Fighting Darius by Nicole Riddley - GALATEA (2024)

PENNY

Under the strobe lights, I feel warm hands touching my hips. When I turn, I am met with a pair of dark-brown eyes, staring at me. I’m tipsy, but I can still tell that he is a werewolf.

His eyes look hard and penetrating. Buzz-cut dark-brown hair, a nice tall body with tattoos. One ear is pierced, and he has a lip ring.

The next thing I know, I’m feeling his piercing between my teeth and on my tongue.

He exudes danger, but I am too drunk to be sensible.

I have the lip ring between my teeth. I suck on it, I love the feeling of warm metal on my tongue.

His hands roam all over me. He tries to take over, to dominate the kiss, but I push him back against the wall and kiss him hard. He chuckles against my mouth and pulls me closer.

When I pull away, the man with the lip ring is gone.

In his place is Darius.

He gazes at me intensely. There is darkness to his stare.

“You didn’t even want that guy, did you Persephone?” he smirks.

He’s the only one who calls me by my full name.

Angrily, I shove him off of me. He stumbles, smiling. When I blink, he has vanished.

The stranger with the lip ring looks at me, confused.

“What did I do?” he asks, perplexed by my sudden shift in attitude.

His voice is somehow wrong. Hurriedly, I excuse myself, not bothering to apologize for my abruptness.

He was a good kisser, but he was no Darius.

Dammit! Why?! ~Why am I thinking about him again?~

Why does he haunt my every thought?

I need to get out of this party.

***

With my pepper spray clenched tightly in my fist, I stumble back home.

I’m too drunk to drive.

I hear a shuffling sound from behind me and snap my head around, but there’s no one there. The wind whistles through the empty streets.

The sun will peer over the horizon in a few hours, but for now all I have is the flickering streetlights, ominously flashing on and off.

I have seen enough horror movies to know bad things happen around flickering lights.

While I live in a college town, I can never be too careful. There is always danger lurking around every corner when you’re a woman. Even for us werewolves. My powers are limited at best. It’s not like I’m a lycan. If I were, things would be different.

Maybe I would be with… I don’t even want to think of his name anymore.

I push the thought away, trying to distract myself.

Over the past month, there have been several muggings in the area. The suspect is still at large. I’m usually unfazed, because I live in a house full of royal lycans. The crown prince himself lives in the house.

But tonight, I’m alone.

At first, my heart calms when I spot the front door of my house just ahead. Then I notice the light in my bedroom is on. A shadow waits by the window, looking out onto the street below.

When I blink, the shadow is gone.

Perhaps it was a trick of the light. Or maybe I’ve had one too many shots tonight.

I’d been drinking like a fish, trying to forget about him.

Wait a second. Didn’t I switch off my bedroom light before I left?

Perhaps one of the others turned it on?

I shake my head, trying to shed the paranoia.

You’re being silly Penny, I reassure myself.

It isn’t like I’ve got the best memory in the first place.

Inside, the house is quite dark. They always leave the light by the staircase on. The glow of lights from the swimming pool also keeps the house from being in total darkness.

Everything is quiet except for the low hum of the fridge in the kitchen and the filter pump from the swimming pools.

I can hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore from afar.

I pull off my cowboy boots and try to walk as quietly as I can across the tile floor.

As I make my way up the staircase, something doesn’t feel right.

My thoughts are all muddled. I need to take a break from drinking soon, straighten out my mind before I lose it.

A familiar, intoxicating smell fills my nostrils, sending my head into a frenzy.

“Persephone.” A tall figure rises gracefully, like a shadow, in the dim light by my bed. “Why is your lipstick smeared?”

It’s him…

It has been three years since I last laid eyes on him.

The night he shattered my heart into a million pieces.

Suddenly, here he is, standing in my bedroom, waiting for me.

Darius.

Slowly, he walks up to me.

He grabs my face in his hand, pulling me in.

“I smell another man on you, Persephone,” he growls.

Fighting Darius by Nicole Riddley  - GALATEA (2024)

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