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"Fate"

      by

      (FM, fantasy)

Modega shifted around nervously in his chair, his dark hooded eyes darting here and there, seemingly trying to keep an eye on every she-devil and werewolf in the place. He twirled his mustache nervously as his eyes darted to and fro.

Darious glared at him. "Will you knock it off! Get yourself under control and act professional. We don't need to give them any more of an advantage than they already have!"

Truth be told, Darious was nervous too, just maybe not for the same reasons as Modega. Yes, some of the she-devils made his skin crawl. In this room was more true power than was ever in his office. And as powerfully religious as some of them were, especially Lady Raven, every hair on his body was standing on end. He was just better at hiding it than Modega. Sitting in the middle of the Pussycat, the she-devil run chain of clubs, famous "back room" where all the dark creatures congregated and no humans were ever allowed, he felt like he was on display or something. Every she-devil and werewolf in the place was staring at him and Modega. He normally wouldn't have dreamed of holding any kind of meeting here. It would have been in his office, on HIS turf, to HIS advantage. But he wanted to do business with the she-devils and they had certain rules you had to play by. One being, you dealt with them on their turf, so here he and Modega were.

He knew dealing with the she-devils was the most potentially dangerous thing he had ever done. He was bored dealing with humans; they were no longer a challenge of any kind. He wanted to get his foot in the door, to get into dealing with the dark creatures, and the she-devils were the way to do that. They had the reputation of being tough, smart, savvy business-women. He had already found out that they were among the toughest negotiators he had ever encountered. It was fun to navigate the landmines with them. But there was a major pitfall to it all, and he knew it. One wrong step with these women, one false move that would make them angry, and they would "out" him and Modega for what they were, demons. Even he, Lord Darious Mooksoon, the Lord of Lust, Sex and Decadence, just under Azmodeus in the chain of command in Hell, couldn't withstand the exposure and continue on as he had. Modega, one of his underlings, certainly wouldn't be able to go on within the business community. Plus it would open both of them to attack from the Society of the Templars, those fiends that cloaked themselves in religion, and used that as an excuse to hunt down and destroy dark creatures, especially loving to send demons back to Hell. So all his dealings with these women had been straight forward and above board, nothing underhanded, no loopholes. He had not even tried to use his considerable charm on them.

Modega shifted in his chair, his eyes scanning the room one more time before looking at Darious, "I'm sorry but this place is making me twitchy. I have heartburn so bad it feels like someone lit the fires of hell in my gut."

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Darious gave him the barest of nods. "I know." He said quietly. "It's affecting me too. But we have to buck up and show nothing. They have enough of an advantage as it is; we don't need to bolster it."

Modega glanced around quickly and shuddered slightly. "I'm trying, believe me! I wish they would hurry the hell up, so we can get the hell out of here!" Darious nodded and sipped at the fine brandy they had served him. He suppressed a shudder as Lady Raven passed close to their table on her way to the bar.

After her passing, Modega moaned softly and turned slightly white. He picked up his brandy snifter and downed half of the amber liquid in one swallow. "That broad is the worst of all of them! She actually causes pain when she's near!" He muttered softly to Darious.

Darious nodded. "I know. I feel it too. She's an American Indian and still very strong in her faith, that's what's doing it."

Modega suppressed another shudder and shook his head, then swallowed the last of his brandy.

Soon after that, the she-devils started to seat themselves at the table with Darious and Modega. Raven sensed how uncomfortable she was making them, so she seated herself as far away from them as she could. She had an ulterior motive for this, besides their comfort. Firstly, she was at a better vantage point to observe them. That was her main reason in attending. Upper echelon council members didn't usually attend contract negotiations, but because of the type of beings being negotiated with the head of the North American She Devil Council, Zsuzanna, asked her to attend to get a feel for them and what was going on, then to report back to her with her impressions.

Secondly, Darious and Modega made her as uncomfortable as she did them. It was as if there was an invisible cloak of pure evil surrounding them. She was fighting hard the instinct to chant and banish the evil. She gestured to one of the serving girls and quickly some appetizers were placed in front of Darious and Modega, and their glasses were refilled. She smiled down at them. "If you want anything just speak up. We are just waiting for one more person and then we can begin. She had to pick up the contracts and the list of changes from the legal department at D2K. I imagine she got caught in traffic."

Darious nodded, "Traffic over the lunch hour can be quite difficult to navigate." He leaned back in his chair and forced himself to relax a bit. He then tried to make small talk with the women assembled around the table. Mainly it was general questions about she-devil society and the way it ran, nothing in depths or prying. The questions were politely answered by the various women.

Zarah pulled into the back lot behind the Pussycat and came to a screeching halt. She quickly piled out of the car and bustled towards the back door, talking to herself, lugging an armload of paperwork. She was running late. She had gotten caught in cross-town traffic, then had been further delayed by a wreck. She hurried into the Pussycat, talking to herself so fast the words ran together. Anyone listening to her couldn't have made heads or tails of anything she said. Halfway to the table, she stopped cold, her mouth hanging open. She shut her eyes and inhaled deeply. The smell that filled the air was one she remembered from long ago, when she was still human; for as long as she lived she would never forget it. At the time, she thought, it was the smell of fire and smoke. Now, with her keener cat-senses, she was able to identify it correctly; sulfur and brimstone, the smell of a demon. She opened her eyes, looked the direction of the odor, and grinned broadly. Even from behind, she could identify who he was. The combination of the smell and the tall, erect posture added with his immense size made him unmistakable to her. Stuffing the papers under one arm, she hurried to the table. She was downwind so she knew he wouldn't be alerted to her presence. She crept up silently behind him then covered his eyes with her hands from behind and whispered in his ear, "Guess who?"

Darious visibly flinched and stiffened up. As high-strung as he already was, he had to fight the urge to incinerate whoever it was. After taking several deep breaths he replied stiffly, "I am afraid you have me at a distinct disadvantage, I haven't a clue who you are, Miss."

Zarah giggled madly, "Ya' know what? You aren't nearly as intimidating without your SS uniform."

He ground his teeth slightly at the mention of his past but replied in a cool, calm manor. "I only knew one she-devil in Germany, but I don't believe you are her."

Zarah giggled madly then removed her hands from his eyes and swatted him in the back of the head. "That's because, I wasn't a she-devil back then, silly."

Once the hands were removed from his eyes, he immediately stood up and wheeled around to face her. When he saw who was there, he stood, dumbfounded, for a minute, mouth agape, then grinned from ear to ear. Indeed he did know her. When he was in Germany during World War II, she was the maid for the she-devil he knew, Countess Katrina Wagner. "Zarah! Kitten!" He hugged her tightly for a minute then broke it off and smiled down at her. Seeing her brought back a plethora of intensely happy memories about the Countess, and the time they spent together.

Raven watched the exchange intently one eyebrow arched. Knowing whom Zarah worked for in Germany and the condition that woman came back in, this exchange raised more questions than it answered.

Zarah giggled madly then swatted him on the arm, "Guess who! Who else would have dared do that to you?" She grinned broadly, "and I'm a real kitten now." She said proudly.

Darious chuckled deeply, "I gathered this. It's wonderful to see a familiar, friendly face."

She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek, "it's wonderful to see you too." She took out a Kleenex and cleaned the lipstick mark she had left, then grinned at him. "We are holding up everything. We had better get back to it before they have me drawn and quartered. We'll have some time to talk afterwards." She then bustled over and sat down next to Raven and arranged the paperwork she had brought.

Darious settled back in his chair, still smiling and in a much better humor.

Modega leaned over and hissed in his ear, "Would you care to enlighten me about that?"

Darious chuckled and whispered back, "Later."

The meeting lasted for a solid two hours. The negotiations were tough and hard-fought on both ends. Basically, what Darious wanted for his company, the large conglomerate Triple D Industries, was to become the distributor for D2K, the parent company of all 2000 of the Pussycat clubs in the United States. There were having problems getting distributors because most human run companies didn't want to deal with dark creatures still. And the distributors they could find couldn't handle the sheer volume of goods the highly successful chain of clubs demanded. Triple D could, but the she-devils had serious reservations about dealing with a demon-run company. What he got out of this meeting was, the flagship Pussycat, their very first club in Charlotte, had approved the contract. For a year, as a trial period, his company would supply the two biggest of the clubs, the afore mentioned Charlotte and the massive LA club. Since Charlotte had approved the contract, all he needed was LA's approval, which meant a trip out to his LA office. Nothing too bad to deal with if he wanted the contracts. He was relieved that he only had to deal with the CEO of D2k and their lawyers, not the owner herself, the legendary Lady Danyealla herself. What he had heard of her made his blood run cold. She was the oldest she-devil "above ground", meaning not in a permanent sleep, very close to the 1000 year old mark. She was said to be a fierce warrior, a she-devil assassin and psychotic to boot. Every dark creature had a deep respect for her and a healthy does of fear, yet most didn't even know what she looked like. She was reclusive, one of the few of their kind that still chose to blend in among humans rather than live openly as what she was. He had heard many, many legends about her and if just 1/8th of them were true, she was one of the deadliest dark creatures to have ever walked the face of the earth, bar none.

After finishing the delicious lunch he was served, he leaned back in his chair and looked at Zarah, smiling. "You have done very well for yourself haven't you, Kitten? Come a long way from being a maid."

Zarah grinned at him, "Sure have. A business degree from Harvard opens a lot of doors for a person."

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He chuckles, "That it does." He looked at her, still smiling. His mind was flashing back to the large apartment in the expensive hotel in the heart of Berlin during World War II, while Germany was still at the height of power, and the flaxen haired doe-eyed she-devil that had shared his life for several months, Kat. Many times in the 150 years or so since they had parted, he had tried to look for her but didn't have much to work with. Before leaving him in Alaska, after they had escaped France together, she had told him to call her Dani. That was all he had. Dani could be short for any number of names, or her name itself. But he also knew she-devils had changed identities on a regular basis, like he himself had to do often, so looking for her was futile. The only being that had ever made him feel true happiness had walked out of his life and there was no way to find her, until now. Zarah. She would know where she was. Trying to sound casual he asked, "So, tell me, are you still in touch with Kat?"

The she-devils looked at him quizzically and Zarah burst into a gale of giggles. "Didn't she ever tell you her real name?"

Darious shook his head. "Before she left she told me to call her Dani. That's all I know."

Raven had been talking to Joline, the she-devil that was in charge of this particular Pussycat club, quietly. When she heard the name Dani mentioned, she sat bolt upright and looked at Darious, eyebrows arched into her hairline, her onyx eyes fixed on him. He now had her total and complete, undivided attention, along with most of the other she-devils sitting at the table.

Modega slouched down in his chair, muttering darkly to himself, uncomfortable with all the attention now directed towards them.

Zarah opened her mouth to answer him, but Ravens' hand on her shoulder shushed her. Raven cocked her head to the side and fixed him with her dark eyes, "Dani was her name, you say?"

He looked at her and nodded, "Yes, Lady Raven. That is what she told me to call her." His brow was furrowed slightly in confusion. He looked around the table at all the faces now turned towards him.

"You mean her?" Raven said, pointing to a large painting on the far wall, with a large cluster of other paintings and pictures of women.

Darious looked at it, his mouth slightly agape. It was partially hidden in the shadows, and a bit hard to see, but the large brown, doe-eyes were very visible, and that is what locked his attention. They were just how he remembered them; the very same ones that he still dreamed about. "Yes, that's Kat." He said softly, his eyes locked with the eyes in the painting.

Grins and titters of laughter broke out from every she-devil at the table. Darious looked at them, brow furrowed, totally confused. "If there was a joke told, I have apparently missed the punch line."

The only one at the table not laughing was Raven. She continued to look at him intently. "You're sure that is her?"

He nodded, "Positive. Her eyes are something I will never forget." He looked around the table at all the grinning faces, frowning. He hated being the butt of any joke, let alone one he didn't understand.

Raven thought for a minute, a frown creasing her forehead. When she spoke again, her voice was quiet and her tone was soft. "You were Col. Darian Swatsenbarg were you not? An SS officer in the Gestapo? You first dated, then co-habitated with the Countess Katrina Wagner. She was also an SS officer. But she wasn't what she seemed. She wasn't the true Countess. She was there to pass along information to aid in getting all the dark creatures out of the Nazis' way, so they couldn't get their hands on one. Darian and Kat were "killed" in an explosion in Paris. You both actually made your way to Russia, then Alaska, where you went your separate ways. Is that about the sum of it?"

Darious felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He looked at her, astounded but muttered a very soft, "Yes, that's the way it was."

Raven leaned forward and looked more intently at him, "The woman you knew as Kat, then after as Dani, is in actuality Lady Danyealla."

Darious stared at her, an incredulous look on his face and muttered a soft, "No!" He then looked at Zarah for confirmation.

Zarah had quit laughing and was just looking at Darious, her amber eyes wide. Raven may have known the basic facts of what happened, but Zarah was THERE; she saw them together. She saw the way they were with each other and the way they looked at each other. There had been something between them, a fire, a passion that everyone could see. Raven didn't know about it, but Zarah had seen it, felt it. They had meant something more to each other than being good cover for their ultimate purpose. When Dani had finally come back to the states, and Zarah had next seen her, she was changed, like she had left a vital part of her back in France. It took months for her to smile again. To this day, that part was still gone. That distant look she saw on her face at their first meeting in the states was still there. She leaned forward and put her hand on Darious' and looked up into his eyes. "Yes, Kat is Lady Danyealla."

Darious just stared at her in total shock and disbelief. In his mind he was trying to meld the two images, Kat and Lady Danyealla, and what he knew about both of them. The person he knew in Germany was soft spoken and kind. She was the first person he had ever come across that didn't seem to be bothered by what he was. Furthermore, she was the ONLY person that EVER wanted to hold, touch and cuddle on him. She had actually made him feel wanted. He had enjoyed being with her, enjoyed her touching, enjoyed not feeling fear from her, just enjoyed being around her. She had been the only being that had been a ray of happiness in his life. Then, there was everything he had heard about Lady Danyealla. It seemed to be the opposite of the woman he knew. From everything he had heard about her, she was mean, vicious, hard, cold hearted, a bitch and animalistic; she was the most feared she-devil of all time, bar none. He just looked at Zarah, shaking his head, "She can't be lady Danyealla. It just doesn't make any sense!"

Zarah stroked his hand softly, "She is, believe me."

Modega looked back and forth between Zarah and Darious, a look of abject horror on his face.

Raven sat back in her chair and studied Darious' face carefully. There was something in it she didn't understand. When he asked about Kat his eyes and face lit up the way a humans does when they talk about the person they love. But that wasn't possible. Demons COULDN'T love anyone; they weren't capable of it. It wasn't in their nature. Yet the feeling she got was, he did. Most of his thoughts were blocked off to her telepathically, but his emotions weren't and she could feel the power of them. They were almost overwhelming, like those of someone who was not used to controlling them. She kept a poker face but she was confused, her mind racing over the possibilities.

Modega was wishing he were anywhere but here at this point. The looks from all the she-devils were making his skin crawl. When he glanced at his watch, he almost sighed in relief. They had to get going, they had another meeting to attend. He nudged Darious. "We have to go. R.J. Reynolds is in an hour and we have to get back."

Darious tore his eyes away from Zarah and looked down at his own watch, then sighed. "Yes we do." He stood up and straightened his clothes. He looked around the table and nodded to the women. "Ladies, it's been a pleasure, but I have to get back to the office."

The she-devils stood up and shook his hand, then disbursed. Zarah waited until last, then linked her arm through his, "I have to scram too. Walk me to my car?"

Darious grinned down at her, "It would be my pleasure." He turned to Modega, "Meet me in the limo."

Modega nodded, then walked out, suppressing a sigh of relief. All he wanted to do was get to his office and have a LARGE drink to calm him-self.

Darious walked Zarah to her car. Both of them seemed to be quiet and subdued. When they got there, she turned to him and smiled. "It was WONDERFUL seeing you again."

He smiled back, "It's the same on this end Kitten." He cocked his head to the side and looked more intently at her. "May I ask you something?"

"Sure, ask away."

He sighed softly and lowered his eyes. "Where is she Zarah?" he asked in almost a whisper.

Zarahs eyes darted quickly around the parking lot to see if anyone was listening, then whispered, "Not here. Meet me for dinner and we'll talk about it." She gave him a time and place to meet her then kissed him on the cheek, hopped in her car and drove off.

Darious stood there and stared after her car for a few minutes, thinking, before turning and striding off to his limo.

The whole way back to the office Modega peppered him with questions about Lady Danyealla and Lady Zarah, but the only answer he got in return was a curt, "Later!" Even during the meeting, it was apparent his mind was elsewhere. All his staff could tell his mind was on something besides work.

He left work early and went home. When he got there he changed for dinner then shut himself up in his study until it was time to leave, just sitting there, thinking. Marcus, his slave/manservant, a big, hulking werewolf, saw the look on his face when he came in and made himself scarce until he left again.

While Darious sat in his study, his mind replayed over their times together. First meeting in Paris a year before the French Revolution started, then meeting again in Berlin, just as the Nazis' were starting World War II. When he closed his eyes, the memories were so vivid he could still almost smell and feel her touch. He was finally brought out of his revelry by the alarm going off on his watch, signaling it was time to leave.

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He arrived at the restaurant long before she did and got them a booth in the back where it was semi-secluded. The place she picked was just a small mom and pop place, nothing too fancy.

She came in right on time and hurried over to where he was sitting. He stood up and smiled at her. She really was just how he remembered her, still quite plump, her dark brown hair was still long and curly and her amber eyes still danced and laughed. The only thing different was her manner of dress. Tonight she was in jeans, an oversized men's dress shirt, and athletic shoes.

She kissed him on the cheek then slid into the booth opposite him.

He sat back down and smiled at her. The waitress came by and took their order, then hurried off. "Today was the most pleasant surprise I've had in years. It is so wonderful to see you again, Zarah."

She giggled that giggle he remembered so well, then smiled at him. "It's great to see you again too."

They made small talk until their drinks and meal was served.

When they finished eating and were just sitting back relaxing, he brought up the subject of Kat. "So, you've seen Kat since Germany, then?"

Zarah looked at him seriously, "Yes. Many times. Lady D. is the one who created me when she got back from Germany. We spent a lot of time together here, until she moved."

He gave her an anguished look. "Here? She lived in Charlotte?"

Zarah nodded seriously, "Yes, for a long time. After Germany, she came here and stayed for a while, then roamed until the 1990's, when she came back. She lived here until about a year or so ago, then moved on again."

Darious shook his head, sighed and looked down. "Damn it! I kept trying to find her, and she was right under my nose for the longest time. Damn it!" He rubbed his face and sighed deeply at the irony of it.

Zarah watched him quietly for a couple minutes before starting to speak softly. "Darious, she always knew where you were, from the time you left Alaska, until she left this last time. How could she live here any length of time and not have heard of you, let alone know where to find you?"

He looked at her, eyes filled with anguish. It felt like a mule had just kicked him dead square in the nuts. She KNEW! She knew how to get a hold of him, yet never bothered to try! How could she not have? He looked at Zarah and whispered, "If she knew where I was, why didn't she try to get a hold of me? Why? I thought we parted in Alaska on great terms."

Zarah shook her head and looked down, "I don't know why. I know she kept track of where you were and what you were doing."

"Did you ever ask why she didn't?" he asked her, eyes glued to her.

Zarah nodded, looking away from his piercing stare, unable to stand the anguish on his face. "I asked her many, many times why she didn't try. All she would say was, she couldn't handle it. Same answer every time."

He looked bewildered, "Couldn't handle it? What did she mean by that?"

She looked at him and shrugged her broad shoulders, "Your guess is as good as mine. I asked her several times and she wouldn't explain it to me."

He reached across the table and took her dainty hands in his then looked her directly in the eyes. "You know where she is, don't you? Please tell me. I don't want to hurt her, or anything like that, trust me. I just want to see and talk to her if I can. That's all. Nothing stupid."

Zarah sighed and looked down, thinking. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Dani still had a great deal of feelings for him and that was probably a big part of the reason she left. But, if she couldn't bring herself to see him while still here, then how would she feel with him just showing up out of the blue?

Then there was him. Yes, she knew him, but that was from over a century ago. To an extent she did trust him, but, how much had HE changed since she saw him last? Finally, there was the fact of what he was, a demon. How did she know this wasn't a stunt just to get a hold of the oldest and most powerful of their kind? Then there was Dani, HER reaction to all this if she found out Zarah was the one that told him. She knew Dani wasn't the psycho bitch the legends made her out to be. BUT she was VERY capable of doing everything those legends said she could, and more. To add to that, she did have a violent temper, when sufficiently provoked. She wasn't sure how Dani would react. She looked at him and shook her head. "I don't know if I should do this, Darious. It could get me into more trouble than I could bail myself out of."

"Zarah, look at me." He said to her softly.

She looked up into the piercing blue eyes that chilled so many beings to the core and made them tremble with fright. But she saw none of that; what she saw reflected in those eyes was that he was being totally honest with her and that there was nothing to be afraid of.

"Zarah, you saw what I was like with her in Germany. Would I do anything to hurt her?"

Zarah shook her head, "No. But, Germany was a long time ago. You could have changed a great deal since then."

He shook his head, but his eyes never left her. "Not when it comes to her, I haven't. I couldn't hurt her then and I can't now. As for me, having the ulterior motive of wanting her soul or other such bunk, I don't. All I want is to see her and talk to her. Anything beyond that is entirely her choice. If she tells me to leave her alone and that she doesn't want to ever see me again I will. It will... ," he frowned and tried to find the unfamiliar word for the feeling, "hurt but I will do it. Zarah, I would never try to trick you into something. Never! Seeing you today was the first time I've felt good in the longest time. And I want to see you again. I won't mess that up with some stupid stunt. Please Zarah, tell me."

Zarah looked at him and sighed. If she was reading what was in his eyes right he was telling the truth. "Alright, I'll at least point you in the right direction. Does that help you?"

He nodded vigorously. "Yes Zarah. Thank you."

She shook her finger at him. "If I get my ass in a sling over this, yours is going to be in it right beside mine. Got me?"

He nodded again. "You can blame it all on me. I'll take all the heat for it."

She sighed deeply ad rubbed her face. "Alright then. When she decided to move she wanted to go somewhere where it's warm all year round and where she could easily blend in. She's in Los Angeles. She's going part time to UCLA." He nodded vigorously. He could feel his heart start to hammer in his chest so hard, he was sure Zarah could hear it from where she sat. After all these long years, he was going to be able to find her and see her once again. "Is she using her real name?" His voice sounded hoarse and strangled because his mouth and throat had dried up from the excitement he felt.

Zarah arched one of her delicate eyebrows but didn't comment. "No. She never uses her real name. She is using the name Fyre Wulf." She quickly spelled it for him.

He burned the name into his memory immediately, thinking that name quite suited her. "Is she living in a dorm?"

Zarah shook her brown curls. "She would risk being exposed if she did that. She has her own house." She quickly gave him the address, which he also committed to memory.

He squeezed her hands and smiled, "I don't know how to thank you, Zarah."

She giggled, "Not getting us both in trouble is thanks enough."

He leaned back in his seat and smiled at her. He could feel an elation the likes of which he had never felt before.

For the next couple hours he talked with her about what she had been doing since she had left Germany, and generally played catch up.

When they were done he paid for the dinner then walked her out to her car. He was so elated that it felt like he wasn't walking at all, rather that he was gliding.

After she opened her car door she turned and looked at him. "You're going out there aren't you?"

He nodded, "I'm going tomorrow morning. I have to go anyway because of the contract negotiations. I am just going to move the trip up by a few days."

She nodded then grinned from ear to ear, "Do me a favor. When you see Dani tell Mayhem I said to tell him hi and that I miss him."

He looked at her quizzically. "I will, but who is Mayhem?"

She giggled madly, "You'll understand when you see her." She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek, then got in her car and drove off.

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He walked over to his immaculately maintained Bentley and got in. Before he had even pulled out of the parking lot he dialed his executive secretarie's home number.

When she picked up the phone, after looking at the caller ID, she growled, "What do YOU want?"

He chuckled deeply, "Well, hello to you too, Nyssa."

She sighed deeply, "OK yadda, yadda, yadda. Now, I repeat, what do you want?"

"Get on the phone and get them to get my jet ready. I want to leave for LA at 6 am."

"WHAT?!?!?!?" she screamed into the phone. "We weren't supposed to leave until Monday!"

"Change of plans. Something else has come up so I bumped it forward a few days."

She huffed into the phone, "Fine! I'll get it all arranged. Do I still have to go with?"

"Yes Nyssa. I can't function without you, you know that."

"Damn it, Darious! I had plans for the weekend."

He grinned. He could always count on Nyssa to give him her unvarnished opinion on things. As a matter of fact she was the only human being allowed to speak to him in that manner, no one else would DARE. She was so valuable to him that she could get away with almost anything. She had been with him since he started Triple D and was irreplaceable. As a matter of fact, she earned as much a year as some of his executives did. "I'll make it up to you. You know how you're always saying that you want to do a house cleaning at the LA office and get rid of the worthless trash?"

"Yes." She answered suspiciously.

"I'll go ahead and let you clean house."

"Anything I say goes, goes?"

He chuckled deeply, "Yes Nyssa. From the top to the bottom."

Nyssa chuckled evilly. "Does that include Cassandra?"

Darious groaned and rolled his eyes as he navigated the narrow streets towards him home. Cassandra was his executive assistant; every woman in the office loathed her, especially Nyssa. She was a gold digger and tried sleeping her way to the top, but had only made it as far as his assistant. Now she had her sights set on him. She was trying all her considerable charms, but to no avail. He saw her for what she was; an amateur at what he was a master of, manipulation. "No. Cassandra has her uses."

Nyssa huffed, "What THOSE are, I can only imagine. I'll have everything ready at 6 am. Are you going to get hold of everyone or shall I?"

"I'll handle it. I'll be just you, me, Modega and Marcus. I'll call Modega when I get home."

"Alright. You better appreciate this, Darious!" then she hung up.

He chuckled deeply and shook his head. When he got home he found Marcus in the living room, watching TV. Marcus, at one point in his life, was a werewolf clan leader. His whole clan had been slaughtered by a demon. That demon had given him a choice, die with his clan or become a slave. Marcus had chosen the latter in hopes of one day being able to exact revenge for what was done. That choice, however, had earned him a death sentence from the Werewolf Governing Council, because, no matter how noble the reason, no werewolf shall EVER serve a demon. He should die before that. Serving a demon earns him an immediate, and irrevocable, death sentence. Even if he were to be freed, he would still be sentenced to death. He came into Darious' possession when Darious had a run in with his demon master, shortly after Dani had left him in Alaska. Darious had sent him back to hell, then laid claim to all his possessions, including Marcus. In the over-a-century, Marcus had evolved to being a slave in name only. Now, he was basically a companion, assistant and manservant. Marcus was reclined watching mostly naked women cavort across the television screen. Darious chuckled deeply and shook his head. He was such a horndog. If it was female and of legal age Marcus would try to nail it. "Marcus."

Marcus looked up at him from the couch without moving. "Hey Boss. What's up?"

"Are the imps and djinns gone for the day?

Marcus sat up and stretched. "They finished hours ago so I sent them on their way."

Darious nodded, "Good. Now, I have a job for you. Get our stuff packed. We are leaving in the morning instead of Monday."

Marcus raised an eyebrow but said nothing about the change of plans. "For a week, still?"

Darious thought for a minute. "No, better make it two. Did you call today and make sure the apartment was ready?"

Marcus nodded, "Right after you called me about it. They said it would be ready by tonight."

Darious nodded, "Good job. OK, get to it."

Marcus started to walk off. Before he got to the door he stopped and looked at Darious. "Oh, Modega called about a thousand times. He said you weren't answering your cell. He wants to talk to you, said it was important."

Darious nodded again, "Thanks." Marcus headed upstairs and Darious went to his study. He had just poured himself a drink and was about to sit down to call Modega when the doorbell rang. Knowing Marcus was busy he got up to answer it. Before he made it to the door however, Modegas large body was filling the space. Darious looked at him, eyebrow arched.

Modega glowered at him. "If you would answer your cell once in a while, I wouldn't have to show up here, unannounced. We need to talk."

Darious lowered his massive frame back into his chair and picked up his drink then gestured for Modega to take a seat.

Modega flopped in the chair closest to Darious and glowered at him again. "Would you like to tell me what in the blue hell that was all about today?"

Darious looked at him, "What was what?"

Modega rolled his eyes and shook his head, "The bit with the one named Zarah and you knowing Lady Danyealla." He shuddered after saying her name.

Darious sighed and looked at his drink. "Zarah was still human when I knew her. She was the woman I knew as Kats' maid. I didn't know until today that she was now a she-devil."

Modega nodded, "OK, that I get. Now, this Kat you knew is really Lady Danyealla?" He shuddered again.

Darious sighed and nodded, "That is what I am gathering, yes. But I didn't know it at the time."

Modega groaned and covered his face with his hands. He then looked back at Darious through his splayed fingers. "How could you NOT have known it was her?"

Darious took a drink and shook his head. "I knew she was a she-devil, she told me that much. But the whole time we were together she never told me her real name." He shrugged. "How was I to know who she really was?"

Modega shook his head. "You know that isn't going to matter to our boss in the least. When he finds out that you knew her, and he will, we both know that, he's going to take a keen interest in the whole matter."

Darious' face hardened at the mention of his boss, Azmodeus. "He doesn't care WHAT I do just so I get my job done and keep a steady stream of souls on the road to hell."

Modega shook his head, "Who do you think you're talking to, Darious? I'm not one of the minor chaotic demons that you can run a line of bullshit on. You and I both know Big A takes a very special interest in EVERYTHING you do."

Darious got a weary look on his face. He was right of course. For some odd reason, Azmodeus always took a keen interest in all his dealings, no matter what it was. He never did figure out why. He sighed deeply, "You're right of course, he does. It's moot though, since I haven't seen her since we parted ways in Alaska."

Modega nodded, "That's a plus on your end then."

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Darious took another sip of his drink. "I was about to call you when you showed up. There has been a slight shift in plans. We are leaving for L.A. tomorrow morning at 6 AM rather than Monday."

Modega looked at him sharply, "Why the sudden change of plans?"

Darious gave a nonchalant shrug. "There is something out there I want to do that is going to take a few extra days, so I figured we may all as well go out there and get a head start on everything."

Modega looked at him intently but quietly for several minutes. When he spoke next it was quietly. "You know where she is don't you? And you're going to try and get in touch with her."

Darious glared at him, his eyes boring holes into him but said nothing.

Modega shook his head. "You're acting like some damn human when it comes to this...this ANIMAL! Getting obsessed just like they do. What in the hell did she do to you to get you in this state?"

Darious glared harder at him and ground his teeth then hissed. "Watch what you say, and your tone with me, Modega!"

Modega glared back at him. "Like hell I will. I've known you far too long to pull any punches with you when we talk. What did she do to you in Germany to get you into this state? I have never seen you get like this over any other being."

Darious shook his head. "I'm in no state over her. I just want to talk to her again. We had a good time together."

Modega was no fool. He had known Darious for eons and knew one of his understatements when he heard one. He also considered himself a fair judge of his moods. There seemed to be a light in his eyes that hadn't been there before today. When it came to other beings he wanted, Darious acted like it was a game. Hunt and conquer, then get what he wanted and drop them. This wasn't like that; it felt different to him. Something had changed in Darious since the morning and it made Modega highly uneasy. Ever since they came back from the Pussycat, if he got close enough to him, his skin started to prickle, as if electricity was dancing back and forth across it. He sighed deeply, "What went on between you two in Germany? And don't feed me any of your bullshit, Darious. I know this whole thing is about more than 'just wanting to talk to her again'."

Darious sighed deeply, staring out the window into the night darkened yard. "I've known her longer than the bit in World War II. I met her the first time in France, a year before the French Revolution started, at one of the Marquis De Sades' infamous parties. I knew then she wasn't human, I just thought she was a werecat and she didn't enlighten me any further.

"It was just what they refer to as a one night stand now. That was it. Then, when I was working for Mueller in the SS, right after I was promoted and transferred from Ravensbruke, I met up with her again, by accident, in a bar. She was masquerading as the Countess then. We were both perfect cover for each other so we became somewhat of a couple. She was the one that engineered my exit before the Reich fell. We went as far as Alaska together, then we split and went our separate ways."

Modega arched an eyebrow, "Uh Huh." He said in a sarcastic manner.

Darious stared at him, "And what do you mean by THAT tone?"

Modega snorted, "None of what you just told me explains why you would go to such lengths to see her again. Especially now, knowing exactly who she is."

Darious looked out the window again, a far away expression on his face. How could he explain it to Modega when he didn't even wholly understand it himself? It was more like how she made him FEEL and what he felt like around her. How he could be totally himself with her because she wasn't the least bit frightened of who and what she was, even with her knowing he was a demon. Or how she held and touched him when everyone else was frightened to, or just plain didn't want to because he made their skin crawl. How for the first time in his existence he had met a being he COULDN'T intimidate, even if he wanted to. How, when he was with her, he was happy, something he hadn't truly felt since she had passed out of his life. When he was with her, he had something he could look foreward to when he went home. That he felt complete. Darious just shook his head, "I can't explain it to your or myself for that matter. It's just something about her that draws me. I don't understand it."

Modega shook his head again. "Again, that is just what humans say about those women." He looked at Darious again but Darious wasn't paying attention; he was staring out the window, a far away look on his face. Modega cleared his throat and Darious jerked then looked at him. Modega shook his head. "You are woefully short of any kind of reasonable answer tonight aren't you?"

Darious just leaned back in his chair and glared at Modega but said nothing. He could sense the demons frustration and fright at what he perceived to be a weakness in Darious. He sighed deeply, then rubbed his face. "Modega, how can I give you answers when I don't have them myself?"

Modega rubbed his face wearily then sighed, "OK, tell me this then; what do you want with her? Don't give me some bullshit about just wanting to see her. I mean what do you REALLY want from her?"

Darious looked at him quietly for a minute or so, trying to formulate the answer the best way he could, "What do I want with her? I want what we had when we were together in Germany; to have her back in my life and, if she's willing, to live with me once again. It was nice to have someone to come home to."

Modega looked at him, utterly and completely horror-struck. "Have you completely lost your fucking mind? These women don't have companions; they have pets, that's it!"

Darious leaned back in his chair and steepled his finger then looked at Modega blandly, "She is a reasonable being from my experience, I am quite sure that she and I can negotiate a mutually agreeable situation that suits the both of us."

Modega looked at him incredulously, his jaw hanging open. "Negotiate? Mutually agreeable? You have lost it, Darious, completely. These WOMEN don't negotiate; they possess and take, then discard when they are done. That's IT! They are completely ruthless. You should know that by now!"

Darious looked at him, smiling, "We shall see, won't we? Are you forgetting who I am? And that I have a way of getting what I want?" His facade of confidence was flawless but it was just that, a façade. He wasn't about to reveal to Modega the turmoil he was feeling, that was akin to showing weakness to an underling, something he never did, even with Modega.

Modega shook his head sadly, "Demon senility is a sad thing."

Darious chuckled deeply, "Just wait, you'll see."

"Oh, I'll see alright. I'll end up seeing you sent back home or being on a leash after she's laid claim to everything you own. You've made up your mind to go through with this foolishness, so there will be no stopping you." Modega shook his head sadly.

Modega stood up and stretched his bulky frame. "This conversation is going no where. You are going to go ahead with this foolishness no matter what I say. I've had my say on the matter, so my ass is covered if it hits the fan. I'm going to go home and get packed. I'll see you at the airport in the morning. Don't get up, I'll show myself out." He then strode out of the study and within a minute the front door was shutting behind him.

Darious sat alone in his study for a long time, thinking. The realistic side of him knew Modega had a valid point, several of them actually. But that was overridden every time he thought of just how she had made him feel when she had been around, and by how it had felt to have her hold him.

He sat alone with his thoughts until Marcus came in to tell him everything was packed and ready to go. He then went up to bed to get some rest. All he ended up doing was staring at the ceiling until the alarm clock went off.

The long flight to LA wasn't the most pleasant he had ever experienced. Modega was quiet and withdrawn, obviously still upset about the conversation the night before. Nyssa, on the other hand, was very vocal about her displeasure at having to re-arrange her plans to make this trip. Marcus did his usual thing, found a seat in the back and was sound asleep shortly after take off. Darious listened to the grievances for a bit then got them settled down and got to work.

It was shortly after noon when they touched down in LA. Darious and Marcus went to the apartment Darious maintained in LA. Modega and Nyssa went to a hotel near the office. After settling in a bit, they all then met at the office, minus Marcus, and started working on setting up the meetings with the she-devils. But Darious' mind wasn't on business; all he kept thinking about was a tiny blonde woman with big brown doe eyes. He kept running her address over and over in his mind, counting the time until he could get off work and go find her. Nyssa kept having to swat him with a file to get his attention and get him back to work.

Finally, at about 4:00, it became obvious to him that he wasn't going to get any more work done, so he left for the day, leaving instructions with Nyssa to call him on his cell if anything came up. He left her at her desk happily writing out pink slips, humming to herself.

Instead of going back to the apartment, he drove around trying to find her house. It took him a while but he found it, in one of the upscale neighborhoods near the UCLA campus. He parked a little way down the block and just watched her house for a while. It was a nicely maintained, older, two story home with a large yard, immaculately landscaped and maintained. From his vantage point he could see a large in-ground pool in the back yard.

For at least an hour, he did nothing but sit and watch the house, not believing that behind those walls was the person that he had been searching for for well over a hundred years. Finally, around 6:30 PM, she walked out of the house. He sat up straight and stared, mouth hanging open. It was her, no doubt about it. Her hairstyle was more modern and she dressed like a typical college co-ed but other than that she was exactly the same. His eyes followed her until she vanished into the garage. When her sleek, black Lamborghini Diablo roared out, then down the street he started his Humvie and followed her at a discreet distance.

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First, she drove onto the UCLA campus and presumably went to class. He waited for her in the parking lot. At almost every other college campus in the country, the hummer and her car would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Here, they blended in well with a variety of other expensive vehicles. About an hour and a half later, she came back to her car, got in and once again roared off with her speakers blaring. This time she drove to a nearby McDonalds, where she met up with a group of girls. They sat down together to eat and gossip. He followed her inside, ordered a cup of coffee, and sat across the restaurant, watching her.

When she finished, he followed her home. He watched her house until it was dark. He then drove back to his apartment.

Marcus could see a strange look on his face when he walked through the door. It was not one he had ever seen before. He looked at him quizzically, but said nothing.

Darious didn't even acknowledge him and walked straight into the bedroom, shutting the door firmly behind him. He sat down at his desk, steepled his fingers and just stared out the balcony door across the LA skyline. His heart was still hammering in his chest from the excitement of seeing her again. Now, he just had to figure out how he was going to approach her. That wasn't something he normally had a problem with, but this time, he had to be extra cautious. He had just found her again and didn't want to frighten her off. He sat and thought, both about the current problem and reminiscing about their times together until it was full dark outside. He was finally jolted out of his revelry when he heard Marcus' bedroom door shut, signaling he was going to bed. Darious looked at the clock and was astonished to find that it was well after midnight. He got up, stretched, then started getting ready for bed. But again he didn't sleep. Unlike every other being on the planet, he didn't really NEED to sleep, but it did recharge his batteries and was a luxury.

The next two days pretty much followed the same pattern as the first one. He worked for a while, then spent the remaining time following and watching her. He was trying to find a way to build up his courage and approach her, something he normally didn't have a problem, with but she was different. He had to proceed with extreme caution.

Finally, Wednesday afternoon, when she met her friends for lunch at McDonalds, he felt the time had come. He was sitting across the dinning room, sipping coffee, watching her, when he felt he wouldn't have a better time to approach her. At least, he knew, she wouldn't make a scene. He swallowed the last of his coffee through the lump in his throat then walked over to where she was sitting with her friends. He put a hand on her shoulder and smiled, "Fyre, it's great to see you again."

She turned and looked at him when she felt the hand on her shoulder and about choked on her mouthful of Coke when she saw who was standing there. She stared at him, wide-eyed, for a minute before she could answer. "Darious. What are you doing here?"

All conversation at the table stopped when he started to talk. Her three friends stared open mouthed at the tall, handsome, older man that, obviously, was very familiar with their friend. They sat quietly, their eyes darting back and forth between the two.

Darious crouched down so he would be at eye level with her. He stared into those brown doe eyes that had haunted his dreams for so long, and almost lost all power of speech. He moved his hand down and placed it over hers and gave it what, he hoped, was a reassuring squeeze, "It's been a long time hasn't it?"

She nodded, looking deep into his piercing blue eyes. She was resisting the urge to wrap herself around him and hold him once again. Truth be told, she DID miss him and was very glad to see him. She had thought a lot about him since their parting, but she was realistic; she could not be with him because of what he was. It almost broke her heart all over again to see him right beside her and know she would have to tell him to leave. When she had had to leave him in Alaska, it was one of the hardest things she had ever done in her entire life. She had done it without looking back because, if she had, she would have turned around, not a viable option. She thought the whole thing was funny, in its own weird sort of way. Here she was, Lady Danyealla herself, the oldest, most powerful and feared she-devil above ground and she had fallen hard for the one being in the universe that was incapable of returning her feelings, a demon. But no, she couldn't do things halfway; she hadn't fallen for just any demon, no, not her; she had to fall for the Lord of Lust, Sex and Decadence himself. Well, no one ever said she did anything in half measures. There was also the added bonus that even she couldn't be with a demon unless she possessed him and made him her pet.

It was painful to sit and look into his eyes once again after over a century of being apart. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she could feel a flutter of excitement in her stomach. She tried to not let her emotions show and gave him a small smile, "Yes, Darious, it's been a very long time."

Her friends sat there, watching the exchange intently, twittering back and forth amongst themselves.

Darious ignored them completely, but their inane chatter was seriously getting on his nerves. He kept his eyes locked with hers. "I've missed you a great deal, Fyre. Is there somewhere we can talk more privately?"

A surge of relief coursed over her. She didn't want to tell him to get lost in the middle of a public place, but she would if she had to. She grabbed her drink then stood up, "Follow me." She then walked briskly out of the restaurant, with him hot on her heels.

She led him across the parking lot into the park that was a part of the campus. After a bit of walking, she found a secluded area where they could talk privately.

He stopped. Her back was to him but he smiled. It was so wonderful to be this near her again. They had parted well in Alaska, so he didn't anticipate any problems in re-establishing a relationship again. "You are just how I remember you."

Being alone with him made her heart soar, and sink at the same time. She desperately wanted to be with him again, but knew she couldn't set herself up for that kind of hurt. She just couldn't take that again. She took a few deep breaths and shut her eyes, feeling her heart ache at what she knew she had to do. It was time for her to be the cold-hearted bitch everyone said she was. She could feel a rage and anger build up inside of her, against the hurt that she knew she was going to inflict upon herself. In it was also frustration and anger at not being able to have the one thing in the world that she wanted most, to be with him and to have him be able to return what she felt for him. When she turned around to face him, her eyes were filled with the pain and anger she was feeling. "What in the hell are you doing here, Darious?" She hissed at him.

He blinked rapidly and took a step back. He had expected several different reactions, but not anger, and was taken aback and confused by it. "I.I was out here on some business, and after I found out where you lived, I wanted to see you again."

She glanced at him, "Fine. You've seen me. Now leave." She felt, when those words came out of her mouth, like someone had just ripped her heart out and stepped on it. She wanted to scream, yell, throw things, something, anything to ease the pain. He looked at her, bewildered, the hurt those words caused evident in his eyes. "What's wrong? I thought we had an amicable parting in Alaska?"

"We did. But that was then, this is now. That is long over, Darious. We have both moved on." Every word she said bit deeper into her soul, causing the anger to intensify within her.

He looked at her, even more bewildered. "I'm confused. Why are you reacting this way, if we parted on good terms? I don't understand."

She looked off over the park, unable to look in his eyes. "What we once had was good, and, yes, we parted on good terms. But that was a long time ago, Darious. Things have changed. I don't want to see you anymore."

He just stared at her, mouth open. "I, at least, deserve an explanation for all of this, Danyealla. With everything we went through together I deserve THAT much" He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He spent all this time longing and looking for her, now she was rejecting him!

She looked back at him, eyes cold and hard. "I don't owe you anything, Darious. But I'll explain it this way. This is not Germany; times have changed. I have changed. It was what it was in Germany. We both had a job to do then, and we each made excellent cover for the other. That is all it was. That is all over now, so us being together has no purpose. So, leaving all this in the past is for the best. Forget me and move on, Darious."

"I can't forget you!" He hissed through clenched teeth. He could feel his anger rising as the hurt he was feeling grew. "I've tried to forget you, and can't."

"You need to give me a better explanation than you just did, because what you just fed me was a load of bunk, and we both know it!"

She glared back at him. "I don't owe you shit, Darious!"

"Yes, you do! I've never done anything to you to earn being treated in this manner." He shouted at her. "I though we meant something to each other after all the time we spent together."

She just looked at him. "Forget me, Darious. Forget me and move on. We can't ever be together again. Accept that, and find someone else. Act like I never existed."

"I can't forget you, can't your understand that? I've tried. I dream about you still, about the way we were together; about the way you held me, how you were the only being that WOULD do it willingly, because you wanted to, not because I asked you, or forced you to, how you were the only being ever that wasn't the least bit frightened of me. I can't forget any of that.

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"Your eyes still haunt my dreams. I close my eyes at night and still see them.

"I have tried to forget you but I can't, I just can't! I've tried to find someone else, but there just isn't anyone that can measure up to you." He told her softly, stepping closer. "Please, Danyealla, tell me the real reason I can't be back in your life."

"Because you're a mother-fucking demon, that's why!" She shouted.

He looked around, in alarm, to see if anyone had heard what she had said, but there wasn't anyone close by. He then looked back at her and hissed, "Please keep your voice down. You may be able to withstand being outed, and go on with your life much as you have before, but I can't. It would ruin me.

"What I am never bothered you before. Why, now, is it the reason I have to stay out of your life?"

She just stood there and stared at him for a minute before she answered. "In Germany, you served a purpose for me, so I overlooked it. Now, that purpose is gone. I don't want to be with a demon. I just can't go through it all over again. I couldn't stand it. I've had enough hurt in my life that I refuse to subject myself to anymore. I just can't take it."

"How did I hurt you? I never did anything to hurt you, ever! I wouldn't." He said, totally befuddled and bewildered.

She looked back at him, eyes full of hurt and anger. "Yes, Darious, you hurt me. What you are hurts me. I am not going to subject myself to that again. I just can't tolerate that anymore."

"If I did hurt you, tell what I did. I know I can't fix it but I won't ever do it again." He was searching his memory for something, ANYTHING, he may have done to hurt her, but couldn't think of a thing. As a matter of fact, he had gone out of his way not to hurt her, from his recollection.

She sighed, and looked away. She wasn't about to tell him the real reason behind the hurt; he could use it as an advantage against her. "Just go, Darious. Just leave, and forget you ever found me. Forget me, and move on. That's the best thing for both of us."

"I can't forget and move on, I keep telling you that!" He hissed at her. "Are you afraid of me? Is that the problem?"

She looked at him blandly. "I'm not afraid of anything anymore, including your ultimate boss.

"Just walk away, Darious; just walk away and forget me."

"I can't! Don't you get it? Tell me what is going on and perhaps we can come to some understanding about it." The hurt he was feeling was starting to make his temper boil. He wanted to lash out but in doing so he knew that would just make the situation all the worse. He was trying to keep a tight hold on it, but it wasn't easy.

She glared at him. "There can't be any 'understanding', Darious. It's over, done, kaput, finished. Accept that. Go away and leave me alone!" She was fighting the urge to throw herself into his arms and never again let go. But, she knew that wouldn't solve anything. She could see the hurt in his eyes, the same hurt she was feeling. She was trying to do this without getting either of them hurt anymore than they already were, but he wasn't letting that happen. It was killing her to see the pain in his eyes, knowing she caused it, but he wasn't leaving her any other choice.

"I cannot accept that there is no mutual solution to this. I can't! You need to tell me just what the exact problem is, then I am sure, between the two of us, we can work out a solution. There is always a way. Just tell me, please!" He could feel her slipping away from him, and he refused to let her go without a fight.

She shook her head vigorously, "There is no solution, Darious. You cannot change what you are and what you are is what the problem is! There is no fixing that."

He looked at her, a confused look on his face, "My nature is lust, sex and decadence, I don't see where that is a problem. You seemed to like it before, as a matter of fact. But I can suppress that around you if need be."

She shook her head, "Your nature isn't the problem; your physiology is the problem. You are a demon and there isn't a damn thing you can do to change or suppress that. Because of that, you are incapable of giving me what I need and long for from you. There isn't any way around that, Darious." When those words came out of her mouth, she could feel her heart breaking all over again.

He looked at her in stunned silence for a moment, then opened his mouth to say something, but shut it again. She had given him something that was very hard to argue with. After pondering for a minute, he replied softly, "I can try. Just tell me what it is you need and want and I will do my best to give it to you. Just give me a chance. That is all I am asking from you, a chance."

She shook her head sadly, "There is no way around what you are, Darious."

He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, trying desperately to think of something, anything to get beyond what she said. His mind raced over every possible scenario but none were viable.

She stood there with her head lowered, fighting back the tears that were threatening. Over the years, she had played over every solution she could think of to the problem, but could come up with nothing. It was going to break her heart all over again to see him walk back out of her life; she didn't think she could stand it, but it was the only way. The alternative would hurt even worse. She leaned her head back and shut her eyes to keep the tears from spilling over.

He walked around in circles, muttering to himself, eyes on the ground trying to come up with something, anything, to be in her life once again. After several minutes of deep thought, an idea hit him. He walked back over and knelt down in front of her. "Danyealla, Dani, Kat, I will give you everything I have, my company, everything I own, and will be your pet, your toy, your slave, anything you want, just to be able to be in your life. That should give us all the time we need to work out any issues we have."

She looked down at him and shook her head sadly. "No, Darious. I have never had a pet as long as I have been alive and am not going to start with you. Besides, what I want from you I can't get by possessing you."

He sighed deeply and looked up into her eyes. He could see unshed tears in them, sparkling. He reached up to touch her face but she caught his hand and gently stopped it.

"Please, Darious, don't. You are making this harder on both of us than it has to be. Lets just both walk away now and not make it any worse than it already is."

He stood up and rose to his full seven foot height, towering over her diminutive, slight 5'3" frame and looked down at her, quiet. He felt like there was a war going on inside him, pulling him in two different directions. His natural instinct was telling him to say fuck it and either posses her or walk away. But there was something else there, something he had never heard or felt before telling him to tough it out and stay, that they would find a way to work it out. The more he listened to that new instinct the stranger he felt. He was used to the hot lava feeling that always coursed through his veins, that maintained his constant inferno-like body heat. But as he looked down into her eyes, delicious and comforting warmth started to surge through his veins and envelope him. He looked down at her, his eyes softening, "Can we go somewhere else and talk? Somewhere a bit more private, maybe? You can choose the place."

She looked up into his eyes, trying to detect any kind of trickery, but saw nothing. She knew she shouldn't, that she should put an end to it right now and walk away, but she couldn't. She wanted to spend as much time with him as she could before the inevitable came and she would never see him again. She gave him the barest of nods. "I know somewhere we can go. I'll drive up. She then started out for the McDonalds parking lot, with him close on her heels.

He got his large frame squeezed into the little sports car and the door shut as the powerful engine roared to life, and she made a squealing exit out of the parking lot. Once she was on the freeway, she picked up her cell phone and started speaking rapidly into it in a language he didn't know or understand. He divided his time between glancing at her trying to understand the conversation, and hanging onto the dashboard for dear life, his whole life flashing before his eyes. She was doing at least 30 mph above the speed limit and was weaving in and out of the heavy traffic, paying no attention to the other cars. She turned off the freeway and navigated the narrow streets with ease, until she pulled behind a biker bar in a shabby run down area close to Compton. She then got out, and stood waiting for him.

He pried himself out of the small car and looked around warily. "Are you sure about leaving your care unattended? This isn't the best of neighborhoods."

She chuckled and grinned. "Ain't nobody gonna' bother my car. They know better." She then opened the backdoor to the bar and walked in.

When he walked in and caught the smell he understood her statement perfectly. This was a werewolf bar, a rogue and outcast one, no less. They weren't going to mess with ANYTHING of hers. Werewolves were known to be highly cautious of she-devils, since even the youngest could kill a full-grown male werewolf with relative ease. He chuckled deeply and shook his head. "No wonder you aren't worried."

She grinned, "Not a bit. The owner owes me a favor, so we can have the backroom for a bit. They won't bother us,no matter what they hear." She walked over to one of the booths along the wall that had two bottles and glasses on it. She sat down on the edge of the table and picked up the bottle of werewolf moonshine, called Werewolf Piss, filled the empty beer mug with it, then took a long swallow. Darious walked over and picked up the bottle of brandy sitting there and examined it. It wasn't the highest quality in the world, but it was passable. Certainly, it was a far sight better than what she was drinking. He poured some in the snifter and swallowed about half of it. He then leaned against the booth and looked at her. "Are you now ready to tell me what is going on?"

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She sighed and looked down. "Darious, I know I am hurting you by telling you to leave. It's hurting me too, a lot more than you know. But it's going to hurt a lot more if we are together. So leaving it just like it is for the best."

He shook his head, "I cannot accept that. How would it hurt more if we were together? I don't understand that."

She looked down at the floor and shook her head. "Darious," she sighed again, then was silent. She was trying to formulate a way to best phrase this, to minimize his hurt, and to not leave herself open for any manipulation. "Being what you are, you cannot give me what I want from you, and to be with you, without being able to have that part of it, would be a worse pain than being apart from you."

It seemed to him that she was glossing over something, either being unwilling or unable to tell him. "OK, that explains at least part of it. Now, if you would, would you please explain to me what it is I can't give you that you are wanting from me. Maybe I can and you just don't know it. Or maybe it's just something I have to work on to be able to do it is all."

She shook her head sadly, "It isn't, Darious. It is something that what you are prevents you from being able to do."

He sighed, deeply. "Just tell me, please. You say I can't,but maybe you're wrong. Maybe, with some work, I can give it to you. Neither of us will know for sure until you tell me."

She shook her head sadly. "Darious, just accept my word for it that you can't and let us both move on. Over the years I have thought about the problem from every possible angle, but there is no solution. Please, just accept that. I am not some cold hearted bitch that is trying to drive you away just for the sake of seeing how much pain I can inflict on you. I have a reason for this. Over the years I have desperately wanted to see you again. Yes, I knew where you were, I have always known where you were, since you left Alaska, but I didn't, because it would have just put us in the same situation we are now."

"How could you have known where I was for all these years and NOT come to see me? How? I cannot believe this situation is insurmountable. Nothing ever is. Just tell me what it is and together we will be able to find a solution, of that I am positive, Danyealla." He stepped closer to her, and tried to take her hands but she pulled them away before he could.

"Please don't do this, Darious." She whispered. "You are just hurting me more than I already am. Just walk away now, for both our sakes, please."

He could feel his anger starting to boil again. "Don't you get it? I can't walk away from you!" he shouted.

"Something about you, I don't know what, keeps drawing me like a moth to a flame. I cannot stop thinking of you. I need to be with you, and will stop at nothing until I am. There is no problem, no matter how large, that can stop me from attaining that goal. Whatever the problem may be, I will find a solution to it. All you need do is tell me what it is. It may take time, but I will find a viable solution. Just give me that chance, that is all I ask of you."

"Darious, please, don't do this." She stood up and looked up into his eyes; hers filled with all the pain and anguish she was feeling. "There is no solution for this. And I can't stand to be hurt again. I enjoyed being with you as much as you enjoyed being with me. It hurt me, worse than you know, when I had to leave you. Do you know why I never looked back when I left?"

He looked down into her eyes and was silent. In his mind, he could see her get out of the crudely fashioned bed they shared in the Alaskan cave, put on the knapsack and shift into her animal form, the beautiful clouded leopard, and take off out of the cave and across the snow covered Alaskan tundra without so much as a glance back over her shoulder, or a goodbye. "No, why?"

Her large deep doe eyes were starting to shimmer with tears again, "Because, if I had I couldn't have left. I didn't have a choice then, I had to go. Like now, I don't have a choice, we can't be together."

"But this isn't the same situation! We have a choice, now, all you have to do is make it."

She reached up and softly stroked the side of his face with her fingers, feeling a jolt of excitement from once again touching him. "No, it's not the same now. It's actually far less complex but the outcome is the same; I still can't be with you."

He reached up and put his and over hers, feeling a surge of excitement. He gazed down into her eyes, seeing all the pain and suffering contained in them. His gut started to twist into a knot at the sight. "Explain it to me then. Tell me the reason why, and how, I am causing you all this pain that even I can see in your eyes. I don't want to hurt you, but if I don't know what I am doing, I can't stop it."

She smiled at him sadly, "haven't your figured it out yet, Darious? It hurts so badly because I have a great deal for feelings for you, and being what you are, you will never be able to return them. I can't be with someone that, first of all, doesn't even know what they are, let alone how they feel, then will never be able to return them. To live like that would be a form of torture of the worst kind. Then, there is the extra added bonus that it is in your nature to manipulate and use someone's feeling to get what you want from them. I am old, Darious, and have been hurt enough in my long life. Despite what people say, I am not hard, cold and impervious to pain and, to have what I feel for you used against me, would almost surely destroy me. That is something I can't risk anymore."

He looked down at her wide-eyed, in shock. "I would NEVER do that to you! EVER!" The tears that had been sparkling in her eyes were now starting to roll down her cheeks. He gently wiped them away and looked back into her eyes. "I could never do that to you, Danyealla. There are exceptions to everything in this universe, and for me you are that exception. I would never.no. COULD never do that to you. In hurting, or using, you I would be hurting myself. I feel something for you, too. I don't know exactly what it is, but it is so powerful that it entirely overrides my nature, and what I am when I am around you."

She just looked at him and said, "Darious."

He cupped her face in his hands and looked at her earnestly. "I'll prove it to you! I'll do what no demon should be able to do." He got down on his knees, and looked up into her eyes, taking her hands into his. "Marry me, Danyealla. Be my wife."

She reached out and stroked his hair softly, shaking her head sadly. "Darious, marriage is for humans, not for the likes of us. It's no real commitment to anything. Your lawyer could untangle you from it in 10 minutes flat."

He sighed deeply and lowered his eyes. She was right of course. He thought hard for several minutes, trying to come up with something else, when a peace such as he had never known seemed to envelope him, and before he knew what happened, he looked back up at her and said softly, "Be my mate, then."

She looked down at him in stunned silence, her mouth hanging open. Mating was very different from marriage. It was far more binding; it meant forever, and there was now way out of it. There was no formal ceremony needed, no piece of paper that needed to be signed but was more binding than any human contract. "Do you even have any idea what that means, and the ramifications of it, Darious?" She whispered.

He looked up at her,dumbfounded, not knowing where it even came from, or how he was able to say it. Demons weren't supposed to be able to. But it had come from somewhere and he went with it. "It means forever. Neither of us can get out of it. No loopholes. We are together, no matter what happens. Only death can end it."

She nodded slowly. "For immortal beings like us, it means eternity together. Are you SURE, Darious?"

He squeezed her hand tighter and nodded. "I am sure. I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't. Danyealla, be my mate, please. I'll beg you if that's what it takes. Please."

She looked down at him, tears starting to run down her cheeks again, nodded then whispered a soft, "Yes."

At that moment both of them felt a jolt, as powerful as a lightning strike, though it wasn't painful, hit them, sealing their mating.

But they weren't the only ones that felt it; all over the world, beings tied to them felt it. Marcus, alone in the apartment, was jolted so hard, while he was relaxing in a chair channel surfing, that every hair on his body stood on end. Immediately following, the phone started ringing off the hook for Darious, with calls from other demons wanting to know what that was, and what had caused it.

Mayhem was catnapping on Danis' bed, with dreams of being brushed playing a continuous cycle in the theater of his mind, when he was jolted awake by it. At first, he thought he had accidentally put his claw in a wall socket again. Once he stood up and felt the mattress under his paws, he was assured that that wasn't the case. With the sound of her phone starting to ring non-stop in his ears, he started to tear through the house, looking for the source of the jolt. Modega was in his office at Triple D, carefully going over a stack of paperwork sent over by the LA Pussycat, when it washed over him. He squeezed the fountain pen he was holding so hard it shattered, sending sprays of ink everywhere, covering his desk and suit. Immediately he grabbed the phone, and dialed the number for Darious' cell, muttering angrily, "What the fuck did that asshole just do?"

In South Carolina, in the conference room on the top floor of the tower that housed D2K, a high-powered meeting was going on about the contract with Triple D. It was attended by, not only upper echelon D2K staff, but members of the North American She-Devil Council as well. The jolt rocked most of the people in the room. Zarah and Zsuzanna, the head of the Council and the she-devil with the most political power and clout in the new world, looked at each other and said one word, "Dani." Zarah dialed Danis' number and Zsuzanna dialed Ravens.

In the Pussycat in South Carolina, Raven was sipping a beer, talking quietly with Travis, Jolene's' werewolf mate, when she was hit with something so powerful,it felt like someone had touched the base of her spine with a cattle prod. Because of her power telepathy, she was hit with it harder than the rest. The thick glass beer mug she was holding exploded in her hand, sending beer and glass in every direction, embedding large chunks of glass in her hand. Travis hopped over the bar, grabbed a clean towel, and hurried over to her. He was about to wrap it around her hand when she shook her head vehemently, and waved him back, "Don't touch me. The jolt of electricity you would get would singe your hair and shoot you across the room." She was pulling glass out of her hand when Joline walked shakily out o the kitchen, covered in gravy. She looked at Raven, bug-eyed. "What happened to Dani?"

Raven shook her head, "All I know for sure is, it's a good thing. I have a strong inkling as to what caused it, but I am not going to say anything until I can confirm it." She then answered her ringing phone.

Deep in the Siberian forest, in a castle-like fortress, Arkady was trying to mediate a screaming match between the heads of two werewolf clans. One minute he was in between two massive warriors with weapons drawn the next he was laying on the floor, stunned. The werewolves stopped arguing and helped him to his feet, asking him what had happened. All he could get out was, "Lady Danyealla." "At the mention of that name, the room grew quiet.

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In a floating casino/whorehouse off the coast of Monte Carlo, Azmodeus was lounging naked among a bevy of beautiful young women when he was struck with a searing pain that made him roar in agony. When it had passed, he bellowed Darious' name in rage, then reached for the phone.

Even in the deepest, darkest depths of hell it was felt. Lucifer himself, sitting on his throne, felt a twinge, just a small one. His curiosity aroused, he sent one of his generals to discover the source.

The whole world over, the children of Dani and associates of Darious felt it, and started to wonder. Immediately following, phone lines the world over started humming with people clamoring for information.

After saying yes, she wrapped her arms around him neck, buried her face in his hair and burst into tears. He wrapped his arms around her and stroked her back softly before standing up, picking her up and holding her tightly to him, "Don't cry, Kat. I didn't mean to upset you and make you cry." Unbeknown to him, tears were also running down his face as well, but, because of his furnace-like body heat, they were evaporating as quickly as they left his eyes.

She clung tightly to his neck and said, her voice muffled by his hair, "I'm not crying because I'm upset, I'm crying because I'm happy."

He nodded slightly, but was bewildered; that wasn't something he had encountered before; he had always associated tears with being sad or upset. He just held her close to him and stroked her back softly, until her muffled sobs diminished.

When her tears dried up, she pulled her face out of his hair and looked at him.

He smiled at her and reached up and stroked her hair softly, smiling even bigger, if that was possible. His cell phone was ringing non-stop in his suit pocket, and he could feel his beeper vibrating like mad on his belt. From the bench by the table, he could hear the muffled sound of her beeper and cell going off as well. He just stared deep into those eyes he had dreamed of so often, unable to say anything. His heart was pounding so hard in his chest that he thought it would burst. A warm, tingly feeling that he had never felt before seemed to completely envelope him. It was odd, but not entirely unpleasant. And he was shaking slightly. Finally, he just whispered. "My Kat, my Dani, my Danyealla."

She smiled up and him and wiped her face, then whispered, "My Darious." She then leaned forward and kissed him tenderly on the lips.

He kissed her back, equally as tenderly, holding her tightly to him.

Gradually, that soft kiss deepened and became something more passionate and fervent. He turned them around and sat her on the table, his mouth devouring hers. Soon, she was flat on her back on the table with him on top of her. Her legs were wrapped tightly around his waist, holding him to her. Her shirt and bra were off, and had been flung somewhere across the room. His suit coat had been flung onto the bench by her purse, his dress shirt was unbuttoned, and her hands were busy exploring his vast muscular chest. He was pressed tightly to her, his hand tangled in her thick mane of golden blonde hair. His crotch was pressing tightly to her, and he was unconsciously grinding his rock hard, throbbing cock against her jean-encased pussy. His nostrils were flared open, taking in the heady muskiness of her excitement. The more turned on he got, the more of a red tinge his skin got. Soon, as his excitement grew, horn nubs erupted above his temples and his eye color became a deep glowing red, the color of freshly spilled blood. His natural smell of sulfur and brimstone seemed to thicken, and permeated the whole room like a heavy cloud cover. His cock was becoming painful in the tight prison of his pants. He lifted off of her slightly and reached down and started to fumble with the button on the waistband.

It was there that seemed to bring her back down to reality. She pushed up on him slightly, "We need to stop, Darious. We can't be doing this here."

He gave her a seemingly uncomprehending look. "Why?" His voice was considerably deeper and huskier, like a long, low rumble of thunder.

She pushed him up further, then sat up, looking around for her shirt. "What is out front, Darious? Soon they would smell you if we kept up like we were. They may be rogues and outcasts, but even they would take umbrage at having a demon in their midst."

He took several deep breaths to get himself under control, then nodded. "You're right, of course. This is neither the time nor the place to continue." He looked around for her shirt. When he couldn't readily spot it, he took off his dress shirt, leaving on his undershirt, and gave it to her, staring almost completely entranced into her eyes. They had narrowed and changed into the greenish-golden eyes of a cat.

She put the shirt on, then buttoned it. Looking up at him, she grinned. "'Sides, if they came in, you wouldn't want them to see you as you are now." She looked down at his bare arms and chuckled, "You're skin has such a healthy, rosey red glow to it." She reached up and rubbed his horn nubs. "And those are so cute! But the bright, red glowey Christmas tree light eyes are the cutest of all!"

He reached up and felt the horn nubs, then looked down at his red tinged skin with utter amazement. "Well, I'll be. That has never happened to me before." He looked at her and grinned, his elongated canines flashing slightly in the dim light. "Only you could bring out that kind of reaction in me. I have to admit it's quite a novelty to come close to losing self control."

She giggled and grinned at him, then handed him his bottle of brandy and took a long pull off the bottle of moonshine. When she was done she reached down and snagged her purse off the bench, pulled out the beeper and cell, then proceeded to turn both of them off without even looking at the numbers of the people calling. She then looked at him, grinning. "There, that's better. The noise was hurting my ears."

He grinned from ear to ear, "To someone like me, that has to keep in contact with people, that is sacrilege."

She laughed, her eyes twinkling. "There isn't anyone I need to keep in contact with. And I have a very good idea what the phone calls are about, and at this point, I do not want to deal with it."

He nodded, understanding perfectly. He grabbed his suit jacket and pulled his own cell out. It was ringing madly. He glanced at the caller and nodded, "Marcus. If you'll excuse me, this is one I had better take." He then flipped open the phone and said, "Yes Marcus?"

"What the fuck happened?" Marcus yelled. "I got a jolt like I had stuck my dick in a light socket, then every hair on my body stood up and did the hula. I don't think I will ever get over it. What did you do, Darious?"

Darious grinned broadly at Marcus' analogy. "I'll explain everything when I get home Marcus. Just calm down and get your fur out of a knot."

Marcus sighed dramatically. "Easy for you to say, Godzilla. But I'm not the only one tied up in knots. I've taken I don't know how many calls from your colleagues from 'the land down under'. Whatever happened, everyone below got a jolt from it as well. Modegas calls every two minutes demanding to know why you aren't answering your cell phone. He sounds like a man that is having a heart attack and a nervous breakdown at the same time."

Darious chuckled at the "land down under" comment, Marcus' euphemism for hell and his, no doubt, apt description of Modega. "Tell Modega I'll explain everything when I see him next. As for the other, tell them Modega will get with them for an explanation after I'm done talking to him. That should satisfy everyone for now."

"Not quite everyone. The A-man himself called."

Darious sobered up immediately, knowing Marcus was talking about Azmodeus, but was too leery to say his name. "What did he want?"

"The same as everyone else, to know what you did. He's going to be calling back, what do you want me to tell him?"

"Tell him I will get with him about it when I get back to South Carolina. That should keep him at bay for now."

"We hope so, anyway. Can I just turn the ringer off and leave a message on the voice mail referring everyone to Modega if they have questions?"

Darious nodded. "Very good idea. Call Modega from your cell and let him know what I said then to relay the message to my boss. After that, just keep your cell on you in case I need you."

"Roger boss, will do. Anything else?"

"Not that I can think of."

While he was otherwise pre-occupied, she grabbed her cell and turned it on. After checking to make sure the line was clear, she dialed her home phone number.

Mayhem answered on the second ring, engaging the line by slapping his large paw on the speaker phone button. Dani had bought a phone with oversized buttons just so he could answer it. "Herrow?"

"Mayhem, it's me."

"Lady Bosh!" He started to dance around excitedly, his little stump of a tail wiggling back and forth at 100mph. "Where you at? Mayhem gots woked up by sumfing that felts like da' time my claws gots stucked in da' socket. It made muh hairs all stand up den da' phone started goin' 'naners. Want I should shred it, Lady Bosh?"

She chuckled a bit, but she could hear the undercurrent of stress and anxiety in his voice, "No Mayhem, no shredding the phone. But I do want you to turn it off for me."

Mayhem puffed up a bit at the responsibility she was giving him, "OTay Lady Bosh! How do I's do dat?"

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In very simple terms and slowly she walked him through how to turn the ringer off.

"I doos it Lady Bosh!" he crowed happily, very proud of himself.

"You sure did, I'm proud of you."

"Da Mayhem ish a good kitty!"

"He sure is, the best kitty in the world."

"Lady Bosh?" his tone took on an anxious note.

"Yes Mayhem?"

"Why for did da Mayhems' furs shtand up earliers?"

She kept her voice calm and even, "Mayhem, I know it was uncomfortable and scared you a little bit, but everything is OK. I will explain everything to you when I get home."

He sounded a bit more relaxed when he answered, "OTay Lady Bosh. Yous be home soon? Da Mayhem be missin' yous."

She smiled, "I'll be home pretty soon. I'll talk to you then."

"OTay Lady Bosh! Byesies!"

"Bye Mayhem." Then she hung up.

Darious was still engaged in conversation with Marcus so she checked the phone to make sure the line was free, then dialed Ravens' number.

Raven answered, sounding very harried and distracted, "Hello?"

"It's me, Raven."

Raven sat bolt upright in her chair and her eyes widened, "Dani!" All activity and noise in the immediate vicinity stopped and everyone stared at Raven, waiting with bated breath to hear what was going on. "What happened earlier? Everyone got a helluva jolt. Since then, my phone has been ringing non-stop."

"As has mine." Dani said with a deep sigh. "I had to have Mayhem shut the phone off at the house. When I talked to him, he was stressing about it."

Raven nodded, "Understandable. Poor guy. Now, would you care to tell me what caused that jolt?"

Dani was quiet for a minute or so, trying to figure out what to say. "Let me just put it this way, it wasn't a bad thing and it made me happier than I have ever been in my existence."

"I gathered that from what I felt, when it happened."

Dani rubbed her temple a bit, thinking. "This wasn't something she wanted to do over on the phone; it was going to be best handled in person. "Just let everyone know that I am fine, and that it was a good thing. Beyond that, I will get with you over the next couple days to set up a time where we can go over it. Even though I imagine, knowing you the way I do, you probably have a pretty good idea as to what it is. Is that alright with you?"

"Yes, its good with me. I just wanted something, ANYTHING, to tell everyone that has been calling me. And, as always, you are right, I do have a VERY good idea as to what happened, but I will keep my suspicions to myself as to what it is until we talk next."

"Thanks Raven, I appreciate it. But I do have another favor to ask you. May I put a message on my voice mail referring everyone to you? I'm not wanting to deal with them right now."

"That's fine. I think ¾ of them are calling me when they can't get hold of you, anyway."

"Thanks again, Raven. I'll get hold of you in a couple of days." She then hung up the phone.

Everyone was staring at Raven when she hung up, waiting for the news. She quickly re-iterated what Dani told her, then said, when she had more information, she would pass it along. Everyone nodded, looking much relieved.

Dani settled back on the table and took another drink, waiting for Darious to finish.

When he was done he looked at her and smiled, "I think I am done for now."

She nodded, "Good, I am too." She then took another long pull of the bottle and looked at him. "We need to talk, there are a lot of things to work out."

He sat down beside her, the table creaking under his weight, and nodded. "Yes, we do. I usually plan things in advance, have all the kinks and pitfalls worked out ahead of time, but not this time. I'm not usually that spontaneous."

She nodded, "Lets start with the obvious one first; living arrangements. I take it you being out here is not a permanent thing?"

He shook his head, "No, I am just out here for the contract negotiations with the Pussycat. While I do maintain an branch office out here, my main base of operations is still in South Carolina."

"And I take it moving it out here is out of the question?"

"Logistically and theoretically it COULD be done but it would take a minimum of a year to do it and in the process I would lose several key people that I really can't replace or function well without. Plus, most of my business contacts are in South Carolina."

She ran her fingers through her hair and sighed. "That's not viable then. Can you divide your time between the coasts?"

He shook his head, "I really can't. My presence is required in South Carolina too much for me to be-coastal."

She sighed again, "Is spending weekends out here at all feasible?"

He shook his head, slowly. "I do a great deal of work at the office on weekends."

"Well, I guess it falls to me then doesn't it?"

He nodded a bit, "Yes. Despite you being in school,your schedule and life style are far more flexible than mine."

She nodded, "Yes it is. Would you be able to handle me coming back east a couple times a month?"

He reached out and took her hand, smiling softly at her. "The decision is up to you entirely, of course, and whatever you decide I will have to live with, but I would like you back in my life on a full time basis. That was my ultimate goal in all of this."

"I don't want to leave LA. I like it here. I like the sunshine, warmth and the beach. I also like the hustle and bustle of it. And the nightlife suits my lifestyle." She sighed heavily. "I also don't want to move everything again now that I have it to where I am comfortable and have it just the way I like it."

He smiled at her. "IF you come back with me I will do everything within my power to make you as comfortable as I can and make the transition as easy as possible. You won't have to move anything at all; I will hire someone to do it. I have an anti-bellum mansion and it will be yours to do with what you want. I will make your life as easy as I can if you are with me."

"There is another consideration, Mayhem. He doesn't deal well with change and won't take the news of moving well."

Darious' brow furrowed. He was now a bit concerned, this was the second time he had heard this Mayhem mentioned in conjunction with her and he was unsure just who he was and what role he played in her life. "If I may, just who is Mayhem?"

She made a dismissive gesture, "Oh Mayhem is my pet, nothing to worry about."

He knew enough about she-devil society and their laws to know they kept men of all different races and breeds as "pets", basically an object to amuse themselves with, then to dismiss from their lives when they were bored with them. Now, he was a bit apprehensive. "A pet? You told me you don't keep pets."

She looked at him quizzically for a minute before realizing he misinterpreted the meaning of the word and started to giggle. "Not THAT kind of pet. He is a REAL pet. Mayhem is my pet cat."

Relief washed over him, "Oh, OK. I was getting worried there for a minute. So he's a housecat then?"

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"Something like that, yeah." She gave him a quirky grin.

He nodded, "OK, again I will do everything in my power to make the transition for the BOTH of you as easy as possible." He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "Please, Dani, come home with me. I don't want to be back out of your life again, now that I just got back into it. Whatever obstacles arise between the two of us, we can work them out together. But if we are apart it will make it infinitely harder."

She looked up into his piercing blue eyes for a moment, quiet, and then said, "Alright. But YOU are going to help me break it to Mayhem that we are moving away from the big sand box."

"I'll help in any way I can. Besides, I have to explain all of this to Marcus. He's stressing out and shedding all over my apartment at the moment." He said with a wry grin.

"Would you mind explaining to me just who Marcus is?"

"First, Marcus is a werewolf, hence the shedding comment. He is my slave,but in name only. In actuality he is my manservant/assistant."

She cocked an eyebrow at him, "And lover? You forget, I know you're bisexual, Darious."

He chuckled deeply, "No, he isn't. If I ever suggested such a thing, he would get a horrified look on his face, cross his legs and tell me to keep my donkey dick to myself."

She giggled, "OK." She then got a serious again. "Tell me, how are we going to do this? Stop at my place and tell Mayhem, then go talk to Marcus? Or the other way around?"

He sat quietly for a moment. "Why don't we kill two birds with one stone? I'll have Marcus meet us at your place and we can explain it to both of them at the same time. That way he can stop and pick up my car as well, so we don't have to go back for it."

She nodded, "Good idea."

"Thank you. So, tell me, is there something I could do to help get into Mayhems' good graces?"

She giggled a bit, "Mayhem is highly susceptible to bribery."

"I am not above bribing someone silly if that's what it takes. In Mayhems case, what would I bribe him with? I somehow don't think the usual large envelope of cash would get me very far with a cat."

She giggled more, "No, it wouldn't. He adores McDonalds' cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, fish fillets, French fries and vanilla shakes. Show up with any or all of those and you will start out very much in Mayhems' good graces."

"Say no more, it's a done deal!" He grabbed his phone and dialed Marcus' cell. When he picked up, Darious launched in. "Marcus, I have a couple jobs for you to do. First, I need you to go pick up my car for me." He quickly read him off the address where it was parked. "While you are there, pick up three each of their fish, chicken and cheeseburgers then an extra large fry and vanilla shake. Then, get something for the rest of us, say the menu times three. With me so far?"

Marcus chuckled as he was writing things down. He had never heard Darious sound so exhilarated. "Oh, I'm keeping up. Go on."

"Good! Then I want you to meet me here." He then rattled of her address from memory. "If I'm not there when you get there, just wait and I'll be there shortly. Got all of that?"

"Got it. Will get right on it."

"Good man!" he then hung up and grinned at her. "Got him on it. He should be at your place before we get there. So, shall we get going?" He smiled at her and held out his hand for her to take.

She smiled, grabbed her purse then took his hand and hopped off the table.

He pulled her close to him and kissed her softly before starting towards the door with his suit jacket slung over his shoulder but was stopped when she tugged on his hand. He looked at her quizzically.

"Would you please leave some money on the table for the drinks."

He nodded and grabbed his money clip out of his front pocket and tossed $2000.00 on the table then grinned at her. "I had to leave them a good tip." Then they walked out to her car hand in hand.

- The End -


[Note: this story is protected by international copyright law,
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