Death had come for me, and I was ready to welcome it.
I don’t drink much, you see. People look at me, on the arm of the playboy Thomas Raith, in the White Court’s clubs wearing the nicest gowns of silen white, looking like – as my friends described – an angel, but better. I mingled with the crowds, ordered my Fuzzy Mackpack at the bar, and engaging the patrons in lively conversation.
They didn’t realize that the bartenders knew what a Fuzzy Mackpack was. As did the girls who worked the clubs, the bouncers who took care of us, and anyone who has ever worked in my business knows the concept. You come to the bar. You order something. The bartender serves you a glass. And you drink it while mingling with the people, among them, without suspicion.
But the drink is a facade. Mine was tonic water with lemon.
I had had many such drinks at Ivory over the years. I couldn’t afford to be even the least bit intoxicated while I was there making sure the books were good and the day-to-day operators didn’t skim from us. I was very good at this, and I depended upon my mind to continue to be very good at this.So I don’t drink much. Only on special occasions. With friends and family.
I also don’t tend to drink because of one other problem: I don’t know when to stop.
I guess some people know their limits. I know mine. I just…wave to them as they go on by. I make the decision to be responsible when I am sober. And then after a few drinks…the moment someone’s back turned? I had a little more. I didn’t know how much of that problem people were aware of. It hardly ever came up. But the first moments of consciousness were my body, valiantly reporting to me that it was not doing so great. Hardly great at all, actually. My mind was hazy, my hands tingled, I hurt in several places…
And I was naked.
I didn’t know that I wanted to know why. I felt an arm underneath me. A muscular arm. Oh no..what was the last thing I could remember? Burgers. Lots and lots of burgers. Who was this man, whose arm formed a cushion for my head. Open an eye, Justine. Investigate. He hasn’t killed you, so maybe he’s not going to. See who it is.
It took me several moments to create the necessary processing power in my mind to force my eyes opened. When I did, I glanced to the hand of the man who was holding me. He had several characteristics that I couldn’t possibly mistake. It was my Thomas. But that meant…I was touching him somehow.
I was touching him somehow.
YOU ARE KILLING HIM.
“THOMAS!” I screamed in terror and jumped as quickly as my arms could propel me. Off the edge of our bed, and onto the floor, sending many things crashing from the nightstand to the floor around me. I felt the blankets tangle around my legs as I put as much distance between my beloved and my poisonous skin as I could, quickly smacking the back of my head into a nearby wall.
The impact sent stars through my eyes, and I grabbed my head immediately, falling from an attempt at a seated position to curled up in the fetal position, trying to remember things. Like my name.
And what the hell had happened last night.