“What are you?” she asked. “Why are you doing this?”
“Just the natural order of things, sweetness,” said the dark-haired girl. “We had to make sure Genesis hadn’t killed you, or we’d have had to punish her, but now that we know you’re alright, we can get on with the party.”
“Party?” She was still groggy, her mind still slowly coming awake. “I don’t… want a party…”
The girl laughed—it was like ice and glass, hatefully biting.
“Sure you do. Colt’s been waiting ages for you to come along and play, haven’t you, Colt?”
“Sure have,” the male agreed. “But it’s all right, Cleo… let her catch her breath.”
He smoothed back her hair; her shoulders relaxed a little. Devilish as he looked, he seemed gentle.
“There now. You are pretty… no wonder our little puppy likes you so much.”
Winnie turned her head. Genesis had lifted her gaze to look at them now, but when Winnie met her eyes, she turned them down again.
“I thought you’d like her, Colt,” she said quietly.
“I do,” he replied. Every stroke of his fingers through her hair gave Winnie less to fear. Feeling tired, and still a little disconnected, she found herself leaning into his embrace, wanting to surrender to him. She knew she should still be afraid—somewhere deep in her gut, she knew she was in real, serious danger—but that part of her seemed far away.
And Colt was beautiful… like some kind of angel.
He leaned in to kiss her again, this time soft, and brotherly, on the brow. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply of his scent—he smelled like herbs, and incense. Like Genesis, there was a hint of rose mingled in the exotic aroma.
His body shifted as he chuckled, and ran his fingers down the ticklish backs of her arms.
“I do like this one,” he repeated. “I think I may keep her when I’m done.”
She heard Cleo laugh again—this time the sound came from across the room, so Winnie knew the dark-haired girl had moved away from them. Probably over to Darry, her gut told her, but again, it seemed far away and unimportant.
“We might keep them both,” Cleo murmured. “Think of it… a puppy and two little pet humans. We could be a little family, brother.”
Something about the tone in her voice betrayed the ridiculousness of her words. They wouldn’t keep them, Winnie knew. If she was lucky enough to live, it wouldn’t be as these creatures’ pet… it would be as an emptied out husk, left in an alley somewhere for people to dismiss, blathering and insane with what these monsters could do. Again, the strange prescience—this grim, unshakeable knowing—brought these images vividly to her mind.
She opened her eyes again. Genesis was staring, and Winnie saw real fear there, and shame. The little gothic doll looked about ready to cry, and Winnie realized that seeing one of these… these exsul… seeing them cry might just stop her heart cold.
Genesis dropped her mask—that’s what it was, the human face, after all. Her flesh was pewter-silver, and her eyes like glittering coins. She dropped her hand from her necklace and she approached Winnie and Colt, kneeling beside them. She touched the back of Winnie’s neck, and leaned close to brush her lips against Colt’s ear.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” she breathed. Winnie noticed that Colt closed his eyes and seemed to inhale Genesis’ scent when she came near—roses again, and it kicked to life a bitter sensation in her gut.
“Please,” Genesis went on. She was putting on a show: her voice had the pouting, girlish tone of a poor actress leaning on her sex appeal, and Winnie realized the girl was doing it for Colt’s benefit.
An image came to the forefront of her mind: it was a painting called The Incubus’ Kiss, and it showed a bat-winged demon leaning over an enraptured lady victim. She’d seen it in art history—she’d never be interested in art like that on her own free time—but now she realized that’s exactly what this was. Colt, Cleo, Genesis… they were that demon, without the bat wings, but that’s what they were. That’s what exsul meant.
How had her teacher explained it? A demon that seduces young women in their sleep.
She tried to push away from Colt again, but Genesis’ hand on her neck seemed like an iron band, keeping her from moving.
What are you trying to do? she tried to ask, but the will to speak had left her. Genesis’ other hand was trailing along Colt’s throat, and their faces had come so close together she thought they might kiss.
“Please let me have a little?” Genesis whimpered. Winnie’s stomach went sour.
“No,” she muttered. “Not her… don’t let her…”
She looked away from the two of them above her—Cleo had Darry in her arms and was kissing him, running her hands along his shoulders while he caressed her curves, somehow obedient with his movements. As Winnie watched, Cleo slid her delicate fingers down the front of his jeans, releasing the eager erection thumping beneath, gently kneading it as they kissed; her tongue darted in and out of his mouth, and up and down his neck as she tilted her head to drink from him, licking the beads of sweat from his throat and grinning happily, like a satisfied cat.
Darry seemed even thinner now, paler, and shrinking before their very eyes as the creature delighted in the smell, the taste, the feel of his sex. Then, slowly, indulging carefully in every slow, delicious touch, the creature knelt down in front of him, taking his member into her mouth, grinning wildly around the stiff, throbbing shaft as she carefully, sensually ran her tongue down the length of it.
“Darry…” Winnie whispered. “Don’t let her… she’s…”
Genesis took Winnie’s face in her hand and pulled her into a kiss; the doll’s soft pink tongue tangled with her own in a flirting dance. The taste of raspberries was sweet in her mouth for just a moment, before the taste of bile stained it.
Then, as the demon pulled away, Winnie heard her whisper into her ear.
“Pheromones,” Genesis said. “It’s pheromones doing this to you. It’s pheromones they want. I really am sorry.”
Then Colt pushed Genesis away.
“I get to take her first,” he said, and though he said it kindly enough there was a snarl beneath his words. A hungry snarl.
“I thought I told you I get to fuck her first,” Darry snapped, sounding far stronger than his wasted form would have suggested. Winnie shot him a weak glare, full of hurt and betrayal—he had known about these things?—but Cleo drew his attention away with a girlish giggle and a tender stroke along his burgeoning shaft.
“You already got a taste of her, boy,” she said to him, standing up again slowly and kissing him. “Got to pop her cherry, and that’s when they’re the sweetest. No fair.”
Darry stared at her a moment, his face a blank, distracted by the heavy haze of toxic arousal she exuded. Then he buried his face between her neck and shoulder, crushing her under his desire.
“You’re right,” he breathed. “Will you forgive me?”
She kissed him. “If you behave yourself, Colt will give you a good hard fuck after he gives one to your little girlfriend and I get to have my turn at her.”
Winnie shook her head—was she protesting them or herself? She didn’t want Colt to kiss her again… didn’t want him to take her body… and then again, she did…
And Genesis… and Cleo…
So beautiful… so sensuously beautiful, both of them…
Colt lay her down on the wooden floor and pressed his lips to hers, his hand straying down to the hem of her blouse, then under it, slipping up to take her breast in one cool hand. The taste of bile grew stronger in her mouth and she moaned her protest—he moaned back, evidently encouraged by the sound. She could feel the throb and pulse of a big, eager erection pressing hungrily against her.
Genesis stepped back from them, glancing fearfully back and forth between the two couples and looking ready for a breakdown.
What is she so afraid of? Winnie wondered, terrified herself. What is the difference between them and her?
She tried again to push Colt away, but he bore down on her, coming out of his kisses to shake his head. His hands worked at her shirt, trying to pull it over her head as she weakly struggled beneath him.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said. “On the contrary… your death will be the opposite of pain.”
And then her stomach rolled; the smell of herbs and incense turned gassy and sulfurous, like burning rubber and carpet, and she saw Colt’s true face. He had horns like a ram, winding backwards on either side of his head, and scales like a dragon. When he kissed her again she felt his fangs against her lips. Instead of arousing, this time it was nauseating—her mind couldn’t stop thinking of Genesis in tears, how great and beautiful and utterly terrible it would be to see a demon cry, and how it would eat her like a cancer from the inside if she had to watch it.
The air grew thick again and she began to retch with Colt still kissing her. As her body convulsed, threatening to regurgitate whatever that souring taste in her mouth was, she was finally able to get the incubus off of her, him and his smell, his heat, the chemical in the air that was flooding down her nose and throat and choking her with death.
Colt backed off—he started laughing as he watched her scramble away, covering her mouth and looking for an exit. There was the door, past Cleo and Darry—the succubus had hiked up her skirt for him to fuck her standing, her head rolled back in bliss as he buried himself in her naked pink cleft.
Climbing clumsily to her feet, she ran for it. Heat was in the air, like a fever clinging to her—all she could think of was the air, cold fresh air, she was suffocating in the scent of sex and she needed it, desperately.
None of the demons tried to stop her as she barreled through the door, into the icy cold night, and vomited into a patch of dying grass.
Genesis watched Winnie’s attack, hope and hate twisting in her gut. She hadn’t wanted Colt to kill the girl… she’d never forgive herself if he had. But at the same time, that left Darry without anyone to help him.
She glanced out the picture window at Winnie, on her hands and knees in the darkness. And she looked again at Darry, caught in Cleo’s heat. Colt, still chuckling at Winnie’s desperate reaction, got up from the floor and joined his sister, twining his arms around Darry and running his tongue along the boy’s neck. Lifting Darry’s head from Cleo’s breasts and licked the mortal’s cheek. Genesis had to avert her eyes.
“Too bad about the girl,” he rasped. “I liked her.”
She knew what they were doing—hadn’t she watched them do it a thousand times?
But not to this one… this one was bad. This one was…
… was poison.
She looked again at Winnie, wanting to go out to her and help her. The girl wouldn’t come back, she knew that: no matter how afraid Winnie was for Darry, after an attack like that the very hounds of hell wouldn’t drag her across that threshold again. Exsul pheromones didn’t usually turn mortals ill and wounded… but when they did, those mortals never forgot it.
Genesis shut her eyes, and willed herself not to cry.
“Come over here, Geni,” Cleo muttered—the succubus had dropped her shapechange, and still Darry clung to her, trading touches and kisses between her and Colt, lost in their spell. “Come here. I want you finish him.”
She wanted to resist—she didn’t want to kill the poor boy, this poor boy who had never done her wrong, no matter how much she’d used his senses against him. But the chain around her neck seemed to tighten, and pull her towards Cleo’s voice… and underneath it all, didn’t she love Darry, too? Hadn’t he filled her with glorious emotion even as she drained him of his life?
And no matter what the others had done to him—no matter that he seemed to be more interested in them now than her—didn’t her own hunger still cry out for his touch?
Hating all that was in her, but still hungry for his touch, Genesis obeyed her master’s command.
She took Darry from them, and with a kiss—a deep, warm, loving kiss—she sealed his fate.
Out on the curb, Winnie ground her fists against her ears, shaking her head and weeping helplessly.
She couldn’t go back… she couldn’t.
She knew what they were doing. She could hear them, like animals at the kill.
She knew Darry was dying.
And she couldn’t go back.