Story Excerpt
Fire Demon

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Tehmper slowly lowered his Demonas Amaté to the ground and squatted down next to him. He reached out and stroked the back of his hand across the bloody puncture wounds in the man's neck, smiling at how deep they were. They would not heal easily. This was good.

            While he did not wish to inflict pain on his Demonas Amaté, the deep wound would insure that no one approached his mate in a manner that was not wanted. He would be safe until Tehmper could return for him.


            Tehmper acknowledged Zayne with a small incline of his head but he was loath to take his eyes off the other half of his soul. He'd waited years to meet his Demonas Amaté. He didn't want to leave him so soon, even if he knew he needed to.

            "We must go before more surface dwellers arrive," Zayne said. "I can hear them coming."

            Tehmper nodded. He could hear sirens coming in their direction and knew they didn't have much time. "Did you gather the body of the surface dweller?"

            "Clagh and Storym took the body through the portal with Tuloq."

            "Very good." He did not want his Demonas Amaté to be blamed for the killing. He knew how the surface dweller's laws worked. A dead body, an unconscious man, both found in an alley with signs of a struggle. He had no doubt his Demonas Amaté would be suspected of the killing. Tehmper couldn't allow that.

Tehmper gently caressed his Demonas Amaté's face one last time then reached for the necklace around his neck. He placed the golden chain around the man's neck and smoothed it down his chest. The red stone in the center of the intricate pendant glowed brightly for a moment then slowly faded to a dull red.

            Satisfied that his mate was safe and that he'd be able to find him anywhere on the surface world, Tehmper stood to his feet. He took one last look at the gorgeous man at his feet then turned to join his clan brothers.

            As he walked toward the temporary portal erected by one of his brothers, Tehmper could feel Zayne's eyes on him. He turned to look at him. "What?"

            "You have claimed the surface dweller?"

            "He is my Demonas Amaté." Nothing else needed to be said. Even Zayne would understand what that meant. They were warriors, demon hunters. They spent their entire lives hunting and either killing or capturing rogue demons. Their one solace in their battles was their Demonas Amaté, their demon mates. Tehmper just found his.

            "And you choose to leave him on the surface?"

            "You doubt my loyalty to this mission?" Tehmper snapped. He clenched his fists at his side and glared at his brother.

            "No, of course not," Zayne said quickly. "I doubt the merit of leaving your mate on the surface. He should be brought to our world where he will be safe, not left here for any Shayātīn to find."

            "I have marked him and given him my amulet," Tehmper said. "He will be safe until I can return for him. No rogue demon will get to him." Tehmper smiled. "Besides, he vanquished Tuloq. He can hold his own or he would not be a fit mate for me."

            "He will not be truly safe until you claim him fully and bring him below to Jinnistan."

            Tehmper stopped suddenly and turned. He grabbed Zayne by the front of his shirt and slammed him against the nearest wall, lifting him a few inches off the ground. "He is my mate. I decide when he comes below and when I will fully claim him."


            Tehmper dropped Zayne back to his feet and let go of him. "My Demonas Amaté is not your concern."

            "You are my brother, Tehmper," Zayne said as he smoothed his shirt down, sending Tehmper a small glare. "Of course your Demonas Amaté is my concern. He became part of our clan the moment you marked him."

            "Then let us finish this mission so that I may return to claim him."

            Tehmper could hear Zayne chuckle as he followed behind him. He frowned. Zayne was the comedian of their little group. He was always cracking jokes of one sort or another. While Tehmper usually found it amusing, this time his mate was involved. And that was never a joke.

            He could feel the curious gazes of his brothers as he stepped through the temporary portal and into their world. Tehmper ignored them. He had a mission to complete and a mate to claim. He did not have time to assuage their curiosity.

            Tehmper nodded to the guardians that watched over the portal in Jinnistan. "Please inform the council that we have retrieved Tuloq and he is alive to stand judgment."

            "Very good, Djini," one of the guardians said before turning away and taking off down the large stone steps to the portal gate.

            Tehmper turned back to the gate and watched as Clagh and Storym passed their prisoner off to the guardians. Tehmper wasn't surprised when Clagh followed after them when they left with Turloq to take him to his cell where he would await judgment. Clagh didn't like leaving things for others to handle.

            "Please inform the Amir that I wish an audience with him," Tehmper said to another guardian. The man nodded and walked away. Tehmper turned back to face Storym and Zayne. "Will you join me, brothers?"

            Storym cocked his head to one side, looking confused. Zayne just grinned as he crossed his arms over his chest and grinned. "Our illustrious Tehmper has found his Demonas Amaté and he left him on the surface."

            Demon hunters didn't often show emotion. They were warriors. They couldn't afford to show emotion. It is almost a point of honor with them, which was why the stunned expression on Storym's face was so unusual.

            "You left your Demonas Amaté on the surface?" Storym asked.

            "I couldn't very well bring him below considering the situation," Tehmper replied. "We had a mission to complete. Now that Tuloq is secure, I have requested an audience with the Amir. I will petition for formal admission of my Demonas Amaté into our clan."

            "You know if this man is your Demonas Amaté that his joining our clan is the only acceptable solution," Storym insisted. "You cannot be separated from your Demonas Amaté once you've claimed him."

            "I am aware of this." Even now, Tehmper could feel the need to claim his mate crawling through his body like a hundred little ants scurrying about under his skin. He itched, ached. He gritted his teeth to retain his control. "I will have my Demonas Amaté but I will have him in the proper manner."

            "You really want to wait for the formal ceremony before you claim him?" Storym asked. "Can you wait that long? You're craving for him will start interfering with your judgment if you don't claim him."

            "I will make no mistakes where my Demonas Amaté is concerned."