- Meet The Girls
- Meet The Guys
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
- Chapter Eight
- Chapter Nine
- Chapter Ten
- Chapter Eleven
- Chapter Twelve
- Chapter Thirteen
This story is rated Mature for adult language, sexual content, references to graphic violence, drug, and substance abuse. This means that this is intended for audiences 18 and up.
This chapter includes mentions of suicidal ideation, and drug use.
It hadn’t taken much searching to find someone willing to accept her proposition. A few grand lighter, and Landyn now lived in the delusion that she was pregnant with his child. The whole situation had been surreal. His elation, his joy.
For the first time in as long as she could remember, he was sincerely kind. Doting.
Eli insisted that they not share the news with anyone, keen to play the part of a fretful mother. “Three months,” she had promised him, forcing herself to return his impassioned kisses. “After three months, we can tell everyone.”
She continued to take every precaution, keeping her birth control stashed away in an open duct in her bathroom.
Landyn had never had any interest in sharing space with her. He insisted that he needed his own place – somewhere he could unwind. He had even gone so far as to make her believe that she needed the distance, too. They were, after all, a new couple when they first came to Vegas. By the time she settled, she felt no inclination to welcome him into her space more than necessary. Even still, he invaded her privacy in every way he could – up to, and including ransacking her apartment like she was an inmate withholding contraband.
Early on, she had learned that he took many issues with the idea of preventing them from having children. It had become one of her greatest secrets. One that worried her far more than the lovers she had taken during their time together. If he knew that she had any doubts, he would stop at nothing to make sure there was him. Only him.
It didn’t seem like much to those outside of her situation, but she had freedoms. She could come and go as she pleased. Sometimes, she’d go days without the Devil darkening her door, allowing her to pretend that she was normal. That she had a life that was worth living.
Of late, he was harder to shake. Landyn had taken a keen interest in her whereabouts. Her well-being. The positive blood test had yielded an egregious amount of vitamins, carried in by a harried-looking assistant. She had quickly doled them out in plastic pill containers. Eli was left with written instructions on how her days were expected to go, outlining her meals and exercises. Landyn had even insisted on taking her out to purchase a more ‘appropriate’ wardrobe. One that showed less skin. “Proper mum-wear,” were his exact words.
His paternal elation brought with it more damnation. He was incapable of keeping his hands to himself. He insisted that she was glowing – that she looked more gorgeous to him in those days than she ever had.
It would have been too easy to fall under his spell if her mind hadn’t already been made up. This was deceit of the worst kind. A trickery that held her ensnared. Long ago, she had learned that he did not love her. What he had for her was an obsession. A burning, perfervid desire to claim her as his. To break her, until all she did was live and breathe him.
But in those acts of kindness and his elation, she might have been able to imagine a life where everything changed. Where he realized he had to be a better man for the baby who grew in her belly. A life where he would turn a new leaf and learn to be grateful for her loyalty. All of her sacrifice.
It was a temporary reprieve. A pause in the tempest that was Landyn Cole.
She had spent enough time being tricked and being lied to. She would never allow herself to be blinded again.
It was a surprise when a knock came to her door that morning. A messenger came bearing gifts of a smoothie and a tidily packaged parcel. An envelope was tucked into its ribbon, wearing Landyn’s tight script.
She feigned a smile as she accepted the package. Every little gift was little more than an elegantly wrapped bomb. Once she opened it, she knew the course of her day would change dramatically.
Eli took a sip of the offered smoothie, grimacing at its earthy taste. It tasted like kale, mango, and something unsettlingly like dirt. Washing the rest down with her half-finished glass of whiskey, she endeavored to rip off the bandaid.
The first black ribbon was undone – and then the second. The letter was left discarded on the table beside her, more of an afterthought than a concern. The contents were more pressing to her, as they would paint a better picture than his paltry attempts at poetry ever could.
Peeling back the first layer of paper left her shuddering. A black silk gown had been neatly tucked away. A black jewelry box sat at the top – too large to be a pair of earrings.
It would be a long night of pretending for her. She, the dutiful Mate and soon-to-be mother of his spawn.
With a groan, she reached for the letter.
It’s time to dazzle them like you dazzle me.
Eli made a small retching noise as she tossed the envelope to the table.
As she suspected, the dress told her more about her pre-decided evening plans than his words ever could.
Fighting off lingering frustration, she composed a text. She read and re-read her words, triple-checking to make sure there was nothing to set him on edge.
Eli: I love the dress. The jewelry is absolutely stunning. What time are we expected for dinner tonight?
Landyn: I’m glad you approve. We’re expected at 6:30 – I will be there at 6 to pick you up.
Eli: Perfect. Thank you.
Landyn: Thank you, what?
Eli: My love.
Landyn: See you soon, my Mate.
A glance at the clock revealed that there was not much time to do all of the preening these events required. She reached into the duct, her fingers inching for her pills and her hidden pack of cigarettes. A sigh of relief escaped her as her hand closed around them.
She slapped on a face mask first, going through the motions of making sure she looked presentable – now, which included faking a “glow” that pregnant women were supposed to have. Clad in a robe, she stepped onto the balcony and watched the strip as cars passed by. People flooded the sidewalk, pausing to snap pictures, wholly oblivious to the actual happenings of this wretched city.
The thought was there. To throw her leg over the railing. To bring herself so perilously close to the edge. Would it be a gust of wind that caused her to fall? Or her hands still slick with the product she slathered all over her face? Or maybe she would just let go.
How freeing it would be to fall, she couldn’t help but think. To feel, for a heartbeat, what it meant to fly. To be free of the weight that cracked her spine.
She stamped out her cigarette with a harsh exhale.
She needed a drink. Or ten. But she knew that there would be no hiding it on her breath when Landyn arrived.
Solace could be found in her medicine cabinet, at least. Pills she hastily crushed up against the counter and breathed in with an urgency she hadn’t felt in a long time. It took the edge off, almost immediately sending a wave of relief down her spine.
She bathed, preened, applied her makeup, and pulled her hair up into an elegant french twist. By the time she dressed, the pills had worn off. Though, she didn’t think there was enough in the world to take the edge off seeing herself like this – dolled up like a Barbie.
She looked like someone else. The long-sleeved gown would have looked stunning on someone else, she was sure of it, but her petite hourglass made her feel like she looked more like a linebacker than an elegant piece of arm candy. At the very least, the back was open, revealing the long, elegant lines of her back. Her tattoos were on display, making her feel less like she had run away from some Puritan cult.
A cursory glance at the clock set her nerves on fire. She raced to the bathroom, her hand shaking as she pulled free another pill. Soon, its contents were a messy powder on her counter, hastily filed into lines. She stooped to take it in, feeling the first kiss of release when the door to her apartment swung open.
“Just a second,” she called out, hastily scrubbing what remained off the counter into some bath tissue. She dropped it into the waiting bowl and flushed. She took advantage of the thunderous sound in her quiet apartment to sniff. To hide her crimes.
She wiped at her nose fervently, staring at herself in the mirror as she did so. Her pupils were blown wide, her eyes otherwise glassy.
He’s gonna know. Fuck!
Eli took a deep breath as she drew herself to her full height. She fixed her dress, smoothing imaginary wrinkles.
You can do this, she promised herself. All she could do was hope that she wouldn’t prove herself to be a liar.
Landyn stood at the center of her apartment, clad in a charcoal gray suit with a blood-red shirt beneath. The Devil smiled at her as she exited, his eyes raking over her frame. They halted at her feet, his brows wrinkling in upset.
“Oh!” She laughed, her hand pressed to her forehead. “I— Forgot. Where’s my head?” She padded her way to the closet, her eyes darting to the clock on the wall. It was soon to strike 6:01. Landyn didn’t like being late.
Hastily, shakily, she stepped into her heels, her attention stolen by the delicate straps as she tried to buckle them.
A warm hand found the small of her back, guiding her to straighten. To her surprise, the Devil took a knee before her. He drew her foot into his lap, making quick work of finding the small closures of her shoes.
“You look stunning,” he smiled up at her.
“Thank you,” she smiled in return. “The dress is gorgeous.”
“I knew you’d like it.”
There was something off about him when he stood, his gaze sweeping over her apartment as if truly seeing it for the first time. Her hand closed around his forearm, giving it a gentle squeeze. Her smile did little to mask her concern. “My love?”
When he turned his attention to her, he smiled warmly. “Now, let’s go make an impression.”
The door swung open, and the Devil led his Mate straight to Hell.
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