blanket as if it was a death shroud, the black-haired intern at his side, supporting him. His hair was plastered to his skull with sweat, and I could see him wavering as he stood there. "Don't touch Trenton," he said, his gravelly voice clear in the hush, "or I'm going to have to come down there... and smack you around.
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Edden called the church first," she said by way of greeting, her thin eyebrows high as she spotted Ford's arm linked in mine. "Hi, Ford." The man reddened at the lilt she'd put in her last words, but I wouldn't let him take his arm back. I liked being needed. "He's having trouble with the background emotion," I said. "And he'd rather be abused by yours?" Nice. (Ivy, Rachel and Ford)
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Jenks enthusiastically leaned against the counter and opened the box. Bypassing the plastic knife, he broke off about a third of it and took a huge bite. Ivy watched, appalled, and I shrugged. His mouth moving as he hummed, Jenks finished unpacking the sacks. I was half dead, Ivy was whoring herself to keep me safe, but Jenks was okay as long as he had chocolate.
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I gestured my frustration. "I don't know. She's much better already. She wasn't talking half an hour ago. Look at her now." We all turned, finding Ceri sobbing quietly and drinking her tea in small reverent sips as the pixy girls hovered over her. Three were plating her long, fair hair and another was singing to her. Okay," I said as we turned back. "Bad example.
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I tried to breathe, failing. I clutched her to me, tears slipping from under my closed eyes. It was as if her soul was liquid fire and I could feel her aura, swirling about mine. She was taking my aura. But I wanted to give it to her, to cat her in a small part of me and protect her. Her needs made her so fragile.
My God", he whispered. What have I done to her? He thought, humbled. The spell was broken, but it wasn't sealed, and her soul was bare to him, the scars of her tragic past and her triumphs over pain and her aching need to find her place. He just wanted to hold her to him and tell her it would be okay, that she had survived and was beautiful.
Kisten, please don't leave me," I begged, and his eyes opened. "I'm cold," he said, fear rising in his blue eyes. I held him tighter. "I'm holding you. It's going to be okay." "Tell Ivy," he said with a gasp, clenching in on himself. "Tell Ivy that it wasn't her fault. And tell her that at the end... you remember love. I don't think... we lose our souls... at all. I think God keeps them for us until we... come home. I love you, Rachel." "I love you, too, Kisten," I sobbed, and as I watched, his eyes, memorizing my face, silvered, and he died.
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And what's important to you?" I asked. Marshal thought while we maneuvered around Darth Vader, who was struggling to keep from hitting the wall with his helmet blocking his vision. "Success at work. Having fun doing it. Caring for someone and supporting their interests because you like to see them happy. Having them care about and support yours simply because they want to see you happy.
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You've never been the safe, nice girl next door, despite everything you do to be that person. That's why you joined the I.S., and even there you didn't fit in, because, knowing it or not, you were a possible threat to everyone around you. People sense it on some level. I see it all the time. The dangerous are attracted by the lure of an equal, and the weak are afraid. Then they avoid you, or go out of their way to make your life miserable so you'll leave and they can continue deluding themselves that they're safe. (...) You got off on the risk.
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I'm not talking about the blood ecstasy. I'm talking about my being able to fill that emotion void she has. You know her as well as I do, maybe better. She aches with it. She needs to be accepted for who she is so badly. And I was able to do that. Do you know good that felt? To be able to show someone that, yes, you are someone worth sacrificing for? That you like them for their faults and that you respect them for their ability to rise above them?
But a slow, deeply satisfied smile came over him, and his breath quickened. 'So softly it starts, ' he whispered. 'Foolishly clever and with an unsurvivable trust. It just saved your miserable life, that questionable show of thought, my itchy-witch.' Al's smile shifted, becoming lighter. 'And now you will live to possibly regret it.
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Now you're going to get it, ' I said, guessing Al was coming when the ones in the back scattered. 'You should have been nice.' With a weird cry, the closest surface demon fell back, but it was too late. A flash of red light exploded overhead, smashing the buildings away as if I were at the center of an atomic explosion. The surface demons scattered like brown leaves, the remnants of their clothes and auras fluttering. It was Al, and he burst into existence in a grand mood, an old-fashioned lantern in his hand and a walking cane at his side. 'Rachel Mariana Morgan!' he shouted enthusiastically, raising the lantern high, and I painfully rose from my crouch, breaking my bubble with a small thought. 'I've come to save you, love!
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From the back came an unearthly, satisfied chuckle. All I could see in the rearview mirror was a dark shadow with red goat-slitted eyes. Fear slithered through me. Shit, I have a demon in my backseat. What in hell am I playing with? 'Good witch, ' Al said, his voice coming from nothing, and I stifled a shudder. 'You're starting to understand.
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Sure am glad I'm not royalty, " I muttered. "I wouldn't want to have to bump uglies with someone I can't stand. On a regular basis. And no one else." "Ow!" I exclaimed, trying to yank my fingers from Trent but finding them caught. Then I colored, realizing what I'd said. "Oh... sorry, " I stammered, meaning it. "That was insensitive." Trent's frown turned into a sly smirk. "Bump uglies?" he said, eyes on the table behind me. "You are a font of gutter slang, Rachel. We must do this again.
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You listen to me, and listen good!" she shouted, shocking me. "I am not evil because I have a thousand years of demon smut on my soul!" she exclaimed, the tips of her hair trembling and her face flushed. "Every time you disturb reality, nature has to balance it out. The black on your soul isn't evil, it's a promise to make up for what you have done. It's a mark, not a death sentence. And you can get rid of it given time." "Ceri, I'm sorry, " I fumbled, but she wasn't listening. "You're an ignorant, foolish, stupid witch, " she berated, and I cringed, my grip tightening on the copper spell pot and feeling the anger from her like a whip. "Are you saying because I carry the stink of demon magic, that I'm a bad person?" "No... " I wedged in. "That God will show no pity?" she said, green eyes flashing. "That because I made one mistake in fear that led to a thousand more that I will burn in hell?" "No. Ceri -" I took a step forward. "My soul is black, " she said, her fear showing in her suddenly pale cheeks. "I'll never be rid of it all before I die, but it won't be because I'm a bad person but because I was a frightened one.
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The want for that kiss had shocked him more than the interruption, and he fell back into the chair, cool and nonchalant as Quen came in with his questions and demands. He wasn't sure if he believed he'd really helped, but one thing was very clear. He wanted that again, that feeling of standing with her against all odds and succeeding. He wanted it so bad, he was going to risk destroying everything he and his father had worked for. He should walk away. Right now. But as she was ushered out the door under David's arm, all he wanted to do was follow her. What the hell was he doing, falling in love with a demon?
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A witch, a vampire, and a pixy walk into a bar, I thought as I led the way into the Squirrel's End. It was early, and the sun had yet to set when the door swung shut behind Jenks, sealing us in the warm air smelling faintly of smoke. Immediately Nick yanked it open to come in behind us. And there's the punch line.
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With a gentle pressure, our lips met. His hands slipped more firmly about me, and I held myself back, not afraid, but wanting to feel everything slowly as I leaned in, tasting the wine on him, feeling the warmth of his body pressing into mine, breathing in our scents that were mingling and changing with the warmth. My hands rose to find his hair, and I relaxed into him as the silky strands brushed through my fingers. I wanted more, and I leaned into him as our lips moved against each other.
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I'd give anything if you'd kiss me." I said. "I mean, " I said when he tilted his head to look at me, his eyes wide in shock, "I've kissed guys before. It's like a handshake these days, " I lied, just wanting to know what his lips on mind would feel like. "Almost required if you're leaving.
His expression became serious, and his hand almost slipped from mine. "I've had a long time to think about it." "This can't work!" He looked down, then jerked his head up in frustration as his finger tightened on mine. "I'm not asking you to marry me, Rachel. I just... " My heart pounded, and he stepped closer, so close the scent of cinnamon and wine enveloped me. "I like walking into a room and seeing your face light up when you see me, " he said earnestly, the sun from the open window making his hair glow. "I like arguing with Quen over the wisdom of employing a demon to be my security." My throat caught. This wasn't going to happen, but something in me was withering. I wanted more-and I knew I couldn't have it. He touched my hair, and I twitched as he tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. 'I want to wake up beside you, see your curls on my pillow. I want a chance at falling in love.' My breath came fast. That was what I wanted too, and it hurt more than I thought was possible to survive.
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You need to be clever to best him. Are you clever, Rachel?' Oh God. She wants to know if I'm clever. I glanced at Al, and he stared at me, then shrugged. Licking my lips, I said, 'It's the shiny pot that puts a hole in the sky.' Al's mouth dropped open, but Newt thought about it, her expression thoughtful and her fingers finally leaving her knife. 'Very true, ' she said as she eased back into the cushions. With a soft click of his teeth, Al's mouth shut. His eyes were cross, and he seemed peeved that I'd found a way to satisfy her without compromising myself at all.
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Uh... , " Ivy stammered, and I glanced up to see her eyes wide in consideration. "I'm kidding, " I said. "It passed the lethal-amulet test, remember?" "Not that. You keep it in your underwear drawer?" I hesitated, wondering why I was embarrassed. "Well, where do you put your elven magic?" I asked.
I'm your worst nightmare come to walk this side of the lines. I'm an elf, Trent something you're forgotten how to be. You're scared of black magic. I can see fear shimmering under your aura like sweat. I live and breathe black magic. I'm so tainted with it that I will use it without thought, without guilt and without hesitation.
Hey," the other said, coming to life. "You're supposed to be in jail." Al grinned at him, his white-gloved grip tightening on the wooden handle, which was intricately carved in the shape of a naked, writhing woman. Nice. "And your momma wanted you to have a brain," he said, yanking the door open and slamming it into the guy's face.
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Don't you listen to them, Rexy," I cooed, and the cat sniffed my nose. "Rachel is a smart girl. She's not going to go out with a ghost no matter how sexy he is. She knows better. Jenkskie wenskie can just get bent." I beamed at Jenks, and he made an ugly face. "Rache, put my cat down before you mess with her kitty brain.
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My blood rose, mixing with my lingering fear of the unknown to drive her to a fever pitch. Her lips touched my lower neck and vertigo spun the room, burning tracings of desire to settle deep and low in me. I exhaled into the promise of more to come, calling it to me. I breathed it in like smoke, the rising passion starting a feeling of abandonment inside. I didn't care anymore if it was right or wrong. It just was.
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The small gargoyle had gone entirely white to match the ceiling, and only the rims of his ears, his long clawlike nails, and a thick stripe down his whip-like tail were still gray. He was crawling along the ceiling like a bat, wings held to make sharp angles and claws extended. It just about broke my creepy meter.
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