The Last One

He watched her, seated atop the rock. Sometimes she moved a great deal, and others she was utterly still. He worried when she was still for so long, and he often thought of approaching her, to see if he might move her and know that she was still within, still breathing, still alive.

She had been so still this time that he was unsure she was even blinking. He was worried, uncertain what to do. He watched closely, hovering nearby, willing her pale eyes to close and open again. It scared him that this incredible being might depart his sight. He had protected her, defended her, guided and listened to her. How long had he remained a mere breath away?

Finally he moved close enough to caress her cheek. Her eyes fluttered and she touched her long, delicate fingers to her skin where he had been. He breathed a sigh of relief and it made strands of her pale hair rustle and settle into new places along her slender neck. He delighted in seeing the effect, of having changed her that little bit.

“Why are you so still?” he breathed some time later, having finally summoned the courage to give voice to his question.

“Because I am the last,” she answered, raising her head. A tear slipped from her eye. He touched it, turning it to ice, and let it fall into her lap.

He stirred her hair gently again as he nodded. He couldn’t believe he was actually talking to her. He had not braved talking to someone in so long, he worried his voice might break or that his words wouldn’t come out at all. But she was talking back, and that delighted him.

“I am alone,” she whispered, lowering her head and holding the solid, glittery form of her tear. Another joined it then, sliding down her porcelain  cheek. He caught this one too, icing it with little more than a thought, nudging it into her palm.

“You’re not alone,” he whispered. “I’ve always been with you.” This time he wrapped her in his embrace, giving her his warmth, feeding her body with his heat, swirling around her. He kissed her neck, and she sighed softly and closed her eyes. He kissed her eyelids and she offered her lips, raising her chin. He kissed her there, too, tenderly touching her skin.

Wind settled then, and watched her once more.

Featured shoe: Reign Dare Knee High Boots in White by Kenadee Cole

Other details:

  • Skin: Le Forme Anna Catwa Skin Applier in Light Tone by Louise Marsault
  • Lipstick: Bold and Beauty Lindsey Lipstick by Jourdan McMillan
  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Ears: BentBox Sylvan Ears by Tiflye
  • Eyes: Mayfly Liquid Light Eyes in Ghost True Grey by Arkesh Baral
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Dress: Zenith Ballerina Dress in Snow by Miffyhoi Rosca
  • Necklace and Circlet: Plastik Darknys in Pure by Aikea Reiko
  • Hair: LeLutka Alice in Arctic by Thora Charron

Scene details:

  • Skye Ice Sheets & Forms by Alex Bader
  • Skye Falling Snow System by Alex Bader
  • Skye Water by Alex Bader
  • Pose 1: oOo Studio Pretty_four by Olaenka Chesnokov
  • Pose 2: Custom by me

The Eternal Heart

She couldn’t ever actually leave. They had given her a choice, which she thought was generous:  she could choose her eternal resting place, and she had chosen here, beneath the willow tree atop Mullinvale Hill.

Matthias had promised to meet her there again that day. He had promised to kiss her again beneath the branches of the tree. He had vowed to keep her warm and close, and Violet had climbed that hill on a clear day in January, looking forward to his kisses and his warmth. The snow was sparkling under the sun’s rays as she laid her tracks from the main road, her boots keeping her feet dry, and her gloves and hat preserving every bit of warmth.

He had not come that day.

In death, she couldn’t feel the cold anymore. Not from the weather, not from the stone block where she had stood for the last 22 years, watching the world change around her so very slowly. She had never believed in the afterlife, even though he had. She would have loved his look of satisfaction if she could tell him she was wrong, but it didn’t matter now.

She couldn’t.

On that one day every year, he came to the hill. He stood atop the snow for the whole day. She had tried to gesture, once, to speak, but his gaze didn’t change; he couldn’t see her move, couldn’t see or hear her speak, and she had given up on the effort many years ago.

That one day every year, today, he was with her, and she could gaze upon his beautiful face. She fell in love with him every time exactly as she had the very first time she saw him. “Love at first sight,” she had cooed once, and he had said it was exactly the same for him. She would etch his image into the gallery in her mind and she would use that image to sustain her when he wasn’t really there anymore.

She could feel his gaze on her, and she gave him back her warm tears. She didn’t think he could see them.

Featured shoes: fri.day Aisling Wraps in Coal by Darling Monday

Other details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Lake by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: DeeTaleZ Abigail in Celtic by Steffi Villota
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Makeup: DeeTaleZ Makeup Sad by Steffi Villota
  • Hair: Little Bones Born to Die from The Redhead pack by Nova Faerye
  • Dress: Vale Koer SkinClinging Dress in Black by Bob
  • Jewelry: Yummy Crystal Ribbon set in Silver & Black by Polyester Partridge
  • Hands and Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Casual; High Feet by Siddean Munro
  • Manicure: Hello Dave in Nude Mattes by Maia Gasparini

Scene Details:

  • 3D Trees Winter Weeping Willow by Nadine Reverie
  • Studio Skye Land Forms and Snow texture by Alex Bader
  • We’re CLOSED rock snowy by Mandingo Quan
  • New Trails Snowy Long Reedgrass by Vitrail Illios
  • Ariskea Hybrid Roses in Red by Diaxm
  • oOo Studio gravesite 5 by Olaenka Chesnokov (gacha item)
  • oOo Studio avenger_one pose by Olaenka Chesnokov (hers)
  • His pose is custom

cleft closeup

Winter’s Blush

It was what Northerners called a “bitter cold” that morning, when she made her way out into the forest. The cold made her eyelashes feel instantly frosty, and the scent of the air had changed from the sleepy sap of pine to the sharp bite of the weather itself. Snow swirled around her, and she stuffed her hands in her pockets. The quiet hush of the pines descended into her mind like a balloon floating gently back to earth.

It didn’t matter that he said he loved her even though he couldn’t be with her. That was his way of saying that he’d moved on, and she knew it. Seeing them together — when she knew they had not seen her — felt wrong. She had looked at that woman as a replacement, and there was no way around wondering what was there that had been lacking between them that it didn’t work. She had asked him, but he couldn’t tell her. His answer was always time.

Snow crunched under her boots as she walked, leaving tracks which seemed to fill up as she made them. Her nose was red, she was sure, and cheeks rosy as well. There was something still unresolved, and she was struggling to figure out what it was. She had guessed it was all that time he had suddenly found for this new person that he couldn’t beg, borrow or steal for her. It made her uneasy to think about.

There was a lie there somewhere, even if it wasn’t intentional. Lies were something she had hoped never came between them. It had come between them, and it had blown through her world like a blizzard, freezing her in a cold, empty place.

She turned back and looked at her own tracks. There wasn’t a way to walk that same path again; the replacement snow was already wiping that path away behind her.

She tucked her head into the neck of her coat and kept walking.

Featured shoes: REIGN Nordic Boots in Mocha by KenadeeCole

Other details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Skin: YS&YS Kate by Monicuzza Babenco
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Deep Paris Shadow by Arkesh Baral
  • Nose/cheeks: theSkinnery Winter Blush by Umazuma Metaluna
  • Hair: Olive the Steffi Hair by Naminaeko
  • Coat: Aphorism Winchester Parka in Brown by Rucy Byron (at the Seasons Story)
  • Jeans: Emery Kerr Jeans in Dark by Sunami Beck
  • Mittens: VINCUE Kittie+Gloves for Slink Splayed Hands by Kate Ying (gacha item)
  • Hands: Slink Splayed by Siddean Munro

Scene details:

  • Studio Skye Scots Pine Forest Clearing by Alex Bader
  • Studio Skye Falling Snow by Alex Bader
  • Y.B Sim Surround Dolina snow by yony Bing
  • Pose 1: oOo Studio shoes_mule by Olaenka Chesnokov (this is out of rotation, as it were)
  • Pose 2: oOo Studio travelogue_three by Olaenka Chesnokov

The Devil, You Know

Thompson Fargate trudged through the long hallway of stone, as prompted forward by the beast-like creature who followed close enough that he could feel the breathing on the back of his neck. The creature — hulking and slime green-skinned, with a jutting lower jaw fitted with tusks and a missing eye which seemed to have been scratched out by long claws — had been aboard the boat that sailed across what he guessed from his little living knowledge was the River Styx. A hooded figure guided the craft through murky gray water. He could have sworn he heard voices in it, but he shut out those thoughts quickly to keep himself from asking or looking more closely.

Red light was visible at the end of this surprisingly long tunnel, and his worn boots — nice of them to let him keep them in the afterlife, he thought ruefully — echoed back at him dully. The stone walls yawned open into a cavern where red light shone through stalactites from an unknown source and illuminated…

He gasped quietly, but the sound echoed throughout the entire space. The dark chaise lounge in the center of the room was occupied by what may very well have been the most exquisite woman he had ever seen. Pale flesh was covered with intricate tattoos along her arms, and her body was long and slender, wearing almost nothing except heavy jewels at neck, bicep and thigh, and a rather small bra and panties. Her red hair seemed like it was made of fire beneath a crown of black jewels and spiraling red horns. She had wings made of bone that seemed to be dripping with bloody gore, but the fact that she had wings at all was scary, creepy, and strangely exciting. Her mouth was crimson, and the thought of blood there on her lips made him shiver. The cavern, he realized then, was ice cold, and yet she seemed perfectly comfortable.

The creature behind him pushed him forward and he walked, never taking his eyes off her, until he was close enough to see that even her eyes glowed a sunset orange-red. She was mesmerizing.

He was shoved hard to his knees. The stone immediately froze his flesh right through his jeans, and he grunted.

She considered him, then looked at his escort behind. One brow arched questioningly. “Something of note, Jasper?” she said, her voice soft, low and menacing. Thompson shivered again.

“This one bears the mark, milady,” said the creature behind him, in the most perfect, normal, upper-class British English he had ever heard. Thompson turned around and looked up at him incredulously, but the creature’s attention was totally focused on her. He turned back around.

“MY mark?” she asked, completely surprised.

“Yes, milady.”

“Well fuck me,” she said, her eyes opening wider and looking carefully at Thompson as though he had suddenly become a hundred times more interesting… as a snack.

“I’d love to,” he breathed, unable to keep the words from coming out of his mouth rather than staying in the relative safety of his brain.

“I don’t doubt that,” she said, still eyeing him like a piece of meat. Her mouth opened slightly and she licked what he could have sworn was a long white fang. It was sexy and scary all over again.

“Who ARE you?” he asked, finally managing to say words he meant to say.

She laughed, stared at him. She leaned forward, and it seemed like she was trying to make him recognize her, like he should know who she was. Finally, when he had managed nothing but admiring her and staring stupidly, she spoke.

“Well… I’m the Devil, you know?”

Featured shoes: Reign Inferno Heels in Black by KenadeeCole

Other details:

  • Head: LeLutka Karin by Jadenart
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Blood Fire by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: Glam Affair Megan in Polar by Aida Ewing
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Lipstick: Deetalez High Gloss Lips for LeLutka by Steffi Villota
  • Tattoo: Speakeasy Memdi Tattoo by JamesEdwardQ
  • Hair: LeLutka Bey from Set 03 by Thora Charron
  • Lingerie: Erratic Scarlett in Black by Erratic Rain
  • Jewelry: Aisling Faranth by Druunah Esharham (gacha items; wearing rare necklace and headpiece, bracers and thigh in black)
  • Hands and Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Elegant 1; High Feet by Siddean Munro
  • Manicure: Hello Dave in Rich Reds by Maia Gasparini
  • Claws: CerberusXing Hayop for Slink Elegant 1 by Kamayari
  • Wings: Jian Ravaged Wings by Kalia Firelyte

Scene details:

  • Roawenwood The Duchess – [Domina Series Recline] by Roawenwood (pillows hidden)
  • ISON – books and skulls by Harry Hyx (gacha item)
  • Cheeky Pea – Winter Warmer Chaise in Biblio by Isla Gealach (pillows hidden, blanket tinted)
  • Caves and rocks by Fanatik Architecture by Kendra Zaurak
  • Pose 1 custom by me. Pose 2 from the Gos & oOo Studio Pouffe collection available at either store.

Duchess

Bernard heard the village clock chime the quarter hour, and he ducked his head out from behind the heavy striped canvas of his market stall. Two minutes later, he watched her turn the corner and make her way along the street. Today she wore a delicate gray ermine-fur cape draped over her shoulders against the cold which was only a few weeks away, coupled with a blouse surely made of silk, and a heavy, dark wool skirt which bobbed around her knees as she walked.

Bernard fussed with his grimy cap in his hands as he watched her out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t stop watching until she was two steps away, and then he looked up to try to catch a full glimpse of her face. Her head rose, and her green gaze met his watery blue one. He would have stumbled had he been moving, so he praised the heavens he was standing still. She lowered her bare head and her gaze for a moment in greeting, saying softly, “Good afternoon,” without pausing or stopping.

“G-Good day to you, mum,” he said to her back. She turned her head and nodded back, smiling slightly before heading on. Bernard cursed himself for stammering, but took a deep breath, capturing the powder-blue scent of her perfume in the air. Her small smile had been enough to make the clouds part and the sun light his weathered face, he was sure of it.

Once, many months back, she had lost an earring as she made her way along, and he had retrieved it, turning it in his hand. He guessed it was probably worth a year’s salary to him, that shiny, luminescent pearl earring, but he hollered to Hal to watch his stall and went shuffling down the street after her, hoping not to lose her in the crowd. He saw her go up steps and into a building before he could catch her, and he wheezed and panted as he stood there, catching his breath before approaching the door.

A butler answered his knock, and Bernard breathed, “The lady, who just arrived,” to which the butler responded (rather indiscreetly, Bernard would think later), “Duchess Droughton.” Bernard didn’t know her name, so he simply nodded, said she had dropped the earring, and put it into the butler’s hand. The older gentleman eyed it, agreed to return it, expressed thanks on her behalf for its return, and closed the door.

Now, on the street, he breathed, “Duchess” and felt the little bit of awe that she inspired in him.

Featured shoes: Baiastice North Pumps in Suede Gray by Sissy Pessoa

Other details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Skin: YS&YS Kate by Monicuzza Babenco
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Deep Paris Shadow by Arkesh Baral
  • Hair: Clawtooth: True Betty in Coffee by Bubbles Clawtooth ❤
  • Dress: Zenith Vintage 1940s dress RARE for Maitreya by Miffyhoi Rosca (gacha item)
  • COCO FurShouldrCape in Grey by Cocoro Lemon
  • Earrings: Yummy Pearl Earring by Polyester Partridge
  • Hands & Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Casual and Bag; High Feet by Siddean Munro
  • Manicure: Hello Dave in Matte Nudes by Maia Gasparini
  • Hosiery: Erratic Valentina Stockings in Nude from Erratic Rain

Scene details:

  • Taken at Flux Sur Mer sim
  • Left pic pose oOo Studio Travelogue two by me!
  • Right pic pose custom by me

Thanks for the location tip, Harper! The following is a raw shot at the location.

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Gentleman’s Club

“It’s not about just getting the power,” he had told her, “it’s also about keeping, and about using it wisely. The threat of loss is just as real as the inability to come to terms with having it.”

The thought had stuck with her for a long time. It had surfaced in the boardroom, when Higgins had interrupted her the first time, interjecting some bit of trivial nonsense, as was his way. She let him have that spotlight the first time, her green gaze surveying him coolly. She tucked a lock of red hair behind her ear as she listened. It was her tell, but no one on the board had noticed it yet.

He had noticed it. He had seen her do it across a dinner table at their weekly meeting. It was his signal that what she was going to say meant something to her, and he tried always to finish his thought quickly and let her go where she wanted. He had told her once about figuring it out, and about using it to facilitate their communication. And as she pushed her hair back this time, she focused her thoughts.

Higgins’ blathering drew to a close, and she clipped the last few words right off of his statement. Of course he noticed, and of course he opened his mouth to grab attention. This time, though, she didn’t let him take it. This time her eyes snapped to him, and to her delight, his mouth clamped into a tight little line and he held his tongue as she spoke. Her gaze drifted to each of the 21 male board members. It may indeed have been a gentleman’s club within Hapsburg before she arrived.

Now, though, this was her company, and her board. And it was her time to lead it.

Featured shoes: Reign Abbie pumps for Slink High feet by KenadeeCole

Other details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Skin: YS&YS Kate by Monicuzza Babenco
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Hair: Little Bones Black Mirror in Rosewood by Nova Faerye
  • Jacket: Tendance in Charcoal by Steffen Garcia (no longer available)
  • Skirt: Maitreya Mesh Mini Skirt in Black by Onyx LeShelle
  • Bodysuit: Maai Freya Lingerie in Black by Snow Wolfhunter
  • Bracelet: Osakki HAMUR Metal Cufff in Gunmetal by Kaysha Piers (probably no longer available)
  • Cigar: Nikotin Classic Cigar with Colorado leaf and specialty band by Ralph Dirval

Scene details:

  • oOo Studio Gentleman’s Quarters Set by Olaenka Chesnokov (yay!)
  • [ kunst ] – Boho carpet #2 – rose floral by Kunst Himmel (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Masculine Bar by warehousefifteendesigns
  • Dutchie Schefflera tall by Froukje Hoorenbeek
  • Ravenghost Victorian Gas Sconce Luminarie by Ravenghost7
  • Ravenghost SteamPunk Fireplace by Ravenghost7
  • Trompe Loeil Enfield Chair in Bark by Cory Edo
  • David Heather Bally Bag in Black by Gianni Broda
  • 22769 ~ [bauwerk] Box of Cigars by Paco Pooley
  • 22769 ~ [bauwerk] Cigar Lounge  Ashtray by Paco Pooley
  • Apple Fall Books by warehousefifteendesigns
  • Apple Fall Reading Pile by warehousefifteendesigns
  • [PM]Pixel Mode – Levi Table by Tya Fallingbridge
  • [ kunst ] – Vodka bottle and glasses by Kunst Himmel (part of the set)
  • Studio Skye Scots Pine Forest by Alex Bader
  • Pose custom by me