Daemon's Kiss - Lana Sky



“Please, for the love of whatever God you pray to, try not to get blood on my floor,” a gruff voice commanded. “I just waxed it. And I hope it goes without saying that using magic here, out in the open, is a no-go. I don’t have the resources to memory wipe a score of mortals. I just hope no one saw you appear out of thin air.”

After days spent in Atiernan’s protected corner of the world, Miranda had forgotten what it felt like to be a part of the painfully modern, bustling reality most mortals lived in these days. There was more to it than electricity and advanced devices.

Most people—mortal and daemon alike—had such a blunt way of discourse apart from the rich, coded language Atiernan and his ilk preferred. More jarring than the realization that she had somehow traversed two realms in an instant, was hearing someone speak of magic so openly.

Especially when they shared such a striking resemblance to her former captor. Feeling dizzy, she inspected the man in question from over her shoulder. His dark hair and eyes were the main features that set him apart from Atiernan, the daemon lord. Otherwise, they could have been twins.

Or father and son.

“There is one reason why I haven’t killed you,” Marcus explained, sitting across from her at a polished wooden table. After ushering her inside, seemingly through the back door, he’d led her here—a spacious, clean area that she couldn’t name the purpose of right away. A dining room?

“Can you guess what that might be?”

“Where are we?” Miranda demanded.

Not in a dungeon, at least. In any case, it seemed worlds apart from Atiernan’s lavish, gothic-style manor. The walls were paneled wood, the same color as the table, which sported a metal napkin holder and a dispenser of plastic silverware—several identical tables filled the spacious room. The sight recalled a long-lost memory.

She hadn’t gotten out much before her abduction, and only while under the strictest of surveillance by one of her mother’s peons. During her early childhood, she’d left the forest with a group of witches traveling to a nearby field to harvest vegetables. Afterward, they had stopped at a diner for the youngest girls to use the restroom. Though, the furniture there had been a bright vinyl instead of dark wood, both establishments sported the same cozy aura.

“This is my place,” Marcus said gruffly, proving himself far more evasive than Atiernan preferred to be. “Now, this is the part where you tell me how the hell you got here.”

Miranda sighed, unsure where to begin. In essence, the answer was simple—she had teleported to the mortal realm by drawing her own blood and using it as the basis for a spell impossible to craft by any other means.

Blood magic.

To his credit, she sensed that Marcus might have suspected as much. He’d bandaged her arm already, wrapping it in a length of clean gauze to staunch the bleeding. That act of kindness alone said more about him than any words could—few men would keep first-aid supplies so readily in reach.

He was used to violence. Given his apparent talent for breaching manors in Hell, she could only imagine what else he got up to in his spare time.

“You live in the mortal world,” she said, rather than answer him. Viewed through a large window, the sky was a beautiful blue, and sunlight fell over the sleepy street beyond. There were no bars on the windows, and any passersby seemed more than willing to walk by this building without any visible signs of disgust.

Not only did he live in this realm, but he lived among mortal humans, with no witches or daemons in sight.

The fact confounded her. His life seemed to be a relatively comfortable one, not confined to a cage or tucked away in some forgotten corner of a coven, forever shunned until the time came to fulfill his purpose.

“I do,” he said warily. “And at first, I assumed you were stalling, giving your cohorts time to catch up. Now, I think the truth is far more serious—you’re in shock. How much blood have you lost? Those wounds don’t seem very deep—” He nodded to her wrist, which she promptly shoved behind her back.

Shock. Miranda scoffed. What a dramatic term for a mental state more akin to abject loathing and disgust. While physically, the observation made sense—she was shivering, her teeth chattering audibly—she deserved to suffer far worse for what she’d done.

After swearing never to do so again, she had used blood