A snippet from my upcoming book, SOLOMON’S CHOICE! Don’t forget to join the newsletter for updates about this book, and chances to get it free.
The silence stretches. And stretches. I shift. Soothe myself by running fingertips over the wood texture under the table and out of sight. I am just about to blurt let me go home when the Lord of Night Whispers speaks.
“By rights, we should kill you.”
Oh, that helps! “Why? What have I done that warrants any of this?”
His look… it’s subtle, but it hardens, hardens, and terror eats at my sanity. “Do you weigh the lives taken so lightly? Perhaps because you did not personally administer their doom, but only provided the means?”
What is he talking about? “What?” I look back and forth. My monster, all knives, and the Lord of Night Whispers, disapproval. I am going to die here. “What lives? What doom? What are you saying?”
“I think he means it,” murmurs my monster.
“Perhaps. Perhaps not. I have known denial stronger than this,” says the Blood King. “You claim innocence, doctor Iskinder?”
I’m so fucked. “Why would you go to whatever lengths you just did to rescue me if you were only going to kill me?”
“Because I would rather take a deadly tool and break it than leave it in the hands of those certain to misuse its power,” says Notte, no hesitation, absolutely firm.
“Telling you,” says Terrance.
Notte says, shhhhh. “You claim innocence. Do you believe that, doctor?”
“Yes! I… I don’t know! Inno- I never did anything! I don’t know what’s going on.” And it is taking everything I have not to simply sob.
“Then you would be willing to prove it.”
I clench my fists. “How can I prove a negative? Prove I didn’t do something that never happened? You’re asking the impossible!”
“I do not ask the impossible of anyone.” That feels like a greater statement than mere words imply. “If you truly present no danger to my family and to the denizens of this world, then you will give me permission to look within you and see for myself.”
“I – ” Remember falling into Terrance’s eyes. He means something like that, but again, he’s asking permission. Why? Why? “Why haven’t you done it already?”
“I treat even my enemies with respect, doctor Iskinder. It is one of the reasons my word is trusted throughout the Seven Peoples.”
This is insane. Madness. This is a mountain giving a damn about a leaf. “What happens if I… if I let you do that?” Let. Ha. Very funny.
“I determine quickly if you are innocent as you claim, or the deadliest bioweapons expert in centuries, as others claim. If you are the latter, doctor, I will end your life. You will not hurt. It will be quick and painless, and you will feel pleasure as you pass.”
My eyes are so wide, they burn.
“If, however, something has been presented wrongly – if you are not the enemy you have been painted to be – then you will not die. At that point, we will discuss proposals for our future together.”
“Which option lets me go home?” I whisper.
“None. Should we let you go, you will simply be taken. Others know your reputation, and now, all know your face.”
I believe him. They already invaded the nursery, for fuck’s sake.
I don’t relish the idea of invasion again. Of my mind belonging to someone else, even temporarily.
But what other option is there? What choice? If I say no, I die right now – and I have no way to help Tom and protect Jason. I cannot do that.
If I must give up my own autonomy in order to save my friend and my son, then I will. I will. They are worth more than that. “All right.” I clear my throat and try again. “All right. Do it. I’m ready.”