Her retreat led her to a place she never expected—the edge. It was thin, and she had to stand sideways on the ledge of the building. She glanced down at the dark alley below. Her world was blurry, her vision so clouded with tears she couldn’t see.
The ledge was high, and the promise of an end loomed right below her. She could fall into this black abyss made by her tears, and it would all go away. Her hands gripped the railing behind her tighter. A loud sniffle escaped her nostrils as she struggled to choke down each breath of air.
Her words were thick with tears, choppy and wet. “Dear, sweet death—grant me your promise of sleep. Forever black, forever numbing. Take me in your arms, and clear my head. Blacken these eyes that no longer want to see.” She closed her eyes. “Please, accept me. Take me away from this place. Take me away!”
“A feather as light as you would not make it to the bottom of an abyss.”
She turned to the voice. Her breath quickened as her gaze settled on the count’s cocky smile. His presence fit in this place, his body cloaked in a black suit, and his light hair shining under the lights. The devil came for her, just as she asked. Just like in her nightmares.
“I want to die.” She sniffled. “So, leave me be.”
His arms crossed over his chest. “You want to forget.” He didn’t pull her away from the edge and studied her instead.
“How do you know what I want?”
“How do you know I do not?” He appeared next to her. His lips rested near her ear as his next words hissed from his lips. “We have been here before, you and me. The ledge, you believe, will let you fly—the wings you think you have inside you coming out and giving you salvation.”
She trembled at his closeness.
“Your heart is black, just as mine is. You cannot escape who you are. Fate is like the dark chariot of death—it will come for you, no matter how far you try to outrun it.” His words softened, each one feeling like needle pricks against her delicate skin. As his lips brushed against her ear, his hands took a firm hold of her shoulders. His fingers dug into her flesh and made her sob louder.
“Drake, you said, my soul is like a flower has wilted under your moonlight. I can die and never be free of the curse your love has placed on my soul. Forever is black with you, like the darkest night without a light. You have drained me of all that is good.”
“I didn’t say that.”
He yanked her hair and halted her words. “Kiss me, you said. Kiss me and blind my eyes from my sins.” He kissed her cheek. “My love, take my kiss and let me give you the paradise you desire. Let me mold the dark clouds into your dreams. I can give you everything. Love me, and I shall never let the sun rise in your presence. In the night, it shall kneel at your feet, only shedding light when you will it.”
This was a side of him she was only familiar with in her nightmares. The thick presence choking her. It was his true form, and he felt like the devil. His voice was velvety, yet accompanied by a prick of sin making her ears bleed.
Though terrified of him, his touch calmed her. It took away all the fight lining her muscles and made her body numb. He had complete control over her. Her fragile mind was so lost, she couldn’t concentrate. She wanted to jump, but in the arms of the devil, her wings were restrained, and she feared soon cut off.
“Sweet, red blood…” His tongue peeked from his parted lips as he admired the coveted skin of her neck. “The taste of it only heavenly beings like us can savor. Let me make you into what you once were, for with this final bite, you will be as I—forever black—with a soul as dark as the moonless night, and as powerful as the endless sky. I shall make you a god.”
He nipped at her neck. “Take my hand, and I shall make the world bow to you. I will make you forget and live in a happy bliss will make every day a paradise.”
“I just want everything to go away.”
“Accept my offer, my queen. Let me take you into the realm of the gods.” His hands slipped around her waist. He balled his fist, the sharp tip of a blade brushing against her stomach.
“I want to forget.” Her next words were breathless, and once they released, she couldn’t take them back. “Make me forget, Drake.”
“Death will give you all the release you need. You have called death’s chariot to your side, and now there is no turning back. The devil has arrived to collect the soul that is mine.”
Ashleigh let out a silent, choked scream as he shoved a knife into her chest. She let go of the railing and tried to pry it out. Pain choked her breaths as it covered her body in a thick cloak. So sharp and paralyzing, it clouded her vision.
“I will blacken your eyes and take you to the paradise that is this world’s hell.” In an artful twist, he dug the knife deeper and made her belt out a bloodcurdling scream. Her head fell backward and rested on his shoulder. He glanced into her pained face as he licked his lips.
She tried to speak. Her mouth was open wide as she begged him to stop. All she saw was the yellow light in his eyes—those intense, emerald eyes she dreamed about.