XOXO NIGHT TEMPEST
MALE MODEL JOSH BEECH AS BEE. *Lick*
TAMING FIRE: WEEK 2
Monday evening rolled around quickly, not that Xander gave a shit. He’d been sitting in the same spot on the couch since Saturday afternoon. He gathered, by his own nose and from his roommate’s comments, he smelled. But he didn’t care about that either. In the large den of the manor, he took a sip of wine, and changed the channel for the hundredth time in the past hour. He’d given up going outside, or interacting with humans altogether. With the drapes pulled shut and all the lights off, he sat in the dark, wallowing silently. Only the glow of the flat screen gave away that he was actually breathing. Otherwise, he was still as a statue.
“This is becoming depressing, even for me, and I like depressing.” Botis’s voice came from the doorway. Xander didn’t care to look. He didn’t move a muscle. “Still not speaking, I see.”
Rolling his eyes, Botis clunked across the floor with his heavy boots, and plopped onto the couch. “You can’t do this for the rest of your life, Xander.”
“I have an eternity.” Xander clicked the remote again, landing on a singing competition re-run from last night. “Yes, I can.”
“This isn’t a life sentence, you know? You could lay low for a while until you get the hang of it.” Botis crossed one leg over the other. The spikes on the toe of his boot glinted.
“I’m the son of Bael, who commands 66 legions. I will not lie low, Botis.” Xander ground his teeth together, trying to keep his words minimal. If he said or did anything untoward, the pain would start again. He already tried once or twice, but the effect was always the same. His mother’s gift would start to rip through his back, he’d think he was dying, and then pass out. And then there were his eyes… and his hair. The remote began to melt in his right hand, his demon side.
“And what do you call this? Hmm? Have you talked to your father about any of this?” Botis leaned over to see plastic dripping onto the couch and sat back with a sigh.
“He was busy,” Xander clipped. He sucked in a sharp breath, a crude comment on the tip of his tongue for the terrible contestant on the screen. He closed his eyes and let it go, aware of how weak he looked to Botis. This could not get any worse, he thought.
“Maybe you could talk to Bee about this. He’s been by the manor several times looking for you. I told him you were still healing. And as your friend, he respected that. But he won’t be kept in the dark for long, so to speak.”
“Yes, Botis, let’s tell the Prince of Demons one of his own is unable to create chaos or dance with the dark. That sounds pleasant.” Xander’s eyes were a mask of rage, but his lips formed a plastered on smile.
“You look like a puppet.” Botis slapped his knees and stood. “While I love dolls and the evil they stand for, you aren’t a doll or an angel. You’ve always been drawn to the dark, as we all are. Your mother only clings to the idea you’re one of them, when we all know who you are, Xander. You’re wicked,” Botis crouched in front of him, “you’re wild, and you’re a child of hell. Take her punishment into yourself and let the darkness eat it. She thinks we only wish to eat souls and urge humans to their death. Lies, Xander, those are lies. If we did not love, I would not be here talking to you. We show our love in a different way is all. Demons just want to have fun, as they say.”
“That’s all I wanted to do,” Xander whispered.
Botis’s eyes bled red, glowing unnaturally in the dark. His hair winged out against the light of the television, a vivid purple against the faint blue. “Then there’s your answer.” He stood. “You might want to take a shower. The new housekeeper is coming tonight. A gift from Bee, he claimed.”
“A human?” Xander bolted to his feet. “Not again.”
“Yes.” Botis crossed his arms.
“Bee,” Xander growled. “That… that… ah!” He screamed to the ceiling.
“It’s so very depressing, Xander.” Botis sighed at his friend’s new manners. “Make yourself presentable. You’ll have to learn to be around them sometime. While you’re getting ready, I’ll see what I can do on my end. Your father should have heard of this by now.”
“I don’t want him to see me like this,” Xander confessed. “It’s humiliating. He’ll disown me.”
“Nonsense, your condition is exactly the thing that will light a fire in him, and exact vengeance that’s due.” Botis chuckled, humming fondly. “The warm and fuzzy bastards on the other team will beg for his mercy, Xander. Your mother may have rule over you, but so does your father. She crossed a line. And whether he has a boner for Elsanah or not, he’ll punish her and her comrades.”
Even dark and twisty, Xander couldn’t keep the emotion from his face. He wanted to blame it on his condition, but he knew with all his being… he didn’t want his mother to perish. “Don’t call him. Not because I’ll be shamed, but because…”
Botis’ jaw twitched. “Because you wish her safe? As I said, we love differently.”
“I am one of you!” Xander growled, feeling the pain begin to curl his fingers into fists. “But she is my mother!”
“Hmm.” Botis looked him up and down, eerily beautiful in the dark. “I hope for your sake, you’re correct. But know this, Xander. If she moves against you again, or brings one of her angels to seek you out, she will be nothing more than ash that not even the Creator will be able to put back together.”
“Agreed.” Xander shut his eyes, breathing through the sting of his rage.
“Clean yourself up. You look like shit, and frankly, you smell of it as well. The human will be here at any moment.” Botis made to turn.
“What is it?”
“Do you know what’s going to happen to me already?” Xander stared at his back. “Have you…”
“You know how it works, Xander, past and future, humans only,” Botis whispered. “I’m sorry.” He slipped out the door, shutting it softly with only a glimpse of his glowing red eyes.
Xander’s head hung. He stood there for a minute, staring at his feet before going upstairs. A human was coming. Botis would eventually call his father. The Prince of Demons, Beelzebub, would find out, and disown him as a friend. His protection as a half-breed would cease to exist. They would feed on him, kill him, and cast his remains into the dark. All hell would break loose, literally.
“And there you are, Emile.” The apartment manager handed over his copy of the paperwork. His month by month lease was done. His nice, fat deposit check was clipped to the top of the packet. “You need any help with all that?”
Emile looked down at his measly, three duffle bags. The furniture belonged to the complex, and he hadn’t had any money to really buy anything else. “Nah, I’m gonna call a cab.”
“It’s late, Emile. The only kids out in the cabs right now are drunk or passed out.” The manager had been so nice to him the last year he’d been here. He smiled, patting the counter. “Tell you what. I’m gonna call Lim and have him take you where you need to go. He’s in the back, pussy footing around anyway. He’ll probably enjoy getting out of here for a while.”
“No, Mr. Anderson, that’s nice, but—”
The blonde jock from Friday night walked through the door behind Mr. Anderson. He pushed his hair out of his face and smiled. “Hey, Emile.”
Emile stared for a minute. His mouth began to water. “I, uh…”
“Ah, good, you know each other.” Mr. Anderson clapped Lim on the back. Lim didn’t flinch at all. He stood his ground, staring at Emile with his beautiful blue eyes.
“Sure, I’ll take him.” Lim put a few files on the counter, pushing them away.
The manager frowned. “But I didn’t…”
Without asking, Lim picked up two of Emile’s bags like they were made of feathers. “My truck is just out front. Come on.”
Emile gave Mr. Anderson a sidelong glance. The manager’s brows rose and he shook his head. “Be good, kid.”
“Yeah, thanks for everything.” He flicked his fingers in a quick goodbye and picked up his bag. “Later.”
He followed the scent of Lim’s exotic cologne, watching the jock’s full ass from behind. Lately, he couldn’t seem to help himself. He couldn’t look away. He couldn’t say no. He was drawn to doing things out of his box, as well as turned on and horny all the time. He’d even cashed his paycheck this morning to buy some new clothes instead of saving it for next week’s cellphone bill. He was always so careful with his money, not frivolous. He had no idea what was getting into him, but with the view of Lim’s ass, who the hell cared?
In his own world, he bumped right into the guy, aligning his half-hard boner with Lim’s ass. “Uh, so…yeah.” Emile pushed past Lim and into the fresh air of the parking lot. “Which truck is yours?” He darted his eyes around, trying to play their little collision off as nothing. But the fact remained. Erection to ass was not just nothing. Hopefully Lim was cool, one of those gym rats with the mindset that if balls didn’t touch, it wasn’t really gay. But he kind of hoped it was gay. Damn, Lim was hot.
“The white one right in front of you.” Lim grinned, pressing his key ring. The beep of the locks almost sent Emile out of his skin.
He tried to smile back. “Right. Only truck here, duh.”
“For a big guy, you’re kind of jumpy. Last time I saw you, you were ready to throw down with Bee. I didn’t figure you were scared of locks.” Lim tossed the bags into the truck bed.
“Just stressed is all. And yeah, about that guy, Bee, what’s his deal? You guys seemed to know each other.” Emile tried to make small talk. The heat in Lim’s eyes was doing things to his dick he wasn’t comfortable with. No need for imaginary foreplay when he was about to be locked in the cab with this dude for a while.
“Why do you want to know? Did he bother you again?” Lim looked around, eyes darkening as he scanned the parking lot.
Emile frowned, trying to figure out what the hell Lim was looking for. “Uh, no, I was just curious.”
Lim’s chest deflated a bit, and he opened the driver’s side door. “Of course you were. He’s hard to forget.”
“Did you guys like… you know?” Emile slid into the passenger seat.
Lim’s eyes lit up with humor. He sputtered a laugh. “Are you serious? Me and Bee?”
“It’s not a dumb question.” Emile tried to adjust his long legs in the space allotted.
“I guess it’s not.” Lim turned on the ignition before reaching down to move Emile’s seat back with the press of a button. “And no, Bee and I were never involved. And if you’re curious as to what his deal is, I hope you never find out. He’s trouble, Emile, and you should really stay away from him. He might seem dark and mysterious, the sexy bad boy, but all mysteries come with consequences. Don’t forget that.”
“I knew it. He’s a drug dealer, isn’t he? That girl looked so fucked up. I bet he spiked her drink or something.”
“Or perhaps she’d fallen victim to his lifestyle all on her own.” Lim reversed out of the parking spot. “Everyone has the gift of freewill, Emile. No one can make you do something. They can only persuade your inner desires.”
“That’s kind of deep for a college student.” Emile looked over, catching a glimpse of smoldering blue eyes.
Streetlamps zipped past the truck, leading them onto the main road. “Ex-psych major. I dropped out, though. School wasn’t really my thing. You could say I had a higher calling.”
“Helping an old dude manage an apartment complex?” Emile snorted, staring out his window.
“No, I help people through different stages of their life. I guide them up and down the stairs. I help them carry their bags when no one else will. I offer them advice when they think no one else is listening. I protect them by locking the doors at night, protecting them from things they never think about. I do a lot more than paperwork, Emile.”
Emile slowly turned his head to Lim. “You take your job way too seriously.”
Lim shrugged. “Someone has to do it, and I’ve been good at my position for a very long time.”
“Long time? You can’t be older than me.”
Lim shifted in his seat. His eyes never left the road. “Sometimes I feel older than you could possibly imagine.”
Nodding, Emile knew that feeling. “I get you.” As they passed the campus bookstore, he thought of something else. “Hey, I never told you where we going.”
Lim’s eyes flicked to him. Emile felt a shiver run down his spine. “Right, where to?”
Emile fished the email printout from his pocket. “Raven House on Wheaton?”
Lim nodded. “I know it,” he said in a flat voice. Silence filled the cab, except for the metal chain around the rearview mirror rubbing together. A little cross swayed below.
“And nothing, it’s a house, a very old house. A group of college students took it over a few years ago.”
“That’s all you’re gonna tell me? I feel like there’s more to it than that, Lim.”
Crossing the railroad tracks into the Historic District, Lim slowed his speed. “Can I offer you some advice, Emile?”
Emile ran a hand through his coppery hair, feeling his arousal flat line. The same fear he’d kept with him all weekend was starting to rise. Something was off, very off about this guy. “Sure…”
“No matter what you encounter in life, always stay true to who you are. Don’t let anyone change you or what you believe in. Don’t fall into a trap that you know has already been set for you. If you believe in yourself, and keep your faith, no one can touch you. No one can taint you, and no one can take away the protection you already have.”
“What the fuck, Lim? Are you high?” Emile scooted into the door, supremely freaked out now.
“No, I’m not. You’re a beautiful person, Emile, a man who’s been through so much in such a short time, and rose above the hard stuff all on his own. It would devastate me to see you fall again.”
“How do you know about me? Who the fuck are you? Look, just drop me off here. I can find the place just fine.” Emile’s heart kicked into overdrive. The sexy jock with his golden surfer locks had officially become a wolfish psycho in sheep’s clothing.
Lim slowed to a stop in front of a large Victorian manor. He looked out the window and sighed. “We’re already here, Emile. Unfortunately I can’t go in with you.”
“You’re nuts. I don’t want you going anywhere with me.” Emile tried to open the door.
“Emile, look at me.” He slid his hand over the human’s shoulder, drawing his attention again. “I’m not crazy. I’m not on drugs. I’m only trying to give you serious advice that you need to take with you. Those people in there are like no one you’ve ever encountered, and I would be a bastard if I didn’t try to try to talk you out of it. But like I said, everyone has to make their own choices, so I can only try to give you encouragement. You may think I’m crazy now, but once you meet them, you’ll understand every word of what I said.”
“What’s wrong with them?” Emile didn’t try to push the hand off his shoulder. His breathing calmed, but he still stayed against the door.
“The problem isn’t with them, Emile. It’s with you.” Lim pulled the chain from around the rearview mirror and handed it to him. From the center console, he produced a business card. “They change everything around them to get what they want. I don’t want you to be something they change. I want you to put my number in your cell, and wear that around your neck at all times.”
“What’s going on, Lim? I just wanted to make some extra money. I didn’t sign up for whatever this is.”
Lim cupped his face, sending a tingle through his body. “Then put that on and do what you came to do. Everything else will be fine. Have a little faith, Emile. You know the difference between right and wrong. You’ll be alright.”
Fingers trembling, Emile quickly put on the necklace, feeling with every fiber of his being it was the right thing to do. His grandmother had been a devout catholic. He knew the power of the cross, and even prayed on occasion with the little wooden cross she’d given him before she passed. He had no idea what to think in this situation, but as the silver settled under his t-shirt, he knew he didn’t want to take it off.
“You’d better get going. You’ll be late for work.” Lim slid his fingers down Emile’s jaw. The move wasn’t flirty. It was full of careful concern. Lim’s smile comforted him. “Call me if you need me. I can be here in a snap.”
“You’ll be fine, Emile. Now scoot.” Lim’s fingers squeezed his hand. Emile felt a dizzy sensation flood his head as he lazily got out of the truck. He grabbed his bag, and put it on the sidewalk, shutting the door behind him. Lim waved and pulled down the road without another word.
“Oh shit! Lim, wait! My bags…” His eyes drifted to his right where his bags sat neatly on the sidewalk. “What… the… fuck?” He looked at the card in his hand, turning it over as if it would give him insight into the last twenty minutes of craziness.
That was it. A strange name and a phone number was all he had to explain his disbelief. He turned and looked up the grassy hill surrounded by a sinister, haunted house style fence. A large black Victorian manor sat high up on the hill, only one light on in the attic. A swinging sign near the drive caused him to swallow. This was Raven House? Oh hell no, he thought, wrapping his arms around himself.
Lim made another circle around the block, just in time to see Emile climbing the steep drive toward the house. He parked his truck just as a black Porsche pulled up opposite him. Smoke curled from the driver’s window as it buzzed down. Bee took a drag from his cigarette and flashed Lim a brilliant smile.
“We’ll see who wins this time, Erelim. You’re on my turf now.” Bee flicked the cigarette clear across the street, hitting Lim’s truck door. He laughed, putting his foot on the gas. The Porsche sped down the road, leaving Lim staring up at the house.
He was unmoved by Bee, more so by the occupants of Raven House. They were the ones who could change everything. Not directly positioned within the demonic hierarchy, the owners still had pull with the dark side and with the king of hell itself. His assignment was in danger now, and it was up to Emile to remember his advice. He couldn’t intervene anymore. The game was on. He’d made his move and hopefully his words would make Emile cautious. Now it was their turn.
TO BE CONTINUED…