Authors: Trina M. Lee
Tags: #menage, #PNR, #Supernaturals, #UF
“Start talking,” Shaz said, rolling onto his side to face me. “Tell me what brought that on. Not that I’m complaining.”
“You’re not going to believe the thing Jez and I hunted tonight.” I reached to slide a hand through his damp platinum hair before stroking it down the side of his face. “I’m going to hit the shower and tell you all about it.”
I bounded off the bed with a spring in my step. Though I was still feeling some of the fatigue from earlier, the crushing burnout was gone. The worst of my hunger had been sated. I’d been careful not to take too much. It was dangerous for both of us.
From the shower in the en suite bathroom, I told Shaz about the nasty flesh-eating demon. Raising my voice over the sound of the water, I described it in great detail. I focused on that part of my night, leaving out any mention of Kale. It just wasn’t necessary.
When I re-entered the bedroom, I found Shaz passed out, snoring into a pillow. So much for my storytelling skills.
The sun wouldn’t be up for two more hours, but I was ready to fall into bed. I yawned and abandoned the idea of going downstairs for a snack. My white wolf was much more appealing. I turned off the lights and climbed into bed. Shaz turned toward me in his sleep, curling his naked body around mine. I snuggled in close against him and hoped for a deep, dreamless slumber.
I wasn’t sure how much time passed before I sneezed myself awake. A noxious odor tickled my sinuses. Sulfur.
Alarm bells rang inside my head. I focused on remaining still though the change in my breathing surely revealed that I was awake. Fear sat like a heavy weight upon my chest. There was a demon in the room with us.
I wasn’t at all surprised to discover Shya. That, however, did nothing to eliminate my terror at finding him in my bedroom. Since my fear manifested best as anger, I sat up seething.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I snapped at the demon who stood close enough to touch. How unnerving.
“Ah, you’re awake,” he said pleasantly, as if he’d dropped by for coffee and was pleased to find me at home. “I apologize for the unannounced visit. I won’t be long.”
Shaz stirred beside me, and with a flick of his wrist, Shya stilled his movements. Shaz continued to snore, unaware of the demon’s presence.
“What did you do?” I shook Shaz and panicked when he couldn’t be roused.
Shya’s red eyes seemed to glow in the darkened room. I was disoriented, unsure if it was just before sunrise or just after sunset. Shya couldn’t take physical form during daylight hours. How long had I been asleep? My head felt foggy, so it couldn’t have been long enough.
“I would prefer to do this without incident or interruption. Shall I render you unconscious as well?” Amusement laced his tone. He was constantly amused, until he was pissed. Then he was downright terrifying.
“Prefer to do what without incident?” I questioned, holding the blanket tight against me to hide my nudity. Roused from sleep in one’s own bedroom was not a great way to be confronted.
I could see him well in the dark thanks to keen wolf vision. So I saw the dagger he withdrew from his jacket before the last of the moon’s rays glinted off the dragon etched into the blade. My heart raced, and I struggled to swallow around the lump in my throat.
Shya chuckled, an evil sound that crept through my bones, leaving me feeling violated and scared. “Stay calm, Alexa. I’m not here to kill you.”
When he reached for me, I was anything but calm. I lashed out to shove him away, knowing better than to grab for my power. Mine was child’s play compared to what he was packing.
“Don’t touch me,” I cried when he came at me again.
“Be still, and I won’t have to hurt you. Much. Of course, I can just do this.”
His power hit me hard and fast, pasting me flat on my back in the bed. Frozen in place with the searing heat of his magic burning me from the inside out, I could only watch as he advanced on me with the dagger in hand.
It wasn’t a large blade, six inches at best. But even the tiniest blade could do serious damage in the right hands. The worst part was that any blade made or carried by a demon was more powerful metaphysically than it ever could be as a mere physical weapon.
I struggled to break free of his hold, but it was useless. I couldn’t move. The demon reached for me again, and I cringed. He grabbed hold of my hair and realization settled in.
“Are you stealing my hair? Goddamn you, Shya. What are you doing?”
“Nothing more than a lock. You’ll hardly notice it.”
When he used the blade to separate a chunk on the top I shrieked. “Cut from underneath at least, so I can hide it. What the hell are you thinking?”
Perhaps my biggest concern then shouldn’t have been a missing chunk of hair. I wasn’t really operating at full capacity. This all felt like an extremely bad dream. I knew the horrible things that could be done with a lock of hair. Hell even a strand of hair was enough to twist some very horrid spells. Whatever he wanted my hair for, it was bad.
“You women and your vanity,” he tsked. “So ridiculous.” To his credit, Shya went for a piece from underneath, slicing it off in one clean swipe of the blade. He stuffed the long chunk of ash blonde hair into a pouch that disappeared back into his jacket.
“What are you going to do with that?” I demanded. “I have a right to know.”
“You and Jez did a good job with that minion. I didn’t expect it to be so easy for you. I’m impressed.” He changed the subject entirely. “And that message you sent to the vampires was long overdue. Good for you.”
His praise was absolutely bizarre. I stared at him, trying to keep my true feelings from showing in my eyes. “What was that thing we killed? Why was it here?” I needed something better than a litany of questions; that was getting me nowhere.
Shya perched on the edge of the bed beside me and stroked a hand through my hair that was spread out on the pillow. “That, my dear, is what happens to humans when they sell their soul to my kind. They become a slave, serving in the underworld. Minions. Nothing more, nothing less. It was summoned here. A bit of an accident I’m afraid. Gabriel is still perfecting some of his skills.”
I went cold inside at that revelation. Gabriel was barely an adult, just nineteen. He was also an incredibly powerful witch, one who had been lured in by Shya. If he continued on the path he was on now, he would become one of those disgusting flesh-eating monsters.
Shya grabbed my arm and laid it on the bed so my wrist was exposed. It was making me crazy to have to lie there and watch him.
“Please tell me what you’re doing.” I wasn’t about to beg but was feeling pretty damn close.
“Just taking some blood, my dear. Nothing to worry about.”
Oh hell no. I fought so hard to break free of his hold on me. As the dagger came closer to my skin, my panic surged.
“Shya, don’t. Please. Can we just talk about this? I know you have plans. Maybe I can help you. It doesn’t have to be this way. Whatever you want my blood for, I’m sure there’s another way.” Desperation oozed from me in the grossest way. I hated myself for begging a demon for mercy.
The dagger bit into my flesh, slicing a clean line across my wrist. Blood welled up immediately, and Shya had a chalice there to catch it. I watched in horror as my blood dripped into the metallic cup.
“Your desperation is understandable. We are enemies, you and I. Though we share some goals, like the protection of our own personal secrets, ultimately we are not allies.” He massaged my wounded arm, encouraging the blood to keep flowing. “I too am desperate. One day, Alexa, you will learn the value of your empire, and you will fight to protect it as I do now for mine. Then you will understand why I do such things.”
“What does that even mean? Don’t play word games. Is it really so impossible for you to be straight up with me?”
“No, of course not.” He smiled, a broad grin revealing toothpaste-commercial perfect teeth. Illusion. His appearance as a Japanese man was a lie. I had never seen Shya’s true face, nor did I want to.
“Chalices of blood aren’t used for tea parties, Shya. Give me some fucking answers. Something. Anything.” My fear began to dissolve as my anger became genuine.
“You’re dying, Alexa,” he said, startling me into silence. “The power is killing you. I’m sure you can feel it every time you call it. The nosebleeds and headaches are getting worse, aren’t they? It’s only a matter of time until it kills you. Not much time I’m afraid.”
His words reverberated with the truth. It wasn’t news. Not really. This topic had come up before. But hearing him say it like that, so casual and matter of fact, it scared me.
“What’s your point?” I met his gaze head on, holding steady despite how hard it was to stare into those red eyes.
“Only that we are both running out of time to find a way to get what we want.”
I was starting to figure Shya out. If I up and died on him because I called too much power one time too many, he couldn’t use my death the way he hoped.
“You have no idea what I want,” I seethed. “Get the fuck out of my house.”
Shya looked into the chalice and, satisfied with what he saw, released my wrist. “I know you don’t want to go dark and lose the balance of your twin flame bond.”
“You don’t know shit. Get out.” I had to keep repeating myself because if I let him talk he would say something sly and manipulative. Letting him inside my head was not an option.
“Does it frighten you? Everything you’re about to become?” He went on, unfazed by my hateful demand.
His gaze landed on the amulet I wore, and he reached for it. The touch of his hand against my chest made my skin crawl. He turned the black onyx amulet over a few times before dropping it.
When I didn’t utter a word, Shya continued. “You’re smart, resourceful. I like that. You’ll make a foe I can be proud of.”
He could have taken the amulet and robbed me of my chance to save my wolf. When he didn’t, I was both relieved and wary. The amulet would keep the wolf within me when I transitioned, but it wouldn’t save my light from being consumed by Arys’s darkness.
The pressure holding me frozen disappeared, and I was able to move again. Shya vanished along with it. He was gone so suddenly, I found myself wondering if he’d really been there at all.
I lay there staring at the window, watching the darkness fade as the sun rose. I didn’t dare close my eyes again until I knew there was no way he could return.
* * * *
“I can’t believe he was in here and I had no idea.” Shaz rubbed a hand through his disheveled shock of white blond hair before dragging it over his face where the barest hint of a five o’clock shadow was starting. “Are you sure you’re ok?” Gently he took my arm and traced a finger lightly over what remained of the cut from Shya’s dagger. It was minor, little more than a scratch now.
“Yes, I’m fine. Physically. Mentally, I’m absolutely terrified. And more than a little pissed off.” I sipped from a mug of hot coffee, seeking comfort in that simple, familiar action. “He hit you with something so you wouldn’t wake up. It was probably for your own good.”
Shaz had spent some time away, in the mountains, running as wolf and freeing himself from the restraints of home. He’d come back with an attitude I wasn’t accustomed to, ready to take on anyone and anything. Shya had probably saved his life by keeping him unconscious.
I was reminded of the Vegas trip when Shaz had willingly gone into a cage fight and killed another wolf. His willingness to kill to protect us hadn’t been what disturbed me. It was his lack of remorse.
Shaz reached for the sugar and added another spoonful to his cup. We sat at the small table in my kitchen, drinking coffee and watching the moon rise. My mind raced, going over everything Shya had said and done recently.
“Shya said he was desperate,” I mused, enjoying the warmth of the mug in my hand. “I think he’s trying everything in his power to find that scroll. Which means I need to be looking for it too.”
Shaz nodded thoughtfully. “So where do we start?” My heart fluttered. His devotion would never cease to amaze me. Shaz was a true embodiment of the wolf’s loyalty.
“I have no idea. Where would you hide an ancient artifact that could give a demon serious power?”
“A church,” Shaz suggested. Then he frowned. “Or is that too obvious?”
I chewed my lip, lost in thought. Shya had said the scroll would enable him to claim Lilah’s throne. Though I didn’t know the gritty details of what that meant, I knew she was of higher rank in the demon world than Shya. He was evil enough without rising to greater power. And whatever he planned to do with that power, it would be good only for him.
“I need to talk to Willow. Maybe he can shed some light on a few things. There’s a lock, a door, or a seal of some kind that Shya wants to break. I’m not quite clear on the details.” I shook my head. My brain was cramping.
I knew just enough to know I needed more. The trip to Las Vegas had been my way of taking some time away from Edmonton and away from Shya. Now it was time to face what was coming.
“We need to reach out to the city wolves, Lex. They could be allies worth having.” Shaz rose to refill his coffee, pausing to rumple my hair affectionately on his way by.
“They could also kill us the second we walk into their territory.” I laughed, but it wasn’t really funny. That was a very real possibility. “I don’t have a lot of experience with the city wolves, but I hear they’re a territorial bunch. Approaching them might be dangerous.”
Shaz shrugged. “It might be. We don’t have a choice though. There’s only two of us. It’s not like we’re much of a threat. We don’t have a pack.”
“True enough. At least you got to leave willingly.” I tried to make light of it, but I was still feeling the burn of being kicked out of my pack. They were justified in their decision. They believed I was a threat to their safety, and they weren’t wrong.
“And I was happy to.” Shaz returned to his seat at the table. He set his mug aside and took my hand, leaning in to rub his cheek along mine in a wolfish nuzzle. “I belong with you. Besides, I think we’ve both kind of outgrown the pack.”