Author’s Note: So a fit of insanity overtook me and despite being this close to deleting all of Fire and Water a few days ago, I was compelled by the idea of the whole “fourth generation water” concept and going back to an earlier generation. I was thinking maybe historical fiction was a better idea for now, since sci fi and mysteries and the fusion there of was not working, in fact, nothing contemporary was.
Still, I don’t know that Fire & Water is anywhere I should be, and I don’t know how viable this concept is.
If I’m honest, I don’t know much of how to feel about anything anymore. I’m celebrating losing my job, after all, and this isn’t really the piece for that, but I decided it had to be at least partially written, though most of what I thought of did not make it into this brief section.
I’d almost be amused to see if anyone who has read Fire and Water would make the one connection, but then again, I’m not sure if it’s obvious… and I know not many people read F&W, so that’s something to consider, too.
Plus… I am talking mostly to myself even if I’m online because no one uses this site anyway, so I don’t know why I bother sometimes. 😛
“Please tell me I do not have to do this,” Dayla whispered, looking out at the window, not back at her mother. She could not face the woman, would rather not see that indifference on her face when she did. She forced herself to breathe despite the tightness of her dress, wishing she could free herself from that, if nothing else.
“You know you must,” her mother said, coming over to put her hands on Dayla’s shoulders. “Your sister is too sick to manage it, and your brother is still trying to salvage the business. We need the money. You must marry him.”
Dayla’s stomach twisted. She did not even like the man. He was more than twenty years her senior, and even if he were not, if she could overlook the differences in their ages, she knew it was almost impossible to do that with the conflicts of their minds. He treated her as though she were a child—or incapable of thinking on her own—tried to dictate her opinion and her clothing when he was no relation to her, no one to make those kinds of decisions for her, especially since they were hers to make. Her parents might think they had that right, but not him. He was not her husband.
She never wanted him to be that man.
“It won’t be as terrible as you seem to think.”
“Maybe it wouldn’t be for Hlynn,” Dayla disagreed with her brother, wanting to face him even less than she did her mother. “She’s quiet. Dutiful. I’m not. I never was.”
“Yes, but Hlynn has been sick for months now, and he likes you, sister dearest, though heaven knows why,” Cain told her as he came closer. Dayla wanted to throw her mother’s hands off and run, wanted to get far from that sense she got from her brother. Sometimes she wondered if Cain was why Hlynn was always sick, if that tug she felt from him whenever he was near was stronger for his twin, more like a poison. He drained her, made her feel empty and tired, so sick…
They would say she was crazy, thinking that, considering Cain to be a monster, but she thought his name said more about him than it should, that he was too alike that first murderer, and she shouldn’t be frightened of her own brother, but she was. If only she could see this marriage as an escape, but she knew it wasn’t. She was trading one prison for another, and she could not do it.
Outside, the sky darkened, rain clouds moving in fast, and she almost smiled when she saw it. Some people’s spirits would falter with such a sky, but hers always improved. Sometimes she swore she could make that rain come right to her when she wanted it, and now was the right time for it—let the sky cry since she was not allowed to, since she could not let Cain see her tears.
“Come now, off with you, Cain,” her mother said, moving away from her. “You need to go so Dayla can get ready for the wedding.”
Dayla looked back at the window. What if the rain could wash all of it away? Not just the dirt in the street or that clinging to the house but the house itself and all her family? Then she could run. She would be free. She would take Hlynn away from Cain and get her better for once.
“I wonder if you’ll have to cancel, Mother. Look at that rain,” Cain said, and Dayla did turn to frown at him. Since when did rain bother him? The look in his eyes was dark, though, and his tone was not at all in line with his thoughts, but their mother missed it as she stared out at the water.
“Oh, dear. I’ll have the coach brought around. I hope her dress won’t be ruined on the way to the church.”
Dayla shook her head, wishing the storm strong enough to sweep away the horses—no, she didn’t, that wasn’t fair to them. She felt a hand on her arm and swallowed when she saw Cain’s expression, feeling the grip tighten with that same darkness in him.
“The rain won’t save you, Dayla,” he whispered in her ear. “You’re not the only one who can pull it to you, after all.”
“Oh, good, I think it is stopping,” Mother said, and Dayla knew that Cain had done that somehow—if she’d pulled it, he’d stopped it—but the idea of her brother having that kind of power… She shuddered, and he laughed.
“Try not to do that around your new husband,” Cain warned her. “I admit it’s tempting to let them burn you as a witch, but I might need to use you again, and so we can’t have that, can we?”
He was still smiling when he walked away, leaving Dayla with her mother and a mess of confusion. She couldn’t control the weather, could she? No—but then she always knew when it would rain, and it did seem to follow her moods, but she had to be wrong—Cain couldn’t do that. That was like magic or witchcraft, and that was a sin if even existed, and she wasn’t like that.
Yet when she looked out the window at the silenced storm, she didn’t know that she could reason away that doubt or the fear. She was afraid of Cain, yes, but she was now afraid of herself, of what she might truly be capable of doing, and how was she supposed to live with herself after that?
“Strange weather we’re having tonight.”
Destan Washbourne grunted, not wanting to make conversation at the moment. He did not know why they always seemed to seek him out when all he wanted was a drink and a few minutes of peace, but somehow he was forced to speak with men no better than gossipy women every time he stopped to rest for a while. He lifted his drink to his lips and gave the man a pointed glare.
A glare that got ignored.
“That kind of rain should have lasted more than a minute. It’s like someone snuffed out its candle.”
“I don’t care about your weather or anything else here,” Destan muttered, shoving his glass back toward the barkeep. “More. Now. Before this one has an accident.”
“What kind of accent is that?”
“The kind that is going to kill you if you don’t leave me alone,” Destan warned, taking the bottle from the bartender and carrying it with him to the only open table. He would have preferred one that wasn’t at the window, but he didn’t need this now. He needed the liquor, needed to shut out the awareness he had of everyone in this place. He was fortunate—at least there were no prostitutes here trying to seduce or men lusting after them—but there were still too many emotions and no way to make them stop without more than this bottle.
“You watch that voodoo, honey chile,” Arline warned, shaking a big dark finger at him. “Ain’t nobody supposed to know what others are feeling the way you do.”
“That mean it’s the devil’s work?” he asked, frowning. “I don’t want it. I swear I don’t. I just… know things. I can feel them. I want it to stop. S’il te plaît, Arline. Help me find a way to stop it. Help me make it go away.”
“Hush now,” she said, taking him into her arms and holding him against her as he cried. He knew she was worried, and he wanted to take that away, too, but he didn’t know how. He didn’t know how to be rid of it, not even to sleep, and he didn’t think he’d managed to do much of that since he was twelve. “Ain’t no devil in my boy. He’s a good one.”
“I’m not your son,” he reminded her quietly. His parents had always left raising him to her, and he loved her more than he did his own mother, but he knew he wasn’t hers. He wasn’t anyone’s. They didn’t want him because he was wrong somehow.
Destan leaned his head against the wall. Arline was gone, his last sanctuary with her, and he didn’t know how much longer he could wander, drinking enough to block the feelings he got from everyone, without either his body or his mind giving out on him.
He tensed as he felt a new emotion enter the room, one unlike most of the ones he’d felt so far this evening or any time in the past. He had never known something that felt so tangible, almost as though the hatred this man felt toward… everyone was something that could be touched and measured. He saw the man frown as he saw Destan, and then he went to the back, where the private rooms were.
Destan glanced at the bottle, wondering if it had affected him more than usual, and then he felt something else—a pull. He’d never known anything quite like that, either. He went to the door, leaning against it as he looked out into the night.
He focused in on the coach, and since he was already half-drunk and not feeling much like stopping himself, he went toward the door, opening it up and leaning inside. “Strange time for a wedding, isn’t it?”