If you are new to my Fae Apoc setting, Kai(lani) and Rozen are from my Addergoole series.
This story takes place 50 years past the original story, nearly 40 years after the apocalypse, after the Retirement stories.
Short summary: Rozen, a “big bad wolf” in school at Addergoole, managed to finally piss off Regine, the school’s Director, enough that she mind-controlled him into a Belonging (magical slavery; “Keeping”) and shipped him, literally, to Kailani, her protege, ignorant of or uncaring about the romantic/sexual/violent tension that had existed between those two in school.
Since Kai was growing too old to pretend to be human in her current locale, she chose to go on the road with her new, somewhat violent, companion.
Kailani and Rozen were being followed.
Not exactly followed — more like followed-in-front-of — and not by a person or people. Rozen would have been able to deal with people.
(If he was allowed to, of course. He had no physical collar, because in the places they were travelling, sometimes having a collared person with her would get Kai killed and sometimes it would get him killed and, either way, it was a dangerous luxury. He wondered sometimes if having a physical collar would have helped him get used to the uncomfortable feeling of being on a leash. )
They were being anticipated by rumor and legend, and Rozen didn’t like what they were saying.
He was Masked, of course, and Kai’s disguise was to go back to the way she’d looked at sixteen and seventeen, fresh-faced and not that much like the aging Dean Storm. So when people told them about the midnight-skinned man with white hair and red eyes, he was pretty sure they weren’t seeing his middling-brown skin, hair, and eyes and thinking they were talking about him.
“I swear, Kai, I’ve never been through that town before.” She was frowning, had been frowning since they left the town — in more of a hurry than they normally did, almost enough to bring attention to themselves. “Any of these towns we’ve been through. I—” He shifted. “I stuck to the northwest and, uh, the Lakes, you know that.”
“Neither have I,” she murmured. And then, more sharply, “tell me why you care that I know that?”
“What?” Hedge, he could hedge. “You heard what they were saying about me—”
“The first time I met you, Rozen, you had your hands around my throat and were trying to terrify me into being yours. Or Taro’s. And that was a game to you.”
“Yeah, well,” he shifted in his seat, “people can change. Can’t they? Why are you so upset, anyway? If it’s not what they were saying about me — well, someone who isn’t me?”
“Did you hear what they were saying about me?” she countered.
He had, of course. That’s what made it creepier. The story was about a red-haired woman, sharp and cruel but young-looking and beautiful. Older than Kai, of course, and redder, not so ginger. She uses people like pawns. And the demon, he was her knight.
It made her sound like a Grigori, if he was being honest.
“It could’ve been me, that’s the problem. On my own. Or if you wanted me to be.”
Fuck, he’d forgotten about the order, and the words had come piling out the minute he stopped fighting them. I could be your demon and I think I would be happy. At least he’d managed not to say that part.
“It could’ve been me,” she answered him. “If I let myself be. If I went the way I almost did, when Conrad died.”
Rozen swallowed. “Oh.” An evil Kai, a Kailani without her morals and her sweetness… “Oh.”
“I thought you’d be happy, the thought of me being dark. Of me letting you be dark. Wouldn’t that just show Regine?”
He’d never heard her talk like that. “She was your Mentor. You’re… you’re one of the good guys. You always have been.”
“And you’re the big, bad wolf. On a leash, now.” Her lips twisted. “Sof if it had been you…? I’m not going to forget that you’re a wolf, Rozen.”
She wanted him to be a wolf. If she didn’t, he wouldn’t be anymore. Rozen smiled at her, as sharp and evil as he could manage. “Just don’t forget I’m your wolf.”
He sure as hell wasn’t going to forget it.Want more?