When he saw what the news reporters were saying and what the billboards were projecting onto the masses, Sylvan couldn’t help himself. He slipped into an even more cocky state of joy and self-satisfaction, so much so that he was no longer worried about the teenage hostage he held in the upper floor of his mansion.
Sylvan was now in his gated community of Costa Contra, tucked within the far western gem of the United States, stretched out under the sun on his lawn chair by his private pool. He had done enough work in ensuring Dark Earth’s demise now, he figured, and wanted to find some time to relax. He invited the beautiful Sagenta down to sunbathe with him in an outfit he had purchased with her frame in mind–it was on the cusp of being swimwear and lingerie–but she refused in tears, so he had locked her in a bedroom on that fifth floor of his estate. No matter, he thought, she would come down whenever they thought she was ready.
Sometimes she would open a window and scream. It was a good thing that Sylvan’s closest neighbor was a mile out. “Darling, Sage,” Sylvan yelled back to her lovingly, “Dark Earth can’t hear you scream from here!” That made her go quiet.
Sylvan settled back in his chair, exhaled, and shut his eyes. He wondered what the other Sinridders were doing. They probably would have been upset with him, saying he was making a mess of things, interfering with the mad hybird’s curse, but he knew that his fellow angels were long after their time. They would understand his clever tricks, his master manipulation, all that hard work. By time they entered back into Infinion, all of the Sinridders would be thanking him and gifting him enough praise to make even him feel bashful. They would understand.
Butlers prepared his meal of steak skirts, roasted shrimp kabobs, and grilled, bacon-wrapped corn that evening. He and Sagenta were sitting across from each other, so that whenever Sylvan looked up, her frame took up all of his eyes. She had hastily brushed her hair through meek, solemn protests, so each raven strand fell down her shoulders and back like the strings of a viola. She wore a light pink dress, adorned with pastel flowers about her breasts, and it hung off her shoulders to leave her collar bones bare. Sylvan could hardly eat staring at her.
Sagenta couldn’t eat at all. She told she didn’t eat meat and would only continue to stay with him in the dining hall if she had rice and vegetables and meatless dumplings. He shushed her and said she could take the bacon off the corn and eat it plain. She refused.
He waved a finger at her, smirking and swallowing hunks of beef. “You pretty women, always making things difficult. It’s alright though, you’re allowed to do it. That face gives you power.”
Her eyes were dark and watery, and Sylvan could see the black bags forming under them. “Take me back,” the words came out small yet vicious. “You can’t keep me here.”
The fact she spoke out of turn shocked him. He regained himself and said smoothly, “On the contrary, Ms. Sagenta, I very much can. In fact, when all of this is over, I’ll take you with me.” He pointed to the sky. “Up there.”
The foundation of a smile pricked at the left side of her lip. She brought her knees up to her chest, her feet now pressed into the seat of the chair. The gown fell just right after her knees, and she made a little, sardonic huff that sent shivers down Sylvan’s spine.
“To Infinion? I don’t believe the lies of a serpent nor a monster that claims he’s an angel. Take me back to Bishon this instant.”
“Princess, you have no power in this world. Beyond me and my mansion, you are even more powerless. You don’t exist anymore.” He looked away from her and cut up the last few bites of his steak.
She spoke again, in an even smaller voice if it was possible, some minutes later when his plate had been licked clean and the butler had taken it away to be washed. “How could you take me there then?”
Sylvan gave her a warm look and stood up from his chair. He made his way towards her, and she jumped back, frightened. “It’s all right,” he reassured her calmly, taking her by her hands and lifting her up, the smell of vanilla bean and sugared oranges blowing in the air from her freshly bathed skin.
“Bailey, play some Ritchie Valens for us.” Sylvan’s butler clicked his way to a little rectangular box and plugged it into a bigger square box. The lights of the dining hall dimmed and suddenly the swells of some grand, distant orchestra painted the atmosphere in sickening romance.
The Sinridder pulled Sagenta close to his beating body, and he danced and twirled her around like they were in love. Those echoes of words Sagenta could only make out as “You’re mine… you’re mine… baby… eternity… belong to me…” filled her with a dread that made her want to push him off, but she swore he was using his magic on her that made their hands stick so he could keep spinning her into a stupor. The song finished quickly and instantly another song with bells and that same man’s voice–this time about mountains–and then a different man singing sadly about a place where lovers go to cry–slipped into her brain and she couldn’t think.
“I’ll take you when all of it’s over,” the Sinridder ushered over the low, slow melody, pulling her close. “You and I in Infinion. For eternity.”
“And they call it lonesome town where the broken hearts stay…” Their footsteps slowed to the beat of the melody, and they could see the pinks spreading across each other’s cheeks.
“You’ll have to be killed. By me. But it’ll be nothing horrific or painful. Just a way to ensure that the angel…” He lifted her chin so that her sleepy eyes were looking up into his. “…gets this angel.”
She felt her mind go foggy, eyelids flying until her lashes fell to her skin, and her head nudged into the safe nook of the Sinridder’s shoulder. She felt warm fingers travel up her back and down her neck, and she couldn’t remember where she was.
“And the only price you pay is a heart full of tears…”
Everything was dark and quiet except for the ghostly call of the man (now very far away) and the faint plucking of his strings, singing:
“Maybe down in lonesome town I can learn to forget…”
Sagenta was asleep. Sylvan placed her on her bed and kissed her lips goodnight. Night fell over the room, and the smell of lavender and blackberry sleep made him find his way to his own room and drift off to expensive dreams of pleasure and splendor.
He slept for a long time, longer than usual, and longer than he should’ve, for when he appeared at noon in the room of Sagenta all cold and barren with the window ajar and the bed sheets folded, he looked down the four flights and saw on the ground a body still and white, curled up into the grass like a sinner, dead in a way unfit for Infinion.