Misery and Yuri have found Nulli. What happens next?
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
- Misery Loves Company – Crossroads
As always, thanks to Yuri Bellamy for collaborating with me on these posts!
You won’t call it love, then what is it?
Yuri’s words stymied Misery as he stared out at the road, gripping the wheel of his town car hard enough to hurt. How could he tell his friend he was afraid to love again? He’d known he loved her as early as the moment he’d realized Efrayim had abducted her, but admitting that now seemed forbidden and unwise, as if God himself would strike her down if he did so. After all, everyone he loved was dead: His mother, his brother, and Efrayim’s wife. He’d give anything to avoid having Nulli meet the same fate, even if that meant keeping the truth to himself.
He glanced at Yuri using the rearview mirror. The sight of Nulli sleeping with her head nestled against his friend’s shoulder made him ache. He’d have given anything to be in the other demon’s place in that instant. “It does not matter what it is or what you call it as long as the feeling is strong. I want to care for her, protect her, and I will be by her side if she will have me.”
Misery wished he felt as confident as he sounded. He had no idea what Nulli’s response would be if Yuri confessed his love to her, but he was fairly sure she was monogamous. It was entirely possible she could eventually or not so eventually choose Yuri over him and they both knew it. It was only a matter of time.
When he looked in the rearview mirror again, Yuri was watching him steadily. “Do you really mean that?” he asked.
Yuri was silent for a minute. “I think you do love her. You just don’t want to admit it for some reason. Still, if you won’t tell her, I will. For both of us.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“I want her to stay with us both as much as you do. I mean, maybe I’m being selfish here, but I can’t imagine being with her without you. It wouldn’t feel right, knowing how much you’d hurt if that were the result.”
“I feel the same.” As soon as he spoke the words, he knew them to be true. He couldn’t court Nulli while knowing Yuri loved her. He was better than that, ethically speaking, and his friend was too.
It was either double or nothing, it seemed. Nulli would either stay with them both, or lose the two men for good, eventually, due to how their relationship had evolved in the time they’d known each other.
Nulli slept through the rest of the journey to her home in the living world, which was just fine with him. He wasn’t sure what to say to her after what Yuri had shared, and he needed time to collect his thoughts. He and Yuri both stayed silent until Misery pulled into Nulli’s driveway.
He parked his town car and turned in his seat to watch Yuri brush his lips over the top of Nulli’s head and shift her off his shoulder. She startled awake and yawned cutely, reminding him of a lanky kitten.
“We’re here? I slept the whole way?” Her gaze drifted between Yuri, him, and the car window.
Misery smiled at her, feeling some of the tension he’d carried with him throughout the drive ease. “Yes. We are at your home. Would you like us to come inside?” Misery was thinking of the mess inside the bedroom where Efrayim and his bodyguard had abducted Nulli. He didn’t want her to face seeing that reminder of her time of captivity alone.
At her nod, he exited his car and held the door open for her. When she slid over, he offered his hand. The delicate softness of her palm in his was familiar, soothing. He cherished the contact as he curled his fingers against her and helped her out of the car. Yuri took up position at her opposite side and offered his arm. She slid her hand into the bend of his elbow and they walked together to the front door.
Nulli tensed as she pushed the door open. She scanned the living room before walking inside with waves of wariness pulsing from her rigid frame. “How do I stop them from breaking in again?”
Misery hesitated. He’d known she’d ask that question eventually, but also knew she wouldn’t like his answer. “You cannot, since my uncle can teleport anywhere he likes. But there are precautions we can take to prevent the worst from happening if my uncle decides to come for you again. For example, I can show you where the nearest portal to hell is. If you ever feel something’s different about your home, or that someone might be inside, don’t go in. Once you get to the portal, call me, and you can stay at my mansion until the situation’s resolved.”
“Or call me,” Yuri put in, “and whoever answers first can come and get you. The important thing is to not engage an intruder if you think one’s in the house and you have any way of avoiding a confrontation. I know you can defend yourself, but I’d rather you be safe than sorry.”
Nulli closed her eyes for a moment and exhaled. “This is insane. Demons can show up at my house whenever they want.” She looked between the two of them and rubbed her eyebrows. “No offense.”
“None taken.” Misery gripped her shoulders and brought her closer to him. “Listen to me, Nulli. My uncle is unlikely to kidnap you again unless he comes with a new reason. He and I came to an understanding of sorts while I was bartering for your release.”
“An understanding?” A small wrinkle formed in her forehead as she stared up at him.
Yuri gestured toward the kitchen before Misery could reply. “Maybe we should get some food in you before we talk about what happened with Efrayim. You’re probably hungry after that long drive.”
Nulli shook her head and stepped out of Misery’s hold. “I think I want to take a hot shower and get out of these clothes first. I’ll make it quick. If you’ll wait for me, we can finish talking afterward.”
“All right. We’ll wait.” Misery glanced at Yuri, who nodded. Both men turned to watch Nulli exit the living room and walk upstairs.
A moment later, he heard a faint but exasperated sigh, and remembered the mess in Nulli’s bedroom. He walked to the bottom of the stairs and raised his voice slightly. “Do you need help with anything?”
Nulli called out in a tone brimming with frustration. “No. Remind me to punch that bodyguard though.”
Yuri strolled to stand beside Misery and called up the stairs, “You won’t have to. Misery pretty much killed him already.”
“Really?” She sounded surprised. “Okay.”
Misery listened to her footsteps as she moved around the room, and then onto a tiled floor where the static hum of the shower soon started.
He looked at Yuri in an attempt to distract himself from the fact Nulli was most likely naked on the floor above them. “Do you still plan to tell her you love her? I’m assuming you’ll do it tonight.”
Yuri paced away from Misery, toward the couch and the state of the art entertainment system beyond it. “Yes. I want to tell her as soon as possible, so she’ll understand why I’m so invested in protecting her. Maybe that’s selfish of me. I don’t want to add to her stress, but–”
“I don’t think it’s selfish.”
Misery’s voice came out gruffer than he intended, perhaps because he felt a surge of conflicting emotions as he processed Yuri’s words. More to the point, he envied him. If all the women he’d loved hadn’t died, maybe he could admit he loved her too. “I understand why you want to tell her tonight. If I were you, I’d do the same.”
Yuri stopped pacing and looked at him. “Why won’t you?”
“I said, if I were you.”
He moved to the couch and sat down, looking at the darkened TV without really focusing on it. How could he explain to his friend he feared confessing his love would eventually lead to tragedy where Nulli was concerned? It sounded ridiculous, but he couldn’t take that chance.
Still, he couldn’t lose Nulli either. How was he going to handle this? If Yuri told her he loved her, and he didn’t, what then?
Yuri sat down next to him. “I think you’re being an idiot. I know you love her. What are you afraid of? Don’t try to lie to me either. We’ve known each other too long.”
Damn it. Yuri had him pegged. And he couldn’t lie to Yuri–not now, when they were both involved with the same woman.
The question was, how much should he tell him? He took a steadying breath and tried to relax his hands, which had clenched themselves on his lap. “Every woman I’ve ever loved has died. My mother. Elisbeth. I will do anything in my power to prevent the same from happening to Nulli.”
“Even avoid telling her you love her?” Yuri was quiet for a moment. “I’m sorry, Misery, but that doesn’t make sense. People don’t die just because you said you loved them. You want me to be honest while you keep your feelings hidden , but she needs to know how both of us feel. We owe her that much after what she’s been through.”
What she’s been through because of me. “I agree with you, but–” –if she dies, it will destroy me– “I would like to see how she takes your declaration of love before adding mine.”
Yuri scoffed. “Now you’re just being a coward.” He stood as the sound of running water stopped overhead, and glanced at Misery. “I hope you tell her…or tonight may not end well for either of us.”
Misery’s ire rose when he heard the word “coward,” but he said nothing, mostly because he recognized Yuri was correct. He had no reason to wait and see how Nulli reacted to his friend telling her he loved her except to delay doing so himself. Moreover, he could lose her if he didn’t declare his love now. He was out of options.
He straightened and turned as Nulli came down the stairs and entered the living room a few minutes later. She wore tight black sweat pants and a red tank top. Her wet hair hung loosely over her shoulders in thousands of tiny curls.
“Feels like I’m interrupting something. Is everything okay down here?” She moved into the living room and sat on the couch between them, eyeing them both in turn.
Misery sat back down in spite of the doubts still plaguing him about telling her he loved her. Yuri immediately seated himself on Nulli’s other side.
Yuri took her hand. “Yes, we’re fine. I know you had questions about what we got up to with Efrayim, but I’d like to talk to you about something first. Something important.”
Her gaze snapped to Yuri’s. Her demeanor seemed calm, but her voice oozed confusion. “Okaaay? What is it?”
Misery barely heard her. He was too absorbed in her scent, the smell of clean, feminine flesh and lightly scented shampoo. Just having her hip pressed against his gave him an erection and the strong urge to take her in his arms. He could see her in his bed with him and Yuri at that moment, as well as living with them. He couldn’t imagine not having her in his life.
“I…I love you.”
Yuri’s eyebrows shot up. Nulli gasped. Both of them turned to look at him. Too late, he realized he’d interrupted his friend from answering Nulli’s question. He met Nulli’s wide, chocolate-colored eyes and took the hand Yuri wasn’t holding, in his. “I wanted to tell you I love you, but I apologize. I should not have interrupted.”