Authors: Rose Wulf
Evernight Publishing ®
2016 Rose Wulf
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: Audrey Bobak
WARNING: The unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of this book may be used or
reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction.
All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely
To Jim & Donna Conroy
and David "Uncle Homey" & Margie Parry,
for the lifetime of laughs
and memories I've collected every summer.
For the love of good
friends who are like family.
Donna, as requested, I
give you a character named Starlette.
Aunt Margie, I may have
borrowed a joke or two!
Copyright © 2016
Dark, powerful forces live in the shadows. Forces that
would have taken over everything long ago if not for the light that keeps the
shadows at bay. This is a war that has been raging since the dawn of man and
will likely continue until the end. But, for most of that time, it has been
waged in silence.
A powerful demon, rumored to be the son of Satan himself,
devised a new plan to gain ground against the arrogant angels. And, as a
result, the very real existence of demons was revealed to the more influential,
more connected humans. All it took was one lopsided deal for word to spread,
and with every curious mind soon followed a lost soul. Another soul for Satan’s
army. A few real, and rather effective, spells leaked to that glorious
invention the humans called ‘internet’, and in no time the tide had turned.
Corrupt, selfish, desperate humans sold their souls in
droves. And every now and then a new piece of text, connected to dark demonic
magic, would make its way into the hands of mankind. Soon humans weren’t just
summoning under a full moon at a crossroads, but in the comfort of their living
room. Not just to exact a heartfelt vengeance, but to be sure they passed their
The angels began to lose ground. Their pure, naïve souls
that they so valiantly defended were leaping of their own free will into the
clutches of Hell. They had to take action, to go on the offensive in a way they
hadn’t considered for eons. A leader was chosen—a most powerful angel with a
new perspective and an ancient respect. Her name was Isabella, and she, in
turn, built an army. She called for the training of another, not wanting to be
caught unawares should her first army fall.
And she sent them into battle.
The angels and the demons have been fighting for control of
the Earth from the beginning. They fight as though there is a chance one can
truly win, standing on their respective sides and raising their swords to the
skies with eager battle cries.
Neither ever considered that their hatred of each other was
something less than true…
Isolde Duchane sat between two silent men, at her father’s
insistence, and watched as her mother was buried in an elaborate box. Her black
dress was itchy and she hated it, but she understood black was the color to be
worn at funerals. She also understood it was okay for her to cry—that was her
mother in the box. It was her mother everyone behind her had come to say
goodbye to. And it was the loss of her mother that was responsible for her father’s
unusual behavior. He’d dropped to his knees in front of the hole, mindless of
the chill in the wind or the dirt flying in his face. And though she couldn’t
see his face, she knew he was crying.
Izzy sniffled and wiped at her cheeks with the back of her
hand, smearing tears and snot across the lacey glove. She didn’t care. She
would never wear any part of this outfit again.
Someone’s hand reached forward and gave her shoulder a
squeeze. “Be strong, Izzy,” the person said. She knew without looking that it
was her friend’s mother, because of course her friend had come. She just wished
she could be sitting with them, instead of isolated between two security
Her mother would never have forced her to sit with security
at a time like this.
the only girl in her class with a parent in the ground now. Sure, by middle
school lots of her classmates had parents who’d separated. Some had remarried,
some were seeing people but not living with them. But so far as Izzy knew they
were all alive somewhere. Because eleven year olds weren’t supposed to have to
visit a grave to visit their moms and dads.
Izzy jerked awake late one night by a loud
that was immediately followed by
the shaking of her bedroom. The glowing display on her clock read one-thirteen
and her stomach clenched immediately in fear.
She threw aside her blankets and ran for the door, hoping
the loud noise had come from the television. But that hope vanished when she
ran into a veritable wall of smoke so thick and acrid she nearly threw up.
Whatever that smell was, it was disgusting. And it was coming from downstairs.
Izzy made it down the rounded staircase in record time,
unsurprised to see security gathering in the main room. “Where’s my dad?” she
cried, running up to Roland. He was their head of night security. If anyone
knew what was going on, it was him.
“Isolde, just stay with me,” Roland replied, his eyes
squinted from the smoke still filling the room.
The smoke alarm finally went off when Izzy’s attention landed
on the open door to her father’s study. Even through the haze she could tell the
smoke, and whatever had caused it, was coming from there. “Daddy!”
She felt a larger hand brush her arm, as if intending to
hold her back, but she threw her weight to the side as she sprinted forward and
slipped easily through the group. They were too scattered to stop her, and that
meant they couldn’t tell her anything, either. But if her father were still up—and
he probably was—he’d be in that room.
Please, not Daddy,
“Daddy!” she called again, catching herself against the doorframe and
coughing into her hand. “
All at once the smoke vanished, like it had been sucked
right out of the air by an invisible vacuum. Izzy’s brown eyes went wide as she
saw her father, standing with a kerchief over his mouth and nose, backed up
against his desk. The desk had been pushed against the far wall. In fact, Izzy
slowly realized, the entire office was a mess. She figured that was all because
of the other man, the unfamiliar, dark figure standing in the exact center of
the room with his back to her.
tall, with long hair that had to be the blackest black she’d ever seen, and
shoulders so broad she could probably sit her whole butt on just one of them.
She’d never seen anyone like him, not even when her father had taken her with
him to his big business meetings in Europe. He looked strong, and with his
fists clenched the way they were, Izzy could easily imagine being frightened of
him. From her angle, in fact, her father looked somewhat afraid.
“Isolde, I said to stay back!” Roland snapped as he caught
up to her and his free hand landed on Izzy’s shoulder, startling her enough to
make her jump and squeak.
The stranger in her father’s office spun in place, fists
clenching tighter, and leveled on Roland a glare darker than his pitch-black
hair. For a moment the hand on her shoulder tightened, before falling away
altogether as the guard took a cautious step backward. But Izzy barely noticed.
She was captivated by the stranger’s face. His glare was focused so intently on
Roland it was like he didn’t see her at all, and despite the dark expression he
wore, Izzy found herself fascinated.
Somehow, she knew immediately what this stranger was. He
was a demon. But what was a demon doing in her father’s office? She’d always
heard demons were violent, dangerous, and that she should run far and fast if
she ever caught sight of one. But this one didn’t scare her at all, and for him
to have appeared in her father’s office like he had had to mean her father had
him. Didn’t it?
“Izzy, sweetheart,” her father called on cue, his voice
surprisingly calm. The demon’s expression faded to nearly neutral, though Izzy
noticed he kept his focus on the guard. He was like a statue. Or a hunting dog.
“It’s okay,” her father continued, reaching out carefully. Encouragingly. “Come
“Sir?” Roland questioned.
The demon’s eyes narrowed.
“Stand down,” Izzy’s father instructed. “Everything’s under
Izzy released a breath, her father’s calm voice assuring
her that her instincts were right. She sprinted forward, not caring about her
proximity to the stranger, and wrapped her arms around her father’s waist. “I
was scared, Daddy!” she cried. “I thought—”
“Shh,” her father interrupted gently. “I’m sorry to scare
you,” he said. “I just had to do this at night, you understand.” He pried her
from him, stroked her frizzy, more-orange-than-red hair, and smiled. “Izzy, I
want to introduce you to someone.”
Her eyes stung as her gaze followed her father’s arm as he
gestured toward the stranger-demon, who had turned around once more and was
watching them. His expression was entirely neutral now, and his fists had
relaxed at his sides.
“Izzy,” Gerald Duchane began, an odd mix of pride and reluctance
in his voice, “this demon is called Darr. He will be protecting you from now
Izzy’s eyes widened and she looked back up at her father.
“Why? I don’t need a bodyguard!” Nor was this even the first time she’d had to
tell him that. Since her mother’s death months earlier he’d been obsessed over
two things, one of which was making sure she was overly protected at every
single turn. Still, he’d never taken it
Gerald dropped a hand to her head with a sad, patient
smile. “After what happened to your mother … I just want to know that you’re
safe. It’s a dangerous world we live in, honey, and I won’t be able to be
around all the time.”
Scrunching up her face, Izzy glanced back at Darr and found
that, this time, he was staring straight at her. Unblinking. And as
intimidating as his stare was, she wasn’t afraid. She certainly didn’t need a
bodyguard, but how many kids at school could say they had a
protecting them? “Hi,” she said
with a small, shy smile. “I’m Izzy.”
“Give him your hand, Izzy,” Gerald instructed. “He needs a
pure source of your scent, in case you ever get lost.”
Izzy lifted her attention back to her father. He was making
less sense with each word. But before she could say anything strong, warm,
rough fingers had wrapped around her wrist and lifted her arm for her. By the
time she looked forward again Darr, who had knelt in order to accommodate their
difference in height, had pressed his nose almost completely against the heel
of her palm. All she could do was watch, eyes wide, as Darr inhaled deeply.
Once, twice, three times. Then he lowered her wrist until he was holding her
hand in a loose, casual handshake and he met her gaze again.
“Good evening, Izzy,” Darr said. His voice was as strong
and deep as he was tall. She’d never heard one like it.
Smiling, and not knowing what else to say, Izzy repeated,
Darr couldn’t believe his luck. One minute he was running
for his life from some very pissed off slavers and the next thing he knew, a
summoning portal of sorts popped up right in front of him. It didn’t take an
idiot to know wherever that portal landed was a damned sight better than where
he was, so he’d plowed right through and breathed a sigh of relief when it
closed behind him.
He never would have guessed the portal would land him in
front of some rich, undoubtedly moronic human. A human who’d still been
stumbling over his tongue when another, younger human burst into the room.
cried. And that was all it took. That was all Darr needed to hear or see to
know that the little girl was the key—not just to his answers, but to his
Still, he hadn’t wanted to let his decision show until he
got some of those answers. Answers Gerald Duchane was more than willing to
provide. And it turned out the man thought he’d deliberately summoned him. Not
only that, but he believed he’d bound Darr using a Life Bind. Which was rich,
because from what Darr could tell, Duchane was lucky he’d even opened a portal
into Hell at all. The man had
affinity for spells.
Fortunately, Duchane’s intent was Darr’s perfect solution.
If he played along and pretended to be bound to the girl, Isolde Duchane, then
he would be free of his abusers for a good eighty or ninety years. They’d have
stopped looking for him
that, and then it would be safe to return home.
“You know how these Life Binds work, right?” Duchane asked.
Darr narrowed his eyes. “I do.”
Better than you.
Duchane bobbed his head. “Good, good. Then you start
immediately. I want
my daughter, you understand? Not ever.”
“I understand,” Darr assured him easily. “I’ll take her to
Duchane looked around the space and sighed. “Thank you. I’d
best get this mess cleaned up.” He paused just long enough for Darr to turn and
start toward the door before calling, “Oh, and come morning I expect you to
look presentable. Izzy’s the only heir to the Duchane name. She’s expected to
keep a certain class of company.”
Darr only nodded sharply before leaving the man alone in
to think he looked perfectly fine, but humans obviously had another standard.
So he studied the guards—all of whom were giving him skeptical, frightened
looks—as he and the girl passed. And he noticed what they all had in common.
Short hair and identical black suits.
But he’d do what he had to for now.
Izzy showed him the way to her room and allowed him to tuck
her in, but when he turned back after checking to be sure her window was
secured, she was sitting up again.
“Sleep,” he instructed.
She ignored him. “Why does Daddy think I need a demon?”
Darr bit back his sigh. “You’ll have to ask him. He didn’t
Izzy scrunched her lips in a pout and looked at a picture
on her nightstand. The woman in the photograph had smoothed, red hair and faded,
green eyes. She looked a lot like he imagined Izzy would when she reached
adulthood. “Is it because of what happened to Mommy?”
At this he frowned. Instinct insisted the simple answer was
‘yes’, but he would prefer to know what he was agreeing to first. “What
happened to Mommy?”
Eyes downcast and voice soft, Izzy replied, “She died. I
don’t think Daddy knows I know, but she was killed. And I’m pretty sure no one
knows who did it.”
So that’s it.
Darr moved forward until he had rested another hand on her shoulder. “That’s
probably why I’m here now,” he agreed. “But enough about that. You need to
Izzy obediently laid back down and rolled onto her side,
facing him. “Will you be here when I wake up?”
Darr nodded. “Yes.”