“He would not give me his hand.”
“He chose. I tried to tell him…”
“And now?”
“Your time grows short. Hurry.”


Jyan had a candle by her bed, and a glass of red wine in her hand.
Her tablet’s bright LED intruded on the intimate ambience, as her emotions rose and fell with the events on the pages of the romance novel she was reading, alone in bed at nine-thirty on a Friday night.
The smell of burning pitch wafted through the air, mixing with the candle’s floral scent, giving off the odor of decayed flowers burning.
She had nothing in the stove, but her neighbor smoked.
If that idiot started a fire…
She put the wine on the nightstand, and was about to set the tablet aside, but she flinched and squeaked in abject terror at the form standing at the foot of her bed.
A woman’s form, on fire, charred, blackened, with ambers and oranges and reds sparking, burning, and oozing through the fissures of her body, which closed and opened in new places.
It was like watching one small section of an active volcanic landscape.
Jyan tried to scream, needed to scream, but the figure had placed its index finger across its lips, and Jyan’s throat felt as if she’d inhaled stinging, toxic smoke.
She pushed herself back to sit up against headboard, pulling the useless covers over her, large tears pooling in the corners of her eyes.
The form spoke to her in a soft, soothing, motherly tone, as if comforting a sad child when it was just the two of them alone.
“You lost him, Jyan. You cheated.”
Jyan whimpered, felt her lungs beginning to strain for air, and managed to pull in a little, though it stung, cool against the burning sensation.
“You cheated, Jyan. Why? He loved you.”
A bit more air entered, and she coughed, trying to form a reply, to make spit to give her defense.
“I…didn’t meant to. Who…Am I dreaming?”
Chuckling, the form approached, sat on the edge of the bed, and pushed a lock of hair from Jyan’s eyes.
“Soon, love. Soon you will dream. Give me your hand.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Give you back to him.”
Jyan could feel heat radiating off the burning thing, it sat so close, and yet, it was somehow comforting.
“I…I can’t.”
The form shifted, closer, and Jyan instinctively cowered, but the form was patient, and held her eyes until she relaxed.
“Jyan, you were going to take your own life. I am offering it back to you.”
“How did you know…?”
The form took a sip of her wine. “The poison in the glass is a slow one; the chapter you were reading is where the couple reconciled.
“Come along now, Jyan. This will be your only chance.”
Jyan began to cry again, and as the form’s fingers wiped them away, they turned to steam, and Jyan reached out and took her captor’s hand…

“So soon?”
“She wanted to. She wasn’t quite ready, but she wanted to.”
“They’re never ready, it seems, even when they should be.”
“Do you like the new body?”
“I do. What was her name again?”
“Will she be missed?”
“Does it matter now?”
“No.” Nefarion smiled.
She smiled back.
“I promised to give her back to her lover. So what do we do now?”
Nefarion reached for her.
"We make you keep your promise.”
As he kissed her, the flames around them began to rise…