Misery and Yuri race to find Nulli. Will they get there in time?
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?
- Misery Loves Company – Visitations
- Misery Loves Company – Confrontation
- Misery Loves Company – Lead the Way
- Misery Loves Company – Out of the Frying Pan
As always, thanks to Yuri Bellamy for collaborating with me on these posts!
Yuri listened in as Mesa gave the name of the town and started to give directions, but Misery stopped her. “I know where that is. I will get my uncle to teleport us there now.”
Yuri snorted. “And what makes you think he’ll go out of his way to do that for you?” He stood up from the stone steps and moved down them before turning back to Misery. “I vote for heading there in the car. Saves us the time it will take to find Efrayim and request his services. You coming?”
Misery hesitated and then said goodbye to Mesa before ending the call. He straightened and joined Yuri at the bottom of the steps. “Yes. I think you are right about my uncle. Driving there ourselves could potentially take the same amount of time as locating and haggling with him.”
Yuri was only half-listening. He was more focused on what Mesa had relayed about the magistrate. Why had the man “quickly ended the call” after Mesa confirmed she knew a woman matching Nulli’s description? Had he called Mesa to potentially help reunite Nulli with Misery, or did he have some other motivation?
Realizing he had more questions than answers at the moment, he quickened his pace as he strode around the mansion to toward Misery’s town car. Something wasn’t right about this situation. He could feel it.
He let Misery drive to the town of the magistrate. His friend obviously knew the area better than he did, and Yuri was too focused on getting to Nulli to concern himself with arguing over who would drive anyway. If this magistrate fucker was up to no good—or at least unhelpful—Nulli was going to need his and Misery’s help as soon as possible.
As they drove, though, he found himself looking out the window for signs of Nulli even though he guessed a smart girl like her would have stayed off the road until she’d found civilization. He was fully aware the rain had washed away any chance of identifying her path of travel, but he couldn’t stop himself. He just wanted to see some sign she was okay.
Yet she wasn’t. He knew she wasn’t—because he wouldn’t believe her to be safe and sound until he saw her with his own two eyes.
Nor could he forgive Efrayim for the part he’d played in causing Nulli to escape and go on the run. Because of that dipshit, Nulli had probably seen no other choice but to plot her getaway and take off into the wilds of hell. She might hate all demons now, and want nothing to do with him and Misery once they got her back, but he’d be damned if he left her in danger.
The thought made him grit his teeth and clench his hands in his lap. He stared down at his tightly curled fingers, flexing them until the tension in his arms and wrists seemed to ease a fraction. But the knot in his stomach wouldn’t go away, and neither would the cloud of dread and anger enshrouding his thoughts.
Please don’t let her hate us. I don’t care if she hates that fuck Efrayim, but don’t let her hate us.
The thought felt selfish somehow, but he meant every word. He didn’t want her to hate them for the actions of another of their race. At the very least, he wanted to have the chance to apologize—not for Efrayim’s actions, because he had no control over those, but for not getting to her sooner. For not preventing the outcome of her having to escape and winding up in some random town in hell.
Misery spoke for the first time in what felt like hours but in reality had to be less than five minutes of car travel. In the near distance, Yuri could see a small gathering of buildings through a break in the trees closely surrounding the road. “I am praying to God she is there. Are you? You have that look about you. A grim look.”
Yuri didn’t believe in God, and he didn’t think Misery did either. Still, the thought of his usually capable, take-charge friend praying to anyone seemed so outrageous it made his mouth turn up a little. “Something like that.” He didn’t know what he’d do if the magistrate told them Nulli had been there but taken off. He was already stressed enough as it was.
He remained silent until Misery entered the town and parked near a slightly run-down but freshly painted building with a wooden sign hanging outside the door. The sign read, “Magistrate’s Office.” Yuri managed to get out of the car first and run to the door.
A tall, thin man dressed in a fairly well-kept two-piece suit bowed to Yuri at the door. His gaze registered surprise when he looked Yuri in the face, probably because of his obviously demon-only eye color. “Do you have an appointment with the magistrate, sir?” His voice quaked slightly as he spoke – a sure sign he didn’t have demons stop in everyday.
Yuri ignored him as he moved into a small waiting area, far too focused on another male voice.
“I didn’t intend for this to happen. I don’t think you should hold her up for ransom.”
What the fuck? Ransom? Yuri decided he wasn’t going to wait around to hear more – Nulli might need him now. He strode to the door of the room where the voice seemed to be coming from and yanked it open. “What the fuck is happening here? What are you doing to her?”
“Yuri?” Nulli stared at him as if he wasn’t real. She stood motionless for a moment before she rushed toward him. “It’s really you!” She threw herself into him. The softness of her hair rubbed the underside of his chin as she pressed her body close.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” A man behind a wooden desk glared at him a moment before his face paled. He cleared his throat and smoothed his hand down the front of his shirt before he spoke. “I am prepared to discuss my fee for finding this woman.”
“Your fee?” Misery jogged up behind Yuri and sidled past him and Nulli to get into the room. He stopped short of the desk and its occupant, sparing a glance at a more simply dressed man standing near the door before returning his gaze to the portly man behind the desk. “That is rather presumptuous of you, Jerome. Were you truly the one who found her?”
The human sputtered as his face flushed a red deep enough to be mistaken for a sunburn. “L-Lord Misery. I was only–”
“Misery?” Nulli pulled away and stared at Misery’s back. Yuri immediately missed her warmth, her scent. He wanted to pull her back into his arms so badly it hurt as she said, “You came too?”
Yuri didn’t know what to feel as Nulli moved to hug Misery, but there was no jealousy in him. He was too elated to care. They’d found her, and she hadn’t been harmed. Nothing else mattered…even if they did still have to deal with the man behind the desk, whom he assumed was the magistrate.
“Of course I came.” Misery bent to kiss Nulli’s cheek with his hands in her hair. “I would have come for you sooner, if I’d known where you were. Yuri and I were just at Efrayim’s.” He looked back at Jerome. “You have not answered my question. Were you the one who found her?”
“No, she uh, sort of found me.” The other human ran his hand through the back of his hair. “I gave her a meal and brought her here when she claimed to know you.”
Nulli stepped back and turned to face the man. “His name is Stephen. He’s telling the truth.” She paused and looked between Yuri and Misery. “Can we leave now? I just want to go home.”
Yuri grasped her hand and looked into her eyes. “Yes, we can leave.” He glanced at Misery. “I’m going to suggest you give Stephen something as a token of thanks. I’m taking her to the car.”
The magistrate sat forward in his chair. “Him? What about me? I’m the one who called!”
Yuri balled his free hand into a fist and glared at Jerome. “I heard what Stephen said before I came in. You were going to hold her for ransom, weren’t you?”
“Yuri…” Nulli placed her warm hand on his cheek before applying gentle pressure. When he turned to face her, she spoke. “It doesn’t matter now. Let’s just go. We don’t owe him anything. Misery, please. I’d really like to leave. Are you coming?”
Misery hesitated, still looking at Jerome. “In a minute.” He took out his wallet and stopped in front of Stephen. “I would like to compensate you for your good deed, but all I have to give you is money. Will you accept a sum as a token of my thanks?”
Stephen shook his head and lifted his hands. “No thank you, Lord Misery. She was telling the truth. I’m glad you were reunited. I’ll head back to work.” He peered around Misery and nodded at Nulli. “It was nice to meet you.”
Nulli offered a small smile and a wave. “Thank you, Stephen. Take care.”
Yuri led Nulli to the car and got in the back with her while Misery sat in the driver’s seat. He made sure she was buckled in and touched her hand. “I am so sorry we couldn’t get to you while you were still at Efrayim’s. We tried. Misery even bargained with him to let you go, but by then you were already gone.”
“I’m just glad you came. Both of you. I wasn’t sure you would after the way we left things.” Nulli glanced out the window before closing her eyes. “Finding me means more than you realize.” She gave Yuri’s hand a squeeze before resting the opposite on Misery’s shoulder. “Thank you.”
Yuri’s chest tightened at her remark, and it became painful to breathe. Had she really doubted they’d come for her? Was he interpreting her words correctly? He kept his hand in hers as he said, “No thanks needed. I–we care about you. We could never have left you with Misery’s nutjob uncle. Not and still call ourselves men.”
She turned back to him, almost boring into him with her gaze. “Care? If this is what you do for someone you care for, I’m afraid to imagine what you’d do for someone you loved.”
Misery stared back at them through the rear view mirror. “Is it so implausible, Nulli? Yuri was willing to risk his life to find you, as was I. Do you doubt that our feelings can run so deep?”
Nulli moved her gaze between Misery’s reflection and Yuri’s eyes. A slow inhalation prefaced her words. “I hadn’t thought about it that way. With all that was said the last time we saw each other, I guess I thought those feelings would have diminished.”
Misery nodded, and refocused on the windshield and the road beyond. “I understand … but I hope you will find some peace in knowing they haven’t.” He cleared his throat. “It will take about five hours to get you home from here, since I do not want to seek Efrayim’s help to teleport us. I have to drive you to a portal to the human world, and I only know where the one closest to my home is. Are you all right with that?”
“That’s fine. Riding in a car with the two of you beats being stuck in that dungeon by a lot.” Nulli rubbed her temples with the thumb and index finger of her right hand. “This will be the first time I don’t have to watch my back since I got here. If I fall asleep, it’s not the company, I promise.”
Yuri laughed, and the tension in his chest eased. “I’m going to take that as a compliment – and feel free to fall asleep. We’ll keep you safe. I swear it.”
Over the next fifteen minutes, Nulli drifted off with her head resting on Yuri’s shoulder. When he was sure she was asleep, he spoke to Misery in a low whisper so as not to disturb her. “What happens now?”
“What are you referring to?”
“With this. With us. With Nulli and I and you. I can’t walk away from this. I-I think I’m falling in love with her.” Yuri was startled to realize these words felt true, but not by much. He’d already known he was head over heels for her.
Misery was silent for a moment, staring out at the road. “We keep in touch with her as she permits it. It is all we can do for now, especially after what Efrayim did to her. I am not sure what I feel for her is love, but I believe I am as emotionally invested in her as you – and, I think she needs us both. We should continue to support her together.”
“Support her together?” Yuri took a deep, steadying breath as he tried to keep his voice low and calm. “Through her recovery from being kidnapped by your uncle, maybe, but I love her. I have to tell her and you need figure out just what your actual feelings are. You won’t call it love, then what is it?”