Home > Shadows

Author: Suzanne Wright



It was the sharp ache in the back of her neck that woke her. Or it could have been the churning in her stomach, or even the awful throbbing in her head.

Too tired to open her eyes, Devon Clarke let out a quiet moan. God, she felt so unbelievably heavy. Her mouth was bone dry and her throat felt raw, but she wasn’t sure she could summon the energy to even reach over to her nightstand and grab her bottle of water.

Sleep threatened to tug her under once more, thick and compressing. Her inner demon nudged her hard, a sense of urgency in its manner that pricked at her hindbrain. The fog started to slowly clear from Devon’s mind, and she became aware of a dull ache in her wrists, shoulders, and ankles.

Brow creasing, she tried opening her eyes. Failed. She was just so incredibly tired and drowsy. Unnaturally tired and drowsy. She might have fallen back asleep, but the pain kept her from drifting and forced the last bit of sleep-fog to dissipate.

Her eyes fluttered open, but her world was a blur. She double-blinked, struggling to bring things into focus, and she realized she was looking at her jean-clad thighs. She also became aware that she was sitting on a chair, her head drooped forward, her long, ultraviolet ringlets hanging around her face like a curtain.

She slowly lifted her head, wincing at the stiffness in her neck. She went to give it a soothing rub, but she couldn’t move her arm. In fact, it was weirdly stretched behind her and—

Reality slammed into Devon, making her mind snap to full alertness. She glanced over her shoulder and, shit, her wrists were bound together behind the chair. Not by simple rope. No, it was a pure white energy rope that buzzed against her skin. She felt that same buzz against her ankles and realized that, yep, both were tied to the legs of the chair.

Her heart stuttered, and then it was racing like crazy. Shit, shit, shit. Devon tugged at the rope binding her wrists, and pain lanced through her stiff shoulders. There was no give in the energy knot whatsoever; it was so damn tight that her fingers were numb from poor circulation.

Fear gripped her tight and squeezed her insides. The dark power inside her stirred and uncoiled, wanting to be free, but it was trapped. And she realized that the energy ropes weren’t only keeping her bound, they were blocking her from using her abilities. Motherfucker. She hadn’t felt this helpless since—

Devon slammed the door on the memories.

Her gaze darted around the small room, and she sucked in a breath. She was in what looked to be a cabin. Slices of sunlight streamed through small holes in the wooden roof planks, casting light on the dust motes that floated in the air. The place stank of mold, pain, fear, and the old blood that stained the floorboards—some were reddish brown dots; others were larger and darker. The only furniture other than her chair were a stool and a work table on which lay safety goggles, gloves, and an array of torturous implements.

What. The. Fuck? Had she been taken by some psychopathic Dexter-wannabe or something?

The last thing she remembered was driving home from the grocery store. As she’d stopped at a red light, the front passenger door had swung open, a stranger had slid onto the seat, and then … nothing. Absofuckinglutely nothing.

She couldn’t smell drugs on her, so she was guessing she’d either been dealt a psychic blow to the head or she’d been spelled to sleep just as she’d been spelled to the chair. That meant her captor was either an incantor—no other demonic breed possessed and wielded magick—or a practitioner.

Her inner demon wasn’t afraid. The emotion was something it rarely felt, and it didn’t find fear unpleasant anyway. But the feline was baring its fangs, filled with an ice-cold anger that wouldn’t be sated by vengeance. Yeah, well, hellcats were a terribly vindictive bunch.

Her demon, like every one of its kind, was a cunning, conscienceless predator that possessed an addictive personality and felt no remorse, empathy, or love. It especially liked power and control, so to have another person subdue it and Devon this way? Yeah, the feline was beyond infuriated.

What was this all about? How did she get here? Who took her? Where was the bastard?

Where was the exit?

She couldn’t see shit out of the windows, thanks to the dirt smudging the view, so she had no clue where she was or if Psycho Stanley was close. The room only had one door, and that door was currently closed. She doubted she’d be alone for long. Someone would come—the same someone who’d brought her here.

As the feeling of being confined once more seized her insides, awful memories of that day long ago insidiously snuck back up on Devon. Again, she shoved them away. This wasn’t the time to reminisce. It was time to get her shit together and think. Plan. She needed to get out of this shithole.

She rocked and squirmed, but the chair didn’t even so much as creak. Sturdy fucker. Standing as much as the chair would allow, she slammed it back down. She did it again. And again. And again. And again. And—

The sound of hinges squeaking came from somewhere in the cabin.

Devon stiffened, her heart pounding as heavy footsteps came her way, scraping at the creaky floorboards. Moments later, the door was pushed open. A tall, lean male with shoulder-length black hair filled the doorway. This had to be Psycho Stanley.

He was still. Watchful. And as she found herself the focus of those soulless gray eyes, Devon swallowed hard. She didn’t let her dread show, though. No. Good at hiding her emotions, she kept her face blank as she resumed slamming the chair to the floor over and over, holding his gaze the entire time. If he expected her to shake with fear and plead for mercy, he was out of his mind.

The wooden planks groaned beneath his feet as he walked further into the room. “The chair isn’t going to break,” he said in a voice so devoid of emotion that it gave her the chills. An incantor, she sensed—and a very powerful one. “Far stronger people than you have tried it,” he added.

So, what, he made a habit of kidnapping people and bringing them here to be tortured with those implements on the table? Twisted.

“Bet you’re wondering why you’re a guest of my fine accommodations.”

She stilled, wanting an explanation.

“It’s nothing personal on my end—I’m just a bounty hunter. Someone will be here to collect you very soon. Someone who’ll deliver you to a person who must want you very badly, because they paid me a huge chunk of money to acquire you.” He grabbed the old stool from the corner and slid onto it. “But then, this isn’t a job anyone would do without the promise of a hefty reward, is it, considering you’re a good friend and employee of Harper Thorne?”

Yeah, no one in their right mind would want to upset Harper. The co-Prime of a large demon lair that spanned most of Vegas and even some of California was powerful in her own right. Her mate, Knox, was rumored to be the most powerful demon in all existence, and he really hated it whenever anyone upset Harper.

Devon’s own lair was small and mostly made up of imps. And since imps lived for pissing people off, her Prime—who was also Harper’s grandmother—had a whole host of enemies. It wouldn’t surprise Devon if someone was planning to hold her hostage in order to manipulate Jolene. That would be a dumb move. There was no way to manipulate Jolene Wallis.

“There’d be no sense in screaming for help,” the incantor went on. “This plot of land goes on for miles and miles. There’s no one around who’d hear you. For now, little hellcat, your ass is mine.”

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