Authors: Michele Hauf
Tags: #Fantasy, #Demon, #Witch, #Paranormal, #Shape Shifter
It wasn’t trying to assume control of my body, to move and talk through me. No, I realized with horrifying clarity it was instead trying to kill me—by shattering me.
I had practiced dark magic for so long my soul was tainted. So that made it easy for the demon to pull me into the darkness where I no doubt belonged.
Clasping my head, I squeezed against the brain-splitting pressure. I tried to summon a shackle spell, but my eyes shuttered and everything grew muzzy. I would not leave this mortal coil without a fight. Just…need…the spell.
Fingers fisting, my knuckles grazed the wood floor, unable to clutch or grasp the air, to form and control it. I had lost my…control. How to get it back?
Where…where was she? Struggling to maintain vision as my bones weakened inside my muscles, I looked toward the circle.
No, Star. Where are you?
Abandon the spell!
Too late. Can’t…breathe. Skull is going to….
Sudden, slashing pain cut through my face and the side of my neck. Had my skull broken through flesh? Was I to die slowly, achingly experiencing every single bone tear through skin as the demon mastered this feeble shell?
Blood oozed down my cheek. And with the release of my blood, the air in the room sighed.
My fingers loosened and I caught myself in a slide onto the floor. I felt as if I’d been released and, in confirmation, I rolled to my back to spy once again the black demonic cloud above me.
My flesh must have been cut open and that had opened a passage to release the demon. It could not remain inside the body that was wounded, the receptacle of skin damaged.
Thrusting out a hand, I squeezed it to command the air and contain the demon with a vise about its loose form. “Where is the key to Daemonia?” I shouted.
The demon growled, its tone rumbling and yet open like a vast cavern. “There is no key. Release me, witch!”
“I bind thee! You are my slave until you fulfill my wishes!” I squeezed my fingers into a fist. Invoking the correct spell, I bound the demon to my will. “You know where the key is!”
“It is not in this realm.”
“In Daemonia. It is not an object but an invocation that must be used from within. Now release me!”
Holding the bind upon the demon firmly, I lay sprawled, supported on my elbows. Invoked from within? But how then would C.J. ever get out?
“You know how to use the key?”
“It requires a powerful witch.”
“My brother, Certainly Jones, is in Daemonia. Trapped. You will activate the key and release him or this binding will hold you ever after.”
The demon struggled within the confines of my air magic. I had bound it so that even when it returned to Daemonia, it could not break free until it had completed the requirements I put to it.
“What is my reward?” the demon growled.
I had intended to learn the key’s location and then banish the demon back to Daemonia. But if I expected it to help me, I must offer it a reward.
Where was Star? If the demon had—
I spied a flurry of black fur scamper behind the sofa. Good girl.
“I want the kitty,” the demon said.
“No soft things for you,” I admonished as firmly as I could, though the thought of the demon touching a hair on Star’s head sickened me. “But I will grant you…” What would a demon most desire? “A day of freedom in this realm.”
The demon moved its form in a manner implying agreement.
“Go!” I sent it back whence it had come.
The room cleared. I had promised a nefari demon free rein in the mortal realm. I would suffer the consequences from the witches of the Light if and when Navicrux were to release Certainly.
Star scampered over and climbed upon my chest, her green eyes seeking mine. I smiled, patted her head…
…and passed out.
I shifted to human form, and still lying on top of T.J., searched his face for signs of life. His chest rose and fell. The scratches from his cheek down his jaw and to his neck still seeped blood.
Touching the wounds tenderly, I winced, but couldn’t feel too sad. I think scratching him had been the thing to free him from the demon. I hadn’t known what was happening as T.J. had fallen to his knees and seemed to be struggling inwardly. I’d only known it wasn’t good—so had reacted.
He stirred, and I lifted onto my palms as his eyelids flickered open. I’d never been so happy to see a wounded man’s stunned look before. Tears from my eyes splashed upon his bare chest.
“Sorry.” I swiped at the teardrops.
“Star.” He pulled me to him and I squeezed him tightly, never wanting to let go. Our naked bodies melded, finding home easily. “You okay?”
I nodded, unable to speak because now I was outright crying. Me? Yes, this alley cat was crying.
“Don’t cry, lover. I’m okay, too. The demon is gone. We’re both safe.”
“What about your brother?”
“I have to wait now. See if Navicrux does what I bound him to do.” He touched his cheek.
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
“You released the demon from me by opening my skin. Smart kitty. Thank you.”
He rolled over me and when my shoulders hit the blanket, he leaned in and kissed me. And we cuddled there, half inside the circle, for hours.
My phone rang and I wanted to ignore it because Star lying next to me was all I needed in this world. But she nabbed the cell phone from the floor near the sofa and handed it to me.
“Thoroughly?” came the weak male voice on the other side.
“Certainly?” I sat, wrapping Star about my waist as she clung like a warm rainbow after the storm. “Oh, man, it’s good to hear your voice. You’re out?”
“Landed in the Metro station near the Bastille Opera house. The police found me naked and beat-up. I passed it off as a mugging. Fuck, I ache. Thanks, brother.”
“It worked,” I said to Star, who hugged me effusively.
“Just wanted to check in,” Certainly said. “I’m so tired. I need to sleep for a year.”
“Yes, rest. I’ll stop by tomorrow and introduce you to the woman who helped me rescue you. Then I’m going to kick your ass for getting stuck in Daemonia in the first place.”
“Don’t kick too hard. I’m battered as it is. Hope I didn’t bring anything back with me. Feel…strange.” He yawned. “Need rest. Bye, bro.”
“He’s back and well?” Star asked.
“Back, but as for well…” To ponder the impact of spending a moment in Daemonia conjured images of insanity and madness. As for bringing something back with him, there was no telling if a demon had hitched a ride inside his body—until it was too late. “He’ll need strength.”
“Has he a wife?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
“Love makes a person strong.” She straddled me, and tickled her fingers along my hairline. “You make me strong, Thoroughly Jones.”
“You’ve changed me, Star. This dark magic…I don’t want to use it anymore.”
“But you said it’s required to keep the balance.”
“I’d like to walk the side of goodness now, if that’s all right with you.”
“Yes, lover. You’ll need to build up your stores of goodness, now that you’ve granted the demon a free day pass.”
“Good call. That is, if I’m not made a warlock by the Light first.”
It was the price I would pay. For Star.
She kissed me, and the kiss promised the future would be very good indeed.
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This Glamorous Evil
Copyright © 2011 by Michele Hauf
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