Aires by Jessica Coulter Smith

Aires by Jessica Coulter Smith

Aires

Demon Guardians, Book 4

by Jessica Coulter Smith

Changeling Press

Ebook ISBN: 06749-02172

[ Demon Romance, MF ]

The unbearable heat of hell won’t be the only singe Della feels. Aires wants her like no other, and once he has a taste he’ll want to go back for more. There’s just one problem. She’s his charge, and as her guardian he’s meant to protect her, not lust after her. When another demon shows interest in Della, it’s all Aires can do to control his jealous rage. Sweet Della is meant to be his and no one else’s.

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Chapter One


I’d answered the call of my charge, Della, and now found myself facing a most unpleasant sight. A Surack demon had cornered her against a building. They weren’t known for violence though. A lower level demon, the Suracks were more mischief makers than anything else.

Was he leering at Della? Oh sweet Lucifer! Just what I needed, an amorous demon. Not that I could blame him, Della was certainly something to look at. I was, however, concerned that he’d gone after her in the first place. No, she wasn’t wearing a sign or anything that said she was protected by me, but demons could usually sense when a woman was under the protection of a Tinta demon. That he was blatantly ignoring it didn’t bode well.

When I’d materialized, I’d made sure no one could see me. Now I had little choice but to make my presence known. Allowing myself to show, I stepped forward.

The Surack glanced my way. “This is no concern of yours, Tinta. She’s mine,” he snarled.

I saw a spark of annoyance in his eyes. What I didn’t see was his intention to back down. “I beg to differ. She happens to be my charge.”

He looked my way again, scanning me from head to toe, as if sizing me up. I could tell by the look on his face that he was going to argue with me. There was something about Della that appealed to him, and it seemed he wasn’t going to give up his prize easily. Just what I needed.

“Just because she’s your charge doesn’t mean she can’t be with another demon.” He flashed his fangs at me.

I nodded my head toward Della. “She doesn’t look like she wants to be with you.”

The Surack frowned and looked at his cornered prey again. Maybe prey wasn’t the right word, since he didn’t seem to mean her harm. It was unbelievable that the demon thought he could just toss her over his shoulder and take off with her, and that she’d be happy to go. Didn’t he see the look of terror on her face? You could almost taste her fear.

Of course, Suracks were rather fearsome looking, with their gray skin, red eyes and long white hair. When they smiled, which was rare, a rather pointy set of fangs could be seen. Not to mention there was me to contend with. I wasn’t about to let him just abscond with her. It was my sworn duty to protect her. He had to realize it was futile to try and take her.

The Surack growled at me before turning back to Della. He held his hand out to her. “Come.”

She closed her eyes, tears slipping down her cheeks. “Please, don’t hurt me.”

The demon frowned, seeming puzzled by her reaction. “I’m not going to hurt you. I want you to be mine.”

Deciding enough was enough, I grabbed a handful of white hair and jerked his head back, slamming my fist into his nose. Black blood spurted and the demon growled. He twisted in my grasp and brought his leg up, kicking out. His foot glanced off my hip, and I quickly grabbed the offending appendage. I jerked him off-balance, sending him crashing to the ground. He wasn’t going to take Della, not on my watch!

The Surack flipped over and tried to sweep my legs out from under me, but I jumped up in time. When I landed, I drew my foot back and kicked as hard as I could. He groaned in pain and curled up. With a hateful glare thrown my way, he growled at me again.

“This isn’t over.” He threw an energy ball at me, then he disappeared.

Thankfully, his aim sucked and he missed. I focused on Della, who was trembling from head to toe. I approached her slowly, not wanting to frighten her any more than she already was. Her puffy eyes looked at me with uncertainty.

“I won’t harm you, Della. I’m your guardian. I’m here to protect you.”

I knew I was probably terrifying to look at, topping six feet by quite a few inches. I didn’t think my blue skin, dark eyes and long hair weren’t all that scary,. The small ebony horns on my head, however, were another matter. Black tattoos wound down my torso from my neck and shoulders. Thankfully, I’d donned jeans and a T-shirt before running to Della’s rescue so it made me appear slightly more human.

“My name is Aires,” I told her. “I’ve been your guardian for the past six months.”

“Only six months?”

I shrugged. “Your previous guardian was pulled from duty when you were nearly kidnapped. Lucifer decided you needed someone a little more detail oriented.” I frowned. “Although, since you were almost kidnapped again, maybe I’m not doing such a wonderful job, either. You seem to be a magnet for trouble.”

Her eyes nearly popped out of her head. “Lucifer assigned you to me? Why?”

I slowly eased forward. “Because you’re special, Della.”

Her trembling had subsided and she pushed away from the wall. I watched as she took a hesitant step toward me, then another. When we were standing barely a foot apart, I reached out and smoothed her hair behind her ear. She tensed for a moment but then relaxed when she realized I wasn’t going to harm her.

The fear drained from her eyes and a moment later, she was flinging herself into my arms. I caught her without thought to the consequences. Her soft body pressed against me was enough to short circuit my brain. I didn’t understand why though, it wasn’t like I hadn’t had women before. I was sort of known for my ability with the fairer sex.

Having her so close was just too much temptation for me. I tried to set her away, but she clung to me like a vine. Her hands fisted in the front of my shirt and I slowly lowered my head to hers, giving her time to back away. She held steady, even rose on tiptoe to meet me, and our lips met in the gentlest of kisses. It wasn’t much, as far as kisses go, but it was enough. I felt something inside of me shift and I pulled away. The gratitude shining in her eyes was like a bucket of ice being dumped over me. I’d kissed her because she was a desirable woman, but it seemed she’d kissed me as a way of saying thank you. That wasn’t what I wanted.

I set her aside and lightly took her hand. “Let’s get you home.”

With a blink, we arrived at her apartment and I released her hand. She smiled at me, a sweet smile of innocence. I knew I had to get out of there. If I remained around her, innocent was the last thing she’d be. I might have wanted to explore that kiss a little more, assuming she’d put real passion behind it and not just her gratitude, but I tried to convince myself I could never let that happen again.

With a nod, I blinked myself home, back to hell, where I belonged.

* * *

Even weeks later, that kiss played over and over in my mind. I was definitely in lust with my sweet Della. Other than checking on her, sight unseen, I’d avoided her since that moment. I couldn’t trust myself to be around her. If I were near her for any length of time, I’d do my best to seduce her. The soft feel of her lips against mine made me wonder what they would feel like elsewhere.

I’d had more than one fantasy about Della since that kiss. In my mind, I’d taken her in every way imaginable. On the off chance I ever got my wish, I’d disposed of all my toys and gotten a few new things specifically with Della in mind. Maybe one day I’d get to use them on her. I was tired of being celibate, but my cock only hardened for her. I’d never had this problem before, and I’d been alive for four hundred years, had even fathered a few children over the years, not that any were living now.

My nape prickled and I felt a sudden urgency to go to Della. My charge was calling me. Upon blinking myself into her apartment, the first thing I noticed was her terrified expression. A glance around didn’t show anything out of the ordinary though. Maybe she’d just been frightened of a spider or a mouse. I’d witnessed her irrational fear of the creatures before.

“What’s wrong, Della?”

She trembled and moved closer to me. There was a scuffling noise behind the wall, making her yelp and jump into my arms. Not that I minded her new location, but I thought she was overreacting a bit.

“Della, sweetheart, it’s probably just mice in the wall.” The endearment slipped out before I’d even thought about it. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to notice.

She shook her head. “It’s too big to be a mouse.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Get rid of it. It stinks, like sulfur.”

Sulfur? I didn’t know of anything that had that scent except lower level demons. Why would one of those be in Della’s walls? They were mischief makers, but I doubted it would harm her. Unless it was a jealous female, something Dominguez had recently gone through. Then again, there’s been that Surack from several weeks ago. Could he possibly be the one in the wall?

I set Della away from me and approached the wall. She was right. Up close I could smell the sulfur. Even worse, I could smell the stench of a Surack demon. It seemed I wasn’t far off. The pesky thing was back. He’d said it wasn’t over between us, but I’d hoped he was just blowing smoke and hadn’t meant it. It wasn’t like a demon to approach the charge of a Tinta, not if they wanted to live for long. What was driving him to break the rules?

“You might as well come out of there,” I said as I reached through the wall and jerked him out.

Sure enough, it was the damn Surack from weeks ago. He was definitely infuriated at being discovered. Or maybe he just hated the fact that I’d called him out. He’d been slinking around so maybe he hadn’t wanted Della to know he was there. The fact that he’d been spying on her pissed me off.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

His gaze strayed to Della.

Oh, I don’t think so. If he thought he was going to abscond with my sweet Della, he’d better think again. If anyone was going to take her to hell and ravish her body, it would be me. If the bulge in his pants was any indication, sex was definitely on his mind. I doubted a human would last long with a Surack. They tended to be rough, not caring if they pleasured their partners or not. I certainly didn’t want that fate for Della.

“You can’t have her,” I told him.

“She’s unclaimed.” His gaze met mine. “I want her.”

I really didn’t give a shit what he wanted. He wasn’t getting her. You’d think he’d have taken the hint during our last meeting. “No.”

His lips thinned. “What do you mean, no?”

“You can’t have her. She belongs to me.”

He turned toward Della once more and inhaled deeply. “Your scent isn’t on her.”

Damn Suracks and their super-sensitive sniffers. They were like bloodhounds. But if my status as her guardian wasn’t going to sway him into leaving her alone, I had no other recourse but to claim her as a lover.

“I’ve been biding my time. You know humans need romance. Make no mistake, she is mine.”

Della chose that moment to come up behind me and press herself against my back. I wanted to reassure her, but didn’t dare take my eyes off the demon.

“Who are you?” I asked.

He snarled. “Rickter, not that it’s any of your business.”

Not my business? He was salivating over my charge, intended to whisk her away if I was reading the situation correctly, and he thought his name was none of my business?

“You know who I am?” I asked.

“Her guardian.”

“Good, you remember, which means you’re getting on my bad side and need to leave.”

His lip curled. “Make me.”

Really? Could he be more immature? What was he, five?

Whether I liked it or not, it seemed I wasn’t getting rid of him without using force. The problem was that I didn’t want Della harmed, and she was very much in the way.

Gently pushing her back, I braced myself, expecting his attack. I didn’t have to wait long. With a roar, he lunged at me, his right hand curled into a fist, swinging at my face. Thankfully, I saw the move in time to block it and followed up with an upper cut to his jaw. His head snapped back, but when his eyes focused on me again, hellfire was blazing in their depths. Now I definitely had his attention. At least he wasn’t focused on Della.

He took another swing and I blocked it easy enough, but before I could regroup, he kicked out at me, catching me in the ribs. I tried to keep my expression neutral and not show how much it had hurt. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. I went after him, pummeling his torso before catching his cheekbone with a left hook. Another right to his face split his lip and had him spitting blood. I felt certain I’d loosened a few of his teeth. If I was lucky, perhaps a fang.

He growled and kicked out at me again. I caught his foot and twisted, throwing him off balance. He jumped back up and came at me again. Using a twist kick to confuse him, I nailed him in the ribs, cracking something. He shot me a dirty look and vanished.

I held a hand to my battered ribs and turned to look for Della. She was huddled in the corner, her eyes wide. I imagined it was rather frightening to have two demons fighting in your living room. It was only luck that prevented her furniture from being broken, or worse, a window.

“He’s gone. You’re safe, for now,” I told her.

She rose and swiftly moved across the room to stand before me. Gently, she lifted my shirt and pressed her fingers against my sore ribs. I winced at the pressure. I’d been in enough fights and wars to know they were bruised and not broken. Thanks to my demonic origins, I’d heal swiftly. By morning, I wouldn’t feel a thing.

“I’m fine, Della,” I assured her, hoping to ease the worry creasing her brow.

Her troubled gaze met mine, and I couldn’t resist taking her in my arms. She came willingly and rested her head on my chest. It wasn’t so much that she was small, but that I was so tall. At over six and a half feet tall, I towered over her five foot six inch frame.

Smoothing back her chestnut hair, I savored the feel of her against me. I wanted her, fiercely, but I was just as content to hold her. Della, however, had other ideas.

Curling her fingers in my hair, she pulled my head down and placed her lips against mine. The pressure was slight, a barely there kiss, but it was enough to ignite my hunger for her, making me ravenous to feel more of her. I licked at her bottom lip, and when she opened, I plundered her mouth, deepening the kiss. She tasted salty-sweet, and I knew she’d been eating pretzels and drinking her favorite soda, something she did often. Her hand tugged on my hair as she tried to get closer to me, and I tightened my arm around her waist. Kissing Della was every bit as wonderful as I’d remembered and I didn’t want to stop, but one of us needed to act rationally. If I didn’t stop now, she’d end up naked, bent over the arm of the sofa while I pounded into her sweet heat from behind.

I hadn’t thought it possible, but my cock grew even harder, straining against the zipper of my pants. Pulling back, reluctantly, I looked down into her upturned face. Her eyes were still closed, her lips plump from my kiss. Her eyes fluttered open and the passion blazing in their depths nearly took me to my knees. It seemed that delicious Della wanted me as much as I wanted her. Part of me wanted to throw her over my shoulder, run away with her, and bring her pleasure unlike any she’d ever known before, all night long. The part of my brain that was thinking clearly said it was best to take things slow and see where things went. Because deep down, I knew that one time would never be enough, not with her.

Her hand slid down my neck, then down my chest, coming to rest at the waistband of my pants. It would be oh-so-easy for her pop that button free and slide my zipper down, reach inside and see just what she did to me. I knew her sexual experience was limited and doubted she’d be so bold, but I could hope. Just one touch and I’d go up in flames. One touch is all it would take for her to claim me for her own. That thought shook a bit of sense into me, and I took a step back. She looked hurt by my retreat, but it was better this way.

“You aren’t safe here,” I told her. “Not by yourself.”

“If you’re my guardian, then you know I don’t have any family nearby. It isn’t like I can go stay with my sister. She’s all the way across the country in Atlanta.”

She was right. She had no family in sunny Southern California and very few friends. Surely one of them would put her up, though, at least long enough for me to sort out this problem. I just needed a game plan. It seemed the only way to send the Surack packing was to claim Della as mine, but I knew that it would the biggest step I’d ever taken, something that would change my life forever. And forever for a demon was a really long time.

“What about your friends?”

“Richard is currently seeing someone, and while I doubt Troy would mind me staying with them, it would just be awkward. They’re still in the first stage of romance, where you can’t keep your hands off one another. Melanie is expecting and dealing with her deadbeat boyfriend, who won’t take responsibility for the child or make an honest woman of her. Personally, I think she’s better off without him, but she’s a basket case.”

I tipped my head back and studied the ceiling, as if seeking answers where there were none. The weight of my decision settled on my shoulders as I realized what I had to do. It would be the hardest thing ever. Well, technically, at the moment, my cock was the hardest thing ever, but that was a complication I’d have to learn to deal with in the upcoming days.

“Pack a bag,” I told her.

“I just told you I had nowhere to go.”

“You’re coming home with me.”

Her eyes bugged out. “To hell?”

My lips quirked in a half-smile. “That’s where I live. Were you expecting the Ritz?”

She wrapped her arms around her middle. “Will I be safe?”

“Sweetheart, you’ll be with me. There’s no place safer.” As long as I can keep my dick in my pants.

She nodded and moved down the hall toward her bedroom. I followed at a distance, knowing that if I got anywhere near her and a bed, it would all be over with. She’d be as good as fucked. While I was usually into self-gratification, I was trying to protect her, trying to do my job. It just so happened she needed protecting from me at this point. It would be oh-so-easy to strip her bare, toss her on the bed and make myself at home between her legs.

I watched as she packed a bag. She only paused long enough to ask how many changes of clothes she would need. I shrugged and told her to plan on a week. Sweet Lucifer, I hoped it didn’t take that long. After three days I’d be losing my fucking mind, having her so close and yet untouchable. Of course, after both our first kiss and now our second, I had little doubt that she wanted me to touch her. I just didn’t think it was such a hot idea. If I buried my cock inside of her soft, wet heat, I knew I’d be a changed demon. One who would want to keep her forever.

Hmm. Now that I thought about it, maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea. What if my cock never wanted another woman ever again? Now that would be a travesty. Perhaps keeping her was the answer, both to my dilemma and hers. It would certainly keep that other demon at bay, since my guardian status didn’t seem to mean anything to him. Something told me now wasn’t the time to bring it up.

Once she was packed, I blinked us back to my place.

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