IRE Scoville Scale: Fire and Ice
Causal determinism is the thesis that every event—in the past, present, and future—is the result of a combination of causative events. Without exception, every event in the present and future is a consequence of events in the past; everything is the necessary result of a sequence of causes.
This may seem to be a simple and obvious thesis, but the consequences of it are significant and recondite. For, if it is true, the events of the past dictate wholly the events of the present and future, thus making these events predictable. To clarify, a hypothetical, sufficiently vast intellect which, at any given moment, knew all the forces that animate the universe and the mutual states and positions of all entities that comprise nature, would know the activity of all bodies in the universe in eternity, with no uncertainty. If the future can thus be predicted with no uncertainty, then the future is as set and unalterable as the past; any future other than the one fixed from eternity is impossible.
This would also entail that the actions of human beings are equally fixed; all of our mental states and actions are causally necessitated and it is impossible for any thought or action to be other than what it is. A person's experiences and memories, the biological and psychological compositions of the brain and of the mind, and the present stimuli that compel the individual to action, are all the necessitated effects of causes.
Sebastian sat at Claire’s bedside watching her sleep. She was completely unaware that he’d been there for hours. This will take some explaining, Sebastian sighed. Claire would definitely question why the old man from her shop was sitting in her bedroom while Lily and Vanessa busied themselves in her living room and Dorian was nowhere in sight. Dorian was moving the prince, Neil, to a safer location until Gabriel gave the word. But there was little time for Claire. The pneumonia attacking her was no accident nor was it treatable with standard medicine. Sebastian was left with no other choice. With or without Dorian’s expressed permission, he had to tell her the truth.
This was their way, the Deckens. They lived in the gray area, neither confirming nor denying—neither forbidding nor allowing. They simply turned their backs and let nature take its course. In this case, ‘course’ meant Sebastian doing the cleanup work while Dorian saw to family business. Though he was worried sick about Claire, Dorian was focused on the task at hand, protecting his charge.
Claire awoke shortly after midnight and, as expected, was shocked to find Sebastian sitting in her room. He calmly and carefully spelled out the details of their existence while Claire looked on in disbelief, clearing having a difficult time grasping what was happening. Dorian wasn’t Dorian—he was some unearthly yet earthly being? It didn’t compute.
“I can’t decide if what you’re saying is too profound for me to comprehend or just insane.”
Sebastian smiled. “You’re confused.” He rolled his shirt sleeve to the elbow and showed her his marking. “I’m a Heilende.”
“You’re a sorcerer?”
“I prefer healer or prophet.” He grinned. “I don’t practice the dark arts. I offer wisdom and health … and the occasional rescue. My nieces are the Cisans, they watch over the Deckens from the time of their birth.” He could see Claire’s wheels of thought turning as she put two and two together.
“Lily,” Claire whispered. “She’s one of you?”
“No, Lily is a human recruit I brought in the flock after Dorian’s last Cisan was killed.” He read shock in her eyes. “Yes, Cisans can be killed and, if need be, they’re expected to die for their Decken. Vanessa is Gabriel’s Cisan; she’s instructing Lily—teaching her to use her powers. She’s the better we have.”
Claire fell back on her pillows and stared at the ceiling blankly. “Is this why I’m sick? Are…” she scrambled for words. “… are those bad thingies you talk about trying to kill me?”
“I’m afraid it’s more complicated.” He made himself comfortable. “You didn’t know much about your parents, did you? They passed away when you were very young, correct?”
“I was raised by my grandmother.” Claire nodded, wondering how he knew any of this.
“You’re what we call Dormants, meaning you’re one of us. Your mother was a recruit like Lily; your father was human. You’re human yet superhuman; your powers are suppressed until late puberty but, somehow, you’ve slipped through the cracks. In my estimation, your dormant senses were triggered by the end of the thousand year reign.”
“My mom was one of you? Well that explains a lot.” Claire exhaled. “So, am I gonna get all fangy and bloodthirsty because, quite honestly, that wasn’t on my career plan. I’m not gonna burst into flames if I walk into a church or anything, am I?”
“No, your human gene never dies,” Sebastian quieted his laugh. “You will remain as you are. Does Lily or any of us appear any different than a normal human? I understand that you’re afraid but this is who you are.” He took a deep breath as she digested everything he’d told her.
“Does Dorian know?” Claire said nervously.
“He had his suspicions. But I knew, I’ve always known. This is why he sent me to talk to you.” He moved closer to Claire. “You have a choice: allow me to release you or allow the being inside to kill you. It can’t be suppressed any long, it wants out.”
She nibbled at her nail. Tears and angst filled her eyes. Her life was turned upside down. “It’s not going to hurt, is it?” Her voice was shaky; she nervously looked at Sebastian shaking his head. “And can I still live here? I won’t have to move to some underground cave with poor mobile reception and bad plumping?”
He laughed. “No, my dear, you can walk between worlds as we do. Your life doesn’t change. And might I add our world looks no different than yours. We’re far more advanced though.” He saw that Claire was having a difficult time stomaching the news. Who wouldn’t? Everything she’d known to be true was gone and Dorian wasn’t around to help her with the transition. “Claire,” Sebastian spoke softly. “You don’t have much time. I’ll be with you. Don’t be afraid. I won’t allow anything to happen to you.”
Gabriel arrived in London after ten hours of travel. He rested in the cab, gazing at the rain soaked streets through the cab’s windows; the city lights staring back at him in the emptiest manner possible. London was as he remembered; rain soaked and eerily bustling. There’s no way the production team can work in this weather, he thought looking up at the night sky. A month and it’ll all be over. Time to start again.
He blew a long breath, knowing it was time to tell Samantha his secret and get her to safety before all hell broke loose. After years of faithful, selfless service, moving through each motion while disconnected from the world around him—after the blood and disaster he’d witnessed—all of the blood he’d spilled in the name of duty; Samantha was the first dollop of normality he’d allowed himself in years and now it might be stripped away. The thought turned his stomach but it was his fault; he’d created this strange paradox for himself and his loyalties lay elsewhere. The revelation of his follies should’ve lessened the hurt yet it didn’t—it simply didn’t. He wasn’t willing to turn his back on either of them. To have to choose between the two worlds he straddled like a giant colossus wasn’t an option. Above all else, he was a warrior; he would lay down his life for the greater good. Maybe the interpretation of the prophecy was correct—maybe he wouldn’t survive. He smiled, welcoming the challenge. He sure as hell wasn’t going down without a fight, forsaking his people or Samantha. If they thought his father was despotic in battle, they hadn’t seen him on a bad day.
That night, all he wanted was Samantha’s skin against his. Samantha, by contrast, wanted lovin’. She’d been dragged to a production dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. It seemed finding a gruesomely murdered guest in the hotel prompted a teambuilding exercise rather than a change of accommodations. At least Drew provided decent company. He and Samantha spent most of the day sightseeing due to a halt in production. He was handsome and charismatic and caught the eye of nearly every woman he encountered. This amused Samantha because Gabriel had the same effect when he chose to sociable.
Samantha watched the door eagerly waiting Gabriel to walk through it. She’d left a message with the front desk to have him shown down upon arrival. Drew teased her for acting like a schoolgirl but she brushed him off. He had his hands full with two of her flirtatious students vying for his attention. The party was thinning out when Gabriel arrived dressed smartly. Drew watched as Samantha’s face lit up as did Gabriel’s. Undoubtedly, they were in love. Samantha introduced him to Tony and the rest of the production team. Drew took his leave with one of the two flirtations students before Sam returned with Gabriel, effectively forgoing their introduction.
Vanessa sat monitoring Claire as she slept. It was over; she was now one of them, a Cisan bonded to serve her Decken until death. Vanessa pitied her because her journey into immortality had just begun—everything she knew was still in place yet changed. But she also envied her past—what it must have been like to be human. Her hopes and dreams were untouched, now she had all the time in the world to see them to completion …while watching those she cares for come and go. No, Claire would age at a glacial pace. Some would say she’d be frozen as they all were. Claire stirred and Vanessa pulled the covers over her shoulders. Surely she’d awake frightened and needing Dorian’s comfort. It broke her heart knowing there was nowhere else he’d rather have been than at Claire’s side.
Vanessa knew all too well how passionate Dorian could be. She still remembered the security of being wrapped in his arms as they laid drifting to sleep. It felt real. It felt right. But, with the sunrise, the appearance of a loving relationship was gone—nothing more than a figment of her imagination. What had Claire done to capture him? she pondered. She obviously wasn’t one of his throw-aways. Vanessa chuckled to herself. Whatever charms she used, it was unmistakable; Claire was the best thing that had ever happened to Dorian. Thankfully, he tamed his whorish ways before Claire walked into his life. She was a lucky woman indeed.
Gasping, Claire sat up bolt straight in bed; her head fixed forward as her eyes darted towards Vanessa. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m Vanessa, Gabriel’s Cisan. You’re one of us now,” she replied carefully as Claire closed her eyes tightly. “Sebastian will be back shortly. I’m here to help as much as I can. Your vision is blurry, that’s your presentience precognition; your ability to sense emotions and feelings. Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to control it.” Silence lapsed between them, long enough for Vanessa to realize Claire was scared shitless. “Dorian isn’t here. Would you like to see him?”
“That would be helpful.”
Vanessa took the space beside her in bed. “It’s clairvoyance, or as I call it ‘our ace in the hole’. We use it to locate our guys.” She placed her hand on Claire’s diaphragm. “Breathe into my hand and clear your mind of everything except Dorian.” The hours passed as Vanessa continued instructing Claire. She managed to get a fleeting image of Dorian, he was speaking with two gentlemen, a handsome blond and an older gentleman she assumed to be his father. But there was little else. It was enough for now. She left Claire alone to rest.
Claire laid in bed staring off into the darkness, doing her best to ignore the pounding behind her eyes, and waiting for the pain meds Sebastian had given her to kick in. Finally, she’d reached the stage where her mind, in an attempt to distract itself from what her body had gone through, raced in a continual loop of incoherent thoughts and sounds. She rose from bed, her legs tingled but there was no pain. Avoiding her reflection, she went to the window and took in the city below. It was unchanged. Everything was unchanged except for her she supposed. It was impossible to say when and why the hand of God intervenes in human affairs, but it was a certainty that it did. Though eternally changed, she was alive thanks to Dorian coming into her life. How different all of this would have been if he hadn’t changed his whoring ways—if he hadn’t made the first move and insisted they refrain from sex. How different would it have been if she hadn’t followed her heart and gone to his apartment that rainy night. She closed her eyes and gave thanks to whomever or whatever brought these events to pass. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to face the mirror, doubting she’d recognize the woman staring back at her. It was too soon. She climbed back into bed feeling a piece of her had died. Her mind circled at a slower pace, her thoughts were of Dorian—idle and distant.
“Can I put my tongue inside you, Ma’am?” Drew whispered softly against the naked pussy lips of the student, his pet project for the night.
“Um,” she squirmed shyly. “Are you sure this is right?”
He gave her one long, deep lick with the flat of his tongue. “Does that feel right?”
“Oh, hell yeah!”
Without another word Drew pushed her legs back and continued to feast. He licked her from bottom to top and then sucked her clit. And when he slid his finger inside of her, her head rolled back. She expected him to be harsh, he was anything but. His gentleness took her breath away. She looked down at him between her legs, his finger and tongue worked in sync … pushing her closer to orgasm. She expected to see crazed lust in his eyes, but there was only patience and kindness. It drove her mad, her body ripped in two … one begged him to stop, the other demanded more. She screamed as her release came hard and fast.
Drew licked softly, knowing she was sensitive to his touch. He moved up beside her, his finger still inside of her. “You’re a virgin.” he stated rather than asked.
“Yes.” she confirmed.
“Well, in that case.” He gave a graceful smile and drew her into his chest. “… get some sleep.” He was a cad, but taking someone’s virginity wasn’t something he took lightly. It was better saved for her husband or someone she cared about. He told her as much, but she was insistent; she had her heart set on having him.
She reached for his cock and he admonished her and pulled the covers over them. She turned in his arms and pled her case. Drew entertained her argument and listened. He’d lived long enough to know that one’s virginity was one of the few things in life that we can’t get back. Once taken, it was gone forever … like one’s innocence. But what if that special person didn’t find her? What if, after him, there came a less noble-minded man who would take her without a second thought? How would she manage? At least he’d treat her with decency. His gaze locked on hers, he ran his hand between her thighs, making room for himself. He kissed her lips and whispered, “Don’t be afraid.” and filled her completely.
She bit her lower lip as the unexpected pain of his penetration seared then fizzled to pleasure. Her virginity was at its end. It was his, he’d taken it in the sweetest most gentle manner anyone could hope for. Slowly, carefully, he rocked into her until she relaxed and surrendered under him. She drew his mouth to hers. The deeper, more sensual their kiss became, the more certain she was that she’d made the right choice—so did he. She felt him smile as they kissed.
Gabriel lazily twisted a loc of Sam’s hair between his fingers as she laid on his chest. His words, perched on his tongue, failed to tumble from his mouth. She had a right to know the truth, but how and where should he begin? What words would inflict the least amount of hurt? All she’d ever wanted was a thriving career and family, something normal. Unless the ability to mentally manipulate gravity was on the list of normality there was nothing normal about him. Still, he knowingly allowed her to fall in love with him. Sometimes allowing someone to open up their heart to you is the cruelest thing you can do.
Her confusion, anger, and fright were forgone conclusions; Gabriel was ready to face those emotions. However, it was her sense of being betrayed that would kill him. Knowing how devoted she’d become made his desire to love and protect her even more intense. He couldn’t tell her. Not now … a few more hours of peace.
Gabriel slid from under Sam’s weight and went to check his voice massages. He quickly moved past the ones concerning the school and replayed Dorian’s several times before the gravity of it set in. The couple, the prince and princess, was together and safe with him. Thank God.
It was time to go. He had to tell Samantha.
Sam found Gabriel standing outside on the balcony and embraced him from behind. He must’ve heard her coming, she thought when he didn’t flinch. In truth, it was because his thoughts were thousands of miles away. He moved her in front of him and they quietly looked out over the city.
“I love you, Samantha.” Gabriel said lowly. “I promise I’ll always love you. No matter what happens, just remember that.”
“I love you.” Samantha rested her head back against his chest, wanting to hear him repeat what he’d said over and over again.
Try as he might, Gabriel couldn’t bring himself to tell her.