"I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”
- Jeremiah 15:21
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
- Isaiah 14:12
Mark is buried on a bleak winter morning; stark winds clattering the trees and shaking the needles from the pines. His coffin is rolled down the path on a cart as the rest of us follow, a dismal procession dressed in black.
The grave I'd come upon had been completed, made much deeper, and when I look into it it's like gazing halfway to Hell. There's a silvery headstone now, the omega mark etched into it and Mark's name beneath.
Rebecca is inconsolable but her grief is the quiet kind; eyes red from tears, faraway and lost. She's pale in her mourning attire, hair pulled back into a bun at the back of her head. She won't make eye contact with anyone, sinking beside the grave as the coffin is slowly lowered.
I didn't see Mark before he was placed in his coffin, but I want to believe he appears peaceful in death; peaceful in a way that eluded him during his life. At the very least, he's escaped this house and Damien, but that's a small consolation, isn't it? The whole affair is an unspeakably cruel joke.
Damien is silent as he oversees the matter, dressed in black attire as always, this time in a long coat that flutters when the wind blows. He throws a handful of dirt onto the coffin and implores the rest of us to do the same, not objecting when Rebecca throws white flowers in as well.
He says a few meaningless words about fate and bearing up under difficult circumstances. I try not to vomit from his hypocrisy but I notice Pip nodding slowly as Damien speaks. I want to slap him, slap them both, but I'm numb.
I've been numb ever since I found the cemetery and learned of Mark's death.
No, his murder. I will call it what it is. I will see things for what they are, even if everyone else chooses wanton blindness; wanting to believe Mark died from a catastrophic miscarriage. They only see what they want to; they only hear the things that make it easier to keep going day by day.
I refuse to do that. Mark will be vindicated, we all will, someday. I promise.
Once the coffin is covered, we prepare to go inside, but when I turn toward the mansion i notice a stranger has joined us. I nearly cry out when Bebe grabs my arm hard, her nails digging in. She sucks in a breath and begins to tremble.
Grimacing, I let her hold onto me while I study the newcomer. He's huge, tall and powerfully built; stacked with muscle that's obvious beneath his fine tailored clothing; a black three-piece suit with a scarlet tie and a red rose flaming on his lapel. He wears no coat.
He looks on passively, but there's a cruelness about his beautiful face; etched among the angular jaw and dark stubble. His hair is pitch black and impeccably styled, his sideburns sharp and joining with the shadow of his facial hair. His eyes are crimson and remote, settled under dark brows. His mouth, though, is almost gentle and delicately shaped.
Something deep in my instincts responds to him, telling me to be afraid of his beauty. Be fearful, they say, this man is enticing like a rose, yes, but roses have thorns, don't they?
I'm also aware that this person gives off the same presence as Damien, but it's magnified until it's nearly painful.
"Is that Damien's father?" I whisper to Bebe. She clutches me tighter.
"Be still and silent," she tells me in a fierce voice, but the terror in it is palpable. "For both our sakes."
I sink into myself and watch Damien's face change as he regards the interloper. He's reserved, inscrutable, but the way his eyes spark is like watching a lit match fall on dry wood. They blaze, and when he smiles both of his canines are prominent; glinting in the weak winter sunlight.
"I had heard you might be in attendance today," he says in a deceptively innocuous tone. Anyone truly listening, who knows what Damien is capable of though, will hear the malice woven throughout.
"I cut my trip short," the man replies and the sound of his voice is lulling until it settles into my skull, and then it makes my head pound; like the voice is inside my brain. It's like several voices speaking at once. "After I heard the news. Burying another one, Damien?"
Rebecca starts to scream after this question is posed, and Damien whirls to look at her, at us all. He catches my eye for a moment but it's fleeting.
"All of you, go back to your rooms and duties! Now!" he shouts before pointing to Rebecca. "And shut her up before I take matters into my own hands."
Bebe rushes to Rebecca, leaving me alone with a throbbing arm. She helps her stand and hugs her close, quieting her, but she continues to sob behind her hands.
The rest of us move toward the mansion in a silent, terrified herd, and I put an arm around Butters' shoulders. He looks so frightened, large blue eyes bright with tears. Pip is stoic, head held high but there's a small tremble on his lips now and then.
The path seems much smaller when we pass the man, and even as we go by i can feel the heat pouring off of him, like there's an inferno burning inside him, and his smell is unlike anything I've ever experienced; like blood and honey, metal and sugar. I cover my nose covertly, trying to stay small, but the man's voice cuts through my head again.
"You," he calls, and somehow I know he's speaking to me. I freeze, letting go of Butters to look up at him, dwarfed by his sheer size, his presence. He's like a leviathan. Our eyes meet and I'm disoriented for a moment, swaying, but I manage to keep my feet.
I can't speak, my voice is gone. He manages to hold me with his eyes and I'm immobilized; the cobra and the mouse. He smiles slowly, and it resembles a knife slash.
"I wish to see more of you," he says, waking up a brand new horror in me. He looks at Damien. "Have him brought to us so we can be properly introduced."
Damien growls softly but doesn't argue; a miracle in itself. "Bebe, prepare him and bring him to my quarters; be quick about it."
She doesn't immediately respond, and this is enough to drive the dagger of fear deeper into me. Finally she seems to find her voice but it's faint.
I'm stripped of my mourning clothes and bathed in scalding water, scrubbed before I'm dried; skin lotioned and perfumed with scents I'm not accustomed to: fruity, reminiscent of freshly cut apples.
Bebe's face is drawn as she dresses me this time, putting me in underthings I've never seen; white lace so delicate i still feel naked when it's on. The panties have a tiny blue ribbon on the front that matches the bow on my camisole; both so sheer and brief that you can see my skin beneath.
I'm dressed in a white gown with an empire waist; the fabric soft cotton with a skirt that's shorter in the front, baring my calves. The back is long, just reaching the floor. The sleeves are airy, exposing most of my arms; the neckline modest.
My hair is fashioned into a simple updo with a blue ribbon woven into it, and aside from some gloss on my lips and mascara darkening my lashes, my face is bare. Bebe pinches my cheeks to bring color into them before slipping silver sandals onto my feet.
She stands and looks at me, but her gaze gives the impression that she's not appraising her work. It's almost like she's trying to memorize my face, commit it to memory.
"I know i say this all the time," she says softly, "but this is the moment when you need to hear this the most: behave. Do what you're told and don't fight. Please."
"I was right, wasn't i?" I ask, still trying to comprehend what I'm about to walk into. "That's Damien's father."
She nods, ducking her head to adjust my clothing. "Lucifer. I've only seen him twice and that was enough."
"Why is he here now?"
"Death usually brings him to this place. It attracts him." Wiping her face, she moves around me to smooth the back of my gown. I look at myself in the mirror, red hair and pale skin; dressed in white and polished to a high gloss.
I'm becoming an offering again.
"Why would he want to meet me?" My voice is dead now; resigned. "I'm nothing to him. Just another omega his son anticipates burying eventually."
She stifles a sob. "Because you're new, I guess; i don't know. He's never asked for anything like this before."
Standing, she comes around and before I can react she's hugging me close. "Please, just be good, Kyle. I'm begging you. You can't die on every hill and I don't want you to get hurt... if you need to fight, fine, I can't stop you, but choose your battles carefully. Please."
I'm brought to a part of the mansion I've never been; Damien's wing, and it's dimly lit with golden sconces lining the walls. Portraits of red-eyed strangers watch as Bebe and I go past and I feel like I'm back in the cemetery; mired in the presence of the dead, spirits watching and assessing.
She stops before a large set of double doors, glancing at me before knocking. Soon, Damien's voice filters out and she twists the knob. I hesitate but I refuse to show my fear so quickly; I enter, squeezing Bebe's hand before the door is shut behind me.
I'm in a room that's similar to Cartman's library, but this one is much larger and grander; the shelves reaching higher and piled with so many books i can barely believe my eyes. An immense fireplace takes up most of the far wall, the flames within back lighting Damien as he sits at his ornate desk, throwing his face into shadow. I can see his eyes glimmering though, their intensity matching how they'd been before when first regarding his father.
The air is dry and smells of leather, old books, and the cologne Damien prefers, all twisted up with something else; an aroma that undulates through it all like a serpent; decaying and old. It's similar to the smell I'd encountered in our cellar when I was a child; rotting leaves, standing rainwater, things that have suffered and expired in the walls, left to molder and turn to bone.
Through it all, though, is the scent of Alpha arousal, and I find this element most repugnant of all.
Damien stands and moves around his desk, slow, never taking his eyes from my face. He reaches out an elegant hand to me.
"Come to me," he murmurs gently. In his other hand he has a tumbler, refracting the light leaking from the fire.
I implore myself to shut off my mind as I obey, imagining myself far away; back home, with Mr Tucker, anywhere but here. I do this when Damien is using my body, consuming it with his need, and I feel this situation warrants it as well.
Damien is soft when he touches my face, sliding his hand to cup my cheek. "I want you to meet someone, my darling."
"Your father," I say, sliding my eyes away, becoming aware of heat on my back, and soon there's laughter behind me; dark. It's filled with its own horrors, fangs and people screaming late at night when they wake to see a stranger standing at their bedside.
"Clever creature," Lucifer says in that disconcerting voice. It's like claws dragging up my back. "Did you come to that conclusion on your own, or did you have help?"
"On my own," I say, looking at Damien again. He brushes a thumb across my lips.
"Marvelous. And I suppose you know my name, child?"
I wait, looking to Damien still for direction. I can only assume that I'm being baited and tricked so they have a reason to punish me.
Not that Damien's ever really needed a reason to use force where I'm concerned.
He speaks softly, "if you know his name you may say it, my love. You won't be chastised."
I'm still leery, but the tension is taking hold of me. Perhaps if I comply and perform this will all be over with sooner.
"Lucifer," I say, my mouth dry. I swallow. "Your name is Lucifer."
Silence, and then, "And you're Kyle. Do you call my son by his first name?"
"I have, yes."
"And did that work out in your favor, little one?"
I look Damien directly in the eyes when I answer, my voice strong. "No, sir. He's beaten me for using his name."
He laughs again, and it's obvious he's enjoying this whole spectacle immensely. "Use it now, then, speak it aloud and there will be no repercussions, I assure you."
My muscles tense before I obey, taking venomous pleasure in defying Damien to his face. Even if I'm being tricked, knowing that I'm standing in the presence of someone who outranks Damien, someone obviously higher in the food chain, is immensely, savagely gratifying.
"Damien," I hiss, and his pupils dilate; cold droplets of obsidian lost among scarlet. His grip tightens on me but he doesn't strike me -
But I can tell he wants to. I drink in the sensation like it's mana from heaven.
"This one has a heart of fire," Lucifer muses. "It's a pity I missed his debut, I'm sure it was glorious." He clears his throat. "My child, come closer that I may get a better look at you, if you please."
Damien lets me go but it's with reluctance. His smell is warping, becoming cloying. "Go," he growls, "and don't shame me."
I flounder for a moment before I turn away, and I look to see that Lucifer is sitting in a large chair in the corner of the room; legs crossed and holding his own tumbler. He's removed his jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his immaculate white shirt. He watches me and I him, and this convergence seems to create more heat in the room; it nearly crackles.
I'm slow to move but I'm very aware of my steps, my breath. I walk like I'm perched on the edge of a high place, knowing that if I look down I'll see oblivion, possibly my own death.
Lucifer watches, and I can see the similarities he shares with his offspring; the coiled animal tension. He's a predator with the face of an angel.
I stop before him, arms at my sides, and the liquid heat of his eyes practically incinerate my skin. He studies me, sipping his drink slowly. Slowly he lifts his head to scent the air and becomes more serious.
"My son has had you," he comments. "Many times. He's enjoyed you."
I say nothing but my cheeks are beginning to warm.
"On your back, your front... he's twisted you to fit against him, beneath him, and I imagine you've enjoyed the feeling once or twice. Isn't that so?"
I hold my head high. He's trying to make me feel shame, but I won't. Not for his enjoyment. "My instincts gave in but I didn't, sir."
"Is that why you feel comfortable coming to this place dressed in white? Are you still pure in your own eyes?"
"My purity isn't valued or decided by who's touched me," I say. "I decide my own worth and value. I'll wear white if I want to, but if I were to choose red I would feel the same. I am more than the things that have happened to me."
He nods, setting his drink aside. "You realize what speaking out of turn can cause, don't you? You understand the potential ramifications of your actions and words if you aren't careful with them?"
"Then why do you speak so freely, and with a tone and bearing many Alphas would consider insubordinate?"
Taking a deep breath, I speak in my clearest voice. "If Alphas are as strong as they believe, then they should be able to handle the opinion of one omega. If they can't, they're weaker than I can fathom. And if that's the case, I will not bow and grovel for them; I'd sooner show more respect for a pig or a beast of burden. Many Alphas make it hard to tell the difference."
He begins to tap the arm of his chair, over and over, and while there's a coldness growing in me, I stand tall; aloof. I'm a statue before him, and yes he can touch me, hurt me, but he can't take away my spirit, my fundamental makeup.
"Now I can understand why my son purchased you for such a high price," he murmurs. "Bought you for such a great deal, and with my money besides. You are an anomaly among your dynamic, and while I can smell your fear i can't feel it."
"His mother was the same way," he adds, "a fierce beauty, with eyes very similar to yours. I almost came to love her, and I probably would have if she hadn't died giving birth to the miserable whelp."
A pang reaches my heart then, because I'm always vulnerable to those who have lost their mothers. I turn to look at Damien but I'm swiftly brought back to Lucifer's attention.
"You will not look away from me," he says, his large hand wrapped around my arm, making it look slight enough to snap like kindling. "And your head will not be above mine. I may take your defiance in stride, but you will not be elevated above me. Kneel."
I bite back a whine as I'm forced to my knees, pulled to settle between Lucifer's now spread thighs. He strokes behind my ear.
"If you were mine," he says softly, "I would put that sharp tongue to work so it couldn't spew such vitriol. I'd have you sit before me and warm my cock, holding it on your tongue for hours, and only when I was ready would I fuck your mouth. You'd fight at first, but soon you'd be begging for it, wouldn't you? I know your kind... you tell yourself you don't like being taken, but on some level you do... the place that's purely devoted to the carnal. You want to be filled."
I jerk away but he holds me fast. "Your scent is different from the rest of my son's collection. You're ripe. There's space inside of you to nurture life. Is that why you purchased him, Damien? It wasn't just his pretty face that enticed you."
"I had a feeling about him. Probably the same one you're having now."
Lucifer considers this, reaching to touch my face with his hot hands, and I almost gasp at the heat of him. He slides his fingers down, pushing the sleeves of my dress down to expose my shoulders. I hold my breath.
"I imagine his heats are irregular because of his youth, but there's one growing in him. It'll be here soon," he says, lifting my face to look into my eyes. I see devastation and burning cities in his irises; complete unmitigated chaos. "Very soon. Do you feel it, son?"
"I do. There's a sweetness about him."
"My son will take you again," Lucifer says quietly, pressing a finger to my mouth, slipping between my lips. "Many times, I imagine, and he won't be gentle, but he'll fuck you to preserve our lineage. Your belly will be filled with his seed and he'll hope for a miracle, but if it doesn't come -"
Swiftly, he takes a hold of the back of my neck, drawing me up and close until I'm lying against his chest. His other hand cups my backside, searching until he feels for the cleft, and his fingers are dipping-
I gasp and try to pull away, but he holds me tighter.
"If your union doesn't yield a child, I will take you for my own."
Damien, who's been conspicuously removed from his father's overtures, comes to life in an instant.
"You can't do that! I bought him, he belongs to me!"
Lucifer is a beast on the turn of a dime, dragging me up to sit in his lap, snarling at his son. "You bought him with my money! He belongs to you as much as anything else you have! I've given you everything and what have you done with it? Nothing that I can see, and now you can't even give me another link in our dynasty! You're weak, and weakness shouldn't be rewarded!"
Gripping me harder, I bite back my fear and pain, and I can't even think of being in this man's hold. The idea is enough to make me shake, and he smooths a hand up my thigh, pulling my dress along with it; revealing my flesh.
"The contracts from the Auctions are clear, little one," he whispers in my ear. "His signature may be on it, but my money bought you. Don't forget that." He laughs quietly. "I won't let you."
"Contract," I say faintly.
"You're legally bound to him, but there are loopholes... if your Alpha is infertile or can't provide for you, the contract can be broken... if someone puts up more money, they can buy him out. There are ways." Snapping his teeth, he adds, "the contract is void if the Alpha who bought you meets an untimely end. What do you think of that?"
I can't keep my composure now. "Let me go, please."
"Heart of fire," he says, a dark thread cinching his words tight. "I will honor your wish, but I have a favor to ask of you first."
Damien approaches, and in my fear I almost reach for him, but I stop myself. Once again, like my interaction with Cartman, I find myself seeking asylum with him and I know this is wrong in every conceivable way.
"He's mine," he snarls. "The money that changed hands was from my account, and in the eyes of the law that's all that matters."
Lucifer smiles, genteel again, almost gracious. "I concede this point, son, but I'm not asking for much. One favor, and that's all."
"Fine, but anything more and I'll have something to say."
"So fearsome," Lucifer replies, but his voice is bright with obvious mockery. "I should've crushed you when you were born, but it was your mother's dying wish that I preserve you. Foolish, sentimental woman."
"Get on with it, father. You don't have a captivated audience at the moment."
Stroking the curls from my eyes, Lucifer looks at me like we're lovers. "The wonderful thing about omegas, amongst their other virtues, is their mark. Your little clovers, and it's so perfect... something delicate and coveted...a four leaf clover, symbol of luck. Potential good fortune." Sliding a hand down my form, he sighs under his breath. "But they're always in a different place, and a curious Alpha is left to wonder, 'where will i find it on this one'? It could be anywhere -"
He begins to touch me then, all over; the curve of my neck, my chest, the slope of my waist and across my hip, finally coming to settle a hand on the heat between my legs.
"So little, just the way I like," he purrs. "Will I find it here, lamb? If I spread you will I see your clover so perfectly hidden?"
With a strangled sound i manage to break away, standing and feeling more violated than I've ever been. I breathe heavily and Lucifer just waits, folding his hands and smiling a beguiling grin; all fangs and deceptive charm. Looking at him is like looking into Mark's grave, and I can almost see my death staring back at me.
Becoming wild with fear, especially after everything that's already happened, I whimper and retreat, mindless of where I'm going until I collide with Damien, and he's holding me close, embracing me and shushing me so, so softly.
He's unusually tender, kissing my forehead, my cheeks, finally my mouth, and his lips are soft, almost loving.
"I know you're afraid," he whispers, kissing me again, hands tangling in my curls. "Anyone would be. Don't you think I know what he is? I was raised by him, and believe me, I've had my fair share of his anger, but he only wants to look at you, not use you. I won't let him. Please," he adds, cradling my face, tipping it. His eyes have died down and now they're smoldering, and this is the softest he's ever looked at me. "Show him your mark and then you can go back to your room."
I shake my head, frantic. "Please, no -"
"You will do it," he says. "But I want you to do it under your own power... I'll help you start, but you'll finish."
Slowly, he turns me away, and I'm facing Lucifer again, and I can feel the buttons of my gown being parted. I whimper and my strength crumbles; I sob, but it's quiet.
"No," I whisper. "I can't."
"You will, and I'll be proud," he says close to my ear, sliding his hands into the back of my gown, down over the slope of my back. They're warm, but they lack the fire of his father's. I shut my eyes and try to forget myself, thinking of Mr Tucker.
Please, come and find me in this place. Take me away. Please, please take me far away...I don't care where.
"I'm waiting, child," Lucifer calls, and I wince.
I try to imagine that white house on the hill as I step before Lucifer, holding my gown to my front even as it gapes in the back. His eyes are on me and I can feel them, and in my fear the anger is waking up, louder and pulsating.
I'll kill you both, so help me, God, I think, sliding the dress from my shoulders and feeling it fall to my feet. One day you'll be at my feet and I'll show you the same mercy you've shown me. I swear.
"Come closer, lamb," Lucifer nearly sighs.
I obey, and my rage, my need for retribution, is the only thing that keeps me from crumbling as he fondles me, tracing his burning fingers up the slope of my calf, along my thigh, until finally it finds my clover; lingering.
"Oh," he says. "It's hidden so nicely.... only the person that owns you can enjoy the sight of it."
"No one owns me," I seeth, but I can feel the heat growing in me, and I'm beginning to feel the fire waking up; deep, deep inside, and I'm panting already. "I'm my own person, even if you refuse to see that."
He scents the air again. "It's starting, Damien. It's still far away, but the blood is hot in him... ready. He's ripening like an apple on a tree."
"I'd hoped it would hold off before we had to travel to Cartman's," Damien mutters. "His omega had their child, but I'm sure you already know that."
"Yes, the bitch has whelped, and you must go to pay your respects," Lucifer muses. "Very well, if you must handle your affairs in the household of another, so be it. I just hope you realize what's at stake."
"You'll not have him," Damien growls. "Kyle will bear my child, many of them, and when he does i will Bond with him. That's always been the plan... the omega who gives me what I need will be bound to me for life."
"Such a romantic thought, but a foolish one," Lucifer replies, pulling me onto his lap. I feel faint now, and still crying; the pain and need waking up in my skin, my bones.
"I'll have you before too long, and I won't wait for you to have my children to Bond with you. I'll do it first thing," Lucifer whispers in my ear before nipping it. "You'll be completely mine from the beginning, the way it should be, pretty thing."
I can only sob quietly, but the anger hasn't died in me. I'm already planning, calculating, and if I can get word to Tricia and Mr Tucker that I'll be traveling with Damien soon, perhaps we can plan an escape. I know it's farfetched and dangerous, but I cling to this notion, even as Lucifer strokes hot, searching fingers across my clover.
I can see the letter I'll write and press into Tricia's hand to deliver to her brother; shaky and imperfect in my childish scrawl:
Save me...deliver me from evil before it's too late... do it before I'm taken away so far that I can't even remember who I am. Don't let me forget myself because it's all I have now, that and my love.
Please, please carry me away. Anywhere, as long as it's safe... as long as I can be with you. Even if you don't love me back, I don't care; just let me be with you, somehow.
I beg you.