Home > Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(6)

Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(6)
Author: H.M. Ward

Shannon’s voice called to me, “I’m bringing this box down.” She balanced it on her hip at the top of the staircase, “Be right back!”

She was swallowed into the darkness of the stairwell, and I was alone. My fingers wrapped greedily around the frame. I tugged it quickly, freeing it from a lifetime of dust. The frame creaked, as I raised it over a pile of books, and set it down on the floor in front of me. Clutching the sheet, my hand ripped it away, and it slid to the floor. Elaborate carvings of little fat cherubs and ugly looking demons were carved into the wooden frame and gilded in gold. They were all nestled into a scrolling leaf pattern. It was like a Where’s Waldo, but with creatures of Heaven and Hell. My fingers dragged across the sculpted leaves and cherub curls.

Spiraling colors ranging from pure white, to midnight black, and every color in between funneled through the painting - from top to bottom. The colors were painted in choppy lines that reminded me of cliffs at the shore. It looked like a place where the sea met the mountains, but there was no water, just fierce, jagged rock. At the uppermost portion were angels, both cherubim and seraphim with flaming swords. Slightly above them was pure white light. My eyes followed the swirl to the deepest dark part of the pit. Even the rocks looked evil. There was no light, just soul sucking darkness. I smoothed my hands up and down my forearms, trying to sooth the churning in the pit of my stomach. A little bit above the deepest, black part of the pit, were demons. They were painted as vile things, with dripping black flesh. They resembled short humans with greedy blood-colored eyes, and razor sharp fingers.

As my eyes slid to the middle of the painting, there was a mix of humans and demonic looking beings. They weren’t quite demons anymore, but they didn’t seem entirely human either. Their eyes were different—hard, cold, and rimmed in red. Above their right brow was a bright, blood red scar. Valefar.

My hand absentmindedly rose to my where my purple mark had been. My mark looked like a pixie hit me with a glitter paintball. But these scars looked like oozing, festering mutations of flesh. I felt a pang of revulsion tug at the back of my throat, and closed my mouth to choke it back.

Higher in the painting, there were warmer, brighter colors. This is where the humans were depicted. They were mostly in little groups of young and old. Women were sitting with babies on their laps, and older children surrounded their feet, playing quietly in the grass. The rocks were covered in moss and flowers, and sunshine drenched everything in rich light, vibrant colors, and deep shadows.

As my eyes traveled higher still, there were beings that were human looking, but they seemed more graceful, more compassionate, and more beautiful. Something about their stance said they weren’t mortals, although there were no real discernable differences. I leaned in closer to see their faces, tracing them with my finger. I felt guilty doing that to such an old painting, but I did it anyway. I had to.

There were only a handful of these beings, unlike the red-marked-obviously-evil-humanoid-demon folk. The blue ones were scattered amongst the humans with their slight blue mark, glittering like stardust. Those are Martis. At the top of the cliff angels were suspended in air, surrounded by a scattering of Martis at the top of the cliff. They were all gathered around two central figures—a young couple.

Dark hair hung in long waves, and wisped quietly around her face for eternity. She was standing on a tiny stone step, above a guy. His feet were dangling. Their fingers were intertwined in the kind of grip that was about to slip away. He’d fall if she let go. He was handsome, with angular features, brown hair fluttering and obscuring his face. His eyes were looking down at the pit below. At first glance it looked like she was pulling him up, away from the pit. But after looking at it for a minute, I couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t pulling her down. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to help him, or drop him. But one thing was clear. The entire painting was poised around these two people.

Her long white gown flowed to her bare feet. Her toes were precariously perched on a single stone. One of her arms was reaching up toward Heaven, and the other was reaching down toward Hell, and her slipping grasp clutched the hand of the guy. Shock flooded me as I recognized the girl in the white gown. It can’t be. That’s not possible…

My heart hammered, as I reached for the painted couple. I felt my skin tingling with the feeling that something bad was about to happen. My thumb wiped across their faces, removing a thin layer of dust. Trembling, I clutched the frame with both hands. Staring. His mark matched the grotesque scarring of the red, evil human-demon things, but it was violet. And the girl… Her mark was a light trail of violet stardust, over her right brow swirled into a sideways S—exactly where mine was this morning.

“Holy crap!” Shannon’s voice startled me. The rest of her words were obscured by my shriek. Clutching my chest, I stumbled backwards, tripping over my feet, as my butt hit the floor. The impact felt like I was whacked on my back with a wooden board. I spread my arms out to catch me, before my head hit the floor. Apryl’s comb clattered to the floor, skidding to a stop at Shannon’s feet. There was dead silence, as her green eyes stared at my face, shocked. After a moment, she whispered, “Ivy, that’s you.”

I blinked hard staring at the painting, wishing it would change. Hoping it would look like someone else, even a little bit. But it didn’t. It was me, and him. Whoever he was.

Shannon looked down at me, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” I asked, rubbing my tailbone. I couldn’t tell her any of this stuff with Valefar and Martis. I couldn’t say I was attacked by demons last night, got plastered with a purple mark today, and saw myself in an ancient painting tonight. Yeah, sure. That sounds sane.

She looked at me, and buried her face in her hands. Her fingers clawed at her flesh for half a second, then she let go. She was a moderately patient person, but she couldn’t stand it when I hid things from her. “Your mark. Why didn’t you tell me you were marked?” She folded her legs, sitting down next to me.

My hand rose to my brow bone, as my eyes widened in alarm. I touched it softly. “How do you know?”

Shannon shook her head. Her elegant fingers reached out and picked up my comb. Her other hand produced a hand-mirror from a dusty pile. After wiping it on her jeans, she held out the mirror. Gazing at my reflection, I saw the violet swirls glittering exactly where they were that morning.


Still in shock, I pressed my fingers to it and rubbed. Shannon leaned back against a stack of boxes, and watched me before saying, “It won’t come off. This comb is celestial silver. It hides your mark, so no one else can see it.” She gently took the mess of curls covering my shocked face. She pulled them back, revealing all of my violet mark. When she threaded the comb through my hair the color dissipated, like a marker stain that was doused with bleach. Grabbing the mirror, I sat forward, and pulled the comb out. The mark reappeared, bright purple. I put the comb back, and it faded into oblivion again.

My eyes wildly sought hers, asking for answers. “Shannon, how… ?” was all I could manage to say.

“How do I know?” she asked softly. A soft smile covered her ruby red lips. She reached for her necklace, wrapped her fingers around the chain, and pulled. The chain snapped, as the necklace fell to the floor. The patch of skin over her right brow, the skin that had been perfect porcelain, held a glittery blue streak.

Stunned, I felt my jaw drop. “You’re a Martis?”

She nodded, “Oddly enough, yes. It was my 17th birthday present, too. I had no idea what was happening. All of a sudden, I couldn’t sleep well, and then hardly at all. Then, on my birthday, I woke up with this thing above my eye.” She pointed to her blue mark. “So,” she asked, “Who told you?”

A smile pulled at my lips. I couldn’t believe my good luck. My best friend was going to help me deal with this. “My lab partner,” I laughed, breaking the tension. “A Valefar stalked me, and attacked me. Eric saved me and brought me home. He told me what I am.”

“Eric,” Shannon snorted. “He probably gave you a history lesson. Let me fill in what he left out,” Shannon pulled her hair into a loose ponytail while she spoke, “Because I’m sure he left stuff out.

“Ivy, we aren’t normal anymore. We aren’t even mortal. The mark changes us. We aren’t human, but we aren’t angels—we’re somewhere in the middle. The angel’s power mixes with our blood and all of a sudden, you have more power than you ever thought possible. We can do things we never thought possible. We don’t need to sleep, we’re stronger than any human, we can run faster than any animal, and we can see in pitch-blackness without a single shred of light.

“Some Martis are ancient, but many are young like me and you.” Her green eyes shifted from mine. “We’ll live forever, if a Valefar doesn’t destroy us.” Her shoulders seemed stiff, like something was making her tense. I assumed it was the shock of finding out that I was marked, too.

“Are there more? More Martis—besides Eric?” I asked excitedly. Maybe this wasn’t as bad as I thought. Shannon hesitated. That should have been my cue that something changed between us, but I missed it.

“Yes, there are more. We each have a piece of celestial silver to mask our mark. The Valefar have something that masks theirs, as well. I don’t know what it is, but we know that unless they reveal themselves to us, we can’t be certain who they are. Hiding our marks is a matter of life or death.” Her eyes were unblinking. She stared as she held her hands tensely in her lap.

I wondered if I should tell her. Eric told me not to tell anyone, but she already saw it. Not seeing the harm, I answered, “Eric told me to hide it. Not to tell anyone.”

Her eyebrow arched, “He saw it? He saw it was purple and said nothing? He didn’t do anything?” She stared, looking slightly shocked, and waited for an answer.

Something changed, although I couldn’t figure out what. I hesitated, “It was blue that first night. He didn’t see it purple. I’d covered it with make-up by then. The mark changed color after I was attacked.” My mark changed color. Maybe that was what had her upset? Why it would matter?

She hesitated, fumbling the hem of her oversized sweater, staring at me with an odd expression. Her fingers reached for her silver necklace, and picked it up off the floor. The piece of metal disappeared into her fist. “Ya know,” she laughed, “I never thought it’d be you. Not in a million years.” She rose quickly, pacing the room, not looking at me.

My heart rate kicked up a notch. I jumped up and asked, “What do you mean, you didn’t think it’d be me? What aren’t you telling me?” My stomach twisted. How much worse can it get? I was already branded, and enlisted to fight in some battle I wanted no part of, but the look on Shannon’s face worried me. Something was wrong. Very wrong.

She stopped abruptly, pressing the silver deeply into her palm. “Ivy. There is a prophecy. It’s old.” Her eyes shifted to the painting, and then back to me, “It’s about you.”

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