Page 4 of The Demon in Him

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Frank waited for my praise for his most recent idea, but I wasn’t feeling it. The legs of my chair hit the carpet with a dulled thunk as I tilted the chair forward before resting my elbows on the desk. “I’m not sure Florida is the place for our business. Keeping in mind one of us would have to relocate, temporarily at least, to get it up and running, and I’m sure as hell am not keen on living there.”

“I’ll go,” Frank offered, dropping into the chair on the other side of my expansive desk.

“Oh really?” I raised my eyebrows at him. “And Charlotte would be happy to uproot her career and go with you, I suppose?” While I ended on an inflection, it was a rhetorical question. Charlotte—Frank’s bonded mate, a human—was career-driven, and in the past three years since she worked as Frank’s assistant who subsequently fell in love with him—she’d worked hard to build a career as an architect. Frank knew as well as I she wouldn’t want to move, although she would if it meant that much to him. Frank was an asshole, but he loved her, and he wouldn’t want her upset.

“Fine.” Frank slumped back in the chair, lifting his feet onto my desk as I had done.

“Move them,” I snapped. It was my desk, and only I was allowed to put my feet on it. Besides, Frank was always issuing tiny challenges to my authority, and if I let even one of them slide, he would take a mile. He’d never screw me over—we worked too well together—but at the end of the day, demons were demons, and every struggle was one of power and territory.

He did as told with a sly look before sighing loudly and linking his fingers behind his head. “Where doyouwant to go then?”

“It’s not whereIwant to go but where it will be good for business.” I adjusted my tie, loosening the knot. “I’m thinking San Francisco or Chicago.”

Frank pretended to consider my suggestions, tapping his chin in an obvious attempt to mock me. I raised a brow at him, knowing he was baiting me, as he often did. Frank was adamant that I didn’t let my demon desires out often enough, and he was probably right. A few years ago, it had resulted in a loss of control that spelled absolute disaster I try not to think about. Every now and then, Frank did the psychological equivalent of poking me with a sharp stick to ensure I had everything under control. He also didn’t approve of the method I’d chosen over two decades ago to keep myself in control, stating that demons simply had to fuck and fight. But I disagreed, and apart from one incident, I’d been fine for my entire life on Earth.

Demons denied of their urges on Earth would turn into less than animals—a bundle of rage and desire—turning into our true forms and taking control. It ended up messy, so all demons who came to Earth knew they needed to give into their desires for violence and sex, lest they be forced to by losing control.

In saying that, demons didn’t usually stay on Earth as long as we had. I had well and truly turned my back on my heritage. Frank liked to play the line between the two.

But he was good at it, and I trusted him to maintain control.

“Well,” he said, slapping his palms on his knees. “Plan your arguments for later because I’ve got another meeting to go to.”

Standing to meet Frank before he reached the door, I slapped a palm against his chest. His lip lifted in irritation, and I smiled an easy, lazy smile that spoke of power. No matter how much I denied my demon, we knew if I wanted to call on that power, it was there, and I was older than Frank. Faster.

Although history had taught me he was stronger. Physically, he was bigger than me, despite being the same height. He also had years of fighting experience on me, years when I’d been busy finding other avenues to control my demon short of getting together with a group of demons and tearing each other apart.

There was a reason I left Hell, and mindless violence for the sake of it was one of them. But a few years ago, I had lost control, and my demon had taken over, almost forcing a full transformation before causing some serious damage. To this day, I was unable to recall how I had gotten there, but I found myself in a drug lab in the middle of the countryside, hours outside the city and alone with questionable men. By that point, I was already beyond reproach.

While my memory of the event is hazy, I do recall coming to my senses, a little bit at least, and found myself standing in the middle of the room with the remains of the men strewn around me. I had to swallow back the lump in my throat, holding down the bile as I remembered the metallic tang of the blood across my tongue. I never wanted violence. I’d spent decades trying to escape it, but I had lost control in the worst possible way and killed human men. Whether or not they deserved it was irrelevant. It was not my place to make that call. Usually, a demon killing a human would result in banishment back to Hell, but there had been no consequences, and no one had come to find and drag me away kicking and screaming. There was nothing.

Frank suggested the death of those men was God’s will, and I was nothing but a tool in the right place at the right time, exactly as I was meant to, to enact justice on men who deserved to die.

I didn’t buy it, but since I couldn’t think of another explanation, I said nothing.

Frank had taken me down that night. He had no choice, and although I couldn’t forget the feel of my claws tearing through the skin on his chest and his return blows, I’d been thankful he’d been strong enough to do it. And I’m certain he enjoyed the part where he knocked me out before shoving me in the trunk of his car. That was probably revenge for me grabbing at Charlotte. They had already begun the bonding process at that stage, and he was so possessive over her I’m surprised he didn’t kill me when I dared to touch her in my animalistic state.

Since then, I’d begrudgingly taken part in the fight club on the rare occasion my usual method of control wasn’t cutting it. There were two things a demon craved—fucking and fighting—and denied those on Earth would result in a loss of control while our instinct searched for what it craved, relentlessly and dangerously.

So control was essential.

My fighting skill had improved, and recently I’d bested Frank. These tiny rebellions of his within the business were his way of trying to regain some of the control he’d lost during the fight. The dominance that ran so thick through him had been challenged, and I was the challenger.

In his mind, at least.

Here I was a co-CEO, the boss, theman, but I also wasn’t going to tolerate his fits, and if I had to take him down in the office right here, I would. Sworn off violence or not, this business was mine, and I’d protect it.

“Correction,” I drawled, patting his chest lightly before withdrawing my hand, “Ihave another meeting to go to.”

“I thought we were meeting with the Macintyre clan for their new project?”

“I’mmeeting Mr. Macintyre, he’s one of our biggest clients, who I handle personally.Youneed to go deal with the Wilson account.”

Frank’s lip turned up, somewhere between a sneer and a snarl. “I can’t stand that woman.”

Laughing, I clapped Frank’s shoulder, his muscles tensing in irritation. “Oh, come on, use your world-famous charm.”

“Yeah, right. My balls shrivel up and disappear when she comes near me.”