Authors: Angela Castle
She glowered at the man, mouth open to give him a dressing down. Simon squeezed her hand to silence her. She glanced up at him, clearly unhappy. Simon felt the vibrations of her growling rumble up his arm from where his hand gripped hers tightly.
Joshua turned his attention to him. “Simon Schuster, I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced.”
“I know who you are.”
Jones’ smile was one of sinister interest. “Well, now I’ve only just heard of you, demon hunter. I’m guessing you’re not here for idle chitchat. Of course you’ll want your reward for returning my lovely little treasure.”
“Reward?” He was sure Opie’s grip on his hand had cut off his blood supply.
“Ophelia, my pretty, everything has its price. Isn’t that right, dragon slayer?”
Unfazed by Jones’ research of him, Simon shrugged. “She knows, so don’t bother. The only reward I want is seeing you stopped.”
“I’ve done my research on you, but does she know the whole story? Oh, is that why you intend to keep her? You require another bath? As for how you gained your immortality—that is not in the history books or the old fable.”
Opie’s pale features showed no emotion, all he could feel was the shaking of her hand. Why he felt the need to stay connected to her, he didn’t know.
Simon knew the man was fishing. Only one creature on the Earth knew how he achieved his longevity. As for the one who bestowed the curse upon him, that god was long dead. No one was immune to death, not even gods.
“I’m not here to impart stories. But you will listen and comply. It’s simple. You will stop hunting Ophelia and leave her alone.”
Jones laughed, clearly amused. “You bring me the prize of my collection and just by being here offer yourself as well. I would dearly like to learn how you gained your immortality.”
So that’s the human’s game
No doubt collecting and experimenting on other worldly creatures trying to cheat death.
“Trust me, living for this long isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Still, I will discover your secret.” Jones’ greedy smile turned even more menacing.
It was time to change tracks. “Tell me about the Gullu. I get a feeling you’re connected to the sudden appearance of them in London. How does a human get access to some of the most deadly demons who’ve been imprisoned for thousands of years?”
Jones came out from behind his nine foot, gold inlayed desk, but not before pressing a button. Simon held in a snort. The weak human needed to summon his minions. Men like this always left the dirty fighting to others.
“Information comes at a price. I’ll tell you everything once you hand over my dragon girl.”
Simon opened his mouth to stake his claim—Opie beat him to it.
“Fuck you, Jones. I’m not nor ever have been yours!” Opie hissed. “I’m going to gut you then fry you alive before throwing you out your own window!”
“I love how blood thirsty she pretends to be.” His eyes widened in sudden understanding. “Oh, but I see. You two...little love birds. So is she a nice little fuck then, Simon? I’ve not yet had the pleasure, but I will.” He cocked his head, staring straight at her. “Soon, pretty. I’m sure I can make you scream. Dragon or human, all women want to be fucked like good little sluts.”
Rage simmered just under the surface. Simon would let Opie carry through with her threat, after he’d beat him into a bloody pulp. How the fuck did he let Jones push his buttons? Wasn’t he going to cut her loose as soon as he’d dealt with Jones? The plan changed in his head. He didn’t make a point of killing humans, but for Jones he’d make sure the weedy man suffered for insulting his...
My what? My woman? My dragon? She is mine to protect, for now at any rate.
A door on their right opened, admitting six men. Simon knew them from their red rimmed eyes, and the trademark sulphur odour no amount of cologne could hide, wafting in their direction—demons lurked under the human skin. They would be faster, stronger, and harder to kill than the average human lackey.
Six demons against one demon hunter hardly seemed fair...to them.
“Let me make this very clear, Jones old boy.” Simon dropped Opie’s hand, letting his arms hang by his side, at the same time triggering the blades and readying for them to drop into his palms. His mind was already five steps ahead of how he would move, which ones he would kill first.
“Tell me what I need to know about the Gullu, and swear to never come near my dragon again, and I’ll let you and your little rank party guests keep breathing another day.”
Jones laughed again. “My house, my rules, demon hunter. You don’t get to make demands here, and I take what belongs to me. Gremlock, I want the dragon alive, but I’ve changed my mind about the other. Do what you want with him.”
“Gremlock?” The name rang a clear bell in Simon’s brain. “I thought Neman and his wife destroyed you and your demon mistress.”
“Ah, far from the truth. You work for Moon Shadows, demon hunter. It will be a delight to tear your head from your body and deliver it to the fallen god. No one can stop what we are doing here, not even your pathetic god or his brats.”
Fuck Odin’s balls, this is worse than he thought. If Gremlock is involved, serious shit would hit the fan. With Jones backing Gremlock and trying to unlock the Gullu army, the whole world would soon be knee deep in their own blood and entrails. It was a bad idea to bring Opie here.
More demons filed into the room, bringing the total number to nine. Simon recalculated, and changed his plan.
“Opie, sweetheart, ready to leave?”
“I was ready to leave before we even arrived!” she muttered under her breath, also eyeing up the demons that slowly approached as she and Simon backed up.
“Not going so soon, dear guests?” Jones mocked. “The party’s about to begin.”
“I’m more of a stay at home and snuggle guy, so we’ll leave you to the partying. But I’m happy to have one dance.”
Faster than a scorpion’s strike and deadlier than its venom, Simon unleashed his dance. His arms crossed as he uncoiled and threw his two circular throwing stars, whistling through the air, hitting the first two demons, slicing their heads clean off. He shoved Opie towards the door as the others stumbled on the bodies of the fallen. One swift kick admitted them entrance, and another slammed it shut. He yanked a dagger from his stash, slamming it hard between the door and its frame, effectively jamming it closed. He glanced around the library-like room lined with books and artefacts encased in glass cabinets and grinned.
Opie looked at him and scoffed. “So was this a part of your genius plan too? To get us trapped in the den of evil?”
“Alright, it was a mistake coming here. I thought with Jones being human he would see sense once threatened with death.”
Opie’s chest rose and fell with her hard breathing. “What part of ‘he’s an insane madman’, didn’t you get before? You could have listened to me in the first place! Oh no, you had to go and do your own thing and drag us in here!”
“What part of ‘
tethered yourself to me’, didn’t you understand, your red highness?”
“Don’t call me that, you overgrown, over-muscled excuse for a human! What did he mean by another bath anyway? What do dragons and baths have to do with anything?”
“Nothing.” She’d have his head on a silver platter if she ever found out the truth about that. He’d fed some of her curiosity, but many details he’d omitted.
“Fact is, Jones is working with a really bad demon named Gremlock, and if they’re working together to free the Gullu demons...”
“Then the whole human realm is in trouble.”
“Like it or not, it’s my job to put a stop to their activities before they bring about the end of the life you used to enjoy here on Earth.”
A lamp shone down on a stone. Simon moved around the desk, it was littered with old texts, clay tablets and knowledge stones. He shifted a few around, his gaze falling on an old leather skin scroll inlaid with ancient text he couldn’t make out. The knowledge stone rolled slightly, lighting up as it touched the bottom of the scroll.
He glanced up at Opie and grinned.
This is my lucky day after all. I’d bet all the known treasure in the world this is what I’ve been looking for.
Simon snatched what looked like a paperweight and scroll from the table.
“Please don’t tell me we did all this so you could act the petty thief! This door won’t hold off demons! We have to go, now!” Opie’s eyes were wide with panic, her back against the bulging door. He tucked his pilfered objects into his jacket. The wood splintered with long claws spearing right next to Opie’s head, raining splinters down on her hair. She shrieked in fright.
“Ye of little faith, but you’re right, it’s time to go.” He held out his hand. She raced across the room, slapping her tiny hand into his much larger one. It was a marvel she turned into a large, red, very pretty dragon. It still didn’t stop him from wanting her.
“Now you see sense! I was right from the beginning, we should have never stepped foot in this damn place.”
Simon kicked open the second door just as the demons broke through from the office door. There were too many to fight on his own and risk Opie’s life. Bursting into a stair well, he glanced down over the side. He spotted more security staff racing up towards them.
“Guess it’s up. Ready for some exercise?”
“Is that a rhetorical—” He yanked her behind him ignoring her sarcasm, which was something else he liked about her. He’d worry about that side-tracked thought later. He pulled her after him up the stairs.
Already near the top, it only took them a few flights till they hit the roof top. A gust of wind hit them as they surged through the door and under the frame of a helipad. Needing a way to slow them down again, he pulled the blade from under his coat and with a quick flick of his wrist sliced off the inner door handle before slamming it shut.
“That’s going to stop them? Demons versus the lowest bid from construction companies. Who built this towering pile of rubble?!”
“Hey, I got us out of there alive, didn’t I?” He shrugged, not bothering to re-sheath his sword, wanting it at the ready.
Her arms folded over her chest. He caught her now trademark, are-you-stupid glare. Simon couldn’t help but grin back. He’d kiss those pouty lips later.
“And how the hell are we going to get off the roof of a hundred and sixty-six storey building?”
“Can’t you, you know...” he waved his hand in the air, “...poof us off?” It had been his first plan of escape.
“‘Poof us off’? Are you a frikkin’ gay fairy?! This building has spell binding
remember? It takes magic for me to teleport!”
Right. Moving on. Time for plan B
. “Can you still change into a dragon?”
“Yes, that magic they can’t suppress. Why do you think they shot me with drugs last time I was here? Why does it matter anyway?”
“Then fly us out of here.”
Her eye grew even wider. “Fly us out of here, are you crazy? It’s broad daylight!”
He grabbed her arm, pushing her up the stairs of the helipad and to the centre as the first boom of the demons hitting the door resonated.
“Hurry up, shift, do your dragon thing.” He stepped back and waited. Opie didn’t move, standing there, and would have been stock still if not for her trembling body.
“Simon, no...I...I can’t.” Her words were whispered, but he heard, before they were stolen by the wind.
“What do you mean? You said you can shift.”
Boom, boom, boom!
They were running out of time.
“I can shift I...I just can’t fly.” Tears pulled at her emerald eyes making them sparkle in the daylight like jewels.
Simon didn’t understand. She was a dragon, he’d seen her change, seen her big beautiful wings. “What do you mean you can’t fly? All dragons fly. Did they catch you with a drug dart?”
“No! I’m terrified of heights, since birth I’ve never been able to fly like normal dragons.” She sank down onto the floor of the helipad, tears flowing more freely, leaving wet trails down her pale cheeks.
Fucking Odin’s balls, she was serious! His heart ached for the sadness in her face, the look of utter despair, as if she’d failed him. He’d lived long enough never to accept defeat. So, plan B went out the window. Guess it was time to create a plan C.
Never would he let them harm a hair on her head or take him alive. That part he would really have no choice about. He walked over and knelt down, lifting her chin. He placed a kiss on her now puffy red lips, although he preferred it was his kisses that made her lips puffy and swollen like this. “We’ll talk about this later, but be my brave girl now. We’ve got to get off this building.”
“B-but how? I can’t fly, I’m useless.”
“Hey, none of that now. Not being able to fly is no big deal. I’ve done without it for the past few hundred years.”
Her head bobbed; he saw the trust in her eyes. She sniffed, wiped her eyes and stood up, throwing herself into his arms. “I’m sorry, sorry I tethered you to me. My problems aren’t yours. I’m sorry we’re going to die!”
He tightened his arms around her. Where was the confident, sassy woman he knew from before? More was going on in her pretty head than he realised. It surprised him to want to know everything about her, inside and out; know her inner thoughts as much as he wanted to learn her body, over and over. He wanted to slay her demons figuratively and literally. Who better than a demon hunter?
“Calm down, sweetheart, I’ve been in worse situations than this, so trust me, okay? Are you really going to let a bunch of rancid, stinking demons and one human get the better of you? Where’s my fiery red dragon? If I have to be honest, I’m kind of glad we’re in this together.”
She blinked, raising her head. “Really?”
“Really.” Ignoring the banging and the cracking of the door below them, he kissed her again.
Alright, I’ll admit it. I more than just lust after her.
Nope, he wasn’t in any hurry to cut her loose, not just yet.
“In modern movies, I’ve seen them use a window washer as a way down. James Bond used a banner.” She shrugged, wisps of her red hair escaping in the wind. She was so beautiful.