Date with Destiny-Demon Style Ch. 01byKindasortacrazy©
"Ouch! Mother, stop! You're pulling too hard!" She winced as her mother continued to brush the knots out of her hair, heedless of her protests.
"Hush, Kara. This is the price you pay for not preparing earlier." Her mother's chiding tone only fueled her irritation.
She sat in the small carved wooden chair, staring down her reflection in the small mirror. Blue eyes pierced blue eyes as she stared down her twin image, their faces wincing and grimacing in unison. Shoulder-length strands of night-black hair whose knots had already been yanked out hung limp around her face.
All in all, she was an exceptional beauty: High cheekbones, full lips and skin like porcelain. A strong jaw line, straight nose and delicate eyebrows accentuated her allure. Those uneducated in the art of demonology or missed regular sermons from zealots would easily mistake the blood-red scrollwork that framed her eyes and cheekbones as some frivolous tattoo. That mark, that damned mark, bespoke her heritage as a half-blood. A high-ranking half-blood. Her father, Andrian, was one of higher demons in the hierarchy, his judgments being overruled only by Lucifer himself and two others.
With one last agonizing tug, her mother brushed out the final knot.
"There. At least that's over with." Hands, calloused from motherhood, smoothed any renegade strands. "Stand up. You're being presented in five minutes."
Scowling, she stood, towering over her mother. At five foot ten, she was exceptionally tall, even for the daughter of a demon. She'd felt like a giraffe since she was sixteen. She turned her head, examining herself in the mirror. There was no chance of her being able to slip into the crowds and disappear. She'd stick out like a sore thumb.
The navy blue dress she wore didn't help either. Backless and with a plunging neckline, it highlighted every curve, every angle she possessed. Turning to face the mirror, she began to pick herself apart. Her breasts, though well formed, were always too small in her mind. Her mother, grandmother and numerous aunts on her mother's human side were blessed with ample chests, but she was cursed with a painfully small 34B. Inch by inch of self-examination, she found flaws: Her hips were too narrow, her waist wasn't narrow enough, her legs were too long. She hunched her shoulders in defeat. What fiery hell prince would want such a gangly and awkward looking creature as a mate?
She had no choice but to go, however. She was eighteen now, the age of maturity in the world of demons. By law, she was to be presented to a court full of princes -each a half-blood as well- to find a mate and secure her position. The higher the prince she married, the more prominent her place. The issue began with the fact that the higher the prince was in ranking, the more of an asshole he was bound to be. Knowing how her beauty would be ranked in the world of demons, the highest -and subsequently, the most callous- demon prince would choose her as his bride, dooming her to twin lives of unfathomably luxury and unimaginable misery.
"Kara! Hurry or you'll be late!" Her mother's voice cracked through her thoughts, ceasing her inner turmoil.
Sighing, she turned and walked towards the massive curtain that separated them form the rest of the court. Pulling an edge to the side, she looked out at the mass of demons the filled the hall. All of them human-looking, but their human guises hid the power and malice they were born with. Just to her left was the massive marble staircase that she would have to walk down to meet her fate. She secretly hoped she'd trip so the princes found her too clumsy to marry.
Looking ahead, she peered past the throngs of full-blooded demons to the tow tables at the very back of the room. At the tallest table, Lucifer, in all his fallen glory, sat at the center, flanked on both sides by high-ranking demons. She could see her father, red skinned and bright-eyed, sitting two seats to the left. At the lower table sat the princes, ten in all, chattering to one another, anxiously waiting for her to enter the room.
Her gut turned. To be married off to one of those princes, painfully handsome as they may be, was making her ill. Damn it, why couldn't she have been born normal?
The sound of horns caught her attention. Pulling her back from the curtain, her mother frantically began to smooth her hair, adjust her dress and fix her posture all at once. "Now, just remember to smile. Keep your answers short and don't let your pride get the best of you. And for heaven's sake, don't bite your nails!" Her name was announced by an unseen voice. With one final kiss on the cheek and a quick well-wishing from her mother, she was shoved through the curtain to the steps of the staircase.
Her heart nearly stopped. Every demon in the room had become silent and was staring at her with a mix of curiosity and hunger. Hunger that chilled her skin. She knew that if she failed to impress, there was a good chance she'd be killed off for being seen as a weak link in the family line. A half-blood, even a high ranking one, was easy prey if they made themselves seem so.
Taking a deep breath, she carefully strode down the pitch black marble steps. She kept her eyes glued to the floor, avoiding all eye contact with those who would gladly tear her to pieces in favor of their own children. She made her way down the steps and stepped lightly across the massive floor to the tables, still keeping her gaze locked on the ground. She could feel the eyes of the demon princes and their sons boring into her. She stopped at the center of the floor, her heart racing.
"Your name, child?" Lucifer's voice, the sound of church bells that had been taken from the heavens and brought here, resounded around the room. She looked up, past the table of princes and locked gazes with the oldest demon of them all. Golden eyes filled with intrigue met her own.
"Kara Haven, sir." She fought the urge to look down. Avoiding the gaze of Lucifer himself would be disastrous for her reputation.
The old demon raised his chin an inch, looking down his nose to inspect her. "Your age?"
He motioned to the demons flanking him. "Which of my collogues is your father?"
A smile broke out on perfectly formed lips. He looked towards her father, almost grinning. "Yours is a fine one, Andrian."
Her father gave a sharp nod, saying nothing.
Lucifer's gaze returned to her, and for a moment, he seemed taken aback by the fact that her eyes still matched his. "Tell me, girl. Which of these fine young men arouse your interest? Answer honestly and I may let you have the choice of which you see first."
Breaking from his gaze, she looked at the young princes, scanning each of them carefully. They did the same to her, though it was obvious they were more concerned with her impression of them, straightening themselves in their chairs and smiling at her. Painfully handsome, a few were even hard to look at, but she finished without scampering away or causing a scene.
She looked back a Lucifer. "None of them intrigue me, sir." She could almost hear her mother groan of despair. The smiles on some of the princes faded, replaced with looks of confusion.
His brows went up. "None?"
She shook her head. "They are all very handsome, and intelligent, I'm sure. But if you dare try to fool me by saying that I may have first choice of them, when I know full well you would never grant me such an opportunity, then I say that none of them intrigue me."
An audible thud resounded in the massive hall. She didn't need to look away to know the cause of the sound: Her father had slammed his head into the table.
Lucifer's expression turned into a sly smile. "A spitfire, are we?"
Her back straightened. "I have been called such from time to time."
A grin broke out on his face. He looked down the table again. "Andrian."
Her father's head snapped up, full attention on the old demon.
"I am impressed. Your daughter is one of the few who have dared challenge me and guessed my intent correctly." His gaze returned to hers. "Let me pose the question to you another way: Which of the princes first catches your eye?"
Swallowing, she closed her eyes, blocking out all sound and thought. Opening them, she scanned the lower table a second time. Her gaze passed over the faces again, taking in every detail.
Her gaze stopped on the prince at the far end of the table. Full lips, night-black hair and high cheekbones caught her eye. Pale skin, almost ash grey in color, highlighted his most captivating feature: Cobalt blue eyes mixed with flecks of silver bored into hers, seeming to swirl around in circles, threatening to draw her in. A smile -a vicious, almost hungry smile- cracked his stoic appearance. Her heart nearly stopped. Canines as sharp as razor blades glinted in the light from the hall. She fought the urge to grimace at the reptilian grin and sighed inwardly.
Better than nothing, she thought.
Breaking eye contact with him, she retuned her gaze to Lucifer. "The one at the far right, sir. He is the first one I see."
The demon's gaze broke from hers and slid to the end of the table, observing the young man. A smile cracked through his serious demeanor. "Ah, Darien. An excellent choice, my dear." His gaze switched to the demon immediately to his right. "He is your son, is he not, Marcianus?"
A tall Rage demon nodded in response.
A grin broke out on Lucifer's face, his gaze returning to hers. "Very well then. Darien shall be the first to sample you. In fact...why don't we start the courting tonight?"
It took all of her strength to keep her jaw from coming unhinged. Instead, she stood completely still, staring daggers at the old demon.
A mocking smile replaced his grin. "Yes, tonight will do. You are dismissed for now, Miss Haven. A servant will collect you when the time has come."
Fighting the urge to scream, she curtseyed then turned on her heels, walking quickly back up the staircase to her mother. Poor thing, she looked like she was about to start screaming her head off. Pushing aside the heavy curtain, they walked into the waiting room and out of the sight of the other demons.
"What did I tell you to do? I told you to keep your temper under control and did you? No, of course not!"
She collapsed into a small chair at the head of a massive dining table that had been moved into the room, glad that her inspection was over with. Her mother could rant and rave all she wanted. "I didn't lose my temper. I simply called him out on his trick."
"As if that makes it any better?!" Seeming to collect herself, her mother took in a long breath, exhaling slowly. She came around to the chair and knelt down next to her. "Honey, why Darien?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. Lucifer asked which one caught my eye and he did." She looked at her mother, her tone inquisitive. "Something I should know?"
"Well...Um...He's Marcianus' son." Her mother gave her a forced smile. "He's handsome, intelligent and very well versed in the Shakespearian and Victorian plays." She gave a nervous laugh.
"But..." Kara added, annoyed with dancing around the subject.
Her mother chewed her lip. "He's also known to be a cannibal."
Groaning, she tossing her head back and closed her eyes. A cannibal. Wonderful. How much better could this possibly get?
She turned her head as servants passed through the curtain, carrying plates of food, pitchers of wine and silverware. She looked at the massive table and noticed a plate of seared venison that had been placed in front of her.
Cannibal. The word resounded in her head. She grimaced and pushed the plate away. "I'm not hungry."
She sighed and closed her eyes again. This was going to be a long night.