No longer sure of himself, William Willowby feels alone.
His life changes when Sebastian finds him. Sebastian wants to help William Willowby heal. But this will be no ordinary healing. There are many ways to heal, many kinds of touch and all kinds of magic.
When the night is over, William Willowby will be a different man...
William Willowby was momentarily blinded by the darkness.
He felt unsure of himself, awkward. He still clutched the note in his hand, the edges of the thick parchment digging into his skin. Willowby let the twinge of pain run up his arm, hoping it would calm his nerves. The music thumped and shook around him; he watched the people move to its rhythm, shifting and grinding almost in unison.
Willowby was nervous. It had been a long time since he had felt any sort of emotion. Having worked as Crushing’s lackey for what felt like an eternity had rendered him immune to emotions and feelings. He had killed many and seen much death, all in the name of power.
Glorious power that had tasted so good.
And now Crushing was dead and gone, for real this time. Willowby had been able to find a piece of himself—his true self—that still existed. That knew what he had been doing was wrong.
And the thought of his thirst for power, and what he had done, left a bitter taste in his mouth. Having rid his body of a demon, he felt empty now, as if his whole body was vacant.
It had been so long since he had felt anything. Now, having these emotions run freely in him…well, it was disconcerting. He had gone from one extreme to the other. Feeling nothing to feeling…everything.
The music inside the Black Bandit was loud. He could feel the bass thumping inside his chest, could feel the vibrations rocking through the floor. He stood there clutching the note, alone in the darkness, surrounded by hundreds of people, still unsure of what to do.
He had never felt more alone in his entire life.
He had found the note pinned to his pillow. He had a place of his own now. One that Quelen had found him. It wasn’t much, just a small one bedroom in the same building as Owen and Jace. But it was enough. It was his.
He had been stripping off his clothes, pulling off his shirt, when the piece of paper caught his eye. The parchment was thick, like card stock. And there were only a few words scrawled on its surface in a hasty, spidery script.
The note read:
The Black Bandit
* Tonight. Midnight *
Discover who you are!
Normally, Willowby wasn’t one to do something a mysterious note told him to do. But there was something ominous about the note, something heavy about it. It felt as if he were obligated to go. As if he had to go.
He had let his shirt fall to the floor and stared at the note for a moment longer. Then he slipped off his pants and socks and walked naked to the shower. He turned on the taps as high as they could go. There was a coldness inside him that only the hottest temperature could warm.
Letting the hot water sluice over his body, Willowby found himself thinking of the note, of who had left it in his apartment. How would they have gotten in? He wondered if he should be worried about his security.
Sighing, Willowby shook his head and began to soap up his body. If it had been an Immortal, or really any Magical being, walls and locked doors wouldn’t stop them. He had been involved long enough in their world to not worry about things like that.
And with everything that had gone on lately, was it any wonder there was an odd note waiting for him at his home? He had left behind everything he had known to embrace a life he didn’t. He had saved someone.
There was a small part of him that felt redeemed. But he knew there was darkness inside of him; a darkness that would take a long time to go away.
It had been a shock when the true nature of things had been revealed. He briefly wondered about Bartley and Kindrick; he hoped their love was strong enough to sustain them through the tough times ahead.
Because with the involvement of the The Gods, Willowby had realized one thing: These were the beginnings of a battle. What Crushing had done, what Lingus in turn did after him; these were the actions of those wanting to start a war.
He ran the soap in his hands along his chest. Running his hands over his nipples, he felt them grow hard under his touch. He pinched them softly, just enough to send a quick rivet of pain to his groin.
His head flashed angrily. The pain blinded into him, and he did something he never did.
He watched as they cut into Bartley’s skin and took his lifeblood, poured it into goblets. He knew, from listening to Crushing’s thoughts, that the moment that blood touched their lips, the ritual would be complete.
He would not let this happen.
His life had been taken from him. Crushing had stolen his life, his body, his mind. He would not let Crushing do this to Bartley. He felt a moment of stabbing pain and thought of his own past love, Northaniel. When he thought of Northaniel, of how his lover had held him, wept for his descent into darkness, Magic crackled through his old body like lightning.
Crushing noticed none of this, too intent on his ritual, too intent on the power of the words he chanted to pay much mind to a few stray sparks of electricity. Encouraged, Willowby thought again of Northaniel, of his lover’s hair that fell just to his shoulders, of his eyes, a blue-green that reminded him of the sea.
Another spark of electricity ran along his arms, and he felt himself returning, felt himself taking form inside his old body.
Suddenly, his path showed itself to him. It was as if he had known what to do all along. He forced his eyes to look down at Bartley and used all the strength he had to utter one word in a hoarse whisper.
The flash was blinding.
It cut into him, sent a hot shiver running over his skin that had nothing to do with the hot water flowing over his body. He put his hands out for support, felt his palms sliding across the smooth surface of the tiles.
His cock was hard, and he could feel it pulsing, throbbing. He ignored the urge, didn’t touch himself. Someone like him didn’t deserve release. He didn’t deserve redemption.
He turned off the water and stood there, dripping wet and naked.
He heard nothing but the beating of his own heart and the silence of sound. That quiet that came only when a loud sound has suddenly ceased.
Sweet, soundless silence.
Willowby grabbed a towel from the rack and wrapped it around himself. He felt cold suddenly. Frightened. The dreams had become worse recently. It had been several months since the events that had changed his life up at Point Peak.
But he was still so afraid. Still so unsure.
That was part of what frustrated Willowby. He felt as if he were constantly being reminded who he had been. How could he be expected to figure out who he was now when he couldn’t even get his past straight?
With a growl of impatience, he whipped the towel away and stalked back to the bedroom. Glared angrily at the note that still lay on his bed, the warm cream color of the invitation all warm and cozy.
He sighed and pointed at it. “This is all your fault,” he said. He sighed again. He hated bars. Was a trip to the bar necessary to find some kind of…healing?
Some kind of something, he mused. Willowby didn’t know what he was looking for. But he wouldn’t find it here. He grabbed a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt.
“I need a fucking beer anyway,” he muttered.