“So,” I said, glaring at the blonde demon as she stumbled out of my brother’s room a few hours after lunch. “You’re a succubus.”
Yolanda turned bright red. “Th-that’s none of your concern…”
“Uh-huh. How many people were involved?”
She blinked. “What?”
I met her gaze levelly. She turned away.
After a second she blushed even more deeply, if that were possible, as she realized exactly what I meant. “OH! Just, uh, the two of us.”
I had my daygoggles off; the corridor was dark enough that while it was still uncomfortably bright for me, my nightvision was useful.
Yolanda didn’t look like a succubus, that was for certain. She looked like a demure flower without any experience in men or related areas. But my sources didn’t lie. I was still a Mal, after all. I just hadn’t seen the need to mention it to anyone until my stupid brother kissed her.
“Miss McDowell, I don’t know what pheromones or whatever you’ve got…”
Her eyes snapped up and met my own. “That’s not fair, Seena. Don’t throw the rest of us in with Malcanthet. Most of us believe very strongly in not using methods like that. Velvet hell, the kind of things we’ve had to go through because of her…”
I raised an eyebrow. “I notice you didn’t get insulted when I accused you of polyamory.”
She fidgeted with one of the buttons of the over-sized shirt she was wearing; with a bit of a start, I realized it was one of Simon’s. Maybe she wasn’t sneaking out on him after all.
“It’s just…” she shuffled her feet. “You see, we believe that everyone needs love, and love can conquer all, and—”
“I don’t need the sales pitch,” I interrupted. “I get the picture. I’m willing to assume you have my brother’s best interests at heart.”
She smiled weakly. “Thank you.”
“Of course, I’m not the only one you have to worry about. Jelena is angry at you for muscling into her territory.”
The demon frowned. “Wait, I thought she was a lesbian.”
I shrugged. “Well, I’m pretty sure she’s joking. But Pam really was interested in him; once she finds out about this she’s gonna be pissed.”
She brushed her golden hair back from her horns. “Velvet…she might actually kill me.”
“It’s probably not that bad. Pam’s caustic, but there’s kindness hidden below that.” I paused. “Deep below.” I bit my lip. “Okay, so I haven’t actually seen it, but I’m sure it’s there.”
She didn’t seem exactly encouraged. “I don’t think this is the kind of situation that will bring it out.”
“Yeah…just let me talk to her first, okay?” Honestly, I shouldn’t have told Yolanda about Pam’s crush. I was still surprised she had even told me.
The demon smiled a little. “No worries there, I promise.” She coughed. “Ah…can I get past you? I need to go to the bathroom.”
“Of course.” I stepped aside, and she rushed past quickly to the women’s restroom at the other end of the hall.
Now that I was reasonably certain Yolanda wasn’t going to try and slit my brother’s throat in his sleep, I had to attend to the other half of the problem. I slipped my daygoggles back on, took a deep breath, and knocked on 1312 three times.
“Yolanda?” my brother called. “That you? The door’s open.”
“It’s Seena,” I said gruffly. I didn’t open the door.
Wisely, judging by the sounds I could hear. He seemed to be rushing around the room, putting on his clothes. After a few minutes, I heard a weak “Come in.”
It wasn’t as bad as I had expected. The windows were open (proving my use of the daygoggles), and other than his bed being rumpled, the room was mostly the same as ever. A bit of junk strewn around, but it was the dorm room of three college boys. The only thing out of place was the small pile of cloth next to Simon’s bed; judging by the pink I could see poking out from under the jeans, it was Yolanda’s cast-off clothing, hastily retrieved from wherever it had been flung earlier.
“Seena,” the purple sibriex greeted me from where he sat primly on his bed. “What a wonderful surprise. What’s up?”
I didn’t bother with small talk. “She’s a succubus, Simon.”
He met my gaze evenly. “She did mention that, yes.”
“People are still sore about Malcanthet.”
His eyes didn’t waver. “She’s not Malcanthet, now is she?”
I frowned. “Dammit, you know what I mean. Why do you think she was hiding it? Word gets out that you’re dating a luster, you’re gonna be fending off assassins left and right.”
“I’ve survived assassins before.”
I snorted and leaned against the door frame. “That did not count. She thought you were someone else, and was expecting to fight a vampire.”
He waved his hand. “Fine. Discount that. More importantly, if anyone sends an assassin against her, they’ll go through the Mals, right? And you can talk them out of the contract.”
I opened my mouth to retort…then stopped. It was actually a pretty good point.
The bastard grinned, knowing he had me. “In fact, maybe you should just talk to them first, make sure there are no misunderstandings…”
I walked over and sat next to him with a sigh. “Simon, you can’t just—”
“Can’t what?” His face was hard again. “We’re not hurting anyone, you know that. I remember you giving me a very long lecture on that subject last time I tried to interfere in one of your relationships.”
I groaned and flopped backwards onto the bed. “Do not bring that up again, please…”
“I wasn’t going to,” he said quickly. A little too quickly. Normally he liked rubbing my nose in stuff like that. Why would he…
Bah. I was overthinking it. He probably just didn’t want to get on my bad side.
There was a dainty knock on the door. Yolanda, unquestionably. Simon frowned down at me. “Are we going to be okay? If you really don’t want me to date her, I’ll break it off right now.”
“No.” I straightened into a sitting position. “By the Black Gates, no. I’m worried about you, but it’s not your fault or hers. You two shouldn’t be punished for it.”
He grinned. “Good. ‘Cuz I wasn’t gonna break up with her anyway.”
I cursed and grabbed for him. “You little weasel, I’m gonna—”
He jumped out of my grasp, still grinning from ear to ear, and rushed over to the door before I had a chance to do anything else. As expected, when he yanked it open, Yolanda was standing there.
The demon looked a little bewildered at our antics. “Ah…is this a bad time?”
“Not at all,” Simon said, a little breathlessly. He stood aside. “C’mon in.”
She brushed back him a little too quickly. “I’ll…just get my clothes. I’m sure you two need to talk…”
“We’re done talking,” I promised. “It’s your turn now.”
She blinked. “What?”
“You barely ever talk around everyone else. I feel like I don’t know anything about you. Tell me something.” I waved my hand. “Like…what’s your favorite class this semester?”
The succubus sat down on the bed next to me a little reluctantly. “Ah…Applied Firearms, I’d say. I’m taking it every Friday. I’m doing really well, actually.”
“Is that one of the classes your uncle asked you to take?” Simon put in.
She shook her head vehemently. “No, I wanted to take it. I love guns. My dad had a gun shop when I was a kid.” She smiled a little sadly. “He always said I’d inherit it one day.”
I knew an orphan’s story when I heard one. “How’d he die?”
To my surprise, Yolanda rolled her eyes. “Mom blew up the workshop while they were inside.” She shook her head. “It was attached to the warehouse. Most of our product—and my inheritance—went up in smokes, but at least only two people died.”
Although she wasn’t at the angst and tears portion of the story yet, Simon and I both knew from experience that these always ended up there sooner or later. He quite wisely stepped in to steer the conversation back on track. “You never mentioned if there was anyone in the Applied Firearms class you were getting friendly with.”
She brightened. “Oh, yeah! There’s a baseline from outside the city, Adam. He’s fifth in the class, even though he never fired a gun before he got to Domina.”
“What about you?”
The demon cocked her head. “What about me?”
I smiled a little. “I mean, what place are you?”
“Oh! Third. Second is Merrevian of the Hereafter Notes, and first is an angel named Hoshea.”
Simon winced. “Ugh. He’s probably fun to be around.”
His girlfriend—Nine Hells, I’d have to get used to that—rolled her eyes. “Oh, its not that bad. I mean, he’s a little preachy about everything, but they’re getting better, really. There’s actually a vampire in our class, and they haven’t tried to kill each other even once.”
Simon sat down on the bed between us, forcing us to scoot apart to make room. “Wait, what time is your class?”
“Ten hundred hours. The drake has to wear daygoggles.”
His face scrunched up. “Huh. I would have thought he’d just get a night class.”
She shrugged. “I dunno. I think he wanted to learn how to shoot even when he was at a disadvantage.”
I had to lean over to see her past my brother. “How is he?”
She grinned. “Bad. Seriously bad. I’m not sure he can even see three feet in front of his face.”
We all laughed, and talked about school and so on for a while longer. When I left the two lovebirds alone a few hours later, I was beginning to accept that the succubus might not be as bad an influence as I thought.
Yolanda had earned a chance, but only one. I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to my brother.
Behind the Scenes (scene 87)
Succubi (and their male counterparts, the incubi) are actually still a pretty strong subculture…but they hide that as much as humanly possible. Malcanthet made a lot of enemies, and not just for herself. Seena is not exaggerating when she fears for their lives.