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Authors: Laura Hawks

Demon's Web

BOOK: Demon's Web
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Demon’s Web

 

 

LAURA HAWKS

 

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hawks

All rights reserved.

Edited by Enterprise Book Services

Cover art by Priceless Proofing

ISBN-10: 1533022070

 

ISBN-13:978-1533022073

 

                     DEDICATION

 

 

To all my fans and friends who have supported me and continued to do so, I’m forever grateful.

 

To my mother… today and always you are  loved and missed more than words can ever say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To those lost who need to find their way……

To those suffering and feeling like they are alone…. know we are together in the worlds we create.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

New Orleans. She stood there watching as people came and went, but it wasn’t the humans she was noticing. It was the city itself. An old city, especially in the French Quarter, filled with an air of secrets and shrouded in mystery. A conundrum of old and new, of ancient and modern. Of tradition.

Sure, to some it was a place to party, get drunk and dance in the streets. To others, it was a place to buy pungent-smelling cigars, letting the bulbous smoke circle with adumbrations around their heads before it drifted skyward to dissipate among the low-lying clouds. Still to others, they were in and out of the various eateries sampling and indulging in the multitudes of Cajun and Creole cuisines scattered amongst the streets. Rich odors of spices, fish, meats and sugar would waft about her.

Yet, to her, it was an enigma. She had traveled the world over. All the states in North America, all of Canada and Mexico and most of Europe, Asia and Africa, but nowhere did it feel like New Orleans. The closest she could get without actually being here was the old walled-city of Quebec. Even then, she was very aware it was different. True, both cities were settled by the French and retained a strong sense of occupying colonization, but New Orleans was more than that. The city was as unique as they came, emitting an air of luxury, decadence and a grace of old which was lacking elsewhere. At least, as far as she was concerned.

As she stood there, the city came to life around her. Sounds of music and beer-bottle-top tap dancing abounded. People talking as they passed by. Hawkers calling out their services as they strolled past. Tourists would occasionally stop for the gold- or silver-painted mimes who stood perfectly still until someone dropped a green bill into their pail or box, coming to life only then to momentarily entertain. Many just kept walking, their agendas set for whatever purpose their business entailed, whether seeing the sights or working at one of the many places within the Quarter.

Through it all, she remained unmoving like the mimes. Still. Watching. Waiting. Soaking up the air about her. She knew she should move, but then, she wasn’t sure exactly where she was supposed to go. For that matter, she wasn’t sure where she had just been or why she was just standing here.

Despite knowing the city and the vibe it generated, or the fact that she had traveled the world in which she can compare it to, she was lost on everything else…including who she was.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Fifteen years ago:

Nether Realm:

Fourteen-year-old Logan stared out one of the very few windows in the only place he’d ever really known. As usual it was mostly dark, but then it was always mostly dark in the realm many called hell. Occasionally, as now, multicolored hues of light would dance through the atmosphere and the darkness would go to a twilight every now and again.

Logan knew sunlight, though. His father, the demon judge Azamel, would take him to other realms so he could learn more about the universe. Sometimes they were for educational projects, but most of the time they were to indoctrinate the young boy on various creatures and plants which prospered in the land of light.

However, his mother, Clarissa, never accompanied them on these excursions. In later years, Logan wondered why and would often ask his father about it. Azamel would inform his son Clarissa had some things she needed to get done and would go next time, or she needed the respite from her two men to just relax. Still other times, Logan would be informed his mother wanted her two favorite men to get to know each other better and have quality time together. Logan liked that response the best. He enjoyed spending time with his father, seeing the hustle and bustle of the other worlds. Whenever he was there, the sunlight and warmth seemed to radiate all around him and Logan enjoyed the sense of excitement, which was lacking in the world his father governed.

Through the window, the lights danced in the sky with a rainbow of colored ribbons swaying to a beat only they seemed to know. Logan was so busy gazing up at the spectacle he didn’t realize, at first, there was a girl who appeared to be about ten years old staring up at him. She was so young, so innocent-appearing and alone, Logan instantly became alarmed for her well-being. It was neither safe nor smart to be outside of the walls which protected him in this realm.

Logan didn’t know who or what she was, or even how she got there, but he acted on instinct running down the stairs. There were very few ways to gain entrance into the structure of Logan’s home, less even than the amount of windows afforded to the massive stone building. The major entryway was the receiving chamber, opposite a pair of immense deformed-looking winged gargoyle statues flanking either side of the rough-hewn stone fireplace.

The statues appeared to be skeletons and Mel told his son once they were a species of fearsome demons who were part of his first execution and what he needed to defeat in order to tame this world. The petrified bones served as a warning to others that Azamel was not only demon judge but also, when needed, demon executioner. To get past Mel and his law was neither advisable nor intelligent. The doorway in the chamber served as a portal to the world of light, as well as to the other realms Logan had only heard about in passing or in his lessons.

The only other accessible threshold into the building was a door which led to a garden. The garden was Clarissa’s greatest pride and joy. It was one of the few concessions Mel made for her to have, yet it only grew one thing: an immense, twisted thorny vine of black roses which bloomed all year long. Mel told his wife it was his way of making sure she got roses every day from him. As a result, Clarissa ventured into the garden daily under the protection of two guards who accompanied her each time, so she could cut some of the blossoms for the dining room and her bedroom. By the following day, they would have withered and died, so she would repeat the process all over again.

The few times Logan accompanied her, they had to remain within the garden walls and the guards were doubled. Being a curious, youthful boy, Logan wanted to venture outside of the garden. He wanted to explore the realm his father administered, but so often he was reminded it was not safe. His father had too many enemies and some skulked near the manor in hopes of catching Mel or his family off-guard. Many lurked within the realm unable to leave. At times, Logan was under the impression it served as a prison for these demons, but was later informed otherwise. The demons had free reign to be who they wanted to be and live in a place they were not condemned nor ridiculed. They could enjoy their lives fully while being in their natural state. However, like the human world of light, not all were good and decent. And when some tried to leave the realm, it was his father who had to restrain them. Those who succeeded in leaving were then hunted down only to be forcibly returned.

Some resented his father’s control over the land. They wanted freedom to rein havoc in the Human Realm, or search for objects of old which held great power. As a result, there had been threats to Clarissa and his children: Trinity and Logan. None of which panned out, but Mel was in no way about to take any chances when it came to his new-found family. Azamel had been alone for eons, trusting no one, wanting no one. He focused solely on his duty, protecting the human race from the demons who wished them harm.

How many times had Logan heard the story of his parents meeting? How many times had Mel informed his son he was nothing until she came into his life? Mel had been betrayed by a woman he loved, by his very own mother, by his family, and even his best friend. He had found it better to just do without anyone close. The closest companion he had was his assistant, Shara. Even with her, he didn’t confide much or expose himself in any way. He demanded something, she would see it accomplished; end of story. This was as complete as their relationship had ever gotten: a trusting, slightly affectionate accord between them. Shara knew Mel would keep her safe and she served him well.

Then, Mel had to hunt a demon who escaped into the land of the humans and who ventured to find a historic relic, which was what Clarissa had guarded. Logan was never told what it was or what it did. They both told him it was not relevant to the story.

Clarissa didn’t trust Mel when she first met him, either, and Logan found it amusing whenever that part of the story came up. There were times the young werewolf would physically fight him in order to keep from getting close. However, their adventures to other dimensions and trying to keep apart from each other only served to develop a grudging respect, which flourished into a trust, which blossomed into a friendship and finally into a deep love. The kind of love one only reads about in the classic stories of old. Logan could see it, feel it every time his parents were together. It was like nothing else in the universe existed except the two of them and their children.

The point being, it was unsafe outside of the protective walls and there was a young girl out there by herself. Logan’s youthful exuberance didn’t give him pause as he burst through the door and to the back of the house, where his window overlooked. She was still there, turning to face him as if she was fully aware of where he would be emerging from.

Logan approached her, then was stunned to stillness when her eyes turned on him. They were so unique, so penetrating. A light brown with rich, orange and yellow specks, which seemed to glow with an inner light. They entranced him and he felt a feeling he had never felt before. His heart sped up, his hands became clammy, his mouth dry. He felt his cheeks redden up to his ears. He was flustered, his breath taken away as he gazed upon this unknown girl before him. He stood staring at her silently for several moments as he was so captivated by her. Long, black hair pulled back into a ponytail, her skin alabaster white. She still held the gawkiness of a young, pre-teen girl, but he knew she would mature into a gorgeous woman. Of everything though, it was her eyes that made his youthful body excited and protective all at the same time. It was only the sound of a distant howl that brought Logan back to his senses.

“Who are you?”

She reached for his arm, clasping it within her own grip. “Don’t tell anyone you saw me,” she pleaded, concern lacing her child’s voice. “I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I wanted to see it. The black roses. I’ve never seen black roses and I have heard so much about them.”

“They are my mother’s,” Logan stated simply, gazing around the open expanse behind the stone structure. He was becoming slightly anxious. “Come inside, where it’s safe. We can talk then.” He hoped if he could convince her to enter his home, neither of them would get caught and neither would get into dire straits, which might otherwise cause them to be punished.

“I can’t. They will sense me. They will know I am here,” she said simply. “I’ll be in terrible trouble if they find out I’m here.”

Logan shook his head. He was so confused. She was still gripping his arm and the contact of her touching him didn’t help his current, disconcerted state.

“Please don’t let them know I’m here. I just wanted to see the roses, but I don’t want to get into trouble or get you into trouble for being here when I shouldn’t be. I just had to see them. Black roses. I just had to come,” she pleaded.

Logan scrubbed his face. It was a tell-tale sign of discomfort, which he learned from his father whenever Mel was about to give in to Clarissa even when he didn’t want to, just to make her happy. Logan grabbed her hand and pulled her along towards the back of the house.

“At least tell me your name, so I know who I am taking these risks for.”

“Jasmine.”

“I’m Logan. How did you get here?”

Jasmine giggled, a gleeful sound. “There are many ways in and out of the realm, Logan. It’s only your home that is so heavily protected.”

“So you just decided this morning, ‘Oh, I think I’ll go and see the roses!’”

“Something like that.” She again laughed, then gasped as she realized she was in the middle of the garden surrounded by massive, blooming black roses, the scent strong with the flowers.

Holding her arms apart, her hands down at her waist and opened, Jasmine twirled slowly around, taking it all in. A huge grin appeared on her face as she spun to observe the luscious garden.

“It’s as amazing as I had imagined.” She stopped and stared into his eyes. It was really the first time she had fully gazed upon him. His hair dark, his body lithe, his arms just beginning to develop into some semblance of muscles, but it was his eyes that captured her breath almost as much as the roses had. They were a vibrant turquoise, incredible and almost ethereal in the depth of color. “Thank you, Logan, for letting me see them. Smell them. You are so lucky to have this available to you every day.”

“I never thought about it that way. I guess because I don’t know anything different.”

“Well, you are lucky to be able to visit this garden whenever you want. To smell these roses, unlike any other rose I have ever smelled. The black gives it a slightly different scent. Strong, intense, but sweet and dark. It’s hard to explain.”

“I’ll have to investigate by smelling other roses the next time I go topside.”

Jasmine tilted her head to the side as if listening to something only she could hear. She frowned as her focus came back to the young man in front of her. “I have to go before they notice I’m gone. Thank you, Logan, for allowing me to see this. For bringing me here.”

BOOK: Demon's Web
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