Author: nox-alatus PM
Six months after the road trip that changed everything, Rachel is ready to resume her life. TOTAL SPOILERS UP TO PALE DEMON, then takes a left turn. Rated M for language and lemons.Rated: Fiction M - English - Humor/Romance - Rachel Morgan & Algaliarept - Chapters: 10 - Words: 46,332 - Reviews: 101 - Favs: 74 - Follows: 119 - Updated: 05-12-13 - Published: 03-03-11 - id: 6792411
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This is my first shot writing a Rachel Morgan fic, so bear with me as I stumble through the characters. Just kidding! I had a blast writing this. This is going to be a multiple chapter story, updated semi-frequently. (I'm currently working on several novels and short stories, in addition to Script Frenzy in April)
Review are love! Let me know what you like, what you hate, how OOC I took the characters, etc. Constructive criticism is always welcomed, flamers can bite me. Everyone who is still following from back in the day with Sookie and Eric, let me know if I still have it or if I need to go back to FanFic101.
Much love to you all, reviews are appreciated. I hope you enjoy the story!
MAJOR PALE DEMON SPOILERS AHEAD
SERIOUSLY, IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK
GO DO IT BEFORE READING THIS
I lovingly stroked the steering wheel of my new-to-me Eclipse convertible as I wove through the Cincinnati traffic easily. Edden had pulled some strings and gotten me into the police auction where I bought the sleek burgundy car. For the thousandth time, I praised the captain, this time remembering to include Trent. The elf was the only reason I could drive at all, seeing as he found a loophole in the state's excuse for taking my license.
Whatever the reason behind it, I was driving to Trent's compound for a little get together with my god-babies to give them their Christmas presents. Jenks was with me, taking the opportunity to get out of the church. Said pixy was coming to the end of his version of the '12 Days of Christmas'.
I interrupted him as he took a deep breath to start another bawdy carol. "You do realize I'm going to borrow Quen's little glass ball and shove you in if you talk like that around the girls, don't you?"
"Duh, Rache. Why do you think I'm getting it out of my system now?"
Rolling my eyes, I turned down the two-lane road that would take me out to Trent's. Jenks had been in an inordinately good mood lately, ever since he and Belle had come to a truce. The wingless fairy was now staying inside with the pixies, sharing the desk for the winter. She would never be Matalina, but she had become a sort of surrogate mother figure for the brood, helping keep them under control when Jenks wasn't around.
The guard at the gatehouse waved me through as I slowed. As much as I missed my red Mustang, this car was just as recognizable. I still wasn't sure if that was a good or a bad thing. The I.S. still stopped me every chance they got, the F.I.B. never stopped me, and people always stared, knowing who was inside.
Rachel Morgan, the day-walking demon. Trent had been right about people coming after me for notoriety. When people finally realized I wasn't bringing society to its knees because I was evil incarnate, the thrill-seekers started showing up. Some tried to fight me, some tried to banish me, and oddly enough, some tried to worship me. Stupid black witches. I sent them all running with tails tucked between their legs.
I parked the car in between a BMW and a Mercedes. My vehicle definitely wasn't in the same class, but it didn't look too out-of-place. Jenks dove into my bag to cuddle with a hand warmer and I stepped into the freezing wind, carrying a giant box full of wrapped presents. Cincinnati winter sucked.
Quen was waiting for me when I walked in the professional part of the building. Jenks flew out and landed on my shoulder, cuddling into my neck as his wings finished warming. The elf took the box from me and I grinned. "How are my babies?"
"Burgeoning terrors." We walked side-by-side towards the private areas, leaving the tittering receptionist behind. "They're just learning how to get around and already wreaking havoc. It's going to be impossible when they actually start walking." His soft smile belied his harsh words.
"Hmph. Try having dozens of kids flitting around and getting into everything, then talk to me about impossible." Jenks flew off, staying well below the sticky silk lacing the ceiling. "Rache, you should have worn your earrings. Sitting on your shoulder isn't all that comfortable."
"Last time Lucy saw my hoops she tried to rip them out of my ear. I'd like to keep them in tact, thank you very much."
I opened the door to the living area and Quen smiled in thanks. Tensing slightly at the noise of happy children, I closed the door behind us and looked around the room. A giant pine tree took up one corner of the room, practically dripping with ornaments. Several stockings were lined up on the mantel, each of them bearing a different name. Ceri was radiant, sitting on the carpet and playing peek-a-boo with the shrieking elf girls. Trent was sitting at a small desk against the wall, going over some paperwork.
Quen cleared his throat. "We have company." Trent looked up from his work, a smile crossing his face and disappearing so quickly I wasn't sure if I imagined it. Ceri stood up with a boneless grace and floated over to me, her royal heritage showing with every move.
"Rachel! I'm so glad to see you! You look great."
I returned her hug, breathing in the scent of elf mixed with baby powder. "You too, Ceri. You're practically glowing." Blushing prettily, she took my head and led me to the girls as Quen arranged the presents underneath the tree.
I sat on the couch, picking up Lucy when she lifted her hands to me. Unsurprised, I still winced when her little hands were immediately buried and tangled in my curls. Jenks laughed himself silly, dusting gold everywhere while Ceri patiently unknotted my hair. "I see what you mean about the earrings, Rache."
I gave him a withering look and he burst into giggles again. A familiar voice behind me sent a chill down my spine. "Now, now, Lucy. Be nice to Miss Morgan."
"I think we're past the formal stage by now, Trent." A sound of pain escaped me as Lucy reached for her father, one hand still firmly attached to my hair. Jenks finally decided the show was over and came down to help Ceri. Soon I was free and the girl was babbling happily in Trent's arms.
Quen was standing to the side, holding Ray and watching us with interest. "So, presents, anyone? We should do this before dinnertime." As one, we all moved to the tree.
The girls ended up with a stack of board books, several stuffed animals, and a large activity center guaranteed to make more noise than necessary. Ceri got a hard-to-find spellbook, Quen a black splat gun matching my own, pre-filled with sleepy-time potions.
Trent was the hardest to shop for, but when I saw the stuffed mink in a toy store I had to get it. I hadn't entirely forgiven him for the time spent in a cage, but it was too perfect to pass up. His eyebrows rose when he opened it and I shrugged, giving him a close-lipped smile.
Jenks got a few sets of new clothing and a gallon jug of imported honey several times bigger than himself. Ceri and Quen gave me a gauzy dress similar to what she usually wore, only in colors that complemented my hair. Trent gave me the matching jewelry. My jaw dropped when I saw the intricately woven bits of silver glinting out of the velvety box. Trent returned my shrug when I looked at him.
I tucked all the presents back in the box, laughing when I saw the girls were having more fun with the wrapping paper than their new toys. Ceri was back on the floor, shredding the paper and throwing it in the air, cheering on the babies when they clumsily tried to catch it. Quen was sitting in an armchair, watching the scene with a contented smile. Jenks was fluttering over my head, making sure I took care of his precious honey.
"Careful, Rache, don't break it!"
"Calm down, geez. I don't think the cloth is going to hurt your honey. I'm more concerned about your honey squishing my jewelry."
"Yeah, but-" The pixy darted in close to me. "Heads up, rich man incoming."
I raised my head and saw that, indeed, Trent was walking towards me. I quickly finished arranging the contents of the box, satisfied both Jenks' honey and my jewelry would be safe. I stood and sighed when the pixy decided to double check my work. Whatever.
Turning to Trent, I smiled. "Thank you so much. That necklace is absolutely gorgeous." He gave a noncommittal nod and looked at the door to his private office.
"May I speak to you, Miss Mo- I mean, Rachel?" He glanced at Jenks. "Privately?"
"Um, sure. Hey Jenks, I'll be right back." The pixy gave me knowing look before flying to the excited children, dusting a happy gold.
Trent's back office had been redecorated since the last time I had seen it. It now was almost exactly like the main office, only arranged to take advantage of the spectacular view out the wall-sized window. I went immediately to stand by the glass, taking in the unbroken expanse of snow before me. "Your view is amazing."
He stood beside me, hands behind his back. "It is, isn't it." He said it without any arrogance. "Rachel, I need to ask you… what is the meaning of this?"
"The meaning of what? You asked me in here." My brow furrowed as I looked at him. "What are you talking about?"
His looked down and my gaze followed his to rest on the stuffed mink. "This. Why did you get me a child's toy, and a mink, no less?"
I raised my eyebrows at him. "It's a joke. You know, ha ha funny? I saw it and thought you'd like another one in your office."
"You gave me a gag gift?"
"Oh, come on. What else would I have gotten all-powerful, ridiculously rich, uber-influential Trent Kalamack? Would you rather I had gotten you some chalk and a cloth tape measure?" He flushed at that. "Yeah, that would be a little too personal, I'd think."
"So this isn't some sort of message?"
I laughed at his confused face. "No. No message here, except that you are a damn hard man to buy a present for."
A small smile crossed his face. He turned to set the mink on his desk and came back to the window, standing just close enough to be comfortable, but not close enough to invade my personal space. "There was no message in the jewelry, either, just so you know. No magic."
"Good to know. Thank you again, Trent. Really, those pieces are to die for. You didn't need to do that."
"No. But it was a present. And I considered it the least I could do for the woman who helped me get my daughter back."
I laughed, elbowing him lightly. "I think you saving my life and losing some fingers in the process means we're back on the me-owing-you side."
He sat in an armchair facing the window, glancing at his damaged hand in disgust. "No more pissing off demons for me. I don't see how you do it, Rachel."
I sat next to him, softly patting his hand. "Why do you think I used to always turn up battered and bruised? Al didn't want to seriously hurt me and I always had a bunch of people after me over here. But look at me now! Six months of peace and quiet will do wonders for a body." My hair was fuller than ever, which wasn't necessarily a good thing, my skin was bruise-free, and I only had one scar –the demon mark- and it was covered by the charmed silver bracelet keeping me cut off from the lines and the ever-after.
"It has been six months, hasn't it? Wow, time flies." He seemed honestly surprised by the date.
"I hear that happens when you have kids. I still can't believe you didn't tell me you had one until you walked in the courtroom with her." I kicked my socked feet up on the coffee table, glancing at Trent and daring him to say something. He gave me a real smile and put his feet next to mine, crossing his legs at the ankle.
"I didn't think you'd understand. It really didn't have anything to do with anyone except me and Lucy and her… mother." The slight emphasis on the last word let me imagine all sorts of nasty words he would rather use instead of 'mother', but was too proper to say.
"Yeah, but we would have given you less shit about the whole thing. I'm surprised you haven't figured out that I'll go along with most crazy-ass plans as long as I know what we're doing."
He chuckled. "Like popping out of nowhere, completely naked, to give me an 'elf porn' statue in front of thousands of people and hundreds of TV cameras broadcasting live?"
I blushed. "Exactly. Not one of my prouder moments, though."
"Or when you rescued the thief from an island of crazy Weres and got run over by a semi to steal a statue that drove you insane in the end?"
"Yeah, well, you hired him after that, so I don't want to hear it."
"Or how about when-"
I cut him off. "Okay, okay, I get it. Need I remind you that technically, I wasn't the one that stole the statue? And that the only reason I got run over was too help a man in unimaginable pain, and even then I tried to stop it when I could. Or that the only reason the statue drove me crazy was that it was the only way to get rid of the damn thing without a freaking species war?"
He held up his hands in a peaceful gesture. "I'm just saying. It's been six months since the Inderlander World has been turned on its head by Rachel Morgan. No lawsuits for almost four months, no contracts taken out on you, no news vans waiting at your doorstep. How does it feel?"
I sighed heavily, wishing I had a drink. Almost as if he read my mind, Trent got up and went to a discreet mini-fridge beneath his desk. "Thirsty? I have water, soda, scotch?"
"Water, please. Thanks." He tossed me the bottle and I cracked it open, silently watching as he did the same. I found myself staring at the strong line of his jaw and neck moving slightly as he swallowed. Reclaiming his seat, the scent of cinnamon and wine flowed around me. I couldn't believe I didn't smell it earlier.
"Well?" The word snapped me out of my thoughts.
"Oh, um, it's been fine, I guess."
"Well, to be honest… It's boring. I enjoy not having people gunning for me, but I don't really think the charm shop life is for me." He seemed to understand the reference and nodded. "I miss the lines. Especially since Bis bonded me. I know it bothers him, too."
"You know, I still have that password if you'd like it."
"I know." I fidgeted with my water, peeling back the corners of the label. "Do you think I'd be making a mistake if I took it off? Would I be bound like the other demons? Or could I come and go as I please, like Ku'Sox did?
He considered this for a moment, his lips pursing. "I don't know. I do know that you and he had many similarities, and that you were summoned during the day while you held his curse. Therefore, it stands to reason that you would be bound by his rules, and since he could travel back and forth whenever he wanted, you can do it, as well."
Closing my eyes, I sank into the fluffy chair. "Thank you, Trent. I needed to hear that from someone who wasn't trying to convince me it would be alright no matter what." Barely cracking my eyes, I looked at him. "You know, you're actually really nice to talk to when you aren't being the aloof politician or the murdering drug lord."
He sat up straight and looked at me, not noticing my eyelids slightly open. Several expressions flitted over his face, finally settling on wary curiosity. "Really? Why do you say that?"
"Because it's true. I take it you're settling down on the drug lord side of things?"
"To some degree. I need to keep it going, for the most part. There is still much we need to do to make sure elves are safe once more, and many, many people will die without the medicines I can give them. Unfortunately, the murdering comes along with the territory."
"Hm. Gonna try for mayor again in a couple years?" Trent had lost the autumn vote to the incumbent Were, mayor of the city for nearly twenty years.
"Possibly. What about you? Are you going to stay Rachel-the-harmless-earth-witch or go Rachel-the-day-walking-demon?"
I sighed, opening my eyes. "I have no idea. I like this, the way things are right now. But I miss the lines, I miss being able to circle when I work. Hell, I even miss Al's kitchen once in a while!"
Trent's jaw dropped as he stared. "You miss your demon?"
"Well, we had reached a pretty comfortable agreement before I got summoned out and Ku'Sox beat the crap out of me." He was still staring at me. "You can close your mouth anytime now." He did, with an audible snap. "I won't say exactly what happened, but let's just say that I was forced to prove I was a demon to a horde of the big-and-bad ones, and he took care of me when I recovered. For three days I was unconscious and he didn't leave my side. When I woke up we had a very enlightening conversation… then I got summoned, and you know the rest."
"So are you and he…"
"No! God, no. It's like… Oh! Now that I think about it, it's kind of like your thing with Quen." He raised an eyebrow, waiting. "Quen helped you grow, taught you to be a man when your father wasn't around, right? And he's your bodyguard at the same time. So technically he can't tell you what to do, but he does when you aren't thinking right or need advice. And I'm sure you return the favor. Al is my teacher and bodyguard over there. Technically, because I'm female I rank much higher than him, but he still lets me know when I'm being or doing something stupid."
"Ah, I see. So he doesn't want you like that?"
I chuckled. "Oh yes, he most certainly does. But Newt, the biggest big-and-bad of them all, she likes me and says if he sleeps with me she'll kill him. It's tons of drama over there, let me tell you."
Trent's tense posture relaxed and he put his feet back up on the coffee table. "Let's get to the point. Do you want me to give you the word?"
I fingered the heavy silver bracelet, feeling the wild magic swirling through it. "Do I have to do it at a certain time?"
"No, but I would think during the day, or if that's impossible, at night and make sure everyone you care for is on holy ground and stays there. Actually, the holy ground thing should be done either way. Come to think of it, how is it you can live in your church if you're a demon?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. The only reason I can think of is because I wasn't born a demon. I was made into one by forces outside my control. And I can walk on this side in the sun. That's probably a big part of it."
"Regardless of when you do it, I would think it through carefully. Al is going to come over the moment he senses you in the system. Would it be better if it was after dark and he could come immediately, without waiting for an explanation, or would it be better during the day, when you could explain it to him through the mirror and he would stew in it until dark came?"
The way he put it made me think about the whole thing. I knew I'd need to have a plan instead of just whipping off the bracelet and saying 'Here I am, demons!' but I hadn't considered the holy ground thing or the actual timing of putting myself back on the grid. "Wow, I'm glad I talked to you about this."
"Why is that?"
"I hadn't thought of all that before." I eyed him speculatively. He had been touching his hair on and off for a while. I made him anxious. "I'm really glad we can talk to each other like people now."
"Me, too. It's a lot less stressful dealing with you when you aren't trying to break into my house or put me in jail every other day."
"Ditto with the death threats and offers of 'employment'." I did air quotes around 'employment' and he had the grace to wince slightly.
"So, since we aren't trying to kill each other and seem to be getting along for the moment, where does that leave us?"
I sat up and rested my elbows on my knees. "Considering the conversation we just had, I'd say we were friends. I still hate what you do and even more that you need to do it. But you are actually a decent person if you step out from behind the desk."
Looking at his expensive desk, Trent sighed. "Yes. When you do what I do, legally or otherwise, it becomes nearly impossible to find anyone trustworthy. It's very hard to turn off Mr. Kalamack and just be Trent. I would like to think that I can just be Trent with you. Not the politician, not the businessman, not anything except the man. Can I trust you with that?"
My heart began to bleed for him. He was so lonely, always surrounded by people but never able to touch them. Dear God, Rachel! He's a drug runner and murderer! True, but his species was dying and he needed the research money. He also saves countless lives with medicine that humans shunned decades ago. And he said he was cutting back since Lucy and Ray were born.
Trent was standing in front of me, a vulnerable expression looking odd on him. He held out a hand and I took it. He pulled me up into him and I was surrounded by cinnamon and wine. "Rachel, can I be myself with you? Can I trust you to keep my secrets?" I jerked back and he cursed softly. "Not those secrets, I mean like the tailor thing. I've never told anyone that for fear of them using against me. You knew and had the opportunity to embarrass me with it, and instead chose to give me a reminder of your screw-up. When you were in that cage, I knew Jonathan would pick on you, but I had no idea that he would torture you. And even though I put you in the fights, I would never have let you be seriously injured or killed. I know you may not believe me, but I really did enjoy having some sort of company who I didn't have to play the politician with."
I closed my eyes and stepped into his chest, his strong arms wrapping around me. The man was pouring his heart out and I hadn't even said yes yet. He was so lonely.
"I thought the mink meant you were still mad at me over the whole thing. To be honest, I wouldn't blame you if you were. But I highly doubt this one will be as entertaining as you were; no thumbs up when I play Takata, no pellets thrown at my head when I'm being mean, no flipping me off when I do something you don't like. I still have the cage, actually." He chuckled a little.
"You know, if we're being honest here… being in the cage wasn't too horrible. No I.S. assassins could get me, so I could actually sleep. The company was decent when Jonathan wasn't making me miserable. The food sucked, though. If you ever get another pet, feed it real food, not that dried pellet crap."
His arms tightened around me as I snaked my hand around to his lower back. "And the answer is yes. You can trust me, Trent. Can I trust you, too?"
I looked up and our eyes met. My breathing sped up a little when I saw his eyes burning with… not anger, not passion, but what? Then it hit me. Emotion. All of it, kept locked behind his front as a politician and corporate owner.
The raw need is his face nearly had me in tears. I knew he was alone, but I had no idea it was this bad. Leaning over me, he stopped when his lips were an inch away from mine. "Yes, Rachel. I will give you the same trust you give me."
Taking the opportunity it presented, I leaned forward that inch and touched our lips together. A soft sound of satisfaction came from him as he worked his lips on mine, his hand sliding down my back to rest on my hips. I traced the outline of his stubbly jaw with my fingertips before plunging my hands into his oh-so-soft silken hair.
His tongue swept across the seam of my lips and I opened in response, meeting his tongue with my own. Trent backed me against the desk, lifting me up to sit on it. His hands explored my body, carefully avoiding my breasts and between my legs, even though they were spread and wrapped around his hips. Leaving one hand in his hair, I ran my fingers along the muscles in his chest and stomach, shivers of heat spearing through me as they quivered in response to my light caress.
I tweaked a nipple lightly and he groaned. "God, Rachel…" He travelled down my neck, sucking and kissing gently. He reached my invisible vamp scar and gave it a quick kiss, otherwise ignoring it. On the other side of my neck, however, he made himself at home. Nibbling, sucking, kissing, licking up to my ear and back down… I was lost in sensation.
Twining my fingers back through his hair, I pulled gently, guiding his mouth back to mine. He attacked me with renewed passion, his lips demanding, his tongue exploring, his hands kneading. I pulled my hand out of his hair and they immediately started on his button-up shirt. Reclaiming my mouth, I followed the same path he had travelled, down the neck, across, up to the ear, back down… but I kept going down.
Every button released showed inches of perfectly sculpted tan skin that begged for attention. Who was I to deny its pleas? I nipped and licked every bit of skin I could reach, stopping the downward movement when his nipples popped out. A darker brown than his tan, they were stiff, and I bet it wasn't from the temperature outside. Leaning further, I flicked the right with my tongue, his body stiffening as I did. Slowly, I licked my way around it, spiraling inwards. When I centered in, I sucked it in and flicked it again. This time his hands found my hair and he moaned in ecstasy. He moved my head to the left side, my tongue dragging along his pecs. Meanwhile, my hands had finished with the shirt, one disappearing to the small of his back and playing with the little dimples, the other tracing his six-pack up to the right nipple, tweaking it lightly.
"Dear God, Rachel… oh…" I smiled at the reaction I was pulling out of him, this stoic man who never let anything show. "Rachel, wait… stop a minute… Damn."
I looked up at him. His lips were swollen from kissing, soft red marks ran up and down his neck, not to mention his chest. He was flushed, breathing heavily, the tremendous bulge in his pants proving his excitement. I'm sure I looked a mess, too.
"Do you really want to do this right now? With them all in the next room?"
His words brought me back down. "I completely forgot."
"Yeah. Me too." He backed away buttoning his shirt, then smoothing his hair. I hopped off the desk and tried to do something with my hair, but it probably looked just like it always did.
I took a long drink of water, trying to look, yet not look at Trent. Our eyes met and I realized he was doing the same thing. We both laughed at the absurdity of it.
"You ready to go back out to see the kiddies, Trent?"
"Yes. I suppose godmother Rachel should spend some time with them. Oh, and so you don't leave without it, here." He reached into the top drawer of his desk and pulled out a folded piece of thick parchment paper. "These are the words to break the charm. Don't say them, don't think them, don't even read them before you're ready. The charm is very sensitive and will come off very easily with that. Be careful, Rachel. Please."
I took the paper and stuck it in my back pocket. "Thank you. I'll be careful. Do you have holy ground here?"
"Yes, I had a small section built and blessed after that last incident."
"Good. I'll call you before I do it to make sure you guys are all safe inside. It'll be sometime in the next few days, so answer when I call, okay?"
He nodded solemnly. "Of course. Um, can I tell you one last thing before we go out there? In trust?"
"Trent, when we're alone, you can tell me anything you want and know it won't leave the two of us. What's done in the office, stays in the office, right?"
He nodded, a real smile making his face light up. Walking beside me, he put a hand on my lower back and guided me to the door. "When we were at camp, it was never Jasmin I liked; It was you."
My reaction was swallowed by the sounds of two babies screaming in laughter, Ceri dancing in the middle of a shredded wrapping paper hurricane, and Jenks flying lopsided, having found some way to get into the honey. The pixy was dusting a rainbow of sparkles over the hurricane, singing the lewd '12 days of Christmas' at the top of his lungs. Quen was sitting in the same chair as before, this time with the look of a man who tried to stop what was happening but was completely run over in the process.
"This is some Christmas party you got here, Trent." Jenks had zig-zagged his way over to us, and I could smell honey all over him. "Much better than those stuffy suit ones, blah! No honey, no paper hurricanes, no fun!"
Trent smiled indulgently. "Of course, Jenks. I shall take that under advisement."
The pixy landed on top of my head, grabbing random chunks of hair to stay still. "Let's go home, Rache. I gotta show Belle who the man of the house is, stupid pretty fairy."
Shaking my head, to Jenks' protests, I turned to Trent. "Should be a fun drive, eh?"
"You could say that." I bent to pick up the box, surprised when Trent beat me to it. "I've got it. Let's go."
"Jenks! In the bag now, the warmer's heated." He dove in and I zipped it up to keep in the heat. I gave a friendly wave to Quen and Ceri, who were still entertaining the babies. "Have fun, guys! I'll see you soon!"
Trent and I walked back out to the parking lot, the offices now deserted for the evening. He even came outside and put the box in the backseat for me. I turned on the heater and shut the door for Jenks, knowing there was just a little more to say to Trent.
"You liked me?"
He flushed. "Do you think many people get to ride Tulpa? Or even get to touch him? Me, my father, …and you."
"We aren't in the office." I grinned wickedly.
He braced his arms on the car, one on either side of me. "No, but we are alone. About that kiss…"
"I'm not going to forget that one."
"Good." He grinned, eyed flashing with emotion. "Neither will I." He leaned in and softly brushed his lips over mine once, twice, three times. "Goodnight, Rachel."
I stood there, frozen in place as I watched him go back inside and disappear into his house. A small knock on the window woke me up.
"Hey, Rache, get your booty in here before you freeze!"
I opened the door, shutting it an instant after I was inside. I tuned out Jenks' grumbling about a honey drunk only lasting five minutes and how he should have been in on me and Trent's talk as I drove down the winding path. The gate was standing open when I neared it and I gave the guard a friendly wave as I passed.
Ivy was home when we arrived, and she had ordered pizza. We came in carrying the box and I was swarmed by pixies. "Jenks!" He chirped loudly and 50-some pixies flew into the desk. Belle was calmly walking across the floor with her sword out, always on watch for Rex, Jenks' cat.
I set the box on a free spot on Ivy's table. I divvied out the goods, giving Ivy her still wrapped gifts, Jenks his clothes, and I took my dress and jewelry to my room. As I passed Bis, who was sitting on the fridge, I got his attention. "I need to talk to you." He said nothing in response, merely crawling on the ceiling to my room and landing on the bed. He was quiet as I hung the dress and arranged the jewelry.
When I turned back to him, I had to smile. He was wearing his red Disney shirt with gargoyles on it and had somehow found a Santa hat to wear, too. "You wanted to talk to me, Miss Rachel?"
"Yes, Bis. I need your opinion on something. About me getting back in touch with the lines."
His eyes widened in fear. "Are you sure you want to do that? I mean, last time…" He shuddered, and I did, too.
"Yes, last time was bad, but he's put away now, and he can't touch me. Al should be pleased to see me, after he gets over the fact that I've been hiding for months. And I think Newt will have forgotten the whole thing, and hopefully she won't remember. If she does, maybe she'll just be happy I'm back."
"I don't know, Miss Rachel. I mean, I miss sharing the lines with you, but I'd rather you be alive than that."
"I really doubt they would kill me. Well, I think I'll probably take it off in the next few days. Will you be around? Or are you going visiting?"
Taking in a deep breath, he grew a couple inches as he turned a dark grey. "You are my bonded. I will be with you when this is done, and will never be far when you are in need of me."
"Thank you, Bis. You are amazing." He shrunk back to his regular size and turned almost black in embarrassment.
"Thank you, Miss Morgan. Will it be tonight?"
"No. The day after tomorrow, before dark." He nodded and jumped back to the ceiling, Santa hat firmly grasped in his teeth. We went back to the kitchen where Ivy was plating slices of pizza much more roughly than needed. "So, Ivy. You heard that, I guess." She nodded tersely and took her seat in front of the computer, typing furiously with one hand and eating with the other.
"I don't think you should do it. But at the same time, it needs to be done. You aren't whole right now, Rachel, and that's unhealthy for you and for everyone you know. We love you and don't want you to be hurt, but you have to do what you have to do."
Jenks flitted in, hovering a few feet in front of me. "Agreed with Ivy. Do it and don't get killed, because if you do, I'll find someone to resurrect you so I can kill you again."
I looked around at the festive gargoyle on the refrigerator, at the cranky vampire surfing the internet, at the pixy who considered himself my surrogate father… "I love you guys. Really. I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing happens to you or anyone else I care for. Anything to keep you all safe, I swear."
I smiled at the groans my melodramatic speech had brought on. I don't care if it sounded stupid, it was the truth.
Deciding to ignore it for now, we all dug into the pizza and played stupid games until bedtime. Tomorrow I'd start preparing to be a demon again; tonight I was just Rachel, and it was fantastic. I'd treasure this day forever.