Eyes like cut gemstones, blood-red rubies, flashed in the dark.
It had been three years since Devin had last seen Alistair. A lot had happened in that time: a marriage, a child, a divorce, and a death. It was too late for this man to return; three times too late for this savior to come waltzing back from whatever dark nether he had been inhabiting while she had learned all those painful life lessons.
Yet there he was.
He crossed the threshold of the tiny apartment in which Devin had imprisoned herself. The remains of the door fell to the stained entryway carpet with a splintering crackle. He smiled, not quite a grin and far from a smirk, a horrible and certain thing.
“Do you know why I have come, my sweet darling Devin?” His voice flowed through the narrow hall like oil spreading over water, a swirling dark slick of evil. She hated the damnable certainty with which he spoke. It was as though he saw the future well enough to know that every move he made had a place in the greater scheme of things. How she would die for such power!
She remained silent, appearing to be held in his thrall. He glided towards her, his long leather coat brushing dust and debris aside. He is not immortal, her mind tried to tell her. He is not like Killian, or Craig, or Lindsey.
No, she thought. He is something worse.
He was close enough to kiss, or strangle, or stab. His breath, odorless and cold, blew softly over her face.
“I am here for the child. Our bargain is complete and your payment is due.”
In another place, Devin imagined, filled with sunshine and morality, law and order, right and wrong, and all the other vague ideas of humanity clearly defined, she would feel horrible. She would feel real guilt. Her heart might even break. But the world that Devin and men like Alistair inhabited was a world of grays and blacks. The only thing pure in this place was the evil that the two people standing in the hallway had done. And even that wasn’t saying much.
“Why these theatrics,” Devin asked, her voice croaking through the dry tunnel her throat had become, “since you know that you have every right to take Morgan from me?”
“Using the child’s name, like some kind of shield. How noble. How very motherly of you, Devin.” Alistair’s expression hardened. “Futile. I am without remorse for your spawn, woman. It is a debt of blood and one I intend to collect. The little one’s life is the only thing of any value in this hovel.” He stared deeply into Devin’s eyes. She knew he meant to imply that her life was worthless, and the irony of including himself in that tally wasn’t lost on her, either.
“She’s in the kitchen, wrapped and ready to go. Take her and be gone, and let’s end this part of the game.”
“Ah, delicious compliance. As if anything less could be expected.” He moved to pass her, pushing her lightly against the wall.
Now, Devin. Now! her mind screamed.
She reached into the front pocket of her apron, that ridiculous thing that Max had given her for their second anniversary. The apron had been a direct message from Max that he was more interested with what she could do in the kitchen than the bedroom and had signaled a serious turn in their short-lived marriage. How she had loathed the thing at first, until finally growing to accept her burden.
The front pocket had always held the oven mitts. Not tonight. Tonight, it concealed the weapon that Pixie had given her: a sharp and heavy thing that had flowed with eldritch power. She now tried to close her fingers around it, but it was not there.
Alistair turned back toward her, smiling his non-smile. He seized one of her shoulders with violence, and she heard a sickening snap as her collarbone broke under the awful pressure. A moment later something hot entered her stomach and she almost giggled. Then the feeling was replaced with a burning agony that choked the very screams from her throat.
“Looking for this?”
Devin Longbrown died a few seconds later.
Morgan, unfortunately, lived.
2014.10.28 – 2023.06.19