Shannon had been seventeen in a city that forged the vile and the beautiful into one single entity. One that once divided, would make sense no more, or meaning. A city where everything she was about to accomplish began, and from the bottom bloomed. A city she would leave in her early years, and one she would return to later in her life to finish what she had started.
She had messed up a show, and ran in tears back to her room. Mr. Landon would come any time now to see she would never make the same mistake again. She sat on her bed, pushing the tears back into her lids, trying to pretend, for a little while, that she was not hurt and her heart was not aching.
A thought had occurred a while ago, one that she had tried to burry. And every time she felt that dreaded pain in her chest, she could feel it creeping to the surface of her mind, taking hold of her consciousness: She could end it all. She could stop the pain, once and forever. All she would need was a slash to the wrists. Tonight the idea materialized and its possibility was made easy, for she was sick of it all. Shannon felt the sudden rush of an artist whom inspiration had struck. But as she allowed herself to get up from her bed and attempt at its realization, a gentle knock on her door came.
It cannot be Landon. He had never knocked.
Hesitantly she walked to the door, and cracked it open. And there he was, with a smile spread across his boyish face, the man who had saved her from the circle of hell, only to plunge her in a deeper circle still. She had never thought he was capable of such evil, of such cruelty, and she had given herself for him, and she was to pay. Behind Landon stood someone pretending not to look over his shoulder to meet her eyes.
“Shannon, sweetheart. Are you decent? You have a visitor.” Landon’s feminine voice was something she had grown to despise. It was nothing, she had learned, but honey too sweet for the mouth, but poison to every ear it penetrated.
He called her sweetheart. He needed something. The man with him was no visitor, he was a customer.
She hid her eyes and looked to the floor as she slowly opened the door. Her mascara running, and eyes swollen she stood too shy to look either men in the eye.
“I would like you to meet Mr. Liam.” She could feel his eyes fixed upon her searching for her own to meet, trying to force her into submission to whatever was required. But Shannon was too weak a girl at that point, she obviated the scorching gaze Landon gave her.
“Mr. Liam tells me he thoroughly enjoyed your show. I suggested he could get his own “private” show. Perhaps?”
“Oh no, Mr. Landon. Do not mistake me.” The deep masculine voice contrasted the squeaking Landon made seem too shrill for the ear, that Shannon could not help but look up, and look over Landon’s shoulder, where a man whom youth had endowed with a beauty the eyes seemed too cynical to believe. A beauty Shannon thought had lost the world, or at least the part of the world she lived in. Dark skinned and with eyes that gleamed of a fire so grey that a wonder was at a loss to gaze upon them and abolish all its attributes. His body was lean and slightly muscular, hard against her subtle sight. He towered over the squeamish Landon whose body had grown frail and chubby with the years he’d spent indulging his pleasures of food and wine and sex.
“I should not wish to indulge, Mr. Landon, I merely desire to meet, if she would give me the pleasure of talking.”
Landon’s smile did not fret. He was so well practiced at the art of concealment that even Shannon could not tell what he thought of that queer notion.
“But of course! Of course.” His manner of moving his hips as he spoke, added to the femininity and repulsion of the man who has grown so much in age that he had decided he shall do so no more. “Alright with you dear?”
And the gaze came. He fixed his eyes into hers as though burning deep into her desire to say no, forcing her to accept whatever that man had offered.
But Shannon had never planned to say no. An attraction flared inside of her for the man whose grey eyes burned a thousand hells into a heaven she’d longed to merely hear of.
She looked at him, while a tingly feeling crept over her skin, soft and warm. Suddenly remembering what she must have looked like, she lowered her eyes back to the floor and nodded.
“Splendid. We will leave you to get freshened up and cleaned, while I discuss a few matters with Mr. Liam. He will join you shortly.”
Landon put his hand under Shannon’s chin and raised it so that her eyes would meet his. “tsk tsk tsk. Such eyes should never cry, sweetheart.” His pretentious smile was poison.
Mr. Liam smiled in his turn and gave a curt nod before he turned his back and walked away from her door, with Landon prancing behind him, gleeful and cheerful, like always, for a paying visitor.
Later that night Mr. Liam would come. Shannon would discover his real name, and identity. Later that night Mr. Liam would be the one to take her off the ninth circle of Hell, to the gates of the purgatory, where she would abolish all pain and pleasures, and where she would be destined to spend the rest of her eternity. Later that night, it will all start, and will not be over until much later in years in that same city, and Shannon’s desire to stop the pain will once and for all become the curse she is doomed to live with.
The elevator door opened.
“Are you ready to suffer?”
Shannon looked up at her friend Miles. She smiled at the comfort she knew he would provide.
“In your dreams, Miles.”
They both darted outside, in their sweatpants ready for their morning jog, the deep voice in Shannon’s mind lurking and threatening: Davis was on the loose trying to stop her, and there is only one way she could stop him.
[…to be continued]
Read the next chapters of Crudelis here: