Disclaimer: I do NOT own Daughters of the Moon or anything else contained within. That all belongs to Lynne Ewing. I make NO money off of writing in this category.
Kelly was your average, every day cheerleader. Pure liveliness and the uncanny ability to cheer up almost anyone that crossed her path combined into one powerful Cheerleading Captain, and an all-around permanently peppy person. After all, she had looks, brains, popularity, an amazing boyfriend, a wonderful family; what more could a girl ask for? As the days into her sophomore year in high school droned on, she realized just what she was missing. Excitement. A break from the reality she was bound to and an escape into a world she had only heard tales of. Her desire for excitement and adventure is what drew her to an otherwise seedy club on the other side of the river, so to speak, in West Hollywood. The Dungeon. Just the name itself was enough to cause her best friend Elizabeth, Lizzie for short, to chicken out on going at the last minute and resort to attending Planet Bang's teen night as the girls usually did. Venturing to the club on her own, Kelly was quickly overcome by the allure of drugs, alcohol, and sex that permeated throughout the club and the line leading into it. Dressed casually in a short green skirt and pale tank top, Kelly stood out like a sore thumb, a big sore green thumb, amongst the black and otherwise Gothic crowd and ambiance that settled in the club. The feeling of fear crawling up her spine was almost enough to drive her out. Almost.
"They always find their way in here, don't they?" One girl bemused, her hair held in place and dazzled with pink glitter filled hair spray.
"Pretty little girls with pretty little faces, perfect little families." Another agreed, giving Kelly an once-over disdainfully.
The cheerleader blushed, self-conscious all of a sudden, and was about to vacate the club; go running back to Planet Bang and tell Lizzie how incredibly right she was and vow to never set foot in that death trap of a club ever again. Then she saw him. Leaning casually against a back wall, arms folded over his chest, looking as if he didn't have a care in the world. He was obviously not alone; if the two males with too many piercings and not enough decency weren't with him, it would have shocked her. They were practically hanging off his arm, being shooed away by him with a flick of his head and a toss of his already tousled blonde bangs. Piercing blue eyes stood out from a handsome, rugged face dotted with barely-noticeable stubble along his chin. He was somehow…beautiful. Dangerously so. She wasn't aware that he had moved until breath was ghosting along her neck.
"A strange place for an innocent little lamb to wander, don't you think?" An obviously male voice greeted her.
She suddenly felt too naked as she turned to spot the gorgeous blonde behind her.
"Who says I'm innocent?" She says smoothly, full of bravado she didn't really feel.
He chuckled. "You're not fooling anyone with your act, little lamb." He informed softly. "This is hardly the place for someone such as yourself. I'd vacate before someone decides to make you into their next meal." He nods ever so slightly to his pierced friends against the wall, who she was certain by now were ogling her backside.
"Perhaps some people should learn self-control." She huffed. "I'm a girl in a skirt. So what?"
"You don't get it, do you?" His brow furrows ever so slightly. "This isn't the place for a good little girl like you, lamb. Come back when you think you're bad enough."
Embarrassment flushed through her veins as she scrambled to escape the building and the people in it. What was she even thinking? Going into a place like that willingly was not something that a girl like her should do. He was right. She wasn't bad enough for a seedy place like that.
Lizzie was unexpectedly forgiving that Kelly had ditched her, and simply grateful she had come back from her encounter with the damned, as both of their mothers would put it, safe and unharmed. Kelly didn't tell her about the gorgeous blonde whose voice both made her flesh crawl and her stomach flitter with excitement. A girl like Lizzie could never understand that rush.
The days went by and turned into weeks. The routine stayed the same, but the thoughts did not. The gorgeous blonde from The Dungeon appeared in Kelly's thoughts most days. She couldn't tell her boyfriend Paul just why she was spaced out in science class and didn't hear when their teacher said to pass up their tests. He'd shun her for it. Call her an adulterer, a cheater, a whore. A boyfriend was acceptable. Thoughts of another man while you were with said boyfriend was not. The Dungeon wasn't a place for girls like her, and the blonde wasn't the kind of guy a girl like her should have been consumed by. She tried not to stare as she spotted him walking down Monreau Avenue one summer day while she and Paul were on a double date with Lizzie and her new boyfriend, Robert. His stark black attire and rowdy friends were hard to miss, and even Lizzie had noticed them walking down the street; causing as much noise as humanely possible for a group of guys. The one with dyed-blonde hair gave her a sideways stare and a smirk as he passed, causing her to fight off a blush in response. It wasn't until the three boys vanished into the high-volume traffic of the street that a word was spoken.
"Men like that are the reasons why our mothers warn us away from boys." Lizzie drawled, stirring her low-fat vanilla latte with her straw. "Lowlifes."
"How do you know they're lowlifes?" Kelly questioned. "You don't know them, Lizzie. Judge not, lest ye be judged yourself."
Lizzie sighed. "Cut the crap, Kelly." She ordered. "Just look at them. All that black and all those piercings just can't be healthy."
"Relax, Lizzie." Paul told the slightly younger girl. "It's not like either of you would ever be dragged down into that kind of lifestyle. You'll never see them again."
"Hopefully." Robert agreed. "They seem like the kind of guys that would prey on girls like you."
"Good little schoolgirls being corrupted by the local bad boys?" Kelly laughed. "It's like a Nicholas Sparks novel!"
"Such a romantic notion." Lizzie stated with a huff. "More like mumbo jumbo designed to fool girls like us into going to guys like them."
Kelly sighed. There was no arguing with her friend on the matter. She was startled when she heard 'Little lamb' float lazily across her mind in the same tone the blonde had spoken to her in the club.
She had to know who he was. This had to stop. She hadn't even gotten a name from him, and yet he was there in her thoughts; ever-present like a warning from one's mother to not to talk to strangers. And he was strange. He and his rambunctious friends all were, honestly. Kelly even surprised herself when she donned all black attire and made her way back to The Dungeon, hoping to get a glimpse of him again. Sure enough, he was there with his friends from before, and a couple other guys she didn't recognize. Leaning against the wall, arms folded over his chest and a cigarette precariously perched between his lips, he looked like something out of a Catholic schoolgirl movie about resisting temptation.
The devil wears black. She bemused.
"I'm hardly a devil, little lamb." His voice breathed across her neck once more.
She turned quickly towards him, having not noticed him leave the wall yet again. How had he done that?
"Whoever said you were?" She wondered innocently.
"I did not."
"You sure thought it, did you not?"
She blushed. How could he know her thoughts?
"You're a step closer, little lamb, but you're not bad enough. Not yet." He stated. "You may want to vacate the premises. I can't guarantee your safety if you do stay."
An arm looped around her neck. "Yeah, safety." A voice chided. "Couldn't you hear him, sweetie?" It was one of his friends from before, the one that had smirked at her back on Monreau.
"I heard fairly well enough." She snorted, pulling away.
Who did he think he was? Touching her like that without her consent or even knowing who she was.
"See, guys like us don't care." He went on. "Guys like us scoop little girls like you up into the shadows, never to be seen or heard from again, and guess what? We don't care. Here today, gone tomorrow. Just another face in the crowd. You'll be replaced sure enough. Someone edgier, someone a little more daring." He chuckled. "That's just the way things go. We're predators."
"And you, little lamb, are just the kind of prey we're looking for." The blonde's eyes flash with something she doesn't recognize.
Mortified, she dashed into the crowd; enough to hide and yet enough to hear.
"God damn it, Tymmie, you scared her off." The blonde sighed, as if he didn't really care and just wanted an excuse to yell at his friend.
"Yeah, sure, it was me." Tymmie huffed. "Didn't you feel it? Your eyes flashed. Don't point the finger, because four more are pointing back at you."
He saw it as well? Kelly quickly slipped through the raving crowd and out into the cool air. Just who were these people? The dyed-blonde was Tymmie, she knew that enough. But Tymmie wasn't who she was after. They may have thought themselves to be predators, but they'd soon find themselves ensnared in her web.
She was getting distracted, they said. She wasn't focusing on her work, they said. Rumors flew from the mouths of those not fit to speak them as Kelly botched up yet another cheerleading practice after school in the fall of her junior year. Her coach, a sweet old lady who was obviously reliving her glory days through coaching the squad, pulled her aside after practice was over.
"My dear, is something the matter?" She asks sweetly.
Her name was Ms. Maggie. She was fit more for a nursery school then a high school cheerleading coach, but she was good at her job; acting like a supportive parent to the girls.
"Of course not, Ms. Maggie." Kelly denied, shaking her head back and forth as her blonde ponytail bobbed around. "I'm just a little tired, that's all."
"This is the third practice in a row where you've had…troubles." Maggie's voice was concerned, caring. "Are you sleeping enough, dear? Too focused on schoolwork maybe? You should learn to relax a little. It will do you wonders." She smiled.
"I guess I am a little overly focused on midterms…"
"Grades are just grades, sweetie. Don't push yourself too hard or you'll lose your very self."
Kelly smiled gently. "I'll try to remember that, thank you."
Maggie nodded and excused her. Lizzie was waiting by the locker room, looking ever so graceful in her schoolgirl outfit.
"You alright?" She wondered. "You seem…out of it…"
"I went back, Lizzie." Kelly whispered, pulling her friend into the locker room by a dainty wrist. "To The Dungeon."
"What?" Lizzie was appalled. "Why did you do that? Didn't you learn your lesson?"
Kelly shrugged. "Something keeps pulling me back there, making me want to go back again and again."
"Well whatever it is, get it out of your system and keep it out." Lizzie was genuinely concerned now. "I don't want you to get hurt, and that's exactly what will happen if you continue going to that hell hole in the wall."
"I know." Kelly removed her cheerleading top to exchange it for her school uniform. "I just can't help myself. One more time, that's all I need."
One turned into two. Two turned into three. Three turned into four. She couldn't help herself. She just couldn't. Although the blonde and his friends-she'd learned that the other one she'd seen more often was named Karyl-both thrilled and terrified her, she just couldn't stay away. Each time she wandered into the club, they'd say she was closer. Closer to what? To fitting in? To them not seeing her as prey, but a predator? Their equal? She wasn't sure she wanted that, but as she lined her eyes with thick, black eyeliner and matching mascara, she didn't care.
But she couldn't exactly help it when that lack of caring turned into pure anger at Lizzie for telling her mother about Kelly's frequent visits to the club.
"Do you understand what you're doing, young lady?" Her mother scolded, rather loudly, over family dinner. "The Dungeon is known for being a hell pit! And you're walking right into the fire. God doesn't want you there, Kelly."
She tried to ignore her mother's religious-filled rant against the club as her twin baby brothers banged their spoons against their highchairs, and her elder sister bopped her head in time with the peppy music coming softly from her headphones. Her father passed away when she was thirteen. His death had hit them hard; driving her mother further into religion then Kelly would have liked.
"Are you listening to me, Kelly?" Her mother wondered, fingering the bright blue rosary around her neck. "I do not want you going back there! You need to go to confession and ask God's forgiveness. Only He can save you from that snake pit!"
Kelly couldn't help but fume inside while she politely nodded. "I'm sorry, mother. I'll go to confession tomorrow. You're right, I can't go back there."
As she donned a smile and filled her mother's head with false, insincere apologies and promises, she was already planning her next trip.
Sitting in a confessional booth three weeks later, after her mother found out that she had yet again ventured to the Dungeon and lied about it, Kelly's flat-covered toe tapped gently on the ground of the booth. The Pastor on the other side of the divider listened in silence as she prattled on about her desire to go back to the club, her desire to know him. There was a pause between the two of them after she spoke.
"My child, you are forgiven." He stated smoothly, and she was sure she'd heard that voice before.
But not here.
"It is natural for a young girl to be curious." He stated. "But curiosity killed the cat, my child, and so it shall kill you if you are not careful. The Dungeon is not a place for proper young ladies like you and Lizzie. You'd do best to stay away. Your mystery man, this blonde? Forget him. Focus on other things; Paul, your schoolwork, your family. Fill your head with wonderful things and darkness shall not find its way in. For once darkness finds its way into your head, it shall soon flow into your heart as well."
She politely thanked him for his advice and left the booth, practically skipping out of the Church as she formulated a plan to get to the Dungeon one last time and finally learn the name of her blonde.
He was there the moment she arrived. It looked as if he'd been waiting for her; or someone at least. He was in the back of the club by the bar, sans his friends this time. A cold can of beer in his hand almost deterred her, but after seeing him smoke and hearing his friends openly discussing drug usage in front of her, nothing really got to her anymore. Not when it concerned her blonde and his friends.
"The others aren't here." She stated the obvious, scanning the room for them.
"It's just me tonight, little lamb." He practically purred, looking her up and down.
Fishnets covered her legs, and boots with spiked heels hid her feet with the pink painted toenails. A rather short black plaid dress with a lace-up back hid her front from his view, yet gave a nice view of the swell of her breasts at the top of the sweetheart neckline. Eyes rimmed in black and eyelids covered in dark eye shadow fluttered behind a mask of mascara-covered lashes. Her bright green eyes gleamed as she blushed ever so slightly while his eyes roamed her body.
"So you've finally arrived, little lamb." He smirked. "Or should I call you a butterfly? Reborn into darkness."
She huffed. "Save me your cantor." She offered. "Am I dark enough for you yet, blondie?"
"Blondie?" He cocked an eyebrow, looking away. He bit his lip gently before releasing it and turning back to her. "Stanton." He corrected.
"Stanton…" The name lazily dripped from her tongue.
A smile slid across her black-cherry painted lips. She finally had a name to the face, a name to the man; an answer to the mystery. He gently encased an arm around her waist and drew her inwards. Thoughts of Paul and objections to Stanton's touch drifted away as their lips met in a brief, chaste kiss.
"Such a naughty girl." He chuckled. "Won't your precious Paul be oh so disappointed?"
"You wouldn't tell on me, would you, Stanton?" She likes saying his name. "Not even you are bad enough to do that."
"I suppose even I have my limits." He leaned in close. "Kelly?"
"Yes?" Her heart fluttered.
"What if you could have your every desire? Your every wish will be granted, every dream will be fulfilled. Would you do it?"
"In a heartbeat!"
"Even at the risk of your soul?"
She barely thought as she replied. "A small price to pay for such a high payout, Stanton."
He wanted to tell her to stop saying his name, stop saying it like that, but he didn't. "I could make that a reality, butterfly." He said instead, his words almost rushed as if he was running out of time to accomplish his goal. "Would you be willing to risk your soul, butterfly? For your every wish and desire and dream to be granted, to be fulfilled? Would you spend an eternity with me…?"
"Eternity doesn't exist." She replied.
His hands gently grasp the chain of the black rosary hidden under her dress. "It does for me. And Karyl and Tymmie? And Maury?" The one she only most recently interacted with, "It exists for them as well. It can for you two. If you let it." He leaned into her ear. "If you're willing to surrender yourself to me."
The voice wasn't his.
She should have run. She should have realized something was wrong. Instead, she stayed there in his arms, looping hers around his neck.
"You can promise me all of that, Stanton? An eternity with you, with everything I've ever wanted and desired? Only God can grant something like that."
He smirked. "Then let my God's will be done, and you can have it all."
Run. She should just run. This wasn't good.
"Mm." He nodded.
"A deal with the devil." She purred. "Such a thing doesn't exist."
"You're too close minded." He touched her temple gently where the glitter sparkled as the strobe lights flashed. "Open your eyes; open your mind and heart. Let it flow through you."
"It?" She wondered.
Her last chance to escape.
"Surrender, little butterfly, to the Atrox."
Before her jaded, clouded mind could ask what in the world an Atrox was, a vision burst to life in front of her. Visions of future days filled her mind as the Dungeon faded into the distance. She saw herself graduating high school as valedictorian, going to college and being a cheerleading coach. Her creating a family with Paul and three daughters, and being as far away from her mother as possible. Dreams she hadn't even shared with Lizzie exploded to life in front of her. Thoughts of kissing Stanton behind Paul's back, dancing with Tymmie and Karyl and girls she couldn't even identify yet filled her head. As images whipped by her faster and faster, a voice called out from the ever slowly approaching shadows.
"I can grant you your every wish." The voice informed her, silky smooth as it glided through her ears…no…her mind? "I can give you everything and anything you desire, and more. All you have to do is join me."
It was too good to be true, wasn't it? Only God could grant her every desire, she reminded herself as she grabbed her rosary gently. That's what her mother told her. That's what her friends, her late father, church, school, her teachers, the Bible…they all said the same thing. But yet this formerly unnamed, mysterious blonde that infested her mind and this even more mysterious voice promised her the same. Promised her more than just her every wish.
"Time is running out, little butterfly." The voice coos, and this time she's sure it isn't Stanton. "Will you join me?"
She doesn't hesitate a moment longer as she breathes out a gentle 'yes'. She wasn't sure whether she said it or thought it, she wasn't sure of anything anymore. The visions in front of her shattered into darkness and she was snapped back to reality. The sights and sounds of The Dungeon flooded back. Stanton's arms were still around her, a beer can still in his hand. But somehow, she felt strangely empty. She grasped at her chest, as if feeling to check to see if her heart was still beating.
"What you're feeling is a loss of hope." Stanton brushed loose blonde curls from her delicate, pixie face. "It will go away soon. The feeling will, but the emptiness won't."
"Loss…hope…?" She could barely form words.
He smirked. "You're one of us now, butterfly."
As his lips met hers and darkness took over, she was gone.