Authors: Cambria Hebert
I gave a shout of pain as another demon launched himself at me, and the three of us went down in a tangle of arms and legs. My shoulder bled, I was tired, and now I was thoroughly pissed.
A great snarl ripped out of my throat as I let my body shift. I like the feeling of a shift. My bones elongated and realigned, my spine curved, and my body was freed of the rules that bound it as a human. I had so much more power as a hellhound, and I liked power.
It took barely seconds for me to complete the shift, and I ripped through the two demons who pulled me onto the floor with ease and pleasure. When I stretched to my full hellhound size, some of the demons fell back, hesitating in their plan to attack.
I didn’t hesitate at all.
I shredded through at least three more, scattering bodies around my room like leaves scatter in the fall. As I fought, my brain assessed the situation. This was a first. Usually they came in small groups or alone. They wanted to out me, to take over my spot. While an ambush was probably the best way to kill me, it also would make it hard to determine who got the top spot once I was dead.
But I wasn’t dying tonight.
I wanted to groan when the bedroom door flung open and light spilled in from the hallway. How many more were there?
“That’s enough!” a powerful voice commanded. All the demons in the room stopped attacking me and stepped back.
I took the chance to take out the closest three.
A booming laugh rang out as a man paraded into the room, stopping directly across from me. He was tall, probably over six feet, had broad shoulders and black hair pulled back into a ponytail at the base of his neck. He also had a goatee that was long and hung off his chin. It looked greasy and scraggly and it was probably full of bugs. He was dressed in black leather pants, a white dress shirt, and black leather boots.
He radiated power.
“Get out! All of you!” he commanded, and I watched as all the demons left standing scurried out the door.
I shifted to my human form as the guy surveyed the bodies around the room. He made a sound of surprised appreciation, then turned back. By that time I’d already shifted and armed myself with weapons.
“Put those away,” he said, looking pointedly at the daggers in my hand.
“You won’t mind if I don’t listen,” I said, gripping the daggers tighter.
He flung his hand out and they ripped from my hands and buried themselves to the hilt in the nearest wall. Walls made of granite, something those daggers shouldn’t have been able to penetrate.
I resisted the urge to change because I needed my voice. “Who are you?”
“Don’t question me!”
“You’re in my house. I don’t take orders in
The man actually chuckled. “I see why they call you what they do.”
I pretended what he said didn’t make me curious. “I was in the middle of something, so if you would leave…” I motioned to the door.
He appeared directly in front of me, but inches away. “I came here with no intention of killing you, but you are making me rethink that decision.”
“You should try to be more decisive,” I said, drawing another dagger from nearby. I learned quickly to stash weapons throughout this castle.
The man pinned me with a glare and spoke in a language I never heard before. All the bodies in the room turned to dust.
His little show of power had the light bulb going off inside my head.
“I did not come here to fight you,” the man said. “I don’t need your land. I don’t want it.”
“Which one are you?”
“The seven princes. Which one are you?”
He stroked his goatee and studied me for a moment. “I am Leviathan.”
“So if you didn’t come here to kill me, why did you bring along so many friends and sneak into my home in the middle of the night?”
He shrugged. “I wanted to see for myself what kind of warrior you are.”
“You came. You saw,” I said and motioned for the door.
“Beelzebub won’t stay wherever you put him for very long.” It sounded like a warning.
I said nothing, giving no indication that the idea of Beelzebub’s return bothered me in the least.
“What is your claim here?” Leviathan asked. “Why take his place?”
“I have my reasons.”
“Perhaps I could help you.”
“Seems I don’t need help for something I already have control of.” I was pretty sure helping me was not the reason a prince of hell sneaked into my house in the middle of the night.
Leviathan’s eyes narrowed. I stared at him, unwilling to back down. “Making an enemy of me isn’t a smart move,
“I wasn’t aware we were friends. Did you plan to sleep over?”
My body hit the wall with a sick cracking sound. I was pretty sure something in my back snapped, and I bit down on my tongue to keep from crying out. My legs beneath me buckled and I slid to the floor. Leviathan crouched in front of me, his considerable frame blocking all else from view. A fine sweat broke over my skin from the pain, but still I looked in his eyes.
“What did Beelzebub have over you? What caused you to want him gone?”
I didn’t answer.
“I could set him free. I know you hide him in the dungeon.”
Well, shit. This wasn’t good. I wasn’t about to beg this man not to do anything. It would only make it more attractive. “If you really wanted him set free, you would’ve done it. Perhaps my locking him up is of benefit to you as well?”
He lifted an eyebrow and seemed to consider my words. “None of us have ever liked Beelzebub, the gluttonous fool. Besides, it might be fun to watch what happens when he does get out.”
I swallowed, the pain in my back causing my stomach to churn. “How thoughtful of you.”
Leviathan grunted and stood. “I am more generous than my brothers. Such a burden to bear.” He looked down at me and smiled. “But the show to come, that will be worth not killing you now. I do not envy you. Not at all.”
He walked out of the room without looking back. As he went, the daggers he’d managed to lodge into the wall fell to the floor with a clattering sound. I shifted my gaze to the mess on the floor from the broken chair, the ashes that had drifted from the fireplace, and the blood-red rug that was torn.
“Jeeves!” I yelled, wincing at the pain in my back. Something was definitely broken. I healed fast, but this felt pretty bad.
A short demon wearing a black suit with a black bowtie came into the room. “Sir?”
“Clean this mess up!” I barked.
He surveyed the room silently. His scarred features, from when I melted off half his face with a torch, didn’t change. Then he looked back at me, noted my condition, and hesitated.
I growled, low and mean, and then forced myself to my feet. “If you think a broken back will keep me from torturing you, you got another thing coming.”
“Yes, sir.” The demon I called Jeeves began cleaning the room. I half drug myself to the bed, where I managed to lie down and close my eyes. I wondered how long it would take to heal.
“Your father met your mother when they were very young. They were just a little bit older than you are now,” Gran said. Cole straightened at the mention of our father, the father who he didn’t even know about until a couple months ago. In the chair right beside him, Kimber listened aptly, probably glad that for once she was being told the secrets the same time as everyone else. Gemma was standing next to the coffee pot, trying not to watch Cole… or his ex, who he was practically attached at the hip with since we pulled her out of hell.
“Yes, I know,” I said, fidgeting in my chair. “Mom told me that.”
“Did she tell you how they met, exactly?”
Where is she going with this?
“Your grandpa introduced them,” Gran said with a faraway look in her eye. Her aura bloomed with the color of love (pink) at just the mention of her deceased husband. But beneath the pink were some muddy colors that indicated whatever she was about to spill wasn’t going to make me very happy. I was about to urge Gran to get on with it when she spoke again. “Your grandpa was a Supernal Being just like your father and just like Cole.”
“I figured as much,” I said, wondering why it was such a big deal.
“He knew he was a Supernal Being. We all knew it. We knew because an angel came to him, much like Airis came to you. He was asked to carry out certain acts here on Earth. I never knew exactly the things he did. He never told me and I never asked. What he was doing was very important, but it was dangerous and he never wanted to give anyone cause to come after his family for information. But there was this one night… we were on the cusp of a blizzard, the worst Maine had seen in years. The skies were heavy and gray and the air was so frigid it practically shimmered with ice. He was running late and I was worrying he wouldn’t make it home before the snow started. Your father was about to go out and look for him when he showed up.”
The coffee maker beeped and I watched as Gemma pulled down some mugs and started pouring the dark, steaming liquid into the cups.
“He had someone with him. A girl. She was dressed all in black, with heavy makeup and wild hair that fell around her shoulders. She came around the side of the car, looking tough as nails, but when she stepped through that door…” Gran pointed at the door in the kitchen and smiled. “She wasn’t nearly as tough as she wanted us to believe.”
Gemma handed me a mug and I breathed in the strong scent of the brew.
“Your grandpa had found her somewhere, I have no idea where. She’d gotten into some trouble and had nowhere to go. With the blizzard coming there was no time to find her somewhere to stay so he brought her home.” Gran smiled and the pink in her aura brightened. “He told me later he knew I always wanted a daughter so he got me one.”
Cole cleared his throat as Gemma added like half a ton of sugar into a mug, adding a dash of cream, and then handed it to him. He looked at her intently when he reached for the cup. I noticed she tried to avoid his stare but wasn’t exactly successful. Then, Gemma turned away to hand a coffee cup to Kimber who immediately wrinkled her nose. “I don’t drink black coffee.”
Gemma made a face and set the mug at her elbow.