Sunday, 14 July 2013

Demon Hunger - Prologue & Chapter One

The Demons

Gabe, Ryazan, Xavier, Aiden, Asher 


First there was nothing and then came the light. The Sleeping Gods had tired of being alone, their eyes slowing closing in the nothingness. For an age that spanned millions of years, they slept as the Universe revolved around them. Suddenly a chink of light appeared in the consciousness and as one the Gods awoke to find the Universe had changed whilst they slumbered.

Gone was the bleakness of nothing; in its place a myriad of stars so numerous they spanned the dark reaches of space in their billions. The Sleeping Gods yawned and became intrigued…moving across the heavens in search of what they knew not.

Until they found it…

On a blue/green planet they found life…the start of a race so basic there was some doubt in Their minds if they would achieve longevity. Even in their most primitive state, the ape-like creatures either warred upon each other or stagnated where they had no direct elements to promote their intelligence.

As They watched, the creatures began to dwindle until such times an element of panic set in among the Sleeping Gods. They behove the creatures to be fascinating; the first interesting things They could remember encountering. In a bid to arrest the Humans stagnation, They came together to determine a way to promote growth.

Sh’ian floated forward, Her corporeal form of that of one of the ape-like children of ten turnings. Tiny black curls framed Her youthful face and She sported wings of a gossamer nature. It was an odd appearance and drew much conversation from the incorporeal Gods floating in the emptiness of space.  Sh’ian basked at being the centre of attention.

“These apes are weak and fragile. I believe they will perish no matter what you would do to prevent it. I will make my own race that will thrive as they wane.”

Deep within Her mind She beheld the voice Gh’tan. “Yet, you converse as the apes do and apparel yourself in their nature. They must hold some allure for you.”

Gh’tan joined her in corporeal form, standing as tall as a giant, His skin leathery and dark but none-the-less similar to the apes. “I, too, will create a race that will outlive all others.”

The other Gods were intrigued by the competition before them, and They too stepped forward one by one, choosing forms that differed slightly each time from the ape-like creatures but retained some element of their initial make-up.

And so began the birth of the Others, each being cast with different qualities and abilities as per Their God’s wishes. Demons and Fae; Vampire and Shifter, numerous Other beings to grace the blue/green planet and be neighbours to the humans.

Th’kana was the sole God to remain true to the ape creatures, though even He tweaked them a little to make them sturdier so they could withstand the passage of time and their often warlike neighbours. When all was done the Gods sat back and watched the progress of their creations.

Ten of thousands of years passed, and as before, the Gods became sleepy. The world They had created thrived regardless of the diversity of species they had created. Surprisingly, despite their overall weakness, it was the humans who conquered the world, their short lifespans forcing them to adapt more quickly than the Others. They founded new continents and marched forward with a ruthless abandonment, blind to the fact they had such perilous adversaries surrounding them.

As the Million Year Tiredness swept over the Gods, each became concerned about how Their progeny would fair in Their absence. So concerned, that They selected a handful of Their worshipers to elevate above all others, granting them Demi-God like powers to rule in Their stead whilst They slept.

And they named them the Advocates, fore they were Messengers of the Gods and their words MUST be heeded at all times. To make war on an Advocate had only one outcome…certain death and damnation for eternity.

As the Sleeping Gods slumbered… an incident occurred that called on an Advocate to Intervene on the mortal plane. The Sleeping Gods would not be pleased with this turn of events and as the only Advocate close enough to deal with the fallout…the ethereal maiden descended to the mortal plane with but one thought in her heart…death.


Chapter One

He watched her from the bathroom doorway, the graceful line of her back pleasing on the eye as she sat at the vanity table slowly removing her earrings.  The flowing white strapless wedding dress was beautiful, as was the woman who was now his wife. Blond wispy curls artfully escaped her complicated hairstyle, created to give an impression of softness by a skilled stylist. It was evidence of the substantial amount of money spent on this wedding day… his money.

“Are you going to watch me undress completely, Gabe?”

Even her voice had a husky artifice to it…sounding lush and alluring, designed to tempt a man to forget everything but the woman. She was good…so very good, but he was better.

Striding across the sumptuous hotel suite, he came to stand behind her, trailing his fingers over her bare shoulders. Looking at the image they created in the mirror, he could see why their wedding day had been so newsworthy. They were the epitome of perfection, High Society oozing from every pore. She was Caroline De’Neuve, an obscenely rich widow with two dead tycoon husbands littering her past. He was Gabe Parker, the newly crowned prince of socialite New York, heir to billions in the renewable energy field.

“How could I resist such perfection, my love?” The words dripped from his lips as he bent down to brush them against one pale shoulder.

She shuddered at his touch, as he knew she would. At the outset of their whirlwind romance she had imposed a ban on sex, her reasoning that she wanted their wedding night to be perfect. She wanted this wedding to be different, having lost her two previous husbands so soon into the marriage. She had superstitiously put that down to the fact she had been intimate with them both prior to the wedding.

The ban suited Gabe perfectly, and meant he hadn’t needed to come up with his own excuses for them remaining chaste before the wedding.  It helped Caroline believe she was calling all the shots and fit exactly into his plans.

Baby blue eyes met his dark blue gaze in the mirror, as she fluttered her eyelashes, appearing shy. It was enough to bring his lips up into a gentle smile, one the appeared full of love for the exquisite creature sitting before him.

“You say such wonderful things, Gabe, but you do make me blush. I have no idea why I feel so shy around you. Why don’t you pour us a glass of champagne and let me finish undressing?”

Standing for another long moment, he traced her pixie-perfect features in the reflection, admiring the contrast of his bronze hands against the delicacy of her white skin. Skin that would soon be bare to his touch, that sent prickles of anticipation down to his very fingertips.

It had been so long and he was famished for some female touch, so much so it was a sharp, gnawing pain in his gut. However, he was never indiscriminate, he always chose the perfect candidate. His brothers would not allow it any other way.

Gabe moved away, feeling her hungry eyes following his every move. He could feel the heat on his back as he rolled his shoulders slightly, knowing it would accentuate his defined muscles and release a short burst of pheromones into the room. The soft gasp from his bride had his lips tilting up as he uncorked the bottle of champagne on the bedside table.

Was it in here, her weapon of choice? Was this the start of her campaign, the wedding night? What was it? Ricin? Belladonna? It made no difference because whatever she chose to use would cause him no harm. You had to be human for poison to work and he was anything but…

Sipping at his drink, Gabe turned to survey his bride, his pulse quickening as the wedding dress pooled at her feet and she stood there in her lingerie. A lacy white strapless bra covered the soft mounds of her breasts, matching lace panties covering the sweet essence of her sexuality. The suspenders and white lace stocking were the finishing touches, as was her unbound curls gracing her shoulders.

Caroline De’Neuve , now Parker, really was exquisite in every way and the blood coursed down his body to make him hard and impatient to lie between her thighs.  His long denied hunger clawed at him and Gabe knew he had to take her soon otherwise he may behave foolishly and earn the wrath of his brothers.

“Come here, wife.”

Long fingers running through short blond hair had the effect of showing off his ripped bare chest as well as releasing a heavier dose of pheromones onto the air. He could see a hint of confusion flash across her face as she moved against her own volition. Yes, she thought she held all the cards in this encounter but she was about to be cruelly disabused.

His control slipping, Gabe moved towards his prey, uncaring that his carefully constructed illusion was unravelling and his fake blond locks where bleeding back to jet-black. It didn’t matter now…all that mattered was the tasting of her flesh and the end to the burning hunger in his gut.

“What??? Your hair?” The words stuttered out of perfect red lips…lips that would soon be his to do with as he pleased.

“Dear Caroline… perfect Caroline. The last three months have been a torture like nothing you could ever imagine. Though, possibly your first two husbands would be able to relate as they were slowly poisoned to death at you delicate hands.”

Gabe stopped before her, his cock so hard it felt ready to burst, his heart pounding in his chest as the sweet rush of hunger built to a crescendo. It felt so sweet now because he knew he would be feeding soon, that any moment now he would bask in the beautiful body before him.

He smiled as he watched panic cross her face at his words, fear replacing the artificial seductiveness she’d displayed so well since their accidental meeting. The pheromones he was releasing was keeping her locked to him physically but her mind was still her own…for now.

“Miranda sends her regards, Caroline.” Gabe let the words sink in, his smile increasing as realisation dawned on her face. “Yes…she knows you are responsible for her brother’s death. She is very keen to see justice sanctioned against Michael’s murderer.”

Wild eyes met his, the light of terror beginning to dance in them. “He died of natural causes! The coroner ruled it natural causes! Miranda hated me right from the very start. She did everything she could to try to prevent our wedding. I didn’t hurt Michael…I swear I didn’t.”

Gabe laughed, delighted that she thought she could convince him of her innocence. It heightened his hunger to see his prey trying to wriggle free. It made the last three months so worthwhile. “Let me tell you who you are, my sweet Caroline, and then I will tell you who I am. You, my dear, are a Black Widow. You use your looks and your body to snare wealthy husbands and then you murder them for their money.”

He placed one finger over her lips when she opened her mouth to speak. “Don’t try to deny it. We both know it is true. You had the same thing planned for Gabe Parker, only he doesn’t exist, my dear. There is only me and I am your worst nightmare come to life.”

His finger brushed a tear-stained cheek, his hunger at fever pitch. She was intelligent enough to realise that to continue to try to deny it was pointless. They always were…all these beautiful women who had crossed his path over the centuries, whose glorious bodies he’d taken in a storm of passion so intense it fed his soul for years on end.

“Your ex-sister-in-law believes she hired assassins to take you out but she hired something so much worse than a mere assassin, Caroline. She hired me and by the time I am finished with you…you will be begging for release and when you do…you will die. I am an Incubus, wife, and I feed by having sex with my prey.”

Watching disbelief cross her face he laughed once more. “Ah…I see your eyes widen in scepticism. You think I play with you?”

Taking a step back, Gabe released the last of his illusion, smiling as his height grew to its customary six foot two inches. His prey had a penchant for males of a lesser height so he had modelled himself according to her tastes. Slicked-back, shoulder length black locks now replaced the previous blond hair, which had been another of her predilections.  Finally, his dark blue eyes ceded control to the deep brown, almost black irises he hadn’t seen in a little while.

“There is no Gabe Parker, Caroline De’Neuve. There is only Gabe the Incubus, a demon so damned that his punishment is to walk this world knowing that if he feeds his hunger only once…the woman will die. Most of my tribe can lay with women and leave them living after the fact. Usually it is only dangerous if we develop feelings for one female that we lay with her too often. I, on the other hand, am cursed that any woman I lay with dies and naturally I must feed or I will die.”

Her horror grew with his words, his hunger twisting his insides into a vicious knot. Gabe brushed his lips against her wet cheeks, his tongue snaking out to savour the delicious pain in each drop. “Interesting conundrum that, isn’t it?” he murmured against her skin, drawing in a deep breath to scent every nuance of her emotions.  “How does one redeem oneself without killing the innocent? It’s really quite simple, Caroline. One feeds from the cesspool of humanity and you, my dear, are swimming in that stink.”

Whatever she may have been about to say was cut off by his mouth covering hers in a blistering kiss. Darkness danced behind his eyes as the blackness of her soul collided with his in that first perfect moment. Her muttered whimper was music to his ears, a mix of need and denial all rolled into one. It fed his need and his body swelled to a level he couldn’t quite remember. She was delicious in every way and he knew he would feed well this night.

“Your body will feel nothing but the utmost pleasure, but a punishment is not a true punishment unless you understand the consequences of your actions. I could cloud your mind so your end is a sweet release. I don’t think I will though, not in your case. Towards the end your previous husbands must have realised you were their murderer and been unable to do anything about it. You deserve to know your executor, my dear. You deserve to know that each time I tease your body to its release that you are one step closer to death.”

Gabe pulled her body against his, slowly rubbing his throbbing cock against her soft skin. His touch elicited a deep moan from his wife and the scent of her instant arousal assaulted his nostril. He fed on both scent and sound, feeling a small appeasement to his need. He would take his time with her; toy with her for as long as he could stand it. The eventual climax would soothe the harshest of hungers.

“So beautiful and so corrupt. I am going to enjoy you, Caroline, and I will make sure you thoroughly enjoy everything I do to you.”

Pressing her backwards until her knees touch the bed, he let her fall onto the thick mattress, admiring the view as he unhurriedly unbuckled the belt and withdrew it from his dress trousers. The flash of fear and excitement in her eyes caught his attention and his slow smile was one of intense pleasure.

“Are you a little on the kinky side, wife? Do you like a little pain with your pleasure?” Gabe cracked the belt hard between his hands, laughing as she jumped nervously at the sharp sound. Moving to sit astride her, he gently took each arm and raised them above her head, accentuating her lush breasts.

Gabe quickly looped the belt around her wrists, binding her as her breath quickened.  “Every inch of your body is mine to do with as I please, sweet Caroline. And it pleases me to taste every succulent inch of you.”

He made good on his words, laving his tongue slowly over her collarbone down to where her heart beat so fast, her chest rising and falling in rapid succession.  She tasted so good his head was swimming and it took him a moment to feel a dampness in the air that he knew very well…

“I’m feeding!” he growled, his eyes black as he raised his head to glare at the interloper in the room. The male leaning against the wall met his gaze with a nonchalant shrug, unperturbed by the irritation in his voice.

“Asher said to finish up quickly. There’s a disturbance in the Otherworld that he doesn’t like the feel of. He wants us all back at base ASAP.”

Gabe growled again, frustration in his tone. It wasn’t like Asher to freak out for no good reason. If something was disturbing their leader, it was always wise to listen to what he had to say. He turned regretful eyes on Caroline allowing his irritation to show.

“Fine, I’ll be there shortly.”


“I need to feed, Xavier. I can’t put it off any longer.”

The other male straightened up, his ebony skin glistening as he wandered closer to the bed. “Looks tasty.”


“Okay, okay I’m going. Just don’t be long. Asher was really insistent.” Without another word, the second demon’s form shimmered, shrinking down into a pool of blue liquid. The thick fluid lingered for a fraction of a second before it vaporised into steam, vanishing from the room leaving a lingering dampness behind.

Gabe watched him leave before turning to look back at Caroline. Her eyes were huge in her head, disbelief contorting her pretty face. Maybe he should have allowed Xavier to stay. It would have ratcheted up the level of her emotions and made his feeding more satisfying. If his meal were to be cut short, maybe putting up with the other male’s presence wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.

It couldn’t be changed now though. He needed to finish this and quickly. “Sorry, my dear. I do hate being rushed but needs must.”

He didn’t give her any time to respond, sinking quickly to his knees and releasing an overdose of liquid pheromones from his pores as he did. They suffused the room, landing on every inch of her skin until she was bathed in his scent.

Caroline cried out instantly at their touch, her body convulsing with pleasure. Gabe growled as her essence flowed, ripping the flimsy lace of her panties, so he could bury his head between her spread thighs.

The sweet taste of her sexual release exploded in his mouth, hot, wet, and so full of musky flavour that he couldn’t contain a deep groan. Gabe feasted rapidly, spearing her needy sex with his tongue ruthlessly as he drank his fill from her body. He had wanted to take his time but with the warning from his brothers, and the deep hunger gnawing him, he gave into his most primal need, sweeping Caroline into multiple orgasms to quench that need.

When he finally raised his head, his delightfully murderous wife was drenched in perspiration, her once perfect hair matted to the side of her face, exhaustion lining her exquisite features. She was beautiful and sexually satisfied but in her eyes, he could read the knowledge that her time was short in this world.

“You could have been anything you wanted to be, Caroline,” he sighed sadly, stripping off his pants before kneeling on the bed between her thighs. He snapped open the front fastening on her bra, rolling her hard peaks between his fingers as she cried out once more. “You chose to be a murderer and while I thank you for the replenishment you’re about to give me, I find myself saddened that you didn’t choose another path.”

The culmination of her many climaxes had teased his hunger to epic proportions and he fisted his cock in his hand, stroking the engorged flesh with a deep groan. “Look, Caroline. Look at what awaits you.”

“Gabe…no…Gabe, please!” Her words came out weakly, her eyes round as she stared at the size of him. Incubi were always well endowed but they could exceed their normal size and width if they failed to feed at regular intervals.

“Yes…Caroline…yes.” The moment of pity he’d felt for the killer had passed almost as soon as it had arrived. He had been hired to perform a job and he never went back on his word once he took an assignment. His need wouldn’t have allowed him to walk away at this late stage even if he had wanted to. Which he didn’t.

Gabe leaned forward, indulging himself by sucking first one hard nipple into his mouth and then the other.  She exploded again, the sweet scent of her release shattering the last of his control. Raising her up by her hips, he placed the head of his cock at her entrance and slowly eased his way into the depth of her body.


Sweet, all-encompassing ecstasy suffused the Incubus, ripping a loud yell from the depths of his soul. So tight, so wet… the pleasure was everything as the female gripped his body hard and shook all around him.  The demon reined, it would not be denied. He pulled out and thrust back in hard, bathing them both in a pleasure so intense; he had to throw out a dampening spell to muffle the noise they were making.

She was pleasure personified, her scent and sound pulsing over him until he was mindless with the power infusing his body. She spilled for him, over and over, each climax adding to his power, feeding his soul. Gabe covered her body completely, his hips moving in concert with Caroline, her will slipping from her body with each thrust against her.

“So beautiful. So deceptive. So full of wickedness. Look at me, Caroline. Feel your soul leaving you as I suck you dry and end your murderous ways.”

He kissed her, long and slow, his fingers tweaking her puckered nipples as he rode between her thighs. The final moment was approaching and he wanted her to be aware that is was almost upon her.

“Why couldn’t you have chosen to be good? Why did you bring yourself to this end?” Again, the pity had risen from the depth of his soul and this time he didn’t push it away, wiping at her tears as he gave into the urge to cloud her mind.

There was only ecstasy in her pale blue eyes as he rode into her body. Only pleasure dancing across her beautiful features as his back arched and he pulled her upper body from the bed so he could maintain eye contact as he unleashed his seed deep within her. He pulsed within, feeding from her lips as her black heart slowed with her final climax, the light leaving her eyes as his own climax completed the act of feeding.

Gabe moved from within her, pulling himself to his feet and closing his eyes as his strength blazed a thousand times stronger than it had been before laying with his wife. He gloried in the power radiating through him, basking in the feeling of rebirth it gave him.

With a sad sigh, he glanced down at Caroline, her beauty preserved in that final moment of completion. “You could have been anything,” he repeated, running a hand through his long dark hair. “Instead you are now extinguished from this world, the only saving grace to that being all other men are safe now from your brand of love.”

The Incubus stared at his prey a moment longer, before he gently removed the belt from her wrists and positioned her under the covers. She would be found eventually, her death having the appearance of natural causes. Yes, there would also be some attempt to find Gabe Parker, the poor bereaved husband, but there would be no trace of him to be found because he didn’t exist.

Gabe’s final act was to get dressed and pull out the burn phone he’d used for this job. Dialling the only number in its memory, he waited for the call to connect.  “It’s done.”

Hanging up, he pulverised the phone in his large fist, sparing one final glance at the doomed woman in the bed. Then he turned and ran his keen gaze over the room, ensuring he took everything with him that may point in his direction. When he was satisfied he had left no belongings behind, he used his demonic abilities to vaporised his seed from within Caroline’s body. Satisfied, he used the same abilities to turn his appearance into that of an elderly man, and then he turned and calmly walked out of the room without a backward glance.


Gabe casually strolled through the hotel in his guise of elderly man. He could have used his abilities to leave the room unseen, but was aware that the hotel’s security cameras would have recorded him entering with Caroline. If anyone decided to be thorough and check the security footage, he wanted to throw him or her a curveball. Not that they would have been able to track Gabe Parker from his image anyway, he had changed everything about his appearance.  Still it paid to be overly cautious, especially if Asher was on edge.

Finally sauntering outside, he disappeared into an alleyway close by and checked he was alone. He couldn’t see any itinerates around so shimmered out of existence in the space of a heartbeat. Who would believe a homeless person anyway if they did see something? ‘Officer, the old man just seemed to wobble and then he vanished right as I was looking at him!’ Yeah, any law enforcement officers hearing that tale would assume they were drunk.

Gabe didn’t need to have been to a location to be able to transport to a destination. He had an inbuilt radar that took him to anywhere he desired to go. All he needed was the name of the place or a landmark and he could target his incorporeal jumps to where he wanted to be.  With people from the Otherworld, he didn’t even need to know where they were, he could hone in on their unique qualities. There was a subtle something about all things Other that separated them from humans. He couldn’t describe what it was, he could just feel it. 

Now he had fed, he could detect a subtle stirring on the air…an imbalance as if something unknown had entered the playing field. It made him feel uneasy and he could understand Asher’s disquiet. Their leader was more acutely in tune with all things Other so if Gabe could feel the ripple then to Asher it would be a great big warning bell. Something was walking the planet with them and it was powerful enough to alter the delicate balance between Other and human.

Gabe materialise outside the warehouse, no longer disguised. It felt like forever since he had walked as himself. When on assignment, he often chose to stay in character and it had taken three months to reel in his prey. It felt good to be himself again and he was glad he wouldn’t need to go undercover for a while.

He shucked off the morning suit he was wearing, transforming his attire into his standard black jeans with matching T-shirt. Around his waist, he was sporting one of his trademark belts, the buckle today a Celtic cross in pure silver. Black boots completed his outfit, his jet-black hair slicked back and brushing the top of his shoulders. He looked every inch the ruthless assassin he was, as did the group of four males standing less than three feet from him, awaiting his arrival.

Xavier was perched upon some stacked empty pallets, his teeth startling white against the contrast of his ebony skin as he grinned at Gabe. “Was she tasty?” he chuckled.

“No more so than any of the others,” the incubus answered, his eyes tracking Asher.

Some may have mistaken them for siblings, they resembled each other so closely, but they were anything but. Gabe commonly referred to his friends as brothers but there was no direct relationship link. The leader of the group had light brown hair and eyes of such an unusual shade of pale brown they often appeared amber. He was dressed similarly in style but his jeans were dark blue and his T-shirt white.

As Gabe watched him, Asher took a long draw on the cigarette in his hand and then flicked it away. “Something is here that shouldn’t be.” The words growled out, annoyance in each clipped syllable.

“Can you be any less vague? What’s something?” Aiden posed the question from his position to the right of Asher. He was informally considered the second in command of the group and was often the one they turned to if Asher was out on assignment.

Leaning up against the side of the building, he was a few inches shorter than Gabe with an athletic physique. His dark brown hair was cut short at the back but was longer at the front, tumbling over his brow to obscure one eye. He was dressed in black jeans and vest, his taut chest straining the tight material. Although he didn’t appear as large as the rest of the males, he was every bit as dangerous.

“If I knew what it was I would have said,” Asher growled again, impatience in his tone. He turned slightly to glance at each of the assembled team as if looking for answers.

“I can’t sense anything but then my talents don’t run to sensory perception,” the final member of the group commented, shrugging his shoulders in a nonchalant manner.

Ryazan was the most reserved of the group, often choosing to take on the more long term, exotic assignments. Of them all, he was probably the one who tolerated humans the best, and Gabe sometimes wondered if the demon didn’t wish he had been born to a more mundane way of life. Even now, he remained a little distance from the others, his wavy black hair rumpled from the long fingers he’d just dragged through it. It was clear he wished to be somewhere else.

Xavier echoed Ryazan’s shrug. “I’m not much more receptive.”

“I sense something but couldn’t tell you what it is,” Gabe contributed, trying to narrow down the ripples he could feel just at the edge of his preternatural senses. There was a power to it that was unlike anything he’d ever experienced. The only thing he could say for sure was it was definitely Other. His brow furrowed as a thought occurred to him. “I didn’t sense it before my feeding. It was only as I fed that it began to niggle at the back of my head.”

Asher’s amber gaze was intent as he regarded the incubus. “Could be something but, then again, could be nothing. You were longer between feedings this time. Your attention could have been focused solely on that and it was only as your hunger was appeased that you became aware.”

He could be right but something tugged at the incubus, a feeling of knowing and yet he has no idea what he was supposed to know. It was unsettling and he didn’t like the feeling. His expression must have conveyed his doubt because Asher quirked an eyebrow in his direction.

“You think you could track it?”

Gabe was the most talented at tracking. If any of them could find this mysterious something then it would likely be him. The question was…if it was so powerful they could sense it…did they want to find it?  It was with some reluctance he nodded his head. The instant that he did, the niggling in his mind grew stronger, as if he had just set himself on a path that would irrevocably change his life.

Asher reached into his back pocket and pulled out another cigarette. He lit it in the conventional manner, though it wasn’t required. Even when alone they did their best to mimic human behaviour, lest they should slip up when out amongst their prey.  Taking a long drag, he blew out a plume of smoke, his expression neutral.

“Okay, Gabe and I will work on whatever this disturbance is. The rest of you can go about your business but be ready if we call.”

“I’m about to head off to Australia,” Ryazan announced. “I may be off the radar for a while.”

“You’ll make yourself available if I need you.” Asher didn’t raise his voice but his tone was implacable.  His words brought a dark scowl to the other demon’s expression but he gave one sharp affirmative nod before he disappeared from the yard.

“Aiden, keep a light touch on him. He’s getting more separatist as each century passes. If this continues, he may endanger us all. Let me know if an intervention is required.”

The remaining three demons stared at their leader intently. The last time an intervention had been required they’d gone from a team of six to a team of five. Were they destined to become four? If so, would it end there?

The longer they remained locked to this plane, the more unstable they became. It was concerning that Ryazan was showing signs of the same instability that had afflicted their sixth member Razvan. Maybe it was genetics? After all, Razvan had been Ryazan’s blood kin, true brothers. But, what if it had nothing to do with blood? What if they were all going to unravel one by one?

It didn’t bear thinking about, though Gabe knew it would be something in the forefront of Asher’s mind as he led. On one of the rare occasions he’d spent with the other male, Asher had been quite forthright with just what burdens a leader had to withstand. It was one of the main reasons why it had never occurred to Gabe to challenge the elder demon for the right of leadership. He had enough problems to deal with without having that responsibility.

A small smile threatened to tilt his lips upwards. Asher had probably had a similar chat with all of them over the centuries. He was sneaky enough to put a seed of doubt in their minds just for the very reason of preventing a challenge. It was why they all followed him. He was the best of them…and the most ruthless.

“Gabe, you’re with me.” Asher flicked his cigarette away and turned to head into the warehouse.

After a quick nod to the others, the incubus followed him.

The exterior of the warehouse was that of an old red brick building with the addition of a large glass opening in the shape of an arch. Double doors entered into the building and didn’t appear very secure to the naked eye but the spells ingrained in the glass would render even the strongest of demons unconscious if they tried to breach the building. To the left of the double doors was a smaller steel door that was more commonly used to enter the warehouse. The glass addition was more about letting in light during the day, than direct access.

The interior of the building was not that of a conventional warehouse either. Two thirds of the huge ground floor was given over to a training room where they could match wits against each other or hone their Other abilities to their highest potential. It was crucial they were always on their A game, and training on a weekly basis was mandatory, even if they were out on assignment.

One corner of the training room housed three modern full shower rooms and a separate large sauna. All demons loved heat and the team liked to spend time unwinding in the sauna after a hard workout.

The smaller door granted access to the communal living area on the first floor. The space was broken up into a large seating area with chairs and sofas set out in a variety of groupings. There was a private area beside the modern black fireplace as well as more social groupings where they could all sit together if they wanted to.

The far right hand wall was a floor to ceiling bookcase full of every kind of book imaginable, from human fiction to exclusive texts on all things demonology. A floating wooden staircase with glass balustrade was at the far end of the room, leading up to the apartment levels above.

To the left of the staircase was the kitchen/diner, the end wall painted matt black with shiny white units above the counter as well as below. White appliances and a light wood table with black chairs completed the final room on the first floor.

It was towards the kitchen that Asher headed, and Gabe followed. He sat down as the other male raided the fridge for a couple of beers and handed him one. Popping the top, Gabe waited for Asher to pull out a chair and sit at the table. They silently sipped at their beers until his curiosity won out over his friend’s silence.

“You have a suspicion of what’s causing the ripple.” Gabe didn’t phrase it as a question. He was fairly certain he was on the right track.

“The Advocates,” Asher answered quietly. “I could be wrong so didn’t want to mention it in front of the others. If it is one of them…well let’s just say it’s best not to set too many of us up as potential targets.”

A shiver of foreboding slivered down Gabe’s spine at the word. He had no idea what the hell an Advocate was but Asher’s tone was enough to tell him it wasn’t good. “Advocates?”

“My Sire was a First Tier demon. This knowledge is only available to them but he told me stories of them when I was a child. Technically he shouldn’t have as he’d dropped down to the Second Tier when he joined with my mother but he was always a rebel.”

Asher ran a hand through his hair and took another sip from his bottle. “The stories say the Sleeping Gods elevated a special class of individuals from all things Other and gifted them with powers just shy of Their own before They went into the Long Sleep. These Advocates were put in place to ensure the Will of the Gods was maintained while They slept. Usually, they don’t come down to the mortal plane, having no need to.”

Gabe’s foreboding escalated. “You think they’re real and not just stories? You think one of them has come down to earth? Why?”

Asher nodded, reaching for another cigarette and lighting up. He stared at the glowing tip before he turned amber eyes on the incubus. “Razvan.”

“Razvan? He’s been dead twenty years. Why would these Advocates be remotely interested in him or what we do anyway? Asher, this doesn’t make any sense.” Gabe was genuinely flummoxed by why his leader sounded so sure about it. Asher’s expression was pure conviction. Just what did he know that the rest of them didn’t? And why were they only finding out about it now…or rather he was, to be more accurate.

“Who do you think banished us here, Gabe? Who do you think is powerful enough to entrap all of us on this godforsaken plane other than one of the Sleeping Gods?” Asher’s eyes glowed with anger as he took a drag of his cigarette. “We are all being punished for our past transgressions. I know it and you know it. How many centuries have we been stuck here with these humans, trying to work towards redemption so we can go home? We are all damned in our own way; some of us just have it worse than others…like you.”

It couldn’t have been the Sleeping Gods because They had been absent for over ten millennia. But it had to be something almost as powerful as Them. Gabe’s eyes widened a fraction and he swallowed hard before taking a long pull on his beer. If these Advocates were real and had been responsible for their banishment… “Why now?”

“Time moves differently on all the planes. Maybe it does for them too?” Asher shrugged, moving to light another cigarette. He stopped midway and crushed the packet in his large fist. He liked a smoke every now and again, but so far today, he’d managed to work his way through an entire packet. That meant he was using the habit as a crutch and the others would notice that. It wasn’t wise to give too much of his disquiet away.

He moved to throw the packet into the trashcan and tossed the lighter in too. He wouldn’t need it again. “If I’m right and an Advocate is earthbound then there’s a high probability they will be heading in our direction. They placed Razvan here to learn a lesson like the rest of us. We took him out. Clearly, we’ve impacted their higher calling and that won’t bode well for us.”

Gabe felt his anger spark and couldn’t hold back the low growl that escaped his lips. “In that case where the hell were they when he was massacring a village in Africa? Where were they when we were forced into an intervention to protect their precious humans? They can’t have it both ways, Asher. The path we had to take wounded Ryazan deeply. These Advocates could have intervened themselves and stopped Razvan’s descent into madness. They have no right to call us to task for doing what was necessary.”

A slow smile curved Asher’s lips and he tilted his beer bottle in the incubus’s direction. “And that, Gabe, is why you are the best man for this job. Find the Advocate before they find us. Convince whomever it is that we had to do their job for them. If we get lucky, the Advocate may be female and you’ll be able to use some of your talents on her. I will stay linked loosely with you at all times in case you require my assistance.”

Gabe drained his beer, his previous concern now moulding into a slow burning anger. These Advocates had no cause to judge them on their actions. Weren’t they already paying the price of the Sleeping Gods? His brothers would not be held to account for doing the Advocates job for them. He would do everything in his power and then some to ensure that didn’t happen!

To be continued…