While trying to edit Chainbreaker and keep up with The Imperfect's Journal, I have decided that I need another creative outlet: short stories set in the Coldheart universe, mainly following side characters who have little to do with the main story. So, without further ado, here is the first one: Adalynn Rose.
The hefty gauntlet slid easily from Adalynn's delicate hand, exposing its paleness which contrasted with the dark tone present on the rest of her skin. Her uncovered fingers reached out and gently touched the forearm of a stranger who was seated beside her at the bar. Where her fingers met his skin, a small purple marking appeared.
The man turned to Adalynn, a lustful smile across his lips. His eyes were distant. They always were; no matter the victim, that vacant facial expression always followed Adalynn's touch.
"Buy me a drink?" suggested Adalynn.
The man grinned widely and nodded. While he sought the attention of the barkeep, Adalynn turned her eyes toward the tavern itself. It was loud, like most Servali taverns, but it was also... calm. There were no fights, no dancing, and no arguments; the noise came solely from friends and lovers shouting in a vain attempt to be heard.
A drink was placed in front of Adalynn. She looked up at the man and smiled, nodding her thanks. The empty, soulless smile she received in return was unsettling, but she tried not to reveal her unease. It was the least she could do, given what was about to happen to the stranger.
"Do you have a name?" Adalynn asked.
"Garrett," the man answered eagerly.
"Any family waiting for you, Garrett?" Adalynn pressed, hoping the answet would be no. Most men would have simply lied to a strange woman in a tavern, claiming to be alone even if they were married. Most men, however, weren't under Adalynn's influence. The chemicals she had pressed into Garrett's skin had turned him into a compulsively honest man. They had also amplified his lust, but Adalynn had found that this was typically an unnecessary side effect.
"A wife and two kids," Garrett replied, his bland smile never wavering.
Ugh, Adalynn thought. It was too late, though. She had already started the process. Quietly, she returned her gauntlet to its place on her hand, then slid down from her seat. As she left the tavern through a backdoor, Garrett followed her like a lost pup. They always did.
In the alley behind the bar, Adalynn pressed her back against a brick wall and Garrett pursued her, kissing her neck once it was within reach. Adalynn gave no indication that she was enjoying it. She wasn't, first of all, but she also didn't have to. Any second now, Joseph would--
Garrett slumped to the ground, neck twisted awkwardly. Adalynn brushed off her dress and wiped her neck, then glared at the shrouded man who had appeared behind Garrett.
"You took your time," Adalynn snapped.
Jospeh pulled back his hood to reveal a round, hairless face. His mouth was wide, with its corners stopping a mere inch from his ears. He opened that horrible mouth, exposing numerous pointed teeth and a forked tongue. "Sssorry," he hissed.
"It's done," sighed Adalynn, "dinner is served."
Joseph knelt down and lifted one of Garrett's arms, then took a large bite of the dead man's bicep. "Thanksss," he said, his mouth full of meat.
Adalynn slid down against the wall and propped her arms upon her knees. "I'm so bored here in Serval," she groaned, "Nothing interesting happens. It's all the same."
"Be careful what you wish for," Joseph warned, swallowing a bite before taking another.
"What's that mean?" Adalynn asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Jussst..." Joseph paused and slurped a bit of dangling flesh into his mouth, "rumorsss. Sssomeone isss looking for you."
"Me?" Adalynn whispered, surprised. No one knew her but Joseph--at least, no one alive. Anyone affected by her ability wound up like Garrett. Except...
"Aaron Rhake," said Joseph, his pupilless eyes narrowing, "He believesss you did sssomething to him."
She had. Oh, gods, she had. Aaron had somehow resisted, at least to a degree. Something in him had fought against her influence. She had never experienced anything like it, and he... he had broken. Shattered. He had even become convinced that he genuinely loved her, but it was just a bad reaction to her touch.
Looking back, she should have killed him; she should have put the poor soul out of his misery instead of simply running away from him. It was too late, now. Her past had come back for her.
"He still loves me, then?" Adalynn said.
"Oh, no," the wide-mouthed boy snickered, "he wantsss you dead."