Wicked & Wonderful 01
Chapter One: Burning Man
Madeleine Belshaw tossed the smoky remains of her torch into the fiery blaze, as the man’s screams faded and the unmistakable stench of burning flesh filled the air. She smiled at the body hanging from the makeshift crucifix, but there was no kindness in the upturn of her lips. He deserved none, this lying, simpering bastard. And that kindness? He’d taken advantage of it and her generosity, all under the guise of loving her.
So she had let him go, because she deserved better after two centuries, not more of the same. And when his world crumbled around him, she’d even felt a minor note of remorse. But when he’d feigned wanting to commit suicide over her departure, then recanted that he’d even said such manipulative things, she’d had enough.
If he wanted death, she was more than happy to deliver.
Hence the bonfire. In the middle of the desert. In Arizona.
When his body was eventually discovered, no one would think to trace it back to her. Petite, demure Madeleine? Nah, she couldn’t be capable of such an atrocity. And given how many people he’d told of his intended demise, who would really be surprised to find he’d actually followed through?
She wiped the bits of fiery ash from her sleeves. No sense in joining the sooty pity party. She looked at him again, and though he’d gone quiet and most likely died of asphyxiation due to the smoke, she swore he looked back, dead eyes begging. A pit of sadness stirred in her stomach, tinged with regret that this was the end of things.
It had twisted hard earlier, almost dropping her to her knees, as she’d swung the shovel to the back of his head.
Well, maybe not so much then... she thought with an evil grin. It had been rather satisfying, that thunk. Vibration up the handle had left her arms tingling. In retrospect, she should’ve gagged him after she’d tied him up, because once he’d come to, the begging and pleading began again.
And promises. More empty promises that had turned the sadness and remorse into a belly full of fiery anger.
“Shut up!” She slammed the shovel down against his chest.
But he hadn’t shut up at all, the steady stream of bullshit a flood of the same lies he’s been feeding her for the past two years. I’ll change, Maddie! I’ll be the man you want me to be! Just give me another chance! I’m serious this time! I really want to do this. For you!
Maybe he’d forgotten what she was. Maybe he’d hoped she’d give in to her Piscean nature and take him back, kissing away the boo-boos she’d inflicted. Or maybe he’d been as stupid as she’d remembered.
Madeleine had brought the shovel down on his stomach -- once, twice, the curved butt of it making contact until bright, red blood had spattered from that horrible, lying mouth. He had the audacity to look hurt, betrayed and his lips moving in wordless protest. She’d knelt beside him and laid a finger against his mouth, ignoring the tempting splotches on his paling skin.
“Shut up. You don’t get a say anymore. You wanted out, and really, babe, it’s the least I can do. Let’s call it my parting gift, freeing you the pain of being in love with me. No one should have to suffer so.”
She’d lifted the stained finger from his mouth to hers and licked it clean. His eyes had bulged, but not a word slipped out. Fear was a decadent aphrodisiac, especially as heavy as it had been cut into his blood. She’d heard him whimper as she’d closed her eyes, reveling in the scent. She’d opened them with a chuckle. “Silly human, I’m not going to eat you alive. Tonight I prefer my meal well done with a solid char.”
But the now crispied critter soured her appetite. And if she was honest, there was little joy to be had in her revenge. His death confirmed that she still didn’t play well with others, that she wasn’t ready for a relationship, however tenuous, after the last one hundred years with her ex, and she definitely had no business messing with humans. Not that she wanted anything to do with other vampires.
She’d left the pomp of darker courts and rivers of decadence to hide in the sun of this god-forsaken state. Who would look for her here? Not Patrick. Though that would require him to care beyond the ties that bound them, and he’d spent no small amount of energy letting her know that he’d sever those bonds and abandon her forever, if he could.
She kicked at the desert sand. It irritated her to no small degree that he still got under her skin after all these years. Surely, twenty-five years was long enough to get over someone, to move forward in her undead life. You would think, but here she sat, watching chunks of charred flesh fall from the bones of her poor human ex-lover as the sun threatened with its bright golden line against the mountain’s edge.
Madeleine waxed maudlin, and the silly, simple thought made her smile.
“No sense in putting things off. Time to clean up my mess.” She shook her shoulders and unfurled her wings. With a thought and a whip of her glorious black feathers, the fiery assemblage before her burst like a detonated grenade of wood fragments, flesh and bones, and the gooey insides that had not evaporated or disintegrated in the blistering heat.
Then upward she soared, clear of the debris, and across the cool desert surface to her home in the sleepy little town of Sierra Vista.
Author Note: I'll be posting chapters weekly. Hope you enjoy this story!
About the author
Writer | Mom | Wife | Nerd | Mental Health Advocate | Democratic Socialist | Atheist
Alphabet Mafia: Bi/Demi She/Her
Published award-winning paranormal author of the Zoe Delante Series (www.readzoe.com).