Updated: Mar 29, 2020
“Do you know what I like about you?”
“Humor me,” Famine said. He placed his toothpick on the desk and flattened his hand over it. His eyes devoured her. He picked apart the elements of her body—her clementine hair and sharp, citrus eyes. Freckled sprinkled her collarbone like cinnamon.
Stella’s smile was anything but sweet. She bared her teeth like a wolf as she grinned at him. “You take what you want, when you want it.”
He leaned back in his chair.
She smiled her wicked smile. The red in her dress leaked a lively flush of blood into her face. The pearls at her shoulder sparkled like sugar as they rolled around her movement. She reached forward and stroked the back of his hand.
“I have a job for you, darling.”
“I have no interest, darlin,” he said
“Remember that you answer to me now.”
Hades turned to him like a violent mother nature embodied. Her hair licked the atmosphere like fire, and her dress spun the dust on the ground like a tornado. Danger boomed off of her like seismic waves. She looked into his face with all of the wrath and pain and destruction in the world.
War shuddered in the wake of her.
Her voice came from every corner of her being—trickled off her smooth shoulder, clinked and chimed from the sun-bright gold adorning her arms and neck. She spoke, but her words echoed in delay after the movement of her mouth. She spoke his title in three different languages before settling with his human name.
He grinned a pair of fangs at her. “Wanna level a town?” War asked.
Famine stood and walked away from his seat at her desk. His black suit tightened across the strong muscles in his back. Gold shimmered at the trim of his collar, at the seams all along his narrow sides.
Stella stood and rounded her desk to lean against the front of it. “You have no choice. You will take the job I have for you.”
He struck the mirror wall that reflected them both. It cracked from his fist to the ceiling but did not shatter.
“I spent a lot of money on that mirror.”
He glared back at her through the fractures.
She then again noticed that he was more of a winter-worn wolf, and she was the cardinal he had laid eyes on for a snack. She took a wine goblet from her desk. She dipped her fingers into the thick, sticky blood inside and raised her hand for him to see. Blood oozed into her palm and down her wrist. “I will protect who you need me to protect.”
His eyes threatened to roll back. “Don’t you ever get tired of it?” Famine asked.
“No. I envy you. I look forward to my free reign.”
“Of course you do.” His arms slackened. “You always did.”
Click… Click… Click…
A slow, steady march carried her down the long hall. Once a prominent place for authorities, she’d cleared it out and made it her own. She’d decorated with armor of the fallen. Loot and plunder littered the hall like candy wrappers.
When Conquest reached the end, she stopped cold. The loose hem of her suit pants brushed her ankles and sent chills up her legs and spine.
The military guards who stood post at her lounge were slumped over. Blood spattered the walls behind them. Her eyes followed the trail of gore to find her old coworker standing there. Famine blocked the way to her makeshift throne. Excitement trickled through her veins.
“You didn’t have to kill them,” she said. “I actually liked those guards. They were too scared to look at me.”
“They were your entertainment,” Famine said roughly. His brown hair was more tousled than usual. “You like watchin’ people cower.”
She shrugged, grinned. “What do you want?”
“I need your help.”
“This better be important,” War said through his teeth.
Behind him, footsteps crunched through shattered window glass and rubble, cracked and creaked over brittle metal. Fire hissed at every corner of the wreckage. “You brought down the whole damn town. I wasn’t done here,” Famine said, methodical and calculated.
“Your girlfriend send you?”
“Your girlfriend helped you here. We have rules.”
“Rules for destruction,” War said with a scoff. He inhaled the smell of smoke and gasoline. He listened to Famine stalk nearer. He turned slowly.
“Your daughters had allies here,” Famine said. “They were helpin’ us—before this.”
A heavy weight sunk into his stomach. The world twisted around him; he turned to face his friend. He tasted blood, felt the sweat on his brow and blindfold. Silence enveloped them.
“That’s the price they pay,” Conquest said. He smelled her kiss-my-royal-ass perfume from a yard off.
“No,” Famine spoke again, leveled with reason. “One of the allies had vital information. Your actions are never without consequence, brother. And consequences mean you owe a visit to—”
“No,” War cut the monotone droning short. “He and I…”
“He’d like you more if you stopped killing off all our assets.” Conquest said.
“He tried to slit my throat with broken piano keys last time I saw him!” War said.
“You deserved it,” she said.
“Hardly! I knocked over one of his plants.”
“Like I said,” she repeated, “you deserved it.”
Death stared down the blindfolded man. “Do you know how pissed your daughters would be?” he snapped. He crinkled and crumbled up the sheet music up in his palm. He chucked the wad of paper at the blond.
The paper hit War square on the forehead. He flinched back, grimaced. “Well they’re not here, so it doesn’t matter, does it?” His sly voice hissed from between his teeth.
“That’s not the point! Humanity is the point! Don’t act like a monster!” Death grabbed his music book and whacked his friend upside the head. “Act like a human!”
War grabbed the book, tossed it aside, and it disintegrated into ash before it hit the ground. “Bring them back. The civilians.”
“The civilians you killed. Wiped out, like—like—”
“Bring them back,” he said again, just as stoic.
“Take that damn blindfold off and then ask me!”
He ripped the red fabric away from his face and scars seethed back. “Bring them back, or I’ll take it up with your sister.”
“Don’t bring her into this.”
“She started it.”
“You started it, otherwise you wouldn’t have been sent here to reconcile it!” Death’s voice trembled. He sighed. “Ask nicely.”
The word chewed out of the War’s mouth like rotting flesh. “Please bring them back.”
“Fine,” Death said. “Get out. I have work to do.”
“Fine,” War said.