His absence screamed. Screeched, yelled, clamored, clawed. It raked its teeth against metal bars and drew blood from the air. It was never still. It throbbed with a life that was nothing. Invisible.

You are Lucifer, she whispered. It was her own face staring back. Eyes faded to gray with worry, hair flown about a paler face in a gnarl of mats and frizz. She’d been pretty once. He’d said she was pretty, and she believed him. He made her a fool. She hated him more for that than for his desertion.

In his absence she heard his reply. Not because he was present, but because she knew him. She had crawled inside his thoughts and turned the pages she found, and learned to read him. “I never promised you anything more. There are no angels here. No fairies. No pretty things. You are the only pretty thing I have.”

How many nights had they lain, wrapped in blankets smelling of age and dust but knowing only the skin of the other, and confided the secrets of their truths? In that lost attic apartment, the gilt winking back candlelight from the lines of worn leather spines. Colors deep and dark, browns tending to wines, fading to shadow. Burlap and water-stained oak dulled by time. The bedsprings screeching as he flipped her, and mounted her, and gave her what was left of himself; his cock.

She begged for it. Without fear or shame. His eyes always blackened right before he came, and the muscle in his jaw knotted. Sometimes he yelled. Sometimes he smiled. When he smiled, she came hardest.

You are Lucifer, she said again. But her lips curled around the name this time, and it heated her loins.

“Yes. And you will always bleed for me.”

I know.

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