Ocean blue eyes fluttered closed with pleasure and a gasp of pain left his full, pouting mouth. Black tendrils fell away from his face as Asinoe dragged his head back sharply by a handful of ebony hair. A whimper escaped him.
“Open your eyes,” she commanded, and tugged harder.
His eyes struggled to open and slitted, unfocused with passion. She pulled, then twisted her grip, and with a startled cry his body shuddered violently above her as he came.
Asinoe released his hair in disgust.
“Useless,” she murmured, shoving him off and rolling over to sit on the edge of the bed.
“Do you want me to service you?” the young, beautiful boy addressed her back from where he lay on the rumpled bed. Asinoe looked over her shoulder at him, his lost and forlorn face making her desire stir up again for a brief moment. He looked so similar, with his glittering cobalt eyes and that ebony hair falling over his sculpted cheekbones.
Similar, but not the same.
“Get out,” she said dismissively and got up, pulling a blue silk robe around her lithe form and leaving the bedroom. She moved through the large apartment and into the lounge, pausing to stand before the floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the busy city. She could see the London Eye in the distance, a beacon of coloured light. Sighing, she hugged the robe closer as the outside cold penetrated the dark glass.
“Are you addicted to me, or am I addicted to you?” she mused aloud to herself. Behind her she heard the front door click shut quietly and sighed again, this time in relief. Alone, she turned and walked towards the fireplace, quickly adding more wood and stoking it. The fire blazed back to life and she went to the sidebar, filling a tumbler with more than a little vodka and a few blocks of ice before taking a long swig.
She was finding that alcohol was becoming more and more comforting in her empty existence. When she was feeling tipsy, she was at least feeling something. About the only other time she truly felt anything was when she was in the arms of Baelian Black.
Her mouth fell into self-deprecating lines and she took another deep drink, finishing the vodka all too quickly and pouring herself another. Moving to the couch, she flopped down with an annoyed huff, glancing at the piles of papers that covered the glass coffee table before her. If anything had been made abundantly clear over the time she’d been away from him, it was that only that particular pair of sapphire eyes filling with tears and the helpless whimpering in his voice made her body hum with sensation and power.
Cry baby. Cry for me…
Asinoe understood the mechanics of it – she and Baelian (or Alina and Baelian, if she was going to be specific) had been groomed since childhood to be utterly dependant on and addicted to one another. Chemically, their bodies were so in tune that sometimes it was difficult to tell where the one ended and the other began. Baelian, in particular, seemed to hinge his very existence on the presence of ‘his Alina.’
And Asinoe hated him for it.
The strong, terrifying and sadistic man that she’d met that night at the Underground over two years ago, when he’d unceremoniously revealed himself to her with a hiss and a glare, that man was not the same Baelian that she found herself entangled with now. Her Baelian had been cold…cruel…calculating and manipulative. Her Baelian had set her on fire and made her feel…fear, excitement, desire…many things, with simply a glance.
What remained now, what she had left behind in her wake, was nothing more than a weak and lost child.
But at least you make me feel something.
She hated him for that too.
Pushing Baelian from her thoughts, Asinoe picked up the document she’d been reading prior to her ‘visitor’s’ arrival. It was one of many files and letters that she’d found in Marcus Bellamantis’ house, her search through her father’s things revealing only more and more confusing information about her childhood.
If only you hadn’t killed him so quickly!
Marcus would have been able to explain so much, had Asinoe given him half a chance…and now, with the Professor dead, another link to her past was gone.
Taking a sip of her vodka, she leant back with both the glass and the document in hand, pulling her feet up onto the couch and trying to get comfortable.
This is going to be a long night.
Sharp eyes scanned the paper, the transcript of a therapy session that Professor Kreutz had sent to Marcus to show her ‘progress’ when she was seven years old. Downing another fortifying sip and letting the warmth of it burn her insides, she steeled herself for the ride ahead.
Patient: Miss Asinoe Bellamantis-Hardcourt
Doctor: Professor F. E. Kreutz
Location: Patient’s residence. Melbourne, Australia.
Medical notes: Mild ADD, exhibits signs of sleep deprivation (dark circles beneath eyes and pale pallor to skin)
Psychological Notes: Patient has developed an imaginary unnamed entity within her mind, evident only while under hypnosis. This persona serves the purpose of a protector and friend and seems to eventuate on a weekly basis. Patient has become attached to this entity and is eager to resume contact with it.
Post-session Psychological Notes: Patient advised that she has been dreaming of this entity and ‘playing’ with it. Entity exhibited a conscious voice for the first time during this session. Distinct difference in voice and speech when entity is speaking. Manner and tone is mischievous and controlled, speech and intelligence higher than patient’s current level of schooling. Entity is female and has named itself ‘Alina’.
General Notes: Patient was lead into the room by her mother, Janine Hardcourt-Mirror, and has brought her female doll ‘Cindy’ with her to this session as per her usual practice. Patient was bright and chatty about her doll and her week, exhibiting no signs of distress caused by lack of sleep or our sessions.
Hypnotherapy Session - Transcript starts. Patient is under Hypnosis.
Professor: Where are you, Asinoe?
Patient: I’m in my room
Professor: Are you alone?
Professor: What are you doing?
Patient: Waiting...I’m waiting for her.
Professor: Do you know her name?
Professor: Why are you waiting for her?
Patient: I’m waiting…I’m…oh *brightly* Hello! How are you?
Professor: Is she there with you now?
Patient: Yes…she’s here.
Professor: What does she look like, Asinoe?
Patient: She looks like me…you’re so pretty! I like your dress!
Professor: Is she wearing a dress?
Patient: Ooooh yes…a red dress and shiny red shoes…and red bows in her hair…I can have one of those? *delighted laugh* Thank you! Yes, I would like to be sisters!
Professor: What is she doing now, Asinoe?
Patient: She’s putting my hair up like hers and oooh I get a red ribbon too! Wanna play? Oh yes, I would like to go out into the garden…the sunshine is so nice…
Professor: Ask her what her name is, Asinoe…
Patient: She won’t tell me…*confused* Why not? *angrily* You know my name! I don’t think I want to be friends with you anymore!
Professor: What’s happening now, my dear?
Patient: I don’t want to be friends with her. She won’t tell me her name. Friends tell! No! Let go of me…Go Away!
Professor: Is she hurting you, Asinoe?
Patient: *writhing on the couch* She won’t let go of my arm. No! Go away! I’ll tell my Mommy! *gasp* Don’t do that! Stop!
*patient falls into silence and becomes still, breathing steadily*
Professor: Asinoe, what’s happening now?
Patient: *calmly* That’s not my name.
Professor: My apologies. Who are you?
Patient: *smugly* I’m not going to tell you.
Professor: And why not?
Professor: Where is Asinoe?
Patient: *amused* She’s here.
Professor: May I speak to her?
Patient: *amused* Oh, no.
Professor: Why won’t you let me speak to her?
Patient: Because *giggle*
Professor: Did you hurt Asinoe?
Patient: *tilts head* No. *smiles* But you have.
Professor: That’s not true, I am trying to help her.
Patient: *sings* Liar, liar, pants on fire…
Professor: I’d like to speak to Asinoe
Patient: *pouts* You don’t want to talk to me anymore?
Professor: Asinoe is my patient.
Patient: No. She’s mine now…
Professor: I see. And who are you?
Patient: *giggles* You know who I am, Professor…*tilts head again, smiling* You created me.
Professor: Did I indeed? And what is your name?
Patient: *silently considering* Alina.
Professor: My, that’s a pretty name.
Patient: *sly grin* Thank you.
Professor: Why don’t you tell Asinoe your name?
Patient: Don’t want to.
Professor: I see, and what is Asinoe doing now?
Patient: *giggles, then sits up straight suddenly* Professor! Tell her to tell me her name! It’s not fair!
Professor: Is that you Asinoe?
Patient: *whines* Professor, she is being so mean. I don’t want to play with her anymore!
Professor: If she won’t give you her name, Asinoe, why don’t you choose one for her? She is your friend, after all.
Patient: Oh…I can do that? Okay…how about Sandy? You will now be Sandy. You don’t like it..? Why not? *frown* Oh, your name is Alina…that’s pretty! *bright smile* Hello Alina…Oh! She’s gone!
Professor: Asinoe I’m going to count backwards from ten and when I reach one, you’re going to wake up.
Asinoe sighed, emptying the rest of her glass. There were more than a hundred of these files to get through. She got up and poured another drink, bringing the bottle back to the couch as her gaze returned to the papers.
Some of them, marked ‘Alina,’ were dated during Jerald’s Fundays, others were labelled ‘Asinoe/Alina’ and seemed to involve the Professor’s work on splitting the two personas. There was no method or order to any of it, just a continuous stream of notes and observations typed or scrawled or hastily thrown together for Marcus’ benefit. And there was not a single thing about whatever method the Professor had used when playing about in her mind. He’d clearly kept that information to himself.
And now’s he’s dead…and there’s no one left to help you.
Lyra wouldn’t lift a finger to keep Alina away for good, Asinoe knew. The Monére heir wanted her counterpart back, for Baelian’s sake, just as much as the rest of them did.
“Are you asking me to die, Grigori?”
All the therapy that Asinoe had attended over the last 6 months with Professor Kreutz had succeeded only in stemming the flow of Alina’s memories within her mind…and now he wasn’t there to continue her treatment. As amusing as Baelian’s face had been when he’d discovered that Jasper had been doing the exact same thing as she - seeing the Professor in secret to get rid of him - the revelation had complicated her plans. Why could no one keep a secret in this family? They all had ego’s the size of houses…everyone had to spill what they knew to feel powerful. They didn’t seem to understand that the real power came from manipulating everything from behind the scenes and watching everyone dance to your tune.
Her Baelian had understood that. She’d watched him perfect the art before her eyes.
Leaning back on the couch, Asinoe sipped her vodka, clinking the ice in her glass and studying it thoughtfully. Her mind wandered to the most recent session she’d had with the Professor, just before his death. She’d watched the ice clink in his gin and tonic as he’d considered the request she’d made of him, his cool eyes watching her over the rims of his glasses.
“I’m afraid what you are asking is impossible, Asinoe,” he’d drawled at her, “Alina is a part of your psyche now, you either merge with her or you will be stuck as separate entities forever.”
“Don’t lie to me. You’ve locked her away before,” Asinoe replied calmly. She felt like he was always trying to get under her skin during these sessions - gone was the fine gentleman that had been her ‘friend’ as a child, that trusted uncle-like figure she’d confided in when she was a young woman. The Professor she knew now was cold, calculating and collected.
But so was she.
“She is currently locked away, my dear, so I don’t know how I could possibly be of any further help.”
“She’s not locked away…she bleeds through, I know she does. I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me…I know when she’s been about…”
“That is bound to happen, with fractures such as yours and Jasper’s…”
“It has to stop. I know how this works, she explained it in her diaries,” Asinoe interrupted, ignoring his stare of reprimand, “She’ll be back in six months, tops…you designed the triggers that way. Whether I want to or not, she’ll become me again, just like I used to become her as a child, when you’d swoop in like a fucking white knight and put the mental blocks in place so I’d forget she existed…”
“Now, Asinoe. There is no cause for a lady to use such language…” the Professor chided, but she continued as if he hadn’t spoken.
“I know she saw you two years ago before going to find Baelian at the Underground. You put some kind of barrier in place then that stopped me from retaking control of my body until you decided to bring me back,” Asinoe glared, “I want you to do the same for me. I don’t want anything bringing that bitch back but a very specific trigger that no one but you and I will know,” Asinoe leant forward in her chair, uncrossing her legs, “I will make it worth your while.”
“My interests are purely academic, my dear. Whoring yourself to me is beneath you,” the Professor said, giving her a look of disgust and taking a sip of his gin and tonic.
“As ego shattering as that would have been, Professor,” she replied with a smile, “I wasn’t propositioning you with my body. Not everyone in the Seven Families uses sex as currency. What I was going to offer was my help with keeping Baelian in the state that you so obviously need him.”
The Professor lofted a brow at her.
“And what state is that, pray tell my dear?”
Asinoe smirked and shrugged.
“I’ve heard the stories about Nikolai, and I know that you had Vernon doing a merry dance for something, right up until Niki had him killed. Whatever it was that you were scheming, he ruined your plan and forced you to bring Baelian back…”
The Professor watched her, saying nothing.
“But you took his Alina away and left me instead…which tells me that you’re not nearly done toying with him for your own ends. Having Alina around weakened him, but losing her has done something else entirely…”
“I see. And what makes you think I have any end in mind?” the Professor asked finally, a calm and thoroughly unsettling smile creeping across his lips, “Perhaps I was simply enjoying watching them interact as adults…so different to their behaviour as children. Who knows, if given enough time they may have healed one another.”
Asinoe laughed incredulously at the thought, “None of us will ever heal from what we were put through, Professor,” she said bitterly, “Them least of all. And if that was what you had wanted, you wouldn’t have taken her away.”
“Nevertheless,” he looked at her over his glasses again, “I have all the help I need…and I like my experiments to be organic.”
“You mean you have Lyra,” Asinoe said quietly, curling her lip, “I wouldn’t trust her as much as you seem to. She’s more loyal to Baelian than you know….”
“Claudia will never betray me,” he waved the thought off airily with his hand, “She is a good student and will excel under my tutelage…”
Asinoe sighed, resigned, “Very well, then you tell me, Professor Kreutz…what do you want in exchange for shutting Alina away for good?”
The Professor looked at her for a long moment, assessing her. He knew her intimately, having studied and poked and prodded her mind since she was 6 years old. He’d watched her in all aspects of life, in all kinds of circumstances. He knew her capabilities…as well as her weaknesses.
“When you were children,” he said finally, placing his glass on a side table and steepling his fingers, “A drug of my own creation was prescribed to you as part of your daily routine. We called it Ambrosia.”
“I know about Ambrosia…” Asinoe interrupted, “It’s a libido enhancer and hallucinogen…Baelian said that you’d had someone slip it to him again at Christmas, that night when I came back…”
She quivered slightly at the memory of that night, and of Baelian writhing helpless beneath her.
“Indeed,” the Professor didn’t look pleased at being interrupted again, but he didn’t say anything about it, “What Baelian does not know is that he never stopped taking it. He’s been on a steady dose of it his entire life.”
“What?” Asinoe gasped softly, frowning as her mind whirled through possibilities, “Not…his Valium?”
The Professor smiled, “Correct. His Valium prescription has come from Oakleaf since he was a boy, which happens to be one of the holdings of my estate…”
Asinoe stared at him, then shook her head, “Does Lyra know about this?” The Professor’s smile widened.
“The time will come, very soon, when Claudia will have to tell Baelian about the Ambrosia, and she will caution him to stop taking it. You are to ensure that he doesn’t.”
“And if I do this for you, you’ll block Alina from my mind forever?” Asinoe finished for him, then tilted her head in curiosity, “What will it do to him?”
“Nothing that it has not already done…but without Alina, Baelian will start to spiral out of control. When Claudia takes him off his medication, he will go into withdrawal. Now if you become the source of his salvation by providing him with what he craves, it will bind him to you…”
Asinoe blinked, sitting back, “You want to see what he does next…”
“I want to examine this new era of Baelian, how he manages without his Alina and with you in her place…and what constructs his mind will create to survive. You will report to me weekly on his behaviours until he sees fit to discard you…”
Asinoe scowled, “He won’t be discarding me…” she began, but the Professor cut in.
“Don’t lose control of your emotions, silly girl. Your ego will get the best of you. If you do not wish to be discarded, you’d best do as I request…”
Watching him for a long moment, Asinoe finally nodded.
“Very well. I will keep him on the drugs,” she said and shrugged, “And our deal?”
“Next week. Come back here and we will begin…” the Professor took off his glasses and began to polish them.
“No, I want it done now,” Asinoe shook her head and crossed her arms, “As a sign of good faith, you can’t expect me to…”
“Little dolls are hushed,” he interjected quietly, and Asinoe’s throat seized up. She coughed, her hands rising to grip her neck as she tried to speak, gagging as she struggled to pull in air. Panicked hands reached out for the Professor and she fell out of the chair onto the floor. He watched her passively and continued to clean his glasses, tucking his handkerchief into a coat pocket before putting them back on.
“Little dolls speak,” he said casually, looking down at her while she desperately sucked in air. She pulled herself up off the floor and back onto the chair, her hands at her throat and tears in her eyes.
“Don’t forget, you stupid girl, to whom you speak.”
Asinoe nodded, coughing and massaging her neck. She had forgotten his power, it had never been done to her. For the first time she understood what the others must have felt when it was done to them.
Powerless and scared.
She looked up at her former friend, suddenly very frightened of him.
“I trust I don’t have to tell you that if you should repeat anything of what was said here today, even to Claudia and especially to Baelian, then I will not hesitate in bringing Alina back permanently…” the Professor said evenly. Asinoe stared at him, her eyes filling with tears as she felt her throat constrict again.
“Good girl. Now go and lay on the couch and I will do as we agreed…”
Her glass was empty again. Snatching the bottle from the table, Asinoe refilled it, her nose wrinkling.
“I’m becoming like Baelian,” she mused with a sarcastic smile, “Well, not quite. At least I don’t drink it straight from the bottle...”
A hand rose to rub at her temples and she picked up another letter from the pile on the table. This one was from her mother, Janine.
I am loathe to reach out to you like this, but Benjamin has once again gambled away everything we have. I can’t afford to pay for groceries and our electricity has been cut off. We have been in this dark, cold house for nearly 3 weeks now and your daughter is getting sick. I do not have enough to buy any cough medicine for her.
Is there any way you can send something to help support your daughter? I know that you’re angry with me for marrying Benjamin, but she is still your child.
Perhaps we can reach some sort of agreement that will keep us in a more lucrative state?
You said you loved me once, and I served you well. We have a daughter together.
Please Marcus, she’s got your eyes and your mother’s skin. I’ve enclosed a picture of her.
Asinoe tossed the letter back onto the table. It wasn’t hard to guess what Marcus had replied…she’d ended up as his tribute for Jerald’s Fundays, after all. Her mother had clearly given her up for a bit of Marcus’ money.
Her phone rang shrilly on table, the name ‘Jasper Baelian Black’ flashing at her from the screen. She ignored it. He needed to miss her, needed to panic if he couldn’t get hold of her. Unlike his Alina, she was not beholden to him (or at least that’s what she kept telling herself), and his phone call was probably in response to her message about her return being delayed until Monday.
Damned if I’m going to let you abuse me from across the world.
She waited until the call rang out and the inevitable messagebank tone beeped before picking the phone up. Dialling her voicemail, she put the call on speaker and held it well away from her ear.
He didn’t disappoint her.
“YOU FUCKING BRING HER BACK TO ME RIGHT NOW!!” his voice exploded out of the phone with a hysterical edge. There was the sound of smashing glass in the background…he was obviously taking his temper out on something. After a brief silence he came back on.
“I need her… please….” he whispered and disconnected the call. Irritation at the mention of Alina coursed through her, he was supposed to be missing her, not her fucking parasite.
Plucking another letter at random from the pile before her, she took a deep drink and began to read, ignoring the urge to call Baelian back and shout at him.
Dear Mr. Bellamantis,
I understand you are in possession of my granddaughter, Asinoe. My daughter Janine was very forthcoming with information after you cut off all communication with her shortly after taking Asinoe away.
Unlike my daughter, I am not ignorant of the depths of depravity that the Black Family practice at their parties and the money that is being made. That is not my concern.
My sole concern is my company, and the money that is to be lost if it falls into a board’s hands.
As businessmen, I trust we will be able to come to some sort of lucrative solution for this. Both the Bellamantis and Hardcourt empires are substantial, and Asinoe is a most convenient link between us.
As she is the only heir to Hardcourt Industries I would of course like her back in a mentally healthy state so she can be groomed to take over once I retire. If you are able to send me some sort of assessment of her and her progress, I would be most grateful. I trust that we will be able to find an amicable understanding in this matter.
I look forward to your reply.
Asinoe’s mouth flattened into a line. So her grandfather had purchased her from Marcus in order to run his company. Everyone had used her for their own purposes and financial gain, it seemed, and all the while she had suffered for it.
I hate you all.
The next lot of vodka that she poured into her glass was gone before she returned the bottle to the table. When she stood, the room spun.
“Whoops,” she giggled, clearly having drunk too much too fast.
She wobbled to the fireplace and put another log into it, swaying drunkenly closer to the dancing orange and red flames.
“Pretty…” she purred, reaching out a hand.
Too close, it burnt her.
“Fuck…” she breathed, the pain sobering her somewhat as she stepped away, sauntering back to the couch in a winding pattern. Picking up her phone, she replayed the message from Baelian, her ire rising once again at the mention of Alina. Without thinking she hit the recall button, throwing herself onto the couch and watching the room spin as she waited.
The phone rang out, thankfully, so she left a message.
“I’m not doing this on purpose!” she began indignantly, “Unfortunately, you are not the centre of the universe and sometimes things get in the way…” she paused, then added, “I will be home on Monday. Try and hold it together, Baelian.”
Stopping again and replaying his message in her head, she decided that she sounded too malicious and angry. He was pretty unhappy by the sounds of it, it wouldn’t do to have her seem completely hard. Taking a deep breath, she softened her tone and tried again.
“Maybe you should give the body to the kid until then and rest. You sound like you are having a hard time of it…”
It wouldn’t do for him to fall apart completely and commit suicide while she was away. She needed him to need her.
“I’ll be home as soon as I can…sorry,” she murmured quietly, then hung up.
She wanted more vodka. Reaching for the bottle again, she sloshed it into the glass and took a long gulp, her gaze dropping to a small note at the top of a nearby pile.
Your proposal to have your daughter Asinoe join my son Jasper at our Fundays has been accepted by the group.
She is quite a pretty little thing, judging from the picture you sent, and should be well received.
Bring her to the estate on the 5th and we will initiate her.
Asinoe felt nausea rushing through her. God; that was the note that had started it all.
I killed you too quickly, Marcus.
Sitting very still until the nausea passed, she reached for the glass again.
Empty. Fuck it…there is no one here to see.
Asinoe picked up the bottle, downing as much of the remaining contents as possible. The burning liquid drove through her and in seconds she was coughing it back out. Her head fell back against the couch, tendrils of red falling into her eyes as she stared at the flames, black starting to cloud the edges of her vision.
I need to dye my hair, she thought dully as she passed out.
Baelian would be wanting his Alina.
By Sunday morning she was on the plane and heading back to Melbourne. Saturday had not been the greatest, her hangover had been fierce.
“No wonder you drink non-stop, Baelian,” she muttered to herself, not entirely certain that her hangover was gone.
Her mind wandered to his last voicemail again, and she hoped that he hadn’t done anything overly stupid. She may not have been entirely impressed with what Alina had softened him into…but he was still hers.
And she couldn’t get him back to what he had been before if he was dead.
She motioned for the stewardess to get her a water and it was brought quickly. The perks of first class. Drinking it down, Asinoe sat back in her seat and gazed about the cabin from behind her dark glasses.
This flight is going to be hell.
“He’s not answering my calls. Where is he, Scarlett?”
“He’s been holed up at Alina’s apartment for the weekend…Bella’s got me keeping an eye on him from afar…” had come the emotionless reply. Asinoe’s mouth had flattened again at that.
Why is he not staying at my house?
The door to the apartment was ajar when she arrived there. Hesitantly she pushed it open, her mouth falling agape in shock at the sight that met her.
The room was a wreck. Paintings were slashed and hanging askew, the furniture was toppled…there was glass everywhere! The place stunk of alcohol and vomit…there was a stain on the floor that looked like blood. Carefully she picked her way through the mess towards the bedroom and found the ebony-haired prince lying face down and fully clothed on the bed.
Moving over to him gingerly, she touched his neck to see he was still alive, ignoring the electric pulse that jolted through her at the contact. He wasn’t dead…he was breathing steadily.
Unconscious, not asleep.
Asinoe wondered what time he had passed out as she carefully went through his pockets, then the bedside table, gathering all she could find of his little blue ‘Valium’ pills and slipping them into her handbag – save for a small bottle that she dropped into her own pocket.
She placed a glass of water by the bed, then went into the bathroom, frowning at the bloodied bandages and cotton wipes that had been left in the sink. Taking up a washcloth, she soaked it in some warm water, wringing it out before returning to his side.
Carefully she began wiping the back of his neck and the exposed side of his face, leaning over his body as lightly as she could. His eyes started to flutter open and he moved his head away from her touch, muttering “Gerroff.”
“Baelian,” she said softly and continued to wipe the warm washcloth across his skin.
His cobalt eyes shot open at the sound of her voice, filling with tears as he quickly took in her appearance.
“Alina?” he asked with a tremble in his voice, a hand rising and moving to her freshly dyed black hair. She said nothing, letting his fingers travel over her face reverently as with effort he pulled himself up onto his knees. A hurt look settled across his features moments later, and his hand fell away.
“You’re not her,” he said sadly.
“No, Baelian, I’m not her,” she replied coolly and he nodded, sitting back and looking like a lost child. The sight of him so helpless stirred her blood swiftly, first with desire and then…anger.
How was it that this pathetic man, looking so lost and sad, was the only one that could make her feel?
Making a concentrated effort to control her expression, she sighed and softened her voice.
“How are you feeling? I’m sorry I couldn’t get home sooner.”
He shrugged and looked away, collecting himself somewhat before glancing back at her angrily.
“You were gone much longer than you said. That PA you hired for me was fucking useless.”
“She was a perfect replacement for the job I needed her to do, Baelian,” she chided, “You behaved inappropriately and scared her off…” she tilted her head as his eyes narrowed, “Though she really should have been able to handle it. She was a professional escort, and an expensive one.”
Baelian shuffled to the edge of the bed and made a valiant attempt to get off it. Asinoe watched him, noting how he swayed where he sat.
“How much sleep have you had?” she asked curiously. She could see he was still very drunk…he couldn’t seem to focus for very long.
“I don’t remember,” he murmured and fell backwards on the bed again, his hand coming up to cover his eyes.
Asinoe controlled her annoyance. This was what she needed, what her body craved?
God, give me a break, she thought, and rolled her eyes.
“You need a shower, Baelian,” she offered sweetly, pushing out a hand to help him up. He knocked it away, struggling up himself…and making it a total of two steps before falling to his knees.
Kill me. Just fucking kill me.
She felt her ire rise. There was no way this child was going to make it to the bathroom without her help. He was kneeling there staring at his hands, which were shaking noticeably, and she had to hide the sardonic smile that threatened at the corners of her mouth as she waited.
Any moment now.
Baelian reached into his pocket, his pale face draining of any remaining colour as his hand came up empty. His movements became more frantic as he checked his other pockets, then crawled over to the bed and ripped off the covers. Climbing unsteadily over the mattress, he tore open the bedside table drawer, his eyes widening with horror.
“Where is it? Where are they..?” he breathed, a fine tremor lacing his words. Asinoe had stepped away from the bed when he’d started his frantic search, her eyes glittering with amusement as she calmly watched the drug-addicted man start to panic. Eventually Baelian stopped and looked up at her, those blue hues wide with fear, black tendrils falling over them.
A throb of desire pulsed through her.
Cry for me…
“Sin,” he implored, “help me find my medication…”
Her lip curled a little in disgust as the man in front of her continued searching for his lost pills with the fervour of an addict. His breath was coming harder and faster…he was going to hyperventilate and have a panic attack soon.
“Sin, please!” he cried out, facing her again, “I need them!”
Carefully and slowly, she pulled the small bottle from her pocket, holding it up between her thumb and forefinger. His body froze when he saw the blue pills, a look of betrayal crossing his features, his face shuttering for a moment before the overwhelming need for a fix took over and he smiled at her hopefully.
If she’d had a heart, it would have melted.
“Give them to me,” he held out his hand for the bottle, but Asinoe shook her head.
“Lyra said you’re not supposed to take these anymore,” she told him calmly, watching his face closely as he swayed where he sat.
“I need them,” he repeated, a hysterical edge creeping into his voice. His hand reached out further…further....until he over-balanced and toppled off the bed.
Asinoe blinked slowly as he sat up on the floor, those wide haunted eyes staring at her and shining with tears. God, how she loved those tears.
“Give them to me,” he whined.
“No, you’re not supposed to have them, Baelian,” she said and moved to put them back into her pocket. His face shifted instantly from tearful hope to anger.
“GIVE THEM TO ME!” he howled, launching himself at her but, still too drunk, missing her completely and face-planting on the floor.
“No, I don’t think so,” Asinoe told him, a small smile alighting her features as she sidestepped his grasping hands. A sob fell from Baelian’s lips as he struggled to rise to his knees, getting tangled in his coat in the process. Asinoe watched him in silence, her eyes narrowing with contempt.
This did not turn her on. The blubbering of an addict was just pitiful. Reaching out with her foot, she nudged him roughly in the back with the toe of her stiletto.
“Baelian, get the fuck up. Honestly…you’re being a baby.”
He didn’t reply, he simply curled into a ball on the floor, his body starting to shake violently.
…he never stopped taking it. He’s been on a steady dose of it his entire life…. if you become the source of his salvation by providing him with what he craves, it will bind him to you…
“Do you really want them that badly? You can have them. Baelian…I’ll give them to you,” she crooned sweetly and nudged him again, harder this time. His head came up, his eyes blazing through his hair, a crazed and haunted look in them.
He sounded like a child. She nearly sighed.
“Yes, but you need to give me something in return…” Stepping away from him again, out of grabbing distance, she gave him another smile. He blinked at her, sitting up slowly and brushing the hair away from his eyes with a trembling hand.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked softly. God he was so beautiful, his blue eyes bright with those unshed tears. She felt the desire stir within her again, her breath catching. For all their cruelty and sadism, the Seven had taught him well. Gathering herself, she perked a brow.
“Come here,” she commanded, pointing to the space beside her feet. Pulling the pills out of her pocket, she opened the bottle and poured one onto her palm, tucking the container safely away again and throwing Baelian an expectant look.
He tilted his head and licked his lips, awe filling his features as he slid across the floor towards her. Asinoe smiled, leaning forwards over him and holding the pill above his face. Baelian opened his mouth to receive it, closing his eyes as his breath caught.
“Oh no,” she said softly, her smile widening when he squinted up at her in confusion. Leaning closer, her free hand moved over his face and upwards, fingers winding through his dark locks.
“You have to pay the toll,” she whispered against his lips and pulled his hair, hard. Baelian cried out and his eyes rolled back, his mouth opening as Asinoe slid her tongue inside it. He moaned and his gaze shifted to the pill she still held above him.
“Look at me.”
She yanked his head back so that his eyes fixed on hers, wide and hurt. She felt herself get wet in response, a shudder of pleasure dancing through her at his expression.
…Are you addicted to me…or am I addicted to you..?
“Kiss me, Baelian,” she ordered, and he leant forward to do so obediently. Her lips quirked and she tightened her grip on his hair, holding his head back before their lips could meet and laughing when he made a frustrated sound in his throat, those sapphire eyes moving to the pill again.
Once again she pulled his head roughly back to her, twisting his locks and making him cry out again as those delicious tears welled and threatened to spill.
“Oh,” Asinoe moaned, pressing her lips against his ear, “…cry for me.”
Baelian’s body shuddered, his shaking hands moving up over her hips, fingers curling at the fabric of her dress as he tried to pull her closer. She didn’t budge, except to twist his hair again.
“Cry for me…” she hissed at him, and he finally did, those beautiful tears pooling and sliding down his cheeks. Asinoe felt the pleasure humming in her veins as he whimpered and she gasped against his mouth, rubbing her cheek against his wet face, soaking her skin in his tears.
Without another word she straightened, staring down at him as he knelt in front of her sniffling, his head tilted up, his hands on her thighs. She gazed at him for a few moments in wonder, revelling in his submission. Then, slowly, she brought the pill to her own lips and slipped it into her mouth, bending to kiss him swiftly. He responded desperately, hungrily, his tongue forcing her lips apart as it sought his prize, rough hands shoving her back and away from him as soon as he’d gotten and swallowed what he wanted. Fingers came up to wipe at his mouth, playing over his tearstained cheeks as his breathing slowed. Asinoe knew intellectually that there was no way the Ambrosia had started working, yet all at once he seemed so much more composed.
Must be psychological…she thought with interest.
Silently she watched him gather his dignity, slowly wrapping his anger around himself like a cloak.
When he looked up at her again his face shuttered and his eyes narrowed. She felt an altogether different thrill of excitement this time, a thrill she’d been aching for for a long time. She smiled sweetly at him.