The Grey Edge: Chapter Twenty-Six

‘Your agent will go with them,’ Magpie said as she pointed to two armed guards.
Magnolia stared, then gave a nod, too tired to argue, in too much pain to fight her mother, and too unsure of the situation to attempt to remedy it.
Too much of everything, and everything was wrong.

Another two guards gently lifted her, and carried her as they trailed her mother into a large, open room. The couch they placed her on was soft, rich, something out of a palace or the den of a crime lord. Too nice for someone like her mother.
Magpie handed her a glass of water, which she immediately placed on the floor. She didn’t want charity from her, not when-
‘Do you really think I would poison you, Magnolia? So soon after you finally come home?’ Magpie lifted the glass.
‘I don’t want anything from you,’ she said. ‘You are-’
‘I would compel you to drink it, were it in my power.’
She glared at her mother. ‘You have enough power over me.’
‘There’s no such thing,’ Magpie said as she sat beside her, grabbed the sides of her mouth and forced it open, ‘as too much power.’ The water was poured down her throat. ‘This is the first time you’ve come home to me, Magnolia, don’t knock back my hospitality.’
She began to choke, but still her mother held her still, pouring more water down her burning throat. She pushed her away, coughing up water over herself, over the expensive couch, and over the carpeted floor.
‘Say you’re sorry,’ Magpie instructed.
She looked away. ‘You’ve got my attention now, mother, what do you want?’
‘I have what I want,’ Magpie said, ‘you are home, at last.’
‘What do you want with me, mother?’
Her mother stood, and crossed to the red chaise lounge. ‘Why is it not possible for you to be pleasant to me? Being the bitch of a proxy has only worsened your attitude. I should not have allowed you to stay there.’
‘Not that it was your choice.’
‘Of course it was. I’m your mother. I own you.’
‘No one owns me.’
‘I do.’
She sat up, feeling entirely too weak for the simple action. ‘Tell me why I’m here, usually you aren’t so persistent.’
‘Do we really have to rush into this? Unpleasant as you’ve been to me, I did want to show you around the Court, around your home.’
She tried to stand, then reconsidered the action, instead settling for staring at her mother. ‘I want you to release myself and Agent Taylor.’
‘The agent is free to leave at any point. He’s a guest at the moment, and being treated as such, however, I have no intention of keeping one of them here for the long-term, you know how I feel about them.’
‘Don’t make me ask again, mother, why am I here?’
‘You really don’t know?’
‘Personally, I think you just want to fuck with me.’
‘Daughter, it isn’t I that will be fucking you.’
Magpie stood. ‘You are going to be the mother of my heir.’
Several words came to mind. Phrases – in English, in a few of the low fae languages, all perfectly suited for what she wanted to say. Simple was best though. ‘Like hell.’
‘Again, I’m your mother, you don’t have a choice.’
‘What are you doing to do, tie me down and-’
‘I’m sure your brother would quite enjoy that.’
‘You cannot be serious.’
Her mother simply nodded.
‘Give birth to your own heir. You’re mother to all, do it yourself.’
‘I can’t. I choose not to. And…I designed you for the task.’
‘You didn’t design me for anything. You fucked my father, you left an egg on the doorstep and you disappeared.’
‘You were one of several. One is dying, one is a strung-out crack whore, two are dead and one is a recruit proxy bitch.’
‘You make me out to be the worst of them.’
‘Agents are nothing more than ghosts in the skins of dead men, playing with their fathers’ guns and deluding themselves with grandeur. They purport to have power that they do not, and force rules upon the fae. They disgust me.’
‘No wonder you’re black-listed.’
‘Conversation changes nothing. You have a task to perform.’
‘I owe you nothing, mother.’
‘I gave you life, you owe me a life.’
‘No such obligation exists between us.’
‘You’re talking like a proxy.’
‘Recruit Magnolia Hammond. Aide. ID-827694. I have limited authority to negotiate for my release, should my delegations not be enough, you can contact the Brisbane Agency under the direction of Agent Ryan, or our liaison, Agent Clarke. With an “e”. I can furnish you with phone numbers. Beware that your current actions, and any further actions against either myself or Agent Taylor may bring your entire court into conflict with the Agency.’
‘Do you think your words mean anything?’
‘I don’t care, they’re what I’m saying.’
‘Then I have something of my own to say. Sleep, Magnolia.’
Her eyes closed and consciousness fled her body before she had a chance to argue.
She knew one thing: she wasn’t in bed alone.
Unconsciousness still pervaded her body, the fog in her brain making it impossible to remember anything. She turned her mind away from unreliable memory and focused on her present situation – the bed was not her own, the sheets were unfamiliar, and the mattress far too soft, and-
Teeth raked over her nipple, pulling her further awake, but not enough to open her eyes, those stayed shut no matter what. The pain continued for a moment, then there was just hot breath.
She tried to lift a hand to fight her attacker, to smack them away, or to snap their neck if she caught them by an opportune spot. Her hand stayed still and dead, her body far less awake than her mind.
A hand slid down her chest, over her exposed stomach and over the ruffles of her short skirt – at least that was still in place. Another hand joined it, and began to lift her skirt.
She kicked, wildly and without a target, forcing her body to bend to her will. She felt her knee make contact with another body, and the pressure left her for a second, then returned as she was pounced and straddled, one strong, firm hand pressing down on her chest, another roughly grabbing her chin.
‘You should open your eyes, lover,’ her attacker said.
She still couldn’t, it was still as though they were glued shut, keeping her just this side of sleep.
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘my apologies, wake.’
His voice shook through her as surely as an orgasm would, and she felt her eyes open. The first thing she saw was the young man on top of her, his eyes as black as hers, his hair a shock of black-tipped white spikes, his expression a contorted mix of hate and lust.
Though, at least he was wearing clothes.
‘Get. Off. Me.’
He dipped his face and ran his tongue up the side of her face. ‘We really are getting off on the wrong foot. How about you start again, by greeting me as your master.’
‘Oh, I am going to choke you with your own intestines.’
‘Try it, sis.’
She reached to grab him, but her arm didn’t make it very far, stopped by the short chain attached to the bed. She twisted her head and saw the cuffs around her wrists, and for the first time, felt the metal biting into her pale skin.
She focused on a spot across the room, her vision tunneling, but as she tried to race down the tunnel, and fade away from the cuffs, from the bed and from her brother, she felt herself slam back into place, and the familiar feeling of blood leaking from her nose.
‘Yeah,’ he said, wiping her face with a corner of the sheet, ‘don’t try that.’ He ran a hand up her arm and tapped the cuffs. ‘They’re designed to keep you in place.’
She yanked on her arm, trying to slip her thin wrists through the metal restraint, but he pushed down on her hands. ‘This isn’t helping the situation, sis, accept it, and the cuffs might go away. I do like a woman in chains, though, so they might come back.’
‘You have no idea-’
He slapped her. ‘I wasn’t finished talking. You should know my name at least.’
‘When I have to bury the dead, the sites are unmarked. Unnamed. Forgotten.’
He slapped her again, and she wished that she was her mother, that she could explode him with a thought.
‘I didn’t think you would be like this,’ he said, ‘mother said you were disagreeable, but I didn’t think you’d be this much of a bitch. You were a lot nicer in your video.’
‘Porn isn’t real life.’
He thrust a hand up her skirt, laying his hand where her legs met, caressing the lace of her panties. ‘So you’re telling me that in real life you don’t fuck like a well-paid whore, that you don’t scream, don’t take on six guys at once and don’t swallow everything put in your mouth.’
She stared at him. Conversation was pointless. Answers were pointless.
‘I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched your video. How many times I’ve jerked off to it. How many times I’ve come in one of our sisters while watching you. It’s the best preparation I could do for this, for our union. Mother may own you, Magnolia, but she’s loaning you to me for as long as I want.’
‘Bring her in here.’
‘Get off me and go get mother. I need to discuss this with her.’
‘Whatever you say, sis, I can be generous.’