“Would you look at this place? Equal parts lust and desperation. It’s fantastic.”
Eden grimaced. She’d been trying to pay as little attention to Darrak as possible, but it wasn’t easy. The demon was very hard to ignore.
“It’s a singles’ club,” she replied. “What did you expect?”
“This, of course. But it’s even better than I thought it would be.”
“You have a strange sense of what better is.”
A tall man holding a bottle of Corona tapped Eden on her shoulder. When she turned to look at him he leered approvingly at her. “Who are you talking to, sexy lady?”
She cleared her throat. “Nobody. Just talking to myself. I do that frequently now that I’ve stopped taking my medication.”
“Uh . . . okay.” He slowly backed away from her and went to hit on someone else. Someone sane.
Darrak snorted. “Busted.”
She felt her face redden. She had to remember that no one but her could see or hear Darrak at the moment. He was her demon. Her inner demon. After all, Eden Riley was the current cover girl for demonic possession.
This time she spoke under her breath so no one would hear. “I thought you said you were going to keep quiet once we got in here?”
“I lied. Besides, you need me to coach you through this, don’t you? I thought you said you’re a bit out of your element.”
He was right about that.
“Okay, so coach me. Now what should I do?”
“Walk over to the bar, order a drink, and scan the room. I know he’s around here somewhere. I just have to spot him.”
“You still haven’t told me how you found this guy. How were you able to contact anyone in your, uh, current condition?”
“I have my ways.”
Well, that was cryptic. But instead of grilling him about it, Eden walked across the floor of the dark nightclub, Luxuria. It was very upscale, with gleaming black floors and indigo interior. A cascade of pretty sparkling light moved slowly across the hundreds of faces and bodies in attendance. But the lust and desperation Darrak mentioned seemed to permeate the entire building, giving it a distinctly unpleasant ambiance Eden was able to pick up with her subtle sixth sense.
As she walked, she tried not to twist her ankle in the four-inch stiletto heels Darrak strongly suggested she wear tonight. Her legs felt cold in her short skirt. She normally didn’t like to show off so much skin, especially this late in October. However, a quick scan of the club made her feel that she was practically in casual wear compared to the other women-on-the-prowl. They, however, didn’t share her inner accessory.
No one could see the demon, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t very much there, currently sharing her scantily clad body.
Why wasn’t Eden freaking out over the fact that she was possessed by a demon? She had. Many times. She’d since realized that no matter how much freaking out she did, it didn’t do much to change the situation.
Three hundred years ago, Darrak had barely survived a witch’s death curse. It had destroyed his physical form, leaving only his essence behind. He’d existed for three centuries unseen and mostly unheard by the hosts he’d been forced to possess.
That is, until he’d possessed Eden.
For some reason—and it was probably because she was a little bit psychic and had been for as long as she could remember—he was able to feed off of her energy to communicate with her at night in her head and take physical form during daylight hours.
Until they found a way to break his curse and return him to full power so he could reform a permanent body, they were stuck like this. And screaming about it wasn’t going to do anything except make her throat hurt.
There was someone in this club tonight who could help them. A specialist in the affairs of Others—aka the “otherworldly”—who would know where they’d need to go for curse removal. Whether this person was human or not was something the demon hadn’t yet shared with her.
Demons, witches, fairies, and werewolves, Eden thought as she scanned the crowd of seemingly normal mingling singles. Welcome to my new life. I definitely need a drink.
The bartender eyed her when she slid onto a tall stool. “What’s your pleasure?”
“Uh . . . I’ll have a white wine. Thanks.”
“That’s so boring,” Darrak commented internally. “A white wine? Could you order a more generic drink?”
She cleared her throat and tried to keep the smile fixed on her face.
“Sure thing,” the bartender said, quickly uncapping a bottle of house white and pouring her a glass.
“Let me guess. You’re not a fancy cocktail kind of girl,” Darrak continued, even though she wished he’d just shut up for a moment. The demon hadn’t had much conversation in three centuries so now he was a regular chat factory. It was a good thing he had such a nice voice—deep, warm, and usually filled with wry amusement at the human world he witnessed through Eden’s eyes.
“Not particularly,” she replied, dryly, when the bartender moved further down the bar and out of earshot. “The little paper umbrellas can be so intimidating.”
“It’s all fun and games till someone pokes their eye out. So you’ve found something you like, and you stick with it.”
“Makes things very simple.”
“But how will you ever know if there’s a drink out there that might be the best thing you’ve ever tasted?”
She shrugged a shoulder. “I’m perfectly content with my white wine.”
“Content,” he repeated, and the one word sounded like a pronouncement on Eden’s boring life. At least, up until she got possessed. Things now were difficult, awkward, and frequently dangerous, but they couldn’t exactly be described as boring. Too bad, really.
There was a wall-length mirror behind the bar that allowed her to see both herself and the club behind her. Her gaze didn’t go to her long, bone-straight auburn hair, green eyes lined with smoky liner, or plunging neckline that showed off too much cleavage to be considered remotely modest, but instead to the necklace she wore. The pendant was light gray with darker veins running through it. It looked like a two-inch oval piece of polished marble. She absently ran her fingertips over its cool surface.
“Don’t worry.” The previous amused and mocking edge to Darrak’s voice was gone and replaced by a serious tone. “It’s still practically white.”
She tried to smile at her reflection. “You’re a very good liar, you know that?”
“I have been told that once or twice before.”
The amulet showed how damaged her soul was after having recently come into some . . . powers. Dark powers. She was now officially a “black witch”—a woman who had black magic at her fingertips to use whenever she wanted.
Using this kind of magic destroyed a soul piece by piece, little by little, eating away at one’s ability to tell good from evil. The best solution—the only solution—was not to use the magic at all. Eden had used it just once and her soul was damaged from it. Just a shade darker, but it would never be completely pure again.
Eden could feel it now, only a short mental reach away—a bottomless ocean of power that itched to be used. It was like doing heroin. She’d heard that you became an immediate junkie the first time you did that drug.
Ditto black magic.
She hadn’t told Darrak about this constant urge she now had to dip into the dark well of power. He was adamant that she never use it again, no matter what—it was too dangerous for her. He felt a great deal of guilt about her current gray-stoned predicament, which was understandable. After all, it was his fault she was now officially a black witch.
Having sex with the demon had—hocus-pocus—accidentally turned her into one.
She chewed her bottom lip and tasted her red lip-gloss as the memory slid through her mind of what had happened between them.
Well . . . Darrak did have solid form during the day. And that form was a mighty fine one.
What could she say? It had happened. Once.
But it could never happen again. Ever. Not unless she wanted to put more of her soul at risk. And she didn’t. She was very fond of her soul, even in its current, slightly dingy state.
“Do you see him yet?” she asked, taking her mind off other hazardous subjects. She turned away from her reflection to look at the faces in the crowd, slowing scanning the width of the room.
“Not yet. This place is packed. I think every desperate single person in the city is here tonight.”
Eden took a shaky sip of her wine. It tasted bland and, to be honest, a bit boring. Not that she’d ever admit it.
“I don’t believe it,” a voice said to her left. “Eden Riley. Long time no see.”
She turned, and her eyes widened with surprise. “You’re kidding me. Graham . . . Graham Davis?”
The attractive dark-haired man grinned at her. “You remember me.”
A matching smile blossomed on her face. “High school was only, oh, a dozen years ago.”
“Seems like two dozen sometimes.”
Darrak sighed internally. “Eden, you need to keep your attention on the room so I ...