Don’t forget that AFTER THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER is half off for the rest of December to celebrate with Enchanted Quill Press during their Festive Fairytale Celebration!
Enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card and check out all of the books and authors who made the giveaway possible.
And now, for our regularly scheduled excerpt:
“Once upon a time in a land far, far away, Westchester, New York…” Cam pauses.
He kisses a line across Emerson’s stomach. His lips are moist, biting, and wanting. He rolls her to her side and bites her ample hip, and she squeals.
“…there was a beautiful princess. Everyone saw how beautiful she was except for the bloody beast.”
His voice is as thick as the Dublin heat outside of the crisp air-conditioned Hilton. Em almost forgets about the all the hidden trafficking below. How all these people look the same to her. Em almost forgets who she is.
“That’s not how it was at all,” she says with giggles.
He flips her on her stomach and squeezes her middle like he’s holding it together. He kisses across her low back. She moans and longs for the back and forth ride against the crisp sheets. He moves his chest against her raw, molting back. The soft skin of his abs beat against her tailbone. The tickle of it makes her want to break apart with desire.
“I won,” he growls.
He bites her ear.
She mewls. She can’t help it. The a pinch of teeth spikes a trickle in her brain that pit stops at her vocal cords and roots deep in her body.
“And history is told by the winners.”
“Of course you won. Home-turf advantage, but you always win. Because you cheat. Who wouldn’t be a slave to that face yapping on about freedom?” she says.
With her back up against him, she can say all the right things that bring out what she wants in him. It’s a swift magical spell that gives her the reward of a swifter ass slap. She cries out as her body convulses together in pure pleasure at the pain.
“I am the monster after all,” he says.
Then why is Em the one that always sounds like the wounded animal as he finds the pleasure hidden inside of her? He does feast on her like she’s a kill. Her cries go silent like a kept princess who can’t scream, until she does.
Em splits in half with ecstasy as they come. With him, she can do it over and over without breaking herself. He says she’s the only thing that soothes the whole of him. It’s amazing what they can do smashing together and breaking apart. They are the two halves.
The light and the dark, with no weakness or pain or toil of the outside.
Their mingled blood has no bounds.
“Your blood test shows you may have some abilities.”
The long workday left Emerson in pain. Her knees were inflamed. She had to use her cane to get the pamphlets across the room.
The Philippines brought out all the swelling her Lyme disease had to offer. It did have beautiful scenery. Yet, the view from the splintering Picong, Lanao del Sur Community Center showed little of it. Across the way was a dilapidated fruit-stand. The endless green mountains were too far away in the scorching sky. She forced herself not to think of Ireland and its breezy summer days and humming nights.
This D-positive girl she had to help was poetically named Diwata, which meant fairy.
“My boyfriend already told me about my disease, ate. He’s in DFT.”
Emerson’s heart dropped. This news was nothing but bad. It would make her job near impossible. A fly with mammoth sized wings droned through squeaking, impotent fans.
“Your boyfriend is DFT,” Emerson said. “DFT tells you being D-positive is a disease?”
“He’s going to bring me to America,” Diwata said.
The backless top of her own design had the breathable cotton that didn’t stick to her and make her itch. Emerson was always prepared. She wasn’t good at going off-book, like Cam. She used her TATI checklists:
1) Establish rapport with possible D positive. Recognize and respect cultural differences.
2) Obtain informed consent.
4) Do Blood Test
5) Discuss result of test. Go to either A or B
5A: Negative result: use Health Education protocol
5B: Positive result: Congratulate for possible abilities and give info of network for further education and immediately educate on trafficking.
Note: People may be more or less comfortable using terms of folklore. Use language they are comfortable with.
There was no checklist for when a D-positive girl was literally screwed by a guy from DFT. She was sure Diwata wasn’t comfortable with calling her DFT boyfriend a dirty fuck-wad.
D.F.T.—Down For Trafficking, Dark Fairy Trade, Drop Fae Torture.
Or whatever DFT really stood for. Maybe the D stood for disease. She fought an urge to go into Sullivan’s diatribe: Disease/disability had nothing to do with being D-positive; and no one knew why people with disabilities showed more D-positive abilities.
Emerson’s phone tinged with a text.
Cam: Just got another one done!! How bout U?
She texted one letter back to Cam: F
Diwata texted on her phone, too. Of course, girls from remote villages texted.
Emerson texted the second letter: U
All girls would text unless they were trapped in a cult somewhere, or chained in a storage crate—bound. Emerson was here with TATI to make sure none of that happened to girls like Diwata.
Cam texted back: U want 2 F me?? I could be there in no time.
Manila was far less than two days away for her coworker and his boundless blood-energy. All the more reason she wasn’t going to let some obnoxious Brooklyn-Irish kid win. She was Filipino.
Emerson would educate more people than Campbell if it killed her, and if this heat kept up, it might. Diwata was going to be tough. Forget DFT propaganda. Diwata’s ignoring-people-for-texting skills rivaled any teenager’s.
Emerson decided to be the responsible adult and do some texting of her own. She texted Ms. Sullivan, her field supervisor: D-positive girl has DFT boyfriend!! How do we save her??
“Are you texting a boyfriend?” Diwata asked.
The girl stood and stretched and sleeked back dark hair that mirrored Emerson’s.
“In New York?” Diwata continued, “What does he do? He doesn’t mind the cane because you’re pretty? Is he white?”
My boyfriend loves the cane because he has a freak fetish, and he’s not an asshole like your so-called boyfriend. He works against human trafficking, but if you’re not on his side, he can be a bit of a tenacious monster.
“He’s mixed-race,” Emerson said, “He does his thing. I do mine.”
She wasn’t here to talk about boyfriends. Emerson steeled herself and remembered the mission of TATI: Teach Against Trafficking Initiative.
Connect any way you can, Ms. Sullivan said once.
Emerson’s phone buzzed.
Dylan Sullivan: You don’t SAVE her. Be tolerant of DFTs beliefs!
Ms. Sullivan was in her PC-the-war-is-over mood today. Sometimes, Emerson wished Ms. Sullivan would get angry again and just admit that DFT was no better than the Wing Rippers and Witch Hunters that turned on others as well as their own. But cold wars were different than all-out-wars. Emerson understood that if you were going to be a career woman you had to stay diplomatic, especially if you were a disabled Bender. Emerson wasn’t a disabled Bender, or a Bender with a disability, as Ms. Sullivan would say. Emerson wasn’t even what Ms. Sullivan really was, a witch with a disability. Emerson wasn’t really fully anything, but Dylan Sullivan was the closest thing she would ever have to a role model.
“So, your boyfriend is a DFT recruiter?” Emerson forced a bright voice.
“No,” Diwata said, “He’s the boss of them.”
Diwata’s make-up caked around the edges of her eyes in light brown powered. Her eyelashes clumped in dark slivers. Connect any way you can.
“I could help you do your make-up. You would look so good in high fashion, New York brands. Your boyfriend will love it. You gotta go big or go home sometimes.”
Yes. Wasn’t her body supposed to feel at home here, or half of it? Which half was Filipino? It didn’t matter. She had to connect here. She had to beat Campbell. She did almost nothing in halves.
Jody Sollazzo is a New Yorker that now lives in Berkeley, CA. Her story, “Outlier,” was published in a David Lynch tribute anthology edited by Cameron Pierce in July 2013. In 2017, she has a story in “Love Hurts: A speculative fiction anthology.”
Featured Photo Credit (c) Darkness