SPOILER WARNING : (If you’ve read The Sundered, you’re good to go. Otherwise, head back to the short stories for safer fare.)

Soon. It’s almost over.

Soon, I’ll have enough, and I can step out of this idiot game and I swear, I swear, no one is ever going to touch me again.

(Don’t pull away. You know who I’m talking about.)

Is it a surprise? We all scrape and scavenge and strangle to get by, but you know the routine: men don’t have to go through what I do to get what they want.

(Yes, I’m looking at you.)

I’m sick of it, do you understand? I can’t touch the water, I can’t lead Travelers, I can’t afford a Sundered One, blah blah blah. So I let them touch me. So what? Men give me stuff when I do, stuff I can sell, and I’ve almost earned enough.

Don’t you know? There’s a magical amount of cash, an amount that starts making more money and you can sit back and let it reap the riches as it works investments and building projects and research, and then you never have to row boats or visit ass-sweat-smelling marketplaces again.

Being attractive helps. Though the truth is, they don’t really care what you look like under there as long as they get to have it. They just tell you they care because a woman demeaned is a woman controlled, and a woman controlled will give you what you want because they need validation. Are you uncomfortable yet?

I get the system. I’m a cog in the system. A cog looks forward to a lot less cock

(Don’t you dare pull away. You take your truth like all of us do, and you swallow it.)

I see the way Harry looks at me. I know what he thinks, what men usually think: there she goes, the slut, big deal. He’s disgusted, and that’s good. It means he doesn’t see me.

If he knew how much money I’ve skimmed off our finds, how much money I’ve saved by grifting off his Travelers, how little I’ve put in for expenses because my own were covered, he’d probably explode. I’d pay to see that, and savings be damned.

So go on, Harry, Demos, Jax, even Sandra, traitor that you are. Go ahead and think I’m gross. I’m winning. I’m ahead. And soon, I won’t have to be out here risking my neck and burning my dignity for warmth. While the rest of you do this for the rest of your damp, sorry lives, I’ll be out.

I’m almost out.

Soon. It’s almost over.

It’s almost too easy.