4 Attraction

The next day, school was back in session, and a dark cloud was brewing in the horizon. At lunch, the doors of the cafeteria opened and the volume of the room dropped noticeably, as most of the boys turned to look, as if under a spell. A tall, shapely girl with flowing red hair and blue eyes, the stereotypical naughty school girl, walked into the room and looked around for a seat. Amy punched Matt’s shoulder as his jaw dropped. William and even Edward noticed that she was definitely hot.

The girl made a bee-line to their table and said, “Hi! I’m new! Do you mind?” Matt nearly tripped over himself to make room for her between him and William. “My name is Katrina,” she said with a bewitching smile. Maria introduced herself, then elbowed Charles, who did the same.

Susan nodded and said, “Susan,” mirroring Amy’s suspicious look. William, Chase, and Edward followed suit, though they did not match the girls’ animosity for the beautiful Katrina.

Carl introduced himself and asked, “So, did you just move here?” He wasn’t fixated on her like Matt, a point William noted silently, as hundreds of male eyes were constantly darting their way, wondering who the new girl was, and more importantly, who she’d be going out with.

Edward and Carl shared a look, however, as Katrina focused on William. Boy was her bubble going to bust, both boys thought at the same time, a fact they recognized in each others’ smile.

Lunch dragged as Katrina fawned over William and generally flirted with the boys at the table. Beneath her cool exterior, she was confused. Men jumped at her command, but most of the guys at this table were … polite. Sure, she felt various degrees of interest tugging at them, especially in William, but she held an animal attraction over teenage boys. Matt, for instance, had never looked away from her since she arrived, much to Amy’s chagrin.

Finally, Katrina put a hand on his forearm. She felt a rush surge through him but nothing like what she would expect. Seeing the looks of surprise and, in some cases, horror around the table, she realized that she had overstepped.

“Katrina,” William said, withdrawing his arm, “You’re new here…. I’m, ah … Chase and I are together. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea!”

Click. Katrina smiled brightly, shrugging, “All the good ones!” Laughing it off, the group quickly reaccepted her. But in her mind, she was laughing. ‘This is going to be interesting,’ she thought. When the bell rang, she left the little group for an out-of-the way bathroom. Waving a hand in front of the door, she engaged the lock the janitor used to secure the room and walked over to a mirror.

Pricking her finger, she drew a sigil on a mirror, and called, “Sammael!”

When the handsome figure appeared on the mirror, she bowed her head solemnly. “Master!”

“Katrina. You have infiltrated the school and William’s friends?” Sammael asked.

“Easily…. They’re very nice,” she smirked. “There is a problem, however!”

“Go on!” Sammael commanded.

“William and Chase are gay! Best I can tell, their friend Edward is gay, and their friend Carl is bi or gay! Only Matt, the next door neighbor, is truly susceptible to my charms….”

Sammael shook his head with a laugh. “You know what to do!”

“Yes master,” she said, lowering her head. “I just wanted your permission first…. He’s so unpredictable!”

“I know,” Sammael said, with a sigh, “but there aren’t any other options in this circumstance, are there?”

“No, master!” With a napkin, she wiped away the blood and closed the connection. “Shit,” she muttered to herself. “Shit!”

Her schedule kept her close to most of William’s circle, but as they left school, she hung back. She trolled the hall full of students, feeling the eyes on her. Near the end of a row of lockers was a tall boy with dark hair wearing a letterman’s jacket. He was cute, she thought. More important, he was straight, and he could feel her call.

“Hey, I’m Katrina!”

“Robert,” he said. “Are you new? You must be, because I’d have noticed you!”

She smiled coyly and batted her eyes. “Aren’t you sweet! First day!” She stepped closer, until her breasts were pressing against his chest and lowered her voice. “I don’t mean to be forward, but I’m looking to get out of the house, and I’d love it if someone could show me around!”

Smiling like a kid in a candy shop, Robert lowered his voice. “I’ve got a girlfriend,” he said, looking around.

She whispered, “I won’t tell,” bending her knee and rubbing it against his inner thigh. “I’m not looking for a boyfriend, just a nice time….” She reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper with her address and phone number. “Around seven?” As she walked away, she smiled over her shoulder. He would be there.

All the way home, Matt talked about Katrina. Finally, Chase asked, “What’s the big deal? You’ve got your dream girlfriend! What’s so great about this girl? She sounds like kind of an airhead to me! Plus, she was flirting with William!”

William smiled and wrapped his arm around him, “Take it easy, tiger…. I set her straight! But there is something about her….”

Chase punched him in the arm with a smile. With Matt he was more serious. “If you don’t watch out, you’ll piss Amy off and you really don’t want to do that….”

“Yeah,” Matt said, but he had a strange look. William saw it and shook his head.

“Get your head on straight,” William said, almost barking. “Chase is right!”

“Alright, alright! Thanks, guys,” Matt said, as they pulled up at their houses. Matt waved as he ran up to his door and inside.

Chase took William’s hand as they walked up the front path. “I’ve got a bad feeling Matt’s going to do something stupid!”

“Me too,” William echoed.

William changed into his training clothes and left Chase in their room working on his school work. Down at his workshop, William let James and Avery through. James and Avery walked with heavy step.

William noticed immediately. “What’s wrong, guys?”

James explained to him all that happened. “My friend Peter from the football team and Sebastian’s friend Richard were just starting to get together before … all hell broke loose. Peter was abducted, raped and turned by one of Sammael’s thugs. We brought him back and protected him, but with all the … with everything going on, I guess we let him slip through the cracks.” James summarized the note and the aftermath.

“My God! I’m so sorry,” William exclaimed.

James shook his head and raised a hand, but averted his eyes, which were full of tears. William could see instantly what the boy meant to James and ran up to the house.

When he burst through the bedroom door, Chase asked, “Is everything okay?”

William told Chase what was going on and the boy stood up immediately and took William’s hand. “Let’s go!”

They hurried down to the workshop and entered the training area. Immediately, Chase threw himself into James’s arms, giving him a long hug, having the almost immediate effect of calming James. After a moment, this brought a smile to James’s face, and he gave Chase a quick kiss on the top of the head. Chase whispered to James, “You love your friend?”

“He was one of my best friends … like Matt is to you, almost,” James admitted.

Chase squeezed him tighter, “I don’t know what I’d do if they went after Matt!”

They talked for a few minutes before Chase released James. For a distraction, James suggested, “We should practice the spell Raziel taught us!”

They all remembered the lesson, and Chase demonstrated it again, more quickly this time, and they could all feel the strength of the throbbing force-field. With a cheeky smile, he suggested to Avery, “Try something strong…. I want to see if YOU can break it!”

Avery looked at William as if for permission, but the boy just smiled and shrugged. If he’d paid more attention, he would have thought more of the fact that both James and William moved behind Chase.

Avery raised his hand and whispered something, firing an incredibly powerful stunning spell at the boy. James and William both flinched and Avery knew something was wrong. When his spell hit the field and it exploded back at him, he had no time to respond as he was hit with a blast many times stronger than his own.

James and William giggled a little as he lay stunned, about twenty feet from his original location. Both boys went to help him up, but it took a few minutes for his muscles to relax. When he could speak again, he looked at them accusingly, but hardly restraining his own smile.

“You knew that was going to happen!” William and James broke down laughing, while Chase grinned innocently. While the other two practiced, Chase tried to show Avery how the spell worked, and Gideon’s instruction.

They worked until dinner, and James and William were just managing to conjure a weak shield. Avery, by this point, was watching fascinated. He just couldn’t manage it yet.

“Practice,” Chase said to the world’s most powerful wizard with a cheeky grin.

Avery walked over to him and wrapped an arm around his neck, ruffling his blond hair like an older brother might.

Before Avery and James left, Chase pulled James off to the side. “Tell Sebastian to find him! He’s got something important, something he shouldn’t have! He’s not going to kill himself….”

“What is he going to do?” James asked.

“I don’t know, but he’s got something we need! That’s all I know,” Chase said.

James looked at him closely and said, “I’ll tell him…. Thanks, Chase!”

Chase gave him another hug and a kiss on the cheek before letting him go. “See you tomorrow night,” he smiled, waving to James and Avery as they departed.

“You like James,” William said with a smile, as he put an arm around his beau.

“He’s like me,” Chase said. “This all fell into his lap…. But he’s sweet, and caring! Gives you the feeling he’s going to get hurt.”

“And you?” William asked.

“We’re all going to get hurt,” Chase said, darkly, but quickly lightened. “Thank God we’ve got each other,” he added, turning chest-to-chest with William, and kissed William’s neck, making him shiver.

William lifted Chase off the ground, as Chase wrapped his legs around William’s waist, grinning. “Mmmm,” Chase moaned as William kissed him hungrily.

“God, I love you,” William whispered, throatily.

Chase giggled, “We’ve got to go up for dinner, but tonight….”

William leaned back and grinned, “Yeah?”

“Let’s do something different tonight?” Chase asked.

“Yeah,” William asked, arching his eyebrows.

“Something we haven’t done yet,” Chase drew out the words suggestively.

William winked and gave Chase’s ass a quick slap before setting him down. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely!” Chase’s smile spoke volumes.

***

As soon as Avery and James returned, James found Sebastian and told him what Chase had said. Sebastian immediately put out a worldwide alert and had some powerful wizards begin scrying for Peter’s location.

By the middle of the night they had nothing, which was very confusing, since they had a very sophisticated intelligence network and powerful wizards looking for him. Sebastian suspected someone was shielding his location magically, but that made no sense.

***

Sammael’s phone rang. A renegade vampire from Washington, D.C. who had worked for Chang said, “I’ve got someone here I think you’d like to meet….”

“Who’s that?” Sammael asked, testily.

“A fledgling vampire named Peter Lively,” the man reported.

“What?” Sammael asked, sitting forward with excitement. “You’ve got to be kidding!”

“Seems he ran away from Sebastian’s place, went on a minor rampage down here, left a few bodies in a park! Well, he walked into a vampire hangout in downtown, and I talked him back to my place. I’ve got him restrained….”

“I’ll have agents to you in hours,” Sammael said with a grin. “They’ll have a reward for you!”

Sammael sat back and smiled. The luck! This was just the kind of leverage he could use to get what he needed. Sebastian wouldn’t expect this in the least!

***

Sarah was just finishing dinner as William and Chase arrived at the house, so the boys helped set the table. “Where’s dad?” Chase asked.

“He’s on his way. He’s had Dave out doing some field research! I think the poor boy bit off more than he expected working for you three,” she said.

“Us three?” Chase asked, setting out forks.

“I think she means, working for your dad and taking care of our money,” William said causally. Chase had a confused look on his face. “The money my family left us….”

Chase’s face grew conflicted, and he hugged William. “I don’t care about the money,” he whispered.

“Me either, but it’s ours, yours and mine, so he works for us,” William said with a smile, as Sarah looked away and tried not to listen. But she smiled to herself.

“So I have an appointment with the doctor on Friday,” she said. “He’s going to do some tests!”

“I’m so excited, mom!” Chase said. “But we are going to need a bigger house!”

“Your dad may not like it, but we’ll just turn the office into a nursery. He and Dave will need an honest to goodness office, in any case!”

“Uhm,” Chase said, looking impish, “I still think we’ll need a bigger place…. When they get older, they’ll need their space!”

Sarah looked at her son’s mischievous smile and groaned. “Do I even want to know?”

Chase shrugged, “Do you?”

She laughed and shook her head, turning away. William looked at him with eyebrows raised, so Chase lifted a hand and held up three fingers. “Really?” he asked loudly.

“Come on, boys! Now I’ve got to know,” the woman said, laughing.

Chase put on his innocent face, “Are you sure!”

“Yes, yes! Just tell me!” Sarah said.

“Shouldn’t we wait for dad?” Chase asked.

Steve walked in and said, “Wait to tell dad what?”

“That mom’s having triplets,” Chase said, as if he were discussing the weather.

“She’s what?” Steve asked.

“Apparently, were going to need a bigger house,” Sarah said, with a shocked look on her face.

“No shit,” Steve said, sitting down.

William smile, noticing that they didn’t question Chase any more when he made such pronouncements. They did love their son, so they’d just gotten over it.

Chase talked happily to his mother over dinner, while Steve looked shell-shocked. After dinner William helped Steve with the dishes. “Are you okay, Steve?”

The man smiled at him out of the corner of his eyes, not turning. Quietly, he said, “I was a young man when Chase was born! In my twenties. Now I’m forty and I’m about to have three babies! A son who’ll be graduating before his siblings can walk! Between you and me, I’m scared shitless.”

William smiled. “My dad said almost the same thing when we found out about the twins! You’re a great dad, and it’ll all work out!”

“If there isn’t an apocalypse in the next nine months,” Steve spat bitterly.

We will NOT let that happen!” William said with absolute conviction.

“And what if something happens to Sarah and me? My dad’s not the kind to be allowed to take care of children, even if he was able, and Sarah’s parents are sweet, but they’re worse off than dad!” Steve worried.

William whispered to Steve, “They’ll have Chase and me…. And Avery and Xavier!”

Steve smiled at him, wrapping one arm around him and squeezing. “Thank you! You boys are something else….”

William laughed and they finished up. William winked at him and ran out of the kitchen, grabbing Chase’s hand where he sat talking to his mom and pulled him to his feet. Chase shrugged and followed, giggling, as Sarah shook her head. Then she got up to find her husband.

She found Steve wiping down the stove, and walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist. “Feeling better,” she asked, resting her head on his strong back.

Smiling, he breathed in deeply. “Yeah, I had a talk with William,” he answered.

“What kind of adults are we,” she asked with a laugh, “leaning on teenage boys for emotional support?”

“Well,” he laughed, adding teasingly, “gay boys are supposed to be sensitive….”

She slapped him on the shoulder and laughed. “Want to go celebrate?”

He turned around and wrapped his arms around her, arching his eyebrows. “Yeah?”

She nodded and led him by the hand toward the bedroom. “Not like I’m gonna get pregnant,” she teased.

Upstairs, William had already stripped, and sat on the edge of the bed, watching Chase undress slowly and methodically. He sighed as the boy stood before him nude.  Chase gasped when he felt William’s strong hands caress his hips, guiding him into his lap. They kissed until Chase grinned. “I think you’re enjoying this!”

“How can you tell,” William asked playfully, and Chase slid his soft  hand down the boy’s chest. “Ahhh,” William said. “Not too much of that! We haven’t had much time alone together the last few days….”

Still teasing William, Chase asked, “And you haven’t been taking care of yourself, poor baby?”

William jokingly pouted, “You have?”

“At least twice a day,” the little blond said, laughing, wiggling on William’s lap.

“Well I hope you have the decency to think about me when you do,” William laughed.

“Usually….” Chase teased.

“Usually!” William said, lifting the boy and tossing him onto his back, crawling on top of him. “Who else is there?”

Chase smiled, “Mostly you, but then there’s the football team, the fire department, the theatre club, you know, men!”

William lowered his weight onto Chase in a very playfully dominant move and whispered into his ear, “You know it’s always me!”

Chase gasped a little as the breath tickled his ear. “Mmmm….” He ran his hands down William’s back, tracing the tight muscles. “Make love to me, William?” Chase whispered.

William lifted himself off of Chase and positioned the boy on the bed with a pillow behind his neck. Then he knelt between his legs took great care to prepare the boy for his first time.  Chase began to pull at his shoulders, and William rose up over him to kiss him. “I’m ready,” the blonde begged. Nevertheless, as they began, Chase’s face tensed ever so slightly as he exhaled. “Give me a second,” he whispered.

“Are you okay?” William asked.

“Yeah,” the boy smiled. “You did a good job getting me ready, it barely hurt….”

William supported Chase, grabbing his slim waist and holding him gently in place. When the boy nodded, William began again. Chase’s hands roamed William mindlessly as he was taken over by the feelings beginning to emanate from deep inside. “William,” he whispered, all longing. William dared only make short, slow strokes. “God, it feels so … ungh, God!”

William whispered, “I’m yours and you’re mine….”

“Always,” Chase answered, as he felt William’s whole body tense. William allowed his body to rest on Chase for a few minutes as he recovered; Chase enjoyed the feeling of being enveloped. “That was amazing,” Chase said, simply.

“Let’s sneak across to the shower,” William suggested as he rolled onto his side.

Chase smiled. “It’s still early,” he said, running his hand down William’s side, smacking his muscular cheek. William rolled onto his belly invitingly, and Chase stroked his back lovingly, easing down and spreading William’s muscular, pleasantly hairy legs.

“Oh, yeah,” William moaned as the familiar feelings overtook him. “So good, baby….”

Their shower, it turned out, was long delayed indeed, but, when it was over, they laid clean and naked in each other’s arms, well spent and glowing with satisfaction. “I am my beloved’s,” Chase whispered, as he nuzzled William’s chest.

“And my beloved is mine….”

***

Across town, Katrina sat in her apartment waiting for Robert. He had called to say he’d be late. A few minutes before he was to arrive, she got in the shower and washed herself clean. She smiled when she heard the bell and wrapped a skimpy towel around herself, sauntering to the door.

Opening it wide, she leaned in alluringly. “Sorry, I was in the shower….”

The boy smiled wide, his eyes raking up and down her long, tan, toned figure. “I, uh, well … I can wait in the car,” he said, unable to look away.

“Come on in,” she said with a smile. “I’m all alone tonight. Why don’t we just stay in? I’m more interested in what’s in here, than what’s out there,” she purred, putting her hand softly on his built chest.

He nodded, stepping in and pressing himself against her firmly, so she could feel his erection against her hip. Taking his hand, she led him to the bedroom and playfully shoved his chest so that he sat down on the bed. She made a show of drying herself in front of him, then dropped the towel and stepped up to the edge of the bed, her left knee was between his legs.

He tentatively reached out a hand and put it on her hip. Feeling her shudder, he ran the hand up to caress her breasts. She took his hand and sucked his finger sensually, before guiding it between her legs. He took the hint.

A few minutes later she dragged him to his feet and together they stripped him nude with feverish pace. When he was completely undressed, she shoved him again, hard this time, and he fell back on the bed laughing.

“You like it rough?” he asked, as she crawled up on top of him.

“Oh, yeah,” she smiled wickedly. “Do you?” She smacked his face playfully.

“Whoa!” he laughed. “Normally I’m the one who plays rough…. But yeah, that’s cool!”

“Well,” Katrina smiled again, leaning over and reaching in to the night stand, “you’re gonna love this!” A gleaming pair of handcuffs dangled from her finger. With an expert flick of the wrist, she closed one end over his wrist and fastened the other to the bedpost.

Robert’s eyes widened in surprise. “Kinky! I think I’m in love!”

She winked at him as she reached in a grabbed a second pair, securing his other wrist. “Now I’m in charge….”

“Why do I get the feeling you were always in charge, baby?” he asked.

“Smart boy,” she said, dragging a finger down his chest and across his straining abs, wrapping her fingers around Robert’s throbbing cock. It was quite impressive, she thought to herself as she lowered her mouth to his eight thick inches to give him a mind-bending blowjob that surpassed every experience he had ever known.

Through a tremendous act of will, he managed to keep from coming for about a minute, but his orgasmic bliss transported him to a timeless state that seemed to drag on for an eternity. Orgasm is sometimes called the little death and that is what he experienced as the succubus drained a substantial amount of his life force through his orgasm, the first such meal this particular entity had enjoyed in a long time. Like the first good meal of a starving man, it satisfied her immediate pain but left her with a longing hunger for more. And soon.

“How was it?” she asked, as she straddled his waist.

When he opened his eyes, he looked up at her breathless and shook his head, unable to express himself.

“When will you be ready to go again?” she asked with a wolfish grin. “I can’t wait to get this monster inside me….”

Despite the exhaustion he felt, he was a teenage boy, and the most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen naked was sitting naked on top of him.  He hardened again as he watched her. Feeling the stirring beneath her, she reached out and tweaked his nipples. Surprised, he felt a surge of energy pass through his body straight to his cock. Soon he was fully engorged and the gorgeous creature was riding him like a cowgirl. He would last much longer this time, and she could hold him at his peak, draining him of his vital essence in a more sustained way.

When his second orgasm was finished, he was so weak that he couldn’t have resisted what came next, even if he wasn’t restrained. His head lolled from euphoria. Katrina’s right hand reverted to a demonic claw, which she used to draw a reversed pentagram on his chest. The pain barely registered with him.

“I call upon the powers of hell,” she intoned. “By my Lord Sammael, by the archangels Beelzebub and Belial, Azazel and Baal, I reach out from this world to the other and summon that darkest spirit, Daemon! Come to me now and be bound by the power of our master of this world! Come Daemon, come!” With a horrific thrust, she shoved her claw into the handsome boy’s chest, tearing his heart to pieces.

From the corner, a silky voice spoke softly, “Katrina!”

“Daemon,” she said, cautiously.

The voice did not match the grotesque serpent that slithered from the corner. “Why have you summoned me?” the creature asked, hissing his ‘s’.

“My Lord Sammael has commanded it!” Katrina answered.

“Very well,” he said. “Back away from the meat!” Katrina moved from Robert’s corpse and backed away, dressing without taking her eyes from the serpent, which had begun to lap away at the blood. “My, wasn’t this one a testosterone fueled meat-sack?”

“Isn’t that the way you like them, Daemon?” Katrina asked.

“I like a challenge, Katrina, you slut!” As the serpent drew power, he began to absorb the physical substance of the dead boy, reconstituting a body of his own design. When he crawled off the bed, Daemon looked as Katrina had seen him in so many ages before, a boy of about fifteen, but tall for his age, with a developing athletic body, olive skin, and light brown curls. The only hair on his body was a light treasure trail leading from his belly button to his pubic hair. He was radiant and gorgeous: of all the demonic forms she’d ever seen, only Sammael’s was more starkly beautiful. But, no doubt about it, Daemon was more alluring. Sammael’s beauty was almost painful to behold in person. Daemon’s was consuming, even for her, and she was an immortal demoness. And unlike most incubi, Daemon was competition for Katrina, since his real love was also teenage boys, but boys such as Katrina couldn’t overpower.

Approaching her confidently, he opened his arms to receive her.  Katrina dared not refuse the embrace of her demonic overlord, master of all demons of lust, Prince Daemon, who had dethroned emperors and kings, and driven others to maddened bloodshed. “Little sister,” he whispered, as he embraced her, “it has been a while!”

“Indeed, brother,” she responded.

Smiling, he stepped back and asked, with a perfectly wicked smile, “And why does it seem that this does not sadden you as it does me?”

“Surely not, my lord!” Katrina said, averting her eyes.

“You always enjoyed your work,” he said with a grin at the bloody remains on her bed. “Now tell me, why has our master granted me this reprieve, after so long?”

“Sammael is free,” she said.

“What?” Daemon asked, sincerely surprised.

“You … did not know?” she asked.

“To my knowledge, none of the Princes know! This is … hmm. What am I to do?” Katrina filled him in on what she knew, and why she had failed. “So tell me about the boys,” he said with a lascivious smile, anticipating his fun. His smile widened as she described the boys, who were just his type. “So, what is the Master’s plan?” Daemon asked.

“I am not nearly high enough to know that,” Katrina said. “But I gather this is it, the final battle!”

“And tell me, Katrina, do you understand what that means?” Daemon asked.

“Hell will rise and ascend to this realm,” the succubus answered her prince.

Daemon smiled dismissively, almost a sneer. “Not exactly,” he said, but he did not elaborate. Robert’s clothes were too big for his form, but they’d serve until he found a better fit. He wore just the pants, commando, and the undershirt, and walked out into the cool night, free on earth for the first time in a hundred years.

‘How things change,’ he thought to himself as he walked the streets of Richmond, advertisements filled with half-naked men and women on a public display of lust. But things really hadn’t changed all that much since Pompeii, had they? These pictures were just better quality. He found an upscale young men’s store about to close and felt the eyes of both remaining clerks on him.

“Hi, guys,” he said with a seductive smile.

“What can we do for you?” the older one asked. Stores like this don’t have really older ones. Tom, the manager, might be a graduate student, perhaps twenty-four, handsome and twinkishly built. The younger guy, Clark, a clerk, looked about nineteen. He was shorter but muscular, like a gymnast, and displayed the store’s clothing well. Both guys were calling out to him like beacons.

With his smooth voice, young and masculine, he said, “I’m looking for a new wardrobe, but, here’s the problem…. I’m a little short on cash!”

“You can apply for credit,” Tom, the manager said, but stopped short as Daemon leaned over the counter and winked.

“I’m just fifteen,” he whispered. “But I really need those clothes! I’d do just about anything for a few outfits,” he said, dragging out the anything breathily.

“Anything?” the younger clerk asked, looking at the manager. When Daemon nodded, the manager nodded to the clerk, who turned the closed sign and locked the door.

Daemon smiled and followed Tom back to the store room, knowing Clark was close behind. Tom unzipped his pants as if this was a common thing and put a hand on Daemon’s shoulder to let him know he wanted the boy on his knees.

Daemon shook his head. “I said I’d do anything, and a blowjob in the stock room is the best you can come up with,” Daemon asked, laughing a little derisively, as he stripped off his shirt and pants and stood naked and magnificent before the man. Clark gasped as he came back into the store room and saw Daemon. “Now there’s a man who can appreciate some fine illegal booty,” Daemon laughed. Walking up to Clark, Daemon took the boy’s hand and sucked his fingers seductively as Tom watched.

At last, however, the man walked up behind him and kissed his shoulder. “That’s more like it,” Daemon cooed. “Why don’t you gents get more comfortable,” he suggested.

When Daemon left the store an hour later with three sets of clothes, and a good deal more energy, both men were alive. They’d both be fired the next day, first because they’d lost over a thousand dollars in designer clothes, and second because the general manager found them laying naked together covered in the store room, the front door unlocked. Funny enough, Clark and Tom discovered they had a common interest in each other, and moved in together, though they found separate jobs.

Daemon walked the streets thinking about this brave new world on the brink of apocalypse. He had been amongst the rebel angels from the beginning, and had always known this day was coming. But his time at the clothier had reminded him of something that an unbroken century in hell had dulled, something that troubled him deeply. That would have to be dealt with later.

In a nicer neighborhood, Daemon caught the eye of a man in his mid-thirties: a little young to be his father, but it was plausible. More important, the man was nice looking, well-built, well-dressed, and more than interested.

Daemon fell into step next to him and asked, nonchalantly, “Where in this town can one find a man?”

The man looked at him quickly but appraisingly, “How would I know?”

“I saw how you looked at me,” Daemon responded with a sexy smile.

The man smiled briefly. “If that were true, would it bother you?”

“Not at all! In fact, I … think you’re kind of hot! It’s sort of a fantasy of mine to hang out with a cute older guy,” Daemon grinned almost shyly.

“Hmmm,” the man smiled, taking a closer look. “You aren’t working for the cops?”

“Once we’re off the street, I can prove that to you,” Daemon promised.

The man smiled and picked up his pace, stopping at a gate in front of a nice old house. “This is me!” Inside the gate, the front garden afforded some privacy. “So you were saying?”

Daemon kissed the man passionately, sliding his hand beneath the man’s waist band. “Would the police let a fifteen-year-old do that?”

“I guess not,” the man replied with a smile. “Fifteen? Shit! You running away, or something?”

“Or something,” Daemon smiled.

“Well, I can’t promise you more than a bed for tonight,” the man said with a hopeful grin.

“Good enough for now, as long as you’re in it!” Daemon said, running his hand around to the squeeze the man’s lightly hairy ass cheeks. The man grabbed his hand and led him inside quickly.

Inside, Daemon tossed his bags by the couch and followed the man to the bedroom. The demonic prince was already well-sated for the evening, and he had no intentions of feeding off the man in the meantime. Rather, he’d weave his intricate web so the man thought of nothing but him and serving his needs, giving Daemon a foothold in this world and access to the resources he’d require for his newest milieu: a modern American high school.

***

Tuesday brought no news about Peter, and Sebastian was very low. He’d meant for dinner to boost his team, and now he himself was in no mood for it. James rubbed his shoulders silently and kissed his cheek. “Everything will be fine….”

“You believe that?” Sebastian asked. “The fact that Chase mentioned him…. I have a bad feeling!”

“You always have a bad feeling,” James teased, squeezing him gently. “Have a little faith!”

Sebastian snorted, rolling his eyes. “If only…. Well, is everything ready for dinner tonight?”

“Jean-Philippe is taking care of everything,” James assured him.

“Alright! Would you mind staying on it? I’m going to sit with Richard,” Sebastian said.

“No problem…. You go do your thing,” James replied, heading out to marshal the troops before he and Avery did their mid-day training. There would be no session with William since the boys were coming to Sebastian’s that evening.

***

Two dark wizards ushered the figure into a cell in Sammael’s arctic station, a black silk bag secured over his head, so he could neither see nor be seen. Powerful cloaking spells ensured he was permanently off the radar.

“Take this fucking bag off my head,” the figure demanded loudly, struggling again against his captors. “Who are you?”

Finally, the elder of the two smiled and said, “We’ve brought you to Sammael…. You know what that means, traitor?”

“Traitor?” the figure demanded. “Why the hell would I owe allegiance to him?”

“Not to him, to your kind! You turn your back on the darkness, all you who follow the ‘Shadow Council,’ bunch of white knights for the weak and insignificant! But now the master’s come to turn that all on its head! And your kind is through!”

“Take me to him,” the figure demanded, surprising both wizards.

“He’s not ready for you yet,” the guard demanded.

“Tell him he’ll want to see me! It’s important,” the figure added, cryptically.

***

When Katrina arrived at school for her second day, it was with an entirely different effect. Every male in the yard was rapt to the pair. “Hey guys, I’d like you to meet my brother, Daemon,” she said, and the whole group, save Amy, Susan, and Chase stood slack-jawed. Indeed, there was a school full of befuddled, confused males, because Daemon affected straight boys the way Katrina affected the gay boys—feelings blunted but not absent. Daemon left in his wake lots of pink cheeked boys with their bags hanging in front of their waists.

Edward, however, was most particularly affected of all the boys: he was single, with no sexual outlet, and just coming to terms with his homosexuality. His gut ached with longing at the sight of Daemon; Edward’s mind clouded at his silky words.

“Hi,” Daemon responded with false shyness, his cheeks flushing.

William was the first to speak, “Hi, I’m William,” he said, softly, feeling the boy’s magnetic draw. ‘What is it with these two?’ he asked himself as he held out a hand. At Daemon’s soft touch, a jolt of energy ran up William’s arm through his body. Even Daemon shuddered involuntarily, which Katrina noted: Daemon was not affected lightly. “I, uhm, I … this, my boyfriend, this … uhm, Chase?”

Chase took a deep breath, hearing a note of something unsettling in William’s voice. It was the tone Matt had taken on the bus the previous afternoon after his encounter with Katrina. Chase just raised his hand in a polite wave and nodded. “Chase!” he said with a stiff smile.

William was left slightly agitated when Daemon removed his hand and stared briefly at Chase. The boy was mostly unaffected by him: Daemon’s most powerful tools were his unearthly beauty, unseen by Chase’s blind eyes, and touch. But Chase’s jealousy robbed him of even that opportunity. Daemon’s enchanting voice was a distant third, in terms of power, and Chase, he could feel, was beginning to emanate anger in waves. He would not, for now, be taken. ‘No matter,’ Daemon mused, ‘I can still turn his world on its head.’

As the introductions proceeded, the girls were somewhat friendlier to the beautiful boy than to his sister, but Chase’s standoffishness affected them. Carl took the Daemon’s hand quickly, and felt the pull, but something else protected him. Daemon was perhaps most interested in that fact. He could feel something in the strong boy resisting him actively, as if it knew what he was. Peculiar.

Matt was friendly as always, though he got embarrassed as he began to feel a boy’s attraction to another boy and backed away quickly, almost stuttering, much to Amy’s amusement as she was still pissed at him.

Edward was last and looked as if he might faint when they touched. Daemon felt it, like an ancient hunger, pulling back at him, and placed his second hand on top of Edward’s drawing him near. “I’m Edward,” the boy stammered cutely.

“Hello, Edward,” Daemon said softly, still affecting shyness. “It’s very nice to meet you,” he added with a cute grin. The message was clear, and Carl tensed up instantly. ‘So, there’s a reaction,’ Daemon thought with a smile. With all these interrelations, relationships to be toyed with, this was going to be a world of fun. So much energy to be drawn. He and Katrina would stir this pot. But something nagged at the edge of Daemon’s demonic intellect. How it would all work out was anyone’s guess.

Later that morning, Carl pulled Edward aside in the hall. “Hey, I was thinking…. You wanna go off campus for lunch today? My treat! I’m just feeling antsy, I guess!”

“I,” Edward began hesitantly, looking around for something, or someone, Carl suspected, “well, I was planning on eating in the cafeteria, but if you really want to go….”

Carl smiled widely, dimples out, and winked, putting a big hand on the boy’s arm. “Thanks man, I knew I could count on you!” As Edward walked off smiling, Carl’s smile slipped.

“You can’t have him,” the boy whispered in a language no one around him would understand—Irish. While Heather was quite willingly his beard, her girlfriend being away at boarding school, Edward had captured his imagination, and his heart.

As a young boy, Carl MacKenna, in Irish, Carollan Mac Cionaoith, which meant something like “little champion sprung from the fires,” had been raised in a small, rural Gaeltacht community in his grandmother’s home. While his parents worked, his grandmother taught him the traditional ways of the Irish, passed down from generations predating the arrival of the missionaries. At her death, when he was ten, his parents sold the family home and moved to America, where his father became a successful developer.

While his parents had always spoken English at home, Irish was his first language, the one in which he had been most comfortable when his family arrived in Virginia. It was the part of his grandmother he kept alive in himself, her books and journals spoke to him in the language of his people. And it was a gift she had given him, a traditional Irish knot of pure silver, that burned against his muscular chest whenever Katrina or Daemon was around. And he knew what that meant. He’d never believed, and now wished he had listened more carefully to her stories, now that she was gone. Perhaps her books…. But he couldn’t go to his parents; they’d ship him to mental hospital.

‘Chase,’ he thought to himself. ‘I should talk to Chase…. He’ll listen, even if he thinks I’m crazy, and he’s no fan of them either….’ But he put the thought out of mind. He dared not endanger the beautiful boy he’d long had a crush on, whom William had driven him to give up on. ‘Let him be happy,’ Carl thought, ‘though if this is what I think it is, we’ll all be unhappy soon!’ But Carl put the thought away for the moment.

Before lunch, Carl was careful to catch Edward as he came out of class and drag him away. “So, what would you like to eat?”

Edward smiled at him and his strange behavior. “You pick.”

Carl looked at him for a long time. “If someone were taking you out on a date, where would you want to go?” he asked, unsure, which struck the small boy to his side as funny. “What?”

“It’s just, you’re being so roundabout! You’d think you were worried I might gay-bash you if you asked me out,” Edward laughed at the, well built, 6’5” basketball star.

Brushing a handful of fiery red hair from his blue eyes, Carl blushed, making Edward’s heart beat fast. “More worried that you might say no…. You and Susan?”

Edward nodded, “Couldn’t live the lie any more…. You and Heather?”

“It’s a cover,” he laughed, “for both of us!” Moments later, they were both laughing.

After a long lunch, Carl asked, “Want to ditch?” Edward smiled and nodded. They drove around in the country until school was out, Edward’s fog lifting with each moment he spent with Carl. Daemon’s attraction faded to a dull pull. Unfortunately, Carl knew it would return instantly when next they met.

When Carl pulled up to Edward’s house, he put a hand on Edward’s. “I’d like to kiss you,” Carl whispered, and Edward leaned in to receive him, softly, tenderly, with real desire. “Remember that ‘til next time,” Carl smiled and winked. Edward beamed as he walked shakily to the front door and let himself inside.

Carl smiled too, knowing it wouldn’t be enough. But it was something. He was in a race against time, when it came to Daemon. No one, almost no one, could hold out against Daemon forever. Maybe Chase? ‘Why do you keep coming to mind, Che?’ he asked himself. In middle school, he had used the revolutionary’s name as a nickname for the boy. Chase always liked it, but never really opened up too much. ‘It’s because you’re moving on,’ Carl thought to himself.

Meanwhile, on the bus, the boys were quiet. William was still out of it a little, and Chase was pissed, though William wasn’t paying enough attention to notice. Matt likewise was off in his own world.

At last, Susan turned around and asked, “What’s up with you guys?”

Chase drew a breath to speak, but William interrupted. “Wrong? What do you mean?”

Susan looked at Chase, then at William. “Chase?”

“Like I was about to say,” the boy began, peeved, “I’m confused by the way everyone is acting around the new kids!”

“Katrina?” Matt asked, though William asked, simultaneously, “Daemon?”

“Exactly!” Chase declared with a huff.

Susan smiled. “I think someone’s jealous!”

Chase crossed his arms and pouted, and William looked at him for what seemed like the first time all day. “Really? I’m sorry, baby! They’re just new, everyone’s trying to make them feel at home!”

“Or get them into bed,” Chase said grumpily. “Everyone doesn’t have to be so nice! There’s something about how … overboard all you guys are going!”

“Not us,” Maria added, turning around next to Susan.

“I chose the word ‘guys’ very carefully,” Chase mumbled.

“That’s true,” Maria said. “All the guys at school seem to be crazy over those two….”

Matt and William both grumbled lightly, but neither of them said anything. When they got off the bus, Chase walked ahead by himself and slammed the door behind him, running upstairs to his room. Outside, Matt said, “I think you’re in trouble.”

“You too, buddy! You too!” William walked slowly to the door, and walked inside to be met by Steve.

“What’s that all about?” Steve asked, looking upstairs.

William shook his head and walked past Steve to the kitchen to get a drink, but the man followed. After he took a drink of soda, William sighed. “There’s a couple of new students, a guy and a girl…. A bunch of us may have been paying too much attention to them. We’re just being nice!”

Steve chuckled, but asked, “Is that true?”

“Well…. The girl is cute and the guy is … wow!” William said.

Steve arched his eyebrows. “Listen to yourself, and ask yourself how you’d feel if Chase was going on like that! You’re always going to notice other people, and you’re going to have to deal with them, too, but how do you treat the person who matters? How much attention did you show Chase while you were being nice to these kids?”

William lowered his head, “Not much, I guess!”

Steve sighed and patted his shoulder, walking off without further comment, leaving William to think. Since they were going to Sebastian’s for dinner with the elders of the Shadow Council, William had no training to distract him. Like a man marching off to his doom, William trudged up the stairs and, coming to Chase’s door, knocked. No answer. He knocked again. No answer. He slowly opened the door to find Chase lying on his belly facing away from him.

“Chase?” William asked.

“You have to knock now? It’s your room!” the boy exclaimed in tears.

“I wanted to give you the chance to be alone, if you wanted,” William answered.

Chase was silent, waiting. “Well?”

William sighed and sat down on the bed, not quite touching Chase. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“For what?” Chase asked, not ready to give him an easy out but melting rapidly.

“I wasn’t thinking about you, and you mean more to me than anything, more than everything….” William choked up a little, and Chase rolled over, pulling William down on top of him, rubbing the back of his head as William too began to cry softly. “I’m sorry!”

“I love you,” Chase said, soothingly. “Lie down with me?” William stretched out next to the small-framed blond and laid his head on the boy’s slight chest, listening to his racing heart. Chase had been scared, he could tell, and that sent a shockwave through William that intensified the feelings of love and regret mixing inside him. But as Chase’s heartbeat slowed, it lulled William into peaceful slumber.

They napped together for a couple of hours and woke feeling much better. They had a quick shower together, and returned to the room wrapped in towels, laughing and pink-cheeked, to finish drying off. Chase decided to wear his blue blazer with tan pants and a tie, so William picked out a pair of tan pants but he wore an open-necked blue sweater over his shirt and tie, so they matched.

Hand-in-hand, they walked downstairs, where Sarah greeted them with, “My don’t you look nice!” Steve just smiled and winked at William. The boy smiled and shook his head. “So you’re off to Sebastian’s then?” she asked.

Chase nodded. “Got to meet some big-wigs,” he said with a shrug.

“Be careful,” his mother cautioned, but let them go without further comment.

***

“Your progress is amazing,” Avery gushed as they finished their training.

James blushed, “I have a good teacher!”

“No,” Avery said, laughing, “there’s something else! You’re different from the rest of your kind! We know that from the Oracle: child of love! It gives you power, something like Chase’s: you so easily access that part of yourself, an infinite well…. Perhaps I could have touched it once, but … I’ve lost so much.”

James put an arm around the man. “You must have loved her dearly, to forge a Bond with her….”

“She was like the other part of myself,” Avery said, eyes glistening.

“So … Sarah?” James asked.

Avery smiled a sad smile. “We’ve talked … I’ve explained. Sarah’s a wonderful girl and I could … love her in her own right, but I don’t know if I’ve got it in me to go there again!”

“You know,” James said, “love isn’t like money. You spend money and it’s gone, so you ration it out. Love, you can give all you’ve got and a little more, only to find that you have more than you’ve given left. It is an infinite well, as you said!”

Avery smiled at him, asking, “Who is teaching whom?”

They found Sebastian and Richard in the living area, talking quietly. Richard looked terrible, and Sebastian had his hands clasped over Richard’s. Sebastian looked at them and smiled, shaking his head to indicate no news.

James showered and dressed for company, before doing a last check around the house. At last, Sebastian too had to get ready, and Richard retired to his room. Chris and Steve were going to enjoy a night alone upstairs.

Avery and Sarah emerged looking gorgeous. The colonel was decked out in his dress uniform. Together with Sebastian and James, they descended to the basement to open the portals. Musa arrived first, wearing the finery of an Arab noble, with a sexy young European-looking vampire on his arm. “Sebastian,” he exclaimed, opening his arms to receive his old friend, “it’s been far too long!” Sebastian stepped into his warm embrace and shivered as he felt the man’s lips in his neck.

“Enough of that, you dog,” Sebastian said with a teasing laugh, stepping back. “James, my old friend, Musa!”

Musa put a hand on each of James’s shoulders and looked at him appreciatively. “So you are the boy who has won Sebastian’s heart! Lucky dog!” The man left it tantalizingly unclear to which of them he was referring. Turning to his companion, a vampire of perhaps a hundred years who looked about seventeen, a light skinned, dark blond with brown eyes, Musa said, “Allow me to introduce Simeon, my personal assistant.” All gathered shook hands with him. “Avery,” Musa exclaimed happily, embracing his other old friend. Avery introduced both Sarah and the colonel.

Christen arrived next with her husband Mark, and introductions again ensued. Mark was clearly overawed by the company, despite his wife’s high position: Sebastian and Avery were legendary to him. Americ followed with his long-time companion, Melinda, who drew Sebastian into a big hug, thanking him for making the decision to save her mate. Last was Pedro, who came alone.

Sebastian ushered his guests upstairs and gave James a nod. James followed them up, but would return to the basement to open the door and usher William and Chase into the mansion at the appointed time.

***

The figure was led into a decadently appointed office. “Remove the bag,” a silky and attractive voice commanded, and Peter found himself face-to-face with Sammael. Sammael stood a couple of inches taller than the young footballer and smiled down into his face, his hypnotic blue eyes piercing Peter.

“I need to speak with you,” the boy said, softly, “alone….”

Sammael looked surprised and motioned for the wizards to leave them. “You aren’t surprised to see me?”

Peter looked confused. “Surprised? I … came looking for you!” Sammael raised his hand to cast a spell, thinking the boy had somehow smuggled something in with the intent of harming him, but he could see on the boy’s face that it was nothing of the sort.

“Hmmm…. I was under the impression you were captured,” Sammael said.

“I came to the city and went to a place where the bad guys hang out … and said I was looking for you,” Peter explained.

Sammael chuckled and made a mental note to have that vampire filleted. “So why would someone like you come looking for that kind of trouble?”

“I needed to know if it’s true,” Peter said.

“If what is true?” Sammael asked, quite unsure of where this was going.

“Those wizards out there, they think you’ve come to restore the dark forces to their ‘rightful’ place in the world, to dominate the mortals.” Sammael nodded. “But Sebastian is quite sure you have other intentions!”

Sammael sat down in his chair and leaned back, smiling. He motioned for Peter to take a seat. “And what does the leader of the white hats think I have planned?”

“He thinks that, as the sworn enemy of God, you’ve come to reduce the world to ‘primordial chaos.’ He thinks you’re here to undo creation.” Sammael’s smile intensified. “So which is it?”

       “Why not? None of these rubes would believe you if you told them. Sebastian is absolutely right! I don’t want to rule this fetid rock, to lord over these pathetic, wretched masses of monkeys! I want to reduce it to rubble and toss it all back in His Face! Fuck the world!” Sammael had risen to a fever pitch and his fist came crashing down on the desktop. He hid his surprise as Peter didn’t even flinch.

       Rather, the boy reached relaxedly into his pocket and pulled out a little velvet baggie and tossed it on the desk. Sammael picked it up and looked inside. Then he looked at Peter with perplexity and surprise.

       “But why?” Sammael’s question was sincere. He couldn’t fathom it.

       “Since your people … did what they did to me, I’ve had nothing but pain and torment inside. And I can feel it, feel it in every creature! The suffering, the agony of life…. It’s screaming in my head. I killed a boy the other night and realized that he died in bliss and his suffering was over! But no matter how much I try, I could kill many night after night … I can’t murder the world…. But you can!” Peter’s eyes shined with sincerity.

       Sammael smiled, an authentic and pleasant smile, as he sat the bag on the desk and walked around, kneeling before Peter and wrapping his arms around the boy. “My brother,” he whispered, as he ran a hand through Peter’s hair, lifting his head for a soft and loving kiss. Peter relaxed in his arms and let himself be carried away in the affection of one who truly understood him.

***

William and Chase opened the door, which James opened from the other side. “You guys look nice,” James said with a friendly smile. “Everyone else is upstairs.” James led them upstairs where the leaders of the Shadow Council sat having friendly conversation.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” James announced loudly as he entered, “may I present our friends, William Jennings and Chase Abernathy….”

Everyone stood and introduced themselves. Americ looked closely at William as he shook his hand. “William Jennings?”

The boy smiled, “Alexander Jennings was my father….”

“I am so sorry for your loss,” Americ responded. “I considered your parents good friends!”

“Many of us did,” Musa said, putting a hand on the boy’s arm. “Please, if there is ever anything you need!” Many of the assembled wanted to speak with him privately over the course of the evening, and he learned more than a few interesting things about his parents.

Chase sat quietly as William had his moment. James settled into the seat next to him and put a heavy arm across his shoulder. “How are you doing, bud?”

Chase smiled and leaned into him a little. “Alright…. We had a fight today. There’s a new boy at school, and William was acting all gaga over him….”

James frowned, “That doesn’t sound right! William is totally into you!”

“Yeah, well! He says he’s sorry, but,” Chase trailed off.

“Chase, believe me, William is absolutely devoted to you: I can feel it flowing off of him like heat from fire…. But I can also tell that you really are rattled by this!” Chase nodded silently. James squeezed his shoulder and they sat together, quiet, for a while.

Sebastian appeared at William’s elbow and dragged him out of a conversation, nodding in Chase’s direction. “Thanks,” William said, but inside, he said, ‘Shit! I did it again!’

He walked over to where the boy sat and knelt at his feet, putting a hand on his leg, “Sorry, baby, I got caught up hearing these stories about my parents!” James smiled and patted William on the shoulder, getting up and leaving them alone.

Chase leaned in and whispered with a smile, “Don’t worry, this I get! I just don’t feel like I belong here!”

“Don’t worry,” William laughed, “you’re at least as weird as anyone else here, so you’ll fit in just fine!” Chase laughed in return and William took his hand, leading him over to resume the conversation he’d been having.

“So Chase,” Christen Wheeler’s husband Mark asked, “Are you a wizard?”

“No,” Chase answered, smiling shyly, “just a boy from Virginia!” William overheard and snorted, but kept to his own conversation. “Are you?”

Mark nodded, “Christen and I met when we were training for entrance into the military wing under the Queen. Christen is the consul over the West coast as well…. So how did you get pulled into all this,” he asked with a smile.

Chase smiled and recounted the story of how he and his father found William, brought him home, about how they had fallen in love. He was embarrassed when he took a breather and noticed that all the side conversations had stopped and all eyes were on him. “Please, continue,” Musa said with an encouraging smile.

So Chase told them about how William had collected the materials to forge the Bond and how they had had the ceremony, leaving out the details about him and his … nature.

Musa took his hand and William’s and looked at the rings side-by-side. “Remarkable,” he said, looking at the boys with supreme admiration.

“If you think that’s remarkable,” Avery said as he led Sarah into the room, “you should see James and William casting spells! It’s amazing how far they’ve come in a few sessions! Only so much of it can be blamed on their having a superb teacher….”

Musa chuckled and Americ smiled. “It’s good to see you’ve learned SOME humility, brother,” Pedro said, clapping his brother on the back. Avery laughed.

Sebastian took center stage. “I’ve asked you all here because I wanted you to meet three people who give me hope that we can take on Sammael and be successful. James, my partner, you’ve seen but never met. You know the prophecy. William has been important enough to Sammael to be targeted at least twice, and his guardian is a very … important figure in the angelic realm.” Sebastian paused and looked at Chase, and took his hand, “And last, but not least, Chase! Chase is one of the most amazing being I’ve met in four thousand years! I honestly never thought I might live to see another like him.”

Now all eyes in the room were truly on him, and Chase squirmed. Musa stepped forward and took Chase’s hand again, as he had when he examined the ring. But this time he took the other hand. “I thought it was the ring,” Musa said as he looked to Sebastian in awe.

“You thought what was the ring,” Americ asked.

“The power,” Musa said. “I could feel it, but I thought it had to do with the Bond….”

As Musa stepped away, Americ said, “May I?” Chase nodded as the man took his hand and gasped. “I’ve never!”

“Few have, my friend,” Sebastian said, softly. “Chase is the only one of his kind I’ve met since I parted my beloved Abraham in the sands of the Near East….”

Chase’s face reddened as he could feel the eyes boring into him, examining him, taking his measure. “I’m just a boy,” he whispered finally. He felt William’s firm arm around him and straightened up. “A boy who lived alone in the dark for a long time. Why God would throw me into the middle of this? I don’t know, but I can tell you that it was what I was made for. I can honestly tell you that given the option of turning it all back, even to a world where Sammael wasn’t loose, I’d choose this one every time…. I suppose I should be sorry for that?”

Americ smiled sadly, “Not at all! Your love….”

Musa put a hand on Americ’s shoulder and smiled, “It’s an inspiration, even to old dogs like me!” Chase smiled. “So what’s it like?”

“What’s what like?” Chase asked.

Musa smiled, “Talking to God?”

“I don’t know about that…. The voices I hear are sometimes so infuriating, sometimes so comforting. For instance, when Americ was taken, all I was told was that Sebastian had to make a decision, and it was all in his hands…. Not only your fate, but the fate of all!” They all looked at Americ, who looked sick at the thought that Sebastian had doomed them by saving him. “I’ve learned to have more faith in people, Musa! Sebastian, of course, chose well!” Americ’s shoulders sank in relief, and they all smiled at him, as his tense face began to resume its normal ease.

As they adjourned for dinner, Sebastian fell in beside him and wrapped an arm around him, whispering, “Well done, Chase! Can you spare a moment before we go inside?”

Sebastian led Chase to his office and closed the door. “I’ve had a jeweler I know design a pendant amulet in the shape of the sigil Raziel taught you, for protection…. I got a lot of them,” he said with a smile, “enough for your parents and close friends, as well as ours.” Pouring out the platinum pendants on his desk, he said, “I need you to charge them with the power of the spell….”

“How do I do that?” Chase asked softly. Sebastian smiled and took his hands and crossed them, placing his palm face down over the pile.

“Make the sigil in your mind and then feel its power flowing down from your palms and empowering the platinum sigils on the desk…. It’s more straightforward than it might seem,” he began, but as he stepped back, as steady blue light shined down from his hands and the platinum began to glow, more and more intensely, until a blue flash filled the room and Chase was done.

“Did it work?” the boy asked with innocent curiosity.

“Fantastically,” Sebastian said, putting the pendants in their bag to distribute to his guests. “Let’s eat,” he declared and led Chase back to the party.

The items were passed out during dinner, and the boys were given extras to take home. Conversation was lively, but at last William stood. “I’m sorry to say, we must get going. It’s a school night!” Chase smiled and took his hand. They each shook hands and said their goodbyes, and James escorted them downstairs to the open door.

“Thanks for coming, guys…. See you soon for a weekend?” James asked.

“That will be great,” Chase said, hugging him.

“And see you tomorrow,” he said to William, who smiled.

Back home, Steve was still awake, but nodded to them and went immediately to bed. Upstairs, the boys undressed and crawled sleepily into bed.