When Luc’s vision cleared, he was standing in his father’s throne room, looking up at the chair of bones.
“Luc, my son. How kind of you to bring me visitors. I’ve always wanted to meet this wolf of yours, but you know, I’m not allowed to visit the earthly plane.”
There were many moments in Luc’s life where he felt scared, but they were all eclipsed by the sight of his father smiling at the love of his life.
“It’s a shame that Galthine was so easily able to influence you.”
Bran bowed his head but not before Luc saw his disgruntled expression. He knew the werewolf felt bad enough, it didn’t help that everyone kept throwing it back into his face.
“I almost killed you when you broke my son’s heart, but I decided it was more punishment to let you live without him.” Lucifer turned his frightening gaze onto Luc. “But then you forgave him. Why is that, son? Why would you forgive someone who hurt you?”
“The same reason I forgive you each year, Father. I love him.”
Despite being the king of evil, there were moments in his life that Luc cherished moments that involved his father. Like when he was five and his father made it snow in hell because Luc had read a story about snow and wanted to see it, or the litter of hellhound puppies he got for his tenth birthday. Not to mention freeing Luc from hell so he could explore the earthly plane. Yes, Lucifer did many things to help his son, but that didn’t make him a good guy.
“What do you think I should do, Luc? You escaped from your prison and got your brother to kill the twins. It will take a great deal of energy to bring them back. What do you think is a suitable punishment?”
“Letting him go.” Freen appeared out from behind Lucifer’s throne, his dark eyes gleaming with malice.
“Let him go?” Lucifer frowned at his son. “Why would I want to do that?”
“Because I’m certain Michael sent the wolf after Luc, and if he doesn’t show up soon, the angel will be very angry. We don’t need a holy war because you’re peeved.”
Lucifer waved a hand and Freen was thrown across the room. His slim body slammed into the rock wall and he tumbled to the ground in a graceless heap.
Luc tried to feel sympathetic, but since the man had just spent a gleeful hour torturing him, it was difficult to drudge up a proper amount of sympathy for his brother.
When he looked up, his father was stroking the beard on his chin, his malicious eyes luminous. “He does have a point as much as I hate to say it. Did you want to go spend your life with this wolf of yours?”
Luc nodded. “Yes, Father.”
“Very well. Then you can both stay here,” Lucifer said it as if he were conferring a great favor.
Luc felt his heart stutter. “Bran is not going to stay in hell.”
“Why? Doesn’t he love you enough?” His tone was perfect, almost fatherly. “I’m sure Michael wouldn’t object if you were with the love of your life.”
Luc knew that Michael wouldn’t be able to do a damned thing if Lucifer kept him.
“I love him enough,” Bran said, stepping forward. “I’ll stay with him if that’s what I need to do to be by his side.”
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Lucifer said, his eyes glowing red.
There had to be a way out of this. Luc couldn’t think, couldn’t function. Images of his beloved wolf trapped in hell for eternity spun his thoughts like a hamster on a wheel.
Remembering Michael’s words, Luc pulled the guitar around the front of his body and started playing. His fingers strummed a tune, a forgotten melody that floated through his brain and flowed through his fingers.
Before he knew it, Bran was grabbing his arm and pulling him backwards.
Luc looked up and his fingers froze on the strings.
Swallowing the lump of fear in his throat, Luc backed away slowly, letting Bran guide his steps. The chair was dissolving. Bones set in the chair for centuries were rising from their place and reforming into their former shapes. By the end of Luc’s song, six angels had regained their skeletal structure and flesh was starting to grow and cover the bones.
Luc wanted to stop and run out screaming, but if he stopped now, they would only be partially formed. He let Bran lead him away step by step. When the last angel formed, the six turned on Lucifer. Screams followed them as they ran out of the room.
It felt as if an eternity had passed since Luc last saw the welcoming doorway of his room. Grabbing a pillowcase, he snatched bits and pieces of his life in hell and stuffed them inside. He wouldn’t be returning here, ever.
“Ready to go?” Bran asked, taking the pillowcase to carry for his lover.
With a final glance around the room, Luc nodded. “Yeah, I’m done here.”
“Take me with you,” Stiln said.
Luc looked at his brother in surprise. “Why would I want to do that?”
“Because Sal is my lover and I don’t want us to be parted.”
Luc looked at Sal and his brother.
“Forget it,” Bran said. “You tortured Luc for years.”
“I had to.” Stiln turned his one eye to Luc. “I won’t say that I wasn’t jealous, but I never wanted to hurt you. Father always had the upper hand and would make threats if I became reluctant. You know I always took it easy on you.”
Luc nodded. That was true. As easy as a person could who was supposed to be torturing you.
“Please, Bran,” Sal begged the alpha. “I have never asked for anything, but I am asking for this.”
Knowing Bran would make the right decision in the end, Luc closed his eyes and formed a portal in his mind. When his eyes opened, he could see into the living room of his house.
“Fine, come with us,” Bran growled. “But if you do anything to hurt Luc, I’ll rip your head off of your shoulders.”
“Fair enough,” Stiln said.
Only a demon would think that.
“Everyone through, I have to go last.”
One by one, everyone walked through the portal. Luc took one last look around. “Goodbye, Father,” he said sadly before exiting hell for the last time.
He left hell and walked into the arms of his vampire.
“Are you all right?” Nikko clutched Luc as if they had been separated for centuries.
“Air,” he gasped.
“Oh, sorry.” Nikko relaxed his hold, but he still didn’t let go of Luc entirely.
Luc looked over the vampire’s shoulder to see Jerrod and Carn looking at him with astonishment. “Hello, boys.” He wiggled out of Nikko’s embrace, escaping with just a few bruises from the vampire’s tight grip.
Jerrod ran across the room and wrapped himself around Luc. Sobbing, his body shook. “I-I was s-so worried,” he wheezed, clutching Luc tight. He placed soft kisses all over Luc’s face.
Luc pulled Jerrod away so he could look at him. Tears raced down the vampire’s face. “It’s okay, honey. I’m all right.”
“Did they hurt you?”
Luc nodded. He couldn’t lie to the vamp. “But I’m fine now, and I won’t have to go back again.” He didn’t want to think about what would happen if Lucifer overpowered the angels again. His father wasn’t the forgiving type.
“He couldn’t even if he wanted to.” Michael’s voice boomed through the room. “It’s nice to see you’ve chosen your side.”
Releasing Jerrod, Luc turned to confront the angel. “What happened back there?”
Michael threw back his head and laughed. “What do you think happened?”
Bran growled. “How did Luc make those angels reform?”
“The song was an unbinding spell. It destroyed the spell your father created to set the angels in his chair. When you played it, you freed them from their confinement and they were able to overtake Lucifer,” Michael said.
“Will he be all right?” Luc hated himself for asking, but Lucifer was still his father.
Michael nodded. “But he probably won’t be in any condition to run hell for quite some time.”
Bran stepped forward to wrap an arm around Luc in a show of support.
Luc smiled. “Thank you, Michael, for everything and for sending Sal and Bran to help me.”
“Thank you for getting me out of there,” Sal said from the shelter of Stiln’s arms. “But I don’t know what I’ll do now. I can’t return to the pack after Bran killed me in front of them.”
He had a point. The pack wouldn’t accept him after everything he’d done, even if he did it for Luc’s benefit.
“You and Stiln can stay here with me,” Luc said.
“Really?” Stiln’s face lit with joy, an expression Luc couldn’t remember ever seeing before. “Thanks, Luc. I won’t be here forever, just until I can figure out what to do with myself.” He nuzzled Sal’s cheek with his nose like an affectionate cat. “And my lover.”
Luc watched as Sal glowed. Who knew that his psychotic one-eyed brother was a closet romantic?
He turned to his own lover. “Bran, we still have the problem of where you’re going to live. You can’t just leave your pack. And Jerrod and Carn can’t go and live with the wolves.”
Bran held Luc’s face between his two large hands, forcing him to look into his eyes. “Despite my past behavior, I know where my future lies. I will come and live with you. I want to sleep beside you, wake up beside you and fight over who gets the first cup of coffee in the morning. I’ve missed your skin next to mine, and if one day you decide you wish to be a demon lord, I’ll murder a basketful of kittens in a playground full of kindergarteners if it will send me to hell to be by your side.”
Luc stroked Bran’s hands with his own. “I don’t know if that is the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard or the most disturbing,” he said, leaning up and placing a soft kiss on his lover’s lips.
“I give up, I can’t compete.” The pair turned to see Nikkolai looking at them with disgust. The vampire had his hands on his hips as he regarded them. “You win, Bran. I release any claims I have on Luc. Sorry, Luc, but Bran’s your man, and from that display, I can see I don’t have the devotion to even be in the running. But I guess you knew that.” The vampire gave a self-effacing grin. “Jerrod would give his life for you, your demon would let you take him back to hell to be your servant, the wolf let himself be killed so he could help you and this one,” he waved his hand towards Bran, “would do anything for you. I love you, but I don’t think that I’m ready for the amount of commitment you require, and according to Michael, I’m not supposed to for several years anyway.”
He gave an evil glare to the werewolf who glared back. “Luckily, werewolves don’t live forever and by the time your devoted pet is gone, I’ll be ready to be yours. Until then, consider me your mate in waiting.”
Luc stepped away from Bran and walked over to the vampire. Looking into Nikkolai’s eyes, he removed his necklace and placed it in the vampire’s hands, closing his fingers over it. “Then why don’t you hold onto this until we’re ready.”
Nikko nodded and slipped the priceless necklace into his pocket. He put his hands-on Luc’s shoulders. “If you ever need anything, anything,” he said with a little shake, “I will be here.” He leant forward and whispered in Luc’s ear, “I know what you did for me with the demons and I owe you one.”
Luc smiled and gave Nikkolai a soft kiss on the lips, barely brushing them. “Maybe you should look for another mate instead of waiting for me.”
Nikkolai laughed. “You’re kind of a hard man to replace. No, you can live happily ever after with your wolf, and when that part of your life has run its course, I’ll be here waiting.”
“Make sure you have hot sex with a lot of hot guys while you’re pining.” Luc laughed.
Nikko placed a kiss on each of Luc’s cheeks. “Will do but know that all of them will wear your face.”
Luc nodded, but couldn’t keep the sadness from his expression as he watched Nikko leave. He gave a smile to his lover when Bran walked up behind him and gave him a hug.
“He’ll be fine,” Bran whispered in his ear.
“I know,” Luc said, turning to kiss his lover. “I know.”
* * * *
Nikko left Luc’s house, fingering the necklace in his pocket. When he got to his room above the club, he went to the sideboard and poured himself a glass of aged brandy. “I will have you one day, my love,” Nikko said, sipping. “One day, we will be together.”
Nikko knew he had done the right thing. He couldn’t stand the thought of Luc torn between the two of them for the next few decades. Letting the beautiful half fae off the hook was the biggest sacrifice he could make for his lover. He knew something was lacking when he was the only one not willing to go to hell for Luc. Did that make him weak or just practical, he didn’t know, but he knew he wanted his lover to be happy. A conflicted lover wasn’t going to be a contented one.
Although it was tempting to take out the werewolf sooner than later, he’d rather have a sad-eyed beauty leaning on him for support than an angry hell lord sending him down under. Sitting down in an elegant upholstered chair in his beautiful empty suite, the powerful vampire leader leant his head back and dreamt of the day when he could call Luc his own.