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I thought I’d say that first so I didn’t start right off with an ominous cliché like: If you’re reading this, I’m dead. But if you are, I am. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine and we’ll see each other again.

I wanted to leave you a letter but I couldn’t think of a place to leave it that A: you wouldn’t find it before I was dead, and B: you’d definitely find it after I was and, honestly, I didn’t want you to have it right away, so I asked Mac to give it to you when the time seemed right. I know my death will hit you hard, and I’m so bloody sorry about that.

I’ve suspected for a while the cosmic clock is winding down for me. I know the signs. You know them, too, and I love you to the ends of the earth and back again for ignoring them with me. That took more than courage, Mega. That took a heart of gold and a backbone of steel.

I used to worry that I’d never get to hold you and make love to you in this lifetime. That our red thread was going to have to be a platonic one because you were so young when we met and I had an impaired heart, and it drove me crazy because I knew we’d loved each other before. I knew it the moment I saw you, spitting “fecks” a million miles a minute, feeling everything in life so intensely.

Google the red thread of Japanese myth. If the Internet doesn’t work, look in my photo album, the brown leather one with all the selfies we took together when we were having crazy, stupid fun. Along with those other selfies where we were doing crazy, sexy things. I love you for those. Best. Porn. Ever.

So anyway, I printed out the myth for you, in case the world stays offline, but in brief, the Japanese believe our relationships are predestined by gods who tie together the pinky fingers of those who are supposed to find each other in life. People connected by red threads will have a profound impact on one another, life-changing, soul-shaping impact. They’ll make history together. Although those threads can get tangled, knotted, and snarled, they’re unbreakable. (As an aside, I think it’s best not to take the “unbreakable” part for granted. Choice is paramount. Red threads are sacred. Be gentle with them.) (As another aside, those red threads shoot out from our pinky fingers because the ulnar artery runs from the heart to the little finger and those threads are there to keep our hearts connected, across space and time.)

Thank you for being my red thread. I know how damned lucky I was to get you.

I know you, wild thing. Much better than you think. You thought I loved you because I only saw the good parts of you. You thought I saw you through a filter. I didn’t.

I know about the cage (I hate her for that more than you can know), the killing you were tricked into doing (I hate Rowena, too), the terrible injustices you suffered.

Yet, you came out of it with a heart so pure it takes my breath away. If I could, I’d have saved you a thousand times over. I’d have been your knight in shining armor. I’d have slayed dragons, rescued you, fought wars for you.

But no one saved you. So you save the world.

And now I’m dead and I left you alone and I hate that.

You remember when I asked you about Ryodan? You got mad at me when I said I wasn’t as super as him. You said that I was just as super, just not in the same ways. Thank you for saying that.

I view you the way you view Ryodan. I worship you. I’m in awe of you. I think you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever known.

I envied Ryodan. His strong heart, his immortal body. I envied his long life so much I nearly hated him.

Then one day he came to me, after you told him I was dying. He told me about you. The things you never let me know. He didn’t tell me everything, so don’t get mad at him. I know because I asked questions he wouldn’t answer. He wanted me to know what a miracle you are. He was also taking my measure, trying to decide if I was worthy of you. My respect and esteem for you grew even greater that day, and I hadn’t thought it possible. You’re a one in a googolplex kind of woman, Mega.

Before he left, he offered to get me the Elixir of Life.

When I said no, he offered to make me like him.

I dropped the letter and sat staring blankly. He’d done what? I’d asked him to do that very thing. He’d said no, it wouldn’t work, it might kill him. Then he’d gone to Dancer and offered to do it anyway. For me. I spent several long moments trying to process that, then resumed reading.

He said it wasn’t a guaranteed success, my heart might blow anyway. I might not survive the transformation. But because you loved me, he would try. He said neither the elixir nor becoming like him was without price, both came accompanied by significant problems. He said he would tell me those problems if I chose one of the options.

I’ve never been so tempted in my life.

But there’s a pattern and purpose to all things. I see it in the sublime truth of math, I hear it in the perfection of great musical compositions. This spectacular universe knows what it’s doing.

He also told me the definition of love you gave him when you were fourteen—great one, by the way!—but said you’d missed something.

He said love is the willingness to put the happiness and evolution of the person you love before your own. Even if it means giving them up.

Time for brutal truth: I always knew you wanted us both. Stop sweating it, wild thing. I’m only one of the many twists and turns of your evolution.

I’m getting tired now. It won’t be long. I want to rest so I can make love to you again tonight when you get home. The way you look at me in bed, with all that fierce emotion blazing from your eyes, the way you touch me—you’re not big on words but I feel it in your hands—and, because of you, I’ve gotten to be the man I always wanted to be in this lifetime.

Dani, my bodacious, magnificent red thread, you rocked my fucking world, you rattled my existence, you woke me up to shades of life I’d never seen before.

I think sometimes we don’t get to see our red threads for a dozen or more lifetimes. I hope other times we get a hundred lives together, back to back. I can’t wait for the chance to love you again.

But it’s not my turn now.

That privilege belongs to someone else.

I love you like pi.

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“Three thousand one hundred forty-one years, five months, nine days, and two hours,” he says flatly. “Wondered when you’d notice that.”

I stare at him. “Ryodan, that’s pi.”

“The first seven digits of it. It was the hope I held onto. That we would somehow get all the rest of those digits, too.”

I’m stupefied. Dancer was right. There’s pattern and purpose to everything.

This spectacular universe knew exactly what it was doing.

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have multiple personalities. I learned dissociation to deal with the hunger and pain. The Other was a cooler, numb version of me. But Jada is the Other on steroids. Dani is my foundation, Jada is my fortress. Danielle was my mom’s daughter. Jada, the daughter of Morrigan, goddess of war, a mother worth having.

Danielle is the one who died.

I kept the pure heart. I kept the savage.

It was the little girl who loved Emma O’Malley that quit breathing.

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“Wear. A. Dress,” I fumed, steam building in my head. I know Ryodan and he knows me. Which meant he knew telling me to wear a dress would pretty much guarantee I’d choose anything but a dress.

But…you have to take things a little further with that man because that’s how he thinks, always looking ahead. Since he knew telling me to wear a dress would make me choose something else—and he also knew I was fully aware of how his manipulative brain worked—he knew I’d ultimately decide to wear the bloody dress just to prove I wasn’t being manipulated by him. So, he’d get me in a dress either way.

This was a complete clusterfuck. How did I win? By wearing a dress or not?

I now fully and completely understood why That Woman had gone into battle with Sherlock naked.

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If Ryodan was nodding from the top of his arrogant, womanizing staircase again, I was going to saw his head off. I had no idea why and didn’t care. I just would.

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Shazam knows me well. I’m unguarded around my quixotic, unconditionally loving friend, my normally shuttered gaze open, expressive.

“Oh, Yi-yi,” he whispered, tears filling his eyes. “You wouldn’t unchoose it if you could. You want it.”

I did.

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Ryodan and Dani...

'Bloody superhero on steroids. I’d never seen anything like you.'

The inward preen turned into a radioactive flare, lighting up her face. Sometimes she missed those days; how she used to feel when she woke up, like life was electric and she was electric and each day was just another awesome fecking run at riding all the glorious, rainbow-colored currents on the kaleidoscopic electric-life-slide. “Not even in all your…how many years did you say it was?” she fished.

'Thought letting Jayne keep the sword would keep you off the streets.'

“It didn’t.” Nothing would have. She’d have gone swaggering out into the streets naked and completely defenseless just to prove herself free. Anything less than absolute freedom had offended her as deeply as the cage she often felt she’d never escaped. The price of her exit strategy had been too high. Exit strategies usually were. “So, how old are you again?” she pressed.

'The alternative was insisting you move into Chester’s.'

“You tried that. On multiple occasions. You’d have had to keep me chained up forever. I’d have snuck out at every opportunity and torched Chester’s the second your back was turned.” And no doubt planted explosives beforehand to make sure it turned into a spectacular fireworks display. “I defined myself by defying you.”

'Didn’t know you’d figured that out.'

“I figured a lot of stuff out. I just don’t waste everyone’s time droning on and on about it like some people.”

'We’ll help you rebuild the abbey.'

She stiffened. She’d been enjoying their banter. She wasn’t now. “I didn’t ask for your help. I don’t need it.”

'Regardless, we’ll do it. You need to be running it.'

Some part of her backed away, withdrew from him, and she bade it good riddance. She’d been an octopus with tentacles out-stretched, now she was a shark. Tentacles could be hacked off. No one messed with sharks. “You don’t know a damn thing about what I need.”

He spoke staccato fast and fiercely: 'I’ve always known what you need. Someone to rage at who’s strong enough to take all the pain and fury you have to dish out until you’ve burned it out of your system and nothing is left but a pile of ashes from which the Phoenix rises. Kid, woman, whatever the hell you are—I want to see you rise. Even if you have to hate me.'


Copyright Karen Marie Moning/Feversong


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I kissed him like he was the battlefield I was born to wage all my wars on. I kissed him like he was the only king this Amazon warrior might ever take her army into combat for. I kissed him like we were primal, lethal beasts, fearlessly stalking those violent, killing no-man-lands where angels feared to tread and I kissed him with a hunger that's never once been slaked, as I unleashed all the fire and fury and savagery in my soul and there is one fuck of a lot of it.

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It wasn't just lust I'd felt the afternoon l'd watched him fuck. And yes, l'd been capable of lust at that age for life, for the sex I would one day have, for chocolate, for being alive. I'm made of lust. We all are. Savor it. Burn with it. Never apologize for it.

It's what makes life worth living.

I know a truth: We fuck like we live. Timid people fuck timidly. Uninhibited people fuck uninhibitedly.

He'd fucked with one thousand percent focus, with savage devotion and lust. Staggeringly alive, elated to be.

It's the way I've always lived. Fully engaged, all senses ablaze.

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"Ah, Dani," he said tightly, "you beat me. You tell me what to do. I seem to have forgotten which of us is the man. Perhaps you need a reminder."

I had no doubt what kind of reminder he had in mind.

<<You opened this door>>, bloodred eyes fired.

<<And I'm closing it,>> I shot back.

<<Try, woman.>> His lips curved with a dark smile, full of promise that he'd heard every word I'd said with my body and wasn't about to let me forget a single one of them.

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