Daughter of Darkness
Daughter of Darkness
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She is destined to kill a demon.
He is sent to protect her.
One of them is about to fail …
He spent centuries in the dark ...
After 300 years spent in the underworld as a punishment, warrior Devon is called on by the gods for a chance to fix his mistake—and to win his redemption. But there’s a catch: the gods won’t tell him details about his mission. He’s supposed to suffer while trying to figure out what he did wrong in the past, and fix it in the present.
All Kenna ever wanted was to be the owner of her own life and destiny. But for now all she can do is run away from the evil wanting to claim her powers.
... until she came ...
When Devon becomes unintentionally entangled in his new neighbor’s life, he can’t help but feel he’s closer to his purpose. Every moment he spends with Kenna makes him confused, and every time he touches her, glimpses of the past, of his failed mission, come back to haunt him.
... and showed him the light.
Darkness is closing in, and with Kenna’s help, Devon needs to put the pieces of the puzzle together before he fails his mission again and evil consumes the world.
Only this time, he’s sure he won’t be the only one damned.
- Past lives
- Forced Proximity
- Next door neighbor
- Forbidden Love
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
I had fought against demons and ghosts and all sorts of evil beings, but humans took the trophy for the most horrible of them all.
From my spot under the dark awning of the pergola in the town square, I played with the ring hanging from my neck and watched as a group of young men, not older than eighteen years old, sneaked across the street from the square toward the old music store.
A sigh rushed past my throat.
These damn kids. I knew them all. I knew their names. I knew their families, what school they attended, and which classes they flunked. I also knew they were as drunk as skunks and had just made a bet to see who could steal the most vinyl records from the store before the alarm rang and they had to flee—they had done it before.
The owner of the store was an old man whose only passion for life since his wife of forty years died not even a year ago was his fucking vinyl. And still, they thought this was a joke.
I tried staying out of this shitty town’s drama, but certain things, like teenagers messing with an old man and his livelihood, I couldn’t let slide.
Exhaling through my nose, I tucked the ring back inside my shirt and stepped out from the shadows—
A figure appeared in front of me.
“Ryder.” I checked the time on my phone. “You’re early.”
The warrior, dressed in his black armor and with his sheathed sword strapped to his back, shrugged. “I finished my previous mission faster than expected.”
He was bragging. I hated him. Not for bragging, but because he was assigned multiple missions, while I was stuck with a riddle to solve.
“Let’s get on with this," he said. "Report, Devon.”
“Yeah.” I glanced over his shoulder to the teenagers getting ready to break the window. “Be right back.”
I sidestepped the warrior and ran, faster than any human could, and reached the four teenagers as one of them—Paul—lifted his hand, ready to throw a stone at the glass window.
“I don’t think so.” I caught his arm and twisted it behind his back.
Paul yelped, dropping the stone.
“Let him go, man!”
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
I bent Paul’s arm more and he cried out.
“If you want your arm to remain attached to your body, I suggest you forget this stupid idea.”
“We were just having some fun,” Paul barked, his voice trembling with the pain.
Fury traveled through my veins, and it was everything I could do not to break his arm right there. Fun? He called destroying a store and giving an old man a heart attack fun?
I bent his wrist and he cried in pain.
“Let him go, man,” John cried. He brought his fists up. “Let him go or I’ll kick your ass.”
I couldn’t help it. Laughter, hollow and dark, bubbled past my lips. “In your dreams.”
John advanced on me. I seriously didn’t get it. The little bastard was drunk, and he could barely throw a punch. Why make a fool of himself?
Swift as the wind, I moved, dropping Paul on the sidewalk, his stomach hitting the pavement hard, and blocked John’s weak punch with my wrist. I twisted my hand, grabbing his wrist in turn, and pulled him forward. He tripped and fell beside Paul.
I stared at the other two boys. “Who’s next?”
The two boys trembled, their gaze shifting to something over my shoulder. What the fuck?
I followed their line of sight.
Ryder, in his full warrior’s armor and weapons, stood right behind me, his arms crossed over his chest. Although we were the same height, Ryder’s shoulders were wider, and with his face set into a scowl, he was easily one scary motherfucker.
I fought the urge to roll my eyes at him and faced the boys again. The two kids helped John and Paul up and ran off.
“That ought to keep them on their toes,” Ryder said.
“Humans aren’t used to seeing warriors in full garb, Ryder. They don’t even know we exist.”
“I know, but it worked, didn’t it? They ran.”
“I would have made them run with or without you.” I picked up the rock the kids had grabbed and put it back in the flowerbed on the edge of the sidewalk. “I just hope they don’t tell their parents about the weirdo with the swords wandering around town.”
Ryder shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind.”
“Of course you wouldn’t.” The warriors revealed themselves to humans only if necessary, but in truth, we were supposed to pretend to be human—just like I did. “But I mind. Paul’s father is the bank manager. I deal with him for my account and investments. And John’s mother works at the library. She knows who I am.”
“Does she now?”
I groaned. Ryder had been a good friend for most of my life, but sometimes he liked to annoy me. “You know what I mean. They think they know me.”
I had been relocated to this fucking town about two years ago, and I didn’t think any of the twenty-three hundred residents really knew much about me. But I knew all about them. I knew all of their names, ages, occupations, affiliations. If they hadn’t been born here, I knew why they had come to this sleepy town. I also knew their medical and criminal history. Some really fucked up people lived here.
And I was the worst of them all.
To the townsfolk, I was a twenty-one-year-old rich orphan with a penchant for solitude. In reality, their quiet neighbor had been alive for more than five hundred years—if I could count the three hundred and some years I spent in hell.
Time didn't exist in hell. No day, no light. Only pain. Suffering. Misery.
All because of a failed mission I didn’t remember.
“I know, I know,” Ryder said.
I let out a sigh. “All right, you’re here for your fucking report, aren’t you?”
“There’s nothing new to report,” I snapped. “Nothing has changed. I haven’t seen anything, felt anything, found out anything. This shitty little town is boring and not even on a map or GPS. Not even lesser demons come here. To be honest, being here feels like another punishment from the gods.”
“You know it’s not like that. If they wanted you to suffer, they would have let you rot in hell.”
I winced. We both knew warriors didn’t rot, which meant I could have spent eternity suffering in hell if the gods wanted me to. “But pulling me out of the underworld nineteen years ago and abandoning me in this place without as much as an instruction of what I should be doing is much better.”
“At least you’re not being tortur—” Ryder’s words died when I shot him a glare. “Besides, they did give you instructions. Fix what went wrong and don’t fail this time.”
The problem was: What had gone wrong? How had I failed? What mission was it? The not-so-merciful gods erased all my memories related to that failed mission when they pulled me out of hell. I didn’t remember a single moment, a single action. I barely knew when it had been and where.
Not that it helped knowing when and where. It wasn’t as if a warrior’s mission history was available in a book or on a computer.
But the warrior standing in front of me knew. He knew all about that fucking mission, but he couldn’t tell me. The gods forbade the other warriors from helping me.
“That’s my report,” I said, my tone harsh. “Come back in five years. I’m sure nothing will have changed by then.”
I spun around and marched away.
“Devon, don’t be like that.”
I had every intention of ignoring Ryder, but when a chill brushed against my skin, sending a disturbance through the air, I halted and glanced over my shoulder. “Did you feel that?”
Ryder drew out his sword. “I did.”
The chill spread, bringing heavy, oily tendrils of darkness.
“Demons,” I whispered.
In the blink of an eye, my normal human clothes—dark jeans and polo shirt—were gone, replaced by the warrior’s thick dark leather armor, and my sword strapped to my back.
With cautious steps, Ryder and I stalked back to the main square. The darkness was thick and coming toward us.
Ryder twirled his sword in his hand. “Be ready.”
I unsheathed my sword.
Half a second later, the little fuckers jumped from the shadows, right at us. Dozens of lesser demons in the form of black shadow snakes. Some were as small as my forearm; some were as long six feet.
I swung my sword in a wide arc, hitting most of them in a single blow. The snakes exploded in puffs of dark smoke that dissolved in the night sky. A few more slithered from the shadows, coming at us from the ground. They hissed their forked tongues, as if teasing us.
All I wanted to do was stomp on them and be done with it. Killing them with swords while they slithered along the ground wasn’t the most practical fight. “I hate these things.”
“Me too,” Ryder said, and he drove his sword to the ground, piercing through the head of a snake. “But at least they are the lowest of the low.”
True. Of all the demons that existed, the snakes were the weakest.
One of the snakes lunged at me, mouth open wide and sharp teeth ready. I waltzed to the side, then stepped over its slimy body and cut off its head. It burst into smoke at my feet.
I looked up, ready to slash through some more, but all I felt was the darkness retreating.
I fixed a narrow gaze on Ryder. “What the fuck was that?”
“I don’t know.” Ryder’s eyes scanned the area, as if expecting another surprise attack. “It wasn’t normal.”
I nodded. I had been in this town for almost two years now and I had never encountered any demons. Not even shadow snakes. They were weak and drawn to evil and dark places, like the alley of a bad neighborhood in a big city. They stuck to the shadows until the humans came near them and became their victims. “Snake-type demons don’t attack like that.”
Ryder sheathed his sword. “No, they don’t.”
The pressure and chill of the darkness dissipated, but a stifling feeling hung in the air. I didn’t like it. “Something is definitely wrong.”
* * *
It didn’t matter how far we ran or how fast we ran, he always found us. He would always find us. I knew that as strongly as my heart beat painfully against my chest.
I spied past the thick dark green curtain into the parking lot below. I had argued against staying at roadside motels, and Cecilia never listened to me.
“Stop obsessing, Makenna,” Cecilia said, her tone too light for the occasion. “We need a good night's sleep. Just … stop, and come rest.”
I glanced over my shoulder and saw her fluffing the pillows on one of the queen beds.
Was this the life she intended for us when we ran away? That I intended for us? We had been running and hiding nonstop for almost two years, and each time we settled for more than half a day, he found us.
I couldn’t deny it was better than suffering at his hands, doing his bidding without a choice, but I was so freaking tired of running. My only options were to suffer or to run. Sometimes, only sometimes, I wondered if I wasn’t better off dead.
Last time we stopped for more than twelve hours, he had found us. We had to fight our way out. We had to kill.
My stomach turned as I remember the blood, the gore, the darkness. A dark trail was left behind me wherever I went.
“How can you rest when you know we’ll be attacked soon?” I asked, venom lacing my words.
I half expected Cecilia to lash out at me, but she was too sweet for that, too calm. I could count on my fingers how many times she had lost her composure, and those had been during the most horrible moments of our lives.
Instead, Cecilia let out a long breath and crossed the room to stand in front of me. She rested her hands on my shoulders and looked at me. “Please, have a little faith.” Faith. That was such an odd concept coming from her. How could she believe in faith? Her warm brown eyes twinkled. “We’ve been on the road for a long time. We haven’t slept in almost forty-eight hours. We need to sleep.”
Again. She forgot to say again. When we first ran away, we had wrecked the second car we stole. Now, we knew two things: One, we had to take breaks, even if it was for power naps of one or two hours under a shady tree, and two, we couldn’t keep a stolen car more than half a day.
Since we didn’t have any documents, and barely any cash, we couldn’t buy a car. So we stole them—borrowed them, as Cecilia liked to say. We grabbed cars, used them for a few hours, then left them where they would be found by the police and returned to their owners.
“Fine,” I snapped, though we both knew I wouldn’t relax, not until exhaustion won and I passed out in the bed.
“Good.” She patted my cheek, and for some reason, the gesture reminded me of a mother. Sometimes, I thought of her as a mother. She wasn’t just my friend. Cecilia was, in some ways, the mother I didn’t remember. “I’m going to take a quick shower.”
I only grumbled as she walked away and grabbed the duffel bag with the only things we owned: a few changes of clothes and toiletries.
Once more, I thought about the kind of life we were living, about the kind of life we would have in the future. Would we ever escape him? I hoped we would, but I didn’t have faith that we would.
I glanced back. Cecilia stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, the door half opened, and from where I was, I could see as she took off her shirt. I flinched upon seeing the scars covering her back and shoulders. Several long marks etched forever in her skin. She had been abducted years before I had, but I had watched him inflict most of those scars. I had cried as she bled in her bed later, her ragged breath making me fear she would die.
But despite her kind heart and her calm demeanor, Cecilia was a fighter. If it hadn’t been for her meticulous planning and waiting, we would have never escaped. At least, not alive.
Even if my freedom was another kind of prison, I owed it all to her.
I lowered my gaze.
And that was when I felt it.
The tendrils of darkness reaching out like claws, grasping the earth, and advancing and desecrating everything in their path.
I froze. Closing my eyes, I opened my senses and felt for the darkness—thick and slow. It wasn’t the darkness from demons, unfortunately.
It was his darkness.
Slater hadn’t come personally. I was sure of it, but the darkness now surrounding the motel had been sent by him along with his men.
It spurred me into action. “Cecilia!” I cried as I picked up my jacket, my wallet, and my phone from the bed.
Holding her shirt over her chest, Cecilia stuck her head out the bathroom door, her long brown hair falling like a curtain around her shoulders. “What?”
Her face paled. “Shit.” She put her shirt back on, zipped up her pants, and shoved her feet in her boots. “How many minutes do we have?”
The darkness was closing in faster now. “Two, three at the most.”
Her hands trembled as she tied her hair in a ponytail. “No time to run.”
I wasn’t much better than Cecilia, but I pretended better. Somehow, I was able to conceal the tremors running through my body.
I grabbed the duffel bag and slung it over my shoulders. “We can run, after we stun a few of them.”
“We.” She snorted. “As if I can do much against them.”
I knew she hated when we confronted Slater’s men or demons, because she couldn’t do more than a few self-defense moves she had learned a long time ago.
I pushed those thoughts away and focused. “Ready?”
Eyes shining with determination, Cecilia nodded. “Ready.”
The power hummed in my veins, as if awoken by the darkness encircling us. I extended my hands to my sides and pushed my power to the lights of the motel room. The lights flickered and extinguished. I held on to the darkness, creating a shroud over us. Cecilia and I pressed our backs to the wall right beside the door and waited.
The door burst open and a handful of men—all dressed in black, with a silver pendant with a coiled snake hanging from their necks—exploded into the room. I sent the darkness, thick and palpable, to them. Like fog, the black surrounded them, keeping them lost in a cloud of confusion.
Cecilia and I ran.
Two men waited outside the room. One lunged at Cecilia. She grabbed his wrist, twisted, and bent it outward. The man yelped and leaned forward to take the pressure off his wrist. Cecilia slammed her knee into his face and let go. The man dropped to the ground.
The other man came at me but didn’t touch me. He knew what I was capable of.
As if that would stop me.
I commanded the darkness from the corner of the wall, from the space under the stairs, from the night sky to surround him. The darkness spun until it created a tornado that twisted around the man.
“Run!” I cried, releasing my hold on my power.
The tornado spun the man face-first into the wall, and he dropped to the ground, unconscious.
Cecilia and I descended the outer staircase three steps at a time.
We paused in the parking lot. We had ditched our previous car a few blocks away, and had plans of securing another one as soon as we were ready to leave.
As usual, our stop didn’t go according to plan and now we were car-less.
I glanced at the SUV Slater’s lackey had driven here. “Get in!”
“B-but that’s his car.”
“I know, but we can’t be picky right now.” I slid into the driver’s seat. “Come on!”
Groaning, Cecilia ran around the SUV and hopped inside. “I don’t like this idea.”
“It's the only one we have! We’ll ditch the car later; we just need to get out of here first.”
I slammed the SUV into reverse as the group of men emerged from our room on the second floor.
“Wait!” one of them yelled.
Oh, yeah, like I would freaking wait.
I stepped on the gas, the tires peeling on the pavement, and we raced down the road. We drove for about ten miles on the dark road outside of town before we allowed ourselves to breathe normally again.
“That was unexpected,” Cecilia said, leaning against the passenger seat and relaxing for a bit.
My knuckles turned white as I gripped the steering wheel. “You know it wasn’t. I was expecting it.”
“I know,” she whispered.
My eyes darted to the rearview mirror for the hundredth time, sure I would soon see a car or SUV gunning after us. Instead, the only thing behind us was the moonlight reflecting off the road markers.
I took a deep breath, releasing my death grip on the steering wheel, and immediately felt the shoulders of my muscles uncord.
For now, we were safe.
At least until he found us again.