The God Key – Tentative Chapter Two

They created the League during their second year at university. Mostly it was the villainous equivalent of Anime Soc. A laugh. Everything is a laugh until you actually get superpowers – with great power comes great responsibility and all that.

Isaac slumped in the chair, sickly pale. Probably with the same splitting headache that Archangel had. He could have been in and out of Isaac’s mind already if he could just get a decent night’s sleep, he was sure of it, but he felt like he was trying to pick up needles with thick mittens on. Clumsy blunt force that was never quite where he wanted.

“Fuck.” Isaac closed his eyes. “Are you trying to give me permanent brain damage?”

No, no he wasn’t. But time was short – he couldn’t afford to do nothing, Isaac knew that. Surely, Isaac knew that? The need to sleep fogged Archangel’s thoughts and he rubbed his eyes. Coffee break. Maybe they both needed a coffee break, seeing as he couldn’t have Isaac falling asleep and escaping to her realm that way either.

“As I said,” he bit out. “You’re bringing this entirely on yourself. You could just help us.”

But he didn’t launch another attack. Couldn’t bear to, couldn’t stomach hurting him properly or further, even if it was necessary. Damn it. He watched Isaac for a moment, with his eyes closed, brow pinched with pain.  He’d probably break him if he tried again.

He went to make coffee.

“Archangel!” Spring cornered him the second he stepped out of the basement – a brown skinned, earth eyed woman with the ability to control plant life. “The Dream Weaver knows we have him.” She handed Archangel a couple of photos of Morphina.

(more…)

The God Key – Chapter One tentative draft share because I’m super excited!

 

“Very heroic, having me dragged here.”

“I told them not to hurt you,” Archangel said. Seeing Isaac again, up close, was as dizzying as blood loss. He itched still, damningly, to reach out and touch. To soothe bruised jaw and tension corded shoulders, release chafed wrists and press kisses to every inch of his skin. “We didn’t want to hurt you.” He stepped closer. “You brought this upon yourself.”

His basement was small and padded and grey, equipped only with the chair and shackles that Isaac was bound to. The shackles dwarfed him and his slender wrists. It was ridiculous.

“Why am I here, Gabriel?”

It was strange to hear that name after so many years. Just a little bit wrong feeling. And yet, on those lips, it was achingly easy. Intimate. He released a breath. “I’ve been trying to find you for a long time.”

“I know, I’ve been avoiding you for a long time. That’s not what I asked.”

He fumbled, uselessly, frantically, for the threads of Isaac’s mind. Nothing there. There was only maddening, shuttered, impossible silence like the grave. It seemed to seep into everything. What are you thinking, Isaac? Archangel stroked his powers over the minds of others, instead – Spring on guard just outside the door.

He wished he’d thought to bring in some sort of barrier with him. Coffee, even. The files. Try just talking to him, reasoning with him – what sort of idiotic idea had that been when the very sight of him had Gabriel bent over the ropes with the match bell ringing?

“I need your help,” Archangel said. “We need your help.”

“I need you to stay the hell away from me, but here we are.”

“You didn’t have to let me believe you were dead!” It burst out of him. It was the exact opposite of the patient calm and control he’d wanted to radiate. This time, even when he knew he absolutely shouldn’t, he couldn’t resist touching. Just to check that he was truly there in front of him, warm and alive. Just because he hoped it fucking hurt Isaac even a fraction as much.

Isaac bit down on his lip at the small caress of fingers on his jaw. A choked sound caught in his throat. His head jerked like he wanted to twitch away, though he couldn’t.

Archangel could feel the power buzzing beneath Isaac’s skin, could literally watch Isaac’s fledgling grey eyes turn as white as a fresh sheet of paper. In an instant he could hear every thought in the house, feel the tug of them like strings ready to be woven into a tapestry of his pleasing. I’m so tired, spaghetti carbonara for dinner, just a few minutes of rest, be good, train harder, I should make coffee, I wonder what they’re doing in there…

The thoughts stretched farther, further, a rush of hundreds of voices and souls going about their life. He could hear every thought except the ones he most wanted to hear, but a person’s power never worked on Isaac when they touched him and Isaac’s own gifts kicked in. Everyone else though…

Their gazes locked. Isaac’s breath had gone shallow and his body taut. He gave Gabriel a look of exquisite agony. He didn’t, however, give an explanation. An apology. Nor did he offer up any useful information.

Archangel let his arm drop and forced himself to focus. “You’re too powerful for me to leave you alone, you know that.” His voice was only a little hoarse. “I couldn’t let you fall into the wrong hands; I’m not the only person who’s been looking for you these last few years. Would you rather it was one of them who found you, instead of me?”

“Better the devil you know, Archangel?”

“I’m not the devil.”

“No. You’re a regular hero, right? Let’s just call this detaining a threat instead of fucking kidnapping your ex like the other freaks get.”

Perhaps spitefully, Archangel reached out a hand again, carding his fingers through Isaac’s hair. There. A quiver of breath, a slight surrender, a skin-hunger. How long had it been since someone touched Isaac like this? Or touched him at all? Had the last time been Gabriel too? The power rushed beneath his hand, all the possibilities that he once thought died bleeding out on their bedroom floor.

Focus.

“Indifference is a form of evil, Isaac. Doing nothing means letting evil win.” Letting me mourn you was evil. Isaac’s hair was overgrown, tangled, greasy with hiding out and matted with cold sweat. He’d have to get it cut. “Don’t you dare pretend I’m the bad guy here.”

“Gabriel.” Isaac’s gloved fingers flexed again on the arms of the chair. His power pulsed wildly, magnifying Archangel’s telepathy in one moment, shrinking it the next until his head had gone quiet with only the whisper of foreign thoughts. But it always went back to the magnifying. Isaac had told him once that everything in his whole body lit up with their mere proximity to each other. He couldn’t get enough of it, kept the point of contact up for a beat longer, two.

Gabriel.” Pleading. Point to him. Archangel let go, offering reprieve again as Isaac squeezed his eyes shut for a few seconds and cleared his throat. “So, you found me. You caught me. What happens to me now? You can’t keep me tied to a chair forever – that would be cruel. No one here wants to hurt me, remember? Least of all you.” His cheeks were flushed.

“The chair is a temporary arrangement until I can be sure you don’t do something stupid.”

“Until you can get inside my head and make me behave like a good boy for you?”

“Is that really what you think of me now?” Archangel’s voice stayed steady with effort, practice. His face faltered for only a split second. It was, unfortunately, a split second that Isaac caught.

“I think you think what you’re doing is the ultimate right. I think you think you’re protecting me. I think you’re an arrogant delusional prick who thinks anyone who doesn’t share his particular view on the world is immoral and needs to be saved.”

It was true, but not like that. Isaac twisted everything.

Archangel circled the chair, placing himself behind him. Giving himself a brief reprieve too, perhaps, from the look on Isaac’s face.

Gabriel had always loved broken things, he loved to put them back together. Isaac had been a stained glass window of a boy when they first met. Startling colours, beauty, torment, and absolutely shattered into a million pieces. He’d loved him instantly. With his eyes blazing white and his body shuddering like a magnet trying to connect he looked devastatingly in need of Gabriel to save him again. Whether he was too stubborn to admit it or not.

“I know she was in your head, it’s how we finally found you.”

“You think I’m a Trojan horse gifted to bring your kingdom crashing down?” Isaac laughed, without amusement. It was a horribly scratchy noise like he’d grown unused to making any. “Feel free to let me go whenever you like. I’d hate to be an inconvenience.”

Archangel didn’t laugh. He studied the back of Isaac’s head, as if it would magically open up for him and make sense again. “I think she’s clever and slippery and cruel, and I know what having her in your dreams is like. I think you’re terrified to have anyone in your head ever again, especially me, which is why I’m asking. Nicely. What did you talk about with her?”

Isaac’s mind remained closed to him. So did his mouth.

Archangel’s lips pressed thin. “For fuck’s sake.” He did his best to clamp down on his frustration. He clung instead to the quivers of Isaac’s breath, to the fact that even when Isaac tried to close his eyes and ignore him he was inevitably drawn back. Unable to keep from focusing on Gabriel, from looking at him, any more than Gabriel could resist reaching out to touch all reassurances and strategy aside. Isaac had refused to even speak to anyone else, let alone co-operate with them. Surely the fact he kept responding, however reluctantly or defiantly, meant something?

Or maybe Isaac just knew how to play him.

He moved to stand in front of him again, expression composed and shoulders drawn back. Radiating patience, calm, rationality as much as he could when he hadn’t slept in over seventy two hours. “You know I can’t leave your head unchecked,” he said. “I can’t let you go to her – we wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“Nobody here wants to hurt me, but you’re more than willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good if you have to.” Isaac raised his brows, lips curling into some mocking imitation of a smile. “That’s it, right? Probably suits you just fine considering how quickly you gave up asking nicely. It means you get to play jigsaws with my head after. You like doing that.”

“She’s poisoned you against me – I’m trying to protect you.”

“Sure, if you say so. That’s it.”

A fresh stab of irritation needled him at the fact Isaac had the audacity to eye-roll at him with that comment. Why did Isaac have to make everything so bloody difficult? Why did he always insist on forcing Gabriel’s hand? As if making Archangel run around the country chasing after him like a fool hadn’t been bad enough.

“I’m not your enemy, don’t make me into one.”

“You don’t change, Gabe.”

You do. You have. What has she done to you?

Archangel slammed his powers against Isaac’s mental barriers.

(more…)

A Compilation of Descriptions

You would see me turn myself into a stone-hearted woman – like the statue on a trophy, a commemorative prize of what you made me into. It is easy to look at statues and not feel bad. Breaking a stone heart is an accomplishment. A sculpture is a work of art and only an object after all.

I will be soft. I will be kind.


Loving you was like the glut at the end of a carnival day. Sick with sweetness, the sugary high that turned to strung nerves and pounding skull – a pleasure gorged on in fear of making the most of it before it was gone, that in dizzy excess was no longer pleasure at all. Only the memory of it. The chasing of it. The flashing strobe lights of it at once beautiful and alarming. And yet beyond you, the world was colourless.


She was always both drawn and repulsed by stories of shapeshifters, werewolves, possession, changeling children – she devoured anything about stolen or changed bodies. Probably because she always felt like such a stranger to her own.


I make the person that I used to be out of the broken bits of me, scraps of skin and stitched up smiles, the dust in my bones from where the world has worn me down. I have forgotten how I used to love you, I am so different now, but I love you still.

You look at me like I am Frankenstein’s monster zapped to life and set down at your kitchen table in an old sweater, with distant eyes, a crumbling disguise. I think I love you now like a haunting thing.


I once met a girl who said she wanted to die at sixteen so she would be beautiful at her funeral. Beautiful forever. Young forever. The two best things in life they say, young and beautiful. Youngandbeautiful. Synonymous. I laughed then, with everyone else – I had to – otherwise I’d choke on the fact that the world makes fifteen year old girls believe that it is better to be dead than to be ugly.


The garden curled around the fences of the manor like fingers wrapped around prison bars. Like every inch of ferocious wildness was straining against the edges of its cage in an effort to creep down to the sleepy civility of the village below and devour it.


I did not fall in love with you. I fell in love with the people we could be, the conversations we could have had, the nostalgic desire of everything that could happen between us. I fell in love with the idea that someone like me would fall in love with someone like you.

But I did not fall in love with you.


Old ghosts rise in my bones every time we kiss, there is a summoning on your lips of all the people you used to love and how you compare them to me.

You have made my body into a haunted house.


You built fences and fortresses around your feelings, and I had heard the stories of princesses locked in towers a hundred times. I forgot that sometimes defences aren’t built to keep the knights out – but to keep the monsters in.


There are many different kinds of secrets in the world – some shackle people together, some shatter them apart. Some secrets are as quiet as a lipstick smudge on a blown away scrap of tissue, some as loud as the silence after loved one’s death. But most secrets grow. Secrets are hungry, lonely things. They want to be told.

Unfinished

I remember the smell of smoke
It creased into the folds of your tweed jacket
As I pretended to be asleep so you would pick me up
And take me inside.
Familiar, home
In the folds of your favourite jacket,
I didn’t know then…
I always loved a fire,
Crumpling sacrifices,
My exam schedule and your lungs burning,
The promises greyed like ashes in your mouth
And I stained my teeth trying to hold them.

It was never enough.

13 Villainous Prompts

  1. “You used me.”
    “I prefer the term symbiotic. Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy being special.”
    Somehow, the assumption that I could never be special otherwise stung more than the betrayal did.


  2. “Forgiveness? I don’t want your forgiveness – I want fire and brimstone and let hell rain down upon me.”

    “It’s not about what you want.”

    “You don’t get to forgive me,” the villain spat. “We’re not done yet.”


  3. They loved dangerous things. Take a monster, humble it and arrange its teeth in a smile, make it pretty, make it sweet – there’s no greater power in the world. After all, it is only the dangerous creatures which need to be tamed.

  4.  I loved you with the sweetness of something rotting.

  5. “Did you really think you could beat me?” The villain laughed, shaking their head. “Oh, that’s cute. You’re adorable.”

    “So are you but you don’t see me flirting at a time like this!”
    They both froze and stared at each other.


  6. “I loved you, once.”
    “You still do, it’s why you fight me so hard. You don’t care about them. But god,” the villain leaned in close. “You will never forgive yourself for not seeing this coming.”

  7. “Dearest. Darling. Sweetheart,” the protagonist flatly recited the list of endearments the antagonist was most likely to wield in their conversations. “You’re play acting at intimacy again. God, it must be desperately lonely being you.”

    “Oh, love. I’m not the one play acting at anything – if I wanted to be intimate with you, baby, I’d bother to learn your name.”


  8. “You think me a monster, perhaps you’re right.” The villain studied the hero almost clinically as they gasped desperately for air. “But at least I am what I am. You would tear yourself into a hundred pieces if that would make them love you, but don’t you see?” In an instant, they’d stepped close, cradling the hero’s jaw. “You’re never going to be enough for them. They want an angel who will save them all and you are only human.”

  9.  “So protective…” the villain murmured. “You were never so protective over me.”

    “You never needed anyone to protect you!”

    The look on the villain’s face stopped them dead.


  10. “You saved my life.”

    “And you thought that was mercy? Oh, darling…” the words were as soft as a lover’s caress and the smile as cruel as the twist of a knife.


  11. “I could have given you the whole world.”

    “I didn’t want the world – I just wanted you. Don’t you get that?”


  12. “You don’t have to do this, please,” the hero said.
    “Ah, but when would we ever spend time with each otherwise? I think I’d miss you too much.”
    “You can’t be serious.”
    “You’ll never know.”


  13.  “I need you alive,” the antagonist said. “I don’t need that idealistic, defiant head of yours in working order.” A sharp nail caressed soft lips, catching hold of the other’s tongue when they opened their mouth to reply. “I don’t need to spare your friends. I don’t need to give you nice things. You would do well to remember that.”Their hand drew back.

    The protagonist spoke as they neared the door.

    “Maybe once…but I don’t think you’re convincing either of us anymore. No…” they followed, stalked, after their enemy. “You don’t need me coherent, you don’t need to make my life comfortable, or spare my friends. But here we are. Know why?” They reached out a hand to brush the antagonist’s hair out of their face. “Because you, my sweet thing, love my mind. Or should I change it just to you love me?”

    “You’re deluded.”
    “We are what we made of each other. You would do well to remember that next time you try to play wolf with me. You need me alive and I…” the protagonist sighed and pressed a sweet kiss to the other’s lips. “Well, I’m afraid I don’t really need you at all.”

X Marks The Spot opening scene

Diana exhaled a shaky breath, before ringing the doorbell. Despite herself, she smoothed down her dress, fiddled with the zipper on her leather jacket, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and then untucked it again to curl loose and coppery over her forehead. Fussing over her appearance. The self-loathing swelled beneath her tongue, even if she knew looking pretty would help.

In the last twenty four hours she had stripped the black dye from her hair, removed three ear piercings and found a more adult version of the white dress Lucille always used to like her wearing. Soft. Soft and pretty and innocent.

Her hands dropped as if scalded when the door opened.

It wasn’t Lucille.

The man in front of her was handsome, buttoned up in a three piece suit, and entirely too sharp to be Lucille’s normal brand of toy. She recognized him from the Instagram photos as Tristan de Silva – the newly beloved husband. Dark curls, rich, playboy. Absolutely not Lucille’s type at all. He raised a brow without his hands faltering over the tie he was knotting.
“Is Lucille around?” she asked.

His steel-blue eyes gleamed at the question, his head tilting as he looked her up and down. Making no attempt to hide it whatsoever. “You’re Diana Michaels.”

Diana squared her shoulders, jutting her chin up. “You’ve heard of me?”

“Lucille’s Diana – my wife talks about you all the time.”

Another stab of rage, of panic, shot through her at that. Her knees turned weak and her heart pounded in her chest, but she simply flashed him a smile. “And you’re Tristan De Silva. Congratulations to both of you, I’m sure you’ll be very happy together. Is she in?”

He stepped aside to let her past him, making a vague hand gesture of welcome. “She’s in the bedroom getting ready, if you want to wait.” He shut the door behind them and held out a hand to accept her jacket next, flashing a positively charming smile right back. His eyes didn’t warm up even a fraction.
“Is she going to be long? It’s kind of urgent.” She didn’t want to shrug her jacket off – it felt rather like facing Lucille without battle armour, and she felt outnumbered and exposed enough already.

“She’ll be down in a minute.” He continued to study her with a hungry sort of curiosity, a clinical amusement perhaps even, arm still out for her jacket.

She dumped it into his hand, unable to feel sorry that she was probably intruding on their night. He looked ready to be out the door at any moment, a tornado of tailoring and Hugo Boss. Why had Lucille married him? They’d looked genuinely smitten in the photographs, but that could have been the Lucille Wolverton ™ filter on top of whatever else she decided to edit with. Surely they weren’t actually in love?

He’d called her Lucille’s Diana.

“You said she talks about me a lot,” Diana tried to fish, nauseously. “…what does she say exactly?”

“The type of thing that makes me wonder what you’re doing on our doorstep, out of the blue, when the two of you haven’t spoken for…five years, is it? Champagne?”

Champagne. This was definitely Lucille’s house. Everything about Lucille Wolverton, appearance-wise, was like champagne and it was the only alcohol she drank. Pale gold hair, hazel eyes that seemed gold in the right light, golden skin. Light and floaty to an acquaintance, intoxicating and potentially lethal if you had a bit too much of her.

Diana studied him back, carefully, trying to figure out how much he knew about his wife. About everything. Lucille’s type was soft – attractive, yes – but soft. Enamoured. Or so she’d thought, or so it had been five years ago.

“Well,” he said when she didn’t speak. “I’m having champagne. Come on.”
Somehow, as he swept prowling away into their kitchen, she followed. “Sit.” A bottle of champagne was fished out of the fridge, popped, and frothed into three flutes. He held hers out to her.

“I don’t drink,” she said. She accepted the glass automatically into her hands.
She could hear moving upstairs, the strains of quiet singing, music. She looked around the kitchen as she took a sip, scanning her gaze over glossy cookery books and paintings. It was pristine. Of course it was. A catalogue of a house, white as anything.

“Why do you want to see Lucille?” he asked.

“It’s a personal matter.” She willed herself to exhale another breath, to calm down. She wished she could have a glass of water to soothe the dryness of her mouth.

Quick as flash, he caught hold of the lock of hair curling around her face and gave it a gentle tug. She recoiled, and he smiled, before simply tucking it behind her ear in a caress of warm fingers. “The colour suits you,” he said.

She swallowed hard, stomach flipping out. What the hell was that supposed to mean? She set her champagne glass down on the table to free her hands, back pressed against the kitchen counter.

The next second, footsteps sounded on the stairs. The next second, Lucille fluttered into the kitchen in a white dress, bare-foot and fey, with shorter hair than Diana remembered. “Do you know-”

She stopped dead. Her gaze flicked between them, without a smile.

“Diana’s here,” Tristan said. “Drink?” He held out the champagne flute. Lucille took it, knocked it back, and advanced forward with her stare fixed intent on Diana’s face.

Tristan stepped out of the way.
“What’s happened?” Lucille demanded. “Are you alright?”
Concerned, despite everything.

Diana swallowed. She glanced at Tristan, watching them both with the same continuous and open curiosity, and Lucille seized hold of her jaw.

“Diana.”
Dangerous.

“Lucille!” she hissed. The panic swelled – Tristan was standing right there! How could she possibly talk about it? Ask? Do anything?

Lucille stared at her, and raised a delicate brow.

“I’ll do anything, please,” Diana said.

Those had always been the magic words.

(more…)

10 Favourite Writing Prompts

As some of you may know, I run a prompt blog in which I post various writing snippets designed to kickstart people’s creativity. Somewhat belatedly, here are ten of my favourites so far.

“It’s adorable how much you want people to think you’re dangerous,” they said. They took a step forward, slow and sauntering, eyes shining in the burnt orange streetlight. “Would you like me to teach you?”

________________________

It is a terrible thing to want happiness but not know what to do with peace, because we were raised on war and I learnt to love you fighting. But you love gently, arms laid down, and that is not the version of you I fell in love with.

______________________

“Did you just kidnap the crown prince?”

“Would you believe me if I said it was an accident?” he replied weakly.

“How do you accidentally kidnap the most heavily guarded person on the planet?! We need to put him back.”

“Put him back where? We can’t just leave him on the side of the road!”

______________________

She lived life like a pulled back fist, but never quite had the courage to punch.

_______________________

“You looked at me like I was so strong,” she crooned. She clambered to her feet, blood dripping down her skin as she swayed on the spot. “Like I could do anything.”

“Please – don’t – you can’t -”

“How could I ever give that up?”

______________________

You are my salvation and my devastation, but I suppose angels were always the ones who first taught humans how to fall.
_______________________

“You save everyone, that’s your thing, I get it. But who saves you?”

“You do.”

“I’m being serious. You’ve seen me in a fight, I’m rubbish.”

“Maybe, but I don’t need another fighter. Maybe sometimes I just need a little peace.”

__________________________

I watered myself down because you told me that’s what flowers needed to bloom. Now, I’m drowning and you tell me it’s because I was never strong enough.

_________________________

“I love you.”
“You love a story someone once told you, and gave it my face.”

                                                            ________________________

“It’s alright,” the villain murmured, cradling him close. “I have you now. You’re safe.”