Devin endured Hell for a long, long time and has come out literally a changed man. Now a demon, he hunts for the one thing that can make him remember something of what it was to be human—however unfortunate that might be for his prey.
He stumbles upon James Goodman, who tugs at the nearly extinguished memories. The pair enter into a relationship that evolves into something more as Devin grooms James for his pleasure.
Though Devin is a demon and James merely human, who holds the power in their relationship is in question, and, in the end, who holds the winning hand may surprise them both.
ACE IN THE HOLE
Months later, Devin is imprisoned and James remains reluctant to face him. Torn and conflicted, he’s still reeling from the experience of living at the side and in the bed of the man his family has spent several lifetimes hunting.
James tries to find solace in the bosom of his family, but it leaves him dissatisfied and wanting, unable to fulfill the newly born cravings even he’s not sure he understands. Finally forced to serve his stint as Devin’s jailer, James returns to the place of Devin’s imprisonment, only to find his confusion grow with every day he spends with Devin.
And Devin may not be entirely out of cards.
Unbeknownst to the Goodman family, Devin’s influence extends far beyond the ten- by twelve-foot room in which he’s confined.
James comes to the realization that perhaps his great-grandfather’s plan hadn’t been for the family to save Devin after all, but instead to repay a debt owed—a soul for a soul.
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It was bad enough in the unforgiving light of day, when he had no excuses, but the dreams were a weakness from which he couldn’t run. James could keep Devin at bay and out of his head when he was awake, but at night he was vulnerable, incapable of defending himself from whatever Devin threw at him—all too often leaving James with come-wet sheets and memories of pain fading along his limbs. So he had tried to exhaust himself in any way possible, to make those dreams a trivial reality so they had no hold on him; but even when every last bit of his energy was tapped and unconsciousness violently dragged him under, he still found himself dreaming of Devin.
Not that he recognized everything in the dreams. Some of it was… different—a different Devin with a different face, full of more affection than lust, set in places James had never been.
That was almost worse. It was in those dreams that James knew the Devin he had always heard about as a boy, but had never seen—the Devin he had begun to doubt had ever truly existed.
The Devin he had always imagined as a child, hero-worship heavy in his heart.
With another breathless pant, James stared at the ceiling and debated going upstairs to slip into bed with Joanne. No matter his wishes or his level of desperation, he knew that would not work—it hadn’t any other time he had attempted it—so instead, he rose from the couch and padded quietly to the bar on the other side of his study. With ritualistic ease, James poured himself a shot of whiskey and slugged it back. He took the bottle with him as he slumped on the couch, settling it beside him like an old friend come to call.
It looked like yet another night with no sleep, his brain’s roughened edges dulled only by the soothing persistence of the liquor. If he were lucky, he would pass out too deeply for Devin to find him. If he weren’t, he would be too weak to fight back.
James was not sure which he preferred—the blankness of oblivion, or the excuse to just give in.
About the author
Call her ZANNE. She lives in beautiful, sunny Southern California, which is ironic since she tends to avoid the sun like it might incinerate her on the spot. While her colleagues often refer to her job as zookeeping, the technical title is actually middle school teacher. Misfit Prophets Beneath a Bankrupt Sky was her first published novel and her short story “Persephone Is Bleeding” was published in the Hungry Hearts anthology with Inkstained Succubus Press.
ZANNE can be found at: