Llena del alma mía

Bazoniuth comes back to me in a dream. Doesn’t possess me, that much I’m sure of, because there’s a Taoist mirror hanging over the bed that wards away her kind. I’ve got enough awareness in the liminal half-world to recognize that I’m dreaming, but not enough to dream lucidly. “Hello, Ronnie,” Bazoniuth says, wearing Karen’s …

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Full Moon Rising

Constance was not looking forward to Chinese New Year. Really, she should be using the more inclusive term “Lunar New Year.” But she didn’t want to wish her experience of the new year on anyone else. After all, she usually spent it locked away indoors. She was currently doing the math on her vacation days …

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Tell Me How I Look

Meg spends the weeks after her encounter with Blanche in a self-destructive spiral. She smokes more than she should, drinks herself sick, breaks her veganism to have a cube of pig blood to see if maybe that’s the problem: anemia and protein deficiency, not her own mind.

(She regrets the pig blood. The texture is like diabolical tofu, and all it does is make her throw up, right there in the claustrophobic bathroom of the one spot that serves dim sum well into the evening.)

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We Are All Too Young to Die

It’s been four months since we became a triad, as Karen calls it, or a triforce, as I like to call it, even if Jesse doesn’t get the reference. It’s been—good. Really good. I’m trying to let myself enjoy this for once in my life instead of questioning everything. Especially because there’s so much other shit going on now.

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Every Eye Will See Him

There’s this pair of siblings we’ve run into, Roxie and Kent. She’s bossy, he’s a goody-two-shoes, and the two of them are such a pile of mommy and daddy issues, it’s hilarious. But no matter how annoying they are, the fact remains that they know how to cast Bazoniuth out of Karen’s body. That’s the whole reason we’ve been on the road for so long—eight months at this point.

Eight months of fucking Karen and Bazoniuth behind Jesse’s back.

Eight months of that secret eating away at me like acid reflux.

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Blanche watches the body on the rug stir from her seat on the armchair across the room. Meg’s skin, marred at first by the UV rays from the sun lamp Blanche always carries, has already begun to stitch together and smooth over. She’s tidily tied up, rope roughing against her wrists, ankles, arms, and thighs. Once she comes to fully, she wriggles upright and twists around to meet Blanche’s gaze.

She smiles.

“Oh, hello,” she says, blowing a kiss.

Blanche sneers.

“You little liar.”

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Far From Holy

My name is Asteria. With the autumn moon round and full, I am now twenty-five.

I am today’s sacrifice.

The matriarchs drape me in white. A slip beaded with glittering sea glass peeks out from under my skirt. The delicate lace lining the collar of the dress extends down my torso. The waves and droplets hide my nipples, which stiffen and rise as they rub against the rough netting. I lower my eyes and smile demurely as the matriarchs weave forget-me-nots into my jet-black hair and make the last adjustments to my ceremonial outfit. My eyelids have been dusted gold, my lips painted scarlet, my cheeks blushed with rouge.

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Constance’s Obedience Training

Never underestimate Ramiro Morales Medina, Constance thought as she froze in the doorway. She could smell his nonchalance as he sat with one ankle over one knee, a heavy book entitled Dog Obedience Training open in his solid hands.

Ramiro knew very well that she was a werewolf.

He claimed that he was only human himself, but the effortless way he radiated charisma suggested some kind of otherworldly ancestry to her. Still, it wasn’t just his charisma that had drawn her to him. Of course, there was the deep physical attraction—her breath caught in her throat every time he came near and she got a whiff of his cologne, and she couldn’t help the way her eyes lingered on the strong, stubble-lined angle of his jaw, his full lips, his dark eyes, his wavy hair and easy smile, his tall figure, the toned muscles hidden under his vest…

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So Fall For Me

I don’t know how old Jesse’s girl is. Twenty-three, maybe? It’s hard to tell with Asian girls, and even harder when there’s an ageless demon sharing her body.

It’s been three months since all Hell literally broke loose. Some shit about the Seven Seals opening and unleashing the apocalypse—I haven’t been a practicing Catholic since I was eight, and Jesse might still pray the rosary, but he sure as hell doesn’t adhere to the “no premarital sex” and “no contraception” rules. In any case, neither of us knows jack about what got the end of the world going. All we know is that it started with a magnitude 8.1 earthquake hitting South LA and splitting the earth open, creating a pathway to the underworld that demons could come through.

It’s funny. I grew up with The Exorcist and The Conjuring, but now that it’s the actual apocalypse, things in LA are less White than in the movies—as usual. Less Catholic, too. I didn’t even know that there are Mormon exorcists, or Taoist ones. Turns out China has a whole-ass exorcism tradition going back hundreds and thousands of years. But all the exorcists set aside their religious differences when demon possession became too real of a problem to ignore.

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Box Tied

Emily discovered the book on kinbaku rope bondage by accident.

She woke up before Vincent that day. She spent a couple moments curled up against his broad back and inhaling the masculine scent of sleep on him, savoring how solid he felt in her arms. Morning sunlight diffused through the linen curtains, bathing the cream-colored sheets in a warm glow that flattered Vincent even as sleep caked his eyes and his jaw hung slack. Emily smiled. Vincent grunted but showed no other signs of getting out of bed, his breathing slow and even. They were still in the early stages of their relationship—they’d met a few months ago while they were both getting their oil changed, of all things—but she’d slept over a few times by that point, and she was familiar enough with the layout of his cozy studio apartment to get out of bed and put a kettle of water on the stove herself.

As she waited for the kettle to come to a boil, she browsed Vincent’s bookshelf. He had a small collection of books that matched the minimalism of the rest of his space. Only his favorites were here: graphic novels, a couple poetry books, a few plays and classics, several fantasy and science fiction books, a few reference books, and an art book or two. Tucked against the very edge and almost hidden by the bookshelf’s trim was a heavy, hardcover tome that Emily had missed on her previous perusals of Vincent’s book collection. Emily stroked its plain spine before easing the volume out of the shelf, admiring the illustration of intricate knot work on the cover. She sat on a kitchen barstool and opened the book on her lap.

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