A Demon's Devotion

Chapter 04

by Mesmerciless

Tags: #cw:noncon #D/s #demon #enslavement #f/m #pov:bottom #sub:female #blackmail #contemporary_fantasy #dom:male #humiliation #hypnotic_eyes #hypnotic_gaze #impact_play #magic #marking #Master/slave_language #mean_girls #modern_fantasy #nonhuman_character #pov:top #revenge #riding_crop #supernatural_romance

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Beatrice felt stares sticking to her bare skin as she entered the classroom. Not that it was a surprise: her dress had earned plenty of unwanted attention throughout the day. She supposed that was her “Master’s” intent. He’d vetoed all the other outfits she’d texted him that morning, whittling her options down to a strapless, lavender dress and the black heels she was currently tottering towards her desk on. Despite her best efforts, she stumbled a little as she reached her chair, a flush of embarrassment burning across her features. How far would it travel, she wondered? Would it stop at her cheeks, or trickle down to the exposed flesh below? Would it stain her naked shoulders and tightly packed bust, marking her body with bright red shame?

Beatrice sat and crossed her thighs, willing her racing heart to slow. She cast a glance in Levi’s direction, and found her eyes meeting his. He turned back to his notebook, a devilish smirk tweaking his lips. The smug bastard. Didn’t he realize how strange it was for her to be wearing such a formal outfit to school? Did he care? Or were her exposed legs and jiggling cleavage his only goals?

Either way, he seemed rather happy with the spectacle. As did every other gaggle of boys she’d had the misfortune to encounter. Was this what Levi meant by making her feel like “an object of desire?” Could he sense when she was dodging catcalls in the halls, or muttering excuses to skeptical teachers? He’d said that lust was his main source of energy, but it wasn’t like struggling to walk was making Beatrice particularly lustful. It just made her feel…hot and…weird and…it made class difficult to concentrate on.

Which was why it took Beatrice a moment to realize their teacher was staring due not to her clothing, but her lack of response.

“S-sorry,” she stammered, brushing her hair back and recomposing herself. “I…didn’t quite catch the question?”

Mr. Werner frowned, the wrinkles on his tired face deepening. “I asked if you were ready to present, Ms. Fontaine.”

Shit. Her poetry assignment. After everything that’d happened this week, her homework had completely escaped her. “Um…” she put on an abashed smile and her best puppy-dog eyes. “Is there any way I can get an extension? It’s almost done, I swear, but with my mom’s campaign and swim practice, it just kinda…”

Mr. Werner sighed. “I’ll give you one more day. But this is your last warning. If the work isn’t done and done well, there’s a weekend study hour in your future.”

“Right.” Beatrice’s expression brightened even as she groaned inside. “I understand. Thank you.”

Mr. Werner nodded and moved on. Beatrice allowed herself a tiny sigh of relief, but the feeling didn’t last long. No sooner had the next student started presenting then the shadow of the demon’s gaze fell upon her neck. She stiffened, and chanced a look back.

Levi’s expression was neutral. But his displeasure was unmistakable.

Beatrice silently cursed as she faced forward again. What was his problem? Didn’t he realize it was his fault that she’d been so distracted lately? And why did he even care? It wasn’t like getting good grades was gonna make her hornier. If he was hoping to train her to get off on schoolwork, he had a hell of an uphill battle coming.

Not that she’d try to stop him. Whatever instruction he planned on giving her, it’d surely be preferable to another round of punishment. Yesterday’s “lesson” had made that much clear. Even now, the memory of her spanking sent shivers beneath her dress, racing over her crest and the faint markings lingering on her ass. Those would fade eventually, but she doubted she would ever forget them. Never in her life had she come so hard and so frequently. And to think it came at the hands of Levi Ehrlich…to think that his willowy body had somehow forced hers into submission…to think of how he’d stripped her of her senses and dignity, how he’d lavished her with praise, reproach, pain, and pleasure, to the point where their differences ceased…it was enough to make her…make her…

The bell chimed. Beatrice blinked. Class was apparently over.

And the demon was waiting by the door.

Beatrice huffed, but kept her voice low as she followed him into the halls. “What do you want now?” she asked. “Don’t tell me servants are expected to get straight A’s now.”

“Not exactly,” Levi answered. “But they shouldn’t be stuck in detention when their Master calls either. We must work to avoid that.”

“Meaning you don’t trust me to do this on my own.”

“Given your usual work ethic? Absolutely not.” He checked his phone. “You have swim practice this afternoon, yes? We’ll meet at your house afterwards.”

My house?” Beatrice repeated. “Why? What’s wrong with your place?”

“Nothing,” Levi shot back, a little too quickly. “It’s…simply a change of scenery. That’s all.”

Huh. That wasn’t the response Beatrice was expecting. She made note of it, but decided not to press the issue. “Alright,” she conceded. “My place it is. But I dunno when my parents are gonna show up, so…”

“That’s fine,” Levi gave a curt nod. “Just…don’t make things difficult, okay?”

“Sure,” Beatrice replied, suppressing a grin. She turned away as Levi departed, hoping he wouldn’t sense how pleased she was. The line about her parents was a total bluff, but a useful one. So long as she didn’t lean on it too hard, the threat of their return should limit Levi’s pervy options. And the fact that Beatrice would be playing on her home turf meant she could put some of her preparations to good use.

As she rounded a corner, she drew her phone from her bag, reviewing the list of exorcism methods she’d researched overnight. Most of them weren’t feasible, of course, especially given her limited resources and time. She would have to be super careful with their deployment as well. If Levi suspected what she was up to, it wasn’t hard to imagine his response.

Still, it was worth a shot. She knew resisting Levi’s power was a fool’s game. But that didn’t mean she was out of plays just yet.

Beatrice felt like an idiot.

She tried to get into the mood, imagining lengthening shadows and suspenseful music as she took measured steps around her home. That was how these scenes always played out in movies, right? The heroine preparing for the battle ahead, laying mystical traps and defenses with careful precision, conquering her fears and steeling her faith in the face of looming evil.

Beatrice tossed another handful of table salt over the carpet. A car passed outside with its radio too loud. As exorcisms went, this one was hardly a box office smash. If anything, it was giving Beatrice the vague impression that she was somehow pranking herself.

Though there was still a chance she would have the last laugh.

She consulted her phone again, repeating the chant on her screen as she stepped into the kitchen. The salt would be harder to hide on the tile, but if she spread it thin enough maybe it wouldn’t matter. The instructions were a little unclear on that point.

A familiar engine rumbled outside. Beatrice dashed the salt she was holding across the floor, and hurried through the chant’s final lines, completing a magic circle with her steps before rushing to the front door. By the time the bell rang, the spell was complete. The snare had been set.

She pulled the door open. “Welcome back, Master,” she said, hiding her nerves behind a deferential curtsy.

“Good evening…” Levi replied, his eyes narrowing as he stepped inside.

Beatrice’s shoulders stiffened. For a brief moment, she wondered if he somehow knew. But then his gaze flitted across her t-shirt and leggings, and she realized what had actually caught his attention.

“What happened to your dress?” he asked. “Did I give you permission to change?”

“No…” Beatrice answered, careful to keep her voice level. “But you didn’t say I had to keep it on either. You just told me to wear it to school so…” She balled her fists, ready to feel her bridle snagged at any moment.

Instead, Levi let out a weary sigh. “I see. I did say that, didn’t I?” He rubbed his face, seeming more crestfallen than spiteful. “It’s a shame. You looked quite beautiful.”

“Um, thanks.” Beatrice nodded, subconsciously counting the steps as she led him towards the kitchen.

“Did you find the outfit disagreeable?”

“What? Oh, uh, I dunno. I’ve never been a huge fan of dresses. And it felt weird wearing something so…fancy, I guess.” There was another reason for the wardrobe change, but he couldn’t know about it just yet.

“I see.” Levi muttered, seeming completely unaware of the magic circle he was now at the center of. Beatrice held her breath. If the post on the internet was correct, all she had to do now was mutter one last prayer under her breath and…

Nothing happened. No flash of light, no sizzling of Levi’s skin. The knot in Beatrice’s gut tightened, but she managed to swallow her disappointment. After all, she didn’t even know what species of demon Levi was. He was clearly a creature of lust or desire, but that could place him in any number of supernatural taxonomies. And if there’d been one common theme in every article she’d read, it’d been that there was no such thing as a one-size-fits-all exorcism.

Which was why she had prepared backups as well.

Levi yawned, unshouldering his backpack as he scanned the countertops. “Did you prepare dinner as ordered?”

“Uh, yeah. Kinda.” Beatrice titled the oven door open, revealing two frozen pizzas baking inside. “You didn’t ask for anything specific though, so I figured pizza would be cool?”

The demon peered at the greasy, bubbling cheese, his nose wrinkling. “That won’t do. It’s bad enough that they serve this slop at our school. I refuse to suffer it otherwise.”

“Well geeze, excuse me Mr. Ramsay.” Beatrice rolled her eyes. “What did you expect? I’m a high school senior, not a four star chef.”

“Yes, I’m well aware of the rather…dismal state of home education these days. Were we in my time, a young woman like yourself would already be an accomplished cook.”

“Yeah, because that’s all she’d be allowed to do. Look do you wanna eat, or just bitch and moan like an old man all night?”

Levi shot her a look, and began rolling up his sleeves.

Beatrice straightened to attention and shut her mouth. “U-um. Sorry. Master,” she muttered, averting her eyes as he drew near.

“Is it safe to assume these pizzas are the best you have to offer?”

“I-I can make mac and cheese too, if you want.”

He sighed. “Then I suppose dinner will fall on me.”

Beatrice blinked, watching with confusion as the demon brushed past her and reached for the fridge. “Wait, seriously?” she asked.

“Do I seem like I’m joking?” Levi arched an eyebrow. “Your abysmal cooking skills will have to wait—the purpose of tonight is finishing your poetry assignment. While you work on that, I’ll see to it that we’re both fed.”

“Oh. Sure. Okay.” Beatrice shifted, the lack of discipline or punishment leaving her oddly listless. Then she remembered her plan. “Can I get you anything to drink?” she offered. “I can mix us something again, if you’d like?”

“Just water will do,” Levi replied, not bothering to look up from the crisper drawer.

Perfect. “Yes Master,” Beatrice chirped, pulling the filtered pitcher from its shelf. She carried it to the nearby countertop, trying to act casual even as her heartrate doubled. The internet was unclear whether only a priest could create holy water or not, but she’d blessed the container ahead of time anyway. There were also trace amounts of ground, anti-demon herbs floating somewhere in the mixture, though she doubted that would be enough to exorcise him. Still, if it had any sort of effect, that data would be useful for future attempts.

Beatrice passed the glass of water to Levi. He accepted it, and took a grateful gulp.

“Thank you,” he said, turning back to the fridge. “You may leave now.”

Beatrice grit her teeth, squeezing the air behind his back as though it were his neck. She turned away as he closed the refrigerator door, tossing out a tiny “Yes, Master” as she hurried out of the kitchen.

What the hell was going on?

Beatrice blew a strand of hair out of her face as she entered the den, thoroughly frazzled by the evening thus far. Nothing was making sense. Her exorcism attempts had barely even fazed her target, and now he was cooking as though he was the servant instead of her. Was he harboring some secret guilt about spanking her? That didn’t seem likely. But then, how else was she supposed to explain his rather…hands-off behavior?

Could it be that her spells were actually having an effect on him?

Beatrice pondered this as she lit candles around the den, evoking scents that evil spirits found hostile. Or so she’d read. The thought that this could somehow exorcise Levi seemed silly now, but then…maybe all these little efforts were creating some kind of drain on his power. Now that she thought about it, she realized it wasn’t just the bridle he seemed wary of evoking: he hadn’t teased her with the carrot all evening either. And he did seem rather tired. Could his fatigue also be thanks to her holy magic?

Then again…Beatrice settled on the coach and stared at her laptop screen, her twisting thoughts dancing across the blank page. As much as she wanted to believe she was to blame for Levi’s weakness, that explanation didn’t quite fit. He would’ve definitely noticed his own lack of energy, especially if it’d started the moment he’d entered Beatrice’s home. And unless he was playing some kinda elaborate mind game (a possibility she couldn’t rule out), he probably would’ve scolded or punished Beatrice the moment he suspected she was up to something. Yet he’d said nothing.

Well, even if her previous traps weren’t to blame, she could still take advantage of his vulnerability. Besides the candles, she had one more trick up her sleeve. Or hiding between her tits, as it were.

Refocusing on her assignment, Beatrice tried her best to actually get some work done. She still didn’t want weekend detention, with or without the threat of demonic consequences. Yet try as she might, she couldn’t get any words to actually stick to the page. She could hear something sizzling in the kitchen, drawing her thoughts back to Levi, raising fresh doubts and speculations. Was that a cough she just heard? Were the faint wisps of candle smoke actually reaching him? Or was she imagining things? What was he even cooking anyway?

It smelled nice. Though the scented candles soured it somewhat.

Finally, the sounds from the kitchen began to quiet. Beatrice looked up from her screen, and saw Levi enter the den. A paperback was tucked under his arm, two plates occupying his hands, both containing a seared pork chop and a tiny salad of mixed greens.

“I did what I could,” Levi groused, placing the dishes on the coffee table. “Though to be frank, there wasn’t much to work with.”

Beatrice swallowed, her mouth already watering. “Looks pretty good to me.”

“Faint praise indeed,” Levi replied, though Beatrice thought she detected a hint of satisfaction in his voice. “And how do your own efforts fare?”

“Huh? Oh.” Beatrice laughed awkwardly. “I got a few lines down, but it’s been kinda hard to focus. I think I might be, uh, hungrier than I thought or…”

“Let me see them,” Levi said, settling on the couch beside her.

Beatrice tensed, her breath catching in her throat. This was her chance. Her final shot. The candles clearly weren’t doing much to him, so this was the last arrow in her quiver. As she passed the laptop over to him, Beatrice subtly reached for the tiny chain around her neck, pulling the crucifix necklace out of her shirt. She let it fall across her chest, the cross pendant now fully visible to the demon sitting next to her. At first, nothing happened. Levi’s concentration remained fixed to the scant few lines of poetry on the screen. Then, when it felt like Beatrice lungs might burst, he turned to face her. His gaze flicked down, then back up to meet hers.

A fragile silence hovered between them. Beatrice gripped the couch cushion, her anticipation now boiling over into panic. It was clear the necklace wasn’t having an effect. Now all she could do was prepare for his retaliation.

But Levi just let out another sigh, and set the laptop next to her plate. “Obviously, you still have work to do,” he said. “So unless you want to be at it all night, I suggest you write while you eat.” With that, he stood, carried his dinner and book over to a neighboring chair, and settled in.

Beatrice remained wary, sneaking peeks at him while she pushed food around her plate. Was that really it? Had he somehow not noticed the obvious crucifix around her neck? No, he had to have seen it. So then why hadn’t he said anything? Was he playing dumb for some reason? Or did the necklace not even read as a threat to him? Were demons in real life that much different than they were in stories?

She probably wouldn’t find the answer tonight. And a part of Beatrice wanted to leave it at that. She’d taken a huge risk trying to exorcise Levi—even if it hadn’t panned out, at least Levi hadn’t caught on and punished her either. Yet far from relieving her, the lack of consequences just sharpened her anxiety. Something was definitely wrong here. And she wasn’t going to be able to eat or work until she got some answers.

“Are you…feeling okay?” Beatrice finally ventured.

Levi didn’t respond at first, his focus fixed on the open book resting on his knee.

“Um, Master?” she tried again.

“Hm, what?” he blinked. “Did you say something?”

“I asked if you were feeling alright. You’re not sick or anything are you?”

His brow furrowed. “No. Why do you ask?”

“You just seem a little…I dunno, tired?” She paused. “Did something happen while I was at swim practice?”

His eyes widened. “That’s none of your concern,” he stated, turning away with a scowl. “Now stop bothering me and focus on your work.”

“Yes, Master.” Aha. Her intuition had been correct. Something was eating at Levi, something unrelated to her and the failed exorcisms. Troubles at home, maybe? That would explain why he’d been so against studying at his place, though it didn’t account for his obvious fatigue. Even so, Beatrice couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever the explanation, it represented a chink in Levi’s seemingly impenetrable armor.

Unfortunately, as exciting as these conjectures were, they didn’t help much with her homework. In fact, they only divided her attention further. Between the deliciousness of Levi’s cooking and the mystery of his hidden weakness, thoughts of rhyme and meter struggled to compete. It wasn’t long before Beatrice’s plate was clean, and her half-hearted keyboard pecking drew Levi’s attention once more.

“Anything I should look at?” he asked.

“No, not really,” she confessed, flopping back on the couch with an exasperated sigh. “Maybe we should just call this a case of writer’s block and leave it at that.”

“Very funny.” Levi shook his head. “But I know you can do better.”

“Uh-huh. ‘Cause you think I’m secretly tanking my grade on purpose right?” she groaned. “I wish it was that easy. I just can’t concentrate on any of this crap. Dunno why they bother teaching us in the first place. It’s not like Robert Frost is gonna help me get a job or do my taxes or whatever.”

“How pragmatic of you,” Levi snarked. “But I’d wager most people with jobs and taxes would gladly pay to have a poetry assignment as their most pressing concern.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Beatrice waved the comment away. “I’ve heard that line before. I’m just so lucky to be so young, so pretty, and so totally stuck in high school, right? Why can’t I just shut up and enjoy the best days of my life, like every other idiot tells me to?”

“Well? Why can’t you?”

“Please. You’ve been a teenager more than once, right? You of all people should know how much it sucks.”

To her surprise, Levi let out a short laugh. “A fair point. Though in your case, at least the condition is temporary.”

“That’s just the thing though.” Beatrice sat up. “Everyone talks about how I’m supposed to use this time to figure out who I am, but then they won’t let me actually do the things I wanna do. Instead, they just cram the same stupid lessons down my throat as everyone else, like that’s somehow gonna help me. Like getting a fancy degree or working a nine-to-five is what’ll fix my life. As if the people who do that aren’t some of the most miserable motherfuckers on the planet. A planet which, need I remind you, is probably gonna burn and kill us all soon anyway. So really, what the hell is even the point?”

Beatrice lifted her hands in exasperation, only to be met by Levi’s inscrutable stare. Belatedly, she realized she’d ranted herself out of breath.

“Whatever,” she muttered, staring back down at her plate. “It’s not like you care anyway.”

Levi’s hand entered her vision, collecting her empty dish and stacking it atop his own. “The call of nihilism is tempting,” he said. “But you’re letting it deafen you to more pressing concerns. Namely that you don’t want detention. And you don’t want to anger your Master. Do you?”

Beatrice met his eyes. Behind the curtain of weariness, she could see traces of flame enduring in the darkness. She shook her head.

“Good girl,” he turned and headed towards the kitchen. “Then finish the assignment. It might not save the planet, but it will save your ass. For now.”

With that, he marched out of the room, leaving Beatrice even more adrift than before. Of all the ways for the evening to play out, this was not what she’d expected. The fears and hopes she’d been wrestling with had waned bit by bit, replaced by a strange feeling she couldn’t quite place. Déjà vu, maybe? There was something about the way they’d been talking, something about the look in his eyes and the tightness in her chest…it reminded her of their first night together.

And that gave her an idea.

Beatrice shifted on the couch, spreading her legs wide. She lay back with a sigh, hiking her shirt up to expose a swath of smooth belly before letting her hand trace the inner seam of her leggings. A moment’s hesitation: was she really about to do this? In some ways, it would go against her mission to resist Levi at all costs. Then again, it wasn’t like things had been going super well on that front. And besides, a part of her was curious about how he’d react.

So she closed her eyes, and thought back to that first night with Levi, back when she’d first glimpsed true shape of his demon form. The memories were hazy, yet still glowed with dangerous potency. Even now, she could summon those traces of heat inside her, could recall the pull of his gaze and the irresistibility of his voice. He’d conquered her completely back then, had opened her up and filled her with pleasures beyond mortal touch. Even the memories sent tingling embers across her skin. She wanted to chase them, to capture them, to press them deep in her flesh and reignite the fire that would melt her into mindlessness.

As if guided by these thoughts, her hand drifted over the taut fabric between her legs. Right as Levi returned.

He froze in his tracks, a full beat passing before he asked: “What are you doing?”

It was the exact reaction she’d been hoping for. Beatrice smiled. “I was just thinking. It could take all night for me to write something good enough for you. So instead…what if you did all the writing yourself? That way, my hands will be free for…other activities.”

Levi’s expression didn’t change, but she could tell he was tempted. He stepped closer, his eyes fixed on her face, as if he didn’t trust himself to look anywhere else. “A servant doesn’t bargain,” he growled. “She does as she’s told.”

A part of her shivered at menace under voice. But she didn’t flinch, didn’t halt her hand’s beckoning spirals. “A servant’s job is to please her Master, right?” she asked. “And what would please you more? Me trying to write poetry all night? Or me giving you…exactly…what you want?” She slipped her fingers into her leggings, her breath lifting as her palm glanced her crest. Her pussy tightened with anticipation, already wet and warm to the touch.

He sensed it. She could tell. That spark inside her was beginning to warm him as well. The ice in his expression thawed, bit by tantalizing bit, even as it was clear he was trying to hide it.

He cleared his throat. “There’s no need for these games. If I wanted you to pleasure yourself, I could simply force you to do so.”

“Mmmm…but that wouldn’t be the same, would it?” She bit her lip. “You don’t wanna force lust outta me. You want me to give it to you for free. Like a good girl should.”

Levi said nothing. His eyes darted to the laptop, then Beatrice, then away again. His erection strained against his jeans.

“Please, Master,” Beatrice breathed. “Let me be good for you. I want it so bad. I—”

“Very well.” He snatched her laptop from the table. “You may continue. But you must do so without speaking. I need to concentrate.”

“Yes, Master,” Beatrice purred, victorious. “Whatever you say.”

Levi moved to the neighboring chair, as though wanting to keep a safe distance. It was just as well: it left his servant more room to play. She stretched her legs out, making a show of wiggling free from her leggings before dropping them on the floor. Her panties were already soaked, her dripping sex having rendered them all but see-through. She hesitated, aware that Levi was watching out of the corner of his eye. A whisper of anxiety trembled up her arms as she pulled the damp fabric free. It was strange. She’d already been naked before him several times, had done far worse than masturbate in his general presence. Yet for some reason, the thought of doing this here, now, of her own volition…it felt like her heart was pumping helium into her brain. As her panties came free, she tossed them aside, accidentally hitting his foot in the process. He startled, and shot an incensed glare her way. Despite an instinctual twinge of fear, she giggled.

This was kinda fun. She’d been so caught up in trying to fight him off, she’d forgotten how easy he’d been to toy with. What was it he’d called her again? Tempting? Beatrice hefted her shirt above her head and unhooked her bra, pretending not to notice Levi’s staring as she kneaded her tits and sunk back into the cushions. A tremor of arousal wriggled through her. She wondered if there was something about her that drew him in, something that made her especially…tantalizing to demons. If Levi was to be believed, he’d been trying to avoid using his powers for eighteen years before they’d met. Yet she’d stolen that away with a single kiss, hadn’t she? He was a demon of seduction, and yet she’d seduced him, made him lose control moments before he stole it from her.

She wondered if she could do it again. Could she make him want her the way he had that night? Would he swallow her fears as he did back then, empty her of thoughts beyond service and surrender? Would he subsume her into his galaxies, ignite her body with blinding pleasure even as her soul sank into darkest abyss?

Could he tell now how much she craved it?

A moan shuddered from Beatrice’s open mouth, the softness of her breast stretching as she pulled the stiff pink nub of her nipple. As terrible as it was, she longed for it now, the wonderful oblivion that had claimed her that night. She wanted to feel herself stripped bare, reduced to her raw essence, a thing to be taken and fucked and devoured. She wanted to feel helpless and weightless in the arms that had claimed her. Free from the world. Free from humanity. Free to just…just…

Her mark pulsed, each joyful throb raising her up, up, closer to cresting that awful, beautiful wave she was chasing. She rubbed harder, faster, whimpers leaked from her lips as her pussy prepared to erupt. It was coming. She arched her back, a final spasm rocking her hips before…

She gasped. Her body folded inward as she came, every delicate muscle now seized with tremors of joyful release. She rolled to the side, her face pressing into the cushion, uttering broken, helpless cries. Unable to contain the feelings overflowing from within.

At last, when she was able to lift her head again, she did so.

And found Levi standing over her.

He wanted her.

That was the first thought to pierce the dreamy fog. She wasn’t sure if it came from Levi or not. But she felt it deeply all the same. It was as compelling as the black light in his eyes, the song in his slow, heavy breath. Traces of his real form flickered over his narrow frame, a cosmic shadow threatening to consume them both.

She wanted to touch it.

She reached out her shaking hand.

Levi jerked back. “D-don’t!” he exclaimed, stumbling into the coffee table before falling in a pathetic tumble. He scrambled upright, his eyes remaining fixed on her, as if terrified she might pursue him. “Y-you can’t…” He raised a warning hand. “I…”

He looked away. Beatrice sat up in stunned silence, covering herself without knowing why. Finally Levi rose, grabbing his book and storming away without a second glance.

“I have to go,” he said. And then he did.

In the silence that followed, Beatrice collected her clothes and dressed, too muddled and confused to do much else. Almost as an afterthought, she moved to inspect the laptop left on the chair. She scrolled down the screen. The poetry assignment was done. Her plan had worked.

Hadn’t it?

How dare she. How dare she.

The truck banged and clanked down the road, roaring as if fueled by the angry beat of Levi’s heart. He navigated the darkening suburbs on pure instinct, unable to think beyond the black, swirling clouds in his head. Headlights and street lamps passed in a blur. His hands twisted the cracked steering wheel.

How dare she. How dare she.

How dare she attempt such pathetic exorcisms. How dare she try to bargain her way out of her duties.

How dare she look at him like that.

She would have to be punished. No, ruined. This couldn’t stand. No servant should be allowed to behave in such a way.

No human should make him feel like this.

The yawning mouth of his cul de sac approached, the homes standing like teeth anticipating his approach. Levi slowed the truck, stilling his thoughts as well. He had to regain control, had to deaden his throbbing pulse. If only to make from the porch to his room unscathed.

The truck door slammed like a gunshot. Levi cursed his clumsy body, so unwieldy and unyielding to his wishes. He jammed his hands in his pockets, making his steps as short as he could manage. No doubt his father had heard the demon’s arrival. The question was: would the man care enough to act on it?

Over the click of the door handle, Levi could hear a sports announcer rattle off statistics. That was a good sign. Without a word, he stepped into the house, heavy shadows cloaking his entrance. As he set his shoes aside, he peered towards the flickering light of living room. The T.V. was on, the back of the couch crowned by a scraggly, balding head. The old man was right where Levi had left him, entranced by the game on the screen. The returning teen grit his teeth, suppressing the renewed fury in his gut.

How typically Thomas. It may have taken an infuriating amount of demon power to get him to shut up and sit down, but now that he was rooted to the couch, he probably wouldn’t move till morning. It was just as well—with any luck, the old man would still be passed out by the time Levi left for school. That would save at least one of them a headache.

Levi exhaled as he shut his bedroom door, the quiet and solitude offering space to rearrange his thoughts. There was no need to panic. No need to let his emotions run away with him again. He had to remain cool and in control. It was the only way he would keep a hold on Beatrice, the only way he could convince her to accept her training. That was why he’d said nothing about her necklace, why he’d pretended not to notice her fumbling attempts at magic. There was no use getting upset when he hadn’t the power to punish her again, no use letting his façade of omnipotence slip. Up until the end, the charade had been going well.

But then…but then…

Levi threw himself onto the bed, trying and failing to tear his mind away from the memory. Perhaps if he cast it in a different light. After all, wasn’t it a victory of sorts? Of her own volition, she’d given him the energy he craved, had replenished what he’d lost dulling his father’s anger. That was much more than he’d expected from a simple study session. He should be pleased with such a turn of events.

But he wasn’t. He felt restless. Frustrated. Grateful in some ways that he’d forced himself to leave…

…And yet sad that he hadn’t stayed.

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