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I was dying

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I was dying.

I don't know what I'd expected to happen. I mean, it had looked just like an ordinary vial of liquid. Blood, yes, but I'd tried not to think about that as I'd swallowed it down. Tried not to think about the strange coppery taste on my tongue. Tried not to think about how it was warm, when it shouldn't have been, because the First had been slain thousands of years before my time. I'd tried not to gag as it hit the back of my throat, because that's what you did when that voice inside you insists you shouldn't be consuming something alien. I even half-expected Oscar to start laughing and call me a stupid cow for falling for it, because of course, this had to be a joke, right? I wasn't drinking the blood of some fabled First creature to have ever existed. I wasn't drinking the blood of the First Angel. I couldn't be, because even just the thought of that was total bloody insanity.

I was dying. I had to be.

Maybe this was the joke. Maybe this was what Oscar had been hiding. Maybe he'd known it would kill me, but wait, that couldn't have been the case because Ethan had wanted me to drink it too and he didn't want me dead. He didn't. He wanted me. He actually wanted me. Me. Casey Brogan. Champion of Fucking-Everything-Up-Just-Because-I-Can-Thank-You-Very-Much-Mate. Former party-girl of Hackney. Queen of the underground rave scene. Princess of pills, thrills and overdoses. Only, that wasn't me anymore, was it?

I wasn't even sure who I was now. A maledicti. An Endorian. A witch who didn't have the first bloody idea how to use her powers, because if I did, I stop it all. I'd stop the pain I felt, the agony of each spasm as it hit, crushing, squeezing. I'd stop the way my heart was pumping in my chest – a staccato nightmare of insane beats that forced the breath from my throat and brought me to my knees. I'd stop the way my head was being submerged, random thoughts and memories drowning in a strange drunken-haze, gripping me tight and pulling me down deeper and deeper.

I couldn't stop it. I couldn't even think straight.

I could only lie there, my hands still bound, as the blood of the First infected every part of me, infusing bone and muscle and vein. I could only lie there, with Oscar crouched in front of me, his head tilted to one side as he watched, doing nothing, saying nothing, just studying me with a keen interest that sparked a dark fire in his eyes.

His eyes, an endless black. A flash of gold as the light glinted off his wristwatch. The line of spittle that stretched from his yellowing front teeth to his bottom lip. The scent of baby powder and aftershave. Grey hairs that curled on tanned skin in the V where his shirt was unbuttoned at the neck.

And a heartbeat that wasn't my own. Slow. Deep. Strong. Ancient.

Drink-spasm-drown-relax.

Relax.

Relax, Casey.

*

Ethan's eyes weren't black, but they were the first thing I saw when I opened my own.

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