The walls were pale blue with white trimming along the borders. My king-sized bed lay against the wall to the right with a plush white duvet and feather pillows. To my left was a rustic brick fireplace with a large painting above the mantle of lavender flowers. A cream sofa bed lay closest to the fireplace with two wide reading chairs opposite, a glass coffee table situated between them.
Another door off to the side by the tall windows opened into a large master bathroom suite. It was modern with floating sinks and cabinets upon the wall with a large mirror. A garden tub lay under a stained glass window with a complete walk-in shower beside it with floor to ceiling tile.
Walking out of the bathroom, I saw Jinx stretch as he stood up from one of the reading chairs and head over to me, rubbing against my leg. I scooped him up in my arms and kissed his little furry head, ecstatic to see my favorite cat. He purred in my arms as I buried my face into his neck, hugging him to me.
“I thought you would be happy to see him. He’s been moping around your old room at Brimstone for too long,” my mother said as she sat in the chair by the fire. I set Jinx down upon the sofa bed and sat beside him, stroking him.
“This…it’s beyond what I could have ever dreamed,” I stated, not sure how to express the range of emotions roiling within me.
My mother smiled. “This was the room I designed for you when you were a little girl. It’s changed a little since you’ve grown older because I wasn’t sure which colors you’d like. You were always meant to be a part of this world.”
“Mom,” I began, “I need to give you something.”
I reached into the pocket of my skirts and took out my father’s journal. Handing it to my mother, she flipped through its pages. Her eyes grew wide as she recognized the handwriting. Tears filled her eyes as she read Lucifer’s words to her.
“Where did you get this?” she asked, choking back a sob.
“I found it in his study,” I said. “It was the only way to find where he had hidden his contract, the only thing that saved me from my sentencing with Asmodeus.”
“He…did all those things to make you—we believe he was evil,” she mused, closing the journal and placing it in her lap.
“He had to. He knew it was the only way to have me follow through with taking his life,” I admitted. “If I believed, even for a second, that he could have possibly loved me, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. He knew all along that one of us had to die, and that it had to be him.”
A tear fell from my mother’s cheek onto the journal’s cover as she bowed her head. I stood from my seat and knelt beside her, taking her into my arms as she cried, sobs wracking her body as she heaved. While I comforted her, a sense of guilt wafted over me as it set in that I had murdered an innocent being, an angel, no less.
As if reading my thoughts, my mother leaned back and took me by the shoulders. “I love you, Kasdeya, and so did your father. Don’t you ever believe for one second that you are to blame for any of this. You are our daughter, and your father, wherever he is, is so very proud of you.”
“I know, Mom,” I mumbled as she embraced me and kissed my cheek. As much as I wanted to believe her, I wondered how long it would be before the heartbreak of my father’s demise, and his words allowed me some semblance of peace.
A soft knock sounded at the door as my mother stood from her chair, straightening herself and wiping her face. She walked majestically towards the door and opened it. I saw Gabriel peering through the doorway, a blush crossing his cheeks as he hurriedly told my mother he was looking for me.
Giving him her signature smile, my mother graciously left us, closing the door behind her. Gabriel glanced around the room, admiring the lightness and airy feeling it brought to him as the sky outside turned to a dusty pinkish-purple hue indicating the start of nightfall.
“I’ve been wandering around this castle knocking on several doors before I found the right one. It’s safe to say that I know every inch of this place now,” he joked as he approached me. “How are you holing up?”
“I’m alive,” I said. “What happened while you were away with the bounty hunters?”
He took a seat on the couch and faced me. “I had my head wrapped up in Penelope as we made it out of the Kingdom to a place I could use my magic to heal her. She was in bad shape, but she’s tough and, as you saw, made it through the worst of it. I had to have Josh and Callan hold Ebony at bay, which is a lot harder to do when she’s in her demonic form. I suppose you can imagine how difficult it is to wrestle a shadow.”
“Ebony really pulled through. I don’t know if you saw her when she took on that bounty hunter in the dungeons, but she certainly didn’t hesitate to put him down,” I said. “She has a knack for disguise.”
“Anyway,” Gabriel continued, “most of the bounty hunters are with us. There are still a few rogue ones that Leviathan took with him when he escaped. Seth and Trista are currently trying to flush out any suspected spies within their ranks.”
“Good,” I replied. “I don’t want any confusion about whose side people are on. The Kingdom will be fortified after today.”
“Kas, I know you have to go back to Earth to find my brother,” Gabriel said. “I want to go with you.”
I nodded. “Okay. Josh and Ashlin already volunteered to stay down here, but I think Penelope should stay as well.”
“I agree,” he confirmed.
“Really? I thought there would be more of a fight to that one,” I teased.
“No,” Gabriel answered. “Penelope was hurt, and it’s going to take a while for her wounds to heal properly. She needs to rest, and she can’t do that if we’re chasing after the Antichrist. There’s no telling what kind of dark powers he has, and I can’t…”
“Lose her,” I finished for him. I placed my hand over his, stroking it with my thumb. “I completely understand, Gabriel. It’s the same feeling I’ve been struggling with this entire trip. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been distant from you.”
“Kas…” Gabriel started, “I’ve always known that things would be different between us after we left Brimstone, but my feelings for you haven’t wavered. I want this to work if you’ll still have me.”
I leaned forward, taking Gabriel’s face in my hands, and pulled him towards my lips as I kissed him deeply. While I had discovered many things about myself during this trip, I always knew that I wanted Gabriel to be there by my side. I pulled away, staring into his eyes as his hand rested upon my cheek.
“There’s your answer,” I said breathlessly.
“That’s definitely an answer,” he replied, pulling me close as my dress crumpled against him. We kissed for several moments before I stood up, grabbing his hands and pulling him with me over to the bed.
I turned around as he came closer, his hands brushing against my bare shoulders and upper arms as he slid them down. My cheeks flushed with heat as I glanced over my shoulder at his face as he placed a soft kiss on my skin.
“Will you unzip me?” I whispered, my voice husky. Gabriel hesitated for a moment, his mouth resting on the top of my shoulder as I felt his warm breath flitter across my skin.
I felt his fingertips brush down the back of my neck to the zipper at the top of my dress. He slowly slid it down, lightly touching the skin of my back as the dress dropped to the floor near the bed.
Turning around, I wrapped my arms around his neck as his hands took a modest position along my bare skin. I slid my hands up his shirt, feeling his scars along his back as I pulled it over his head, freeing him of his constraints.
Gabriel was going to be mine forever. I knew that within every ounce of my being. I kissed him passionately as we held each other close, the warmth of our bodies mingling with each other as we fell on to the bed.
At Brimstone, I had been afraid of letting myself love someone this deeply and irrevocably, but now, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Gabriel and I awoke to a soft knock at the door. I left the bed and placed a fluffy gray robe around myself as I opened the door a crack. It was one of the castle servants holding a silver tray with a note on it. Taking the message, I thanked the servant and quickly read the invitation.
“It appears they’re holding a feast in my honor tonight,” I said as I hopped back onto the bed beside Gabriel.
“That sounds nice. I am starving,” he said, taking the card from me. He flipped the duvet off of him and picked his clothes up from the floor.
I watched him as he dressed, holding one of the feather pillows close to my chest. Gabriel came back to the bed, giving me a quick kiss.
“You should get ready. I’ll meet you in the dining hall,” Gabriel stated.
I grabbed his arm as he tried to leave playfully. Chuckling, he jumped on the bed on top of me, tickling me until I cried with laughter. He stopped and kissed my forehead before crawling off of me.
“You don’t want to be late for your own feast,” Gabriel said from the doorway as he left me to get dressed.
Rolling off the bed, I walked over to the wardrobe in the corner and opened the doors. What I had expected to see was a few dresses hanging there but instead saw it was a door into another smaller room resembling a sizeable walk-in closet.
“Clever,” I mused.
I wasn’t one for fashion, but my mother was, and she had made sure I was well stocked in my new home. As I walked through the closet, I ran my hands across the soft gowns, jeans, designer tops, and shelves of shoes. A tufted linen couch sat in the center of the room with an island containing drawers. Opening them, I discovered jewelry and other accessories to complete any outfit.
While I knew my mother would be expecting me to come in a dress, I wanted to be comfortable tonight, knowing that a gown would need to be worn during my coronation tomorrow morning. I chose to wear a midnight metallic shawl-collared jacket with matching colored pants and a black blouse underneath. It was a sleek evening wear suit that popped and something my mother would approve of even though I would’ve preferred jeans and an old band T-shirt.
I completed the look with a pair of black ankle-length boots before heading out of the hidden closet. Rubbing Jinx on his head, I took my leave from the room and headed down the corridor, my heels clicking on the marble floor. I saw Gabriel, Penelope, and Ebony heading towards my room at the end of the hall.
“We were just coming to get you,” Ebony said, giving me a small hug. “Wow, you look stunning!”
Gabriel took my hand in his holding it up to his mouth, brushing a quick kiss across my knuckles. “Shall we, my Lady?”
I took Gabriel’s arm as I watched Penelope take Ebony’s. A few of Penelope’s fingers were missing, but the healing was coming along nicely. I felt a twinge at sadness for her loss even though Ebony was beside her the whole time, doting on her hand and foot. I knew that must’ve been a blow to her, to wake up and realize your body wasn’t yours anymore, not after the torture she had endured.
Josh and Ashlin met us outside of the dining hall, where guards were stationed on either side of the door. They opened the wooden doors for us as we saw a beautiful banquet hall with two long tables on each side and a table seated near the back on a short stage. Misty and Maisie were in a corner behind the table where my mother and Charon were chatting.
“Looks like those seats are ours,” Gabriel whispered in my ear as a guard ushered up a step towards the back. Everyone grew quiet as they saw me enter and rose in their seats as a guard pulled a large high backed chair away from the center of the table.
I positioned myself over the seat, and as I sat, so did the other patrons of the banquet hall. The guard pushed the chair underneath me before helping the others with their seats. My mother was seated to my left while Gabriel was to my right.
While the others dined, I saw Callan standing at the corner of the table, his arms folded across his chest. Leaning over to Gabriel, I whispered, “Why is Callan not sitting?”
“I don’t think the other demons recognize him as an ally,” Gabriel revealed.
Standing up, the banquet hall grew silent as they watched me approach Callan. I turned towards everyone seated, placing a hand on Callan’s shoulder.
“Callan has shown me great kindness when many of you plotted my death behind these palace walls. If anyone deserves a seat at my table, it would be this man. If anyone has a problem with this notion, you can speak directly with me,” I announced before motioning a guard to pull up an extra chair. Callan smiled at me before taking his seat among the rest of our crew. I went back to my place and unfolded a napkin across my lap.
“Well done,” my mother said under her breath as she gazed out over our Court subjects. “Callan would be the first of his kind to set foot in Hell and live to tell the tale. I assume he’ll be accompanying you with your mission up top?”
I set my drink down after taking a long sip. “That would be correct. The Paladins assume Samael to be the Second Coming. There’s no telling what Sam would do near the Pope.”
“You may want to think about leaving tomorrow after your coronation,” my mother said. “If this Samael is anything like you’ve described, he’ll be making his way to Vatican City very soon. You’ll want to catch up to him first.”
“Agreed. At least we know his name, it’ll be easier to track him down,” I replied. “Mom, I need you to monitor the situation with Leviathan while I’m away.”
“That can be arranged,” she answered. “I’ll keep order while you’re gone.”
“Guard,” I called as one of them hurried over to me, “can you bring me Charon? I need to speak to her.”
“Right away, my Lady,” the guard said before moving to the table’s end towards Charon. She rose from her seat and walked over to mine.
“You called for me?” Charon asked.
“I need you to do something for me, outside of your duties,” I responded. “I need you to look through the contracts for a Bill Davis, Ashlin’s father.”
“Is there something special about him that I’m looking for?” Charon asked.
“Not particularly. I need to know if such a contract exists between us,” I answered. It was the only way for me to know for sure if my powers were expanding or if I had simply forged a contract between myself and Ashlin’s father when I cured him of his ailment.
“Of course, my Lady,” Charon answered. “I will work on that right away and inform you once I’ve completed the task.”
Charon went back to her seat to finish her meal. The doors opened at the end of the banquet hall as a wave of demons flowed in towards the dance floor in between the tables. The couples danced to live music, giving us a show. I watched the twirl of colorful skirts and headpieces on the dancers as they participated in the Dance of Pan, an old favorite of the ancient world.
The hall was alive with colors, and dazzling specters as my people allowed themselves to be free. I thought about how wonderful it was to be among my own kind and bearing witness to such a spectacular event in honor of our Kingdom. I hoped this peace and happiness would survive for years to come.