Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Beginning

It wasn't that I was tired of living. And I didn't want to die or escape anything. I just wanted to kill the vessel.

My gaze drank in the flawless blue sky from the top of the six story building. Autumn's cool breath announced its tag with summer in their seasonal relay. I filled my lungs with the promise of death and rebirth that always came with the wane.

His kiss shall hold the power of Hell, Ashmodie shall inhabit his seed.

A crow cawed and I glanced back. My black friend perched on his usual vent cover and I reached into the pocket of my thin jean jacket. “Thought you might show up.” Hoped, actually. He flew over and perched on my arm, surprising me. “Now you want to be best friends,” I whispered, smiling. He ate from my palm and the tension of what was coming, melted away.

“I gotta go.” I swung my arm, launching him into the air then followed his graceful flight to someplace else.
I finally turned and stepped up onto the ledge of the building. Closing my eyes, I opened my mind to the her memory. Green glittery gaze came first, roaming my face with open wonder and that unfathomable tenderness.
I opened the memory more.

Fruit and clean air...her life changing scent, the feel of her soft waist in my hands.

The wind whispered across my face, bringing her silky touch gliding across my forehead as she slid hair away from my cursed eyes. My heart thundered in my chest like it did then. She stared first at my hazel eye, then the bright blue one that I kept hidden. My breath and hope hid in my chest as she lowered and kissed along the burn scar covering the blue eye from brow to middle cheek. Then she traced it with a finger. “Looks like a muscial note,” she whispered, her silky touch ending on my lips.

A gust of wind nudged me. Keeping my eyes shut, I visualized the bubbly blue topaz of my shield wrapped around my body. I slowly removed it like an airy robe, and held it out in front of me, ready to make the exchange.

The shield, for her memory.

When the shield fell, her potency surged through me. My lungs filled with her, arms spread wide, letting her passion have me, crucify me. Ache groaned its way up as she took my face into her hands and kissed me.


My name on her soft voice...full of unmet need, that was the signal.

I opened her memory entirely and wrapped her tight in my arms and fell forward.

The rush of the fall didn't compare to the feel of her body under my virgin hands, the taste of her tongue as I stroked it boldly with mine, hurrying to make her mine, take her with me to the grave. I devoured the sight of black lace over creamy skin, hair, a golden river flowing over her shoulder, the lure of heaven in her smile. Then I plunged my hopes and dreams deep into her body, devastating her with all things forbidden me; passion, pleasure...not pain.

Never pain.

Moaning, ecstasy, hot—hard—a shocking explosion. Body meeting cement, every bone shattering, organs bursting. And yet skin held it all in, prevented me from flying apart in every direction.
Sarah's cries of ecstasy dragged to a deep, unnatural sound, a gutteral, torment. Terror pounded through me in tempo with the agaonizing pain, screaming erupted to my left. “Somebody help! Somebody help! Call 911! call 911!”

Tires screached and the panicked voices grew louder, closer, then a deep voice close. “Oh my God, he's still alive, he's still alive, holy shit!”

I was alive. Awake and completely aware. The part of my face touching cement was crushed, bringin my other eye to ground level. Broken in a million pieces, body frozen in a womb of unthinkable pain. And fucking breathing.

The sirens soon came, accompanied with the liquid giggles of my demon.“ ...a young girl... found dead in a hotel room...friends say she wasn't herself...on a sex spree...”

I embraced the physical pain, resisting the memory, begging for my shield to return and cover me, hide me from the monster that I was.

...multiple partners...gruesome suicide...strong drugs in her system...throat and wrists cut...strange word carved all over her body...Ashmodai...autopsy shows...bled to death...bled to death...bled to death.

That was the first suicide attempt. My determination grew with each failure, with every liquid, mocking giggle of the demon.

The guilt of what I'd done to Sarah, the fear that I might do it again, the misery of not being able to connect with anybody but the elderly, the handicap, and say, a stray fucking dog, all drove me like some lusty grim reaper wanting to bone a grave. And really, honestly, it all may have been half tolerable if it weren't for having to deal with the day to day get your kitty raping, spawn of satan ass away from me, treatment by every women I encountered.

So just join the Marines, there's a war, surely that'll increase your chances of success. That was a good one. I couldn't die on purpose and I sure as hell couldn't die on accident. But I could get my ass blown up, shot up, beat up, and other various fucked ups but at the end of the day, I was like this demonic engergizer bunny, going and going and going.

I got all the joys of death but there was no dying. When I finally figured out the burnt bastard was just loving the shit out of letting me try, depression finally set in and I began trying to numb it. Keyword here: trying. The best thing that came out of that failure was discovering that the demon liked getting high, and so always took it right out of my bloodstream. Pathetic as it was, that one little denial felt like a fucking touchdown for me. So not only could I deny little Ash the perversion of fucking women's souls to hell, I could also deny him getting high, fucking aye.

Then I got a brilliant idea. Maybe. Maybe if I got the demon drunk enough, I could have my little going away party and he'd be too drunk to notice.

I mean shit happens all the time, just not miraculous shit like that, not with me. Which left me on the curb outside of Booze and Bitcheste like a goddamn idiot, staring at the near empty bottle of Jack Daniels in my left hand and a giant hunting knife in my right, wondering what—in the fuck—am I doing?

The one thing I did know was it had to be important, cause I was pr-e-tty sure I didn't drink.
“Probly something to do with my demon,” I mumbled, nodding slowly several times. Always something to do with that fugly bastard—“What are you looking at?” I slurred to the guy on his way into the slut box. “My eyes?” I swiped at the hair hanging in my face, giving him a better view. “There, you see? You like it? Come closer and check it out.” He hurried past and I snorted. “Yeah that's what I thought,” I said, looking away, “Run run run just as fast as you little...gingerbread boy.”

My head dropped to my chest and the mush in my brain finally formed an entire memory. “Ahhhh yeah, now I remember,” I raised my finger, 'Spose to get your ass drunk so you couldn't rudely interrupt my...going away party.” I spent ten seconds locating my ear to push my hair behind it.

So you just—let me have the high this time huh? Think you're so smart?” I muttered, getting back to business. “Watch. Watch if I don't finish your ugly ass. “I set the bottle down on the dizzy ground and focused, squeezing my hand around the handle. Carefully I guided it to my right arm and suddenly remembered what the damn problem was. Keeping hold of it.

Like a cruel joke, the knife fell again. Fffffuck!” I stared at it, five feet in front of me as if I'd thrown it.
Fucking demon. I slowly leaned forward and lunged, in case it tried to escape. My body slammed the cement and bit into my knees and chin, jolting the wind out of me. I flipped onto my back with a groan, ignoring the laughter coming from a group across the street. I'd make 'em my pall bearers before long. I turned my head and stared at the knife, getting ready. I swung my arm down on it, pushing through the bubble of force around the handle that repelled my touch. Repelled, but not prevented. A minute of grappling later I barked a laugh, “Got you!” Slippery bastard.

Rolling onto my back, I panted up at the starless sky, funeral hymn grinding from the little hell hut a few yards away. I grunted my way to all fours, ignoring the thick smell of skunky beer, locking my vision on the blurry curb.

Seemed like an hour later that I managed to secure that curb under my ass. I guided the blade to my arm and sliced cuts all over my skin like a naughty child. My gleeful laugh followed the beautiful flow of blood. “And I got the right side this time—that's your ass.I raised my knife and wagged it. “Five minute eviction notice…” I stifled a belch, “better start … looking for another soul to jack off in cause, I am so, so done with you.”

The knife fell again.

Ohhh no you fucking did not.  I growled my way to standing and the demon filled my blood with another round of Jack Daniels. He was serving it to me in stages so I didn't keel over. The universe spun, obliterating my center of gravity. On my way down, somebody struggled to catch me. It almost worked except when I latched onto them, my feet quit working altogether and dragged the small frame down with me.

How this person managed to keep me from eating cement was nothing short of magical. Both their hands held my face, like a ball being caught just before it hit. The next question in my mind was who the hell was she, yes, she, gasping and speaking words in another language before whispering, “So sorry, so sorry.” What was she sorry for, not letting me crack my face open? Probably. But no, that's not what I heard in her voice.

She managed to roll me onto my back which produced more gasping and words in that other language, followed by sincere, “Oh no, I'm so sorry.” This came with careful touching on my forehead and I wondered what she was seeing. Then I remembered my earlier bonding with the cement. Too bad I couldn't make my tongue work in coordination with my brain to explain. No, that gash is from thirty minutes ago.

She lifted my arm next and the hyperventilating continued. “What is this? What happened to you, you need a doctor!”

I reached until I finally found her arm, “shhhh, stop stop, I'm fine, just—help me up,” I pulled on her arm and she helped me to a sitting position. “Shit,” I mumbled, one hand on the sidewalk, the other on my spinning head.

You need to go home, you need to sleep before you kill yourself,” she scolded softly. There was a ripping sound and then soft wiping on my forehead.

I finally managed to hold my eyes open long enough to look at her. “Oh wow,” I mumbled, slowly grinning at my strange savior. “Why...are you wearing goggles.” The effort to stare for more than five seconds and speak coherently wore me out and I lowered my head. “Come on,”I mumbled to my shield. A little help here. “Goggles are fine, nothing wrong with...goggles."

Now she was wiping my arm. Fuck, I was so stinkin drunk again. I forced my eyes open and stared at her face next to me.

“What did you do to your arm?” she asked, like I were a child, but not in a demeaning way. What did I do to my arm. I struggled to understand the words as well as discern that odd thing in her voice. I failed on both counts and lowered my head, shaking it. “I clue what you're talking about.” But what about her? “Why are you wearing goggles,” I demanded, contemplating them. “S-kinda cool actually.” I grinned at her for several seconds. “You-look-like-an-alien,” I slurred with my eyes closed before straining them back open. “No, like a swimmer. An alien swimmer. don't- look- like- a demon.” I assured her.

She lifted my arm and I stared at the bloody evidence and raised my brows. “Ahh, yeah,” I nodded, “'Jus' some scratches.”

She held onto my arm. “These are not just scratches, these are very bad.”

I barked out a ha!. “Bad? That's not bad, wanna see bad?” I grinned at her, struggling to locate the bottom of my t-shirt. “Watcha' this.” Ten seconds later, I won the wrestling match and slammed the shirt to the ground. “There.” I sloppily traced the burned image on my torso. “This really really, really bad.” I looked down at it then back up. “'Sa picture. Of a man.” I snorted a long silent laugh, shaking my head. “'snotta man, I lie. A monster... ” My body swayed left, then back. “With-a-buncha-horns.”

She spoke some words in that other language before asking, “Who did this to you?”

I grinned and raised my brows. Sounded like she wanted to deal with the ones who'd done it. “Not tellin.” I leaned toward her and whispered, “'sa secret. Like your goggles—are you—like a—Chinese person or somethin'?”

“Chinese yes,” she nodded, “I will help you.” Quick movement then more ripping sounds.

Next thing I know, she's at my arm, tying a black strip of material around one of oozing cuts. I watched the nursing show for several seconds, then looked up at her. “Hey,” I said softly, leaning in, “I'm invisible.” 
Her head shook slightly. “Then you are not so good at being invisible.”

Her words lingered in my head a moment before I chuckled. “Not so good?” I closed my eyes. “That is very very...” I nodded my head then shook it, “No, I'm very good at it.” I angled my blurred vision, peering into her goggled face that was locked on my arm. “I got a shield.” I leaned toward her, trying to come up with the shortest explanation. “Helps women...hate my guts.”

She didn't pause in her charity work. “This shield must be broken, I think.”

It took a moment for the laughter to rumble out of me. I stared at her hands on their rescue mission, loving her words. “You think so?”

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Shield must be broken...holy shit!

Everything froze in and around me. Except her. I stared, suddenly scared to move and break the mirage, not wanting her to vanish. Straight black hair covered her forehead, ending at the top of her neon green goggles. I made out cuts and bruises on her lower face. Not fresh, but not that old either. I reached out to catch her hands; hardest thing in the world with zero coordination. “Gotcha,” I finally said, pulling her closer.

“ are you...” I closed my eyes, making sure the bubbly blue energy of my shield cloaked me tight. She eased out of my fingers like they were made of butter and gingerly continued to examine my arm. Slowly, my eyes rolled shut as the sensation consumed me. Of her caring.

My pulse soon whooshed in my ears and I massaged my temples. Damn shield, don't do this. But it was hard to mean a word of it, like begging the high not to feel so good.

“What happened to your arm?” she asked softly.

Nearly impossible to focus on the words and not the concern I heard in them. I stared hard at her goggles then whispered. “I'll tell you...if you tell me what happened to you.”

She lowered her head briefly, seeming to contemplate. “I accident.”

“Accident.” I continued to stare at her goggles wondering if I could find more answers in her eyes. “How can you even see with those goggles?  Take 'em off. Please.”

She aimed them at me for several seconds then gave a quick head shake. “I cannot.”

“Why not?”

Her head lowered. “It is...not safe.”

A grin slowly formed on my lips. “Not safe? What do you have like...lazer eyes?” Maybe she was blind. That would make her handicap and explain why the shield didn't work. Maybe she didn't have any eyes.
I spotted a thick braid draped over her shoulder and running down her front, literally as black as her clothes. “Holy cow,” my gaze ended at the sidewalk. “That your hair?

She only nodded while dressing my wounds, not giving a shit about anything else.

I leaned and took the end of her braid and pulled the shiny onyx toward me. “It's like...crazy long.” I wagged it briefly then stroked the thick bumps between my fingers. It was like tight silk...wonder what it felf like loose?

There was sudden tension on the braid and I realized she'd taken hold of it, apparently wanting it back. I released it and watched her twist it slowly around her wrist, noticing the nursing was over. Too bad.

“Where do you live, do you want me call a Taxi for you?” she asked.

I stared at those marred features, feeling her embed in me, each warm honeyed syllable she spoke going deeper than the one before. Like dinner in the mouth of a boa. Every breath, every second brought death one step closer. Or Hell in this case. “Taxi,” I murmured, relaxing my eyes and gazing at her aura. Purplish blue and sort of... shimmering around her. Could she be any more inviting?

“Hey baby, there you are, I've been looking for you.”

The fragile mirage of her aura shattered at the sounds I heard in the deep voice behind me. I turned my head, getting a whiff of his wicked. Fucker was loaded with a lot more than alcohol and Zanex. He liked playing dirty and rough with unwilling yourng girls. The demon trembled in his cell, offering me his alternate ego, always ready to fuse his rage with mine. It was the only orgasm I'd ever give him, and for what the dude wanted to do to her...I was ready to give the demon a long hard one.

The demon slurped up my entire high in one long snort, leaving me painfully sober. And painfully aware of the danger that came with using his rage. My shield had pointed out a permanant crack in the demon's cell the first time I used the rage in the Marines. He was molesting the shields code, hoping to escape and use my body to pump his wicked seed into humanity. Just what the world needed. Maybe that's why she was bypassing my shield, maybe he'd already begun to succeed. Needed to check on it with other women. Later.

I reached out and took her hand, “Will you take a walk with me?” I stood, pulling her up easily, explicitely aware of everything. The way her lips parted in wonder over my sudden sobriety, the amazing feel of her hand in mine, the stink of darkness rippling off the guy behind us.

Before I could walk away like a good boy, he reached a hand for her. I braced for the impact of the demon's rage, ready to lay him out. She put one arm around my waist and the other lightly below my chest and turned us to him. “Ahh this is my boyfriend I tell you I am looking for.”

My arms instinctively wrapped her, holding her close. Both her hands tensed and those small warm fingers shot more protective urges through me. I held her tighter, eying the look on the dudes face.

“You're boyfriend,” he slurred, his brows drawing tight. But all his suspicion sort of melted away when his bloodshot gaze dropped to the weird burn scar on my torso. Yeah, that's right, I just looooove pain.

She was trying to move off me a little, but my body wouldn't let me oblige her, not with fuckface watching so closely, looking for a reason. I wanted to give him a reason, but not nearly as much as I wanted her body tight against mine. But what really blew my mind was how she was not affected by the demon's lure. Or my shield. She could care without having to fuck me. The idea made my body tremble in excitement and fear. I wanted her to care. Shit that was bad. Was it bad? Yes it was bad, of course it was, it was bad infinity.

She moved her hand from my chest only to press it against my stomach. All my muscles tensed, resisting the tingly warmth. Of course they did, they were scarred with all good feelings lead to Hell.

She turned her face away from him and warmed me with her breath. I thought it couldn't get worse until I lowered my mouth to her head and inhaled. Vanilla and almonds. Holy fuck. I jerked up and gasped in air, removing the toxic high from my system. Too late—eternally embedded.

I realized the dude had finally walked off and she was pushing out of my arms. But they were locked in battle. Never let her go, run far far away.

“Let go, please.”

You have a devil that will fuck her soul straight to Hell, now let—her go. I shoved her off me. “Sorry.” I looked away, sorry for so many reasons. “You were warm.”

You were warm? You sound like a goddamn baby. It was like being touched by the sun for five seconds after being locked in a frigid hell for ten years. And now it was gone. No, it was standing right next to me, in arms reach.

I shoved my hands into the pockets of my thin black Dickies and she looked around and found my shirt. “Put this on. It will not help so much, but is better than nothing.”

There was no resisting the grin at hearing that compassion. What kind of black magic she was smoking? She needed to get the fuck away from me. And yet, already I plotted how to get her home and keep her.
I took the black t-shirt and slipped it on wondering how a little bo peep like her ended up in the devil's triangle, or strip rather. “You shouldn't be here.” I looked around. “Are you lost or something?”

She held the tip of her braid between her hands in front of her. “I do cleaning when they close. This is my job.”

“Oh, you work here.” And the tragedy mounts. I looked around and spotted a vacant bench along the road among the litter of beer cans and cups. What a filthy place. “Will you sit with me on the bench?”

She regarded it then nodded. “I think this is fine.”

I led the way and let her sit first then sat right next to her. She scooted away a little.

“You come here before?” she asked, sitting like a sophisticated school girl, her body almost facing me. Green goggles locked on me.

“Uh, no, never.” I glanced at her outfit, now that I could see straight. Long sleeve black top, black loose pants, white material peeking out the sleeves of the black top. “I mean...usually I don't come. How long have you been working here?”

“Not so long. A few weeks.” She stared at me, her smile wavering before she took hold of the end of her braid. “You seemed so drunk before...”

“Oh,” I rubbed my legs, biting my tongue on the usual line. My demon took my high. “I have a high tolerance for alcohol. People don't give you hell about those goggles?”

She shrugged a little. “At first they liked to make fun. Then not so much. I think they get used to me?”

I studied her smile. Attached to those words, it said she was excited to be accepted. The idea that somebody gave her trouble made me want to find them and extract their teeth with my fist.

I put an arm on the bench behind her and leaned closer, only to have her match my movement in the opposite direction. More confirmation that the demon's lure wasn't...luring her. And the shield wasn't making her hate my guts. Yet. “How would you like to work at a diner. During the day. I know one not far from here that's looking for help.”

“Diner,” she whispered then cleared her throat. “You mean like a restaurant?”

I smiled and straightened. “Yeah, like a restaruant.”
“What kind of work is this?”
“, dishes, that kind of stuff.”
She looked around her. “This much better than here you think? What is the pay?”
At least she was shrewd. “What do you get here?”
“This man pays four dollars per hour to clean. And eat.”

Okay, not shrewd, naive. I made a mental note to have the owner remimburse her. Minumum wage was a lot more than that. “Well the diner will pay you ten dollars an hour plus free meals.”

Her breath sucked in. “This is so much more!” her soft voice ended high.

My boss would only pay her $6.50, but I'd make up the diffeence. “Is that a yes? They really need help as soon as possible.”

“You know these people?”

“Yes I do. I cook there.”

Her breath sucked in again, her small mouth forming a perfect o. “You cook?”

The way she didn't hide her flat out shock made me laugh. “Big surprise huh?”

“Yes, very much. You do not look like a man who cooks.”
“Your honesty is...nice, I like it.” Especially since it wasn't the usual vitirol I got from women.
Her smile faded a little and she lowered her head. “Honesty is...good.”

I angled a look at her, my grin softening. Look at her. Guilty about lying to a complete stranger. So priceless.
 But she was hiding more than just her eyes. “You know...if it makes you feel better, I have dangerous eyes too.”

Her head jerked up and it was my turn to lean away as she moved close to me, her goggles locked on my gaze. I gripped the bench as both her hands softly held my face exactly before her. I didn't breathe and had to fight not to close my eyes and trap her touch inside me. Her breath sucked in and soft Chinese came on her exhale. At first she was amazed, then it turned angry sounding as her finger tip glided over the muscial note scar on the upper part of my cheek. She finally shook her head. “I do not see danger in your eyes, they are...very beautiful.”

I pulled back and turned my head away, my heart blasting my chest. Which words to choke on first? And that amazement in her voice; like she really thought my eyes were beautiful. What did she mean she didn't see danger...could she see things like that? No, apparently not. “You don't see...” I swallowed my erratic pulse, wishing I could search her eyes. “That's uh, that's what I've been told.” I raised my gaze back to her goggles, wanting to tell her my secrets. “They blue eye belongs to God...and my hazel one belongs to a demon.”

She shook her head, emphatic. “I have a special gift,” she assured, “can see things about people.” She smiled with a little nod. “You are a very good person.”

I turned my head away again, shocked. Like heroine just hearing it, even if it were infinitely wrong. “Where are you staying?”

“Ahh, this place called Hotel Six?”

I nodded without looking at her. More like Hotel Sex. “How long have you been here? In Washington?”

“Been at this Hotel for two weeks.”

My brows raised at the pride and joy in her tone; like it was the White House. “You plan on staying here? In Olympia? Because you can't save money staying at a hotel.”

“I know this,” she nodded in agreement. “But, this is not so bad for now. I pray to find a better job, get my own place and things will improve.” That's it. Just pray. And things would surely improve.

“Well your prayers have been answered. Will you start tomorrow?” I held my breath, needing her answer to be yes.

“Yes, yes, think I will do this.”

“Good. Can you be there at six in the morning?”

She nodded. “Yes, love to work in the day and sleep at night.”

I stretched my legs out and crossed my ankles, enjoying her enthusiasm and the fuzzy feel of her aura, rubbing against mine. “Yeah the nightshift can be a drag.” I looked around, glad to see the crowd thinning. “I'm gonna go get my car. How long does it take you to clean up?”

“Only takes me like, three hours?”
“Three hours! You won't get to bed until five o colock in the morning.”
“I think this is okay one time. Can always drink coffee to help stay awake.”
“Or I could help you so that you can get done faster and catch a few hours sleep. I'll even drive you to your room after.” Doubt washed over the half of her face I could see. She was like an open book with large bold print. “Come on,” I leaned toward a beg, “I can't leave you here, this isn't a good place. And I'm sure showed you the evil lurking here.”

“Yes, yes,” she glanced around, “I have seen this, am very careful.”
“Look,” I scooted a little closer, “ might help you to know that I'm...celibate.”
She aimed her goggles at me while leaning back a little. “Cel-i-bate?”
I smiled and peered into her invisible gaze like I could see it. “Yeah, I don' women.”
She stuttered through several syllables, making me grin. “Why not?” she finally said.
I gave a shrug, and flushed my back to the bench again. “Just...don't like to.”
I cocked my head and saw she examined her braid. “I think this is a good idea,” she announced soundig a little excited. “To be celibate. Very safe?”
I raised my brows then nodded with a smile. “Yeah, that it is.”
“This is the kind of woman that I am, I think. Celibate.”
Damn that was cute. Like it was a human condition or relationship status, rather than a choice. “You're celibate too? Nice.” I put an elbow on the back of the bench “What's your name by the way?”
She idly petted the lower half of her braid with both hands now. “My name is Reishi Ku.”
“Rei-shi-ku,” she stressed.
She shook her head a little. “Rei-shi-ku.”
Wasn't I saying that? She repeated it again, straining not to laugh, and again it was like pressing rewind and play.
I finally nodded, “Ahhh now I get it, Sheeku.

That just cracked her up and she threw her head back and laughed. I watched her in awe, wondering how it were possible for me to be in the poxomity of that kind of pure joy and not burst into flames.

She finally nodded and said, “Sheeku is...very fine.”

I reached my hand out to her, hoping a shake was okay. “I'm Roan.” I really wanted a direct touch; to read her. She kept her smile and lightly placed her hand in mine. I held my breath when information gushed into my hand like I'd plugged right into her brain. Holy shit. Lonely... naive... scared... confused...tired of being...abused. I abruptly released her hand.

Sexually abused.
“Are you okay?” she asked.

I closed my eyes and turned away, her misery and my rage fusing into something weird in my veins. And still she was concerned for me. I bit my tongue on Who the fuck did it? How long? Where is he, is that what happened to your face? Are you running form him? I steadied my breathing, wondering how she was doing this. Rewiring my brain to solve her problems. And meet her needs. There was no fucking way I could safely do that and yet deep in my bones, I knew I'd try.

“I'm fine.” I looked at her, my gaze dropping to her arm halfway wrapped with her braid. That was some gift she had. The devil sat next to her plotting to rape her soul and she didn't see that.

“You...can get your car and I will start to clean?”

I lowered only my eyes, thinking of what the hell we were talking about. Clean. Yeah. I realized too that she'd just agreed to let me help and drive her home. “Uh, sure.” I stood and shoved my hands in my pockets when the urge to comfort her and make it all better became ridiculous. “I'll be back in a few and we'll get this place cleaned in no time.”

I parked my black Camaro right on the strip since it was empty, and my insides jolted at seeing that punk from earlier trapping Sheeku against the wall, both hands on either side of her head. I tore out of the car, my fury surging like a tsunami.

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