Chapter 13: Secrets

The skin beneath Gunther’s lips as he drowsed up from a blissful, dreamless sleep was warm and soft, and the familiar smoky incense scent of Valois’s body filled the air around him. Gunther moaned softly and kissed that skin, not even moving his head; just kissing over and over until he heard a low chuckle above him.

“Are you hungry, mon chéri?”

Waking up in bliss. Nothing could go wrong now. Could it?

Read the chapter here, then please return to this post if you have feedback.

8 responses

  1. Knew it :P Its nice that Natalie is cool with this. She’s like a fangirl xD Nice work, can’t wait to read more.

    • Well you only have five more days to hang on ;)

      Poor Gunther! As EbonWings said on the forum, I think this has broken his brain!

  2. This chapter surprised me. I guess it never occurred to me that Gunther didn’t KNOW they were the same person. That’s kinda why I was confused in the last few chapters. I knew he didn’t understand how they could be the same person, and I knew he began to doubt it because Valois denied it… But, I guess you did warn us about gas-lighting (and though I had never heard of it before, it was a very cool side-read. Tangential learning at it’s finest – new vocab for me. YAY ENRICHMENT *ahem*)

    I’m so very torn right now about everything. I feel like maybe Valois isn’t a terrible person. Lying to and manipulating Gunther were terrible things to do – but I don’t believe he’s inherently evil or anything like that. In a way, I feel like how he dealt with thing enabled Gunther and gave him an excuse to give into the way he felt about Valois. I think Valois genuinely cares about Gunther and that’s why he chooses to come back to being the original Valois – and in that form he’s possibly more vulnerable to Gunther and possibly that’s his true self. In honesty I don’t feel like there are any inherently evil people – even people who do horrible things find ways to justify it to themselves. Even Jealous and shallow people who truly don’t care about others tell themselves that it’s their victim’s fault for being so stupid to fall for it in the first place. Dog-eat-dog and all that jazz.

    But, that being said, it could be all illusion on Valois’ part. We’re not really being guided by a non-biased all-knowing narrator after all. We’re being led by Valois, who’s telling us what he wants us to hear and the right/wrong/fact/illusion are all inconsequential to him. To him it wouldn’t matter that Gunther’s feelings were genuine, just that he felt them. It would mater to Gunther, and it bothers me to think that Valois is giving him so little room to make any of those decisions on his own – that even if he did feel that way Gunther was never allowed to make that decision himself so he wouldn’t trust in his affection for him…

    It’s so easy to look in from the outside and say that this is wrong and that’s right. But, if you try to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if it feels right, right here in this moment you’ve created so masterfully, it gets soo much harder to make those calls.

    Either way – I’ve mustered up the courage to continue reading again today and I wanted to post before my opinion was tainted by what comes after this point. Thank you so much for your amazing writing. This is a really powerful experience and I appreciate so much what you’ve done – creating this balance where I feel so much for both characters…

    • First of all, thank you for such a long and wonderfully-detailed comment!

      Secondly, I’m probably going to make you grin by telling you that I read this during my break at work and was practically squealing, “You get it! You really get it!” at my phone XD

      Because, well, you do get it, and I am SO glad. I’ve been torn between keeping things subtle enough that I’m not whacking readers across the head with a 4×2, and making things obvious enough that they’re not just skimmed right over. To have a reader completely get what they’re trying to convey in a story (not to mention leave such awesome comments!) is what any writer always dreams of, so thank you for making my day!

      OK, onto your comments. Obviously, I don’t want to give too much away, but I can touch on a few things here.

      The gaslighting, yes (yay for learning!), was the reason why Gunther managed to doubt himself. Yes, he’d already wondered about the multiple Valoises – even going so far as to tell himself that, “I have three of them” – but when the gaslighting began with bookseller!Valois, that’s when Gunther started seriously doubting his own sanity, as per the story’s title.

      You are absolutely right that Valois isn’t a terrible person. I think I’ve lost a couple of readers who really didn’t like the way he behaved towards Gunther, as the bookseller, and who – I suspect – weren’t prepared to give him any benefit of the doubt as to his reasons for behaving the way that he has. Subsequent chapters have proven (as will the new one published today) that he is, indeed, very much in love with Gunther. He’s sort of twisted and stunted by his past experiences of love, especially when he has found someone he wanted as a life companion, and over the years he’s learned that mortals tend to say, “No thanks,” when it comes to immortality, hence the tricks that he resorts to. And that’s as much as I’ll say on that, because it will all be expanded on in the final chapters (a long way away yet, but I’m already plotting them out).

      I’m so happy, too, that you’ve picked up on the fact that we’re being led by Valois, who isn’t exactly the most trustworthy of narrators. After all, eagle-eyed readers will already have spotted one whopping great lie that he told them in the very first chapter (that he was an only child, when he later told Cornelia that he came from a large family). But then, with unreliable narrators… just who is being lied to?!

      Thank you, also, for seeing that Valois isn’t just a bad guy. If he was just a baddie then he wouldn’t have the depth that I’m trying to convey him as having. We are all products of our families and our pasts, and Valois has a hell of a lot of past to have been moulded by.

  3. Oh! Valois is a witch as well! :) So cool. Natalie’s reaction to her seeing them doing amorous activities made me laugh because that’s exactly how I would react LOL. Poor Gunther fainting… awww. XD

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