by Teresa Cain
I heard a door close and then someone...something approached the bed and sat down on the edge behind me. At first I was afraid it might be the female, who frankly scared the piss out of me (and I hadn't even seen her yet), but then I caught a scent. It smelled like the air after it snows: the crisp, cold taste of winter. It was a smell I'd caught before fainting in the alley.
The winged man's smell.
"I know you're awake," he said mildly.
I rolled over and stared at him, sitting there on the bed with his arms folded and a faint smile on his beautiful face. He cocked his head to the side and let out a small sigh, letting his eyes fall shut.
"I tried," he said, shaking his head. "I still think you're perfect, but it's really Jade that needs a go-between. And she's probably right about your age. I wouldn't know. I have so little contact with the mortal world other than the occasional bedroom and its sleeping occupant."
I opened my mouth to ask what the hell was going on, but when he suddenly stretched out on his stomach beside me, sliding his arms beneath an extra pillow and letting those great black wings flex out and over the bed (including me), I shrieked and started scooting away.
It was a very big bed... and very tall as well, as I found out very quickly when I misjudged my distance from the opposite side of the bed and ended up scooting right off into open air.
His face appeared over the edge of the bed, staring down at me with a mixed look of shock and amusement. I glared right back as I rubbed my poor bruised butt. Whose bright idea had it been to tile a bedroom? He let out a small laugh, then stretched one long arm down to help me up, and it was just as I reflexively reached for it that I realized I was in a very embarrassing position: bare ass naked in a bedroom with a creature that really liked women.
"Where the hell are my clothes?" I shrieked, wrapping my arms around my chest. I didn't have that much to hide, but it's the principle of the thing, you know?
"Fireplace," he replied, one eyebrow quirking as he fought not to laugh at my attempts at decency. "They were alive with little things that Jade did not want to share her home with. But there is a robe on the chair over there."
I turned my head and spotted a long black robe lying across an old oak chair that looked more like a king's throne than actual furniture. I whipped my head back around at the oh-so-innocent-looking bastard lying above me. "Close your eyes."
"A little late for that. I think I've seen - "
"Close 'em or lose 'em, you horny pervert!"
He shrugged and closed his eyes, his lips dancing as he tried to suppress the laugh that was sooner or later going to hurt him if he didn't let it out. As soon as I was good and sure that they were really closed, I jumped to my feet and dashed across the room, grabbing the robe, throwing it on and tying it in record speed. Then I turned around and found he'd been watching me anyway.
"You're an incubus, aren't you?" I growled, folding my arms over my stomach. "Out of the frying pan, into the raging inferno. What were you and the other woman talking about?"
I'd shocked him good by figuring out what he was, so he ignored my question as he tried to figure out just how I'd figured him out. He pushed himself up onto his elbows and stared at me, frowning thoughtfully as he looked me up and down.
"Very good, child," he said, sitting up and sliding off the bed. I posed to run as he slowly walked towards me, but he shook his head. "Don't. Believe me, I'm not a problem for you. Jade, on the other hand, is very upset, and might very well tear your throat out just to make herself feel better."
"And Jade is...?"
"A very pissed-off demon who was only mad at me for running off her assistant. Now she's mad at me for running off her assistant and bringing home a completely unsuitable replacement. And she's also mad at me for not doing the dishes last night, but that really has nothing to do with the matters at hand."
I smiled before I could stop myself, which seemed to please him. "Demon, huh? Wonderful. And the worst part is, I can't figure out which is worse: rape by a bunch of over-sexed teenage thugs or being in an unknown place with an over-sexed demon who keeps staring at my breasts. Excuse me, up here? Thank you. Now will you please tell me what the hell is going on before I just start screaming for no reason other than I'm getting very pissed, very scared, and very, very cold!"
"I told Jade you had an open mind," he muttered, shoving his fingers through his hair. "The Grand Canyon isn't this open. There is no way in hell or heaven that you should be accepting all this so easily."
"Yes, well," I muttered, running a hand through my hair, "my father is Eli Thorn."
Those quietly spoken words had the desired effect. If I had picked up that chair and bashed him between the eyes, he couldn't have looked any more shocked. His skin was unearthly pale to begin with, and I hadn't thought it could get any whiter, but somehow, it did. He backed up, face twisting into an incredulous little grin, and then he threw back his head and howled, actually howled with laughter. Then he spun on one heel and ran out of the room, still laughing with a near maniac edge.
Yep, that was pretty much the effect I'd been going for. I grabbed the belt on the robe and gave it an experimental tug, making sure it was good and tight, and then I walked calmly out of the room. Sure, I was probably walking right into a nest of blood-thirsty creatures from the darkest nether regions of Hell, but I was curious to see what the other demon looked like and whether or not I could get any real answers out of her.
Curiosity killed the cat.
It probably wasn't going to do me any good, either.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Bargains ©2000 by Teresa Cain
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