Staring at the wood and glass door, I peer into the darkness behind it. Dwade’s in there. Lurking. His evil spirit calls to me and wants me to make a move. I saw his bike parked about a block away. He took Preston by surprise. If that man has hurt Preston, I swear he won’t need a portal to send him back to Mictlán. I’ll deliver him my damned self.
The door opens before I even knock. Fear is clear on Preston’s face, even in the dim front porch light. He’s not wearing shoes or a shirt. Poor man was probably on his way to shower when Dwade showed up.
“Twilight, what are you doing here?” Preston’s voice shakes.
“Silly, did you forget our dinner date?” I try to push past him, but he won’t budge.
Preston’s face tightens. “I called and left you a message. I have a test to study for. This anthropology class is kicking my butt. I’ve never been any good at foreign languages.”
Preston hasn’t started any classes, but Dwade doesn’t know that. My presence is the only thing he’s aware of.
“I can help. Spanish was always my strong suit.”
“No, Twilight. This isn’t your classical Spanish. It’s almost archaic. Go home. I’ll call you tomorrow.” He tries to close the door.
“No. I’m here to help you. I’m the best person for the job.”
The door swings wider, and Dwade steps out of the shadows. “You don’t listen very well, Tlazolteotl. You should have stayed home. Let me come to you. Now I’ll have to take care of this distraction.”
He lifts his hand, twists it slightly, and then squeezes.
Preston grabs his throat, all color drains from his face, and he drops to his knees.
“Stop it! Dwade, stop!” I’m frozen in place, not able to move to help my friend.
Preston’s eyes bulge, and he falls over.
“Please don’t kill him. Whatever you want from me, you can have it. Just. Don’t. Kill. Him.”
Dwade lowers his hand. Preston sucks in a huge breath, struggling to sit up. His mouth opens and closes. And I’m able to move again.
I know what Preston wants me to do, but I can’t. Not if it means losing him. So I cross the threshold and close the door behind me.
“Tlazolteotl, inform your friend that he needs to stay put, or I will disregard your wishes,” Dwade says over his shoulder and then stomps down the hall, his boots thudding across the floor.
I help Preston off the floor.
“Trust me. He will kill you.” Dwade is dangerous and won’t stop until he’s satisfied. “Whatever he tells you to do, just go with it. I have a plan.”
“Tlazolteotl!” The Aztec god calls out for me.
“Don’t get concerned about anything I say.” I drag Preston with me toward the back of the house.
Dwade is outside in a carriage house serving as a garage. Preston’s silver SUV is parked in one spot. A wooden chair occupies the other space. Across from the lone seat is a wooden crate with the obsidian mirror sitting on top.
“The mortal needs to sit. If he moves, he dies.” Dwade stands in front of the mirror.
I motion toward the chair, and Preston takes a seat. His jaw clenches, but fortunately, he doesn’t speak. Our eyes meet, and I try to silently convey to him that I’ll handle this one. He can save me some other time.
When I’m fairly certain Preston won’t try anything stupid, I join Dwade in front of the mirror. “Please forgive me, Tezcatlipoca. It wasn’t until this morning that I connected with the goddess. I know that she dwells within me.”
“Then we need to unite her spirit with you. I can’t wait until she’s with us again.” Dwade’s lips lift, and I’m suddenly reminded of flames burning bright. Lascivious eyes roam over me. “Are you fully aware?”
“Somewhat,” I lie.
“Not a problem. We can unravel this human’s memories from yours. When I am done, you will forget all about the mortal you’ve attached yourself to.”
Something that will never happen.
Rubbing my sweaty palms against my thighs, I ask, “What do we need to do?”
“Not me. You, notlasojtlalis.” Dwade faces me and cups my face. “I will not lie to you, Tlazolteotl. Denying me in front of the authorities and that human hurt. It’s one thing to be confused. It is another to be untruthful. Which is it with you? Either you desire to be with me or you do not?”
“I…” My gaze takes to the floor. I need time—lots and lots of time—that I don’t have. Since Tezcatlipoca reads minds, I must stay focused. “I told you I was confused. Your sudden appearance in my life makes no sense to my friends. In this world, people are sent away for believing in the impossible.”
“Thank you for explaining. I’d hate to think that my goddess—a woman I have loved my entire lifetime, and then some, would betray me.” He places a kiss on my lips.
One last time, make it count.
When the god opens his mouth, my tongue meets his, and I give it a few teasing laps. A deep, grateful moan escapes from him, and my body sinks into his. It’s a forbidden reunion of souls as the first memories of that dreaded night, many lifetimes ago, try to resurface.
Push it down, Sin-Eater. He can’t know. Yet.
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