Home > The 13th Prophecy (Demon Kissed #5)(6)

The 13th Prophecy (Demon Kissed #5)(6)
Author: H.M. Ward

Eric pushed me aside and walked up to Collin. They stood eye to eye. “Valefar need souls to feed off of to survive. When was the last time you ate?” Collin’s anger streamed across his face, but Eric cut him off. “Yeah, well, I didn’t eat much either. But, unlike you, I could control myself. It was a benefit of being Ivy-made. She made me what I am! I wasn’t like the rest of the Valefar. I only took what I needed. I needed her pain, her blood. And yes, I did take some of Ivy’s soul.” He glared at me with vicious eyes. Eric’s jaw clenched as he tore his gaze away. “It was mine to take. She owed me a debt she couldn’t pay. Sound familiar?” he spat the question at Collin.

Collin shoved Eric and moved toward him. Eric remained eerily calm and took the hit without backing down. Collin screamed, “Ivy owes you nothing! You have no blood bargain with her! You have no claim to her soul!”

Eric laughed, causing the pit of my stomach to drop. It was cold and callused. It was the laughter of the crazy Eric that hated every ounce of me. “I have every right to her soul. She took mine. She damned me. It was her action and hers alone that made me what I am. I am hers more than you’ll ever be.” Eric’s golden eyes narrowed on mine. We locked gazes and he wouldn’t let me look away. “She owes me. It goes beyond a blood bargain. She owns me and I own her.” He laughed. “Look at her face. You can see it in her eyes. That’s why she didn’t kill me. That’s why she let me do it. She knew. She felt it, and allowed me to take her power and use it. As long as it suited her … She condemned herself to this fate. It was her doing, not mine.”

Collin turned, searching my face. His eyes met mine. It was as if he saw something within me. Something that said Eric was right. Eric had a claim on me. A claim I didn’t understand and couldn’t deny. There was no way to explain it. We were connected somehow, and it was more than blood and lust. There was something else tying us together. From the look on Eric’s face, I suspected he knew what it was. But I didn’t. And neither did Collin.

Eric’s voice was quiet, menacing, as he said to Collin, “If you challenge me, if you force me to fight, I’ll use her power. I’ll drain her completely. Then the two of you will be screwed. Kreturus will capture her. She’ll go down without a fight and you’ll be Kreturus’ slaves for eternity.”

As Eric spoke, I stood there with my jaw hanging open. He was threatening to use my power against me? Was he that twisted? I didn’t believe it. I finally found my voice, challenging him, “And what happens to you, then? You think Kreturus won’t destroy you?”

A smile tugged the corners of his lips. Golden eyes met mine as he answered, “I don’t care what he does.” Eric’s voice slid down my spine like a piece of ice. My gaze locked on his face. Eric moved toward me. He glanced at Collin once to make sure he didn’t move, that Collin wouldn’t stop him. Collin tensed, but remained still, beside me. “The only thing I do care about is making your life as painful as possible.” Eric smiled, the corner of his lips pulling up as he whispered the words in my face.

I tensed, desire shooting through me. Eric’s eyes slid over my body and I let him. I let his gaze linger on my curves. I’d let him do anything he wanted to me. And I didn’t understand. It made no sense. I should destroy him, but I couldn’t do anything except look away. I turned from Eric, not concerned that he was at my back. Any other enemy behind me would be a mistake, but not with Eric. When he killed me, he’d want to see the light fade from my eyes, face to face.

I shook my head, stopping in my tracks and turned back to Eric. I walked to the former angel. “The only reason you can claim anything from me is because I let you. It’s because I’m not completely evil, and you are. Eric, every time your life changes, you’re filled with hatred. Al paired us together because we are the same. Anger was shaping us into what we would become. When you lost Lydia, Al was there. She warned you. I know you remember. I know those memories are in your mind. I know you can see Lydia’s eyes, and hear the screams rip out of her throat as she was slaughtered. Anger made you what you are. Rage shaped what you became and Al was right—we are the same.”

Eric’s expression appeared to be indifferent as I spoke. His slumped shoulders and I-don’t-give-a-rat’s-ass glare would have made me question the point of saying this to him. But I knew he heard me. There were moments when Eric was soft, when he seemed more like the person he had been. And now that he had his soul back, he could reclaim that person—if he chose to.

I swallowed hard, refusing to look away from his eyes as I bared my deepest fears and darkest thoughts, “I was in full crash and burn mode when we met. I watched you and your perfect life—your perfect notes, your perfectly pressed shirts, and your perfectly white sneakers—and I envied you. You said I didn’t see you, that I didn’t notice, but I did. It was painful to look at you. It was agony to hear your chipper voice when my world was falling apart. Your smiling face brought me nothing but pain. It reminded me that life didn’t make sense. Bad things happened to good people.

“Anger clouded your judgment. Even then. It took you lifetimes to abate your lust for vengeance. And it never healed you. You were never the same. You wore a mask, a fake facade to hold yourself together. And I sat next to you, every day doing the same damn thing.” I laughed, pointing my finger into his chest, looking up into his face. “You and I were so much alike.” I pressed my lips together and shook my head. “But not anymore... I’m done with this. I’m doing what I think is right, and to hell with everyone else. Including you!”

Eric’s gaze was locked on my glistening eyes. His expression didn’t change while I spoke. I had no idea what he thought. He just continued to stare, taking in my words one at a time until I fell silent. Eric turned his back and walked away. He reached for the metal door to the basement, and tugged it open, not stopping or waiting.

He spoke over his shoulder, as he disappeared into the stairwell, “The price of using the stone was higher than you think.”


Collin cleared his throat. Concern etched his face, forming a deep crease between his brows. “We shouldn’t stay in the open.” I didn’t move to follow Eric. I couldn’t stand the thought of being in the same room with him. Collin wrapped his arms around me. I could hear his heart beating beneath his chest. The embrace should have made me feel better. It should have made me feel safe, protected, and warm or maybe even loved. But it was nothing more than pressure on my arms.

I stared at the metal door leading to the basement, dreading confinement with Eric. I needed to rest. The Sapphire Serum in my chest was taking its toll. I spoke into Collin’s chest, too distraught to look into his face. The emotions lingered from tasting Eric’s blood. “I don’t know what to do with him, Collin. He could have left. He could have killed me.” I paused, shaking my head softly. “When we effonated here, I lost control and started to burn. He took all of my pain away and lent me his power. It’s things like that that make me uncertain. I can’t tell if he’s trying to help me or kill me. And there’s been more than one time that his life was in danger, and he stayed. Anyone else would have run. What is he, Collin? What have I done?”

Collin’s fingers were under my chin, tilting my face up to meet his. “I don’t know what he is. And I don’t know if it’s because you made him that way. He was an angel before he was anything else. It influences him, but I don’t know how. All I know is that I can say with confidence that I understand demons, and whatever Eric is, he isn’t acting like one. His cruelty seems to be a need, not a want. Demons destroy for fun. That isn’t what he’s doing. And whatever he’s doing to you—it pains you—but it seems to help you. Am I wrong? ‘Cause that sounds insane.” Collin looked into my eyes. His lips remained parted, breathing gently, but I knew this troubled him. And that was okay, because it scared the hell out of me.

Licking my lips, I nodded, “It seems to help. It seems to do something that I can’t explain.” Looking into his face, I saw that he already knew what I’d admitted. “That’s why you haven’t killed him, isn’t it?” I didn’t doubt he could. And I wondered why Collin held such a tight leash on his power.

He pulled me close, and smoothed the hair on the back of my head. “I’d do anything for you. Anything to save you from pain. But with this—it’s different. I don’t know why or how. But I trust you. I know you’ll tell me if things get out of hand. And I’ll help you deal with it, no matter how bloody it gets.” He kissed the crown of my head, as I nodded. We remained still, feeling the winter wind blowing through the roof. Collin’s heart beat steadily in his chest, as his arms held me tight.

Lying on the leather couch, I rested with my head in Collin’s lap. I wondered about the kiss. I didn’t feel the compulsion to steal his soul when his lips pressed against me. Nothing stirred inside me, demanding me to take it. I wondered where it went, or if it would return.

He insisted on stroking my hair and watching me sleep. Both of them saw how drained I was and knew I needed rest. But sleep meant being vulnerable to Locoicia. She could pull me through her black mirror while I rested. That was why Collin wanted to hold me. The reasoning was that he could stop her before she pulled me into the glass. And to tell you the truth, I was glad Collin was there, that he insisted on watching over me. Although his touch registered as nothing more than pressure on my skin, I still wanted him near me. It reminded me that I was alive, and not the cold heartless bastard that was watching me from across the room. Eric.

As I lay there, Eric’s words echoed through my mind. The price of him using Satan’s Stone was higher than I thought. Eric’s price was more than a constant state of change. But I couldn’t find any commonality to see what it was. I was aware of only one loss that did anything to him, and that was Lydia. He didn’t even seem to grieve Al’s death. But with Eric there was no way to know for sure. He kept everything hidden so deeply that it was impossible to tell what he was thinking with anything. Except when it came to me. He hated me with a passion. Sometimes the thought of facing Kreturus was less frightening than facing Eric.

Collin’s fingers pressed against my scalp, tangling in my curls as he stroked my head gently. He’d remained quiet for a long time. Uncertainty lined the curve of his mouth. Worry still pinched his brow as he gazed down at me. His voice was soft when he spoke. “I didn’t think you’d forgive me... For what I’d done.” Eric sat across from us, lying on a couch with his eyes closed, although I doubted he was asleep. I didn’t expect Collin to discuss it in front of him, but there might not be another time. His fingers traced the line of my cheek.

I pressed my hand to his, feeling the curve of his hand in my palm. I wished that I could feel the sensations that used to shoot through me when I touched him, but there was nothing. I released his hand, and looked up at him, “It wasn’t you.” My voice was soft, as if that could keep Eric from hearing our words. Once, there had been no need for words. Once, we were so close that our minds spoke for us. But not now. Never again.

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