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Luxuria: Chapter 7

Allerick

    coincidence that I happened to leave my rooms at the same time my wife did. If her schedule was much the same each day for the past week and I had made a note of what time she left for her daily palace wandering, that was beside the point.

Total coincidence.

″Hello, wife,” I said in a low voice the moment she was in the corridor. She jumped slightly, not expecting me to be there, and I tilted my head to the side as I watched her collect herself right in front of me.

A week. It had been a whole week of this.

Of Ophelia inhaling deeply, closing her eyes for a moment, before exhaling slowly. She’d straighten her shoulders, smooth her hands over whatever dark-colored outfit she had on that day, fix a resolved look on her face, then look me in the eye and give me absolutely nothing.

Not a whiff of fear. Not a glimmer of curiosity in her eyes. At best, I got a carefully bland smile to accompany her carefully bland words.

And I hated it.

″Good morning, your majesty,” she replied politely, inclining her head. Nothing else. No attempts at conversation, no signs of fear or interest or anything.

″And where are you off to today?” I asked conversationally, already knowing the answer.

″The kitchen first, then the gardens, if Levana is happy to accompany me.”

″Levana works for you, not the other way around,” I said, a little sharper than I intended.

Ophelia’s mask of polite disinterest broke for just the briefest moment, a sad smile teasing at her mouth before she collected herself. “Yes, well, it isn’t the most exciting assignment for her and I try to make it as pleasant as possible, given the circumstances. Did you need anything, your majesty?”

She’s a spy. She’s a Hunter. She’s an assassin, I repeated weakly in my head. It was just that she didn’t seem like any of those things. She didn’t even really seem like a Hunter, though obviously she was or she wouldn’t have been able to cross through this realm.

Mostly, Ophelia seemed sad and lonely, and it did something to my chest to think that I had played a part in that. I didn’t want to be responsible for her pain, especially if she was an innocent in all this.

Which she wasn’t.

She’s a spy. She’s a Hunter. She’s an assassin.

I couldn’t let myself be fooled by those sad brown eyes, no matter how much they called to me, pulling me in and insisting I look closer.

″No. I don’t need anything.” I swallowed thickly, my voice sounding strangely hoarse. “Don’t let me hold you up.”

Ophelia gave me a strange look, already turning away to head down the hallway where Levana would meet her.

″You’re the king, your majesty. You could never hold me up. My time is at your leisure.”

And you’re the queen.


“Maybe she needs a doctor?” Damen suggested quietly as we watched Ophelia wander through the garden. Occasionally, she said a couple of words to Levana, who stood two feet back, but other than that, she just… walked. Observed. Did the bland face and made bland smells.

Maybe Damen was onto something. Perhaps she was ill.

″Or maybe she’s planning your death?” my brother suggested, not sounding as distraught about that as I’d like.

″That seems unlikely,” Soren volunteered, standing behind us and dutifully watching our backs. “She was able to get closer to you… before this, er, change in behavior. With this sudden aloofness, there’s more physical distance between you.”

That was true. She’d need to put a silver blade in my heart to kill me, and she was careful to sit further apart from me at meals and steered completely clear of me at any other time.

Damen hummed in agreement. “Obviously, the risk that she was some kind of assassin sent here with nefarious intentions was worth considering, but I don’t think she is. Maybe the Hunters Council really does want the treaty to work and sent Queen Ophelia as a genuine act of good faith. The life she described in the human realm was very…”

″Mundane?” I suggested, frowning at her silhouette as she moved further away from where we stood at the base of the palace walls.

″Mundane,” Damen agreed with a decisive nod. “I don’t think the Hunters sent their most accomplished assassin into the shadows to lie in wait for her moment to strike. I think they sent you a bride they’d miss the least.”

A low growl rumbled out of my chest, and my brother turned slowly to give me a disbelieving look. “Oh, you’re offended now? You don’t like how the Hunters treated your wife? Where have you been this whole time?”

Stalking her like a psychopath.

″Keep your mouth shut. King’s orders,” I grunted. Damen snorted.

″Maybe all this time away from the human realm is bad for her,” Soren suggested quietly. “Perhaps she needs sunlight. Or more vegetables.”

That idea… had merit. I already knew she’d gone to the kitchen this morning to check on the food supplies she had left, and Calix had bluntly informed me earlier that she was running low. He’d said it in an almost disapproving way too, like he held me personally responsible for starving her.

The treaty allowed for Ophelia to come and go as she pleased, and originally, I hadn’t cared whether she’d gone to the human realm or not. But if the Hunters disliked Ophelia enough to send her here as a sacrifice, I wasn’t sure I liked the idea of her going alone so much anymore.

She’s probably a spy. It makes sense for you to accompany her to make sure she isn’t passing on sensitive information, I told myself decisively, ignoring that it probably made me a spy to follow her with the intention of watching her interactions.

″I will accompany her back to the human realm,” I declared, crossing my arms over my chest. Soren made an alarmed noise of protest. “As Captain of the Guard, I assume you’ll want to come with us.”

Both Soren and I were due a trip to the human realm to feed anyway, we’d just be doing it with Ophelia along for the trip.

″I would prefer that,” Soren said, choosing his words carefully. Damen had no such compunctions when it came to speaking his mind.

″First, I know there’s a treaty, but that seems like a profoundly idiotic idea, considering what a prize you would be for any Hunter. Second, you’ve grown fat and lazy as king and won’t be able to defend yourself if they attack. Third, Ophelia won’t want you escorting her like a prisoner anyway, so all of this is moot,” Damen listed, holding up his fingers as he ticked off his points.

I sucker punched him in the gut, his back slamming the stone wall behind him with a thud as he doubled over.

″She doesn’t get a choice in me escorting her. And I am perfectly capable of defending myself.”

″That… cheap shot… doesn’t count,” Damen wheezed, grinning up at me, still clutching his middle. “And you talk a big game, but if your wife tells you to go fuck yourself, we all know you wouldn’t push.” He gasped in a breath of air, rubbing his midsection. “I am looking forward to this grumpy and suspicious era of Allerick being over.”

I strode away from him without responding, intending to catch Ophelia in the hallway.

It wasn’t an era. I was the king, I had to be suspicious. It was absurd that Damen was making out like I was being unreasonable here.

The entry hall was well lit, but the orbs were tied to my power so I extinguished the one that illuminated the corner next to the sweeping spiral staircase and let the shadows envelop me rather than make small talk with anyone.

Ophelia appeared a few minutes later, her cheeks pinker than usual. From the cold perhaps? She did look a little chilly. I frowned at Levana although she couldn’t see me. She shouldn’t be taking the queen out to catch her death in the cold.

″We’re going to the human realm before dinner,” I announced, stepping out of the shadows and letting the light behind me flare back to life. “Assuming you are from the same city that the Hunters Council headquarters are in, it will be dark there by that time.”

There was a beat of silence where Ophelia just stared at me with wide eyes.

″Are you… were you just standing in the corner waiting for me?” Ophelia asked, her brow creasing. Levana immediately dropped her gaze to the floor, and I had the sneaking suspicion that she was trying to hide a smile.

″No,” I replied defensively.

″You absolutely were. How did you make it all dark?” She leaned around me, squinting like she could find a mechanism to douse the lights. It was the most animated I’d seen her all week, even if it was at my expense.

″That’s irrelevant. You’re missing the point. We’re going to the human realm later.”

We?” Ophelia repeated, slim eyebrows arching in disbelief as she straightened.

″Yes. We.”

″The other day, you told me to go spend my days there alone if I wanted, now you want to come with me? With zero explanation?” she asked, throwing her hands up in exasperation. My lips twitched in spite of myself. I’d take this irritation over the blank nothingness she’d given me recently.

″Having reflected on the matter further, I don’t think you going into the human realm alone is safe. You are the Queen of Shades after all.”

″Was that an admission that you were wrong?” Ophelia asked mildly.

″It’s an admission that I prefer you not dead.”

″Just the words every new bride wants to hear from her husband,” Ophelia replied drily, fanning her face with a hand in a dramatic fashion. “Well, if that’s all, your majesty, I’m going to change into something more… human.”

My gaze drifted down her front, taking in the dark plum dress that molded closely to her curves, down to the impractical silky flats she always wore on her feet during the day. “Pity.”

Ophelia sucked in a breath, and there it was. That sweet, delectable fear I’d missed so much. She’d been trying to ignore my blatant attraction to her, the attraction that terrified her so much, and this was the first time in a week that she’d let her fear slip.

She seemed to realize almost immediately, letting out the most adorable growl of frustration I’d ever heard before whirling around and storming up the stairs, Levana rushing to follow her.

I stood for a moment, grinning to myself at my success, so pleased I didn’t care that she’d turned her back on me. She hadn’t even bowed.

Fire. I’d take her fire over her indifference any day.


Affra brought Ophelia to meet me at the portal in front of the temple where we’d been married. Seeing Ophelia in her “human” clothes seemed strange after seeing her in the gowns she’d deemed appropriate for life here. She was wearing thin black pants that clung to her legs like they were part of them, a knitted gray sweater that fell just below her hips, and black boots.

″What are those?” I asked, glaring at her legs.

She furrowed her brow before following my gaze, plucking at the offending garment in question with her fingers. “These? These are leggings.”

″They don’t hide much.”

Affra gave me a look that might have been disapproval as she shuffled away, leaving us to it. Soren stood at my back, a silent sentry.

″You do know the only thing between me and an eyeful of your little monster right now is some shadows, right?” Ophelia asked in disbelief. Behind me, Soren sounded like he was choking. “And don’t get all ‘it’s not little’ on me. You’re more creative than that.”

Huh. Just the promise of a trip back to the human realm had emboldened her.

″I think there may have been a compliment in there,” I replied lightly, striding past Ophelia to the portal. While Shades could materialize at any location in the human realm, we could only leave and return through one of five monitored portals. It was a way of checking that no Shade was feeding too much, but mostly it was used to confirm when a Shade failed to return home after a trip to the human realm.

Never again, I vowed. That was why the treaty was in place. I would never again have to spend hours sifting through the portal records, only to tell someone’s family that their loved one was presumed dead.

Ophelia didn’t look surprised to see the perfectly round obsidian, the size of a boulder, having already passed unaccompanied through this portal to travel to our wedding.

″Oh, and we’ll discuss that smart mouth of yours later,” I told Ophelia mildly.

She blinked at me. “Ah, yes. When we do all that talking we spend so much time doing. That sounds just like us.”

Soren wasn’t quite able to stifle his laugh at her renewed sass this time, and I raised an imperious eyebrow at him as I held out my hand and let a coil of shadows unfurl, seeping into the stone. At my side, Soren did the same, and Ophelia moved closer almost subconsciously, staring in fascination.

″Do I need to cut myself this time?” she asked, holding up her hand to reveal a faint scar on her finger. Something about it bothered me.

″No. My shadows will carry you. Only if you are traveling without a Shade do you need to use your blood to activate the portal. Where are we going, wife?”

I told myself that it was only because of her surprised reaction to the pet name each time I used it that I continued to call her ‘wife.’ It was absolutely not a term of endearment.

″Um, well the Hunters Council instructed me to portal directly to them if I needed anything—”

″Absolutely not,” Soren interjected, horrified. “King Allerick is too much of a prize to take him to the heart of the Hunters, treaty or otherwise.”

″So little faith in me,” I sighed, though I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of going to visit the Hunters Council either. “We aren’t restricted by traveling between portals, and as my bride, you don’t answer to the Hunters anymore. Simply tell us where you want to go, and we’ll go there.”

″Oh, well then let’s go to my sister’s house,” Ophelia replied, rattling off an address in Denver that I knew wasn’t too far from the Hunters Council building. “Astrid is a high-ranking Hunter too, just so you know, but she won’t hurt you. She’s the one they sent to talk me into this whole marriage thing.”

There was a lot to discuss there, but Ophelia was already reaching for the black obsidian stone, looking impatiently back at us. I supposed that if I’d been in an entirely foreign realm for a week, I’d be missing my family too. Soren and I joined her, him pressing close to my side, shoulder-to-shoulder, as I visualized where we were going. At the last minute I wrapped an arm around Ophelia’s waist, dragging her through with me.

The shadows swallowed us up, but so long as I kept putting one foot in front of the other and visualizing our destination, that’s where we’d end up. While Ophelia had to maintain contact with me since I was guiding this journey, I was surprised when she grabbed my forearm and held it tightly in place around her waist.

Did she not like going through the portal?

Suddenly, the idea that she’d traveled to our realm all alone, hefting a case of her things along with her, sat uncomfortably with me.

I was going soft in my old age.

With some dread, I waited for the sweet smell of her fear to hit, enjoying the scent but disliking the idea of anything except me frightening Ophelia. It never came though. Ophelia may be gripping me like she’d never let go, but she diligently set one foot in front of the other, her breaths coming out in that same measured pattern she’d been using all week to regulate her fear response.

Within minutes, we emerged into the darkness of an alleyway that the scouts used frequently as a portal-in point to monitor the Hunters Council.

Ophelia immediately melted through my grip since a Shade’s form was incorporeal in this realm. Here, the shadows covered us like cloaks, hiding our faces and bodies entirely from view, and parting only when we wanted to inspire fear. We were nightmares, reapers, bogeymen, shadow monsters.

Humans around the world called us by different names, but they all recognized the threat that we were.

Do not disappear completely,′ I ordered Soren, not offering any explanation for why. Not having an explanation for why, except that it might be unsettling for Ophelia if we vanished entirely into the darkness.

Soren said nothing, but I could feel his judgment drilling into the side of my head.

Ophelia squinted as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, looking between us. “You two look identical. That is… unsettling.”

I reached out, not quite touching her face with my shadowy claws, letting her know who was who. I couldn’t speak to her in this form, and it was oddly distressing.

There was a spark of recognition in her eyes, and a delightful pink blush rose on her cheeks, but Ophelia shut her emotions down almost the moment they appeared.

″You’re very handsy tonight, Soren,″ she said loftily, her hair whipping through my phantom hand as she turned away, waiting for us to follow. My sassy little wife knew full well I wasn’t Soren. I metaphorically patted myself on the back for suggesting this trip—it was the most animated Ophelia had been in days. “Alright, let’s go walk down dark and empty streets, like I’ve been warned not to do my entire life.”

I had half expected her to disappear onto a well-lit path and for us to watch her from afar. That she was willing to stick to areas we could traverse was a surprise, despite her snarky attitude.

That is very trusting of her.′ Soren’s voice echoed in my head, his tone curious. ′There are plenty of things other than Shades for humans to fear in the dark. She is relying on us to keep her safe.′

Good,′ I replied curtly, floating after her. She should know that if any human tried to hurt my queen, I’d suck the fear out of their body until they were a mindless husk of a being without hesitation.

Ophelia walked briskly, arms wrapped around her waist to keep herself warm in the fall chill. Occasionally, she’d stop and get her bearings, but she seemed familiar enough with this part of the city and eventually led us to a block of condos, shifting to the well-lit path while we drifted through the shadowed gardens. With an uneasy look around her, Ophelia knocked on the door of a ground-level apartment, stepping back on the stoop to wait while Soren and I moved to either side of her, out of the way of the light shining through the panes on the door.

It goes against every instinct I have to go into the home of a Hunter, let alone accompany my king into one,′ Soren observed, sounding resigned.

I don’t think Ophelia would be comfortable with her sister murdering us.′

With all due respect, Allerick, you have no basis to think that whatsoever.′

Were I in my corporeal form, I would have laughed. He was right, I didn’t. Just because I had some kind of unexplained compunction to keep Ophelia safe didn’t mean she felt the same way for me.

Ophelia’s sister opened the door, the family resemblance immediately apparent. Her sister had darker hair that she wore shorter, the same dark brown eyes and angular features as my wife, and none of Ophelia’s softness. Seeing them face-to-face, mirroring one another, I wondered how I’d ever thought Ophelia was some kind of hardened assassin.

Her sister had ‘hardened assassin’ written all over her.

″What the actual fuck are you doing here, Lia?” her sister asked flatly, her eyes immediately cataloging Soren and my presence.

Lia. Cute.

″I just came to grab some of my things and raid your pantry,” Ophelia replied breezily, swanning past her sister. “Can we turn the overhead lights off so my escorts can come inside?”

″You’ve really got this queen thing down pat, huh?” her sister grumbled, glaring at us for a moment. “You’re not supposed to be here, and it goes against every instinct in my body to have Shades in my house. Don’t make me regret it.”

Despite the somewhat hostile welcome, she did leave the door open for us before going around and switching the lamps on and overhead lights off. We moved inside when the house was appropriately shadowy, sticking close to the wall while Ophelia rummaged through her sister’s faintly lit kitchen. The apartment was small—all bright white and glass, the opposite of what my palace was like.

Had Ophelia lived somewhere like this? Did she miss it?

″Is my other bag still in your closet?” Ophelia asked her sister absentmindedly. “Oh! Introductions. This is my sister, Astrid. Or Atti, if we’re going to go by nicknames we hate.”

Astrid rolled her eyes. “So, who are your friends, Lia?”

Ophelia squinted between us over the kitchen island. “That one is my husband, King Allerick,” she said, pointing at Soren. Her lips tipped up slightly in mischief before she flattened them again. “I mean, I’m pretty sure it is—hard to tell without the crown and the scowl. The other one is Soren, chief bodyguard.”

She’s a lot chattier in this realm,′ Soren observed drily. I grunted in agreement, torn between being glad she was displaying some personality after suppressing it for a week, and being annoyed that it was coming at my expense.

″You know you’re not supposed to be here, Lia,” Astrid said, her voice softening. “The Council wanted you to arrive via their portal any time you traveled between realms.”

″Isn’t this why we have the whole treaty thing?” Ophelia asked, waving her hand dismissively. “How is it supposed to work if there isn’t some level of trust between our kinds? The Shades can portal wherever they like so long as they hunt in approved areas. It seems unnecessary that only I should be restricted to one portal. Anyway, to be continued—I need to grab my bag,” she added, already making her way around the kitchen towards one of the doors that led off the living room.

Soren wasn’t wrong, Ophelia was a lot chattier here, though it was more like nervous babbling than anything. It hadn’t escaped my notice that she and her sister hadn’t embraced each other or expressed any kind of affection.

″You better be treating my sister well,” Astrid warned, crossing her arms and glaring between us as Ophelia vanished into the other room. “Lia may have been born a Hunter, but her hands are clean. She’s never done anything to your kind. If I find out you’ve been punishing her for her birthright, I’ll come to the shadow realm myself. My hands are not so clean.”

I don’t think this one has read the treaty,′ I communicated to Soren, more amused than anything. ′Stand down, she’s protecting her sister and I don’t want this to escalate.′

That was a direct threat,′ Soren argued, the shadows around him shifting restlessly, watching Astrid closely.

Some of the ire leeched out of Astrid’s expression, her posture deflating a little. “Lia is good. She’s kind. You have no idea what the Hunters Council is like,” she muttered so quietly I wasn’t sure if she meant us to hear or not.

She was right, we didn’t. But hearing that slight admission of discontent from what appeared to be one of their most accomplished members gave me pause for thought.

″Don’t hulk out on my sister, Soren,” Ophelia said airily, proving she knew exactly who was who as she lugged a canvas bag with her as she exited the bedroom. “She didn’t mean to threaten the king and suggest violating the terms of the treaty.”

Twin patches of red appeared on Astrid’s cheeks. “Yes, I did.”

″Well, don’t. I’m a queen. I could… do something about that. Probably. Don’t test me,” Ophelia replied, tilting her head to the side as if she were trying to decide if it was a bluff or not. She shrugged to herself, stopping in the kitchen to unzip the bag and fill it with whatever she was raiding from her sister’s kitchen.

″You don’t have jurisdiction over me, but it’s good to know you have such confidence in your new role,” Astrid scoffed. “What do you even do all day? What’s the point of having royals if you have a Council that does everything?”

It wasn’t an entirely unreasonable question, but Shades respected strength, and I was the strongest. It was my well of power that fueled the portals between realms and the wards that guarded areas of the kingdom. It was my power that kept the dungeons secure and the realm safe from within. I’d been challenged enough for the position to be confident in the fact that I was the best candidate for it. While the Council handled the day-to-day business of running a kingdom, they couldn’t do it without my power keeping the realm afloat.

″I do stuff,” Ophelia said absently, pulling out a jar of something, shaking it slightly. The green cylinders inside sloshed inside the disgusting looking liquid, and Soren all but shuddered next to me.

What is that?′ he asked. ′It looks rotten.′

″Don’t even think about it,” Astrid warned, glaring at my wife. I moved without thinking, going to put myself between her and Ophelia, but the light in the kitchen stopped me at the same time as Soren hissed a warning to stop.

Ophelia blinked at me, her dark eyes wide with surprise. Idiot. Even if she did require your protection, you don’t want her. You don’t like her.

″You don’t think my sister is going to attack me, do you? I appreciate you’re trying to avoid a diplomatic incident, but I’m pretty confident that I’m safe with Astrid,” Ophelia said, the corners of her mouth twitching. What did that mean? Was that a happy response? An angry one?

At least she’d assumed there was some bland, entirely impersonal reason that I’d reacted. Which it was. Obviously.

Of course I didn’t want my queen to be harmed in any way. That was both logical and noble of me.

Diplomatic incident,′ Soren repeated in my head, sounding suspiciously amused.

Ophelia gave her sister a teasing look as she shook the revolting jar, not dissimilar to how Damen and I were together. “Astrid’s addicted to pickles. That’s why she’s so salty.”

″You’re hilarious,” Astrid said flatly. “Don’t take my pickles, you don’t even like them.”

″They are disgusting,” Ophelia agreed. “I’m taking all your canned vegetables though, and these apples. Could you grab some paints for me for my next visit?”

″I thought you were more of a sketcher,” Astrid replied, pulling a device out of her pocket that I hoped was to take note of my wife’s request.

Sketcher?′

She draws pictures,′ I replied quickly, in case Soren started panicking about nonexistent security threats.

″I’m branching out,” Ophelia said primly, zipping up the bag and hefting it over her shoulder. It irked me for some reason that I couldn’t carry it for her in this form.

Astrid snorted. “Because you have nothing to do all day, but sure. I’ll find you some painting stuff. Should I tell Mom and Dad you stopped by?”

Ophelia was already making her way around the kitchen counter, the objects in her bag clinking together as she moved. It never occurred to me that Ophelia’s parents wouldn’t be made aware of her visit. My mother and I had an excellent relationship.

To my surprise, Ophelia grimaced. “They probably wouldn’t like that I came here rather than the Council building.”

″They definitely wouldn’t,” Astrid agreed, her voice quiet.

″I don’t want to put you in a difficult position—”

″It’s fine,” Astrid said quickly. “It’s not a difficult position. I never liked that they said all of your visits had to go via the Council portal. You may live in the shadow realm, but this is still your home.”

I found that I didn’t like that idea at all.

″Thanks, Atti. I’m sure I’ll be back for a visit soon.”

The sisters exchanged strained smiles, but made no move to embrace each other before Ophelia headed for the front door. The moment she was in the shadows, I was at her side.

In case she tried to run, I told myself unconvincingly.

″Well, I hope you enjoyed that thrilling look into my regular life,” Ophelia said drily, keeping her voice low. “Ready to go back to the palace, your majesty?”

It had certainly been enlightening. I had more questions than ever for my mysterious wife, and I intended to get some answers. It occurred to me that humans had stores they could visit to purchase goods from and Ophelia hadn’t suggested going to one of those. Did she not have the funds to do so? Or had she not wanted to visit such a well-lit space where we couldn’t follow?

I supposed I could ask her back at the palace, but first, we needed to feed.

I darted in front of her, annoyed I couldn’t just speak to catch her attention. While she couldn’t touch me in this form, I could make her feel faint sensations if I touched her. Unpleasant ones, designed to elicit a fear response.

You like her fear, I reminded myself. You find her scent most pleasant when she is afraid.

I might even go so far as to say I’d missed her fear since she’d done whatever it was she’d been doing to repress it.

Soren floated back a few feet as I dragged my shadow-like claws down Ophelia’s face. It never hurt them, we weren’t solid enough for that, but I knew it felt like icy dread raking over their skin, making their fine hairs stand up on end and their natural instincts scream at them to either freeze or flee.

Ophelia did the former, standing stock still in place. I took my time, inhaling deeply as that glorious sweet smell permeated the air. Her lips parted, and I ran my thumb over her lower one, tempted beyond measure to lean forward and suck that delicious fear right out of her, knowing it would sustain me better than any regular human ever would.

Was that…

Did she try to lick my claw?

No, surely not. I must have imagined it.

″You’re hungry,” Ophelia breathed, tipping her head back and better exposing that beautiful neck to me. “Too bad you can’t feed on my fear.”

Because of that irritating term in the treaty, yes. It was a shame. Though probably for the best because nothing would satisfy me afterwards if I tasted Ophelia, that much I was certain of.

Ophelia’s fear.

Not her.

It sounded weak even in my own head.

″Come on then,” Ophelia sighed. “Let’s get this over and done with.”


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