The Lure of the Devil (The Demons' Muse #4) - Auryn Hadley



The teal-colored bush thrashed, desperately trying to shake off the pixie, yet the bugger just kept holding on. Mostly by its teeth, if I was honest. Its little bulbous head was filled with row upon row of sharp needle teeth, and most of them were plunged into the flesh of a large leaf. The pest's little hands and funny feet held on to the stalk with what would be a white-knuckle grip - if it had been flesh-colored. This pixie, though, was closer to olive, and its blank little eyes were pitch black.

I hurried to catch every detail of the battle on my canvas. Dipping my brush almost haphazardly in the paint, I was sure I'd splattered some on my cheek and hands. I also didn't care. This was the sort of fantastical imagery I'd never be able to think up on my own, yet it was real on Tyrnigg. The fact that my concentration seemed to be a turn-on to Sam didn't hurt much either.

His lips kept making their way to my spine. Probably because, with the way I was lying, that was the easiest part to reach. The miniature easel Beelzebub had bought me worked best if I lay on my stomach, and I kinda liked how that felt. Childish, almost as if I was a teenager again, kicking my feet behind me.

It was also nice that he didn't expect me to stop. Sam's kisses weren't meant to distract me. They were more like a reward for good behavior. Working in charcoal, he'd already caught the main shape of the struggle between plant and... insect? Or were pixies small mammals? Something else? Maybe they were birds?

"Sam?" I asked.

His eyes jumped to my face, a boyish little smile on his lips. "I may have gotten charcoal smudges on your back."

I waved that off. "You can help me wash them off later. I just want to know if a pixie is a bird, a bug, or a beast."

"It's a pixie," he said, as if that should've been all I needed.

"I know that! I just wondered if they're, you know, mammals."

"Primates, I think," he said. "They're whatever fairies are. Like monkeys are to humans."

"Then what about brownies?" I asked.

With a groan, he rolled away from me, only to land on his back, looking above his head so he could see me. "More like baboons."

"Ok..." Because that made a strange kind of sense. "Does Tyrnigg have lizards?"

"Don't think so," he said. "No, wait. They have snakes. Well, I guess a basilisk would be a snake."

"What?" I dropped my paintbrush and turned to see him better. "They're real?"

"Sia, most things are real. They just aren't from Earth. Unicorns, dragons, fairies... Yeah, it's a big multiverse."

"Vampires?" I asked.

He gave me a look like I was an idiot. "No. Those are just human monsters. Werewolves..." He kinda grimaced. "Well, things get complicated. Look, all I'm saying is that angels have done some tinkering over the years, and it's entirely likely that some demons have played a bit, too. So, um..."

My eyes were bugging out of my head. "You are shitting me!"

"Most folklore," he explained, "is based on something, sweetie. Plus, humans do evolve, even if you can't easily see it. We were scientists long before your species counted as sentient. Using aether to mix genetic components together, we kinda made up a few things, just to see if we could, you know? Most ended up as sprites. They died out quickly. Some lived long enough to breed a few times, get us all excited, and then they failed." He flashed me another little smile. "Then there's the platypus."

"Beaver mixed with a duck, right?" I rolled my eyes, convinced this whole conversation was an elaborate joke with the platypus as the punchline. Sam was dedicated like that.

"Not that easy. Um, I think it was an angel creation. Anyway, they worked. Most didn't, or they bred out before a species could truly be established."

Which actually made some kind of sense. "You're saying that angels and demons fucking around with life forms is a major contributor to evolution?"

Sam winced. "When you say it like that, it sounds bad. But the truth is that we were just kids back then. Only a few billion years old, right? Young and dumb."

"And now?" I teased.

"Old and dumb," he assured me. "And like most men, we still like our women younger."

I looked over to stick my tongue out at him. "Only because your only option is younger." And then I went right back