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Authors: Catherine DeVore

The Devil Inside Her

BOOK: The Devil Inside Her
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The
Devil Inside Her

Catherine DeVore

Copyright 2013 Catherine DeVore

 

 

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“And lest you find yourself too concerned, let me reassure you, Daniel,” Whitmore said smoothly, folding his bony, white hands. “I am only a collector, nothing more.”

I considered, regarding the elderly man. The request was not the type I usually accepted, but Edmund Whitmore was a wealthy man and his initial offer had been more than enough to catch my attention. “Alright,” I said, sighing inwardly. “Tell me about the job.”


Lucifer’s Rise
was painted in 1693 by a woman called Penelope Smythe with no previous painting experience,” Whitmore told me, steepling his skeletal fingers. “It was the only thing she ever painted. She was put on trial for witchcraft and executed shortly after its completion. The painting vanished during the trial and has not been seen since.”

“And you think I can find it? I’m not a magician, Whitmore,” I said, shaking my head.

“I don’t expect you to be. I have a lead in Istanbul,” Whitmore told him. “Word on the grapevine is a woman by the name of Heather Roman found the painting amidst her late grandfather’s possessions. It is my belief that she will sell the painting. I want you to track her down and make her an offer.”

“If she refuses?”

Whitmore’s grin was like a crust of ice on a riverbank. “You will see that she does not.”

My lips tightened slightly.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
“One more thing, then. How will I know it’s the right painting?” I asked. “You said it was lost in the 1600s. What does it even look like?”

“The subject matter is, simply put, Lucifer,” Whitmore said. “You will know it is
Lucifer’s Rise
because of three things. First, the signature in the lower right-hand corner, which should match Smythe’s from her confession to witchcraft. Second, the painting is said to have a specific seal from a rare version of the Goetic text
The Lesser Key of Solomon
embedded in the paint on the lower left-hand corner. This particular seal is very rarely seen even in authentic occult work.” Whitmore slid a sheet of paper and a metal coin over to me. The paper scrap, thick as flannel, bore the scrawled signature of one Penelope Smythe. The coin was stamped with a crude circular seal that inexplicably made my skin crawl. “Treat these well,” Whitmore cautioned. “They are both authentic relics and they are both irreplaceable.”

I arranged the papers neatly and slid them into my folio, taking great care to keep them unwrinkled. “And the third thing?”

“It is said that there is an unmistakable aura surrounding the painting,” Whitmore said solemnly. “The legend says that Penelope Smythe painted the devil’s portrait from life, and that he left his mark on it.”

“Sounds like superstition to me.”

“It may well be,” he agreed. “But who knows? In that case, the seal and the signature should be enough. Thank you, Daniel, here are your tickets, hotel vouchers, and all the information on Smythe’s trial. I hope to hear from you soon.”

 

####

 

I flew out to Istanbul the following morning, settling into my spacious first class seat thanks to Edmund Whitmore’s generous advance. Lowering the tray table over my lap, I opened Whitmore’s packet on Penelope Smythe’s trial. It was morbid stuff; it seemed to me that in the modern day, Miss Smythe would have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Instead, she had been burned alive for believing that the devil had come to her. There wasn’t much information pertaining to the painting itself, but I knew from experience that even seemingly useless details could be the difference between locating the painting or failing completely.

I was mulling over the testimonies from Smythe’s trial when somebody settled into the unoccupied seat next to me. Puzzled, I turned to see a stunning woman
with pale blonde hair sitting beside me. Her face was so angular she almost seemed severe, but her beauty was remarkable. “Can I help you?” I asked, unnerved by her piercing blue gaze.

“It is I who has come to help you, if you will listen,” she said, her soft voice lilting with some European accent. “You are heading towards a situation that you do not understand, Daniel Bryant.”

“How do you know my name?” I asked, frowning.

She ignored my question. “I can give you the address of the woman who claims to own
Lucifer’s Rise
.”

“How do you know so much about my job?” I demanded, shaken. “Did Whitmore send you?”

“No, I came just for you,” she said, her lips curving upwards into a smile that was more predatory than friendly. “I want to help.” She slid a folded piece of paper across my tray table. “Be careful. She is more dangerous than she appears.” The woman stood again, looming over me. “I will be seeing you.”

Before I could splutter out a response, she stalked out of the first class section with a stride that reminded me of a wolf’s pace. I quickly shuffled my papers back into my folio and got to my feet, hoping to catch her, but when I looked
down the length of the plane, I couldn’t find her. It was as though she’d vanished into thin air.

Returning to my seat, I opened the folded paper the woman had given me. Sure enough, writte
n in an old-fashioned script were an address and phone number. “What have I gotten into?” I muttered, rubbing my temple my fingers.

The hotel Whitmore had booked for me was one of the best in the city, with a beautiful view. I took a moment to arrange my equipment and notes, knowing the whole time that I was dragging my heels on checking out the mysterious phone number I’d been given. “I should be hunting down rare books at estate sales,” I muttered, pouring myself a stiff drink from the minibar. “Fuck you, Whitmore, for dragging me into this.”

Taking a deep swig, I grabbed the phone and dialed the number. I was prepared to explain who I was and why I was calling a number that a complete stranger had given me, but the richly amused voice at the other end already knew.

“Daniel Bryant,” a woman’s voice, clearly American, said. “I have been expecting you.”

“Who is this?” I asked, trying to sound authoritative and coming off as baffled instead.

“Don’t you know? You called me, after all. This is Heather Roman.”

“Of course,” I said faintly. It was quite the day for strange women knowing my name.

“I believe you have some business you’d like to discuss with me,” Heather said. “I’ll have a car at your hotel to pick you up within an hour.”

She hung up before I could inquire further. With a sigh, I gathered my materials back together, making sure the signature and the coin were tucked deep into my folio. “Better make myself presentable,” I said, heading to the bathroom to make sure I was appropriately armed and armored against the elite likes of one Heather Roman. As I prepared, the phone rang again.

“Hello?” I said cautiously.

“Be careful,” breathed a softly accented voice, then dead air.

I half-expected that some middle-aged arts patron
would meet me at the massive old-rich home, but the woman standing between the great pillars at the front gate was fresh-faced and young, her voluptuous body accentuated by a short, scarlet dress. Dark, sensuous eyes, vivid lips, and a tumble of dark curls crowned the impression that I should be very, very careful around Heather Roman.

“Welcome,” she said, her voice sending a chill down my spine. “I’m so happy you could come.”

“Miss Roman,” I said, my lips brushing the air over the hand she proffered. “I was so concerned I’d have a hard time tracking you down, but it seems the reverse is true.”

“I’m not averse to hearing Whitmore’s offer, crass though it may be.” She ushered me inside, leading me to a study that, by its décor, had been her father’s. Standing beside a huge mahogany desk was an easel covered over with a drop cloth.

“Is that it?” I asked, wanting to tear the cloth off, see the prize, and get out of here.

“Patience,” Heather chided, perching on the edge of the desk. I tried not to look as she folded those long, slender legs, one over the other. “Pour me a drink. We will conduct this discussion like civilized people.”

I poured two tall glasses of scotch from the side bar and raised my glass in response to her toast. “To a brand new business relationship,” Heather said, drinking deeply. Her dusky voice lingered on the word “relationship” in a way that made me ache.

“Was your father a collector of much art?” I asked, sipping my scotch carefully.

“More so of curiosities,” she told me. “It was the mystery surrounding the painting that intrigued him. He owned many pieces of occult interest. I think he liked the Satan ones the best.”

“And you didn’t inherit his interest?”

“Oh, no,” Heather said, laughing. “My interests are much more…earthy.” She laid one hand on my thigh.

“I thought you wanted to talk business,” I said, trying my damndest to keep my voice level.

“Eventually,” Heather breathed, running her hand up my leg to stroke my crotch. I groaned, trying to set my drink down. I missed, the glass tumbling to the floor, but we ignored it as our lips clashed. I knew that this was a bad idea—that I was getting myself deeper into something that already smelled like trouble—but I couldn’t stop myself. My hand slid up her leg to squeeze her ass through that delicious red dress. She moaned lustily, grinding against my rapidly-hardening cock. I could see her nipples growing hard, poking through the thin fabric of her dress, as we rabidly explored each other’s bodies. I caressed one, pinching the nub just hard enough to make her gasp.

“Sell me the painting,” I growled in her ear, nipping at the lobe.

She laughed, reaching a hand down the front of my pants to squeeze my growing erection. “How much do you want it?” Heather’s hand slid off my cock and down to grip my balls. “Because from where I’m at, I believe I have the negotiating high ground.”

“Are you going to do something with that, or just threaten me?”

Heather dropped to her knees in one fluid motion, unbuttoning and unzipping the fly of my pants. I braced myself against the solid, mahogany desk as her scarlet lips wrapped around the head of my aching cock. Her tongue lashed my shaft, boldly exploring the full length. My fingers cramped around the edge of the desk as I groaned with helpless pleasure.

My cock was half-way down her throat now, and it felt like utter heaven. Heather was skilled—very skilled—and she was exerting every ounce of technique she possessed. Steadying myself, I wrapped one finger in her cascade of hair, holding her head closer to me.

“Now,” I said hoarsely, my voice not entirely stable. “are you ready to sell me the painting?” My hips bucked slightly toward her as my shaft slid in and out of her hot, wet mouth.

Heather practically purred, slowing her tongue motions down to a slow, sensual caress. I trembled as her wet tongue lapped over the head of my cock with indescribable slowness, making each stroke feel like absolute heaven.

After what felt like an eternity, Heather slowly let my aching shaft slip from her mouth. “Not quite yet,” she said, her voice like velvet. “You haven’t begun your own negotiations yet.”

More forcefully than I normally would have, I grabbed Heather by the hips and spun her around. With one hand, I forced her down over the desk, giving me a great view of her pert, round ass. Yanking
up her tight red dress, I saw that she was wearing the scantest of black lace thongs. She whimpered as I pulled them down, baring her wet pussy.

“You want to deal, we’ll deal,” I said hoarsely. I took my cock in hand, groaning low in my throat at the very sensation of gripping the erect shaft. Guiding it
into Heather’s waiting cunt, I slid into her with one smooth thrust. My breath came quick and hard as I began to drive into her, plundering her body for my own pleasure. “Sell me the painting,” I panted in her ear, holding Heather down over the desk.

She made no reply, just moaned with desperate need as I took her fast and hard. She was deliciously tight and so, so wet. I could feel Heather tensing up deep inside, her body building up to her climax. Reaching one hand around, I found the hard nub of her clit and stroked it roughly as I plunged into her over and over again.

Surprised and overstimulated, Heather cried out, her fingers gripping the edge of the desk with white knuckles. “Ohhhhh—” Her body shook under my hand as she came, her pussy spasming convulsively around my cock.  It was more than I could bear, that rhythmic gripping wetness. With a long groan, I spurted stream after stream of semen deep into Heather’s throbbing cunt.

As we both leaned over the desk, panting with exertion, I laughed breathlessly. “This is definitely one hell of a way to talk business.” I stood, slipping out of Heather with a pang of regret. I tucked myself back into my pants, re-fastening the fly and straightening myself out.

“I know I prefer it.” Adjusting her clothes back to their former perfection, Heather handed me a fresh glass of scotch, her full lips rounded up in a sensuous smile. “Here. Refresh yourself.”

I drank deeply, starting to catch my breath again. “Thanks,” I said, reaching out to grab the desk’s edge. I felt light-headed, dizzy. At first I thought it was the aftermath of my intense orgasm, but then
my vision began to blur. “What—”

Heather laughed, a crueler sound than before. “Thank you, Daniel,” she said, opening my folio and removing the small packet containing the coin and the signature. “These are the things I needed to complete my own collection.”

BOOK: The Devil Inside Her
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