Of Flame and LightBy: Cecy Robson
To Jamie and Nic, for believing in the magic
To my three babies who still think I’m great despite my not-so-great moments. Who still smile when they greet me and who find all the gore and twisted humor as funny as I do.
To my husband. Jamie, you’re still the best man I know. Where would I be in publishing and in life without you?
To my agent, Nicole Resciniti, who fell in love with my Weird Girls and made this all possible.
To Lisa Filipe, my hardworking publicist who gives as much as her heart as she does her time.
To Gaele Hince, my copyeditor. You really get me, don’t you?
And to my fans who die a thousand deaths along with my characters yet still beg for more. Thank you for falling in love with my heroes and finding a place for them in your hearts. Believe me when I say, I laugh (and cry) right along with you.
You know it’s going to be a bad day when you wake up in the morning and the first word out of your mouth is “fuck.”
My right arm―or should I say my new arm generated after my real one was chewed off by a psycho werewolf (no, this isn’t a joke) ―buzzes me awake. That’s right, buzzes.
I do my best to hide my limb. Not just because it’s as white as alabaster. Or because of the fluorescent blue veins that run its length. But because it’s doing things I can’t control, like, interfering with my magic, glowing like a light saber, and now, making noise.
I lift my head, half-asleep, wondering how a wasp’s nest found its way beneath my pillow, but too exhausted to run away screaming, yet. If you were familiar with my life and world, you’d understand pissed off wasps in my bed wouldn’t be the craziest, or scariest, thing that’s ever happened to me.
My eyes narrow at the quivering pillow as my haze clears. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, or maybe it’s because I’m bitter as all hell, but I can’t help thinking that the arm and the pillow are laughing at me. I pull my glowing and buzzing arm from beneath the fluffy white pillow and swear.
“Really? Really?” I ask it. “What’s next, singing and origami?”
Apparently, my incandescent light saber arm isn’t a fan of sarcasm and proceeds to flicker on and off like a twisted strobe light. I shake it hard and smack it against the mattress for all the good it does. “Knock it off,” I tell it.
It’s not that I think it listens, or that I manage to control it, there’s simply no controlling this thing, but somehow the glowing recedes and so does the noise, and my arm resumes its “normal” death-like tone.
It quiets, no longer casting light. I should be thankful, right? I should be happy, true?
Oh, I wish.
The color is startling, and contrasts horrifically against my deep olive skin. But its eerie tone and its unpredictability aren’t the only things that trouble me. There’s something wrong with this limb. It doesn’t belong on me. And in a way, it doesn’t belong in this world.
Maybe like me, it’s something that wasn’t supposed to be.
I sigh and clutch it against me. It feels like my old arm, the skin soft and smooth. It moves like my old arm. I’m not limited with either fine or gross motor skills. But it’s not . . . human.
When I lost my real arm, the Squaw Valley Pack Omega, created this new one using ancient werewolf magic. If I were a were, I think things would have been fine, peachy-keen, and all that good stuff. But I’m not a were, or human, or witch, or vampire, or anything. Not even a little bit.
My sisters and I may look human, but nothing like us has ever existed on earth. And because of it, earth’s ancient magic seems to really resent helping a weird girl like me.
I used to wield fire and lightning with ease, and catch glimpses of the future. I used to be badass. I’m no longer badass, and the only things I catch now are odd glances cast my way.
“Are you the punishment for my sins?” I ask my arm.
I don’t expect it to answer, but it does. Sputtering light and buzzing before abruptly ceasing its response and sinking into the mattress.
To anyone watching, this whole thing might be funny. To me . . . nothing’s been funny in a long time.
For a moment, I simply stare at it. There’s a part of me that wants to cry, wondering what it will start doing next. But I’ve already cried too long and hard for what it has cost me.
Or should I say, who it cost me.
I scan the room. Nothing of Gemini remains. Not his clothes, not our pictures together. I even deleted and blocked his number. For all my arm disgusts me, I never expected it to disgust him more. After all, this was the werewolf who claimed me as his mate. The same male who swore he’d love only me forever.