Reckoning and Revolution
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Excerpts from Reckoning and Revolution:
Chapter 27: End of an Era and the Beginning of Another
“Come with me to my room,” she crooned with a drowsy cast to her eyes. She didn’t miss the gulp he took or the way his chest rose and fell at a quicker pace. “Keep me warm tonight.”
His voice was rough but tinged with an apology. “I would love to…”
“But. You know. We’ve been down this road before.”
Elvira’s face was drawn as she felt her heart sunder. “Maybe. But that was years ago. For the love of Over-Soul, Sylas. We’ve both been single for a long time now. What exactly is it you’re waiting for?”
“You,” he responded almost too quickly, a hint of bitterness woven into his lighthearted tone.
“By the Ancients, Sylas. I’m here!” she declared, trying her best to not slur her words from the vestiges of the alcohol, her tone suffused with overflowing emotion. “If this is about Rozlyn, I haven’t even seen her since she left Brume.”
“Yet we’ve been in UDNM for over a year now, tracking her down, which I’m happy to help with in any way I can, if it means gaining something important for you in the end. But what do you think happens when we find her?”
A moment’s consideration was all she allowed herself. “Whether that day comes eventually or not, this is what I want right now. You can’t be my guardian forever. You have to let me make my own decisions. To make mistakes…or whatever the opposite of mistakes are, because who knows if this is what’s right for us! I need to be able to do what will help me grow, so that I can finally follow my heart.”
“It’s your heart calling me into your bedchamber tonight?” he teased, that vicious smirk begging to be bitten off.
So, she did. Her face collided with his with a demand that strayed from familiarity, a kiss wrought with a raw intensity. Recklessly, her lips pressed against his, and then her teeth found purchase on his lower lip, tugging and compelling him to relinquish control. With a sense of urgency, her hands pulled his form-fitting shirt out from his trousers and slipped under both it and his vest. An involuntary gasp escaped her at the sensation of his firm abdomen and chest. The tactile reality of his body beneath her touch sent an electric thrill coursing through her veins, igniting her senses with an exhilarating fire.
With an anguished moan that resonated with both pleasure and conflict, Sylas shifted his head from the kiss. “Elvira…” he groaned, his voice throaty and making her itch for more.
“Come in my room,” she implored in a whisper. “In all the ways.” She kissed him again and again, daring him to end it, but knowing he wouldn’t or possibly couldn’t. “We could have fun together,” she tantalized between kisses.
“I want you so badly,” he admitted in an agonized grumble, so unlike his usual voice.
She smirked, stealing a glance southward at his trousers, at the evidence of what exactly all this could be doing to him. Her eyes bulged at the sight of the impressive press of something solid against the fabric.
He caught her looking down and lifted her flushed face back up with a tender hand. “This isn’t a novel reaction to you, you know,” he murmured.
“Then prove to me how much you want me,” she pleaded, even her eyes solicitous as they made contact with his, which were dazzling with desire.
Time itself stretched before Sylas finally nodded several times. Surrendering to this. To them.
They ascended the remaining stairs, sometimes two at a time, rosy in the face and still giggly, before bursting through the hatch to their deck and finding the sealed door to Elvira’s cabin just down the passageway. Her hand hesitating on the handle, Elvira spun to find Sylas inches behind her, his breath hot on her face. He was wearing one of his disarming smiles.
“You really want this?” she verified, her tone vulnerable and suddenly uncertain.
His eyes blinked slowly, pleasure and reassurance dancing behind them. “Oh, I know I want this. It’s not me I’m worried about.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head with a vague smile. “Silly boy,” she breathed, turning the handle and waiting as the complicated mass of cog-wheels covering the impressively-detailed door spun, moving it aside on its own.
A crack of light from a gas lantern on a reading table cleaved through the dark, illuminating a small corner of her spacious cabin. Her wide bed, covered in layers of linen, rested against the back wall in the center of the room on a four-poster frame of sturdy, rich walnut. A dark emerald curtain canopy draped over the four corners, lending it an air of intimacy.
As soon as the door closed and was, by Sylas’ hand, locked, the two silhouettes gravitated towards each other in the muted light. Their hunger for one another was palpable, an insatiable yearning that ignited as their lips fervently converged. Their pent-up desires from the years that had kept them apart were unleashed. Elvira's fingertips ventured beneath the fabric of his shirt once more, a daring exploration that carried with it a promise of further intimacy. With a willing compliance, Sylas tore himself away to shrug off his vest. Then, with deliberately-slow, teasing motions, he unbuttoned his shirt.
Chapter 18: Never Again
Eris’ head was cocked to the side as she watched him in perplexion. “Are you okay?”
Newt forced himself to make eye contact, and it was like a bolt of lightning shot through him as his cheeks heated. “How can I make this work?” he asked, his voice whisper-thin and barely audible.
Eris shook her head. Had she not heard him, or was she jilting him?
“Please,” he beseeched, desperation saturating his voice. “Eris…”
“Newt,” she said, and his name fell from her lips like a stone being thrown. “I can’t.”
He shifted forward, leaning over the table between them, imploring her to accept him. He wasn’t even sure why he needed this so badly now at this time in his life, why he suddenly couldn’t move on from their past. These visions were opening him up, leaving his wounds raw and exposed.
In a gut-wrenching jolt of devastation, he knew he had been wrong. For the first time in his life, Newt understood Eris had never been the culprit. His mother had died, and it was his fault he didn’t return to see her before she was gone.
“I was wrong,” he ground out, his voice raspy and naked. “I know that now. It wasn’t your fault. My mother… You were never to blame. You never did anything wrong.”
Alarmingly, Eris’ eyes began to sparkle. She had stopped breathing. Was this something she had held onto her whole life? Had she been waiting to hear him say these words all these years? Had she even possibly begun to believe she had been accountable?
Newt swore under his breath. What had he done?
“Eris,” he repeated, reaching out for her hand, but she viciously swiped it away. Fire suffused his face and neck, and his own eyes turned wet with unshed tears. “I was an idiot. A young, foolish, cowardly idiot. I'm sorry."
Eris looked positively aghast to hear him admit such, but her expression was venomous.
“I never should have left you.”
“Don’t,” she warned in a hiss. “Don’t you do that. You don’t get to do that,” she insisted, her words underscored by a growl. “You don't get to think you can erase years of damage with a couple words and a far-too-late apology. You abandoned your daughter and me without an ounce of remorse before you even saw her face. You asked that I kill her in my womb. I had to raise her by myself before I was even done with university, and when she was able to start asking questions, I was the one that had to come up with all the excuses for why her daddy wasn't around, until she was finally old enough to understand for herself. You never even met Octavia until she was an adult. You disparaged Sloan Swanley when they started dating. You never once—” her voice broke, and air escaped her in a shuddering breath. Eris took long, deep inhales, seeming to gather her dignity, and when she spoke again, it was in a quiet whisper, so as to not draw attention to their small corner of the coffee shop. “You’re a vile human, Newt Gribble. I know the sort of man you are and the unspeakable things you have done. You may have once had potential. You were once capable of at least some human decency and character. Now, you’re…a stodgy, humorless, shriveled up old man, as disgraceful as a person can possibly plummet.”
He was shaking his head, but a part of Newt knew she was speaking the truth. He had allowed himself — no, he had clawed, exploited, gaslit, and slain his way into making himself into the self-centered man he now was. Caring about others was a weakness, as was evident presently.
“I’ll never support you, Newt,” Eris went on. “Just as you abandoned me, all those years ago, today, you finally get to feel what that’s like.”
Newt willed his eyes dry as his mouth twisted down into a distorted frown, tugging at every cheek muscle.
He had never let others in, because any time he had cared about someone, it hurt too much, and it had been his undoing. Over the years, his skin had grown thick and calloused, and his emotions were stamped down and chained in the farthest reaches of his consciousness, so that he wouldn’t have them interfering with his day-to-day tasks and agendas. He had become cold and unfeeling, worse than a machine, for automata didn’t purposefully go out of their way to harm, manipulate, or frame others the way he had. He was everything Eris had said and more. He knew it, and a part of him accepted it almost with an air of pride. His meticulous scheming, his wicked wit, and his ruthless actions had granted him the ability to be handed everything he had ever hoped to achieve. And those traits would only help him achieve more...
His brows knitting together, Newt smiled. “You’re right,” he decided. “What can I say? I'm a monster.” He chuckled softly and took a sip of his coffee, feeling somehow lighter. Freer. Her rejection had left him without a single thing tying him down. He was now able to return, in full force, to the man he had worked so hard to become.
“You’re a coldhearted bastard,” she snarled, rising from their booth.
As she made to leave, a small, insignificant part of Newt broke. In that moment, he felt what was left to care about anything at all die completely. Any light, morality, or good he may have had in him ceased to exist. All that remained was hate, hostility, and a dull numbness.
Rather than storm out, though, Eris paused by his side.
He hadn’t turned to see her go, but her presence had a weight to it. Strangely, his heart fluttered at her nearness. Perhaps, what humanity he had possessed was capable of being reborn…if only given the chance?
Had she reconsidered?
Then, all the world came crashing down in a catastrophic wave as she uttered her final words to him like a demand in his ear.
“Never see me again.”
Air escaped Newt's mouth as he tried to formulate a snappy rejoinder, but she cut him off before storming out.