Authors: Carrie Ann Ryan
Tags: #Fated, #Desires, #Dante's, #Circle
He stepped through, the burning fire surrounding him licking at him like hungry flames. It didn’t hurt any worse that what his father had done to him recently, so he didn’t care.
As the last of the flames died away he blinked open his eyes and smiled.
“It’s about time you showed up,” Ambrose said. He stood in the backyard of his home, his arms folded over his chest and a frown on his face, though there was no hiding the mix of laughter and concern in his eyes.
“I was tied up,” Fawkes explained. From the look on Ambrose’s face, he had a feeling the warrior angel knew
what he meant by that.
“Are you here for good?”
Fawkes shrugged. “I’m not sure yet.”
“Ambrose, stop interrogating the boy and let him come inside,” Jamie said from the back door.
Fawkes smiled and pushed past Ambrose to sweep Jamie in his arms. She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck as he inhaled her scent. He’d helped save her once before and now she was going to try to save him.
Something along her scent triggered the protectiveness within him and he froze.
Jamie smiled full out and nodded. “Yes, Becca is as well.”
Fawkes remembered hearing about Jamie and her six girlfriends who had all been struck by lightning. They were all now—or would be soon—supernaturals in their own right, rather than humans.
“Balin and Ambrose are actually letting you walk around now? I’d have thought they’d wrap you in bubble wrap and force you to sit the entire time.”
“Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind,” Balin said as he walked up behind Jamie. “Now get your paws off my mate.”
Fawkes grinned then leaned to kiss Jamie on the cheek. She laughed while Balin
Ambrose each growled in turn.
Hell, he’d needed this—the teasing and laughter. He wanted the smiles and happiness that he saw on the other demon’s face. It could happen for Fawkes, he knew that, but it would be a long journey.
Balin frowned. “You’ve made your choice, haven’t you?”
Fawkes shook his head. “No, not yet. I have time, but I wanted, no
to see what else was out there.”
Jamie took his hand and led him into the triad’s home. “Go take a shower and get into some of Balin’s clothes since you can’t walk around in just leather pants in broad daylight while in the human realm.”
“I don’t know babe, humans are just as weird as everyone else,” Balin teased.
Jamie rolled her eyes and put her hand protectively on her stomach. “Shut it. Go show Fawkes what he can wear and the guest bedroom that he can stay in.”
Fawkes opened his mouth to say something but Jamie held up her hand.
“You’re staying with us, at least for the night. If you want to go somewhere else to roam or learn about what this choice means later, sure. Right now though, you’re staying here and eating dinner with us. Hunter and Becca will be here soon to eat and I’m sure they’ll want to see you.”
Fawkes nodded, remembering the animalistic wolf, Hunter. He’d also helped save him as well and had heard that the wolf had mated Becca, Jamie’s friend.
Balin squeezed his shoulder, forcing Fawkes’ gaze to his. “Everything will be okay. You know that right?”
Fawkes nodded but knew he was lying. It wasn’t a choice that came easily to a demon. Sure, if he were human, not taking souls and slowing dying without knowing if he’d ever find his true half wouldn’t seem like as tough a choice.
He wasn’t human though.
He was the son of the Devil himself and had to make his choices on his own.
He could do it if he had to, but he didn’t know if he wanted to.
What kind of person did that make him?
Oh yeah, a demon.
He nodded toward the others then followed Balin to the guest room where he’d be staying for the time being. After he took a shower and put on Balin’s extra jeans and button down, he looked in the mirror and smiled.
He looked almost human. Who knew?
“Stop trying to look pretty and get your ass out here,” Balin called from other part of the house and Fawkes rolled his eyes.
Balin had always been like a big brother to him—more so than his actual blood brothers. The other demon had shown him how to fight, how to use a sword, and how to protect himself from others who knew that killing the son of Lucifer would exalt them into legends.
He walked into the living room to find Hunter with his arm wrapped around a beautiful redhead who had to be Becca sitting on the couch.
Hunter smiled at him, though really, on the wolf it looked more like a threat than a true smile.
“Good to see you, Fawkes.”
Becca grinned and stood up to give him hug. She smelled of sweetness and growth from the child in her womb. He looked over her shoulder at Hunter’s glare and snorted.
“It’s nice to meet you, Becca, but you better pull back a bit or your mate will kill me. Slowly.”
Becca threw her head back and laughed. “Yeah, that sounds a bit right. Don’t worry though, he won’t kill you.”
“Maybe maim,” Jamie added in. “Only slightly though.”
“We made fajitas and all the fixings so it’s pretty much serve yourself at the table,” Balin said as he handed over a beer to the non-pregnant people in the room.
Fawkes took a sip and winced at the unfamiliar bitter taste. “How is it I’ve never had one of these before?”
Hunter snorted. “Are you even old enough in the human realm?”
“Shit, I forgot about that,” Balin said as he reached out to take it back.
Fawkes raised a brow. “I’m a demon and almost twenty-one. I have more to worry about than those few months.”
Ambrose just shook his head and sighed. “I’m not in the mood to deal with human politics. I’ve seen enough of it in my time.”
“That would be a
time, right honey?” Balin teased.
“You’ll pay for that later,” Ambrose growled.
The two males’ eyes darkened and Fawkes had a feeling he’d be using some earplugs later that night to block out any noise from the master bedroom.
Fawkes watched the others make their fajitas and copied them, using extra salsa like Balin since apparently demons liked it hot. The spices mingled on his tongue and he washed it down with his beer, wondering how the hell he’d got here.
“What’s wrong, Fawkes?” Jamie asked.
“Nothing really,” he lied.
She narrowed her eyes and he laughed softly. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I left my dad’s chamber without really thinking about the consequences.” The table got quiet at the thought of what must have happened in the chamber, but he didn’t elaborate. He didn’t need to, considering what each person at the table had been through on their own.
“I know when you left hell before, Balin, you all gave me the opportunity to leave if I needed to, but I didn’t know if I was ready. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Do you want to take souls?” Balin asked point blank. “Do you want to end human lives because that’s how you think demons should live?”
“No. I don’t want to kill anyone who doesn’t deserve it.”
“You’ve answered your own question then,” Ambrose added. “You're confused because you've been on the path that's easy and paved with your father's intentions. I know that isn't the one you want. It might kill you, but you’d have been lost to us and yourself if you’d taken the other path. You’re here for a reason, Fawkes.”
Fawkes swallowed hard and looked at his half eaten plate. “What do I do?”
Jamie reached out and gripped his hand. “Stay with us. We’ll help you anyway you can. You have years, Fawkes, years to find your mate.”
“You won’t be in the same position I was in either,” Balin added. “You won’t be forced to go back to hell. Lucifer has no place in the human realm, no matter how hard he tries. You can travel to the other realms as well, at least most of them, and look for your mate.”
Fawkes snorted. “So spend my whole life searching for someone who might not exist?”
Balin narrowed his eyes. “At least you’ll have the option unlike others.”
Fawkes nodded, remembering that Balin’s father had forced him to stay in hell until he’d lost enough energy that he hadn’t been able to go to the other realms to search for his mate.
“Enjoy life, Fawkes,” Hunter said, surprising Fawkes that the wolf would speak of enjoyment when he hadn’t any before he’d met Becca. “Don’t take the time you have for granted. You’ll have years to find her. Fate will provide, you have to believe in that.”
“It looks like I’ve made my choice,” Fawkes whispered, knowing he’d made his choice the moment he’d left hell in the first place.
Jamie squeezed his hand. “You’ve decided to be good. That’s okay, Fawkes. We’ll help you live.”
Fawkes looked at the people who had welcomed him without reservations and blinked hard. He might have made one choice, but that didn’t mean there weren’t others to come. He still had to find the one woman for him, the one that could create the mating bond and provide enough energy that he wouldn’t fade away.
The idea of fading away though paled in comparison to what he’d have to do if he chose souls over the humanity that he wanted to emulate.
He’d taken the first step. Now he just had to find her.
Six Months Later
Leslie Masterson wanted a mate.
Her wolf wanted one even more than she did.
The human part of her wanted that perfect mate for life. Sure, had a certain itch that she needed to scratch, but that wasn’t the point. She’d had sex before, come on, she was forty after all, but it had been way too long.
At least five years if she was counting.
Not that she was counting.
It wasn’t her fault really. Her brother, Dorian, had forbade all others to even look at her unless it was for his own political gain. He had been part of the Nocturne Pack’s council—the group of five families who had tried to take over the Alpha and Beta.
Thankfully Hunter, the Beta, had won the dominance battle against her brother and had stopped a likely war within their own Pack.
Her brother had died in the process yet Leslie couldn’t muster up much pity or sadness for that. She didn’t know exactly what that said about her, but honestly, she didn’t care anymore.
She was a submissive wolf—a wolf who held the lower end of the spectrum in terms of dominance. Her wolf loved to let others control her and tell her what to do, but it wasn’t something wrong like what others thought. Her wolf wanted to be part of a relationship with another wolf where the more dominate wolf would take care of her.
Being a submissive wolf meant the dominant wolves had others to protect and care for. That way their own issues with dominance would be soothed and the submissive wolf would be able to care for their dominant wolf in other ways.
The human part of Leslie wasn’t as submissive as her wolf, but she too wanted someone to care for her like she wanted to care for them. She wasn’t as strong as other wolves and knew she needed the protection. It was simple biology. She had other strengths and could protect those in her care if needed.
She just happened to be on the lower end of the power totem pole.
Normally it wouldn’t have been an issue but because Dorian had taken advantage of that, she’d spent almost her whole life in the shadows. She’d begged her brother to allow her more freedom and cursed herself when she realized her wolf needed permission for that freedom.
Now Dorian was dead and she was free.
Or at least as free as she could be within the Pack den without a mate.
It’s not like she necessarily needed a mate to live, no that would be idiotic of fate. She wanted to move on though. It had been over six months since her brother died and yet the others were still weary of her.
Some still thought she was part of the conspiracy to take over the Pack because of the blood running through her veins. Others had the idea that because she was a submissive, she didn’t matter as much.
The latter her Alpha and Beta were working on.
Their Pack had almost broken and were wrong in the way they were thinking on some things. She’d been told submissives were to be treasured, yet that wasn’t how it was done now.
Or at least for the past few years. Things were changing, albeit slowly.
Too slowly for her though because she was alone.
Sure, she’d made some friends and was a little more open, but not enough. She wasn’t nearly independent enough for her own taste, but that was for safety now, rather than her own choices. She had to live with Hunter and his mate—and her friend—Becca because it still wasn’t completely safe for her on her own.
People wanted revenge for what had happened and she was the easy scape goat for those who didn’t look beyond the surface.
Leslie walked past a group of males and lowered her head on instinct. They were all more dominant than her and in the past—before the attacks—she’d have been able to walk past them no problem. But after years of living with Dorian’s abuse, she didn’t trust herself.
The males growled at her and she winced.
“Wait up, Leslie,” one of them said and she turned as quick as she could to follow his call.
If the group had been healthy, they would have assured her stance quickly by offering her a hug or touch to show her how loved she was in the Pack.
This group wasn’t like that.
Hell, she missed Becca and Hunter already and it had only been a few hours since she’d seen them.
“Oh, hello Colin,” she answered, keeping her gaze on his chin rather than try to meet his eyes.
He reached out and ran a finger along her cheek. Her wolf nudged against her skin then let out a shuddered breath at the contact. It wasn’t sexual or territorial.
No, this was Pack.
This was something she needed.
She’d already been touch-starved before Dorian had betrayed the Pack openly. After that almost all others had shunned her. If it hadn’t been for Hunter, Becca, Liam, and Alec, she would have died. The latter two, council members in their own right, had taken her under their wing much like they would a baby sister.