Heaven's Key (Demon Hunter Book 1)

BOOK: Heaven's Key (Demon Hunter Book 1)
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Heaven’s Key

Demon Hunter Series – Book One

 

By Electa Graham

 

 

 

 

Heaven’s Key

Copyright © 2016 by Electa Graham

 

This book is a work of fiction, the characters, incidents and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

Cover photography by Valentina Kallias Cover Design by Scott Kaelen

Editing and Formatting by BZHercules.com

Chapter 1

 

The steering wheel burned my hands as I gripped it, squeezing hard enough for my fingers to go white. I was bored and I hated being bored. Waiting was not on my list of favorite things and waiting for Cole was up there with having hot pokers shoved in my eyes and a nice relaxing acid bath. Cole wasn’t a bad guy and he was competent enough. I just didn’t do partners. I liked being the only one I had to answer to.

In my mind, he wasn’t my partner; he was a concession. One I had to make so I could continue doing what I did best, and that was killing demons. I had other skills, no question, but tearing those motherfuckers from the fabric of existence was my absolute favorite. Unfortunately, it was not a talent that paid the bills. The people who needed me the most usually couldn’t pay.

So I worked on the side, ridding the rich of unwanted ghosts, cleansing their “McMansions,” and anything else they wanted to pay me good money for. These jobs didn’t exactly feed the soul, but they filled my pockets so I could help the people who needed me. The only catch was that most of these jobs came from my aunt.

My Aunt Bevie was a psychic for the rich and powerful. If you’d have known her clientele, you would’ve wept for the future of our country. The people who have ruled your life wouldn’t make a move until they passed it by my Aunt B. She knew the kind of people who could pay obscene amounts of cash to get Grandma to stop rattling around in the attic.

Bevie wasn’t my real aunt, just someone I met in the line of duty, but she loved me like a daughter, and even though I’d told her to stop, she worried about me. She got it in her head that I was being far too careless lately and I needed a partner. When Aunt B decided something, it was the gospel truth and set in stone. No amount of “I’ll be careful” promises could change her mind. She wanted me to have someone who had my back and that was that.

Bevie didn’t trust me to get my own partner, so she actually picked him out and sent him my way. Bevie didn’t make idle threats; she would tell you the way it was and then you just had to deal with it. Cole was my partner if I wanted to keep getting referrals. The choice was made and two hours after she called me, my concession was at my hotel door.

A fresh-faced newbie hunter with no kills and very little experience was standing there, grinning like an idiot. I thought about scaring him off, but she would have just sent another one, so what would be the point? Hunters came in two varieties: Those who got into it because they had lost someone to a demon and those who got into it for the thrill. I had yet to meet someone I liked from the latter category. Guess which one Cole fit into.

He was a bored trust fund baby who had tried increasingly dangerous jobs until he decided one day that hunting monsters would be his next move. He was the son of one of Bevie’s closest friends. I’m sure he had charmed the panties off of her. Cole was exquisite to look at and my aunt had a weakness for young men.

Everything about his resume made my skin crawl. On paper, he was perfect—he went to the best schools and trained with all the best martial artists and weapons experts money could buy. Those things sounded good, but they didn’t matter squat when you were dealing with demons. Demons get in your head; they are stronger than anything you’ve ever encountered and they will do things that even the most depraved psychopath wouldn’t do.

There was only one way to be good at killing demons and that was to kill demons. Every hunter had to cut their teeth and learn the hard way. I just didn’t want to be Cole’s nanny while he did it. So far, he had followed my lead and kept his nose clean. He accepted that I was the boss and for the most part kept out of my way. In fact, each day that went by, he was getting harder and harder to hate, but so far, I had harbored enough resentment to keep my feelings toward Cole as chilly as possible.

I was about to start the job without him when a cherry red Challenger Hellcat pulled up in front of my car. I’m not a car girl, but this was a thing of beauty. It gave my little Pinto a hard-on. I was curious as to what kind of mid-life crisis was going to get out.

Cole climbed out like the car was made for him. He stretched his muscled arms over his head. Did I mention he was practically a fetus? When he noticed my car, he gave me a big shit-eating grin. Lowering his aviator sunglasses, he bowed at me while pointing to the car. I stopped seeing his smiling face and only saw the color red. If he didn’t think my car was good enough for his rich ass, then he could go fuck himself. Counting to ten, I got out of my car but remained silent. I would listen to his explanation first and then I’d tear him a new one.

“What do you think?” He was far too happy and that happiness only made me angrier.

“I think we already have a car, so what are you going to do with that?”

His face fell when he didn’t receive the reception he had been expecting. “Come on, Jael. Your shit bucket should have been scrap metal twenty-five years ago. I thought you’d be happy.”

“You thought wrong.” Turning to walk away, I gave one last glance to the Hellcat. It was a beautiful thing. Still, I was in charge; he should have asked me. My Pinto had been with me since I’d been hunting. She wasn’t glamorous or able to go over sixty miles per hour, but she always got the job done.

As he hustled to catch up to me, a little of his cocky attitude faded away. “I bought us a new car. How can you be mad at that?”

“You’re late, Cole. Did you get the details I texted you?”

“Yes, I haven’t really had a chance to look it over yet. I was picking up my car. Look, I’m sorry I was late. It took longer than I thought it would to get the Hellcat.”

Something pinged in my brain.
Please let me be wrong
. “Did you get that car because you thought the name would be cute? Demon hunters driving a Hellcat?”

“Kind of, but it’s a beautiful ride. I mean, look at it.”

I refused to look at it again. I needed to change the subject before I killed him. “Are you familiar with the Nybbus demon?”

“No. I’m sorry. I know I screwed up. You know I always research the shit out of everything, but I got caught up in getting the car. I wanted it to be a surprise. How much danger are we in here?” Cole had bounced out of his car like a kid at Christmas and now he looked like someone had told him there was no such thing as Santa. He deserved it. Hunting wasn’t a game and knowing your demon was rule number one.

“Nybbus demons are weak little things, but they gain power the longer they’re with the person who summons them. They siphon off their life force and then, when they’re full, they leave, but the person almost always dies within the year. They take too much and leave the host too weak. Cancer, liver failure, any number of things will take the person then.”

“Fuck… why do they summon these little bastards?”

“Age-old story of wanting something badly enough that the consequences don’t matter. They are summoned by dabblers. Those who dabble in the dark arts, they read enough to get whatever it is they desire and no more. Stupid assholes who think they’ll never have to pay for their wish.”

“Are you calling our client an asshole?”

“I’m calling my client an asshole. They think playing around with this stuff is fun or, at worst, naughty. They don’t fucking understand how dangerous it is.”

I rang the doorbell of the giant colonial. Talking about the demon to Cole had gotten me angrier than I should have been when I was going to deal with a demon. Even a small wimpy one like the Nybbus. The client and my partner were moronic bookends in a library I couldn’t wait to leave.

The door was answered by a tiny Hispanic lady. My grandmother would have described her as being around when Methuselah was a baby. She had a kind face, one that was wizened by age, but remained beautiful.

She didn’t say anything, but motioned for us to come in with a smile and a wave of her hand. She was slow but steady as we followed her down a long hallway and up a flight of stairs. When we got to the top, our destination was at the end of the corridor, a giant black lacquer door amongst the cookie cutter white ones. She knocked three times, opened it, and then left. I guessed she wasn’t going to join us.

The room was dark. Heavy velvet curtains covered the windows, blocking out all sun. The king-sized four-poster bed was a gothic treasure, made from dark stained wood and carved to resemble the arches of a cathedral. Yards and yards of deep purple velvet fabric ran post to post on all sides. The rest of the house looked like a typical home in any gated community. Tastefully decorated, with no expenses spared. This room looked like it came from the pages of
Better Homes and Dungeons
.

When a thin stark white hand came out of the curtain and motioned us over, Cole and I looked at each other with “what the fuck” written on our faces. This was creepy and my creep level was higher than most. As we walked slowly across the room, every hair on the back of my neck was standing up. I reached into my pocket and popped the top on the bottle of holy water I had slipped inside just in case.

I motioned for Cole to pull back the curtain; he shook his head. When I narrowed my eyes and pointed with more vigor, he took a deep breath and walked forward. The drapery slowly pulled back to reveal a stunning but frail woman. She wore a thin gauzy nightgown that outlined her gaunt frame. The only place the fabric didn’t lie almost flat was over her enormous breasts.

“Ms. Harwood? I’m Jael Allen and this is my partner, Cole Daine. You called us about a demon.” I was whispering and wasn’t sure why.

“I may look frail, but my mind’s still working. So far anyway. Sit, please.” She patted the bed and we perched ourselves on the edge of the mattress. “I did a very foolish thing and now I need your help.” Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and seemed to fall asleep.

A whole minute passed before she opened them again. “Ms. Harwood, how did you summon the demon? My aunt was vague on the details.”

“Call me Ellie, please.” She licked her lips and with great effort turned her head towards us. Her face was wrinkle free, her skin unblemished porcelain. “I’ve dabbled in the arts my whole life. I know better than most that black magic always has a cost, but sometimes wanting something badly enough makes you forget the things you know. I cut my wrist. Just enough to get some blood to fill my pen. I wrote a note—on papyrus, of course—that said I wanted to look young, slim, and beautiful until I die.”

She looked right at me; her eyes were clear and sharp. “I said a small incantation and burned a lock of my hair in an ashtray. I was told it would open a portal that would allow the magic needed to come through. Then I signed my name and left it to dry on my make-up table.

“When I came back, the note had been singed around the edges and I looked like I did when I was in my twenties. It was like a dear friend was looking back at me in the mirror. I could say I didn’t know there would be consequences, but that would be a lie. The man who taught me the incantation told me l would need more rest than usual. He said it was necessary to replenish the spell, but he never mentioned a demon would come through. I wrote that note only a year ago. At first, everything was amazing. I got those lustful stares from men again. I would have doors held for me, and men would trip over themselves to help me with any little thing I needed. Then the tiredness set in. A nap every day, then two. Soon I was sleeping longer than I was awake. I’ve been bedridden for the past three months.

“At first, I was too ashamed to reach out for help, but I realized it was ask for help or die, so I called your aunt. She’s famous in our community and she told me I was a foolish old woman, then she said if anyone could help me, you could.”

“How old are you?” I gave Cole a dirty look for asking, even though I was dying to know too.

“Well, young man, that’s a terrible question to ask a woman, but I will tell you that my maid, the woman who brought you up here, and I are only a year apart. We grew up together.”

Despite her frail appearance, the woman in the bed looked no older than twenty-five. “Ellie, as I told you on the phone, Nybbus are very easy to get rid of. You only have to burn the paper you wrote the note on.”

“I’ll go back to looking like an old hag if I do that. I want to keep my wish and get rid of this thing that is sucking my life away. You might think me foolish, but I sacrificed my health already. If I go back to looking the way I did, then it will all be for nothing.”

You can’t argue with crazy and I wasn’t going to try. Her way gave us a nice fat paycheck. I almost felt sorry for the Nybbus; he was only doing what Nybbus do. “Why didn’t you ask him to make you younger instead of just appearing younger?”

“That spell required more than my own blood and hair as a sacrifice, and I couldn’t bring myself to harm another for my own vanity.”

It was good to know she was above sacrificing a life for her vanity. “Is it possible for you to make it into your bathroom?”

“I can with a little help.”

Struggling to the side of the bed, she swung her legs over the side and placed her bony arms around us. She felt so fragile, I thought she might break as Cole and I carried her into the bathroom and sat her on a large plush chair. Yes, the bathroom had furniture in it. “Cole, fill the tub and get the rosaries out of the top pocket of my bag and throw them in.

“This will have to be fast. The Nybbus aren’t strong, but he’s been feeding and he won’t want to let go of his meal. He’ll try and cling to you, but if I’m quick enough, I’ll have him off you and in the tub before he knows what’s going on. The water will be blessed and as soon as he makes contact, he’ll start to dissolve.”

BOOK: Heaven's Key (Demon Hunter Book 1)
3.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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