Disclaimer: I own nothing. Kim Harrison owns all.
The demon known as Algaliarept was waking up, hovering on the first hints of consciousness. He could feel the warm weight of his pet witch against his side and smiled to himself as he turned over to curve his body around her.
He had to give it to her, Rachel had been quite clever by showing him that Lee was the better witch, able to kindle demon magic just as she was but already trained in using ley lines. He had almost dropped his little red head to snag the witch who would require less work, but with only two witches in existence who could kindle demon magic, he was loathe to let her slip through is fingers. He had taken them both. Besides, with all the trouble Rachel had given him, he had wanted to get something back.
Lee was his familiar, stirring his spells and twisting his curses. Rachel was his pet. For now. The smart thing would be to sell her, but he wasn't tired of her just yet. He hadn't even taken her soul, not wishing to take away her self-will. She was so entertaining in her defiance, fighting him at the end of the day when he drug her back to his rooms and tossed her into his bed. She was all the more sweet when he broke through her defenses, playing upon the scar he had given her their first encounter and the mark on her wrist that proclaimed her his, turning her body and desires against her until she was clawing him, begging for him to quench the fires he stoked within her. He knew she hated him all the more for it, and it amused him.
Algaliarept inhaled, his nose pressed into the tangled mess of scarlet curls gracing his pet's head. She was high maintenance and she would kill him if she knew how, but he still gave her little indulgences from time to time, such as the bath salts and soaps he kept for her. They were as much for his pleasure as they were for Rachel's. Today she smelled of water lilies, mint and…
His eyes snapped open. That was not her soap.
He inhaled again, his brow furrowing. There was a new scent mingling with Rachel's normal one, enhancing it and giving it a subtle richness. It tugged at his memory, stirring something from his youth thousands of years behind him. Memories of a time before Newt had gone insane, slaughtering her sisters and the other female demons. Of a young demon answering a summons from his mother to run whatever task she needed him to complete. You did not ignore the wants of a pregnant female demon. It wasn't good for your health.
It wasn't possible. Was it?
He was careful as he turned Rachel onto her back, not waking her. There were dark shadows under her eyes from the stress she had been under since he had claimed her. She had lost a few pounds, her body responding to food deprivation until he had twisted the curse to put her need for food in a sort of suspension. It was cheaper not to feed your slaves and the denial of food was another way to exert control. It was a common practice in the Ever After.
Her slender form was still nude. She had fallen asleep in exhaustion only moments after he had sated himself. His lips quirked in a smile as he remembered her lost in the more animalistic aspects of sex, actually daring to bite him when he had not been moving forcefully enough to suit her. If she ever let herself go and entered the act with her full will and desire behind it, he wondered if even he could keep up with her.
Algaliarept brought his nose to the pulse point at her throat and breathed in deeply. There it was again, stronger with her blood so close to her skin. Could it be possible after all? Could Kalamack have been so ignorant of his ancestors' deeds that he had not only restored her ability to twist demon magic, but also untwisted the ancient elven curse entirely?
Excitement was beginning to build within him as he started to move down his sleeping pet's body. He let his nose skim over her soft skin, savoring her scent along with the feel of her until he was low against her, hovering over slight concave between her hips where the new scent was the strongest. He inhaled deeply once and then again, his eyes closing in bliss as instinct brought forth a deep rumble from far within him, low and loud. It filled the space of his bedroom, but more importantly it had the affect nature intended upon Rachel. He heard her answering sigh even as he felt the witch beneath him relax further, the sound telling her sleeping brain that she was safe and protected. Female demons had been prickly, dangerous creatures at the best of times. When they were pregnant the hormones had made them even worse, and evolution had equipped male demons with what they needed to keep their mates at peace, as much for their own protection from deadly expectant mothers as anything else.
He began to move back up, his mood elevated and dragging his lips over her soft skin here and there until he was even with her sleeping face. She was smiling in her sleep, still caught in the comfort of his rumble. And to think he had actually thought to sell her! There wasn't a single demon in the Ever After who could afford such a treasure as this witch. Sure she might be surly, violent and potentially dangerous, a trial on the best of days as he tried to keep her under control in his efforts to break her, but at least now all of that made better sense. She had the attitude and temperament of a demoness, and was likely to get even worse over the coming months as her body grew soft and round with their child.
Their child. The first demon child born in over five thousand years, and it was his. He was going to be a father! He hoped it was a daughter. He'd be happy with a son, but in a society of nothing but males a daughter would be immeasurably precious. Perhaps she would have her mother's fiery mane of hair and natural beauty. He could picture her when she was grown, a queen among demons with an army of fools willing to crawl through fire and broken glass just for the chance she might grace them with the barest of smiles.
He would need to change his tactics with Rachel. He needed to teach her how to work demon magic, and quickly. If she didn't learn how their little darling would walk all over her in the future. That would never do. A mother needed to be able to enforce her will over a child in order to keep the child safe.
He smiled as he looked at her. She would make an excellent mother, once she warmed up to the idea. He wasn't so far gone in his joy that he was fooled into believing the knowledge of impending motherhood would work some sort of magic on her disposition. She would be horrified at the knowledge she carried a demon child, but she would come around. The bond between mother and child would eventually overpower her first reactions.
His pet. No, that wasn't accurate any longer. Rachel wasn't his pet; she was his mate. You didn't have children with a pet.
He licked his lips as he gazed at his sleeping mate, the word feeling right. It wasn't love, he wasn't so foolish as to think he loved her, but there was a new fondness there. He didn't even know if he could feel love. Demons had chosen their mates based on power, appearance and status, far more sensible things that any shadowy, transitory emotion. That Rachel was the only female capable of conceiving and bearing a demon child made her the best choice. Any demon would want her, but none of the others could have her. She was his.
Content, he lowered his lips to capture hers. Still humming from his rumble and deep in sleep, she responded to him without hesitation. He felt her lips part under his as she kissed him back and the silken feel of her tongue twining with his sent a jolt to his groin. Just because she was already pregnant didn't mean they couldn't still enjoy one another, and shifted his body over hers completely. He ran one hand down her side to slide under a thigh and bend her leg over his hip so that he was nestled against her, their body heat mingling.
The shift in his weight and the kiss roused her, and he felt the instant she cleared the last of the sleep from her brain and realized who was touching her. He had been expecting this, and his hands moved quickly to capture her sharp fists.
"Get off me!" Her voice was a growl, her breath a hiss between her teeth. She was adorable in her anger and he laughed before dipping his head so he could place his lips against the shell of her ear. He gave another low, loud rumble and felt her shiver, her muscles relaxing as she gave a soft sigh.
"Better?" Amazing how that worked on her, even though she wasn't a true demon. She was close enough, apparently. He brushed his lips against her cheek as he moved his head so that he could look into her eyes. She was trying to focus again, her breathing slower and deeper than it should be given her agitation. "You're safe, here, Rachel. I won't let anything happen to you."
"What… what did you do to me?"
He grinned, his happiness brimming over. "Several things, but not nearly as many as we'll do in the future." She was trying to be angry, but biology was unwilling to cooperate. He ran his tongue over her bottom lip, her mouth parted slightly in her forced relaxation and he felt her shiver against him. Damn, but she would be wonderful in willing passion, but there was time for that later. "We have the most wonderful news."