Home > The Demon's Song (Hearts of the Fallen #1)(2)

The Demon's Song (Hearts of the Fallen #1)(2)
Author: Kendra Leigh Castle

“Me,” he said, and she surprised him by laughing, a low, husky roll of sound that had every muscle in his body clenching.

“You’ve got a healthy ego, huh?” she said, and Phenex drank her in, from the way her brow arched with amusement to the way she angled her body into his as she spoke to him. He already knew how she would fit against him.

Perfectly.

“I’ve got—”

“Sofia! There you are!”

Phenex jerked his head toward the sound of another woman’s voice, instantly annoyed at the interruption. He was even more annoyed at the relief that flickered across his companion’s—Sofia’s—face. Sofia. It suited her perfectly.

A petite blonde, looking far more like the humans this place usually attracted, hurried over to grab Sofia by the hand. She glanced at him once, and he saw the usual mix of attraction and nerves he inspired in the opposite sex. Her voice was unsteady as she began to babble. Sofia, he noted, looked pointedly away from him.

“I’ve been looking all over for you. I think I found Sara. I...uh...” She looked at Phenex again, trailing off, and he could see she didn’t want him listening in on this conversation. Bemused, and interested despite himself, he stayed put. Figuring out what these two were up to was much more interesting than dragging himself back into the nightclub.

Sofia turned her head, and the way her eyes skimmed lightly, longingly, over his face filled him with an ache he was suddenly sure she wasn’t going to assuage.

“I’ve got to go. It was nice meeting you...”

“Phenex,” he said softly.

“Phenex,” she repeated, and he found he loved the sound of his name on her lips. Sofia gave him a small, puzzled smile, as though she was trying to figure him out. He was happy to stick around and let her try, but it seemed she was finished with him.

For now.

“Later, Phenex.”

“Later,” he agreed, wondering if she knew he meant it. Then he turned and watched Sofia walk away, enjoying every seductive swish of her shapely backside before she vanished into the crowd. He’d find her again before the night was out. That was a promise he made himself, the only sort of promise he never broke.

With a frustrated sigh, Phenex turned in the other direction and headed back to the stage.

Chapter Two

It was a struggle not to turn around, but Sofia Rivera managed. Barely.

She could feel Phenex’s eyes on her as she walked away. Big, beautiful, intense blue eyes. Phenex. What kind of a name was that? It was probably made up. And yet, somehow, it suited him, from the dark copper color of his short, tousled hair to the long, lean lines of his body. He had the sort of angular face she was a sucker for, and he was so...tall. Which was to say nothing of the obvious muscles beneath the ripped jeans and plain, fitted T-shirt. Or that voice, the thing that had caught her attention before she’d even really looked at him. It was the most compelling voice she’d ever heard, soft but impossible not to hear. Even though he’d been speaking, it had been like listening to some exquisitely sung melody.

She really, really needed to focus on the task at hand.

Sofia shook her head a little, wishing it could be that easy to clear away the lingering cloud of lust she’d stumbled into, and turned to the petite blonde looking nervously around them.

“Would you stop looking so guilty, Amy?” Sofia muttered. “If we were going to get busted, it would have happened by now.”

“I know, I know, I just... The vibe in here is a little weird, don’t you think?”

Sofia glanced at some of the people they passed as they moved deeper into the room that functioned as a swanky cocktail lounge and silently agreed. She’d expected the place to be full of beautiful people. Amphora was the opposite of a dive bar. Still, there was something almost creepy about how perfect some of these people were. Pale and young and gorgeous, with eyes that glittered strangely in the dim light provided by the modern-looking sconces lining the walls. She fought off a shudder and kept moving. She and Amy had come here for one reason only, and it wasn’t to see and be seen with DC’s most fabulous.

If it had been, they wouldn’t have taken the risk of sneaking in through the kitchen, a ploy that had only succeeded because their roommate worked here. Whenever they’d gotten a strange look, they’d just giggled, acted completely clueless, and asked where Sara Morgan was since she’d asked them to bring her forgotten wallet from home.

So far, it seemed that they were in without trouble. But no one had known where Sara was—at least, not that they would say, despite the fact that Sara always worked weekends—and that was a problem.

That was, in fact, why they were here. Operation Rescue the Roommate.

Sofia just wished she had a better idea of what they were rescuing her from. And whether Sara would even allow it.

“I thought you said you found her. Where is she?” Sofia asked. Amy rocked up on her tiptoes and craned her neck.

“I swear to you, I caught a glimpse of her just a few minutes ago. She’s in here.” Amy gave her a dark look. “And she sure didn’t look like she was working.”

Sofia felt a measure of relief at that. The three of them had been friends through college, then roommates, and even though Sara had been pulling away for a while, Sofia still cared what happened to her. First had come the job at Amphora, cocktail waitressing while Sara kept hunting for a full-time job at a law firm. That was fine. But then had come the stranger and stranger hours, the phone calls Sara didn’t want to talk about, and just lately, the long stretches of days away from the apartment with nothing but short phone messages left when she knew the other two wouldn’t be around to answer.

Sofia was worried...and so was Sara’s mother, judging by the number of calls from Mrs. Morgan she’d been fielding.

Amy felt the same. So here they were. It wasn’t ideal, busting in and ambushing Sara like this, but where else were they supposed to try to talk some sense into her when she’d basically broken off contact?

“Great. Maybe we can drag her into a broom closet and read her the riot act,” Sofia said, suddenly uncertain about all of this. What if Sara just told them off? That was a distinct possibility. It wasn’t until just now that Sofia realized the deeper, darker reason she’d felt compelled to come here tonight.

She’d begun to worry that Sara hadn’t returned home because she couldn’t. Because something bad had happened.

Anger was fast on the heels of Sofia’s relief. Sara was here having a good time? Great. Nice of her to let them all know she was alive and well. They’d been friends for what, six years now? And this was what they got?

Sofia looked behind her and caught a glimpse of a familiar head of brown hair streaked with red heading out the doorway they’d just come in through.

“Damn it,” Sofia said, spinning on one spindly heel and dragging Amy back in the other direction. “There she goes. And you’re right, she’s not in her work clothes. She’s with some guy.”

One of the preternaturally gorgeous, unusually pale guys, to be exact. Nerves pooled in the pit of Sofia’s stomach. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off here. The brief glimpse of Sara’s face had shown her friend laughing, but also looking almost feverish, her eyes glassy, two bright points of red riding high on pale cheeks.

“She looks weird,” Sofia told Amy, who stumbled as she tried to keep pace.

They headed back down the wide corridor, past the spot where she’d been nearly run over by Phenex just a couple minutes ago. She found herself irrationally disappointed that he was nowhere to be seen. Sara had vanished as well, but there was really only one destination in this direction.

“Nightclub,” Amy said, her brow furrowed, then looked at Sofia with a wry smile. “We’re in one of the most exclusive clubs in DC. There’s a line out front down the street. I feel like this should be more fun.”

Sofia huffed out a soft laugh. “Once she tells us to get lost, we’ll stay and get drunk on overpriced booze. At least we know she’s alive and well.”

She had the fleeting thought that maybe she’d get another chance to see Phenex, then immediately discarded the idea. If he was in here, he was out of her league on any number of levels. No man who looked like that, and who was probably rich to boot, was going to be seriously interested in a twenty-five-year-old nurse from nowhere special who’d sneaked in wearing a borrowed, non-designer dress.

Still, the way he’d looked at her...

“Wow,” Amy said, slowing so that Sofia was dragging her. “Do you hear that?”

Pulled out of her own thoughts, Sofia slowed, too, and really listened. What she heard stopped her dead in her tracks.

“Oh,” was all she could say, and it was more a sigh than a word. Drifting out of the curtained archway that led into Amphora’s main nightclub was the most beautiful voice she’d ever heard, singing a song she vaguely recognized. Whatever the song was, though, it had never been done like this...that she knew.

The memory of Phenex’s wonderful voice whispered through her mind: Here for the show? And the half-remembered item slung over his shoulder, something that had barely registered considering how much else there’d been to look at: a guitar.

Now she understood. The show really was him.

Sofia managed to put one foot in front of the other, feeling strangely dazed as she moved to the doorway, then through it, brushing heavy velvet aside. Bouncers on either side only glanced at her. They obviously thought she belonged here, even if she knew better.

Amy murmured something beside her, but Sofia’s attention was completely captured by the sight of the man on the raised platform on the far side of the room.

Perched on a simple stool, alone under the lights, a lot of musicians would have faded into the background of a place like this. Not Phenex. He seemed to fill the entire room, that magnificent voice flooding every nook and cranny. Sofia watched the way he coaxed the notes from his guitar—long, elegant fingers dancing over the strings—and swallowed hard. Everything that had been in her mind vanished but for the desire to feel those hands on her.

His gaze shifted suddenly, and in an instant he’d found her in the crowd. It was almost as though he’d sensed her come in. That was crazy...but no crazier than the way she nearly melted into a puddle on the floor when their eyes met.

“Sofia!”

Amy’s voice was a soft, insistent hiss in her ear. Sofia drank in a quick, shuddering breath and pulled her eyes away from Phenex, feeling slightly disoriented. She’d never met a man with the kind of power he seemed to wear like a second skin. Even looking at him was like being drugged. It was seriously disconcerting.

“Sorry,” Sofia said, feeling ridiculous. It wasn’t like her to lose her mind over a guy. Especially not some random, pretty singer...though she guessed the “pretty singer” part worked well as an excuse.

Amy rolled her eyes. “Yes, he’s gorgeous. But Sara and the guy she’s with just headed for the restrooms, back behind those curtains over there.”

Sofia sighed. “We corner her in the bathroom?”

Amy nodded, her jaw set. She looked like an angry pixie. “We corner her in the bathroom. Let’s do this.”

So they did, winding through the crowd. It wasn’t as slow going as it might have been—almost no one moved into their path, everyone much more focused on the man entertaining them. When they reached the ladies’ room door, they looked at each other. Sofia took a deep breath.

“Okay, so when we get in there, we say—”

She was cut off by a soft female gasp that echoed on the other side of the door. It might have been one thing if it had been a sound of pleasure. But it was accompanied by a muffled cry that was anything but.

Sofia didn’t think. She pushed open the door, surprised to find the lights off in what, at first blush, was a cavernous, luxurious restroom. There was an awful, wet sucking sound coming from the direction of the stalls, shapes Sofia could barely make out.

“Get help,” Sofia said flatly. She flipped the light switch, then strode in before she could talk herself out of it. All that mattered was that her friend was in here, and she was being hurt. Whoever this a**hole was, he had no idea what was about to hit him.

It took her only seconds to find the stall they were in and kick open the door, adrenaline coursing through her system. Still, whatever Sofia had expected to find, it wasn’t what was in front of her. Sara was sprawled across her companion’s lap, her limbs gracelessly flung in all directions. The tight-fitting little black dress Sara wore was, up close, a shocking contrast to the whiteness of her skin. Even more shocking was the man whose face was buried in Sara’s neck, sucking. Sara’s big brown eyes rolled up to meet Sofia’s, silently pleading.

Sofia shouted, some furious, incoherent sound of fury. She watched, horrified, as the man raised his head, glaring at her with burning red eyes. He opened his mouth, snarling like a feral animal.

Fangs. He has fangs. He can’t have fangs, he can’t—

Then he lunged for her, his inhuman scream ringing in her ears.

Chapter Three

Phenex knew something was wrong the minute Sofia disappeared into the curtained alcove where the restrooms were. Centuries of expertise in causing trouble had given him a sixth sense when it came to finding it.

Funny…she hadn’t struck him as the type to attract problems. Then again, she attracted the hell out of him.

Not really caring how it looked, Phenex cut the song short and stood. He set his guitar on the stand, ignored Luc’s glare, and leaped lightly from the stage. In a series of steps so swift they were invisible to human eyes, he was standing at the curtains. He knew he’d get an angry lecture later for using his power so openly here with so many humans around, even though he doubted any of the mortals in attendance would even notice what had happened—a blink, and he’d been gone. Still, the vamps took great pains to hide themselves. Small wonder. Vamps might not be hunted by demons, but they were hunted. Yet his rapid movement had been necessary.

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