“Don’t you ever love?” I mock him. Implying he is incapable of it.
Suddenly, his form burns on my retinas, like he is standing right before me. I jolt in my seat, trying to open my eyes. They are glued shut.
He stares at me, then smirks, a smile devoid of warmth. There is a choking bitterness about him: a horrendous sorrow that pierces me to the bone. It taints the air, creating a biting wind. The fire in his face – usually warm – is cold. Like the facade of humanity is stripped away, and I am left confronted by a powerful, merciless force.
He takes me away to a place he stands guard over: a high, ragged hill, with dead black trees stripped bare by winter and dry, yellowed grass. I wonder if it is the ruins of Eden.
It is a cool, twilit glade. He stands there, in the shadow of a tree, cowl pulled over his pale face. I approach cautiously, drawn in like a moth to the flame of his terrible beauty. Curious, I want to know, yet dread what I may find.
My damning curiosity will kill me.
“You sprang from the heart of Lucifer,” he spits, the words like a slap to the face.
“What the hell does that mean!” I demand.
“You want to know what it is?” he challenges, laughing. His voice is bitter, as if the venom he regards himself with taints his tongue. I cannot tell if he means me harm, or wants me to stay away. Perhaps the viper flash of his eye is like the red rings of the coral snake. A warning.
“It is my own black heart,” he says ruefully. “Does that surprise you? You knew it all along.”
“I did?” I tremble. A wind whips across the meadow, rustling my hair and the hem of his robe. His smile is thin, a smile sharp as ice.
“You just wouldn’t admit it,” he whispers. “What will you do, when you are confronted with the darkest part of yourself?”
“This has nothing to do with me. I’m nothing like you!”
“Oh, child,” he laughs, elegant fingers brushing my face. I flinch, guts twisting as heat sears my throat. “But you are.” His voice is enticing, but it burns, for it speaks the truth. Tears prick my eyes, and a sob escapes my throat.
His eyes – like the abyss – hold tenderness. The void is a strange thing to see, staring back at you. “You are like the tempest. Quick-striking, you fly into rages. You burn with wonder, the black storm that devours all in its path. Granted, you’re merciful, unlike me.” His grin is crooked. “I have little use for mercy. But you, dear, are split down the middle. Burning with righteousness but pity for men’s souls.”
I cock my head to the side, rebellious. “Maybe I am. But what about you? Don’t you want mercy?”
He curls his hands into fists. “Do I deserve it?”
I look at him in fear. The razor-faced angel who has little patience for my pity or terror. His hair is ink-black like night, and his eyes burn like the heart of a flame.
“Yes. And no.”
“That’s a pathetic answer.” He runs his fingers through my hair contemplatively, looking at the curve of my neck. I wonder if he’s imagining the snap of my spine under his hands.
I inhale sharply. “Haven’t you loved?”
His eyes widen. His face, for once, is raw. “What do you mean?” he hisses, grip on my skull tightening.
I wince. “Everything loves, Samael. “Even the most wretched creature. And maybe – just maybe – that makes them worthy of redemption.”