Markis gave no thought to himself, and bolted from his room down to his father’s.
He kept the door closed but never locked it, in case he had to get to Markis, or Markis had to get to him.
Markis dreaded the latter circumstance, but it was here now.
There were no lights on; his father slept in total darkness, and Markis knew he would be at a disadvantage if she attacked.
Cautious, straining to listen, he cracked it just a little, and gave his vision time to adjust to all the familiar shapes of furniture the room contained.
Nothing seemed amiss; nothing was disturbed.
He allowed himself a brief smile of relief, but she’d been sitting in his father’s reading chair, watching him.
Her eyes flashed that serpentine yellow again, and Markis found an edge of anger fueling his fright.He opened the door all the way, opening himself first if she were of a mind to do anything, if she hadn’t already…
“Come in, Markis. We’ll chat awhile.”
He understood the threat under the pleasantry, and Markis closed the door behind him, still in the dark.
“Won’t hear us. He’s asleep, and I haven’t hurt him. Cross my…well, he’s asleep. I won’t hurt you either, sweetheart. Come. ”
Soft light flared from her, and suffused the room, and she beckoned him.
He was wary, but glad he could at least see her now.
“What do you want from me?”
“It’s not a small thing. Since you saw me, us, do what we did, I’m obligated to ‘request’ that you keep silent.”
“Who would I tell? He disappeared, along with whoever was helping you set him up.”
“True, but the people I work for have reason to take more precautions these days, and they’re not the type to trust promises. In addition to your silence, I have to ask for your assistance.”
He barked a laugh. “Why would I help you?”
She looked pointedly at the sleeping figure, snoring softly under his comforter, at peace in spite of his pain, then back at Markis.
“Don’t threaten him!”
“Calm down, Markis. The threat isn’t coming from me.”
He calmed, but it took a moment.
“What do you need me to do?”
She got up, came toward him, strong, supple body beneath her clothes, the air around her engulfing him, heady with a scent he couldn’t identify, and something in her eyes that locked him in tight.
Her hand on his chest was warm, but sent shivers through him.
Her other hand on his stomach as she lifted his shirt warmed him elsewhere.
Slipping behind him, she raked her nails lightly, and steam rose from his flesh, but he wasn’t burning.
Her lips brushed his earlobe, her voice husky with her own desire.
“I don’t know yet, darling, but I know where we can start.”
It seemed to him he melted to the floor as she pressed him down, and time was no longer of the essence.
He woke in a dimly lit room, a storage room of some kind, full of cases and casks, and he realized he was in the bar across the street from his place, underground. He’d come down here with his dad sometime when the owner would ask him to help with a restock before the place opened.
Markis realized they’d bound his arms and ankles, but they didn’t gag him, and he didn’t hurt anywhere. Testing his limbs in his bonds as surreptitiously as he could, he was satisfied nothing was broken or gone.
“Ah, Markis, you’re awake.” A man’s voice, sonorous, quietly forceful, used to getting his way.
“And this is how you say good morning?”
To his surprise, laughter rippled around the room.
“Remarkable,” the man said, but what he meant by it, Markis didn’t know. “Forgive our primitive precautions.”
The ropes fell off, crumbled to fibers as if old and desiccated, and Markus rubbed his wrists.
“I’ll get to the point: I’m asking for your help. The man you saw so hastily, mysteriously dispatched was in fact looking for us. We found him first. His people want to destroy us.”
“And there’s a reason you shouldn’t be destroyed?”
“Who wants to be destroyed? Who really desires destruction?”
He had no answer.
The man continued. “We took advantage of his drunkenness. He was a fool to let his guard down.”
“So what’s my part?”
“Help us locate them.”
“I won’t tell you unless you agree, and though you might want to agree now, I’m not going to accept it now. I’m going to give you some time to think about it.
“Your father, and the rest of your family, will be safe.”
“Unless I say no?”
The man gave no answer, and Markis couldn’t read his face.
“Well, given what I’ve seen, I guess if you wanted us dead, we’d be dead.”
The man arched his brows in approval, a hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth.
“We’ll not detain you further.”
Markis blinked, and found himself outside on the sidewalk with his paranormal seductress, who helped him get his balance when he stumbled against her.
The rain had stopped, and the pale light of dawn was blotting at the black night sky.
Steam rose from the manhole covers, and the morning wind was high.
Her hair blew about her face, and she draped it over her fingers as she watched him; she said nothing as he got himself together,
“I’ll walk with you.”
“It’s right here.”
I’ll walk anyway.”
The crossed the iridescent street, still puddle, still oiled, but the edges drying in the wind.
“I’m sorry, Markis. I got you involved.”
“And I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
“You do, just not if you want to save your dad.”
“What are you, that you can do these things to people. To me?”
“We’re a roomful of monsters, Markis. Hybrids of the spirit world, with many powers gained over many lives. We’ve been chased across the world; some want to study us, others to kill us outright and feed our souls to hellfire.”
“Part succubus, part demon, part witch.”
“That explains…” his face heated.
“Well, I do like you, Markis.”
“Better get upstairs. Your dad’s going to be up soon, and he’s going to want pancakes for breakfast.”
“How do you–?”
“Part clairvoyant, too.”Again the smile: how could it be so dazzling, and pretty, and feral? He supposed it was a gift, of sorts, that she could make it so.
She placed a hand on his forearm. “Take care of yourself, Markis.”
As she walked away, he called out. “You too…uh…I don’t know your name!”
“Better for now, you don’t!” she called over her shoulder, as she faded away, instead of suddenly vanishing, as she did so dramatically the last time.
Markis looked on, incredulous: there were people on the street, not many, but some, in plain view of them talking, and she was fading away, and nobody saw her, no one stopped to look.
Better get upstairs.
He smiled, shook his head; the memory of her heated his face again.
“Turns out I had a crazy night out after all.”
But a man is dead, Markis. Dead, and no trace of him left on the earth, anywhere.
Best not forget that, Markis.
Don’t forget that at all…