As soon as I took a sip, I realized it was poison.
The liquid was a dark, dark burgundy; red, like blood. I stared down at it as he held the goblet in his hand, waiting for me to take it. But I didn’t take it—I didn’t move. I simply watched, as the ripples formed, his hand not perfectly still.
I could feel his dark eyes lingering on my face. His frustration building, with the tightness in his jaw deepening; the thin line of his lips becoming tighter, and tighter.
“Drink it,” he said. “Emilia.”
And when I made no movement or sound, he he nudged the goblet nudged it up, towards my face. I could hear the annoyance build in his tone, but he spoke softly; only so I could hear.
“Emilia, you know I wouldn’t hurt you. Don’t you?”
I don’t know that, I thought. I don’t know that at all. I barely know you.
But I said none of this, remaining silent and racking my brain for another choice, an excuse I could use to run away—but I found none. I knew I had no choice but to do this.
That was why I was here after all?
For power, a low voice whispered, male. I pushed it quickly away. No, I thought. For me. I took the goblet in my hands, and I could see the relief flood into his face as I brought it up to my lips. The scent that came from it stung my nostrils, bitter—terrible.
My stomach churned. I didn’t want to drink this.
Yet, I put the glass to my lips. I ignored the way Damien watched me, with his dark eyes gleaming something I did not want to see. Darkness.
I closed my eyes and drank from the glass. And as soon as the first sip hit my tongue, I realized that it was poison.
My eyes widened, feeling the horrible sensation of burning fill my mouth. I need to spit this out, I thought. I need to spit it out right now, before—
The goblet fell out of my hands and clattered onto the floor, spilling all over my feet and staining the floor.
Damien grabbed me by the mouth and forced my mouth closed. I tried to struggle, but it was no use—he was far stronger than I am. He could break a bone in my body, or two. Easily. “Swallow it,” he hissed.
And I knew that’s what I must do.
I’m going to die, I thought as I gagged, forcing down the liquid as it seared my throat. It was thick and felt like gunk as it slid down, to my stomach.
When Damien saw that I had swallowed, he released me. His eyes narrowed at me, skeptical at first—before relaxing. I saw a sliver of concern fill between his brows. “Are you okay?”
“‘Okay’?” I wheezed. The taste was still in my mouth, still lingering in my nose—I wanted it gone. Out. Now. “You— You gave me poison to drink. You poisoned me!”
A slow smile crept across his lips. “Yes, but you survived, didn’t you? You’re still breathing, aren’t you?”
My body went still; I felt sick, my stomach swirling—and my mouth and throat felt numb after feeling as if they were on fire for many moments. But I was alive. I was still standing…breathing. I wasn’t dead.
He’s right, I thought.
He’s trying to manipulate you, my conscious said, instead. That doesn’t change the fact that he still poisoned you.
He still tried to kill me.
I looked at him through hardened eyes, a glare. “Yes, maybe. But—”
“But,” he cut me off with the wag of his finger. “You lived. Emilia, do you realize what this means?” I said nothing, knowing very well that he’d cut me off if I said something he didn’t like. Then, “That wasn’t just poison, Emilia.”
I frowned. “What was it, then?”
“Demon blood.” My mouth went dry, my body prickling with uneasiness. Demon blood, I thought. Demon blood. No wonder it was so sludgy and…thick—
I felt like I going to puke.
My legs gave out, and Damien caught me by the arm. “Emilia,” he said with excitement flushing his cheeks, a wide smile. Most might’ve thought it as cute, I thought he looked insane, crazed. “Do you understand what this means?”
His grip around my shoulder was tight, tight.
Yes, I thought. I knew exactly what it meant. It meant my greatest fear, the nightmare that had been haunting me since I was a child.
You’re not who you think you are, my mother’s voice whispered.
“No,” I said.
His grin widened, and I couldn’t help but noticed how sharp his teeth suddenly looked. “It means you’re a demon.”
My body went numb, and my ears were ringing.
“You’re a demon, Emilia. A demon. You’ll be stronger than any human can ever imagine—you’ll be stronger than even I am.”
I don’t want to be, I thought.
“So you knew,” I said, my eyes stinging. Tears were beginning to form, but I wasn’t going to let them fall just yet. “You knew, and you fed me demon blood just to further prove that you’re correct.”
“Not entirely,” he disagreed, raising a finger. “I actually wasn’t certain—so by giving you demon blood, I could tell if your body rejects it or not. And it didn’t. It worked.”
He seemed so proud of himself, it made me sick.
“You were willing to let me die if you assumed wrong.” I couldn’t believe him. The more he spoke, the more I felt the urge to punch him in the jaw and hope that I broke it.
You’ll be stronger than any human can ever imagine, he had said.
I wondered if I should test those words out.
“Emilia, Emilia,” Damien said, clicking his tongue. He squeezed my shoulder, and leaned in, his breath warm on my cheek. “You’re overthinking this. What you are, is a gift—it’s no curse. You should be happy—grateful, even. You should be thanking me—”
I stopped listening there, and aimed a fist for his jaw. I felt the shatter of his bones before I heard it.