She left him at the altar, but the devil is making him keep his promise.
Destiny is calling Chris, yet someone forgot to give him an instruction manual on conquering the world. Being the Antichrist is all well and good, but how is he supposed to know how to bring about Armageddon? He’s still waiting for his army of minions, the glory, the riches. And where is the respect?
You’d think any woman would be ecstatic at the thought of marrying the future ruler of the world.
She keeps spouting things like “forced to get married,” “love me for myself, not because Daddy made you.”
It doesn’t help that his psychotic mother with a penchant for playing with dead things has taken an interest. However, having her henchman of the apocalypse attempt to kidnap him isn’t the way to get in his good graces.
Things are starting to get complicated on Earth. Dark forces are rising, Chris’s powers are still developing—and he’s pretty sure his dad, Lucifer, wants him dead. What’s the destroyer of the world to do?
Point him to the nearest bar. This calls for more beer.
It was a dark and gloomy day for a wedding. His wedding, to be exact. The one currently on hold because the bride got cold feet.
More like hot feet considering how fast she booked it down the aisle.
Given he wasn’t all that keen on getting married, he might have uttered a sigh of relief. Dear old Dad heard it.
“Don’t just stand there, boy. Go after her.” Lucifer’s idea of a whisper boomed because of the acoustics in the church, the vaulted ceiling cradling sound and bouncing it.
To those who thought a church an odd place for the Devil to be, it should be noted that Lucifer was only prevented from entering holy sites. The bleary eyes of the priest presiding weren’t the only sinful things happening in this once religious place.READ MORE
“Go after her and do what?” Chris muttered as the crowd in the pews shifted restlessly. They also whispered. Mocked him. He noted their disrespect for later. One day, they’d rue their actions.
First, he had to get through this farce.
While his question was rhetorical, his father had a smartass reply. “Bring her back. Drag her by the hair if you have to. You’re a Baphomet. I’m sure you can manage to abduct one woman.”
“Have you met her?” Isobel might appear cute and sweet, but she could fight as dirty as anyone he’d ever met during his stint on the streets.
“She’s a woman. They like being manhandled and told what to do.”
Advice that might explain why the Devil couldn’t keep a steady girlfriend.
“I am not manhandling anyone.”
“Maybe if you had, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Do you need some pointers?”
Was there anything more annoying than a meddling father?
“Maybe she had to use the little girls’ room.”
“Or maybe you’re a little pussy who can’t control his woman,” said his dad in a high-pitched voice.
“She’s not my woman,” Chris muttered. But she could have been if he’d played his cards right. She wanted marriage. He wanted a blowjob. Apparently, he couldn’t have one without the other.
“Damned right she’s not your woman, which is the problem. Do I need to remind you of what will happen if you don’t marry her fine, tight ass?”
Ah, fuck. Father made it very clear what would happen if Christopher didn’t get married in his place. Murder and mayhem.
Given Chris still kind of liked the people his dad was talking about killing, he found himself taking long strides down the aisle, carpeted in red—the better to hide the bloodbath if this wedding didn’t happen.
At least Isobel hadn’t gone too far, having locked herself in a room off the church’s vestibule.
He rapped on the door. “Isobel, it’s me.”
“Let me in.”
She suggested he do something anatomically impossible. A pity really because if men truly could fuck themselves, the world would probably have fewer wars and a market surge on lube.
“Don’t be like that.” Women, always making a big deal out of nothing. “I’m sure we can talk this out.” And handle whatever thing had her panties in a twist. Probably on her period or something. Just his luck. “Open the door.” Christopher knocked again and tried to ignore the snickering crowd at his back.
Bloody gawkers, enjoying a man’s humiliation. Why couldn’t he be in the crowd pointing fingers and laughing? They wouldn’t laugh when he held their lives in the palm of his hand. One day. Because, hello, son of the Devil. He had a destiny to fulfill.
“Why are you being like this?” It might have emerged a bit whinier than he liked. An adjustment of his dick took care of any emasculation. “I thought you were happy to see me at the altar.” He certainly was. His father—the Lord of Sin, more commonly known as Lucifer, the asshole who’d decided to take an interest in Chris’s life—had given him an ultimatum: “Get married, or else.” Given or else involved painful torture, because dear old Dad was an expert, and a killing spree of Isobel and her entire family, Chris chose marriage.
At the time, he’d not known who the bride would be. Dad wouldn’t tell him, so Chris kind of expected some ugly crone of a woman at the altar. After all, why else would his deadbeat father force Chris to take his place in some decades-old promise?
But instead, Isobel, a woman he’d come to know and really like—and after whom he lusted something fierce, just ask his hand and empty lotion bottle—was his chosen bride.
A wife-to-be who’d slapped Chris once she realized he was her groom and then run off.
At the altar.
In front of a crowd.
His balls might never come out of hiding.
“I don’t want to talk to you,” said his obstinate fiancée.
“I call bullshit. You were happy to see me.” Her face had lit up once she recognized him behind the mask his father had made him wear. Just like Chris had felt a huge relief when he discovered his golden-haired Isobel—the hottie with the banging body—under the veil. A body I should be hitting tonight.
Period or not, he was getting some action on his honeymoon.
“Let me ask you something. Did you know you were marrying me today?” she asked from the other side of the thick portal.
“No.” Stupid father and his secrets. “But I have to say, I am really happy it was you. I thought Lucifer was marrying me off to some old wrinkled broad. I wasn’t looking forward to going down on old pussy.” But he had hoped if his bride were a certain age, she’d opted for removable dentures. He’d heard interesting things about gumming.
“You are such a jerk!” Isobel yelled.
Women could be so confusing.
“Why are you so pissed? I thought you wanted to get hitched.” Their last fight was about the fact that he wanted to get into her pants, but the only way to do so was to get married. At the time, he’d chosen to abstain. Marriage for sex seemed kind of extreme.
She didn’t take it well.
“I did want to be your wife when I thought you loved me. But we both know how that went.”
All too well, he recalled a moment in another church, when he’d gotten to first and second base and was rounding on third before he encountered a dilemma.
A magical chastity belt that wouldn’t go away unless he said “I do” with Isobel. In one of his less than shining moments, he might have balked.
“I’ll admit. I froze. But I’m all good with it now.” Especially now that he knew that not marrying Isobel was detrimental to his health. And perhaps he could admit, to himself only, that he really did like Isobel—argh, the dreaded little L word—and wanted to make things right.
“Isobel, did you hear me? I said I’m good with us getting hitched. You and me together, forever, duckie. Let’s do it.” Then they could really do it. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
So what if he hadn’t planned to get hitched for a while longer? Plans changed.
“Isobel?” He rapped against the door again and heard nothing, even when he leaned his head to press his ear against it.
“I don’t think she likes you anymore.” The words were spoken loudly and rimmed with brimstone.
Why can’t he just go away? All his life, Chris waited for his father to take an interest. Now that Lucifer had, Chris just wanted him gone.
The glare Chris shot at his father did nothing to wipe his smarmy smile. “Would you shut the fuck up?”
“Such disrespect.” Lucifer put a hand on his chest. “Suck-up. But kissing my hairy ass doesn’t change the fact that your girlfriend hates you.”
The idea of Isobel hating him struck a chord inside. One of denial. “No, she doesn’t. She likes me.” What wasn’t there to like? Tall, good-looking, decent bod, and, oh yeah, future Destroyer of Nations. Women everywhere would be lining up to get in his pants once he fulfilled his destiny.
But I don’t want every woman. I want Isobel. The plaintive note meant he needed to scratch or hit something. The person he chose as his target hit the ground, knocked out cold, but no one said a word. All eyes watched the byplay between Chris and his dad.
All eyes are on me. He’d have to do something.
“If she likes you so much, then why isn’t she answering?” His father, the original devil’s advocate.
Lucifer straightened his tie, adorned with red-eyed, cuddly koalas, and flicked invisible specks from his red lapel.
Christopher eyed the closed door. What logical reason could there be for her refusing to open? He’d apologized. Told her he wanted to marry her. Chris would have said dirtier things to make her hot, but her mother listened. That woman scared him.
“I’m sure there’s a reason she’s not answering.” Chris shrugged. “She’s probably fixing her makeup.”
“She’d better hurry up. The natives are getting restless,” his father whispered loudly as he peeked over his crimson-clad shoulder at the Rasputin clan filling the hall directly behind them. “The deal was that you’d take my place. I am a single, swinging man. I can’t get married. It would send unattached men around the world into a tailspin. The Lord of Sin must never allow himself to be restricted to one woman for life.”
“One woman?” Chris snorted. “As if you wouldn’t cheat.”
“I am many things, but despite what my brother says, I beat him fair and square each time. And some promises are binding, even to someone as sexually prolific as me.”
The very idea of a monogamous, married Devil did blow the mind. But the alternative meant that Chris would be required to take his place.
“Don’t you cheat on your girlfriends all the time?”
“Not exactly. I just sometimes forget to tell them things are over before I move on.” Lucifer smiled. “Although, that doesn’t happen as often now with texting and instant messaging. It saves on the unpleasant hysterics.”
The logic was something Chris could understand. No one wanted to deal with an irrational woman. Except, Isobel wasn’t being unreasonable. She was hurt because she thought he willingly married someone else after rejecting her.
The realization lit up like a huge light bulb in his head.
Hot damn, that’s why she’s mad. His powers must be growing. He’d just figured out a woman.
He faced his father. “You can stop bitching.”
“I don’t bitch. I—”
“Talk too much. I’ve noticed,” Chris interrupted. “It’s a wonder you get any shit done given how much you enjoy the sound of your voice. And it’s not even constructive advice.”
Dark slashes of brow rose high on Lucifer’s forehead. “You think you can criticize the Lord of Hell? I’ve been ruling my demesne for eons.”
“You’re old, I get it. And, yeah, I’m gonna criticize. You’re stuck in your ways. It’s why the world needs me.”
A hushed ooh went through the watching crowd.
“Are you challenging me, boy?” Lucifer leaned forward, his gaze intent, the fires licking and dancing in his pupils, the tendrils of them reaching out of his face.
Cool. Maybe one day Chris would inherit the trick.
“Your day is coming, old man,” spoken with emphasis, “but not today. Today, I am going to marry Isobel.”
“Good luck with that.” Lucifer pointed to the door. “Still closed.”
“She’s gonna open it.” Chris pounded. “Isobel, open up.”
Chris shot a glare at his father, who adopted a benign expression, but the flames in his orbs told another story.
He’s laughing at me.
Everyone is laughing at you. An insidious reminder.
Christopher glared at the door. If only it would open, he would see Isobel, make her understand.
She was just playing hard to get.
Needed a little more time to get over her snit with Chris.
He waited, knowing the door would fling open any second now.
“We’ve waited long enough,” announced someone behind them. “You are reneging on our deal, demon!”
The crotchety complaint rang loudly in the vestibule, and people automatically shifted to make a path as the elder Rasputin—the Rasputin, the wizard who’d once ruled Russia via a puppet tsar—strode to the forefront, his bald pate shining, his long beard oiled, his thin lips twisted in annoyance.
Lucifer turned to face the old wizard and pointed a finger. “Don’t get snippy with me, old timer. I held up my part of the bargain. I provided a male Baphomet as a groom. It is the girl who is not cooperating.”
“Probably because she was disappointed in marrying your heir instead of the King of Hell himself.” Chin tilted stubbornly, Rasputin didn’t back down.
For some reason, Chris felt compelled to interject. “This might be semantics, but prophecy does say I will eventually hold that title.”
“Over my dead body,” growled Lucifer.
“If you insist.” There was no love lost between Chris and his dad. Having spent his childhood fatherless and the pivotal figure in a cult that declared Chris the Antichrist, he had little use for the Devil himself.
“I don’t care which king marries my granddaughter. But you will comply, and quickly, or Lucifer loses. And you know the price.” Rasputin held the Devil’s stare.
His dad didn’t fidget. “You’ll get your piece of the bargain, old timer. Never have it be said that a Baphomet doesn’t keep his word.”
The inanity of the statement made Chris blink. “Aren’t you the king of broken promises?”
“I am also the king of wheeling and dealing.”
“What exactly are you afraid of losing, Father?”
Lucifer winced. “Don’t use the F word. It’s so, so…”
“True?” Chris offered. “Feeling guilt about being a deadbeat no-good?”
“Actually, that part brings me great pride. It’s the reminder that I have a progeny old enough to challenge me that’s disturbing. I usually prefer to kill you all before birth.” Lucifer hissed. “Let me rectify that problem.” Smoke curled from his nostrils.
“Now, now, boys.” Marya Rasputin, Isobel’s mother, inserted herself between them. “No need to get testy. Let’s just give Isobel a moment to compose herself. After all, my poor child was taken by surprise when she saw the man chosen to be her husband. I suspect she was overwhelmed with joy. It was rather naughty of us to keep the identity of her groom a secret. Then again, if said groom had acted as he should have and eloped with Isobel, we might not be standing here.” Marya eyed Chris pointedly.
Yet someone else blaming him for this mess? Excuse him, but he wasn’t the one who ran off. “How was I supposed to talk to her, let alone elope, when he”—Chris jabbed a finger at Lucifer—“kept me locked in a prison cell in Hell.”
“You couldn’t escape a cell?” Absolute surprise. “Not so fucking mighty, I guess,” snickered Evangeline, the wicked witch who’d almost become his wife instead of his sister-in-law. In a lucky twist of fate, Chris had avoided marrying her. Apparently, had Evangeline still owned a cherry to pop, she would have been his bride.
Marya appeared pensive as she asked, “Does Isobel know you were unavoidably detained?”
“No. But it shouldn’t matter. She likes me.”
“Which is why she hates you so much right now,” Marya agreed. “She likes you so much, she is angry you didn’t accomplish some type of romantic, heroic gesture.”
He blinked. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“About the fact that Isobel is a bit of a dreamer. She gets that from her father. I think perhaps she had a certain expectation of you that you failed to fulfill.”
“Can you speak in fucking English? What are you talking about?”
“She wants you to be her hero.”
A hero? The Antichrist was many things, but a hero? Didn’t that mean doing the right thing?
And selflessness? Did he have it in him to put someone ahead of himself?
“Hero?” Lucifer was the first one to disparage the very idea. “The boy is no hero. Look at him. He’s weak. No comprehension of hard work. A pure slacker who has yet to realize that a slacker of value is one who is a hard worker. So hard that when he finally takes a day off and does nothing, not the slightest bit of work, which is harder than it sounds for the truly driven, that’s the kind of slacking that’s most precious.”
“But those very traits you describe make the best kind of hero.” Marya leaned forward. “The young man, with a selfish heart, seizes a moment where he can be great. Where a single action, the right one, will catapult him into infamy. A veritable hero.”
“Or villain?” Lucifer purred. “It can go either way. The battle of light versus dark, the Dark Side and everyone else.” He smiled. “And you want to marry that to your daughter? No wonder you’ve got a condo reserved in the first ring. Your level of evil is quite charming.”
“It will be a while before I visit your domain,” Marya replied with an imperious toss of her head. “And even then, we will be family, Lucy.” She emphasized the word. “And family tolerates each other.”
“I greatly anticipate the awkward and sometimes outrageously inappropriate meals we shall have as families.”
“The feuds will be glorious.”
At this point, Chris tuned them out because, holy shit, Christmas dinner would be interesting this year.
Chris rapped on the door again. “Come on, Isobel. Let me in so we can talk.”
“I do believe the little bird has flown,” his father barked loudly enough for everyone to hear.
“Isobel wouldn’t run.” He thought. Hoped. Talk about a huge clusterfuck.
When had his life gotten so complicated?
A few weeks ago, he was a simple gravedigger, living rent-free in a cemetery, getting drunk and high whenever he pleased, waiting for the day he inherited the Earth.
Then Isobel showed up, the dead began to walk, his mother turned out to not be his mom, and his biological one began stalking him. Add in that the Devil really was his father—and a huge dick, the only good thing he’d inherited from him—and his life had gone from lazy and relaxing to shit.
Pure fucking shit.
And now, he was a laughingstock. Me, the King of Fierce Countenance, ridiculed by a woman whose boobs I’ve seen and touched.
Unacceptable. Just like the lack of reply and the closed door were offensive.
It should be noted that, while he was the Antichrist, with all kinds of untapped potential, he didn’t always know how to wield his magic. It preferred to work in bursts and fits. Totally unreliable.
Unless he got angry enough.
Then, it flowed, a hot torrent of power that coalesced in his hands and fingertips. So when he pounded on the door again…it shattered.
Splintered into a million toothpick-sized pieces that had his father clapping and shouting, “Bravo. Chip off the demon he is.”
Chris shot a glare at his dad. “Would you shut up?”
So juvenile. So Chris. Ugh.
With a sigh of annoyance, Chris turned from the taunting that would never end with his dad to the open doorway.
Pretty cool the whole blowing-it-to-shit aspect. Surely, Isobel would be impressed.
Even better, would she consider it heroic?
He stepped into the room. The very empty room, with its only window open wide.
“Told you she was gone.”
“Would you shut up!” Chris exploded. He whirled on his father and swung, only to have his fist caught and held.
“I wouldn’t recommend doing that, boy.” The inflection on the nickname turned dark, and a crimson glow lit his father’s eyes.
Chris didn’t push, didn’t test his dad. He wasn’t ready for that yet. So he yielded, but played the game with words. “You’re an ass.”
“Who is stronger than you,” Lucifer taunted.
The pressure of the fist around his tightened, crushing his hand, but Chris refused to grimace. Refused to show any sign at all as he and his father engaged in a stare-down.
“Daddy, stop that right now.” A feminine voice tried to ruin the bonding moment.
“Stay out of this, Muriel.” Lucifer didn’t take his eyes off Chris as he addressed his daughter.
My half sister. One of too fucking many. Chris always assumed he was an only child. After all, prophecy spoke of Lucifer’s son becoming the overlord of the world. Not daughters.
Yet Lucifer had more than a handful of daughters, and all of them were favored over Chris, the rightful heir.
It made Chris simmer, and ever so slightly, he flexed his hand, and the grip Lucifer had loosened.
Muriel placed her fingers atop their hands. “Enough.”
“Stay out of this, Muri,” Lucifer warned softly.
“No. Chris is my brother, and anyone can see he’s upset right now. He needs a hug, not your attitude.”
Lucifer shot her an incredulous look. “You expect me to hug him? Are you on your period?”
Was PMS-ing contagious? It would explain a lot.
“Daddy! That is not appropriate at all,” Muriel screeched. “Say you’re sorry.”
“Don’t start, Muri.”
“I should have spanked you more as a child,” he growled.
“But you were a good daddy who didn’t.”
“Don’t say that,” the Devil whispered, a real whisper this time. “You’ll ruin my reputation.”
“Oh, don’t worry about your rep,” Chris interjected. “I’ll make sure to tarnish it.”
Flaming eyes met his. “Be quiet. I wasn’t speaking to you. And I don’t appreciate the interruption.”
“Too bad.” Chris flexed his hand and broke his father’s hold. Interesting to know. “Here’s the thing, Dad, I really don’t give a damn what you say or think. I don’t want or need you.”
“Then we at least agree on something.”
“See, isn’t this nice, everyone getting along?” Muriel crooned.
“This warm, fuzzy feeling is making me ill, Muri.”
Chris fought those emotions by reminding himself that, one day, he’d take his dad’s throne.
However, first, he needed to find Isobel and make things right.
Where did she go?COLLAPSE