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Guardian demons box set, p.10

Guardian Demons Box Set, page 10

 part  #1 of  Guardian Demons Series


Guardian Demons Box Set

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  “So, you don’t want this baby, then?”

  “I didn’t say that.” She was putting words in my mouth now, and taking this rather well since she wasn’t shrieking at me yet. A little too well. Perhaps I should be worried? Was there something wrong with Amara that I didn’t know about, some mental unbalance perhaps? She wasn’t acting rationally.

  “Then what are you saying?”

  “I’m saying that I’m sorry I didn’t give you a choice. You don’t even know me, and now you’re carrying my child. It hardly seems fair. Do you even realize what this means for you? How people are going to look at you?”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “The baby will be half-demon. It could look like either one of us, or some combination of us. How are you going to feel if the baby is born with skin like mine? The other kids won’t want to play with him, and the other parents are going to snub you.”

  “I’ll figure it out. What I need to know is do you want the baby?”

  I didn’t even have to think about her question. Not really. I mean, sure, I hadn’t thought about having children before, had never wanted any. I’d always been very careful not to impregnate any of my bedmates. But the thought of Amara swollen with my child made me smile.

  “Yes, I want our child.”

  “Then everything else will work itself out.”

  I wished I had her optimism, but when you’ve lived as long as I have, you learn to be a bit cynical. Things aren’t always sunshine and roses, and seldom turn out for the best, at least where demons are concerned. She had a hard road to travel, and our child’s would be even more difficult.

  Chapter Two

  After I imparted my news, Amara shooed me away. I left her with some reluctance, but if she needed some space, I would give it to her. Unfortunately, it gave me time to think. I hadn’t lied to her. I couldn’t regret the child growing within her, but I did wish that I’d had better control of my thoughts and desires. It wasn’t fair of me to turn her life upside down like this, not without asking first. I’d always thought I would never have children, having never found a woman I wanted to spend eternity with.

  Yes, it was old-fashioned of me, and perhaps a bit odd for a demon, but I had decided long ago that I would never impregnate a woman unless I wanted forever with her. And I had yet to find that. I wouldn’t deny that there was something about Amara that called to me on some level, but that didn’t mean I wanted to tie myself to her for all of eternity. Of course, that’s only if she agreed to reside in hell with me, and how many women would be willing to do something like that? Okay, yes, three of my fellow Tinta demons had found mates, women who not only agreed to reside in hell, but seemed to genuinely love my friends. I had to admit that a life like that sounded rather appealing.

  If Amara didn’t agree to live in hell with me, I’d have to watch her grow old and die. I wasn’t sure how my child would age. Would he stop aging at thirty-five like I had? Or would he continue to age, but at a slower rate? I hadn’t really been around demon children before. Not Halflings, anyway. If I was going to be a father to this child, I was going to need a crash course, not just in Halflings, but in fatherhood in general. I knew demons with children, but hadn’t ever really paid attention to them before.

  I wondered how much time Amara would need before I could see her again. Would tomorrow be too soon? Probably. No, I needed to wait until she called me. When she was ready to talk to me, she’d let me know. Until then, I’d leave her in peace, unless she required my assistance.

  What was I to do with myself until then? The thought of visiting the pleasure chamber didn’t seem quite right, and it left a bitter taste in my mouth. There was always a game of cards being played, not fairly, of course. Perhaps I’d shadow one of the other Tinta demons, lend a hand with his charge. Then again, we did tend to be rather territorial where our women were concerned, so maybe that wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had.

  Kiry, a Galthor demon, appeared in my chambers. His tall, slim body had lean muscles and his skin was an orangish hue. Obsidian eyes blinked at me.

  “Dominguez, I’d hoped you’d be in.”

  “Was there something wrong with the door?” Just popping into someone’s home was frowned upon, even in hell.

  He glanced at it a moment before returning his gaze to me. “Sorry. Have you seen Hifor?”

  “I haven’t seen anyone today. I’ve been busy.”

  “He lost a game of cards to Aires and made the mistake of sending a rather questionable man after young Della.”

  I winced. “You know he takes his job seriously. What was Hifor thinking?”

  “I don’t think he was. I’m trying to find him before Aires does.”

  “I’m afraid I’m no help. I’ve been with my charge for the last few hours and before that I was in my quarters.”

  Kiry nodded. “Well, thank you just the same. I’ll keep looking.”

  Without another word, the demon disappeared. I grumbled once more. Was there something wrong with my door? It was a good thing Amara hadn’t accompanied me. I could just envision us in the middle of something rather naughty, and one of my demon friends popping in unannounced. I’d have to kill anyone who dared look at her.

  Now where had that thought come from? It wasn’t like me to be possessive. I wasn’t one to share, not at the same time that is, but I didn’t have a problem with the other demons paying attention to the women I visited in the pleasure chamber. Knowing they serviced other demons didn’t bother me in the slightest. But the mere thought of Amara with another man was enough to send me into a rage. Something had happened during our one brief encounter, and I wasn’t sure it was a good thing. Only time would tell.

  As I pondered my fate, and that of my child, I decided to pay a call on Bramfier, a Tinta demon with more than one Halfling child. If anyone could tell me what to expect when my child was born, it would be Bramfier. I knew that one of his children resided in hell, but the others had remained on Earth. The son who’d decided to live with his father, Tiern, had skin so light a blue it was almost white, and long white-blond hair. He had his father’s dark eyes though. The tattoos Tintas typically bore on their torsos had never appeared for the young Halfling.

  Young. Now that was a laugh. The boy had to be nearing ninety. I knew Bramfier had others, but some had taken after their human mothers and had died on Earth over the centuries. Others, like Tiern, had a long lifespan, while appearing thirty. But that’s as much as I knew about Halflings and that hardly prepared me for the birth of my own child.

  Bramfier lived only a few doors down from me so I walked down to his quarters. I knocked on the door and waited patiently, hoping I wasn’t interrupting something important. He didn’t have a steady woman in his life that I knew of, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have company. Bramfier wasn’t one to visit the pleasure chamber often, usually preferring to take his selected bedmate back to his quarters.

  The door opened and Bramfier smiled when he saw me. “Dominguez. This is an unexpected surprise.”

  “Do you have a moment to talk?”

  Bramfier stepped back and motioned me in. “Of course. Come, have a seat and we’ll discuss whatever is on your mind.”

  I entered his home and made myself comfortable on the black leather sofa. His quarters were a bit bigger than most so he had room for a living area as well as his bed. I’d always envied him his space.

  “I came to ask you about your children.”

  Bramfier looked surprised. “You’ve never shown an interest in them before.”

  I rubbed the back of my neck. “Yes, well… it seems I’m going to have a Halfling of my own before long and I don’t know very much about them. I know a bit about your son Tiern, and I know you had other children on Earth who have died over the years. But I don’t understand much about them.”

  “First, congratulations on your impending fatherhood. There’s not another feeling in the world like holding your son in your arms.”

Are they always boys?”

  “Mine were. I haven’t heard of any Halfling girls, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Why? Are you hoping for a daughter?”

  “I hadn’t really thought about it either way. I merely want a healthy child.”

  Bramfier nodded. “Good answer. Your mate will be pleased to hear it.”

  “I don’t have a mate, per se. You see, I slept with my charge, Amara, and I sort of had this brief moment where I wished she was carrying my child. It wasn’t my intention to get her pregnant.”

  “Do you think she’ll keep the baby?”

  I hadn’t thought of that before. Based off her line of questioning I had to assume she wanted to keep the child. But what if that changed? What if, after thinking about having a demon for a baby, she decided she wanted to rid herself of the burden? My gut clenched at the thought.

  “She seemed to want to.”

  “That’s good. A few times when I forgot to ask first, the woman didn’t want the child. But the other times… Well, I had a few women who asked for a child. I think those were the ones who hadn’t been able to conceive. Granted, even we can’t impregnate someone who’s barren.”

  “What happened to the children?”

  “They’re born the same way a human child is born, it’s just that most don’t have human-colored skin. Oh, I had a few who looked almost entirely human, except for having my eyes, but most have a bluish tinge to their skin. You’ve met Tiern. They’re all like him and never bear the marks of a Tinta demon. I’m thinking I’d have to mate with another demon for that to happen, or have the union blessed by Lucifer.”

  “How do they grow? I know Tiern is aging more like a demon, but will he live as long as we do?”

  “To a point. Most of mine stopped aging around thirty and lived to be anywhere from one hundred to one hundred and fifty. But there were some who aged as a human would age and they died before they turned ninety. Something else you should know, they’re just as easy to kill as a human is. I lost several during wars when they fought for their cause. A bullet or sword will end them quick enough, and they don’t come back like we do.”

  “What about the women? How did they react to having children such as that?”

  “As far as I could tell, they loved them just as they would any child they’d birthed. For the few who outlived their children, the boys killed during wars, they mourned their loss deeply. For the rest, their children outlived them all. It’s hard on a child, watching his mother wither and die, but they seem to understand that it’s a fact of life.”

  “You never considered bringing one of the women to hell with you? You never wanted one by your side for eternity?”

  “No. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed them all and cared about them in one form or another, but never enough to remain with them forever. That’s for those saps like Bale and Rorlan, those who love the women they’re with. I can honestly say I’ve never felt love for the women in my life. Now my children, I love them without question.”

  I felt rather sad for Bramfier. No, I didn’t love Amara, but I did care enough about her to want her with me. I wasn’t sure about eternity, but I’d like to think I’d want the mother of my child to be with me always. That had to mean something, right? Now I just had to wait until she wanted me in her life again. I hoped it wouldn’t be long. Now that I was armed with knowledge about Halflings, I was anxious to be a part of her pregnancy from the very beginning. I didn’t want to miss a single thing.

  Standing, I held out my hand to Bramfier. “Thank you for answering my questions. I feel a little better prepared to face the birth of my child.”

  “I’m always here if you think of any other questions. I’m happy to help.”

  With a smile, I excused myself and went back to my quarters. With any luck, Amara would call me to her side.

  Chapter Three

  I peeked in on Amara off and on for the next week, but kept to the shadows. She’d locked herself in her studio and was working like a madwoman on a new piece. It amazed me that what started as a blank canvas started to look a lot like me. I’d inspired her? I felt humbled, and I was awed by her talent. I’d watched her paint before, but she seemed to get better with every canvas she painted.

  It was six days since I’d seen her when I felt a tingling down my spine, and I knew immediately that Amara needed me. Without a moment’s hesitation, I blinked myself from my quarters to her apartment. Furniture was overturned in the living room, pictures were askew on the hallway walls and the bedroom door was partially open. I could hear a struggle taking place and I rushed to the back of the apartment.

  When I burst through the door, I froze for a moment, in shock if nothing else. A Phalanx demon, a nasty hunched over purple creature, had pinned Amara to the wall. She was battered and bruised, her clothing torn. I had to wonder what the beast was up to. He had to have known I would come running the moment I sensed her distress.

  My blood ran cold when he held his razor sharp claws against her stomach. She might survive if he punctured her, but I didn’t think our unborn child would make it. Did he know about the baby? Could he sense it? I was still confused over why the demon was in Amara’s apartment. Phalanx demons weren’t known for their intelligence and seldom left hell. They usually… Wait. They followed orders. Had someone sent him here on purpose? Did someone intend harm to my woman?

  “Let her go,” I demanded.

  The demon glanced at me, drool dripping from his fangs. His tail whipped about, showing his anxiety at being discovered. Apparently that wasn’t going according to plan. So his mission obviously hadn’t included me. Good.

  “Let her go, or I’ll make you let her go.”

  The demon abruptly released her and turned toward me. Phalanx demons really were butt ugly creatures. Onyx eyes, tufts of hair sticking up here and there, black claws on both their hands and feet. They were often used as foot soldiers, or as I liked to think of them, cannon fodder. No one cared if a Phalanx demon bit the dust, and they were too stupid to realize they were being used.

  I quickly looked at Amara. She’d slumped to the floor, but seemed to be alert. Her eyes tracked the movements of the Phalanx demon with more than a trace of fear. I wished I could take away that fear, but first I had to get rid of the giant problem standing in our midst. It had been a while since I was in a fight, but I had little doubt that I could best the nasty creature.

  Patiently, I waited for him to make the first move. I didn’t have to wait long. He began dancing back and forth, his body swaying to some tune that no one could hear, and then he roared and started forward. The floor vibrated with every step the monstrosity took, bringing him closer and closer to me. When he was within reach, he swiped at me with his claws. He was fast, but I was faster. Ducking, I came back with an uppercut to his jaw. I watched as the monster’s head snapped back. He roared his fury and came at me again, his tail lashing at my ankles.

  I didn’t have claws like the beast did, but I did have a warrior’s skills and could use what Lucifer had given me. With a series of kicks and punches, I moved the creature across the floor and closer to the window -- a window that was thankfully open. Was that how it had gotten in? Phalanx demons, unlike Tintas, couldn’t teleport. I’d have to speak to Amara about being more careful in the future.

  The Phalanx demon must’ve known that his demise was imminent because he attacked again, lunging at me. Bending at the waist, I rammed my shoulder into his stomach and shoved him through the window. I heard his roar of fury before the sound of a body hitting the ground. Looking outside, I saw that he had hit the concrete and left a rather large green gooey spot. That was one less demon in the world.

  A whimper behind me drew my attention. Amara was still crouched on the floor, her back to the wall, her hands on her knees. She was shaking and her eyes were filled with terror. I hunkered down before her, gently laying a hand on top of hers.

  “You’re safe now,” I assured her. “It’s gone and won’t be coming b

  “But there could be others,” she said softly.

  I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that. I wasn’t about to lie to her, and telling her that she would never see one again might be a lie. Obviously someone had sent it after her, but the question was why. As far as I knew, I didn’t have any enemies and neither did she. What possible reason could someone have to bring her harm? It was a mystery I was going to have to solve sooner rather than later.

  “Yes,” I said. “There could be others. That was a Phalanx demon. They’re not the smartest of creatures and if it was here that means someone sent it here. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

  “Someone wants me dead?”

  I nodded. “I don’t understand why, but given some time I might be able to unravel the mystery. Until then, I’d like for you to come stay with me. I know my place isn’t as big as this one, and it’s in hell so that’s a downside for you, but you’ll be safe with me. If you’re up here, I can’t protect you as well.”

  “But you came for me.”

  “Yes. I felt your distress and came as quick as I could, but if the demon had been any faster, I wouldn’t have been here soon enough. I don’t want to take that risk if I don’t have to. You’re too important to me for that.”

  She touched her stomach. “Because of the baby.”

  I placed my hand over hers. “Not just because of the baby, but yes, that’s a large part of it. I want to keep both of you safe. Will you let me do that?”

  “How long? How long do I have to stay in hell?”

  I shrugged. “It’s hard to say. But you can bring your paints with you. There’s no reason your work has to stop. I know you’re getting ready for a gallery show in a few weeks and I don’t want to upset your schedule any more than I have to.”

  “You know about that?” she asked in surprise.

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