5.6

There were too many people in the club. Bodies pressed against each other, sweat mingling while swaying to the time of the eardrum shattering music. Grace hadn’t been into going to clubs before, and now, with her heightened senses, she would have rathered bashed her head against a wall for a few hours than step foot in that place again. She couldn’t even take a shot to alleviate the pain. But, Tony was having a good time, which was the important part.

He had needed to get out of his hole for an apartment and find himself a partner for the night. Surprisingly, he had. She had expected it to take a little longer for him to find someone, to be pickier than he had been. The first guy that showed some interested Tony swooped in like a hawk with his prey. The two had been together since, leaving Grace alone.

Not that she minded. It left her to go outside. The back alley was quiet, only the sounds of rats scurrying keeping her company. After the noise called music in the club, the rats were welcomed noises. Soothing almost, if not a tad bit creepy. Rats weren’t her favorite creatures in the world. Some people liked them, thought they were cool. She was not one of them, though she would have been alright with one from the pet store. Of course, those weren’t crawling in disease and filth.

She had been grateful Chase had never wanted one. When they had gone looking for his first pet, he had stared hard at one, considering it, but then moved onto another animal. Grace had never felt so relieved in her life. Even more so when her son decided that he didn’t want a pet at that moment. He wanted to wait until they had a house so he could get a dog. Another idea that Grace hadn’t liked. She had no problems with dogs, obviously, but she never thought they would have enough money to get a house.

Paws padded softly against the ground headed toward her. Grace turned and looked, spotting a brown and white mutt. A huge smile spread across her face. “Hi there!” she called to it, squatting to seem less threatening. She stuck her hand out, hoping the dog would get close enough to sniff it. “I won’t hurt you.” The promise was genuine, not that the creature knew that. It probably didn’t even understand a word she was saying.

The dog got close enough that it had to stretch its head to take a sniff of her hand. It was nervous about her, not that she blamed it. It could probably smell the hellhounds on her, and they were pretty freaking scary, even to her. Not to mention she made some humans nervous, as if knowing she was their natural predator.

Satisfied she wasn’t going to murder him, the dog licked her hand before coming in petting range. Her smile grew until it felt has if her cheeks would cramp. She scratched the mutt on the neck and behind the ears as it started to pant.

The hair on the back of Grace’s neck stood on end, and her head snapped to where the dog had come from. A man stood there, dirty clothes and disheveled hair, watching her intently. “He likes you,” he told her as if she should be amazed. She was, all things considered, but his glassy eyes made her want to dismiss the drunk.

“It seems so,” she replied, standing. Her body was telling her to run. To get out of there as fast as she could, but something glued her to the spot. There was something familiar about the man that she couldn’t place. “Who are you?” Not normally how she tried to get away from someone, but her nerves were so shot with him that close it was hard to think.

The man tilted his head to the side, much like his dog would have done. “I’m the Observer,” he said, as if she should know that.

Great. Another supernatural being of some sort that assumes Lucifer told me everything, she thought to herself. It does explain why he makes me so uncomfortable. “Yeah. I don’t know what that is,” she told the man, embarrassment lacing her words. “Lucifer doesn’t tell me anything.”

“So, I’ve heard.” He took a step closer and the smell of booze was overwhelming. Grace stood where she was, not wanting to seem rude, even if her eyes were watering. “Why do you think that is?” Another step. He reached down and patted the dog’s head. It looked up at him like he was the best thing in the world.

“Because he’s a dick.” The Observer took another step toward her. This time, she stepped back, a low growl wanting to form in the back of her throat. “Why do you make me so uncomfortable?” Not something she had meant to ask aloud. But it was there, and she couldn’t take it back.

The Observer stopped, and then started to laugh almost maniacally. “I’m a magician.”

That still didn’t tell her anything, but she’d go with it. “Like-pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat magician?” Probably not her brightest moment, but she was working on that.

Another worryingly creepy laugh. “No. Like burn-this-building-down-with-a-snap magician.”

Yeah, not frightening at all. “Cool.” Her voice was shaky and she took another step backward. “I think I’m going to head back inside now.” Anywhere to get away from him. It didn’t seem like he was intent on harming her, but she didn’t know how much longer she could stand the ants-crawling-under-her-skin sensation.

She turned away from him. “He really attached himself to you.” That made her pause. When she turned around he was squatting by the dog, patting its back. For a moment, she believed the Observer had been speaking about the dog. The way he had said “he” didn’t match that though.

“Excuse me?” The man didn’t respond. She should have just left it at that. Should have just walked back into the club and ignored the man, but curiosity was a bitch. “Who’re you talking about?”

“You met Him once before.” Her heart gave a single thud against her ribs. “I helped pull you and Lucifer out of His cage.”

Grace licked her lips, mouth dry. “Thank you,” she said, her voice hoarse. That was not a time in her life she wanted to remember. That thing had instilled a primal fear in her that still made her sweat when she thought about it. It was a good thing she didn’t dream because she was sure it would be about Him. “I really think I should get back inside.” Tony could be looking for her, and she didn’t exactly tell him where she was headed.

“He’s bound himself to you for some reason.”

“Why would He do that?” Stupid question. Very stupid question. She needed to get out of there, not keep talking to this man, and getting a reminder of the most terrifying moment of her life, aside from seeing Chase bleeding.

The Observer stood and stared at her. He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not sure. We never know why He does what He does. Just have to live with it and figure it out.” His eyes went back down to the dog, as if trying to decide if he should tell her more. Their eyes met once again when he made up his mind. “It’s not going to be pleasant. What he’s going to do to you, whatever it may be. Just be ready for it, and the torment that comes before it.”

“Torment?” All the man did was nod. “Is there a way to unattach him from me?” It was worth a try, right?

“The only being powerful enough to do that, doesn’t give a shit.” The man offered her a sympathetic smile and pat on the shoulder. “Take care of yourself, Grace.” And with that, he left. Left her alone to the panic and despair threatening to consume her.

“Thanks, dick,” she muttered under her breath before headed back into the noise. The plan was to find Tony and tell him that she was going to take off. Hopefully, he was too busy making out with his dance partner to pay her any mind. If he was paying too much attention, he was going to ditch his date for her, and she wasn’t going to let that happen. She had forced him to come out, and he was going to have a good time whether she was there or not.

Before she could even locate Tony in the dense crowd, she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder. She spun around, ready to tell an asshole to keep his hands off, but the words died in her mouth. Standing before her in all of his attractive glory, was Iblis. She gave him a meek, “Hi.” Though it was his club, he had been the last person she expected to see.

There was a charming smile on his face that didn’t reach his eyes as he took her by the arm and led her upstairs. The noise died down when they got into his office and he left her go. “I thought I said never to come here.” His voice was ice and fire all in one. Grace had to suppress a shudder.

“I didn’t plan on coming here. I forced Tony to go out and he said this was the only place safe for him.” No point in lying to the man. He was going to try and kill her either way. “Getting him laid was more important that pissing you off.”

The djinni was taken aback by her confession. “It has been a while since he had been with anyone.”

Grace didn’t know how the djinni knew that, but if it stopped him from killing her, she’d go with it. “Trying to get him to go out was worse than having teeth pulled. And here I was raised believing that demons loved debauchery of any kind.” She shook her head. “He really has to be the worse demon in the world.”

“You have no idea,” Iblis said, taking his seat behind his desk. “It’s hard to believe his mother is Lilith.” Grace could only nod, not knowing anything about Tony’s mother, aside from the fact she was the current ruler of hell. “Would you like a drink?” The djinni indicated to a bottle of amber liquid.

“Um, no. I don’t want to ruin your carpet.” The confused look she received made her explain. “If I eat or drink normal human food, I start bleeding from everywhere.”

“That sounds unpleasant.”

“It is.” She took a seat in the empty chair across from Iblis. It was clear he had decided not to kill her, and she was happy about that. Her life wasn’t the greatest, but she wanted to live it. “I guess there are worse things in life.” Like apparently having the perfect evil attached to you and unable to remove it. That seemed worse than blood pouring out of every orifice of your body when you eat or drink things you used to love.

Iblis poured himself a drink. “This doesn’t mean that I like you,” he said before the class touched his lips and the amber liquid disappeared. “I’m just letting you have a pass under these circumstances.”

“Didn’t expect you to like me,” Grace retorted, shrugging her shoulders. “I don’t really like you either.” If they were going to be honest with each other, she might as well tell him. All of the things that she had heard about him over the past few months had led to believe him a douche. His only redeeming quality, as far as she could see, was his love for his adopted daughter, Ashtat.

He poured himself another drink, which he promptly downed. “You’d like me if you slept with me.”

The snort that filled the space between them was very unlady-like. “I would just like having sex with you. You don’t need to like someone to have sex with them, just be attracted to them.” And Iblis was very attractive. A man that would have been considered out of her league those days when she was alive. Not that she would have paid him any mind. Whether she had liked to admit it or not, her eyes had been on James. She had turned down many men because of him and Chase.

“Touché,” the djinni said, raising his now full glass to her. A silence fell between the two. It was thick as glass. Iblis was the first to shatter it. “Do you want to have sex?”

“God, no!” No hesitation whatsoever. The last thing she needed was to start a physical relationship with someone, human or not. And she didn’t even know if she could have sex. Her body wasn’t exactly consistent on what it could and couldn’t do. “You’re still recovering. Why would you even ask?”

Iblis shrugged. “Thought it would be worth a shot.” Another glass of the liquor downed. “How did you know I’m recovering?”

It was Grace’s turn to shrug. “You looked like shit the other day, for one. For two, the rotting flesh smell isn’t as strong.” It was still there, just not as strong as it was.

“You truly are like no other Sin Eater.”

“Good thing or bad?”

“That remains to be seen.”

Grace could only nod. “Well,” she started, standing up, “I should get back to my friend before he decides to ditch me.”

Iblis smiled. “It’s a little late for that. Ashtat informed me that he left ten minutes. She had failed to mention you had been with him.”

The shock of being left behind made her sit down. “That fucker left me?!” It was hard to believe that was something Tony would do. Then again, he had been drinking heavily and the guy had been pretty hot. Of course, the whole point was for him to get laid, and he couldn’t exactly do that with her there. Unless he was into that sort of thing, which she was not.

“That he did. What are you going to do about it?” Iblis cocked his eyebrow in a challenge.

“I’m going to walk my happy ass back to my apartment,” declared Grace, getting back to her feet. There was no point in moping around. “I guess I’ll see you around sometime. Not like we can avoid each other considering the circumstances.” Supernatural creates were bound to run into each other, or so it seemed.

He raised his glass to her. “Maybe next time I see you, I’ll kill you. Maybe not. Give Lucifer my regards.”

She gave him an acknowledging nod before heading out of the room.

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