Authors: Rose Wulf
What if she got so desperate someday that she really
threaten to kill herself to keep him
No. She couldn’t imagine herself doing that, let alone
doing that to him. She’d have released him from their bond years ago if it was
within her power. But maybe he didn’t really know that.
Should I tell him my feelings?
Or would her saying that come off as
Or, worse … what if Darr was the one manipulating her?
Her throat constricted at the thought and she struggled to
take a deep breath. No, surely that wasn’t it. That seemed as inconceivable as
her deliberate manipulation of him. But still … the very fact that these
thoughts existed in her mind somewhere had to be a sign of something. Perhaps
she’d been right before about resisting a relationship with him. Or perhaps it
just needed to be talked about.
Glancing at the digital display beside Letty’s bed which
read two-thirty-three, Izzy sighed and swung her feet around. She clearly
wasn’t going back to sleep just yet, so it was time to find her demon.
But as soon as her feet hit the floor something cold and
slimy wrapped around her ankles and tugged sharply.
Izzy cried out in shock and instinctive terror, flying
forward and slamming hard onto the old floor. The demon under her bed continued
to tug, dragging her into the darkness—and to who knew where after that.
Darr watched the stars twinkle overhead almost mockingly.
Tiny, little pinpricks of bright, clean light obscuring the surrounding
darkness. At least the moon was only a sliver of itself tonight.
The resort was quiet, as was befitting of the hour. Even
the waves of the lake were minimal, contributing to the deafening silence
around him. Barely any creatures dared rustle about in his vicinity. Animals—even
insects—were instinctively attuned to beings of darkness. Maybe the silence was
why he disliked being outside at night. Or maybe it was just worse tonight
because of the passion he and Izzy had shared earlier that day.
Just the memory of their afternoon was enough to get him
hard again. And now that he had a taste of her on his tongue, he had a serious
problem. Demons were naturally inclined toward vices of all variety and, in
Darr’s case, he had recently deduced his was addiction. A very specific
addiction, too. Now, leaning against the tree nearest Izzy’s window, Darr could
barely drag his thoughts from her. He didn’t want to be stuck outside, he wanted
to be stretched out next to her in that small bed. Or preferably on top of her,
working out every kind of moan she could possibly make.
They had one more night at this accursed resort. One more
night where she’d be sharing her living—and sleeping—space with others. One
more night he’d be relegated to the outside just to be within screaming
distance of her. She’d offered to reserve him a cabin of his own, of course,
but he’d declined. It wasn’t like he needed a cabin of his own when he didn’t
actually sleep. Hell, he didn’t need a cabin or a bed at all. He just wanted to
be in there with her.
The scream was muffled, half reaching his ears and half
firing the burning alarm in his head that triggered when she summoned him. But
she’d never summoned him in quite such a terrified way and he was instantly
How dare some scum scare her like that.
The shadows parted as he appeared in the cabin, barely
sparing a glance at Izzy’s startled friends. His stomach hit the floor when he
saw Izzy’s hands slip beneath the bed. His mind roared and with barely a flick
of his wrist, the entire bed, from frame to top sheet, when flying. But Izzy
was gone. Sucked into the shadows in a way only another demon could manage.
He tried reopening the same passageway, but in the middle
of the night such a feat was nearly impossible. The more prevalent the shadows,
the harder it was to follow one.
His fist hit the floor, shattering the fake wood laminate.
He bit back the shout of fury that clawed at his chest. He could feel his power
building, fueled by his rage and the unfamiliar twinge of fear.
Something he hadn’t felt now in
over two decades, also—if indirectly—thanks to Izzy.
“Ohmygod,” Britt breathed behind him. “She’s … she’s gone…”
The woman’s words settled like concrete in his gut.
Izzy was gone. In the hands of a demon he hadn’t even
glimpsed. And he was no tracker. His power was muscle, not something that
required more finesse like tracking. But he
to find her. Had to find her before the demon did whatever it had planned. And
for that he was going to need help.
Izzy emptied her stomach the moment she finally landed on
She’d never been in that other dimension for so long.
Whenever Darr transported her through the shadows it was always fast, most of
the time it was instantaneous. But this … this had felt like hours. Even now,
with her dinner and late-night snack on the ground, her stomach heaved
dangerously. Her head still swimming, Izzy did her best to look around, but the
space she was kneeling in was so dark she could barely discern the walls around
“You must be sweet little Isolde Duchane,” an unfamiliar
male voice declared. His voice echoed in the darkness around her, seeming to
come from everywhere at once. She didn’t imagine even the most stubbornly naïve
person would have mistaken that voice for anything other than that of a demon.
A dangerous, dangerous demon.
Glaring straight ahead, Izzy snapped, “You mean you
kidnapped me without even knowing who I am?” Seriously?
“Of course not,” the voice assured her. He was behind her
Izzy shoved to her feet and spun, but even her long hair
didn’t seem to hit anything. Her reaction only served to throw the world out of
“I ordered another to grab you,” he continued. Behind her
This time Izzy held still despite the chill that raked her
spine. She could’ve sworn she felt his breath that time. “What do you want with
Is this about Dad?
might have been going after him noticed Darr there last night? Or was this
about the other thing, the demon who’d attacked her?
The demon in the room with her made a thoughtful sound, his
hum sounding from her left this time. She reflexively turned her glare that way
but, naturally, his voice came from the opposite direction when he finally
responded. “You are my pawn. My ticket, even. You, little Isolde, are bait.”
“Bait?” That was the most ludicrous thing in the world. She
wasn’t close enough to her father for that to be an obvious tactic—though she
supposed she shouldn’t rule it out, either. He
the reason she’d needed a demon bodyguard after all.
Or was this about Darr?
“You look like you’re starting to catch on.”
Narrowing her eyes and slowly turning her head wide, Izzy
said, “And I bet you have a stupid arrogant smirk on your face right now. So
what? What the hell do you mean I’m ‘bait’?”
“How rude of me.” There was a pause and he whispered his
next words directly into her face, yet she never saw a thing.
It was terrifying.
“I am Creed. And I’ve come for what’s mine.”
“Well this is unusual,” Zahk stated as he stepped into the
room. His dark gaze swept over the mess briefly, lingered on the two
pajama-clad women gathered on the farthest bed, and landed on Darr. “What’s
with the summoning?”
Darr released a breath, wondering for the umpteenth time in
the past ten minutes if this was really a good idea. But he had no other choice.
Nothing he’d tried had worked. “I need your help.”
Zahk arched a brow in silent curiosity.
With more effort than he imagined he was able to muster,
Darr admitted, “Izzy’s been … taken. I can’t find where.”
“Ouch.” Zahk pulled his hands from his pockets and his gaze
flicked to the scorch mark from the first demon’s attack. “Who’d you kill?”
“Another attacker. Last night.” And Darr very much doubted
the coincidence of that. Someone was after Izzy and sending lesser demons to do
the dirty work. Which meant whoever it was had at least marginal respect for
“Two?” Zahk questioned, turning his attention back to Darr.
“Can you help?
You’re the only one I trust.” There was no sense in not laying all his cards on
the table. Zahk would understand. Even if that was only really because he was
under the impression Darr’s physical life was on the line.
Zahk pursed his lips and looked to where Izzy’s bed was
supposed to be. “I’ll do what I can,” he said. He moved and knelt at the edge
of the dust that hadn’t been swept out from under the bed. “Nasty,” he muttered
as he slowly waved a stretched-out palm over the space.
Darr watched from where he stood, aware that what Zahk was
doing required concentration. He didn’t know if Zahk was actually skilled in
tracking, but he had to try. He hadn’t been lying about Zahk being the only one
he could call on. Letty, however, didn’t seem to recognize the need for
stillness. She removed herself from Britt’s side and stepped up to Darr’s as
quietly as she was able—which wasn’t much, between the squeaky floors and a
human’s naturally heavier footfalls.
“Can he find her?” she whispered, concern in her voice. It
was probably in her scent, too, if Darr bothered to look.
“Quiet.” He didn’t know if Zahk could find her. Nor did he
feel like voicing that doubt.
“Well,” Zahk said with a heavy breath as he sat back on his
haunches. “I can sense the demon’s residual energy, but not much else. He went
Darr opened his mouth to ask for more, but Britt’s shrill
exclamation cut him off.
“Deep? You mean she’s in
?” The idea clearly terrified her. As well it should have,
since a human couldn’t survive in Hell.
“No,” Zahk said with a shake of his head. He stood. “I
think Darr would’ve been able to sense if this was a portal to Hell. She’s on
Earth. She just spent a while in limbo first.”
“Limbo?” Letty asked.
“Our word for the dimension we travel through,” Darr offered
shortly. “Between the shadows.”
“I don’t understand,” Britt said, sounding strained. Darr
didn’t bother to look at her. “You can tell where she
, but not where she
“We’re all connected to limbo,” Zahk explained. “Where she
went when it opened on the other end, though, that’s anyone’s guess.”
fists clenched tight at his sides. “Do you know any trackers?”
“None you’d trust.”
was a fucking problem. “What about ones
trust?” He was going to have to make an exception somewhere.
Zahk’s eyes widened for a beat and he whistled. “You’re
really still insisting Old Duchane managed to bind you, huh?”
Darr snapped a glare at his supposed friend. “This really
isn’t the time for that. Or do you want me dead?”
“Hey, easy,” Zahk said, holding his hands up in a
surrendering gesture. “I didn’t mean it that way. I can make a couple calls,
see if anyone good’s available. It’ll just take a minute or three.”
“You have one.”
Another brow arched, Zahk asked, “And then what?”
Not having a real answer, Darr replied, “Then I get
desperate.” It was the best truth he had.
Zahk scoffed and moved toward the door. “I’ll be outside
for a moment, then.”
But he never made it to the door. All the shadows in the
room began to spin and gather over the scorch mark on the floor. Letty darted
back to the bed and Britt, both girls whimpering in fear. Zahk turned in place
but made no move to step closer. Darr held his ground, hoping against all logic
it was Izzy.
“You should really keep a closer eye on your toys, Darr,”
Creed declared coldly as Izzy dry heaved behind him. She officially
the way he—or his invisible
But at least she’d managed to convince the creep to return
her. Or give her a chance at returning.
She suspected Creed thought he was just dangling his bait
in front of his prey, but Izzy knew better. Darr would save her.
When she finally managed to lift her swaying gaze to Darr,
however, what she saw stalled her heart in her chest. He looked frozen, his
ash-gray eyes wider than usual and his whole body uncharacteristically tense.
Almost like he was … afraid. But it passed quickly and then his fury was back,
raw and rising in his narrowed eyes. In a flash he went from frozen to lunging,
a nearly invisible energy coiling around the fist he’d pulled back.
Instinct kicking in, Izzy sprang to her feet and bolted for
the girls. It was best to get on the other side of an attack like that. Not
until Britt and Letty were reaching for her did she even register Zahk, standing
beside the door.
Drywall and wood paneling exploded as Darr’s demonic energy
blast fired. Dust and smoke filled the space in a loud outburst that had Izzy
and her friends clamping hands over their ears and ducking. She’d
seen him attack like that.
Creed’s echoing laughter seeped through the smoke. “You’ll
never hit me with an attack so untrained. I’d have thought you knew that by
guessed Creed and Darr must have had a history, but she was increasingly
worried about what that history was. They must have always been enemies. Or
perhaps they’d once been friendly and Creed had betrayed Darr… She supposed
that could explain it, too. She just hoped she got the chance to ask him about
“You made a mistake coming to me,” Darr threatened a yard
or three ahead.
The smoke began to clear and Izzy strained her eyes to see
through it. She was hoping to see Darr, but her eyes landed first on Zahk. He’d
stepped forward slightly, as if he wanted a better view. His attention seemed
focused on the struggle.
Why isn’t he
He was supposed to be Darr’s friend. She’d never gotten to know
him, but they’d interacted a little now and then. She remembered how happy
she’d felt to learn Darr had at least one friend he could keep in touch with
from his old life—a life he never talked about.
“Can’t you do something?” she called, crawling forward on
Zahk looked over to her, his expression solemn. “Darr
wouldn’t want me to.”
Whether she liked it or not that was certainly true. It
would probably be an insult to his pride, not just as her protector, but as a
man. As a demon. She certainly knew that demons had their vanities.
Darr crashed hard onto the splintered floor, skidding back
nearly to Zahk’s feet, and Creed stepped just inside the hole in the wall.
Izzy’s heart leapt to her throat and she reacted on
instinct. She vaulted from the bed and landed on her knees beside her lover.
“No need,” Creed called calmly. “I’m not going to kill
either of you just yet. This is your warning. Not only have I found you, Darr,
but I am going to kill you slowly. This is just the start.” The shadows
surrounding him sprang up and seemed to smash him into the ground, leaving a
vacant space where he’d stood just moments before.