A Touch of Darkness(9)

By: Scarlett St. Clair


As Persephone approached, she noticed that the walls were reflective, and she caught herself in the surface, observing the blush of her cheeks and the brightness of her eyes. Her glamour had weakened since she’d been here. She hoped if anyone noticed, she could blame it on the excitement and the alcohol.

The gorgon lifted her head, but did not speak. Persephone wasn’t sure why she felt so nervous. Maybe it was because she didn’t know what to expect beyond those doors. For a moment, there was silence, and then she heard the creature inhale and she froze.

“Divine,” the gorgon purred.

“Excuse me?” Persephone asked.

“Goddess,” the gorgon said.

“You are mistaken.”

The gorgon laughed. “I may have no eyes, but I know a god when I smell one. What hope have you of entering?”

“You are bold for a creature who knows they speak with a goddess,” Persephone said.

The gorgon smiled. “Only a goddess when it serves you?”

“Pathos!” Persephone snapped.

The gorgon’s smiled remained, but she opened the door and asked no more questions.

“Enjoy, my lady.”

Persephone glared at the monster as she entered a smaller, smoky room. Unlike the main floor of the club, this space was intimate and quiet. Overhead, there was a single, large chandelier that provided enough light to ignite tables and faces, but not much else. There were several clusters of people gathered playing cards, and none of them seemed to notice her.

When the door clicked shut behind her, she started to explore, looking for Lexa, but found herself distracted by the people and the games. She watched as graceful hands dispensed cards and listened as players at the table bantered back and forth. Then she came to an oval table where the occupants were leaving. She wasn’t sure what drew her to it, but she decided to sit.

The dealer nodded. “Madam,” he said.

“Do you play?” A voice asked from behind her. It was a deep rumble she felt in her chest.

She turned and found the man from the balcony. Her blood heated to an impossible level, making her hot all over. She squeezed her crossed legs together and clenched her hands into fists to keep from fidgeting under his gaze.

Up close she was able to fill in a few gaps in her earlier assessment of his appearance. He was beautiful in a dark way—in a way that promised heartbreak. His eyes were the color of obsidian and framed by thick lashes. His hair was pulled into a bun at the back of his head. She had been right that he was tall. She had to tip her head back just to meet his gaze.

When Persephone’s chest started to ache, she realized she had been holding her breath since the man approached. Slowly, she drew in air—with it, the smell of him: smoke and spice and winter air. It filled every empty place inside her.

As she stared, he took a sip from his glass, licking his lips clean. He was sin incarnate. She could feel it in the way her body responded to his—and she didn’t want him to know. So, she smiled and said, “If you are willing to teach.”

His lips quirked, and he raised a dark brow. He took another drink, then approached the table, taking a seat beside her.

“It’s brave to sit down at a table without knowing the game.”

She met the man’s gaze. “How else would I learn?”

“Hmm.” He considered, and Persephone decided that she loved his voice. “Clever.”

The man stared like he was trying to place her, and she shivered. “I have never seen you before.”

“Well, I have never been here before,” she said and paused. “You must come here often.”

His lips quirked. “I do.”

“Why?” she asked. The question surprised him and her—she hadn’t actually meant to say that out loud. “I mean—you don’t have to answer that.”

“I will answer it,” he said. “If you will answer a question for me.”

She stared at him for a moment, and then nodded.

“Fine.”

“I come because it is...fun,” he said, but it didn’t sound like he knew what that was. “Now you—why are you here tonight?”

“My friend Lexa was on the list,” she said.

“No,” he said. “That is the answer to a different question. Why are you here tonight?”

She considered his question, and then said. “It seemed rebellious at the time.”

“And now you aren’t so sure?”

“Oh, I am sure it is rebellious,” Persephone said, she dragged her finger along the surface of the table. “I’m just not sure how I’ll feel about it tomorrow.”

“Who are you rebelling against?”

She looked at him and smiled. “You said one question.”