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His eyes flew open, the blood weeping from the scratches, and looked up at me. I felt so much anger from the thing and from myself. But the anger was only there because of the pain. The pain he caused because I let myself fal in love with him. I loved him once. It was a fact I could no longer ignore.

I mustered up all strength I had and pushed against the blackness in front of me. I wouldn’t let this happen. Not on my watch. I pushed and strained and for a second I felt a sense of relief and it was in that second that Maximus grabbed me by the waist and pul ed me off of Dex.

The thing let out a shriek and my legs kicked out as he held me a few feet above the ground.

“Ada, the rope,” he commanded.

She was on the floor kneeling over Dex.

“Leave him, get the rope. Get it now!”

Ada jumped up and snatched the ropes off the bed.

I flailed with my legs trying to get her in the face. I tried to burst out against Maximus’s stronghold but he was clutching my writhing body tight as a vice. For the time being. What would happen if I broke free?

I made another push from inside my mind, another attempt to get back in my rightful place. I imagined being stronger. I imagined being pure of heart. Being good. I imagined love. A big heart beating with love. The love I felt for Ada. Her apparent love for me. I forced that image onto the intruder with all my might.

And the kicking stopped. I fel limp in Maximus’s arms and Ada quickly, but with great hesitation, like I was just fooling and reading to smoke her, started to tie my legs.

“No, onto the bed,” he said, and brought me over to it and lay me down. Ada worked on my legs while Maximus tied up my arms.

Meanwhile, Dex slowly got to his feet, rubbing his throat and staggering a little. He leaned against the bed post and tried to catch his breath, wheezing loudly. His throat was pink and you could see the indents from my fingers.

He was looking at me as if I had just betrayed him. I never wanted to hurt him like this, but what did he expect, just waltzing in here like that? Did he think I was going to welcome him with open arms?

So, I didn’t apologize. Even in the throes of demonic possession, I chose to be stubborn.

When they were done constraining me, Ada touched his arm gently and asked if he wanted ice. He shook his head, his eyes stil focused on mine.

Maximus folded his arms. “I told you so. You’re going to have a heck of a mark on your face there.”

Dex’s eyes flitted to the scabby scratch that stil scarred Maximus’s face.

He coughed. “That how you got yours?”

“She’s feisty.”

Dex grumbled. “I guess we’l match then.”

Maximus chuckled to himself. I didn’t like the sound of that chuckle. It wasn’t humorous.

“Not quite,” he said and winked at Dex.

I didn’t like that either. Ada paused beside me, her hand resting on my arm and we watched them, feeling tension boiling in the room.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dex asked suspiciously.

Oh, God. I had a feeling. It’s a trap! I wanted to yel .

Maximus shrugged and ran his hand through his hair.

“Oh, nothing,” he said, extra laziness in his drawl.

He sauntered to the end of the bed and leaned against the opposite bed post, copying Dex’s pose exactly. He smiled slowly at Dex.

I opened my mouth to say something, anything, but Maximus was fast on the draw.

“I just had no idea she was such a wildcat in the sack.

Oh, it wasn’t like that with you?”

I heard Ada gasp dramatical y beside me. “What?


Dex didn’t say anything. In fact, it looked like he hadn’t real y heard him properly.

He cocked a black brow. “Excuse me?”

Maximus’s smile grew wider. His white teeth flashed against his tanned face.

“You heard me. She’s a freaky little one. Good thing I kind of like it rough.”

And that’s when it hit me. That sleeping with Maximus was as vengeful on my behalf against Dex, as it was on his.

Maximus stil never got over the whole band thing, the whole girlfriend thing, never stopped having it in for him. We both fucked each other to get back at Dex.

And that’s when Dex hit Maximus.

His dark eyes flared furiously as he came at him with a dead-on, unforgiving punch to the jaw. It sent Maximus’s jaw back and he went stumbling backward onto my desk and computer, which crashed in the middle beneath his hulking frame.

Ada and I yel ed in unison. Dex was relentless and went after him stil , jumping on him and continuing to throw punches everywhere he could. He was quick, precise and tireless.

Then my parents were in the room, crying out in shock at the scene of scrappy Dex beating on the giant ginger and destroying my room in the process. Meanwhile, their demonic daughter remained tethered to her bed lest she join in on the fun too.

My father grabbed at Dex’s arms, pul ing him back to stop.

“Go help him!” I whispered to Ada.

She ran over to Dex and got in between him and Maximus, pushing him back with her hands.

“Enough!” she cried out. “This isn’t helping Perry! That’s not why you’re here. Remember.”

She put her face close to Dex’s, forcing his raging eyes to look at hers and not at Maximus. He bit his lip, hard, and nodded. He closed his eyes and relaxed and my dad hauled him over to the other side of the room while my mom scurried over to Maximus and helped him up.

“What on earth is going on?” My dad’s voice boomed above all the commotion. He brought out the angry teacher persona plus his Italian bravado. He looked at Dex and gave him a dismissive push back. “Why is he here?”

“Dad!” I yel ed at him. I couldn’t believe my father just shoved him.

“I cal ed him,” Ada explained, and joined Dex by his side. “I thought he could help.”

“You cal ed him of all people?” my dad jabbed his thumb in his direction. Dex straightened up and raised his chin defiantly but my father held his gaze. “After what you did to my daughter, you should be glad I’m merely going to kick you out of my house.”

Dex cocked his head to the side. “How about what you did. Your little daughter there is tied to her own bed. She’s sick and getting sicker by the minute.”

“She’s going to the hospital first thing in the morning.”

Dex was about an inch tal er than my father but seemed so much more when he took a step closer, looking straight at my father with steely eyes.

“If you take her there,” he said, brimming with conviction, “you wil kil her. You have no idea what you are dealing with here.”

My father didn’t move. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you had a plan.”

Dex glanced at me quickly, then looked back at him, Ada and my mother. “I do have a plan.”

“Wel it’s too bad you can’t stay to tel us about it,” my dad said snidely. He placed his hands on Dex’s shoulders and brusquely directed Dex toward the door.

My breath caught in my throat. Despite the anger, the pain he caused me, he couldn’t leave me. He couldn’t just leave me like this.

Dex stopped by the door, causing my dad to halt abruptly. He eyed Maximus, who was holding his jaw in pain and shooting daggers at him. Then he turned around and smiled sweetly at dad and mom.

“It’s funny that you both don’t remember me,” he said with false disbelief.

My parents shot each other quick, confused looks.

“We’ve met before,” he continued, nodding at them appraisingly. “Back in New York. I was just a young fuck at the time. I had a deadbeat, alcoholic crazy bitch of a mother and a wonderful nanny. She was a bit loopy too...”

“We don’t know what you’re talking about,” my dad said.

I had no clue what Dex was talking about either. New York?

Since when did my parents live in New York?

But my mom, her face flinched with horrible recognition.

It didn’t last long but I picked up on it and Dex did too. He squinted his eyes at her and smiled, leaning in closer.

“When I turned eighteen, I changed my last name to mother’s name. To honor her death. Guess I was sentimental back then. Before that, my name was Declan O’Shea.”

My dad’s eyes widened. Then he gave Dex another light push against the shoulders and said, “You need to get out of here. Now.”

“Such a rush?” Dex asked, and was wil ingly turned around.

“I have no problems cal ing the cops on you,” my father responded. We all knew he was dying to do it. Maybe get them to take me with them.

He ushered Dex out the door before he could look back at me. My mother and Maximus, with his rapidly swel ing jaw, went after them.

Ada stood in the middle of the room watching the blank spot where they all had just been. Final y, she looked at me with her big eyes. Damn. What the fuck just happened?

“I’m so sorry, Perry,” she said. “I didn’t want to tel you. I didn’t tel anyone. I just couldn’t let this happen to you. I just thought, of all people, even if you hated him, that Dex could be the one to help.”

“He said he had a plan,” I said slowly. It hurt to talk now, and I was growing more exhausted by the second now that the commotion was over.

“I don’t know what it is. But when I cal ed him and explained, he said he’d take care of everything. He drove straight here. But -”

“He’s Declan O’Shea,” I said softly. My head rolled to the right as she came closer. “Why do mom and dad know him?”

“They said they didn’t,” she said. She peered out the window. “But I think they’re lying.”

“Is he out there?” I asked, unable to look.

“Yeah. Dad’s making crazy gestures. I think he’s yel ing at him.”

She looked down at me. “Liars or not, you can’t expect dad to, like, be happy to see him. After what he did to you.”

“Ada. I don’t want him to go,” I slurred the last part. I was losing consciousness. I didn’t know if it was the after-effects of the pil s or if there was a takeover at hand.

“I don’t either. But he’s going.”

I heard his Highlander start outside and then the sound faded. all my hope went with it. I had Dex for a few minutes and even through all the rage I felt, the hurt and humiliation, seeing him had fil ed me with a resilience I hadn’t felt in a long time. Like I had a fighting chance.

Now, he was gone. I had nothing left but questions.

“When did mom and dad live in New York?” I asked with the last strength I had.

Ada came at sat on the bed. “I don’t know. Maybe when mom was modeling? You need to sleep, Perry. I’l be right here.”

I nodded, then slept.


I awoke to the sound of my window being jimmied. My eyes flew open. It was dark in my room except for my bedside lamp and I was stil in bed, stil tied to the posts. My muscles ached and cried from being pul ed in the same position for so long. I was alone.

Wel , not quite.

The window finally slid open, clattering in the frame. I froze, unsure of who it was, what it was. Did the winged demon babies finally come for me? Was it something worse, like the giant spider?