The Order Ch. 06bypurefire©
Andraemalek was halfway to the library when he sensed the presence. There was no mistaking the cold burn that slowly inched its way down his spine to spread over the contours of his skin. He'd sensed demons on the human plane before, but not one of them ever gave him the particular shudder that caught him by surprise. Pausing in his stride, he sniffed the air around him. The smell was faint and easily could have been passed for discarded trash or rotting fruit, but he knew the real source of the distinct aroma. The demon chose to remain invisible and had he been human, Andraemalek would have walked passed him without a thought. But he wasn't human, and he knew that this particular demon was not in town to see the sites. "Show yourself."
"So this is the great Andraemalek."
Andraemalek turned left after deciphering the direction of the voice. He remained silent, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
"You're bigger than I thought you'd be."
"And you're boring me. Show yourself or fuck off." Andraemalek felt his eyebrow raise in speculation when he was given visual access to the demon. He looked like a human; the alabaster skin topped with a curly mop of cobalt hair gave the reed thin figure the look of a college student of the "punk" variety. Aside from its smell, the only discerning mark of the figure's inhumanity were grey eyes so light, they nearly looked white. "Who are you?"
"The name's Nyx."
Andraemalek had heard of Nyx; after him, he was one of the most sought after assassins of the underworld. Immediately, his senses sizzled in alert. Nyx was good at what he did because of his ability to polymorph. With such an ability, he could shift into anyone or anything he chose. "What are you doing in the human world?"
"I heard a rumor."
"And that rumor is?"
"A certain hot shot demon was contracted to kill this little blip of a human but he took too long." Nyx crossed his arms over his chest casually as he smirked at the annoyed killer. "So a better killer was contracted to finish the job."
Andraemalek felt his skin grow hot with rage. The Order had some kind of nerve to go behind his back to kill Nadia. She was his contract; he would be the one to kill her. When the time was right. "You can go back and tell them that I am the only one to finish this job."
Nyx smiled devilishly as he narrowed his pale eyes at Andraemalek. "You're supposed to be the great Andraemalek. Demons want to be you, humans would fear you if they knew about you. Must be the age... There is no other reason for this disgusting lack of discipline." Nyx laughed boisterously when Andraemalek grabbed then shoved him into a nearby brick wall. The feeling of the harsh material grating his back as it crumbled under the force of the impact only made him laugh harder.
"That is my contract, you second rate piece of shit. Stay away from the human."
"I wish I could, really, I do... But unlike you, I don't skimp out on a contract." Nyx watched as Andraemalek's eyes glittered an angry shade of red. "Oh, I see. Thing's have gotten... personal with the human."
Andraemalek's rage made him forget the fact that they were out in public. Uncaring of possible spectators, he slammed his fist into Nyx's face. The force of the hit created a satisfying crunch. "That contract is mine. Stay away from the human or I'll kill you myself. Just for fun." He growled menacingly when Nyx shimmered out of his grasp. How he would have loved to give him another dose of knowledge.
"Fine, I'll leave the human alone. When she's dead."
Andraemalek would have laughed at the cowardly way Nyx remained invisible as he declared his intent if it wasn't for the fact that he was now crunched for time to kill Nadia. As it was, he hadn't seen her since their escapade after he found her at the fountain over a week ago. It was the very reason he'd decided to venture out to the library; he'd grown tired of their distance and decided that it was time to gain more information from her. Andraemalek refused to acknowledge the fact that he also wanted to be near her; to smell the changes in her emotions and watch the silly way she fidgeted when he was around. He had a job to complete, and now that Nyx was in the picture, he had competition.
He would be damned if he allowed some second rate polymorph to steal his contract and kill any chance of his induction into The Order. Not only would his elevated position benefit him, but it would aid in any future contracts he decided to take. None of that could happen if he allowed Nyx to kill Nadia before he was ready to. The woman was becoming more trouble than he wanted to deal with.
Collecting himself, Andraemalek look around and was glad to see that there was no one present on the normally busy street. Good, there was a large chance that there were no witnesses to his conversation with Nyx. Continuing his walk to the library, he figured that he could do one of two things; he could either capture and torture Nadia until she gave him the information he needed before he killed her, or he could obtain the information anyway and let Nyx kill her with the knowledge that he could use his knowledge as a bargaining chip with The Order. Neither option appealed to him, especially since Nadia ended up dead in both, but he had to come up with a workable solution before the situation got messy.
Andraemalek did not have long to think of a solution; just as he was crossing the street to get to the library, he saw Nadia exiting the large building. A surge of electricity pulsed through his body at the sight of her. Memories of their play flooded his mind and all too soon, he felt the familiar heat of desire spread through his loins.
No, he could not do this, he could not allow himself to think of anything personal. Not when it came to her. She looked like she was in a hurry. With her head tilted down to stare at the ground as she walked and her hands in her pockets, Nadia's body language screamed unavailable. Unfortunately for her, the obvious signal would be ignored by him. Andraemalek frowned in annoyance when she didn't look before she crossed the street. What kind of idiot didn't look both ways before crossing the street? Shaking his head, he waited until she was near enough to hear him before he spoke. "It's been a while." It's been a while? He hadn't seen her in over seven days and was on a deadline to kill her and the only thing he could think to say was 'It's been a while?'
Nadia lifted her head in surprise and felt her cheeks heat in embarrassment. She wasn't ready to see him, not when the simple thought of his penetrating gaze made her knees weak with desire. She'd been such a slut that night, letting him touch her, then allowing him to fondle himself while she finished the job he'd started. There was no way he thought her a lady after that, which was exactly why she did any and everything possible to keep from seeing him. It did help that he didn't try to talk to her, an action that further validated her assumption that he thought her the worst kind of whore. Looking away from his odd gaze, she said, "Yeah."
Andraemalek didn't like the apprehensiveness in her stance. Nadia shifted on her feet and looked at everything but him. "On your way back home?" When she only nodded he asked, "Mind if I walk you back?"
"Uh..." She couldn't just say no. Knowing him, he would have walked with her anyway. "I, uh... Yeah, sure." Brushing passed him, she walked as fast as her legs would allow her without falling on her face. She must have looked ridiculous; the efforts of her fast-paced stride forced her to hunch over slightly, especially to keep from tipping backward due to the weight of her backpack. Unfortunately, that was the only way to ensure a short walk.
Andraemalek didn't know if he wanted to smile or laugh at the situation; it was obvious that she was still embarrassed about what happened, but he did not like the fact that she was in a rush to get away from him. "What have you been up to since we last talked?"
"Not much. School, mostly. I want to get that paper done before I concentrate on other things."
"Other things like what?"
Like getting over this ridiculous crush on you. "Anything, really." Nadia refused to let herself get any more attached to him than she already was. As it was, she couldn't keep her hands to herself or find the discipline to tell him to keep his hands to himself when they were together. Physical attraction was one thing; emotional, something completely different and painful to get over. She wasn't in the mood to feel that kind of pain. "I haven't had enough time to get excited about graduation yet." Though the event wasn't for another seven months, Nadia hadn't had a moment to plan her life accordingly. There was medical school, of course, but there was still a matter on choosing which one to attend and whether or not she had to make arrangements to move.
"That's all you want to think about once you're done with the paper?"
The simple word sent handfuls of thoughts surging through his mind. Andraemalek wasn't appreciative of her elusive attitude. He was used to her sharing information with him, letting him know what was going on in her life. This sudden act of shutting him out annoyed him to no end. "What else then?"
Nadia glanced up at him and immediately regretted it. Did he have to look so mouthwatering? Of course he did; the man could be covered in lice and dressed in a wheat sack and he'd still make her skin warm. This was exactly why she had to get away from him as soon as possible. "I - whoa, what happened here?" Nadia walked to the dented wall of the building they approached and lightly touched the crumbling brick. "It kind of looks like..." It looked like it was hit with a demolition ball. "But that's impossible."
"We should get going." Andraemalek placed a hand on her shoulder to continue their walk. He hadn't realized how much damage he'd done to the building. The reminder only served to remind him of what he was up against. "It's getting late."
"It's not yet nine." Nadia frowned when she realized the implication of her statement. The last thing she wanted was to be in close proximity to him longer than she had to. As it was, her legs were tingling. "Actually, you're right." Saying nothing more, she turned and continued the walk to the apartment complex. Determined to remain silent, she pulled the hood of her sweater over her head. The action made her feel safe, as if she was protected by any negative thoughts he may have had about her.
Andraemalek ignored the tinge of anger that gripped his chest when she covered her hair. Though he never liked the fact that she showcased it for other men to see, he hated it when she hid the shiny locks from him. Tempted to pull the hood off, he lifted his hand but stopped when she sharply turned the corner to take the shortcut to the apartment complex. "You're really in a hurry to get home."
"More than you know," she muttered. Nadia was tense and would not be able to shake the feeling until she was in the privacy of her home. It was when she was alone that she would be able to shake the memory of her indecent behavior.
All too soon, her mind became flooded with images of their play. The sensual way he touched and nibbled on her skin made her gasp softly. And then there were the words he murmured in her ear... "Whoa," she said as her step faltered. Nadia gasped again, louder this time when she felt his hands on her steady her. A rush of adrenaline went through her body. Heat slowly unfurled in the pit of her stomach and made a beeline to her most private of parts. She groaned inwardly; this could not be happening.
Andraemalek had been prepared to comment on her muttered reply but stopped when the faint scent of her arousal wafted toward him. There was no mistaking the sweet and earthy flavor. "You ok?"
Nadia nodded and shuddered when he slowly ran his hands down her arms. Pulling away abruptly, she nearly ran to her building and did not slow down until she was near her door. As she fished her keys out of her backpack, she looked over and groaned inwardly when she realized that he intended to stay for a while. "Thanks for the walk."
"No problem." Andraemalek knew that she wanted him to leave; her body language screamed the request. But he couldn't; not when there was another assassin after her and especially not when he'd been given the pleasure of her desire. He watched as she opened the door and waited for her to step inside before he followed. As Nadia bent to the task of settling her things and turning on the lights, he sniffed the air. There was nothing out of the ordinary, which meant that Nyx hadn't been here. Relief washed over him; there was one less complication to deal with for the time being.
He frowned when she stood near the far end of the couch, placing as much distance between them as possible. "What is wrong with you?"
The annoyed tone of his voice surprised her. "Nothing is wrong with me."
"So why are you acting so weird?"
He really had to ask? Nadia shook her head slowly as she said, "I'm not acting weird."
"Yes you are. You've been tense and jittery since I said hello."
She refused to show him how much she both liked and loathed his close inspection of her. "I just have a lot on my mind is all."
Andraemalek crossed his arms over his chest as he countered, "A lot on your mind like what happened the last time we were together?"
He certainly wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter. "Contrary to popular belief, you're not the end all be all." Nadia became confused by the questioning look in his eyes at her statement. "Just because it happened doesn't mean that it was the only thing I think about."
"But you do think about it." He did not mean it as a question, but as a statement of fact. As it was, he was barely able to think of anything else. "Which is why this is the first time we're talking to each other about it since it happened."
"I've been busy," she defended.
"Yeah, busy avoiding me and trying to avoid the fact that I make you wet." Her indignant gasp almost made him laugh, but he sobered when he realized that she wasn't embarrassed by his actions; she was embarrassed by hers. "There is nothing wrong with that."
Nadia shook her head as she said, "Look, what happened, happened. We can't change it so we might as well try to forget it."
The statement ignited his anger. "You don't want to forget what happened and that scares the hell out of you."
She walked to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. Not even bothering to offer him anything, she turned on the tap and waited for the water to cool. He was right; she didn't want to forget that electrifying night, which only made her feel like even more of a whore. "It doesn't matter, Andrae. It won't happen again."
Andraemalek walked to stand in front of the counter that separated the kitchen from the living room and resisted the urge to shake the woman. What she wanted to do with her body was her choice, but he would be damned if he allowed her to act as if what they did was a mistake. "You liked it."
"I never said I didn't."
"You'd do it again. I'd only need two minutes with my hand up your-"
"Stop it!" In her fury, Nadia slammed her hand down on the rim of the sink. Ignoring both the pain and his shocked expression, she turned off the tap and took a breath. "I am not a whore."
Andraemalek took a step back in surprise. She assumed that he thought she was a whore? "I never thought-"
"All I know about you is that you lift weights for a living, you're from the south, you live in the building across the quad, you saved my life once, and have one hell of an unnecessary jealous streak." She shook her head in disgust; she didn't even know his full name and she'd let him... "I don't know your full name, but yet I know for a fact that you'd hurt me if we slept together." Nadia knew he understood her meaning when she caught the arrogant gleam in his eyes, a look that cemented her thoughts. "I don't know how it is in the south, but for me, that makes me nothing other than-"
"What bothers you, innocent Nadia, is the fact that I'm the only man to make you not care that you know nothing about me. It doesn't change the fact that you'd let me take you right here on the floor if I touched you." Andraemalek felt his eyes narrow in annoyance when she turned her back to him. He wanted her to accept her feelings, not disown them. He waited for her to face him once more before he finished, "That doesn't make you a whore. It makes you a human." He growled low in his throat when she looked away in disgust. From some inexplicable reason, that action alone hurt more than any injury he'd ever acquired.
"Doesn't it bother you that you know nothing about me?"
Andraemalek wasn't stupid enough to tell her that he knew more about her than anyone else in the world did. If anything, the only secrets she had dealt with her knowledge about demons and it would be a matter of days before he learned that. "No."
Nadia blinked in surprise. She knew that men had the capacity to remain emotionless when it came to physical gratification, but she thought her relationship with him was above that. "Why not?"
"Because I don't want to know you." It was the truth; the more he allowed himself to grow accustomed to her, the more difficult his job was. Had he had the mind to remain focused on his task, she would have already been dead. Because of the magnetic pull she had on him, he'd allowed too much to go wrong.
Nadia had to blink back tears at the harsh statement. "So you do think I'm a whore." There as little room for any other implication. Devastated by the callous response, she turned her back to him once more. "I think you should leave."
Andraemalek knew that he said the wrong thing when he caught an unpleasant and unfamiliar sent. It reminded him of the smell of a decaying body; old, rancid and thick. "Nadia-"
When he heard the hitch in her voice, he understood the emotion: hurt. He'd hurt her. The fact that the knowledge cut him deep angered him. Saying nothing, he walked out of the apartment and quickly shimmered into his own. Andraemalek didn't know what he said to upset her, but he knew that trying to fix the problem would only make things worse. Walking to his window, he looked into her apartment and felt his chest constrict uncomfortably was he watched her wipe the tears from her eyes. He wanted to go back and apologize. "What is wrong with you?" He wasn't supposed to care that she was crying. She was nothing but a human, a mark. She would be dead soon.
That didn't stop him from wanting to fix it.
In her apartment, Nadia forced herself to stop crying, telling herself that she did not have to deal with him or his barbaric ways ever again. Their pseudo argument did nothing but validate her suspicion that he thought her a whore. Part of her felt relieved that she didn't seem the least bit affected by the assumption, but another part, the insecure part felt mortified. She prided herself on being a lady and not succumbing to any kind of sexual advance she did not deem worthy. But with him... With him, all bets were off. It was as if the animal instinct took hold and turned her into someone else. Someone she couldn't control. And because of that, he saw nothing but a whore. "Not anymore," Nadia muttered as she stormed to her bedroom, "I'm never speaking to him again."
* * * * *
He couldn't get the memory of her wiping her tears away out of his mind. Andraemalek shook his head as he walked through the dark and empty streets of the small college town. At four in the morning, it would have been a miracle if he happened upon a stray animal, but as every living thing was burrowed in the safety of its unique shelter, he was the only idiot bumbling through town. It was the only thing keeping him from going to her. Three days after their conversation and he could not forget the look or smell of her devastation. And he was the cause of it. Picking salted glass out of a gaping wound would have given him a better feeling.