The Pale Waters (#1 Reclaimed Souls)
some raving lunatic.
    “Do you notice a difference? Do I look like
a cuttlefish?”
    “Oh, shut up, you lug,” I say without
malice. “I need to experiment, first.”
    He is surprisingly patient. Perhaps my
enthusiasm is contagious. Roland smiles at me, and my heart beats
faster. I hold the prototype up to his face, and the change is
still present. My Goddess, he is gorgeous.
    He is everything I’ve dreamt about.
    I take a series of steps away from
him to determine its radius of effect, much like a radio
transceiver, and after four steps, Roland’s face alters. The skin
appears to ripple, like a gently crumpled silk scarf. Distinct
reddish scar lines reform over his neck, jaw, lips, and up over his
ear and into his temple.
    The effect isn’t instantaneous, perhaps a
few seconds went by, but it’s just enough time to observe someone,
look down and, hoping to see that charming, handsome face again,
look up to find that you were mistaken.
    I return to his side, place the prototype
into his shirt pocket as the smooth skin returns. I force him to
turn around. I have to see just how much of him this little
prototype changes.
    “What are you doing?” he asks.
    “Be quiet.”
    Pulling the shirt out of his trousers, I
inspect his backside. It is clear and smooth. But what if I touch
the affected area? I glide my fingertips down his side and I feel
him shiver. The scars are definitely there. Raised, bumpy, smooth.
I just don’t see them.
    “It works,” I tell him once I turn him back
around. “Keep it within four feet of you. Do you have a
    I can tell he doesn’t believe me.
    “I wish you could see it. It’s amazing. Do I
look different at all? Do you see cuts on my face?”
    Roland shakes his head.
    “No. You look like you did earlier today,
just sootier.” He trails a finger over my cheek and it comes away
with a black smudge.
    “Interesting. Yes, well, it only seems to
correct the visual appearance of flaws, not the actual flaws
    “What do you mean?”
    “It means that I do not see your
scars, but when I touch you,” I caress his face to illustrate,
tracing a scar’s outline, “I still feel them.” He flinches
away from my hands. A darkness invades his eyes.
    “How long will it last?” he asks.
    Why isn’t he more excited?
    “I have no idea. I’ll need to do further
research, of course.” I move around him, thinking. “I’ll need to
observe you until the prototype expires. So whatever you do this
evening, I must be with you.”
    Roland closes the distance between us.
    “For research?” he asks somewhat darkly,
though part of his tone is seductive, erotic. Being near Roland and his bed isn’t a good idea. It makes my mind swim with
the possibilities.
    “I believe that’s why you hired me as your
research assistant. For research .”
    His voice rumbles into a soft laugh. His
fingers capture my chin for a brief second.
    “Are we still going with that lie?” he asks
mockingly. His voice is rough, gritty. His green eyes are like
frozen ice chips. “Though,” he adds, “I particularly like the word assistant . As you conduct your research, I will require your
    “What type of assistance?” I wonder if he’s
referring to whatever’s happening in The Gardens tonight.
    He grins. His face is perfect.
    “The type that requires my assistant to be
    He pops the first few buttons on my
    “I doubt anyone will notice or care,” I say
quietly. I do not pull away from him. I don’t want to fight it.
    “Obviously, I noticed, Rahda, or I wouldn’t
be removing your clothing right now.”
    “I’m not a child.”
    “I noticed that, too. Fairly early on,
actually. Besides, you don’t want me to stop, do you?” he
    He peels the shirt off me, over my
shoulders, and tosses it to the floor. I feel a coolness against my
    “Beautiful,” he says as his fingers skim
down my breastbone, stomach, and latch onto my

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