Guardian demons box set, p.7
Guardian Demons Box Set, page 7part #1 of Guardian Demons Series
She wrapped an arm around my waist and snuggled into me. Even after my error, she trusted me.
I lifted her into my arms and carried her to the bed. Laying her down, I retrieved her bag and handed it to her. “You might want to put on your nightgown.” My gaze raked her from head to toe. “But you might not want to wear anything underneath.”
Larissa blushed a becoming shade of pink and I smiled. She dug through the bag, pulled out the nightgown and slipped it over her head. It lovingly caressed her body, molding to her curves. The ivory complemented her pale skin and fiery hair.
I put the bag beside my dresser and turned to her. “There isn’t a television here, or internet. I’m afraid there isn’t much for you to do.”
Her gaze strayed across the room to my bookshelf. “You could read to me.”
I wondered if my surprise showed on my face. “Yes, I suppose I could.”
I toed off my boots and padded across the room to select something I thought she might enjoy. I had books in every language imaginable from every era. Choosing something appropriate for her was another matter. A lot of my books were on the risqué side. I finally chose something she’d probably read at one time or another, but it was a favorite of mine. It was a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and stories. A bit morbid perhaps, but we were in Hell, after all.
Crossing the room, I climbed onto the bed and pulled her against my side. With my arm around her, I opened the book and began to read. Despite the topic of the book, it was a rather intimate thing to do, something I’d never done before. I could’ve easily seen myself doing the same thing many nights from now, with Larissa tucked against my side. It made me want things I’d never desired before -- a woman by my side to share my days and nights.
She curled herself around me, her hand resting on my abdomen. Had my legs not been crossed at the ankle, I would imagine her leg would’ve been thrown over mine, as well. Her body was soft and warm against mine. I felt my cock harden again, but I refused to take her a third time tonight.
No, I would forgo the pleasures of the flesh for the pleasure of her company. I’d never felt more content in my entire existence, and that was saying something since I’d been alive for centuries. Larissa felt perfect lying next to me. It made me realize even more how much I would miss her if she left in the morning, made me that much more determined to keep her by my side. I was convinced she’d been made just for me.
By the time I finished the second story, I looked down and saw that Larissa was sound asleep. Setting the book aside, I slid farther down in the bed and gathered her close. A good night’s sleep would do wonders for both of us. And maybe by tomorrow I’d have some idea as to how I would convince her to be mine permanently. At some point during our time together, I’d realized I didn’t want to let her go. I still couldn’t give her the one thing she wanted most -- love. But I could care for her, show her that she meant something to me. Maybe that would be enough.
* * *
Morning came and I found myself alone in bed. A quick glance around the room showed Larissa dressed and standing by her packed bag. What the Hell?
“Yeah. You’re taking me home this morning.”
My eyebrows lifted. “I am? I don’t recall saying that. I asked you to stay the night, but I never said when I would take you home.”
She bit her lip and looked around. “Rorlan, your place is nice, but… I need sunshine, windows, fresh air. I can’t be a prisoner in this room much longer. I’ll go insane.”
I frowned. This wasn’t how I saw this talk going. If she couldn’t stand to live with me, was there any hope for us at all? I hadn’t heard of demons living topside. Didn’t mean there weren’t any, but it couldn’t be too common. There had to be something I could do, some way to make her stay, to keep her.
“You really want to go back? To paying rent all the time, being behind on bills, sleeping your way through the city?”
“That’s what you want?” I pressed.
“I want my life back, Rorlan. You can’t blame me for not wanting to live in a cage, especially with a man who can’t profess his love for me. I deserve to be loved. And if you can’t do it, then I need to find someone who can.”
“Is that what you call what you were doing? Because bending over for any man you picked up in a club is not the way to find love.”
She flushed scarlet. “I was just looking for a good time then. I want more now.”
“Why? What’s changed?”
Her gaze dropped to the floor. “Nothing. Never mind.”
I advanced on her until our toes were nearly touching. Now more than ever I wished I could read her thoughts. How was she blocking me? “No, it’s not ‘nothing.’ Something has changed for you and I want to know what it is.”
“Well, you don’t always get what you want, Rorlan. You don’t get to know all of my secrets and you don’t get me. Now, take me home.”
I narrowed my eyes and ground my teeth together. What I really wanted to do was pull her over my knee and tan her ass, but something told me that wouldn’t win me any points. I wanted her sweet and pliant again, not hissing and spitting at me like an angry kitten.
Jerking on my boots, I wrapped my hand around her arm and blinked us to her apartment. I released her and took a step back. I didn’t want to leave her. There was something she was hiding from me, and I didn’t like it. But if she didn’t want me around, then I’d give her what she wanted.
I gave her a long searching look, trying to understand what had happened, what had changed between last night and this morning. She’d seemed content enough when we’d gone to bed. Why had she woken up with a different outlook on things? Because I couldn’t say three pesky little words. What were words in the scheme of things? Did they really mean that much to her?
“Will I see you again?” she asked softly.
“No. I should be able to protect you without being seen. You can return to your life as requested.” At least, until I could find a way to bring her back to my side.
She looked a little sad at the prospect of never seeing me again so it gave me hope. Surely if she truly meant to return to her life, to forget about me, she would be happy I was leaving for good. Wouldn’t she? Maybe a day or two without me would give her a different perspective, give her time to miss me.
Something told me I would miss her a great deal.
Without another word, I returned to Hell. My quarters smelled like her, and her scent wrapped around me. Normally I would visit the pleasure chamber and slake my lust with one of hundreds of available women, but that didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. The only woman I wanted had decided to cut me out of her life, well, as much as she could. Like it or not, I was a permanent part of her life as long as I was her guardian. Thankfully, she hadn’t thought to ask for a new one.
I could shadow her every step, but what good would that do? Did I really want to know if she took another man to her bed? I wasn’t entirely sure I had a heart, but if I did, that act alone would make it feel like it was being ripped from my chest. I paused. I’d learned enough from humans over the years to know they felt things deeply, and one of those emotions was love. Was it possible that I did have deep feelings for Larissa? The fact that she could wound me so easily certainly made it seem that way.
I needed to talk to someone, someone who understood these humans even better than I did. Someone with some authority who could guide me because I certainly felt lost at the moment. I knew exactly who I needed to speak with, but one didn’t just walk up to Lucifer and demand a meeting. I’d seen him before, of course, but we weren’t exactly on friendly terms. He was my boss and demanded my respect. But I couldn’t think of anyone better suited to help me in this situation.
It was days before I could arrange to speak with Lucifer. I’d had to go through several channels before being directed to his favorite demon, Aza
I bowed in respect and waited for him to acknowledge me. I’d wait all day if I had to, bent at the waist, head lowered in deference to his supreme power. It turned out I didn’t have to wait as long as I’d thought.
Straightening, I lifted my gaze to his and found him smiling at me. We were in his office, an opulent room with a hand-carved gilt-edged desk, a throne for a chair situated behind it with my lord and master seated in it. Two smaller chairs sat across from the desk, but I didn’t dare presume to take a seat, not without being expressly told to do so. Lavish paintings hung on the wall, one depicting the scene from the Garden of Eden where the serpent tempted Eve. I knew it hadn’t been a snake that had tempted her, but my master in all of his splendid glory. And what woman wouldn’t fall at his feet?
“I hear you have a problem,” Lucifer said. “What makes you think I can be of any help?”
“You seem to understand humans better than anyone, my lord. My charge has asked to return to her regular life after spending a day and night in my arms. I had thought to keep her, but she claims the need for sunshine and fresh air, says she could never stay with me. I’m at a loss as to what I should do.”
Lucifer pursed his lips and studied me a moment. “And it never occurred to you to simply join her topside? If she won’t live with you, you could always live with her.”
“A demon living on Earth?” I asked, knowing that I sounded as uncertain as I felt. “People may accept the fact that we exist, but I don’t see them accepting me as part of their everyday lives.”
“And yet, knowing that your human would never be able to fully be a part of your life here in Hell, you’d still ask her to live here with you? Knowing that she’d be confined to your one-room living quarters day after day for the rest of her life? Is that any kind of existence for her?”
I knew Lucifer was right, but I didn’t like it. “Is there nothing I can do? I’m not ready to give her up. No other woman appeals to me, not the way she does. I’ve felt… lonely, since she’s been gone the past few days. Just the thought of her with another man is painful.”
Lucifer’s lips twitched. “It sounds like you love her.”
“Is that what love is?”
“Let me ask you something. If giving her up would be the best thing for her, and you knew that, would you give her up? Or would you still persist in claiming her for yourself?”
I swallowed hard. It was a difficult question to answer. “I’m not sure. I want her more than my next breath.”
Lucifer laughed. “You don’t have to breathe so that doesn’t tell me much.”
“She’s essential to me. But… I think… Yes, if it were better for her, I would give her up.”
Those intelligent eyes studied me until I wanted to squirm. “Bale and Aleixo have reached a compromise with their women. They spend half their time topside and the rest of the time down here. Perhaps you could reach such an agreement with Larissa.”
“That seems… too easy.”
“Well, there is a catch.”
I sighed. I knew it had to be too good to be true. “What’s the catch?”
“As long as Larissa is down here, she won’t age. You could have her by your side forever. But every time she returns home, the aging process will resume. It would be in your best interest to convince her to live down here.”
I frowned. “But there’s nothing for her to do here. She was bored.”
Lucifer gazed off into the distance, as if contemplating the issue. I gave him time, hoping he would come up with a solution to the problem. The thought of watching Larissa grow old and die didn’t appeal to me, but I would still keep her by my side for as long as I could.
“I’ll set up a special floor in the living quarters. For those of you who have taken human mates, you’ll be given larger quarters to appeal to your mates. In addition, I’ll have a special room set up for them with games, books and whatever else I can think of to help them pass the time. A place where they can gather and spend quality time together, giving them a chance to bond.”
“All of that still seems too easy.”
Lucifer smiled. “You’re going to ask her to give up the sun, her friends, her family… everything she knows. I wouldn’t call that easy. It’s going to be a hard sell, getting her to agree to come down here, but for your sake I hope she agrees. If not, there’s always the compromise.”
I bowed my head. “Thank you, my lord. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.”
“You’re most welcome, Rorlan. But I’m not doing this just for you. I want my demons to be happy, which means their chosen mates need to be happy. This is just as much for Bale and Aleixo as it is for you, and any other demons who may take a human mate in the future.”
“Permission to ask another question, my lord?”
His eyebrows lifted. “Of course.”
“Why did you put demons in charge of human women? Especially Tinta demons. You know we’re a lusty bunch. It was only a matter of time before we couldn’t avoid our growing lust for our charges.”
Lucifer laughed. “I paired each of you personally. There was a reason I chose Larissa for you. It didn’t come as a surprise when you fell in love with her, same for Bale and Aleixo. That isn’t to say that all Tinta demons will fall in love with their charges, but some of you are destined to be with a special human. I merely helped facilitate it.”
He’d known all along what would happen? I was in absolute awe of the man. But then, he’d have to be all knowing to be in charge of Hell.
I bowed once more, and he dismissed me from his presence. Once outside of his office, I took a deep breath and contemplated everything he’d said. I wanted that life, the one where Larissa was by my side for eternity. I just wasn’t sure how to get it. Telling her how I felt was a big part of it, and I knew that, but something told me there would be more to it than that. I doubted saying those three little words would suddenly make her jump up and down and gleefully agree to move to Hell permanently.
What Lucifer had said about a compromise made me think. Telling her about the things she could have here in Hell, now that Lucifer had agreed to improve the living conditions of our human mates, wasn’t going to be enough. She needed to know that I was willing to sacrifice something to be with her, and telling her I would foreswear all other women didn’t seem like something I should bring up. I had a feeling that part was just understood.
I’d observed humans enough to know I couldn’t just show up and expect her to listen to me. Not empty-handed anyway.
Appearing topside, I stopped by a florist and swiped a bouquet of red roses. If anyone saw me, they didn’t dare try to stop me. Would you try to stop a demon? Being who I am definitely had perks.
I walked the two blocks to Larissa’s apartment, needing the time to gather my thoughts and figure out what I would say to her. But when I approached her door, I didn’t bother knocking. Instead, I blinked myself inside. The muffled sounds of crying coming from her bedroom made my chest hurt, and I realized it was my heart aching.
I strode down the hall, pushed open the bedroom door, and paused just inside. She was in her favorite ratty shirt and shorts, sprawled across the bed, hugging a pillow to her chest as she sobbed her heart out. I couldn’t bear the sound of such anguish, not coming from her.
Moving closer, I dropped to my knees beside the bed and smoothed a hand through her tangled hair. She sniffled and looked up, her eyes not showing even a hint of surprise at finding me in her apartment. It was almost as if she’d expected me. Or, dare I dream, she’d hoped it was
“Larissa, what’s wrong?”
Her gaze strayed to the flowers still clutched in my hand. “Are those for me?” she asked in a whisper soft voice.
I laid them on the bed beside her. “Yes, they’re for you.”
She touched them reverently, tracing each petal before leaning close to inhale their fragrance. A smile ghosted her lips before her gaze returned to mine. Hope lit her eyes, and I thought it was a very good sign.
“Why are you here, Rorlan? I thought you were going to stay away and let me live my life.”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
She sniffled again and shook her head. “I can’t.”
Gently I caressed her cheek. “Why can’t you live your life?”
“Because it’s empty. I’ve missed you, Rorlan. And I know you probably don’t want to hear it, but I’ve fallen in love with you. I know we only knew each other that one day, but it was enough. The moment I looked into your eyes I knew who you were.”
“And who’s that?” I asked.
“My soul mate.”
I smiled sadly. “I’m a demon, Larissa. I don’t have a soul.”
“You must, because you’re my other half. I’m only complete when I’m with you.”
“I came to talk to you about something because I’ve missed you, too. I know you don’t want to live in Hell, in my one-room apartment, but what if I could promise you something better? I spoke with Lucifer. He promised me a large space and a room where you and the other human mates could gather each day.”
She shook her head. “I’d still be there without the sun, without… well, without everything.”
My newfound heart constricted in my chest. “Then what if we compromise? What if you come to Hell some of the time and I come up, as well? We could split our time.”
“I have a job, Rorlan. I have to pay for this place. I can’t be disappearing for days at a time.” Tears welled in her eyes again. “I just don’t see how it would work.”
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes