Stakes and Satiability: Part 4
Looking for the beginning of my Jane Austen – Bram Stoker mashup??
Some weeks later Susanna ventured into Kit’s cellar. Something unfortunate had happened the night of the ball, entirely aside from their new friend Charlotte’s tragic passing, she was quite convinced of it. Susanna knew something was dreadfully amiss as Kit had not been the same since, but he wouldn’t confide in her what had happened. He had shut himself up in his cellar which wasn’t unusual, but he rarely ventured out even to collect insects, very unusual indeed. He refused to go to Charlotte Wood’s funeral, which for some inexplicable reason took place in the dark of night, and was held in the Slaughter’s parlor instead of the church. He refused to attend church at all, stating that he no longer believed in God. The vicar came to counsel him, and Kit swore at him…swore in fury!…and sent the poor man away. He took his meals in his room and the cook informed Susanna most of the food came back untouched. She prayed for her brother’s faith to return and left him to wallow in his misery as he desired, but as the days passed, his behavior was so out of character given his usually sanguine nature that upon a warm day so lovely even Kit was enticed out of doors by the weather, she sneaked in to snoop.
The cellar stank of old food and alcohol. Nearly a half-dozen empty wine bottles and another mostly empty bottle of whiskey stood in evidence, and since Kit’s rooms were cleaned every day without fail, that meant Kit had drunk that much in one night, and Susanna never recalled him drinking at all beyond the occasional glass of Madeira on holidays. Things were much worse than she had feared.
Wringing her hands till her fingers ached, she approached Kit’s desk, hoping to find something, anything that might shed light onto her brother’s deep despair.
Upon the desk were scattered dozens of sketches. It wasn’t out of the ordinary; Kit generally had dozens of sketches strewn across his desk, beetles and moths and flies and the birds that fed upon them. But this time the sketches were all of the same subject, Mercy Slaughter. Her face from every angle, Mercy walking upon the moors with her loose black hair decadently flowing out behind her, Mercy with her hands flung up in the air and a wicked grin upon her face. Mercy Slaughter without any clothes on…oh my! Susanna carefully scattered some of the other sketches about to obscure the offensive one so the servants wouldn’t see, and took comfort from the fact that Kit had drawn it from imagination and not experience, as certain features were not located precisely where they were supposed to be.
The pieces fell into place; Kit had fallen in love at long last, but his affections had been rejected. While Susanna did not entirely approve of Mercy Slaughter, most especially her wanton hairstyle, she couldn’t fathom anyone declining an offer from her younger brother. Kit had everything but money, he was kind and clever and witty, he was handsome and strong, and of course Mercy Slaughter had enough money for the both of them and a small army of children besides. It was nonsense, utter nonsense to refuse Kit’s proposal, and Susanna was seized by the urge to ride over and speak with Mercy. She seemed a reasonable girl despite her hair, more so than her sisters, certainly, so perhaps she could be reasoned with. Kit was wonderful, and perhaps he hadn’t put his best foot forward, but surely Mercy could be convinced if only she knew of his many charms.
She had a groom saddle a horse for her and set off towards the Slaughters’. Along the way Susanna was alarmed to encounter a shocking number of gypsies upon the road, one of them right after another, and more round every bend. She hoped they were moving on, but then realized it unlikely as they didn’t have their women and children with them, only the menfolk, and none of them were carrying any possessions. The exodus was quite odd, and she couldn’t help but wonder what exactly they were up to. But as none of them challenged her or even looked her way, she rode on.
There was a massive, ruddy-faced, yellow-haired, red-bearded man standing across the lane from Quixtridge. At first she was quite relieved to see him; surely no gypsies would dare approach with such a beast standing nearby, but as she grew nearer Susanna realized he had what appeared to be a cudgel leaned up against the fence, and a contemptuous scowl darkened his repulsive face.
“Hello,” she said, as her horse pranced about nervously. Susanna didn’t wish to speak to him, but felt it would have been rude to say nothing; she surmised him to be an acquaintance of the Slaughters, for he was dressed as befit a gentleman despite his brutish mien. She realized suddenly that it had been later than she’d realized when she set out from Chatsfordshire Park, and the sun was low in the sky. It would be dusk within a few minutes, and the prospect of riding home again in the dark with an army of migrating gypsies on the road was not at all a pleasant one.
“Hullo,” he replied, in a thick brogue that Susanna did not recognize as she’d not ever been but twenty miles from Chatsfordshire, but was of Scottish origin.
“Are you a friend of the Slaughters?”
“Hardly. I have business with them.”
“What sort of business entails waiting outside a respectable family’s home with a club?”
“Unfinished,” he said.
“Well, I shall go in and let them know you’re here,” Susanna replied. She was terribly uncertain about what she should do, and would have very much welcomed the arrival of Mr. Singh or one of his fellows at that moment.
“No, ye shan’t, Miss,” the man said. “Ye’ll turn around and ride back home again.” The man picked up his cudgel with a meaty fist and slung it over his broad shoulder. His beard was so thick the red hairs grew all the way down his neck into his collar.
Somehow the man’s uncouth nature emboldened Susanna. If he was a gentleman, he wasn’t much of one, and that meant she was his social better. He had no right to dictate her behavior. “And why on earth do you imagine I would do that?”
“Because when that sun drops below the horizon I’m gunna light that house on fire and kill anything that comes rushing out. Living or dead. And if ye try to go in to warn ‘em aforehand I’ll kill ye too, lassie, to prevent ye from raising the alarm.”
Upon hearing the word lassie Susanna realized she was dealing with a Scotsman, and upon hearing everything else, she realized she was dealing with a lunatic, and so she spun her horse quickly and was away before the villain could make his threats become reality. Although she didn’t really think he’d be able to follow through with his scheme, not when faced with the formidable Singh and his noble fellows…her cheeks flushed as she thought warmly of the one called Manu, whom she had danced with three times at the Slaughters’ ball…she spared not a moment for leisure, riding back to Chatsfordshire as quickly as her bay mare was capable. After all, she thought, even if the assault amounted to nothing as it surely would, Mercy Slaughter would undoubtedly be impressed by Kit riding heroically in to rescue her, like a hero from a fairy tale.
Fortunately, Kit was already in the courtyard when Susanna arrived. Less fortunately he had just come back from a public house, she could tell by the stench of ale coming off him in waves. Susanna was stricken silent a moment by her brother’s appearance. While normally fastidious, he looked dreadful. His clothes were clean, the maids saw to that, but they hadn’t been pressed, or perhaps he had slept in them, for they were terribly rumpled. He had grown thin, so his breeches were too big, hanging upon his gaunt frame, and his shirt sagged across his shoulders like a child wearing his father’s clothes. His cravat was filthy, as if he’d been using it as a napkin or perhaps even a handkerchief. As for his waistcoat, it was missing entirely.
Kit’s eyes were sunken in his head and marred with purple smudges underneath them, his cheekbones jutted over sunken cheeks, and his hair was greasy and had not been combed in some days. His chin had gone several days’ unshaven. He didn’t LOOK like the hero of anything, he looked like a lovesick sot, and Susanna had to quell the urge to slap her younger brother across his face for indulging so thoroughly in self-pity over a woman who couldn’t even be bothered to pin her hair up properly.
As she stormed up to him he bent over at the waist and sicked up. “You idiot,” Susanna shouted, “I’ve just come from Quixtridge Hall, and there’s a mad Scotsman who intends to light the house on fire!”
Kit stood back up and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “Beg pardon?” he drawled, swaying back and forth as if he could barely keep his feet. Susanna despaired knowing in his condition, he’d be unlikely to heroically ride in to do anything other than fall off his horse and break his neck. But, she’d come this far, and perhaps seeing Kit reduced to such a pitiable state might thaw Mercy Slaughter’s heretofore impenetrable heart. She explained the situation again, slowly and with greater detail; as she relayed the tale her brother’s face changed, hardened, sobered in both senses of the word, and even with the words still tumbling from Susanna’s mouth he clambered back onto his horse and kicked its sides with vigor. It leapt forward and Kit hung on for dear life, his head swimming from the too-liberal application of alcohol.
What Susanna hadn’t known was that there was not just one mad Scotsman, there were several. The gypsies that had been so frequently sighted in the area over the past several weeks had never been gypsies at all, they were vindictive Scotsmen disguised as gypsies who had sworn a blood oath to finish what the British Army had begun back in India, the annihilation of the entire revenant clan. And as dusk fell the men emerged from the forest and off the moors where they’d been hiding, hiding in plain sight, learning the Slaughters’ ways, their strengths and their weaknesses, and making plans to exploit them.
By the time Kit arrived back at Quixtridge, night had settled full and the assault was well underway.
As Kit rode into the courtyard he saw Singh’s men engaged in hand to hand combat with the interlopers, their kirpans flashing against the claymores the Scotsmen wielded. They were quite evenly matched; both parties well trained and fully dedicated to their mission, to protect or destroy, depending upon where they stood. Since Kit could do nothing, having neither sword nor skill with which to wield one, he brought his horse to a halt and dismounted, unable to do much of anything beyond stand dumbly and stare at the spectacle.
The door to Quixtridge Hall flung open then and the Slaughters swept out into the courtyard. The Scotsman with the red beard, whom Kit recognized by description as the one who had threatened Susanna, dispatched one of Singh’s valiant men with a sword to the belly and took a step forward as if thinking to engage the vampires. Nathaniel Slaughter chuckled in a dismissive way. “Shall we parley, Witherspoon?” he asked. “Or engage in more of this useless destruction?”
“Destruction, I’m thinking.”
“I don’t wish to kill you, Witherspoon. If I did, you’d be dead to a man already. And if you meant to destroy us, you really should have attacked in the daylight,” Nathaniel said benevolently.
“I mean to look into your eyes when I kill ye, ya unholy bastard,” Witherspoon taunted.
“I know you simply fear what you do not understand, old friend,” Slaughter began again, and Kit admired his forbearance. “If you would only let me explain to you…”
“I know enough, Slaughter. I know that ye’re unnatural, and that all your kind must die.”
Apparently Nathaniel Slaughter’s forbearance had its limits. “Girls,” he urged, and the three darted off like hawkmoths, moving so quickly from place to place that Kit could only see the blurs where they had been, not where they were.
One after another the false gypsies fell, although not as quickly as one might have hoped. Patience and Grace kept stopping for a taste, which slowed them down considerably. “No! We can feed later, kill them now!” Mercy chastised.
“Dead food tastes like laverbread,” whined Patience. Grace said nothing, as her mouth was full.
As his daughters carried out their grisly task, Nathaniel Slaughter walked down the steps towards his enemy at a leisurely pace and Kit was reminded of a cat toying with a mouse before eating it. “Pray tell, how do you imagine you’ll be able to kill me, Witherspoon?”
“Because I know something ye don’t, Mr. Slaughter.”
“And what’s that?”
“Ye’re no’ the only ones on God’s green earth with magic,” Witherspoon snarled. “Solas na greine! Teine! Teine, teine…TEINE!”
The Scotsmen, save Witherspoon, began to burn, consumed by flames so bright that they rivaled the sun. Kit raised a hand before his eyes to shield them from the intense light. His horse reared, ripping the reins from his hand, and fled. The burning men flung themselves forward blindly, grasping the nearest available being to them and holding tight. Thus trapped, Singh’s men began to burn with their enemies.
Patience, who had bit greedily into one of the men’s throats and was gorging herself over Mercy’s strenuous objections, burst into flames alongside him, writhing and falling down and writhing some more until she stopped writhing and just lay there and burned. Grace caught fire but the flames didn’t hold; despite her good fortune her hair burnt away and the lovely creaminess that had been the skin of her face blackened and flaked off, revealing raw red flesh beneath.
Singh had perhaps had a sixth sense of what was about to happen, or perhaps he just reacted more quickly than his fellows. He pushed his sister away from one of the men just as he’d begun to ignite, and while his white topcoat caught fire up the back, he was able to pull it off before the flames could burrow any deeper and harm his flesh. He flung the burning coat to the ground and escorted Mercy past the flailing immolated bodies. Once safely away, she broke away from him and circled around towards the man called Witherspoon.
“Your aim is poor,” Nathaniel said, striding forward to face the man as Mercy and Grace closed in on either flank. Singh came at him from behind, closing off the Scotsman’s only path of retreat. No one else was left; the others were incapacitated by their wounds, or aflame.
“Better than you know,” Witherspoon taunted, and thrust out with sharpened pieces of wood in either hand. Grace took the stake straight to the chest, and much to Kit’s horror, she fell to dust. Singh flung himself before the stake meant for Mercy, and the wood sank deep into his breast. Blood spread across the gauze blouse he’d worn under his topcoat. He stumbled back into Mercy and she eased him to the ground. “Hawthorn wood, yer kind canna stand it.”
Nathaniel snarled in fury and closed the distance in the time it took Kit to blink. He knocked Witherspoon’s left arm to the side, sending the weapon that had destroyed Grace flying, simultaneously breaking the other arm at the wrist, leaving the man’s hand at a ninety degree angle. “You have failed yet again, Witherspoon,” Slaughter hissed through clenched teeth, and then he bit into the man’s throat.
“Nay, nay, nay!” Witherspoon cried, and Kit worried it was perhaps the beginning of another spell. But nothing happened. “Holy Spirit, protect me!” the doomed man mewled, but God’s protection was not forthcoming. After a moment he went limp and quiet. Kit took the opportunity to creep forth to approach his bloodthirsty friends.
Mercy was on her knees beside Singh shrieking something in a language that Kit did not understand.
Singh raised his hand and rested it on his sister’s cheek for a moment. Then his hand dropped weakly. He turned his head to the side, exposing his throat, one last act of selfless love. Mercy hesitated only a moment before biting into him and taking the gift that was offered. All was silent for quite some time as the vampires fed from friend and enemy alike.
Mercy pushed herself back onto her heels. “My brother has died, Nathaniel,” she cried plaintively. Tears of blood trickled from the inner corners of her eyes.
Nathaniel let Witherspoon’s body drop to the ground and pulled a hair from the man’s red beard out of his mouth with a disgusted expression. “I felt it, my dear, and I am sorry. You may turn him, if you like,” he said. “Without Patience and Grace, there would only be three of us, and the power of the gem would hold.”
“He did not wish it,” Mercy explained. “I swore a vow that I would let him die a natural death. He will continue his journey to God. A God I shall never myself meet. We are parted forever,” she wailed, and rested her head upon Singh’s still chest.
“So be it,” Nathaniel agreed. “But we have a pressing issue before us that must be rectified.”
“Another is coming,” Mercy said.
“Not in time, Eisha. Kit must wear the jewel,” Nathaniel said, and mopped his forehead with his sleeve. He was sweating prodigiously even though the night air had a chill to it.
Mercy turned her eyes to Kit, unsurprised as if she’d known he was there all along, and perhaps she had. “But if he does, he shall never be rid of us.”
“Look at him, Eisha,” Nathaniel prompted. Kit felt those bottomless blue eyes upon him, taking in his disheveled appearance. He raised a hand and smoothed his hair across his forehead, even though he suspected it was a lost cause. “He shall never be rid of us, regardless.”
“My, whatever have you done to yourself, poor Kit?” Mercy said.
Despite witnessing horrors that should have sobered the drunkest man, the effects of the whiskey still held, diminishing Kit’s natural reserve to nothing. Despite his better instincts, he spoke straight truth rather than demur. Or rather, he slurred straight truth, rather drunkenly. “You have bewitched me, Eisha.” He found her true name upon his tongue tasted sweet, more natural than Mercy had. “I have grown to love you, and I thus found it difficult to go on living without you, at least sober.”
“I didn’t mean to bewitch you, dear Christopher,” she replied, in a reedy, anguished voice. “We spoke but a few times.”
“It was enough.”
Nathaniel Slaughter cleared his throat. “Mr. Blackabee, you must help us, and quickly, or the bucolic English countryside we both love will become exceedingly less bucolic.”
“No, Kit, do not agree, run away from us and never ever look back!” Eisha urged him. “Forget you ever knew a place called England!”
“Unless someone living wears the jewel at Singh’s throat, we shall run wild, and nowhere you run could be far enough. Already we lose control; if we had not just fed you would already be dead, and we’d be well on our way to London.” At the word London, Nathaniel Slaughter’s jaw slackened and he fell into a stupor, dreaming of rivers of blood that would rival the Thames.
Kit did not hesitate. He pulled the gold chain over Singh’s head, as Eisha beat at his legs with her fists, begging him to run even whilst her humanity slipped away. Despairing tears of blood streamed down her cheeks as she lamented Kit’s fate, yet her eyes grew vacant and wild, then she stopped crying without even as much as a hiccough. Her lip curled up into a snarl, revealing white teeth sharp and gleaming, a row of them, even as the teeth on a saw. Kit loosened his cravat with a crooked finger and slung the necklace over his own head. The chain slipped down inside his rumpled shirt; the gem slid across the divot in his throat and came to rest against the skin of his chest. The effects of the alcohol evaporated before a glorious sensation of power, of strength, of knowledge, and strangest of all, of memory, flowing into him.
The most urgent and accessible memories were those of the man who lay dead before him, a man who had been once a skinny and sickly young orphan boy called Ajai, taken with his elder sister – Eisha had been the elder, once – to a temple in a jungle where they were given food and naively had believed themselves to be safe, and then she was murdered before his eyes by monsters who looked human. Kit could remember – as if it was his very own memory – what Eisha had looked like when she was alive. She was even lovelier than he had imagined, and it broke his heart to witness through Ajai’s eyes as she became as she was, just as it had broken the young boy’s heart to begin with.
He probed the recesses of his mind and found he could remember so much more than that. He had the memories of ten men, twenty, one hundred, as far back as he could reach he could find another man’s memories there. He could wield a kirpan and fight in the style of shastar vidya because the others who had come before him could do those things. He could dance the ancient dances and recite epic poetry in tongues he had not spoken only a moment before.
Kit felt an immense and terrible shame because he had no right to the knowledge, no right by blood or by training. This spiritual inheritance should not belong to him, it was not his to partake of. He was an intruder in a sacred realm. He had no right to understand things that his fellow Englishmen would destroy if they could, that they were fighting to destroy half-a-world away in that very moment in the name of civilization, even though the Indian people had been civilized when the Anglo Saxons were still eating their meat raw. He longed to forget again because he was disgustingly undeserving; he was a vile example of a vile race and now he had spread his cultural pollution even into the blessed gemstone. No matter what happened, his own memories would be retained forever alongside Ajai and the other brave men all of them who had earned the honor of wearing the jewel through nobility and courage and self-sacrifice, qualities he himself thoroughly lacked. He tried desperately to pull the necklace back off again, but it was stuck.
“You cannot remove it, Mr. Blackabee.” Upon hearing his name Kit came back to himself, and the other men’s memories receded into the background, smoothly vanishing to a pinpoint like changing the focus on a microscope; he had only to call upon them and they would reappear in the forefront of his mind again. Nathaniel Slaughter had regained his wits, and he rested a hand upon Kit’s shoulder. “I regret to tell you, the gem is yours until death.”
“It is a heavy burden,” Eisha said, with compassion.
“It is more that I do not deserve it,” Kit countered.
“If you did not deserve it, it would have burned you alive when it touched your skin,” Eisha explained, as she rose to her feet to stand beside him. “The gemstone has the ability to sense who can safely wield its power, and does not grant its wisdom to the undeserving.”
“Oh,” Kit said. “Might have been nice to know that going in.” Not that he would have made any other decision regardless, but he could have at least offered up a prayer first.
“Pish-posh. You appear to be alive to me, my boy,” Slaughter said lightheartedly, “so you must be deserving, and therefore no harm has been committed. And best of all, I am not hungry. Eisha?”
“My mind grows clear for the first time in what feels like forever, Father,”
“Why must you insist upon calling me your father, when you know I’m nothing of the sort,” Nathaniel retorted in exasperation.
“Because people are coming,” she replied, and they were.
Susanna had raised the alarm, and Lord Stephen Blackabee had come with his many brothers and brothers-in-law and their retainers and the constable and some of the constable’s men. They came riding into the courtyard with muskets and swords at the ready and stopped short at the sight of dozens of human beings burnt to cinders and two corpses with their throats ripped out. Eisha stood close beside Kit and took his hand. He understood that she was terribly frightened, and was determined to protect her with his life, if it came to that.
“Thank God you’re here!” Nathaniel crowed. “We’ve been attacked! Singh and his fellows have repelled them, with the very timely assistance of your brother, Lord Blackabee, but some rode off into the forest! Give chase, time is of the essence!”
“Attacked? By whom?” the constable said, swinging down from his horse and staring down at Witherspoon. Nathaniel had chewed out the center of the man’s throat completely and Kit was dismayed to see Mr. Slaughter had blood down his shirtfront and on one of his jowls. Eisha’s appearance was even more concerning; since she’d been crying, she had smears of drying blood upon her face and dribbled teardrops spattered across her clothes, not to mention the remains of her meal.
“Gypsies,” Kit said, since there were no gypsies and never had been. “Gypsies with torches and some sort of liquid that caught aflame.”
“They also had dogs with them,” Eisha said.
“Large dogs,” Nathaniel declared.
“Exceedingly large dogs,” Kit added. “They acted as if they were rabid, but perhaps they were simply driven mad with hunger.”
That was enough of an explanation for the constable. He sent some of his men out to patrol the woods surrounding Quixtridge and some more to search the moors, before returning his attention to the Slaughters. The constable eyed them askance. “Good heavens, Mr. Slaughter, were you or your daughters harmed?”
“No, Patience and Grace have journeyed to Cornwall to visit some friends newly arrived from India. Left this morning, thank goodness.”
“They will be gone for quite some time,” Eisha added. “Grace has a suitor there, a most ardent one, and with any luck she’ll marry him and remain in Cornwall in perpetuity. And who knows, perhaps Patience might find a husband in Cornwall as well.”
“My only fear is that they should die in childbirth as their mothers both did,” Nathaniel added. “Before ever getting to return home for a visit.”
“Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, Father,” said Eisha. “Although sometimes, it sadly does.”
The constable cared not for women’s concerns such as marriage and childbirth and visits to Cornwall and to everyone’s relief, his eyes glazed over and he stepped away to direct his men on the hunt for imaginary gypsies and possibly rabid dogs. Before Kit could as much as sigh in relief his brother Stephen approached, an incredulous expression on his face. “Am I given to believe, that you, Christopher, have actually managed to do something useful?”
“We couldn’t have managed without him, Lord Blackabee.” Nathaniel replied, which was entirely true.
“Well, well,” Stephen blustered, as if he could scarce believe it, and then he took note of Mercy’s hand in Kit’s. “Well,” he said, in a calculating tone. “I suppose anything is possible, given the proper motivation.”
“Just so,” Nathaniel agreed. “Although I should let the happy couple share the news themselves, I find I cannot hold my tongue. Christopher and Mercy are to be wed, I have given them my blessing.”
“What?” Kit blurted, too loudly, nonplussed by the sudden announcement.
At the same moment Eisha said, “Have you gone mad, Nnnn…Er…Have you gone mad, Father?”
Nathaniel Slaughter chuckled benevolently. “Indulge an old man in his pleasures, won’t you? My heart is so full of joy…” he paused and pressed his lips together as if trying not to laugh, “…I cannot help but share the news. You’re lucky I’m not shouting it in the square like the town crier. Mr. Blackabee, can you ever forgive me for stealing your thunder?”
Before Kit could speak a word, Stephen was already talking. “Forgive you? Whyever should he forgive you? This is marvelous, simply marvelous. I’d all but given up hope of ever being rid of this one, he’s useless, perfectly useless…” Stephen reddened and cleared his throat. He glanced Kit’s direction. “What I mean to say is, heartfelt congratulations, dear brother, and may it be a fruitful match.”
“May it be a happy one,” Kit replied. His family had quite enough children anyhow.
“It will be,” Eisha murmured, and gave Kit’s hand a squeeze that caused him to lose track of the conversation entirely. Whatever else was said was lost upon him. Eventually Stephen made his apologies and joined the rest of the men on their pointless gypsy hunt. Eisha raised an eyebrow and smirked at Nathaniel. “I repeat myself, Father, have you gone mad?”
“What better place to hide, my dear daughter, but within the cloak of British respectability,” Nathaniel said.
“An excellent point,” Kit agreed.
“And how else could we explain Kit needing to remain by our sides from now on? Nothing else made any sense,” Nathaniel explained.
Kit cleared his throat and added, “I had hoped, that you perhaps, would not be terribly opposed to the possibility.”
“I am not opposed, far from it. I simply despise it that your hand has been forced.”
“I thank the fates for it,” he replied.
“If that is true, then I have but one question, Christopher,”
“And what is that, my darling.” The word ‘darling’ tasted even sweeter than Eisha’s name had. Kit imagined pushing back her straight black hair and whispering it into her ear.
She smiled brightly, and Kit felt as if his heart might burst from the beauty of it. “Will you stay for dinner?”
Want to read some other horrible sort-of romances I wrote on a dare?
Women In Fridges: A Cold Day in Hell (this one is a bit scary/triggering)