“What do I really have waiting for me if I earn my credits and have to leave you? I am still under Oz’s thumb. Yes, alive. But that’s it. You stayed. Why? Why can you stay but I can’t?”
He squeezed my neck some more. He applied just enough pressure with his fingertips to make breathing difficult and to show me he was the one in control and not me. “Because this is who I am. I am a monster. It fit me, and the minute I realized that fact, I chose to stay and work for Oz in this capacity rather than being a hitman like I was before. I was done killing.”
“And this fits me,” I said with strangled breath. “You said yourself. You may be a natural monster, but I now see that I am a natural prey.” His hold on my neck loosened. “I was just a bookkeeper. No connection with my family. No real friends. A near hermit. Working for Oz and knowing I was breaking the law was the only excitement or spark I had in my life. Until you. Until you set me aflame with the things you did to my body. I felt alive while here. I don’t want to go back to death. And that was exactly what my life was before you. Death. So please, Knox. Keep me alive. Don’t allow me to die.”
His hand on my neck moved, and he once again grabbed a fistful of my hair. I hissed as the sting intensified, but as I was about to beg for more, Knox brought his lips down upon mine. Passion erupted as he pressed his tongue inside my mouth and danced it within. A kiss from my captor. His breath merged with mine as our bodies pressed together and our kiss intensified.
“You don’t want this,” he said between his claiming of my mouth.
“I do.” I held onto his shoulders hoping to never let go. I hoped desperately Knox would not force me to let go of the only thing—the only person—I wanted.
Breaking the kiss but still holding me close, he said, “You have five credits to still earn.”
Fresh tears built and clouded my vision as I stared into his stern expression. Feeling defeated, I shook my head as I looked at my bare feet and whispered, “No. Please.”
Knox tilted my chin to make me look up at him and kissed me again softly but then nipped at my lip. “But these last five credits are going to take a long, long, long time to earn. Possibly an eternity.”
I looked up into his eyes feeling hope again but weary it would be crushed any moment. “Does this mean I can stay?”
“You have penance to pay,” he said as he brought his lips to mine again. He then swooped me into his arms like the first time we connected and carried me to the bed. “And I have decided—as your Monster of Mercy—that your penance for your crimes is me. I will inform Oz tomorrow that you have been a bad, bad girl and your penance is far from over. You have a lot of learning and paying to still do.”
I looped my arms around his neck, nuzzled my head into his shoulder, and sighed as a wave of euphoria washed over me.
Feeling as if I was almost dreaming and Knox hadn’t actually said the words I so desperately had wanted to hear, I pulled back and looked into his eyes as we neared the bed. “And I will pay my penance like a good little girl, Daddy.”
“Yes, you will, shattered sparrow. Yes, you will.”
Fallen Daughter #2
Once upon a time, there were blue skies, and bright sunrays. But today, and any other day from this point on, the ash fell from the sky, casting a thick layer of darkness and despair. I leaned against the open doorway, reached out with my palm, and allowed the grey particles to fall into my hand.
“I have to. There is no other choice,” I said in a low voice. I looked over my shoulder at the three women I had grown to love who sat by a low burning fire, and swallowed the large lump in the back of my throat. “I don’t want to leave you. But if I don’t leave now, they will come and take me anyway, punishing all who try to stop them.”
The frailest of the women nodded in understanding. Dear Jane could barely stand nowadays, but still had a strong spirit I admired greatly. “They will come for you regardless, true.” The other women, Anna and Ruth, nodded silently in agreement. You could see that it pained them to do so, but these women had always been honest and direct with me since the day they found me and offered shelter in their home.