Home > Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(14)

Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(14)
Author: H.M. Ward

I nodded at Eric. “Just say when and where. I’ll be there.”

“She’s kinda creepy, Eric.” I didn’t know where to start, but that summed it up. I buckled myself into Eric’s truck.

He snorted a laugh and said, “She’s one of the eldest amongst us. She has some very unusual gifts, and she must think you do too.”

I squirmed, “What makes you say that?”

“She’s treating you differently. And I’ve never heard of one of us having your vice before,” he sounded concerned. “Apparently that’s your strength too.”

“That pretty much sums it up. I’m a passionate nut-job.” I watched the world fly by out the window. The sun had been swallowed by the night sky, and the streetlights glowed a dull yellow.

“Passions are good,” he looked at me, quickly adding, “when they’re kept in check. We need to check yours and keep them there.” He pulled over to the curb a few houses down from my home. “Anger is never good. Do you know what she was talking about? Do you know why you’re angry?”

I kept my eyes staring through the glass at the world outside. Houses lined the street with people inside their happy homes, living normal lives. A life I wanted so desperately that it made me ache. I nodded, “Yeah, I know.” My voice was faint, drained.

Eric said, “I can’t pretend to understand how you feel, so I won’t. I was thrilled I was chosen for this. I can’t imagine being mad about it.” He picked at the seal on his window and glanced at me over his shoulder. I shrugged.

Something told me being marked as a Martis wasn’t what pissed me off. For some reason, Eric assumed that was the source of my anger. In a small way, perhaps it was. I wasn’t happy about being thrust into this—that was for sure. No, the anger that burned within me so fiercely, so passionately, was not from being claimed. It was from being tainted into the beast Shannon described. It was tied to the fear and pain of the memory of my best friend turning on me. And wondering who else would prove disloyal when they saw my mark was the color of the Damned One.

“You’re different… ” I faltered, not knowing what to say.

“Why? Because I was glad this life was thrust on me? On some level, you’re right, Ivy. I won’t deny it. I was thrilled when this happened to me because it meant that I could really help people, and make a difference—even if it cost me my life. I share your passion and zeal.” He paused, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. “We’re more alike than you realize. Don’t worry. It’ll work out.”

“I’m not worried,” I lied.

His eyes studied my face. Eric never judged me, he just took in what he saw—a broken mess—and acted like Eric. “Ivy, you were dumped on your head into a life you couldn’t even imagine a week ago. You’re going to go home, eat dinner, and stare at the ceiling until dawn. I know. I did that too. But it gets better.”

I nodded unenthused. “Yup. Sure.”

“Don’t act like that. You’ve been offered a life that most people dream about. And you out of all people should understand that,” he scolded.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that you get to live a life that makes a difference. It’s a change that you can see over your lifetime, whether it’s for seventeen years or seventeen hundred years. If you destroy one Valefar, you made a difference. You save people. You spread goodness into the world and strike out evil. You get to see your life is not lived in vein. Ivy, hardly anyone is ever granted that gift—ever.” His voice became higher as he finished, “And for some reason it was granted to you, and you’re mad about it.”

His words soaked through my shocked shell. That was part of me—the Martis part. I could feel it swaying to his words, like they were music to my soul. “You’re right.”

“What?” he said surprised.

“I can admit when I’m wrong. I’m wrong to feel mad about all this, but you don’t totally understand.”

“Well, help me then. Tell me.” Eric’s face pleaded. He leaned closer to me, his features illuminated by the dashboard lights.

Should I tell him? The words wanted to roll off the tip of my tongue, Something’s wrong with me Eric. Help me. I wanted to trust him so badly, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell him. I bit my lip. “I can’t.”

Looking up at the upholstered ceiling, he let out a whoosh of air, “I can’t figure you out. Ya know that? You sit in class and are smart and pretty. You don’t test well. Anyone can see that it’s the test, not you. Anyone, but you. It makes you think you’re dumb. That same creativity that skews your test scores also lightens your soul. That joy pours into the people around you. I see you Ivy. You’re a good friend to Shannon. And you’re a good friend to that idiot Collin, even though he doesn’t deserve it.” He shook his head and said, “I don’t get it.”

I looked at him. I’d known him for so long, but I never heard him say so much. I asked, “What don’t you get?”

Eric’s face was scrunched tight, “How can you be willing to share that with him? But not me?”

“I don’t understand what you mean,” I squirmed in my seat.

“You trust him. He treats you horribly, throwing you into situations that you shouldn’t be in, and yet, you trust him. I treat you so much better. But before today, you never gave me a second look.” His eyes locked with mine for every heartfelt word. I didn’t know what to say. Collin didn’t treat me horribly, but a lot of people thought my trysts were a result of his influence. They weren’t. They were my own doing, but I wasn’t ready to tell Eric that.

So I said, “I’m sorry.” I paused, trying to tell him. To explain. I took a deep breath. “It’s just… I have a lot of trouble trusting people,” Eric went to interrupt, but I held up my hand to mute him. “Please let me finish. It’s something that I’ve wanted to change, but I can’t. I keep trying, and I keep getting it wrong.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. He shifted in his seat, leaning a little more toward me.

I was slow to answer, not wanting to say it. I wanted to be wrong about Eric. I couldn’t get stabbed in the back again. “Jake. I trusted him, and… ” I didn’t have to say anything else. He put the pieces together. It’s beyond sucking when someone you trusted betrays you. Jake betrayed me, in the worst way possible.

Eric’s arm reached out and brushed my hand. I looked up. He said, “I’ll make sure your faith in me is well placed. You can trust me Ivy. I promise.” His hand was on the seat, next to mine; his eyes were searching my face to see if I believed him. I wanted to, but trust didn’t work like that anymore. Wanting it wasn’t enough.

“I hope so.”

“No, you know so. Listen,” he was confident, “You need friends now more than ever before. You have to trust someone. You can’t do this alone. Loners end up dead. I’ve got your back, Ivy. I’ll train you. I’ll protect you. I won’t ever give you a reason to not trust me. I promise.” His amber eyes were sincere. Guilt racked me, but he kept pushing. I was sitting there lying to his face. He thought I was a pure Martis, his ally. And I knew I wasn’t. I was some messed up hybrid demon angel thing that had to rely on him, or I’d die.

I said, “I hope so.”

“Trust me, Ivy. It’s all I ask. Trust me.” His eyes bore into me.

I knew when my anger started. Although I didn’t like to talk about it, I didn’t see what harm it could do now. I shook my head, “The source of my anger isn’t totally from being marked. It isn’t from now. Jake wasn’t all of it… It’s from before. From Apryl. I lost part of me when she died. It did something to me, and I couldn’t get rid the anger that burned in my chest. It’s still there. Hollow. Tainting things. I can feel it.”

Eric’s hand slid over mine briefly. “Ah, I do know about that. Al knows more than she says.”

Leaning my head back against the seat, I asked, “What do you mean?”

He sighed, mirroring me, “It was a long time ago. I tried to hide it. I didn’t think anyone knew. Lydia, my… Well, I was angry. I lost her, kind of the same way you lost your sister. That’s why Al wanted me to help you. She knew I went through something similar.” An odd sensation flooded me. I’d never talked about Apryl with anyone, outside my family. None of my friends had to deal with death. I was stuck learning how to cope, alone. It took me a minute to identify the sensation bubbling up inside of me—hope.

“You were angry?” I asked. He nodded. “The blackness, Eric. How did you keep it away? How did you keep it from swallowing you whole?” I felt my brow pinched together, and the moisture in my eyes. Verbalizing my battle made it seem like it would end soon.

His caramel eyes looked sad. “It did swallow me. I let the darkness flood me, until I didn’t want to take another breath. I know what you’re talking about. It takes time… and trust. So, what do you say?”

What am I supposed to say? I shook my head, “It’ll take me time. I want to trust you, Eric, I do. It’s just that… ”

Leaning forward he said, “What? Tell me.”

I shook my head, “I’m a mess.” Was it possible? If I hinted enough, would he get it? If Shannon knew of the prophecy, he had to know too. “I’m not what you think.” I reached for the door, and opened it, as I slid off the seat.

Before my feet hit the ground, I felt Eric’s hand on my wrist. “Wait. I’m not gonna push you. You tell me when you’re ready. In the meantime, know I’m here, and I’m your friend. And Ivy,” he smiled at me, “I already know you’re a mess. It’s part of your charm.”


The week passed without incident. While other aspects of my life leveled out, one part didn’t—Collin. We were avoiding each other. I saw him in passing, walking down the hall or on stage after school. Eric was always nearby, so I didn’t try to talk to him. Even if we were alone—what would I say? I wondered if we could go back to being friends, but I doubted that was possible.

At night, after Eric brought me home, I’d sit alone—staring at my ceiling until dawn—hiding in the safety of my parentally warded home. I’d hear Collin’s words echo inside my mind. The recollection of his silky voice and intense sapphire eyes washed over me. The memory left me breathless, like I was falling in a dark dream, with no way to wake up. Collin’s absence made me realize how much he meant to me, no matter how much I wanted to deny it. Damn. What was wrong with me? A kiss with him would reveal everything. It would leave me completely exposed, and endanger Collin. The best way to deal with this problem was to ride it out. The lust would burn off, and I’d have my friend back—I hoped.

Attempting to shift my thoughts to something more productive, I tried to discover how I got tainted in the first place. It didn’t seem like something very common, since the prophecy was around for a while and no one else had this problem before. I invited Shannon over one night, and we tried to figure out how it happened. She sat on my bed, acting like we were just us again. It made me sad, because I knew things we would never be just us again. There would always be an element of mistrust between us.

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