December 31st, 1899
He was awake, but he didn’t open his eyes.
Rhys let his fingers touch the sheets, drinking in the sensation of the last time he would ever sleep in a bed. The last touch of morning sun on his face. The last peaceful moment before death.
Eyes still closed, he ran a diagnostic, ensuring that all his caches had been purged, that there were no files out of place, that all of his memories were aligned – there was no reason to risk something going wrong with the recycling procedure. There was no cause to take risks with what little existence he was going to have for an unknowable eternity.
December 25th, 1899
He walked up the path, his boots scuffing against the flat stone, his nose picking up the scents of roasting meat, vegetables, and desserts. A Christmas feast, for those who celebrated.
Julia stood in the doorway, a plain cotton dress covering her body – one she had brought with her, not one she had purchased after taking a step up in the world. A reminder, a memento, or just some piece of comfort – he wasn’t sure which.
‘Merry Christmas,’ she said, her voice sad, an almost sorrowful expression on her face.
December 16th, 1899
Rhys stopped his hands as Julia placed hers over his. She gave him a quick, cheeky smile, then began to undress him herself.
She pulled away his belt, then loosened his pants, much to the relief of his already-hard manhood as it was freed from its tight prison. She saw this and went to her knees, lavishing all of her attention and skill on him. He buried his hands in her hair, pulling her even closer, her hot breath against his skin adding the unique, pleasurable madness that only ever came during sex.
Women were beautiful. It was an immutable fact of nature.
December 16th, 1899
Julia drew in a sharp breath as she came back into one piece – even after dozens and dozens of times, there was still something profoundly disturbing about being taken from one place to another, drawn through the world like a rabbit from a hat.
She checked the lock on her door, then opened the window. Her room was suitable, if basic. A single bed – small and hard, to discourage bringing clients; a small cupboard that held her few clothes, a narrow table that functioned as desk and kitchen preparation, and a washbasin – though she needed to carry water from the ground floor.
And it had been home for four years. Four years, and her four walls.
And one conversation was going to change that forever.
December 16th, 1899
Rhys stood by his table, ensuring that every element was in place.
It wasn’t often that he negotiated from a weak position, but there was nothing that could be done, and it left him feeling…uncomfortable.
The bag sat beside his chair. The wine had been poured.
He smoothed his shirt, his jacket and the majority of his weapons abandoned for the moment – whatever the outcome, knives were unlikely to come into play.
Rhys closed his eyes, targeted Julia, and shifted her. The whore appeared, holding a bag of flour.
Anger flashed in her eyes, and he felt himself smile at the strength of the emotion.
December 15th, 1899
The daylight hours were his quietest.
Rhys sat at his worktable, an abandoned whetstone to his left; a book a of obscure hobbish phrases to his right.
The worst of the fae stayed out of sight during daylight hours; and during the day, the humans made at least attempts to protect some, if not all, humans.
During the day, he still took walks, still listened for screams, still looked into the shadows; but as a rule, his day started as the sun started to slide.
There was a knock at his door. He was on his feet in a second, a knife in his hand.
December 1st, 1899
It was almost always hurried. Only a few of the girls were confident enough to linger with him in the darkness, to chance being alone with the monster that protected them from monsters.
Most of them preferred clients who didn’t have dried blood on their cuffs and collars. He could set his uniform to clean itself automatically of contaminants, but there was enjoyment to be had, in the reactions of civilians to the evidence of his work.
The working women especially. As hard as some of them had become, with all the de
It was hard to reconcile the word against the violent man, but he was scared.
At least, the expression had looked like fear before he’d grabbed her neck and forced her down onto her knees. He forced her down further so that she was looking at the dusty ground.
‘Kneel. Supplicate. Now.’
Stef felt the spark of consciousness rip through her body and, in turn, began to feel each part of her body. Toes flexed against socks. Fingers curled reflexively against cold air. Her mouth worked, as if trying to speak words without aid from the brain, and finally, she felt her sleep-heavy eyes.
Unafraid, she opened her eyes.
A fuzzy blue world met her eyes. Insubstantial clouds flew about the sky – the seemingly low sky, the way-too-low sky, occasionally broken by the frail impression of a bird or plane. Except they weren’t birds or planes they were–
Wings, she saw men with wings.
‘Ooooh, crap,’ she said.
I am not–
I seriously doubt you’re in heaven, Spyder.