Happy New Year! It’s the first Me Me Monday of 2018, where Christopher and I pick up where we left off in the third prelude to ‘Stealing Myself From Shadows’, ‘Be My Valentine…Snack’.
Not that Christopher has any intention of allowing Duessa to celebrate a new beginning by eating him. Plus she’s reminding him of someone who’s not about to be forgot…
Duessa Ashelocke was Gabrielle’s former mentor. She was also a lady and a regular customer at the Navel.
Most importantly, she was Damian’s aunt. I ought to be afraid of her. At the very least, I ought to respect her.
“I don’t know why you’re offering such a rose to me, Lady Duessa.” I kept my eyes fixed upon a store shelf.
All the skulls Damian had created out of clay rested upon it. They grinned at me with all the mischievous merriment of their maker.
I’d found these lost skulls in storage and brought them out of hiding. Some customers found their empty eye sockets terrifying, which was why Gabrielle had packed them away.
I found their grins comforting, but I was learning to appreciate their empty stares as well. They saw nothing and expected nothing in return.
Unlike certain employees in the Navel, who gazed at me with a constant hungry yearning I had no idea how to respond to.
Speaking of certain employees, I could feel hear his breath behind the shelves, expectant and filled with anger.
Why Peter was upset, not to mention hiding from a customer as attractive as Duessa was a mystery. Perhaps he was showing sense for once. Duessa Ashelocke was a dangerous woman to flirt with.
The lady in question had her eyes fixed upon me, compelling me to meet her own.
A pair of wrinkles quivered beneath them, revealing themselves as closed eyelids. I could almost see the reddish lashes against her cheek. A simple illusion I could pierce if I wished.
Seeing Duessa’s true form once had been terrifying enough. I kept my gaze upon the skulls, trying to draw courage from the quiet darkness of their empty eyesockets.
Each bared its teeth in a smile Damian had once used to dazzle and confuse others with. Just another little piece of him to hold close to myself, since the rest of him had slipped through my fingers.
“The color of this rose matches your eyes, so prettily.” Duessa made another little bow, rustling her layered black and russet skirts.
I watched her sides warily, but she kept her additional arms hidden. Except for the additional eyelids, she appeared to be quite human now.
I had to remember she was not.