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Wrath by LJ Baker (1)

Chapter One

 

“Maybe you just need to get laid more.” Harley arched an eyebrow and took a sip off the expensive bourbon in her hand. The ice cubes clanked together as they swirled around the glass before she placed it on the bar.

Luc flipped his head over his shoulder and looked at the two naked blonds asleep in his bed behind them. “I don’t think that’s the problem.”

“Well what is it then? You can’t seriously think you’re ready to settle down? You’re the King of Hell, for fucks sake. The Prince of Darkness. The God damned devil. You can’t just find a nice little wife, settle down in the suburbs, and spawn a few Anti-Christs.”

“Can’t I?” He flashed her a wicked smile, the kind of smile that melted the panties off virgins and brought down entire countries.

It never failed.

Except maybe with Harley.

“Look, I’ve been your best friend for the last, what, four hundred years?”

“Five hundred, at least.”

“Fine, five hundred, and I’ve never seen you interested in being monogamous. You enjoy a steady stream of women floating in and out of your bed.” She nodded in the direction of the blonds. “You like the vastness of human variation. What is so different now?” Harley searched his face for something that would explain his recent behavior. She needed answers, but Luc wasn’t sure he would be able to give them to her. He wasn’t sure he had them himself.

“I can’t explain it. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I’m tired of the game, the monotony, the same thing all of the time. It’s just not fun anymore.”

“Seriously?” Harley glanced back at the girls in his bed. One rolled over and draped her arm across the other’s face with a loud snore. “It sure seemed like you were enjoying yourself for the last four hours. If I had to listen to one of those bitches screeching I’m coming one more time, I was going to come up here and snap their neck mid-orgasm.”

Luc laughed and downed the rest of his drink in one gulp. “They were having a friendly competition. It ended up being a tie.”

“Tell me again why we don’t hook up?” She raised one eyebrow, only a touch of sarcasm on her face, then reached behind the bar to grab the bottle of bourbon and pour them both another drink.

“Because you prefer women.”

“Right. That.” She rolled her eyes and used the towel over her right shoulder to wipe up a nonexistent spill.

“And I seem to remember a time we did hook up. I’m positive you couldn’t have forgotten it.” Luc let his eyes graze over her. Harley was hot in a porn star kind of way. Between her full, fuck-my-mouth lips, and a rack that could suffocate, a guy didn’t need to know she’d once been a gymnast to know she would be a good time.

She was definitely a good time.

“I haven’t forgotten. I think my twat is still sore from it, and that was what, three centuries ago?”

Luc’s eyes drifted up to the right as he recalled the day and smiled. “Probably about that.”

“Yeah well one night with Excalibur was more than enough for me.” Harley shook her head and stifled a smile. “I can’t believe you named your dick that. Not that it wasn’t impressive, in a frightening sort of way, but come on.”

“To be fair, it wasn’t me that gave it that nickname. That was a certain British royal, whom I won’t name. She was afraid to use the word penis because proper English women didn’t talk in such a manner.” Luc copied the accent perfectly, as he could with any accent. He could also speak any language on Earth, which came in handy on the rare occasion when he met a woman who needed a bit of verbal persuasion to get in his bed. That was less often than one might think, though, and only when he was playing perfectly fair.

“You didn’t need to keep using it.”

“It fits.” Luc shrugged and spun his seat around to look over the blonds still lying unconscious in his bed. “I haven’t the motivation to find something better.”

“Moby Dick, Big Ben, Vlad the Impaler, a fucking tree log?”

Luc pushed off the stool and peered back at Harley with a raised brow. “Those are not better.”

“By the way, you do realize that a monogamous relationship is not really the answer to being sick of monotony, right? I mean, what could be more monotonous than only being with one person for the rest of eternity?”

“Eternity?”

“Yes, Luc. True love is forever.”

With the thought in his mind, Luc grew silent for a few moments as he contemplated what that meant for someone like him— someone who lived forever. Even if his soul mate didn’t, the afterlife was good enough to continue a relationship. It had never stopped anyone before. It certainly hadn’t kept Harley from enjoying her second life, even as a demon.

“Enough of this talk of monogamy. You make the whole thing sound so boring and mundane.”

“Isn’t that exactly what love is?” Harley snorted.

“That's not how I view the concept. Is that really what you think of love?” Luc frowned. Harley was so cynical. She’d been through a lot, as a human, and after her death. It wasn’t the ones with charmed lives that ended up demon, but he wanted to see her find happiness, too.

“My thoughts are irrelevant. This is about you.” Harley absently wiped at the already clean bar. She tended to clean things when she wanted to avoid a conversation or when things made her nervous. Not that she would ever admit to wasting a single moment of her long existence being nervous.

He wanted to push her on the topic, to make her give him one good reason for such a pessimistic view on love, but he had other things on his mind. Mainly, cleaning up the mess he'd made the night before, starting with the women in his bed.

Luc walked over to the bed and stared at the intertwined mess of hair and females with a sigh. He pulled the blanket off the girls and clapped his hands to wake them with a start. “Let’s go ladies, time to leave.”

The blond on the right jumped into the air and flipped over. She tumbled onto the floor on her ass, with a wild mess of hair covering her face.

“What happened?” Her eyes darted from Luc, to Harley, to the other blond, like a feral animal, trapped, with nowhere to escape.

The other one simply sat up straight, with wide eyes and a frightened look on her face, as if she just realized she’d slept with the devil.

Which she had.

“What happened? You mean you don’t remember, love?” Luc feigned disappointment, but he knew they wouldn’t remember much. He liked it that way. It was common for him to take most, if not all, memories from the women he slept with. He left them knowing they’d had a good time with him, but the specifics were always a little hazy.

“I…I don’t… maybe, I think—”

Luc extended a hand to the girl on the floor and helped her get to her feet. “We had a great time. You were amazing, but now you need to go.”

The melodic tone of his voice was almost hypnotizing. He stared into her eyes as he spoke and she nodded in a daze. Before another word was spoken, both girls gathered their clothes and disappeared into the bathroom to dress.

It was almost too easy. He could have used his powers on them, but he didn’t need to. He hardly ever did anymore. There wasn’t even a challenge these days, which only made Luc more bored with the whole mess.

“You could at least call them a cab.” Harley picked up the tangle of blankets from the floor and tossed them onto the bed.

“They’re big girls. They can find their own way home.”

“See, Luc, that's exactly what I'm talking about. This isn’t how you go about finding your true love.”

“True love?” Luc’s brow came up high and he glanced back at Harley. “Those two were not what I’m looking for.”

“No, but if you ever want to find the right one, you have to learn how to treat women. You can’t keep acting like a douche canoe and expect any decent woman to fall in love with you.”

“Women falling in love isn’t the problem. They fall in love the moment I impale them with Moby Dick.” Luc scrunched up his nose. “No, see? That just doesn’t work. Excalibur just fits.” He thought for a moment, shrugged, then continued. “The real challenge is finding the one that I can fall in love with.”

“Drooling over your meat stick isn’t falling in love.”

“Okay, we have to stop with the nicknames. He doesn’t like them.” Luc grabbed his dick through his pants and gave it a reassuring pat.

“That’s something we can agree on. Giving up the nicknames, I mean. The rest, well, you might just be a little full of yourself.”

“Do you really think I would have difficulty finding women to fall in love with me? Do you give me no credit at all?”

“No, Lucifer. I know your devil charms can seduce any woman you set your sights on. But your charm and your power can only get you so far. If you want true love, a real soul mate, you need to dig a little deeper.” Harley shook her head as she crossed the room back to her drink.

“I can dig deeper.”

Harley closed her eyes for a long moment and gulped down the remains of her bourbon. “I would like it noted that for the record, I’m against this. I don’t think settling down is a good idea. It will make you soft, weak even, and what happens to Hell when that happens?”

So that was what this was really about. Harley was more concerned with Hell than Luc’s happiness.

He shrugged off the thought. That couldn't be it. They'd been friends far too long to make such assumptions. He would give her the benefit of the doubt.

“I don’t see how one has anything to do with the other.”

“No, I guess you wouldn’t. But, if you are insisting on doing this—”

“I am.”

“Okay, well since you are, you need to do it right.”

The two girls emerged from the bathroom, fully clothed, if you could call it that. With the outfits they had on the night before, they were still practically naked. Not that Luc was complaining.

“And what do you suggest?” Luc shuffled the blonds to the door, gave them a flippant wave, and closed the door behind them before they could voice a single protest.

After ignoring Harley’s eye roll over his treatment of the girls, he met her back at the bar and tapped his fingers on the surface a few times.

“I think we need to make this interesting.” Harley disappeared under the bar and pulled out some shot glasses and a bottle of expensive tequila. She always brought out the tequila when she was excited. “Make it into a game.”

“I did say I was tired of games.” He took the stool across from her and waited to hear the rest of what she had to say.

“Yes, but this is a different kind of game, one that will help you to find what it is you’re looking for.” She poured four shots and motioned for him to take one. Luc knocked back the drink and flipped the glass over on the bar.

“Okay, then what kind of game are we playing?”

A quick gust of warm air swept the room, along with an almost imperceptible flash of brilliant white light. It was the telltale sign of an incoming angel. At least for the ones who liked to show off and not use the door like normal people.

“I like games.” Azrael appeared, uninvited as usual, behind Luc and grabbed one of the shots off the bar.

“Of course you do, Az. You always win. Fucking overachiever.” Luc mumbled the last part without turning around.

“Nice to see you too, brother.” They exchanged a quick half-hug and set their attention on Harley.

Azrael was one of the archangels, the angel of death, to be exact. Luc’s younger brother from the good side of the family tree. Although out of all his brothers, Az was the most like him, kind of a wild child in his own way. Though he'd never incurred the wrath of their father they way Luc had.

Harley nodded at Az and continued. “Okay, so, you are clearly too picky, so you’ll need help narrowing down your choices. I can’t exactly allow you to pick from the pool of all eligible women on the planet, or we would never get anywhere.”

“I can help, too.” Az picked up another shot, downed it, then slammed it down on the bar like a frat boy. “Wait, what am I helping with?”

“No one said you’re helping with anything.” Harley glared at Az. “And shut up or you can get the hell out.”

“Fine, but if you change your mind, I might be able to help.” Az fluttered his eyelashes a few times trying to get her attention. It never worked, but Azrael was never a quitter.

Luc snorted under his breath. Az’s idea of help was probably trying out the women first. For an angel, he was quite the slut.

“Anyway,” Harley ignored Azrael and went on. “You remember the seven deadly sins, right?”

“Envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath. Of course. They are seven of my most favorite things.” Luc smiled and took another shot off the bar. He even loved how the words felt coming off his tongue.

Harley refilled the shot glasses and added another two to the row. Az enjoyed tequila enough to drink his weight in alcohol. If left unchecked, he'd probably empty the bar by the end of the evening.

“Well then you’ll need a woman who is well versed in the sins and has no trouble breaking them. In fact, she will need to be exceptional if she is going to be right for you.” Harley winked at Luc. “We can’t match the devil up with a saint. She needs to be a real sinner.”

“I can agree, but I don’t see how that turns into a game.” Luc passed another shot to Az and waited for the rest of Harley’s explanation to unfold.

“I will pick a woman, one that shows exemplary skill in one of the deadly sins, and you will have a period of time to get to know her, see how she deals with her assigned sin, and compares to the others.”

“Wouldn’t he want a woman who could excel in all seven of the sins?” Azrael asked and finished off another shot of tequila.

“Of course. But, no human is perfect in everything. So while she should be able to hold her own in multiple areas, she would have to really shine in one. Plus, we aren’t looking for a sociopath. So she can’t be too crazy.”

“Why does the woman have to be human?” Az turned to face Luc and raised his brow. “Have you given up lower angels? Or even demons?” He waggled his eyes in Harley’s direction.

Luc opened his mouth to speak, but Harley answered for him, in a sharp tone. Harley wasn’t fond of Az, but she would never tell him that. And he was just full enough of himself not to see it.

“He’s into humans. Don’t you know him at all?”

Az shrugged and took another shot. “Whatever.”

“So how long would I have to get to know each woman? A week?”

“Oh Luc.” Harley shook her head and frowned up at him. “You need more time to get to know someone if you are going to decide if they’re your soul mate.”

Azrael choked on his drink and laughed. “Soul mate? You really are serious about this craziness, aren’t you?”

Luc ignored his brother.

“Okay, so how long? Two weeks? A month? Any longer seems like overkill.”

“I was thinking four weeks. And you can’t tell them who you are. You have to meet them, get to know them, and see how they behave. No devil powers either. You have to do this all on your own, the way any human would find a mate.”

“So I'm just Lucifer Morningstar, club owner? How absolutely normal.”

“That's kind of the point. If they know your true identity, you won't really know if that's why they like you. They have to get to know you for you, the way I know you.”

“No one knows me that well and I don't foresee it happening in only four weeks.”

“Well, no. They won't get to know you that deeply, but what they do learn will be the man behind the mask, the true Lucifer inside.”

“What if he falls head over heels in love with the first or second one?” Az finished off yet another shot and slammed the glass onto the bar once again. His shoulder length blond curls bounced around his face making him look much younger than he was. And since he was older than all of humankind, that was saying a lot.

“He has to meet all seven. No final decision until the end of the game.” She turned her narrowed eyes to Luc and whipped her bar towel at him. “You have to promise to see it through. No getting bored and quitting early.”

Luc held his hands up in surrender. “Fine. I’ll play your little game. But how do I know you will pick the right women? What if I get to the end of the game and I’m no closer to finding the right one than I am right now?”

“Cupid owes me a favor,” Azrael said, holding up a hand. “I can get him to point us in the right direction if it comes to that, or maybe even shoot a few arrows himself.”

“Cupid is a douchbag,” Harley said, refilling the shot glasses as Az took the last one.

“True, but he knows his shit.” Az shrugged and pulled out his cell phone to check a text.

Cupid did know his shit, but Luc wasn’t fond of the asshole. The last time he saw the little freak he tried to set him up with a woman who had two vaginas and a penchant for reptiles. Okay, so he’d had some fun with her, but that wasn’t what Luc was looking for now. He’d had his fill of just fun.

He needed more.

Luc grabbed one of the shot glasses off the bar before Az could finish them all and tipped it back. “What have I got to lose?”

“Only the next seven months… and really, that’s like the blink of an eye to an immortal fallen angel like you.” Harley snorted.

“You make me sound so ordinary.”

“You’re the ruler of the underworld, Lucifer Morningstar. There is nothing ordinary about you.” Harley bowed her head and smiled.

Maybe her plan could work. She did know him better than anyone living or dead, including his idiot brothers. So if there was anyone who could pick some potential mates for him, it was certainly her. And like she’d said, if it didn’t work out, all he would have wasted was seven months. Seven months was nothing to Luc. Not that he was sold on the idea. He wasn’t, but he was definitely intrigued.

“Great, so it’s settled.” Harley pushed the empty glasses into a bin and wiped over the bar with a clean towel. “We are going to find your true love.”

Harley was more interested in the game aspect than the idea of Luc finding love. He could see it in her face and hear it in her voice, but he was okay with it. She didn’t have to like, or understand, what he was doing. She would come around in time, and if she didn’t, well too bad for her. He was the devil after all. If he wanted to find his soul mate, then that’s what he would do.

And like he’d said, what did he have to lose?