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 I won t.
 Do what to me? Dani looked at me wildly.
 Rape you. I looked away, unable to meet her eyes while I said it.  I can t do that. I d rather die.
 If you die, it will be in the duel before The Great Rite, Molly said without emotion.  And someone else
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will do what you cannot. Is that really what you want?
 One way or the other, I won t do it, I said.
 Ben, she said.  Youwill do it. When the Goddess comes upon you -- comes upon all of us -- you
won t be able to help it.
 Wait a minute. Dani took my hand in hers and squeezed convulsively.  Is there really no way around
this? This ... this Great Rite always ends in sex?
Molly nodded.  TheMabon queen, who is picked to represent the Goddess, has relations with the Lead
Wolf, or, in the case of a duel, with the champion who has won her. It honors the Goddess and we
satisfy her desires as we satisfy our own. She leveled a stare atDani .  I think in this case, my dear, you
would prefer it to be Ben rather than Theodore.
 No. Dani dropped my hand abruptly and began pacing the room, her arms wrapped around herself in a
gesture of fear that twisted my heart.  I wouldprefer not to have to have sex in front of a group of
strangers at all, no matterwho my partner is supposed to be.
 Dani. Molly got up and went to her, laying a hand on her shoulder.  I see that you have pain, the
priestess said softly.  And from your pain stems your fear. You ve been wounded both inside and out.
But you have to believe me when I tell you that onMabon night when the Goddess manifests within you,
none of that will matter anymore.
 What are you saying? Dani shrugged the hand off her shoulder and rounded on the priestess.  You re
saying that one night of religious ecstasy is going to cure me of all my neuroses? That I won t mind getting
fucked on a rock in front of fifty plus strangers because I ll be filled with light and goodness and Mother
Earth or whatever the hell it is you people worship? Oh, and let s not forget that Ben could ... could die,
trying to win the right to be the one doing the fucking. Do you have any idea how patronizing and sick
you sound? Her voice rose higher and higher and ended in a choked off sob. I went to her and put my
hand on her back.
 Dani, I said, but she pushed me away.
 No, Ben. Don t you get it? They re forcing us to do this and ... and you coulddie . I could lose you.
She looked up at me with wet eyes.  I don t want to lose you.
I felt my heart twist again.  You re not going to lose me, I said, with more confidence than I felt.
Daniswiped at her eyes.  That is such ... such Paganbullshit!  she said, in a low, shaking voice.
 I understand your fear. Molly went to stand by the door and put her hand on the knob as though
preparing to leave.  But the only way past it is through it. You must both face your fears. She looked at
me.  Ben, you must claim what is rightfully yours, both within the pack and outside of it. She looked at
Dani .  Dani, you must learn to trust again. Let the past be past. You ve put your future on hold long
 This is insane! Dani yelled,her fists clenched at her sides.  Why can t you just let us go?
Molly gave us one last inscrutable look.  It is not the will of the Goddess. Good night. She left, closing
the door behind her, and I heard a click that told me we were locked in for the night.
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* * * * *
Much later we lay in the dark together, me still in my jeans andDani still wearing the white robe. We
shared the bed by mutual consent, but there wasn t going to be any repeat of our earlier performance,
also by a mutual, if unspoken, agreement. In fact, I thoughtDani had probably already put it out of her
mind, or at least was trying to. I had thought she might cry again, but apparently she was done with tears.
We had talked for hours about possible ways out of the situation, but the innocent-looking blue door was [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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