She went to the window and poked her head out. They were there, just as she’d imagined them: Darry in the same shirt and jeans—they were even dirtier now—and Genesis, standing behind him, her hands clasped demurely behind her back and her face upturned with a knowing, winking smile.
Thankfully, though, no fangs. And she wasn’t wearing that red kimono… just jeans, Doc Marten boots and a violet, laced-up-the-front corset top. Her hair was pale blonde, but it wasn’t white.
Maybe, Winnie thought to herself. Maybe I am overreacting.
Maybe I am a little jealous.
“We’re going to Genesis’s place,” Darry said, and the simple, normal words almost put her at ease—she thought of a normal house, a normal living room and maybe parents, like a normal person would have.
“My brother and sister are in town. They’re having a late dinner tonight,” Genesis said—she didn’t have to raise or lower her voice any bit from the tone she’d spoken in at the coffee shop: her hush was like a practiced librarian’s. “I thought you and Darry would like to come along.”
For a late dinner with your siblings? she thought. The words seemed mockingly honest… dinner with the family, what could be more home-grown than that? But still…
Nothing about this is right.
But if I don’t go… Darry will die.
She didn’t know how she knew that—what made her so sure this was going to be a matter of life or death—but she did.
“Alright, I’m coming,” she hissed. With an agitated sigh, she settled back into her room, and looked helplessly at her sneakers, lying where she’d kicked them off at the foot of the bed. She was going to put them on and go, she knew that… but she wanted just a minute more before whatever dark errand she was running got on its way.
The walk to Genesis’ home—whatever sort of home a creature like Genesis might have—was a quiet one. Genesis said very little, letting Darry lead the way while she lingered next to an uncomfortable Winnie, sneaking secret little smiles at her as they went.
“Please stop,” Winnie said, without looking up from her feet.
“I wish I could,” Genesis replied. “But you’re… very pretty.”
She reached out to brush at Winnie’s long, dark hair, but, filled with a sudden panicky fear, Winnie slapped her hand away.
Genesis’ smile quirked a little at edges.
“You don’t have to be scared,” she said. “It won’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.”
“I thought you were with Darry,” Winnie hissed.
“I am,” Genesis purred gently. “But… I like you, too.”
She drifted a little bit closer to Winnie’s side.
“I really like you.”
Winnie jerked away angrily.
The other girl bowed her head. “If you wish.”
“What are you?” Winnie muttered. “I know you’re not normal.”
“They call us exsul,” Genesis replied. “Outcasts.”
Winnie paused; Genesis paused with her and waited, her eyes glowing patiently.
“You’re not afraid of me knowing the truth?”
She laughed gently. “You? No. I like you, Winnie. I like you and Darry. Why would I be afraid of you?”
“You just told me you’re—”
“A what?” she said. “Let’s see if you remember.”
Winnie blinked—she couldn’t.
It sounded Latin… she thought. Ex… ex-something…
“He doesn’t know?” she asked. Genesis shook her head. Darry had noticed they’d stopped by now; he called to them, and they started walking again.
“What are you doing to him?” Winnie asked.
For the first time, Genesis’ smile faded—she looked away with a barely perceivable sigh, fingering the ugly pewter pendant she wore around her neck. But it was all the answer she gave.
“You can’t do this,” Winnie whispered. “Whatever you are, I’m not going to let you hurt us.”
“You can’t stop it,” she replied. “You won’t.”
“What makes you think that?”
The smile, though still wistfully sad, returned. “You won’t… because you will want more.”
Winnie stopped in her tracks a second time.
Genesis leaned close, reaching up again to run her fingers through Winnie’s hair. This time, Winnie didn’t stop her, even as she realized with slowly dawning fascination what it was the strange doll meant to do: she felt those dark, silkily soft lips press against her own, and Genesis’s gentle, delicate hand caressed the back of her head. The shock died, and, without thinking about it, she closed her eyes and succumbed.
Genesis slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer, and Winnie’s heart skipped as she discovered the kiss tasted faintly of raspberries. She was floating; a quietly eager desire bloomed somewhere in her midsection, and her breasts tingled.
Feeling both terrified and inexorably curious, she brought a cautious hand to Genesis’ cheek.
When Genesis made to pull away, Winnie tried to follow: the silent enchantress was right… she wanted more. But Genesis put up her hand between them, laying a finger across Winnie’s lips and shushing her.
“No… not just yet, love.”
Winnie blinked. Darry had stopped again and was waiting; he’d watched them kiss, and he smiled at her when she met his eyes.
“See?” he said. “I told you it doesn’t hurt.”
“I… but I…”
She looked from Darry to Genesis, and back again. Neither of them said a word. Winnie wasn’t sure which was stronger—the souring fear and distrust curdling in the pit of her stomach, or the soothing desire, unfolding like a fragile new rosebud in her heart and loins. The smell of Genesis lingered near her, in her hair and on her skin.
And her stomach lurched.
Genesis saw the look of nausea flash across her face and quickly put a hand out to steady her.
“Darry, go on ahead,” she said. “Winnie and I will catch up.”
Darry nodded, and obeyed.
“What did you just do to me?” Winnie hissed. “What… what are you?”
Genesis shrugged. “It’ll do no good for me to tell you again. You can’t turn around now, Winnie… you chose to come along. Even if you try, you’ll change your mind and come back.”
“You think whatever you’re doing is that strong?”
“No. I think your love for Darry is that strong.”
She took Winnie’s hand, gently playing with her fingers.
“I’m very sorry,” she said. “But at least you’ll be together. And you’ll die in bliss—very poetic. Darry will be thrilled.”
Winnie jerked her hand away. “You’re insane.”
Genesis’s expression didn’t change—but for a moment, she seemed to shimmer, to blur before Winnie’s eyes. And then she was the dusky gray girl behind the porcelain mask: her eyes glittered in a hard, unnatural light, and her smooth flesh faded into serpentine scales along the back of her neck, by her ears and just along her brow. Winnie took a startled step back and tripped—Genesis reached out to grab her, but she wasn’t quick enough: Winnie’s ankle twisted underneath her and she landed hard, a startled cry escaping her.
When she looked up again (through a haze of threatening tears), Genesis—looking perfectly normal, if pale and wispy—was kneeling down next to her, steadying her with one hand and gingerly touching her twisted ankle with the other.
“I’m sorry,” she said; she looked near tears herself, like a child who finds an injured baby bird and cannot help it. “How badly does it hurt?”
“Get away from me!” Winnie shouted, trying to scramble out of the strange girl’s reach. “Exsul! That’s what you said you were, you said exsul! It means demon, doesn’t it? Get away!”
Genesis’s brow creased and she nervously brought a hand up to play with her pendant. “Winnie, I—”
“Darry!” she shouted. “Darry, come back!”
“He won’t hear you.”
The strange doll shook her head.
“I’m sorry, Winnie… but you made me do this.”
She lunged forward, not tender this time but hungry, seizing Winnie’s head in her hands and forcing her lips on Winnie’s with grinding, angry desperation. Her tongue found Winnie’s and Winnie tasted the tips of her fangs—it was too much, all at once: the smell of roses was heavy and thick, choking her, and her body roared for more, for pain and pleasure, for Genesis to rake those little fangs across her skin, down her throat and to her nipples, which were pinched with pain even as they seemed to pour exquisite heat and desire into her, erect beneath her shirt, brushing against the cotton and aching for Genesis’s sweet, sucking mouth.
Warm, indulgent wetness flowered between her thighs; she could take no more.
Her eyes rolled up in her head, and with a stuttered groan, she passed out.
“Bad puppy!” scolded a silkily playful voice. Winnie tried to open her eyes to see what breathy Marilyn Monroe impersonator was calling her puppy, but her limbs refused to respond. Then, memory came flooding back to her, like the outpouring of adrenaline and hormones that went racing through her system just before she passed out, and the need to open her eyes—the need to get up—intensified. She struggled against the weight in her limbs, and thought she was making progress, when a childish whimper escaped her and she froze.
“Ooh, she’s waking up,” said another voice. This one was male, smooth and sensuous, like caramel.
“Well, there now, Genesis. Looks like you didn’t kill her after all.”
Her eyes were starting to open a little; there was almost no light in the room, and someone—the girl who first spoke, she thought—was leaning over her. It was hard to see, but she thought the girl had dark hair, hanging down like a curtain, and eyes the color of hematite. Winnie only thought that because they were staring at her, alien and singularly discernible while the rest of the world remained in hazy darkness.
“How do you feel?”
She felt a hand on the side of her face, gently brushing away her hair. It was at once soothing and spitefully scary—she thought again of Genesis, and tried to push herself up on her elbows. She was lying on a cold wooden floor, and it hurt to try and move.
“Darry…” she muttered.
“He’s right here, love,” said the male’s voice, and she felt two large hands slip under her armpits and gently hoist her into sitting position. Focus was getting clearer now, and she saw the dark-haired girl scanning her curiously, while Genesis and, yes, Darry, waited a little across the room. Her friend was stripped down to his jeans, the fly already undone, his hair mussed and smears of what she hoped was lipstick reddening his lips.
“What did you do to me?” she asked.
“Bad puppy nearly killed you!” said the dark-haired girl with a laughing smile. “But you’re okay now. Colt and I will take care of you.”
Genesis seemed unable to take her eyes off the floor. She kept her head bowed quietly, shame-faced and fingering that ugly pendant again. Winnie remembered, suddenly, that strange tic of fear she’d sensed the first time she’d seen the gothic doll, and thought maybe now she understood it.
“You were right, Geni,” said the male voice behind her; she could tell now she was half in the speaker’s lap. “She’s going to be a delicious little lover.”
Winnie turned to look at him: he was venomous. Decidedly male, yes, but slimmed with a strange, delicate feminine grace—he was beautiful. His long hair, dark like his sister’s, almost indigo, fell past his shoulders like a mane. Wisps of it seemed to float delicately around his face and elfish ears, and his eyes were dark, dark green.
She must have been gawking because he stuck his tongue out at her in boyish teasing. It came to a point at the end. A devil’s tongue.
The room swam; the elf pulled her towards him and kissed her, sparking electric delight through her neck and shoulders, and down through her belly, to her loins. She was stunned by the sudden, rampant arousal he stirred up in her, and before she knew what she was doing she found herself pressing back eagerly.
But all at once she remembered what Genesis had done, what she had said, and Winnie pushed the boy away.
“What are you?” she asked. “Why are you doing this?”