Authors: Cambria Hebert
“Ha-ha.” I sighed and looked back at the mess. “I tried to stop it.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” He said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders.
“Easy for you to say. You don’t light everything on fire when you’re upset.”
“No, I just morph into a hellhound and run off into the woods.”
A giggle escaped my lips, but then I frowned. It really wasn’t funny. Sam had really great control, but he’d been “disappearing” sometimes lately, and now I knew why.
“But at least I don’t have a potty mouth,” he continued.
“I do not!” I protested.
“I heard what you said a few minutes ago,” he teased.
I sighed. He laughed.
It was a real laugh and it made me do a double take. I hadn’t heard him laugh like that in weeks. Something inside me lightened a little bit.
I reached up and cupped his face. “There’s a sound I haven’t heard for a while.”
“I guess your naughty behavior brings it out of me.” He lifted an eyebrow.
“Well, then perhaps I should be naughty more often.” I pressed my lips lightly against his, and he hooked his arms around my waist and pulled me closer. The front of my body was completely against his without an inch to spare between us. His lips were warm and pliant and they molded themselves to mine in a way they hadn’t in weeks.
God, could that boy kiss. He had a way of stamping out every thought, every whisper, every single thing around us until there was only his lips upon mine. I threaded my fingers through his hair, knotting them in, taking up residence and meaning to stay, when he pulled me away from him and looked at me. He was breathing too hard to speak and his eyes were glittering like the sun. I delved my hands deeper into the tangles of his hair, trying to snatch him back, but he shook me.
“Hev,” he rasped and his voice scratched over me, leaving goose bumps in its wake. How was I supposed to think when he sounded like that?
“Heven,” he said again when I didn’t respond. “We’re on fire.”
Yes. Yes, we were. “I like fire,” I murmured and tried once more to pull him close to me.
This time he untangled my hands and grabbed my wrists. “No, literally. We’re on fire.”
I followed his gaze down.
“Crap!” I yelled and began stomping my feet.
My shoes were practically gone and the ankles of Sam’s jeans were glowing as the fire burned up toward his knees. I dropped down and began slapping at the flames on his legs, making gasping sounds when parts of the fabric came off in my hands.
Finally, I got the flames out and stood, looking down at the damage. My shoes were half melted and Sam looked like a pirate with his jeans completely burned away to his shins, leaving the ends blackened and frayed.
I looked up. “I caught you on fire.”
His lips twitched.
“I caught my boyfriend on fire.”
“I guess it’s a good thing your boyfriend is flame retardant.”
I groaned, but then it turned into a laugh. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” My laugh fell away. “It’s just, well…” I felt my cheeks heat and knew I was blushing. Really? Blushing? You’d think after everything we’ve been through together, some hot—okay, extremely hot—kissing wouldn’t be embarrassing.
“I get it,” Sam said, stepping closer. “I haven’t exactly been… easy to be around.”
“Well, that’s true,” I said with a smile. “You really should start showering more often.” I wrinkled my nose and stuck out my tongue.
He laughed, another real laugh, and my heart skipped a beat. His smile fell away. “I know I haven’t been smiling much, but I’m going to try and change that.”
“I’ll take you any way I can get you, even grumpy and stinky.”
He lifted his arm and took a sniff of his armpit and I laughed. He shrugged. “Not too bad.”
“Yeah, because I’ve been doing your laundry and I sprayed you with body spray last night after you fell asleep,”
He widened his eyes. “You did not. I would’ve heard you come down the stairs.”
Since we came home, Sam had been staying here at the farm. On the couch. Gran didn’t like the thought of him being alone at his apartment after Logan…
I laughed. “Okay, I didn’t. But I did come downstairs to check on you. You didn’t even move when I kissed you.”
His eyes were disbelieving, but I could see the churning gears in his head as he tried to remember something he slept right through.
“You were tired,” I said, letting him off the hook. Being trapped in hell had to have been exhausting. You’d think I would sleep better these days, but knowing my mother’s soul is trapped in hell doesn’t make sleep very easy. That and the fact I was so used to Sam being in bed with me it was weird without him.
“I’ll be more alert from now on,” he promised, something shifting behind his eyes. I knew his promise wasn’t for me because he knew I would never expect that. It was to himself because he considered himself our protector and sleeping on the job wasn’t allowed.
“Don’t exhaust yourself, Sam.” I warned. “After everything…” I began, but he shook his head and my words fell away.
“I think he’s okay,” he said, low, looking back to where Logan was buried.
I nodded, not trusting my voice to speak. I didn’t know how long it would take Sam to make peace with Logan’s death, but from what I was seeing today I’d say he was on his way. I wasn’t sure what caused the change in him this morning, but whatever it was, I was thankful.
I swallowed. “I think so too.”
We stood there silently for long moments as something shifted in the air around us. I prayed it was healing. Then Sam reached out and threaded his fingers through mine.
“Gran’s probably waiting.”
“Probably,” I agreed.
“Well, then, come on, pyro.” He smiled and tugged me toward the house. “Maybe some answers will put out some of that fire that boils inside of you.”
“Ha-ha-ha,” I said. But really, I hoped he was right.
Today was a day I should have been waiting for anxiously. Really, it was a wonder three weeks had passed without me deciding I couldn’t wait another minute to find out what Gran knew.
Because, apparently, I wasn’t the only one who’d been keeping secrets.
When I admitted I had confessions to make, she said she did too. But Logan’s death and all of my admissions had turned out to be more important, and her secrets were put on hold. But as fall took hold of Maine, I began to grow restless. I began to want to know why Gran wasn’t as shocked by the basket of unreal I served her.
And today was that day. Today was the day to start moving again, however slowly.
And so we went to hear Gran’s confession.
Staring up through the dark, I listened as the light footsteps drew closer, keeping up with my little charade of sleep until the very last second. It was pitch black in here, so dark there were no shadows, but I didn’t need to see the movement of a shadow or a dark shape to sense when something was there.
At the very last second I sprang up, kicking out my legs and arching my back to jump into a standing position. My hands were ready, reaching for the newest creature that had come planning to defeat me, and I yanked it closer, letting a growl echo through the dark.
I felt its surprise; I caught it off guard and I used that to my advantage.
Stupid demon. They were all stupid.
I gripped its throat with one hand, squeezing until it made sick gurgling sounds. It began kicking and pulling at my hand, but I wasn’t letting go. I leapt from the bed, dragging it with me, and went across the room toward the massive fireplace where I smashed the back of its head against the black granite mantle. The demon went slack in my hands. With a sigh I dropped the body at my feet and reached out for the lighter (actually, a small blow torch) and with a click the kindling in the fireplace roared to life. Flames, hot and orange, shot up and out, illuminating the dark bedroom. I picked up the demon and tossed it into the hungry flames.
Ever since I came here they’d been coming, daily, sometimes hourly. They all wanted a piece of the guy who dared take over Beelzebub’s place. They thought they could beat me. They thought I would just surrender this power.
The stupidest ones—the ones who thought they were clever—came at night. They thought they would get me in my sleep. Like I would fall for that. I had the hearing of a hellhound; it never failed. I could hear them coming a mile away, and when I slept, I did so with weapons.
The fire crackled and I watched as the last of the demon was devoured by flames. It occurred to me then that it was strangely quiet in my bedroom. The kind of quiet that meant all hell was about to break loose. Slowly, I pivoted, wishing I’d gotten at least one hour of sleep.
But it seemed sleep wasn’t something I would be getting tonight.
The room was filled with demons, fifteen at least. They all stood in a semi-circle around me. I was grateful the fireplace was at my back or else I would’ve been surrounded. That would have been a bitch.
They stood, staring and grinning maniacal grins, just waiting to pounce. The body in the fire had been a decoy, a way to keep me busy as they silently filed in the room and readied for attack.
They thought they had me.
They were wrong.
I shot into action, leaping backward and reaching into the burning flames (it’s rather convenient to be fireproof) and pulling out a log, blazing with fire. The demons rushed closer until they saw what I was doing. I launched it at the closest demon and hit it square in the face, its wild white hair catching on fire and its face blackened and dented. It dropped on the ground, making horrible screeching noises, and began to thrash about. I ignored it and focused on the other two that rushed me from both sides.
I threw a swift roundhouse kick to my left and then a punch to my right. I crouched low, reaching into the ankles of my boots and pulling out identical daggers. When I stood to my full height, I stabbed both the demons again. I had to kick them to dislodge their bodies from the blades. They both joined their friend in the fire.
A hand fell onto my shoulder, gnarled with yellowed nails that were so long they looked like talons. I rammed the blade through its owner’s chest and it disintegrated before me. Out of nowhere a chair came hurtling through the room and caught me on the shoulder. I stumbled and fell into yet another attacker, who promptly sank his nasty teeth into my shoulder.