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I’m not even asking. I just can’t right now. Round and round the conspiracy theories go every time he drops a new bomb that changes the suspect pool.

Ezekiel pulls me closer, forcing me to turn around in his arms and let him hug me.

“Manella will be coming down any minute now. They’ve been in a meeting. You should go before he comes, or face your father if you’re ready,” Lamar says a little too hopefully, like he expects me to move back in today and pick up where I left off, when I can’t even remember where that is.

“I died a month ago,” I say to him. “I just got back today and found out I’m the Devil’s daughter, the end of the world, and apparently died five hundred years ago from a mysterious cause that is no doubt linked to hell. I think I’m going home to process for a while. It’s sort of been a shitastic month.”

He clears his throat, blinking as though he just realized exactly the load he’s dumped on me.

“Of course,” he tells me, smiling tightly. He grabs something from a bag and hands it to the guys. Jude accepts it as Lamar explains, “That’s enough power to cloak the entire home, should you choose to move its location. It’ll do that. It’s from Paca’s own stash.”

“Don’t ask that question, or we’ll never get out of here,” I tell Kai as he opens his mouth to ask a question, having already gravitated to my side. He looks at me, his mouth closing as he swallows the curiosity, and I add, “And I’m not ready to meet my family.”

“I can’t give you access to the underworld. Only Lucifer can do that.” Lamar stares at me with a smirk. “But she has access already. She’s still the same, unlike you four.”

Pushing away from Ezekiel, I start backing out. Ezekiel grabs another stack of the books that Lamar didn’t even offer, following behind me. Lamar just grins like he expected that.

“See you soon, Paca,” Lamar tells me.

In the next instant, we’re standing in the middle of the living room.

Jude opens his mouth to speak, but I hold a hand up. “Not now. Not today. Today, I need a drink, a lot of food, and other things that don’t have to do with hell.”

“I was just going to ask you if we’re calling you Keyla, Apocalypse, or Paca?” he asks, sounding way too damn amused. Why is he amused?

“Paca. It feels familiar, and it’s not quite as horrifying as the longer version,” I decide. “Besides, it’s growing on me.”

A heavy silence falls over us, none of us really saying anything after that, as we just stand in a semi-circular formation. No one is really looking at anyone.

Ezekiel leaves the room abruptly, and when he returns, a smile spreads over my face. He smirks as he hands me the jar he’s holding, and I take it, sniffing it first.

It smells like citrus, and tastes just as good. I file away one of his preferred tastes.

I turn it up and drain the entire jar. Before I can put it down, Jude is pushing another one into my hand.

It tastes like a Bloody Mary. Figures.

I wish I knew how I know what a Bloody Mary tastes like.

“Well,” Kai says as he tugs the drink from my hand. “We all wanted to know who we were.”

He takes a long drink then hands it off to Ezekiel.

“Yeah, but we didn’t expect it to be an ages-old, apocalyptic romance story,” I state dryly, stealing the jar from Ezekiel before he can get a sip.

My four psychos burst out laughing, and I turn to walk away, taking the alcohol with me.

“You four have a terrible sense of humor,” I call over my shoulder as I move to drop down in front of the TV. “Come show me how to livestream movies because I can only work the DVD player. I’ve apparently been studying Patrick Swayze when I should have been paying more attention to Keanu Reeves.”

Kai settles down right beside me, taking the remote. “I’m going to need more to go on than just Keanu Reeves, since I have no idea what that has to do with anything.”

Rolling my eyes, I point out the obvious. “I spent all those years learning about a lovesick ghost, assuming that’s what I was. When really, I needed to be watching Keanu.”

They just look at me like I’m crazy, and I snatch a quarter from the table.

“Heads, we watch Constantine,” I say as I flip the quarter. It, of course, lands on tails.

“What’s tails?” Jude asks as he drops down to my other side.

I sigh as I lean into Kai’s side, feeling some of the inner chaos settle as I soak in his warmth. “Devil’s Advocate.”

Chapter 15

“We were horrible people,” I state quietly to myself.

Apparently not quietly enough, since it causes Jude to jerk awake beside me on the floor-pallet-bed the five of us fell asleep on in the living room last night.

He groans when he looks at the time, and his arm tightens around me as he pulls me away from Gage a little.

“What the hell are you doing up so early after drinking all night?” he grumbles around a yawn.

He dozes back off, saving me the trouble of confessing my new obsession.

I flip the page on the book I’m reading—the book I spilled my blood on to make words appear.

It’s a very dirty retelling of how we fell in love in the life I had as a Duchess, who didn’t know she was quite so into debauchery when she was an innocent virgin the Duke—also known as Nicholai/Gage—forced her to marry him.

My gaze flicks over to Gage, wondering if he’d have a memory echo or whatever if I made myself look like this little drawing. Maybe all of them would.

Count Lavelle, also known as War—aka Ezekiel—was the first one to come in and defile the Duchess after the Duke gave his blessing. She really liked the way he just took her without warning.

The Duke watched, made her think it was him fucking her so hard from behind, when it was really the Count. My legs press together, and Jude tenses from beside me.

“What are you reading?” he asks, rousing from his sleep a little more.

“Go back to sleep,” I say in deflection, reading on as two Earls, who I’m assuming must be Jude and Kai, come to take their turn with their friend’s new wife.

As mortals, they could have any woman any time, it seems. But even with no prior knowledge of who I was or who they were, we all ended up in our little circle. I say circle, because reading all these has led me to believe we’re an endless line that is seamlessly tied together and ever circulating.

The part where the Duke holds his wife down for the two Earls to take their turns is wrongly turning me on. I can get an image of how confused I’d be if I couldn’t remember them, yet feel like it was so wrong to easily give into this.

They’d make me take it, knowing I’d want it, even without knowing me. They did make me take it. Over and over, and apparently I secretly loved it, even as I fought them as hard as I could.

It’s disturbingly wrong, which makes sense. I’m the Devil’s daughter.

That thought has marinated during the entire time I’ve been reading, reevaluating every active thought I’ve had.

We all fell in love eventually in this story. I skipped to the end, just to make sure, then went back to the beginning.

Well, the guys just have a strong bond in friendship, and they love each other like brothers. Kind of disappointing. I was hoping for some guy-on-guy action, even though I’ve never seen them cross that line before.

But they all love me. And I love all of them.

Yet we always sort of hate each other to start out with. At least a little.

It’s pretty hot when you read about it instead of feeling the frustration when it’s actually going on. I really want to slap them while reading the story about the Duchess. At least in the beginning.

Gage mutters something beside me in his sleep, moving closer as I fan myself and continue reading.

I have to quit reading this. Right now, with all that’s going on, sex doesn’t need to be on my mind. They didn’t even kiss me after we returned from hell, so I’m assuming they’re prioritizing as well, even though they did give me the night off to watch movies and sink into a silent stupor.

When I woke up at three this morning, I started reading. And haven’t stopped.

Do you know who my mother is?

No? Well, that’s because the Devil is an overachiever and had me on his own, and not in the way one might think. I was never really a child nor was I born. I was created.

I’m a manifestation of impurities and purities, then given a drop of Lucifer’s blood so I could take form. I’m apparently the most successful blending of the children because of my incomparable balance. My presence doesn’t hinder the balance topside no matter what day it is.

I’m a neutral entity. A weapon. A being who isn’t really supposed to have any personality at all, according to the original plan. I’m supposed to be cold logic and firm dictation.

Epic. Fail.

Lust is one of those impurities of mine. Love is one of the purities. Envy, of course, is an impurity. Greed is unsurprisingly not one of my impurities. I knew I wasn’t greedy. I’ve been telling the guys this, but they never listen.

They still haven’t bought me the gifts they bought those other women. Being covetous is certainly one of my impurities.

My entire thought process is making more and more sense the more I learn about my genetic makeup. It’s logically sound to dissect myself more now.


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