Sixty years after the Great Houses War, Selene’s private quarters, Ile de la Cite, Paris

Selene disengaged her fingers, and gently, carefully, opened the packet. The pale yellow powder seemed no different from any angel essence she’d seen before–she knew addicts talked of structure and bouquet, as if essence were like wine or tea; that some claimed to have caught glimpses of the Fallen whose bones had gone into making the powder. It had all been terribly academic to her, until Emmanuelle had started the spiral of addiction that had led them both here. “What is it about it that’s special?”

“Nothing,” Emmanuelle said. “Other than the quantities. It’s on the market, plentiful and cheap.”

“Cheap” was not a word Selene would ever have associated with essence. Bones were not cheap; Fallen were not numerous; and gang-lords had a vested interest in keep the prices of their products high.

“It’s not cut,” Emmanuelle said. “Or tampered with. I could tell.”

Hence why she’d tasted it; or, at least, the excuse she’d given herself. She was right; the addiction never went away. Selene had been a fool to believe otherwise.

But that wasn’t the point; not anymore. It wasn’t about her and Emmanuelle; though, in time, she would have to deal with the ramifications of that as well.

Selene sighed, and closed the packet, all too glad not to see the powder anymore. “This isn’t House affairs, you know.”

Emmanuelle’s gaze was steady. “I know.”



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