Welcome back to the next installment! Last week, I was going toe to toe with a demon. What’s happening now?
New to the Misery series? Let’s get you all caught up.
- A Demon Lord is Here and He Wants to Interview Me
- Nulli On My Mind – Misery, the Demon Lord Returns
- Misery Sends for Nulli
- Misery Loves Company – Nulli Pays a Visit
- Misery Loves Company – Nulli Pays a Visit Part 2
- Misery and Yuri Have a Chat
- Misery Loves Company: Surprises All Around
- Misery Loves Company: Date Night
- Misery Loves Company – Date Night Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Yuri Raises the Bar
- Misery Loves Company – Yuri Raises the Bar Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Change of Plans
- Misery Loves Company – Change of Plans Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Search and Destroy
- Misery Loves Company – Where’s Nulli?
As always, thanks to Yuri Bellamy for collaborating with me on these posts!
Things to remember when fighting demons:
- They’re faster than you think.
- They’re stronger than you think.
- They think humans are weak and insignificant.
- Kicking them in the throat is an effective way to get their attention.
As I continued taking my mental inventory on ways to take out the speedy brute in front of me, I tried to stay one step ahead. This demon relied on his strength. He was massive and although his ability to accelerate was impressive, he lacked something martial artists, sword fighters, and boxers had in abundance. Finesse.
I let him come at me, reading the darkness in his eyes for what it was. Arousal? Not a chance. He was furious. He swung a fist that was nearly the size of my face. I evaded at the last minute, and kicked him in the back of one knee as I jumped away from his follow up backhand. He stumbled, so I helped him to the floor with a kick to the opposite leg and a leg sweep.
“Damn it, human! Why won’t you stay still?” His growls bounced off the bare walls, even louder than before. He got to his feet and charged again.
I readied myself, studying his body language and thanking my biking classes for training my quick twitch muscle response.
He pulled his left arm back, fully committing to another punch. I couldn’t dodge too quickly, his speed would allow him to compensate. The fractions of a second spent waiting were like an eternity, but I’d have to bide that time and react at the right moment.
A light buzzing sliced through the silence and stopped the demon in his tracks. He nearly blurred to the entrance to the room. He had the door open and closed before I could make it halfway across the space, cutting me off from freedom yet again.
“How can I serve you, master?” The demon’s voice lightened. Gone was the thick annoyance of his earlier tone. In its place was an infusion of reverence and supplication. “I am outside the prisoner’s room.” He paused, as if waiting for the other person to finish. “Yes, master, I understand.”
I could see him through the bars in the door. When he ended the call, he met my gaze, eyes still black. “We will finish this soon, little girl.” The bite had returned to his voice, but he didn’t linger. After one long glance, he was gone.
“How long will I have to keep this up?”
Misery slowed his town car as he and Yuri, who sat in the passenger seat, approached the gleaming metal gates barring the road to his uncle’s mansion. Efrayim hadn’t been returning his calls, and he’d decided to take a more direct approach to getting his estranged relative to tell him where Nulli was. He was also sure the bastard had Nulli stored somewhere inside–and most likely in one of the prison cells below his mansion. The duke was nothing if not predictable.
Armed guards stood near the closed gates. One of them motioned for him to stop and walked to the driver’s side window.
Sighing, Misery rolled the window down. He never liked interacting with Efrayim’s guards, mostly because they knew who he was and, as far as he could tell, had full permission to be snippy with him if they felt like it. “Let me in. I’m here to see my uncle.”
The guard bent to better look at Misery through the window. His deep brown, almost red eyes narrowed inside his long, pale face and his tone came out flat. “We haven’t been informed you were visiting today, my lord.”
The guard’s tone set Misery’s teeth on edge, but he managed to keep his voice level when he replied. “I don’t need to announce that I’m going to visit my uncle. Now let me in.”
The demon hesitated. “I’ll have to call the mansion and let the duke know you’re here before I can do that.”
Yuri let out a low snarl and leaned over Misery to glare at the guard. “No, you don’t. Just let us in and tell the mansion staff some visitors are here to see Duke Efrayim.”
The guard moved back from the window as if concerned Yuri might lunge further toward him, and shook his head. “I have to give the mansion staff your names. What is yours?”
Yuri growled in apparent frustration and settled back in his seat. “Yuri.”
The guard pulled out his cell phone and pressed a few buttons.
“Lord Misery and Yuri, who has not given me his last name, are here to see the duke. Ask him if he would like to hold an audience with them.”
“We’ll see him whether he wants to see us or not–” Yuri began, but Misery held up a hand, watching the guard.
The guard harrumphed and turned away as he waited several long seconds with his phone pressed to his ear.
A cold but still youthful male voice Misery didn’t recognize spoke after a moment or two. He assumed it belonged to a mansion staff member. “Duke Efrayim will see his nephew and the twit–his words, not mine. He has been expecting them.”
Twit?” Yuri muttered in an enraged sotto voce, his eyes swarming with darkness. “I’ll show him a twit!”
Misery ignored him. It didn’t surprise him in the least that Efrayim was expecting them. He’d anticipated nothing less, although he hadn’t been sure if his uncle would agree to see them straight off the bat or not.
The guard spoke into his phone a final time before ending the call. “Thank you.” He looked at Misery and then Yuri, his expression tight from what Misery assumed was dislike for one reason or another; his uncle could have given his guards any number of reasons to dislike Misery. “I’ll open the gates now.”
The guard moved to a control panel on the side of the gates. They slid open a second later and Misery guided his town car through them and then up the even, freshly paved road leading to a mansion twice the size of his own.
As he drove, he thought, and as he thought, he grew angrier and angrier, his hands tightly gripping the wheel. The thought of Nulli being held against her will in Efrayim’s mansion made his head ache and his teeth grit. He wouldn’t blame her if she wanted nothing to do with him after this. Hell, he’d recommend she stay away from him from here on.
Still, he couldn’t think about that now. He had to keep himself focused on finding Nulli and securing her safety before anything else.
Misery parked a few dozen yards from the mansion entrance in a courtyard which served as a parking lot for guests. An exceptionally attractive demon wearing nothing but green harem pants and a small white silk vest met him and Yuri at the massive front door. Like all of the demons Misery had ever seen in his uncle’s employ, the demon was male.
The demon bowed to Misery and led him and Yuri inside an entrance parlor shaped like an octagon. The floor was made of a black, highly reflective stone.
The demon, who Misery assumed was one of the higher ranked staff members based on the way he carried himself, gestured at a set of black, silk-lined couches near a large pair of white stone doors. “Wait here, please.” He waited until Misery and Yuri sat down before disappearing through a different, much smaller pair of doors off to one side of the octagon-shaped room.
Yuri got up and started pacing. “She’d better be here.” He stopped and looked at Misery, his eyes full of uncharacteristic fear. “Do you think he’s tortured her?”
Misery knew Yuri was thinking of Efrayim’s rumored interest in torturing anyone who crossed him. “No, he hasn’t tortured any women since he was married.” That I know of. He stared down his hands clenched in his lap. They were shaking. He was bristling with his need to find Nulli and ensure she was alive. “He wouldn’t dare torture her and hope to keep decent relations with me. And if he’s killed her, we will be enemies.” He spoke the last words loudly and in barely contained tones, to ensure the sensitive electronic bugs placed on all the pillars in the room would carry over the sound. If his uncle was listening, Misery wanted to be damned sure the lunatic knew what would happen if he harmed one hair on Nulli’s head.
Yuri looked at him questioningly. The servant wearing the white vest and green pants emerged from the small doors off to the side of the room before Misery could figure out how to convey why he was talking so loudly without saying it. The demon in the white vest stopped short of them and bowed, his blonde locks briefly dangling in front of his face before returning to their previous positions once he was standing. “Duke Efrayim will see you in his sitting room. I will take you there. However,” and here he focused on Yuri, “Duke Efrayim would prefer to see his nephew only. He says a twit has no place meeting him.”
Yuri’s expression darkened. He took several steps toward the slighter demon before Misery gripped his arm. “Don’t,” he muttered in sotto voce. “Efrayim needs no reason to notice you more than he already has.” To the servant, he said, “I’m bringing him. Frankly, I would not leave a dog alone in this mansion, let alone a man. Safety is an illusion here.”
The servant smiled and smoothed back a lock of his hair. “I am not sure what you mean.”
“Then you are either an idiot or a liar. Now take me to Efrayim or I’ll do your job for you and lead the way.”
The servant bobbed his head and stepped back quickly, putting another foot of distance between him and Misery before turning toward the small set of doors he’d emerged from a moment ago. “Right this way, my lord.”
Misery and Yuri followed the servant to a spacious room with a glass ceiling and a large table as well as a couch inside it. Efrayim was sitting at the head of the table in a black silk-covered chair much larger than any of the others surrounding the table. His bodyguard sat next to him.
Efrayim made a noise of disgust when he saw Misery and Yuri. “By bringing that twit here, you insult me.” He pointed to the servant. “Take the fool out of this room and bind his hands. Taze him if he tries to attack you. He has no place here. This will be a private conversation between an uncle and his nephew.” He looked at Misery. “That is, unless you want your human slut killed.”
Yuri made a gutteral noise in his throat and seemed about to break protocol around a duke and speak, but Misery clamped a hand over his friend’s mouth. The last thing he needed was Yuri getting himself executed for an easily preventable offense. He glared at his uncle, whose lips twisted in apparent amusement at the sight of Misery covering his friend’s mouth. “Yuri can wait outside with what I assume is your sex toy-slash-servant, but do not ever call my Nulli a slut again. If you do, I’ll tell all of the other dukes you killed your wife.”