# # # # # #

i removed the original next two chapters because the writing was inconsistent with that of the first chapter. plus it threw my mojo all out of whack and put the story in danger of being dropped altogether. so .. here we go again.

i think i'm beginning to realize what it is that my readers want—? if i'm finally getting it right, don't be afraid to tell me.

# # # # # #

One day I opened my eyes, very suddenly awake and realized that it was never going to be any easier than this.

In those days, I was threads and turpentine. Salt and ash. I felt sterile.

He would run his fingers over the scars and healing wounds, sorrow tinging his growling voice blue. "I wish you wouldn't hurt yourself,"

Disjointed, my mind screams now. Data unretrievable.

"It doesn't hurt," I lied then, smoke curling off my lower lip. I looked out the window at something or nothing.

"I think we —"

%file lost or entry unrecognized++

"Probably. I don't know."

And then he smirked, a slow, tangible progression of teeth and pierced tongue. "It's alright," he said, "I'll take care of you."

I wanted to say I know. God .. I know. Because that was exactly what I was afraid of.

# # # # # #

He taught me how to be, Judas did.

Light a cigarette; smirk for any or no reason, at all times.

You look good when you smirk, he said. Like you're up to something.

And whenever I would send the smallest of smiles his way—
oh, you're definitely up to something, you handsome devil.

Light a cigarette; bump into a stranger and tell them to watch where they're going because clearly, they didn't get out of your way fast enough.

When I would hesitate, he would read my mind and pull me close, licking at my ear with a pierced tongue. I'm a bit of a jerk, and you know what? I'm good at it.

Those were the golden ages. He made me indestructible. Together, we were unstoppable, a hurricane of bruised lips and hungry eyes.

I can't remember whether it was my fertility or my family that changed everything between us forever.