INTRO

Love, it has the power to do crazy things. It can create happiness, drown a man in sadness, start wars, and even end them. It knows no bounds and conquers even the greatest challenges with ease. But when it comes to the fiery depths of hell, can love still survive the flame?

CHAPTER 1: THE BURNING NAPKIN

Our story takes place in the not so small city of New York. Where days and nights whirl by almost quicker than a man can blink. It's the perfect place for a demon to blend in, when life is so busy who would really notice what happens in the dark? Most of us prefer to be oblivious to what goes bump in the night; we lock our doors and snuggle into bed, confident we are safe. Dreaming in the quiet night as monsters start their own work day.

One monster in particular has the focus of our story. In reality he's a demon, but to you and me he looks like any other smooth skin, fair complected, Caucasian New Yorker. He's not someone you would normally give a second glance at. Black hair, brown eyes, 6'2", mid 20's, fit but not really muscled. It's the perfect disguise in a town where you hunt, when you look normal and half way attractive, your prey will come to you. His name, Raven, obviously not his born name in hell but it works well for his human life. Not really your typical demon either, as most prefer to consume the flesh of women, Ravens tastes have always been more for men. Something about the smell, almost as if the masculinity and sweat of his victims entices him. He never thought of it as a sexual attraction, but as this story progresses he comes to realize how his heart has been keeping secrets of it's own.

His night started out just like any of the thousands he has lived to see. Of course things have slightly changed; living in today's world demands a few adjustments. Changes that seem so awkward but over time have become common place to him. Raven stretches out his arms as he wakes from his deep sleep, almost in complete darkness. You think at first it's a cold dark dungeon but as your eyes adjust you come to see the reality of his surroundings. A king sized bed, surrounded by nice furniture and a desk sporting the latest laptop on the market. His cell phone sits on the night stand, a faint red glow as it charges quietly. He rises out of bed and starts his nightly routine, almost embarrassed at how as a demi-god from the underworld he has to resort to checking his email and scheduling online payments. "me...a demi-god having to pay my light bill" he thinks to himself "how the mighty have fallen". He laughs a little at the thought and heads for a shower, glancing at his human form in the mirror. He barely remembers what his real face even looks like, so used to his human form it has become second nature. Staring at his five o'clock shadow he mumbles to himself "guess I need to shave. Concentrating on his face he watches as the hair quickly disappears. He smiles at himself in the mirror "10,000 years and your still a handsome devil".

Stepping into the shower he turns the hot water on, the cold water knob stays unturned. The shower heats up with steam as nearly boiling water rushes over his skin. He bathes while deciding how the night will play out. "It's a Tuesday right? Well not much to do on a Tuesday night" he thinks to himself. "Guess I could go hit a bar full of lonely drunk humans, even though I really don't feel like having one tonight, might be fun to terrorize one for a while though".

Raven cleans himself up, dresses in some casual clothes suitable for a lazy Tuesday and hits the town. He decides against taking a cab tonight, it's a warm night and who knows; maybe walking alone on the street will catch the attention of someone thinking Raven is an easy mark. It's fun for him when a mugger approaches, the look in their eyes when his skin changes to a deep red, his muscles grow, he begins to tower over them with a growling laugh. Most of the time they are so shocked they don't even try to run, just stand there as maybe he rips an arm off or maybe just snaps they're neck. Ravens version of showing mercy, giving them a quick death.

A local pub on the corner comes to his attention and he decides to give it a try. There seems to be a good little college crowd going on inside and it could give some entertainment. He makes his way in and sits at the bar as humans behind him cheers with a round of shots. He orders a whiskey on the rocks and watches quietly, slightly amused by the secret thought of how he would kill them or maybe just scar them for life. Not long into his drink a man comes up and takes the seat next to him. Best described as a young, well groomed, metro-sexual. Raven sizes him up; he looks to be about 23, 5'11", blond hair, and a good tan. He looks completely out of place, dressed for something a little classier. He peeks Ravens interest, although he's not sure why.

Before Raven even realizes what he's doing he turns to the man..."you're not from around here are you?" Raven says

The man laughs quietly and looks at Raven..."no that's true, I'm defiantly out of my element" The man holds his hand out offering a shake. "names Jake"

Raven looks at his hand, showing a little jitter as its obvious Jake is nervous. Raven smiles and reaches for his hand. "nice to meet you Jake, so where do you hail from?"

"I'm visiting family from California, so I know absolutely no one" Jake laughs again

"well now you know me" Raven says with a bigger smile.

Jake smiles back relaxing a little more and looking comfortable. They talk for a while about jobs and what are fun things to do around the area. It's obvious they are having a great time and the hours pass. Before they knew it the bartender is announcing last call. To Ravens shock he realizes he actually had enjoyed himself without the thought of hurting Jake ever crossing his mind. Jake notices the look on Ravens face. "are you ok bud" he asks with a concerned tone. Raven shakes the look off his face..."Oh uh yeah man sorry I just didn't realize how late it was. Jake laughs "I know what you mean, time fly's when you're in good company right?" Raven smiles feeling something new to him, an actual appreciation for a human.

Jake finishes his drink and pays his tab..."well hey man it's been great and thanks for the chat....oh wow you know we've talked all this time and I never even got your name?" Raven pauses thinking back..."well yeah your right that was rude of me...the names Raven"

"well that's a beautiful name" Jake says as he grabs a pen and starts scribbling something on a cocktail napkin. Raven smiles looking somewhat embarrassed. As the bartender begins ushering people out the door Jake hands him the napkin. "here's my number if you would like to hang out again while I'm here give me a call" Ravens heart jumps in his chest, genuinely excited..."I have a friend I guess" he thinks to himself. They give each other a final handshake and a light pat on the back as they head separate ways.

Raven finds himself walking home thinking about Jake. He's never really had a friend and for some reason when he was with him his regular carnal urges kept quiet. "what's different about this human?" He thought to himself as he walked into his apartment. For a fleeting moment the thought that he could be attracted to Jake flashed into his mind, but just as quickly was flashed out. "no way that's possible, get a grip on yourself" raven told himself as he undressed.

The cocktail napkin slips from his pocket and falls to the floor next to the night stand. Raven pretends he didn't see it fall and goes about getting ready for dawn. Feeding the fish, cleaning the kitchen, brushing his teeth. He tries his best to put it out of his mind, but the thought persists. He climbs into bed as the sun begins to rise and looks over the side of the bed, the napkin laying there, almost burning an image of Jake's smile in his mind.

"don't let a human get you like this" Raven says to himself as he lies down on the pillow closing his eyes.

 

nbedwards

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