The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Thirty-Six

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[Content/Trigger Warning: mention of implied sexual coercion, homophobic intimidation]

Em whirled around, staggering back against the rails.

The memories of her past clawed at her, as if Audrey’s ghostly grip was still trying to pull her under. Em fought for purchase in the present. She needed to stay in control now more than ever.

Kane stood before her, expression aloof. He seemed almost pleased with himself.

“Get the fuck away from me,” Em hissed, righting herself against the railing.

“Easy there.” Kane fished around in his pocket and produced a pack of cigarettes. “I’m just here to smoke. You mind?”

Em said nothing, choosing to let her glare do the talking for her.

Kane lit his cigarette and took a long, slow drag. Staring across the water, he didn’t speak again until Em tried to leave.

“You didn’t answer me.”

“Too bad,” Em shot back, gingerly taking a few uneasy steps.

“You must be fucking her.” Kane didn’t bother to look back. “I can’t imagine why else you’d be here.”

Em was in no form to have this conversation. Even if she wasn’t currently floundering in the living memories of her former life, she still shouldn’t have dignified Kane’s baiting with a response.

But the aftershocks of Audrey’s fury still coursed through her. Even without it, she couldn’t bring herself to ignore the cheap shots he took at May.

“You’re a fucking pig,” she snarled.

He turned and took in her full length with a languid stare. Smoke curled around his handsome face and disappeared into the night.

“Oh, please,” he drawled, sounding almost bored. “Don’t take it out on me. She’s a slut. We all know it. You aren’t saving any face by acting all high and mighty about-”

Em didn’t give him a chance to finish. A rage she hadn’t felt since she was someone else flared up viciously inside of her. She struggled to make sure the hard shove she threw at Kane’s chest was all she did.

“Woah, bitch!” His mask of indifference fell away. “What’s your fucking problem?”

“What’s yours?” Em threw back. “Have you made it your life’s mission to keep ruining hers? What is it you’re trying to accomplish right now?”

“I’m just trying to warn you-”

You are the one who should come with a warning, asshole. The only thing you’re trying to do is make sure she doesn’t get to be happy.” Em’s anger made her already precarious mental stability falter. Audrey’s voice echoed in the darker recesses of her mind, egging her on.

A dangerous look settled across Kane’s features.

“She told you her little sob story, huh?” It was Kane’s move and he used it to step into Em’s space. “That bitch came to me. She knew what she was getting herself into.”

Em didn’t back down. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. Invisible sparks of electricity raced beneath the surface of her skin as she spoke. “You blackmailed her, you piece of shit.”

For a moment, Kane didn’t respond. He took another long pull, maintaining tense eye contact with Em and blowing a steady stream of smoke directly in her face.

“I was doing her a favor.”

“I think you might want to look up the definition of favour, jackass.”

Frighteningly fast, Kane’s demeanor went from standoffish to threatening. He drew himself up to his full height, towering over Em in a way that was meant to intimidate.

“You pussy loving bitches are all the same.” He leaned in so close Em felt his breath on her face. “Pretending guys like me are beneath you when all you really need is a good dick to remind you of what you’re missing.”

Em knew how she wanted to handle this situation – the same way Audrey would have. The influence of her former self goaded Em to retaliate, to knock this self-righteous monster down a peg or two. Audrey’s memory was a little devil on Em’s shoulder, whispering into her ear.

“That’s all I was trying to do.” Kane pulled his mouth into a mocking pout. “She just needed a good fucking to set her right.”

He gave Em a critical look and leaned in as close as he could get without touching her. His voice dripped cruel intention.

“Looks like I gave up on her too soon, though.”

The whispers and fog in Em’s mind cleared. In its place, Audrey’s voice rang out, clear as a bell.

Get him.

She moved so fast Kane couldn’t have reacted even if he had expected it. Em’s tightly drawn first flew from her side, striking his face twice in rapid succession like a viper’s bite. Kane fell back, crashing into the railings and crumpling to the floor.

At that very moment, footsteps Em hadn’t even heard approaching came to a stop behind her.

“Holy shit!”

Em turned to see May and Lenaia, rooted in shock halfway across the deck.

“Em,” May whispered from behind her hands. “What have you done?”

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Banner art by @blushmallet

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