Guardian demons box set, p.12
Guardian Demons Box Set, page 12part #1 of Guardian Demons Series
Appearing in my living quarters, the first thing I noticed was a missing Amara. The second was Bale, sprawled out on the floor, a puddle of black blood under his head. I checked him to make sure he was alive, relieved that he seemed to be unconscious and nothing more. After sending a telepathic message to Tren, the demon equivalent of a doctor, I began studying the area for clues. The first thing that hit me was a cloying scent, like magnolias mixed with jasmine.
I frowned. There was only one person I knew of who used that scent, but what on earth had she been doing in my quarters? Could she have Amara? To what purpose? I somehow doubted that Aleaza wanted to make friends. What could a succubus want with my human? Nothing good, of that I was certain.
Tren appeared, looking rather tired.
“You summoned me?”
I nodded toward Bale. “He was injured guarding my charge. Can you help him?”
Tren sighed. “I’m rather drained from curing a bunch of Bentares demons. But I’ll see what I can do.”
He bent over Bale and worked his magick. Within a few minutes, my friend blinked his eyes open and looked around. When his gaze settled on me, he sat up quickly.
“Dominguez. They took her. I tried to stop them, but one snuck up behind me and hit me over the head with something. I heard Aleaza giving them orders.”
“I’m on my way to find her now. I don’t know that she would be stupid enough to take Amara to her quarters, but I’m going to start there. If they’d left hell, I’d be able to sense Amara, but since I can’t that means they’re still here somewhere.”
“I’ll come with you.”
Not wanting to give Aleaza any notice that we were coming, we blinked ourselves into her quarters. There was no sign of Aleaza and no sign of Amara. Where else would she have taken my woman?
“Wait. What night is this?” Bale asked.
I frowned, not knowing what that had to do with anything. “Friday. Why?”
“No, I meant the date.”
“It’s… Oh hell, it’s Friday the 13th.”
“Come on. We’ll have to blink ourselves into the incubi gathering hall.” He gave me a long look. “I don’t suppose you’ve figured out why Aleaza is doing this, have you?”
“She’s been after me for months, and I keep turning her down. Maybe she just finally cracked. I don’t know why I didn’t think of her sooner.”
“Let’s go get your mate.”
My mate. Was everyone seeing something I’d been blind to? Was it possible that Amara was, indeed, my mate? I felt this overpowering urge to be with her, to keep her by my side, but did I want her for an eternity or just for right now? I looked within myself for the answer and was surprised by what I found. Yes, I wanted Amara and I wanted her for always. Now I just had to find her and tell her.
Bale and I blinked ourselves into the incubi gathering hall, sticking to the back so as not to be noticed. I looked around and didn’t see Amara or Aleaza. The bidding had already begun. A young woman stood on stage, looking drugged as she stood and allowed them to strip her. A succubus displayed the young woman, urging the men to bid higher and higher. When a winner was announced, the incubus leapt onto the stage to get his prize.
A curtain behind the stage opened and another young woman was brought out. I knew if I was going to find Amara, it would be behind that curtain. After motioning to Bale, we crept around the outer edge of the room and slipped around the edge of the curtain. Women stood in chains in a line, some in cages, all waiting their turn on stage. I felt sorry for them, knowing they would be used until their bodies couldn’t take any more, but I couldn’t risk saving anyone but Amara.
Easing my way down the line, I found her, huddled in a cage. She gazed out at me with frightened eyes. I knew the moment she recognized me and I cautioned her to be quiet. The last thing we wanted to do was draw attention to ourselves. I had to figure out how to get her out of the blasted cage. Locks typically weren’t a problem, but these were special ones.
Bending down, I got a better look at it. The lock itself wouldn’t be easy to break, but the chain holding the cage door closed, now that was something I could deal with. Using pure brute strength, I snapped the chain in half and helped Amara out of the cage. She’d barely regained her feet before the hair on the back of my neck stood on end, alerting me to the presence of another demon.
I glanced down the row of women and saw Aleaza standing with her hands on her hips, a whip coiled in her hand. I knew she’d never be daft enough to use it on me, but I was fairly certain she’d planned to use it on Amara if my mate didn’t cooperate with her. She’d just have to put that idea out of her head because there was no way I was letting her touch Amara. Not ever again.
Aleaza gave me a sinister smile and I wondered what she was up to. It wasn’t like she could best me, much less me and Bale. She had to know that she was well and truly caught. Whether she liked it or not, she would stand before Lucifer for her punishment. I didn’t have the stomach to harm her, even though it was my right. Using a whip on a woman as a way to bring pleasure was one thing. Using it as a form of punishment was something else entirely.
Before I could say another word, I felt a presence behind me. Looking over my shoulder, I saw two Bentares and two Phalanx demons. Now the smile made sense. Four against two. I’d had worse odds, but I didn’t like Amara being caught in the middle, especially without someone being able to protect her from Aleaza.
The green Bentares demons came after me, while the Phalanx demons attacked Bale. The demons came at me from either side, one attacking from the left, the other from the right. I watched as the one on my right tried to edge around to my back. That’s the last place I wanted him. Before I had time to attack, the one on my left came at me. He’d produced a knife from somewhere, a wicked black blade I knew was forged in the fires of hell and would hurt more than just a little.
As he lunged at me, the other demon attacked. I grappled with the first demon, trying to take the knife from him, as the second one wrapped his hands around my throat. I knew I didn’t have much time and suddenly wished I’d brought more backup. Sending out a telepathic message to Aires, I did my best to stay upright.
Stepping back, I stomped on the demon’s foot, causing him to loosen his grip a little, letting me breathe easier. The first demon doubled his efforts, trying to stick his thumb in my eye while attempting to shove the knife into my gut. Just when I was thinking I wasn’t going to get out of this unscathed, the demon at my back disappeared. I didn’t have time to wonder about where he went. I was too busy fighting the demon in front of me.
Now, able to focus solely on demon number one, I brought my knee up between us. I missed his groin, but it made him back up just enough for me to kick out, hitting him in the stomach. It sent him staggering back a few steps, enough for me to get the upper hand. I attacked, going for his knee first, breaking it if his scream was any indication. While he was distracted, I snatched the knife from him and drove it into his heart. As he lay dying, I turned, looking for Amara.
She was nowhere to be found, and neither was Aleaza. I heard the sounds of bidding and then I heard Amara’s sweet voice. That bitch succubus was auctioning off my mate! With determined strides, I marched out onto the makeshift stage and grabbed Aleaza by the arm, shaking her hard enough to rattle her teeth.
Facing the crowd, I glared at every one of them. “This auction is over.”
“Tinta demons aren’t allowed to bid!” one of the incubi called out.
“This one is not to be bid on. She’s my mate.”
The crowd grew silent.
“This viper,” I said as I shook Aleaza once more, “thought to hurt me by getting rid of her. She probably didn’t tell you my mate is carrying my child, either, did she?”
If I had doubted it before, I knew now that somehow Aleaza had known. The look on her face said it all. The succubus had brought harm to my woman and child, and very nearly made me lose both of them for eternity, as a contract made on this s
Bale and Aires came up behind me, looking a little rough, and grabbed Aleaza, one on either side of her. I wrapped my arms around Amara and we blinked ourselves to the waiting area outside of Lucifer’s office. While it was frowned upon to just show up and demand an audience with the king of hell, I figured the circumstances left me little choice.
Procell was manning the desk and gave us a curious look. “What are you doing here, Dominguez? And why do you have so many people with you?”
I released Amara and moved closer. “Aleaza stole my mate with ill intent. I need to speak with Lucifer.”
Procell looked surprised, but motioned for us to have a seat. I wasn’t in the mood to sit, but I did move away from the desk. It only took him a few minutes to get approval from Lucifer for us to enter the king’s office.
Lucifer sat behind his gilt-edged desk and studied us over steepled fingers. I stood awkwardly with Amara by my side, my arm around her waist. She trembled and I was certain she was afraid of Lucifer, even though I doubted she had anything to fear. So far Lucifer had been very supportive of the Tinta demons’ mates. I doubted he would act any differently with Amara.
“What seems to be the problem, Dominguez?” he asked.
“Aleaza sent a Phalanx demon after my mate and later stole her from my quarters. I found her at the incubus gathering hall, in a cage, about to be auctioned. When I tried to rescue her, Aleaza set four demons on me and hauled Amara onto the stage and began the auction process. If I hadn’t broken free in time, my mate, and our unborn child, would be lost to me.”
Lucifer looked at Aleaza, his eyes seeming to drill right through her. I watched as she squirmed under that gaze.
“Aleaza, you will be banished to the lowest level of hell for all of eternity, where you will be tortured every day for the rest of your existence.”
Well, that seemed like a rather short and simple life sentence, and rather anti-climatic, but it worked for me.
Lucifer’s cold gaze warmed considerably when he looked at Amara. “And you, my dear, are most welcome to stay for as long as you’d like. There’s a special apartment for you and Dominguez should you decide to remain with him. You’d have the comfort of other women, as well as some of the creature comforts of home.”
She opened her mouth to respond, but he lifted a hand.
“Think about it.” He smiled.
“Thank you, Majesty.” I gave him a short bow. “You have been most fair.”
“Go, Dominguez. Celebrate the fact that you have your mate in your arms once more. And be thankful you have such good friends.”
I bowed my head and backed out of his office with Amara in tow. Once we were all outside again, we blinked ourselves away, each to our own homes. I didn’t even get a chance to thank Bale and Aires for their help, but I imagined they knew how appreciative I was, and that I would return the favor should the need ever arise.
“What did he mean about me staying with you?” Amara asked.
Leave it to her to get right to the heart of the matter. Now that she was safe, there was nothing to keep her in hell. Nothing except me. And I wasn’t about to hold her here against her will. No, if she stayed, it had to be because that’s what she wanted. While three women had chosen to remain with their mates, I didn’t hold out hope that Amara would make the same choice. She had a life she loved, her art required her to be topside where she could see beautiful things to paint, and she was always having her work hosted in galleries. She would have to give all of that up if she remained with me, and that’s something I could never ask of her.
She gave me a curious look. “But…”
“Don’t worry about it, Amara. Now that the danger is gone, you may return home.”
Her expression cleared. Or perhaps blanked is a better word. It was suddenly devoid of all emotion and I wondered if I’d said or done something wrong. Her mind was just as blank to me. I watched as she gathered her dirty clothes and shoved them in her suitcase and zipped it shut. She motioned to her easel.
“Can you bring that and my paints if I carry my suitcase? We can come back for the rest of my stuff later.”
“Yes.” A knot was forming in my throat and I knew it was from emotions I had never felt before. I didn’t want her to leave, but I knew it was best for her.
After gathering her art supplies, I stood beside her. “Touch my arm so you’ll travel with me.”
She placed her hand against my biceps and I blinked us from my quarters to her apartment. The place was still a mess from her fight with the Phalanx demon just that morning. Had it really been less than a day? It was amazing how much your life could change in such a short amount of time.
I carried her supplies back into her art room and tried to put everything back the way she’d had it, or as close to it as I could get. When I stepped out of the room, she was sitting on the bed, next to her suitcase, with her eyes downcast. She looked so forlorn.
“Do you need help unpacking?” I asked softly, not wanting to startle her.
She looked up and her eyes were swimming with tears. Had I done something to cause her pain? Why was she crying?
“Amara, what is it?”
“You don’t want me.”
“I don’t… You think I don’t want you?”
She sniffled and wiped a tear off her cheek. “You brought me home, didn’t you? You couldn’t seem to get me out of there fast enough. I understand. A man like you surely has other women, has needs…”
“Stop right there. I don’t have other women, Amara. The only woman I want is you. I brought you home because I thought that’s what you would want. Your life is here, your art is here. How are you going to paint and sell your artwork in galleries if you don’t live up here? I did this for you.”
“I don’t have to sell my work to be happy, Dominguez. Yes, painting makes me happy, and yes, I may want to go to the park every now and then. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to stay with you. Is there some reason you can’t bring me up here when I want some fresh air or want to paint the blue sky or a grassy meadow?”
I thought about it for a moment.
“Well, no, I suppose not. I just didn’t think you’d want to stay in hell with me. You’d be confined to our apartment and a small gathering room for the other mates. You’d have a few friends, but you wouldn’t get to choose them. There are three other women who have chosen to reside in hell.”
“Don’t you understand? I can’t be happy if I’m not by your side. I know we’ve only known each other for about a week, but it’s been long enough for me to figure out that my life is better with you in it. Yes, some crazy demon chick wanted me out of the picture, but unless you have a string of vindictive exes, I don’t see that as being a problem.”
“She wasn’t my ex. She was jealous because I chose you over her.”
“That’s beside the point. Do you understand what I’m saying, Dominguez?”
“That you want to be with me. In hell.”
My brow furrowed. “You know you’ll live forever down there. This isn’t just for the next fifty years.”
“That’s even better. An eternity by your side sounds pretty wonderful to me.” She grabbed my hand and placed it over her still flat stomach. “I want you to be there for every step of this child’s life, even the parts that happen before she’s born.”
“He. Tinta demons have male children.”
She tilted her head. “So all of our children will be boys?”
I shrugged a shoulder. “That’s what Bramfier told me and I have no reason to doubt him.”
She nodded. “He, then. The point is that I want you to be there from this moment on.”
“I want to be th
“Dominguez… I… I care about you a great deal. I don’t know if it’s love or not, but if it isn’t, I know it will grow into love in the near future. You’re an amazing man. Demon,” she corrected, “and I’m lucky to have you in my life.”
“I care about you a great deal, too, Amara. There’s no other woman for me. If you’ll reside in hell with me, spend eternity with me, you’ll make me the happiest demon there is.”
She smiled. “And how many happy demons are there?”
I returned her smile. “You might be surprised.”
Leaning forward, she pressed her lips to mine. As I returned her kiss, I realized that I had been given the greatest gift in the world, and I was going to cherish her every day for the rest of my existence.
Jessica Coulter Smith
What happens when two sexy as sin demons want you, body and soul, and aren’t into sharing?
The unbearable heat of hell won’t be the only singe Della feels. Aires wants her like no other, and once he has a taste he’ll want to go back for more. There’s just one problem. She’s his charge, and as her guardian he’s meant to protect her, not lust after her. When another demon shows interest in Della, it’s all Aires can do to control his jealous rage. Sweet Della is meant to be his and no one else’s.
I’d answered the call of my charge, Della, and now found myself facing a most unpleasant sight. A Surack demon had cornered her against a building. They weren’t known for violence though. A lower level demon, the Suracks were more mischief makers than anything else.
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes