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           J.W. Phillips

  “You don’t know anything,” he screamed. Trucker’s body shook violently. He literally vibrated with pent up rage.

  Julie retreated further from him, not knowing what he was capable of in that state.

  “Trucky,” Sea yelled.

  Julie flipped her head around and saw that Catherine and Sea had walked in. Trucker immediately had Sea wrapped up in his arms. He fell back on the bed, rocking her. “Sorry, sweet pea, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

  The sight of Trucker trying to calm his sister mesmerized her. Julie was a mess; a quivering, scared, in love, in conflict with her own emotions mess. She watched as he held Sea and brushed his hand through her curls. Trucker started ever so softly singing. It was so light Julie couldn’t quite make it out except for the sweet melody. He was a demon. Julie had seen things she had never dreamed possible. But at that moment, she witnessed the gentle monster that had stolen her heart. She felt swollen with endless love for him. His soul was anything but dark. He was her light knight. My Truck, your unbelievable beauty drew me to you, but it’s not what gripped me. It was your sweet spirit and never ending love that captured me. Now it’s your fragile and damaged soul that calls me. Against her better judgment, she crawled up onto the bed beside him.

  “You said I don’t know anything. I agree I don’t know a lot, except I’m a walking contradiction. My heart tells me to stay. That it belongs to you. But my mind tells me to run, fast and hard. That nothing good can come from this.” Julie reached over and traced the length of Trucker’s arm.

  Astounded at what she had just said. Trucker asked, “Which one will you listen too?”

  Sea placed her hand on Julie’s arm, and calmness washed over her. “My heart. Granny always told me to follow my heart. Your mind can lead you astray, but your heart is incapable of lying,” she answered, softly.

  “Your granny never realized someone like me would walk into your life,” Trucker said and buried his face in Sea’s hair.

  “My heart knew who owned it before my mind would accept it.” She forced him to look at her. “You own it.”

  “Do you know what you are saying, dear?” Catherine asked. She had knelt down beside them and stroked Julie’s hair.

  “Yes, Ms. Catherine, I love the wrong guy, too,” Julie said to Catherine, but looked at Trucker. “I love you, Truck. It’s probably the craziest thing ever, but I can’t help it. I really do love you.”

  He appeared indecisive, like he couldn’t comprehend what she was saying. He tilted his head. “I never believed in love. Till you.” He shrugged his shoulder. “I didn’t think I could love, but I do love you.” He reached out for her, and his hand shook. She placed it on her waist.

  “I know,” she told him. He pulled her to him. Julie sat as close as she could get and trailed her fingertips down Sea’s back.

  “I can’t promise I won’t hurt you again.” Trucker said with regret. “I never want to see you hurt again.”

  “Everybody hurts at times.” She held up her healed wrist and smiled. “Hey, I think you got me covered if you do.”

  “I’ll do everything I can to make sure you never hurt.” He kissed her on top of the head. “I don’t ever want you to regret this.”

  “I already do regret it, but I can’t help how I feel. Can I talk to your mom alone?” she asked. He nodded his head.

  “I’ll meet you out on the patio. Let me find Ruby so she can watch Sea.” Catherine patted Julie’s knees. “It’ll be okay.”

  “Thanks,” Julie replied.

  “No.” Trucker spoke up. “Julie, can I show you something first? It is right down the hall. Then you can talk to my mom.”

  Chapter 11

  Julie started gnawing on her lower lip. Trucker raised his hand to stop her, but paused. She wondered why. He always stopped her. After Catherine took Sea, Julie lowered Trucker’s face. She sensed his trepidation.

  “I’m scared of all of this, but we belong together.”

  Trucker relaxed against her, his arm protectively around her waist, and kissed her shoulder. “Let me change shirts then, Angel, I want to prove that you do belong in my world.”

  “Change shirts?” Julie asked as Trucker turned showing two perfect slashes going up the back of his shirt. She reached out to touch each rip. “I like your wings.”

  “So does my mom.” Trucker turned back to face her and wiped a thumb over her tear-stained cheeks. “Angel, you’re my other half. I’ve never wanted anything like I need you. Let me show you something then if you want to leave I’ll let you go.”

  One glance at him and Julie was not sure he could ever truly let her go.

  She followed him down the hallway to those ghastly pictures hanging on the wall. He stopped and stared up at the biggest canvas. It held a picture of a single demon. Julie reached up and touched the face on the painting. The similarities between Trucker and the monster were striking. It was bigger, but still even with the black eyes and swirling veins it was enticing. The hair was the same shade as Trucker’s, but a tad longer. Its skin appeared pearlized, but it definitely had Trucker’s features.

  “He’s beautiful,” Julie said in disbelief.

  “It’s me.”

  “You’re beautiful. Where’s your wings?”

  “They only come out if I’m feeling an unusual emotion for a demon.” Trucker smirked. He placed his hand on her shoulder and directed her attention to another painting. “My dad and that one there is Eddie, Emily’s dad.” He pointed to the demon beside his dad. Julie noticed a demon dressed in black with long flowing black hair.

  “That one is Emily?” Julie murmured.

  “Yeah, Angel, it is. The prophets painted these pictures when they prophesied my life.” He showed her the first one. The face was hidden, but it was a woman with long, light brown hair handing his dad a baby. “My mom hasn’t always been blond,” Trucker informed.

  “That’s you as a baby.”

  He nodded his head.

  “A son will be born half demonic, half human. His powers will be immense. His greatest strength will be his infinite empathy. His greatest weakness will be his vulnerability, his humanity.”

  Julie stroked her fingers along a small plaque on the frame where that very prophecy was etched. “You’re human?”

  He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m very much human. Half of me, anyway.”

  Julie glowed. All was not lost. He could be what she needed. His soul was his greatest gift.

  “Don’t get excited. I’m half demon too. My darkness is stronger than any good in me.” He paused slightly. His fingers wiggled their way around her ear and down the nap of her neck. He shuddered. She stood on her tiptoes and brushed her lips over his, so lightly it was not even a kiss, merely a touch. No baby, your goodness is your greatest strength. He clutched her face in his hands and dipped his head until his lips rested against Julie’s. His kiss started off softly as though she was breakable. She opened her lip, allowing him to explore her mouth with his tongue. He squeezed her hip as his kiss got harder and more demanding. They were in no hurry and kissed a kiss that was more powerful than anything either one had ever experienced.

  “Let her kiss me with the kisses of her mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine. Song of Solomon 1:2,” Trucker muttered against her lip.

  “A bible verse, you know the bible?”

  “Almost every word. It’s part of the job.”

  He turned and led her to the last picture; it had six demons in it. She recognized four of the demons: Trucker, Larry, Eddie, and Emily. She realized they were standing on Main Street in her little town of Promise Land. “That’s?” Julie asked, fingering the painting.

  “Yeah, your Main Street. See there’s the drug store.” He tapped the drug store in the picture. “Angel, look at the very end of the street on the right.”

  Julie focused and saw a young lady with her back to the street, going into the bank. There was a slight glow coming off of her, and she had a mound o
f blond curls on her head.

  “That’s you, my love.” He kissed the top of her head. “These pictures were painted before I was even born, but you’re there.” Julie settled her head on his shoulder. They stood in silence for what seemed like eons, and then, languidly, he started to talk. “I never noticed the girl until after I met you but when I saw it I knew. You do belong with me and everyone does have more than one destiny.”

  Julie touched the canvas and ran her finger along each stroke. “I own a shirt just like that,” she said as she traced the outline of the girl in the picture.

  “It’s my favorite,” Trucker whispered.

  Julie moved to Trucker’s image on the canvas. She couldn’t believe how monstrous yet appealing he was. Emily’s demon image was even more intimidating than her human facade. She noticed how overprotective Larry appeared of Trucker. He was the ultimate demon in Julie’s eye. She didn’t understand how someone like him could even care. Then it caught her eye. Trucker and Emily’s pinky fingers were interlocked with each other’s. She touched where their hands were connected.

  “Don’t try to read anything into it. I chose that future.” Trucker kissed the side of her head and fingered her picture in the painting. Julie still had her doubts about where Emily fit into his future and theirs. She glanced up at the other two demons.

  “Who are they?” Julie pointed to the face of the most sinister one.

  “Two evil creations I hope you never meet.” He yanked at her hand. “Come on, Angel, Mom is probably waiting.”

  “I don’t want to be in your world,” she said, unable to look at him.

  Trucker stared in horror. He grabbed her wrist, pulling her taut against him. The thought of what had transpired early that day when he held her like that caused her to squirm. He didn’t speak. He didn’t have too. His stare told her everything. Stop and be still. Her body instantly obeyed. He smirked and proceeded to trail kisses up her arm, hitting a very sensitive spot behind her elbow. He didn’t stop there but continue toward her shoulder, across her collarbone, and up her neck. Before he found her mouth, he whispered, “I won’t ever let you go.”

  She didn’t want any part of that life, those paintings, his world. The thought of all of it devastated Julie. But the thought of those eyes never staring at her, those lips on someone else’s neck, his hands holding Emily shattered her. “I don’t want to be in your world, but I want you in my world.”

  “Ditto, Angel.”

  Trucker led her out to the patio. Julie could see a difference in his skin, but most of all his mannerisms. He motioned for her to have a seat. He turned and started walking toward the house without a word but before he went in, he glanced back at her. His face was already distorted. His skin appeared pearlized. Julie’s nerves went berserk. She started pacing along the edge of the patio.

  Lost in thought, she jumped when his mother appeared. Catherine was shaking, obviously troubled. She sat down and motioned for Julie to have a seat. Catherine Castleman was stunning, humanly so. She was kind and loving, her devotion to her son was undeniable. Oh God, this is probably a bad time, but please guide me. Also let Catherine tell me the truth and not what I want to hear to protect her son.

  They sat at a small round table overlooking a magical garden, the kind of garden that belonged in a fairytale not a horror story. “Your garden is lovely.”

  Picking at her bottom lip, Catherine let out a loud and exhausting sigh. “You wanted to talk to me?”

  I guess small talk is out. That’s okay I don’t really want to beat around the bush either.

  “Ms. Catherine, I really do care for Truck.” Julie begin. “I need to know what I’m up against. I guess I need to ask, why you chose this life.”

  Catherine peeked over at Julie and a small smile shot across her face. “That one is easy, Trucker.”

  Julie shook her head in confusion. Catherine had to have chosen this life before Trucker. He was the byproduct of that decision.

  “Let me clarify, I didn’t just choose it, more it chose me. I was twenty-two years old and going for my masters at Vanderbilt. I was very book smart, but very naive. I met his father, Larry, one night in the college library. He was ravishing and charming. I couldn’t believe my luck when he asked me out on a date. I’d never dated much and the thought of someone that charismatic wanting to be with me was very exciting.” Catherine looked away as if she was in a daze. Julie thought of Trucker and his pull on her. She could only imagine Catherine’s feelings to those early memories. Catherine looked back at Julie, her eyes somber and her expression blank. “I was a means to bear the perfect child. Larry made me believe he loved me, that he cared, and then he left me pregnant with Trucker.”

  Julie gasped. Catherine cocked her head like Trucker often did. Julie saw the uh-oh moment in Catherine’s eye when it dawned on her Julie was scared that this was Trucker’s plan for them. “No, sweetheart, Trucker is not that kind of man. His feelings are true. I almost wish they weren’t.”

  “Why?” Julie’s heart felt like it had stopped. Even Catherine saw she wasn’t good enough. That’s right, I’m not good enough. How could I possibly believe I could drag a demon into the light?

  “Sweetie, I didn’t mean it that way. I know how hard it’s going to be for the both of you. Trucker has suffered more than any one person should. I can’t stand the thought of him hurting anymore.”

  “I don’t want to hurt him.”

  “I know, darling. I would give up my life for that boy and in some ways I have. I stayed to protect him.” She shrugged her shoulder. “But how do you protect the prince of the Brotherhood.”

  “What’s the Brotherhood?”

  “It’s an elite band of demons. How can I explain it to you? There are different levels of demons, like the different levels of angels. Trucker and his father are the archangels of their world.” Catherine patted her hand with her warm touch. “I know what you’re thinking. I wanted to leave too, but I looked at my beautiful baby boy and knew I could never leave him. Everything I have or will do in this life is for him. He’s worth it too, and I’ve never regretted my decision.”

  “Trucker’s an arch demon?” Julie shook her head vehemently “Has he met . . . you know?” She couldn’t even finish her thought.

  “Sweetie, I don’t think so, but he hates what he is so much that I never question him. He tells me some things, but he keeps so much locked up in that mind of his.”

  Julie started to speak again, but Catherine raised her hand to let her know she wasn’t finished. “I gave my baby something some around here consider a curse, but I know it is the greatest gift I could give him. A soul. He does have great evil raging in him, but he also has the sweetest soul. I prayed every day of his life that God would send an angel to save my baby and his soul.” She took Julie’s hand, Catherine’s face shined. “You’re that angel, and yes, he does love you. He thinks he has no heart, but I know he does. I heard it once. It’s just frozen over by all that rage, but you’re the one to melt it. Please don’t leave him. He’d lose his soul if he was to lose you.” She held on tightly to Julie’s hand. “I know it’ll be hard, but I’m always here for you.”

  Julie spotted a figure in Trucker’s bedroom window. She couldn’t quite make it out. It had a larger frame than Trucker’s. She thought back to his distorted face and cringed.

  “I’ll go get him. Just wait out here, he’ll be down shortly,” Catherine warned her.

  “Is he with Sea?” Julie really wanted to ask what he was.

  “No, he’ll be down shortly, I promise.”

  Julie started looking over at their enticing English garden. She noticed that there were no birds flying about, no butterflies fluttering, no bees bouncing from flower to flower. Trucker’s life was full of artificial beauty, but not the true beauty that life holds. Julie prayed that she could finally bring some of that beauty in his life.

  Julie had already sat out on the patio for over an hour. Her mind shot to the figure in the window. A s
udden dread came over her, what if she was too late to save him? What if his other side already had too great a hold? She couldn’t believe that, she had seen his good side and knew how warm it was. Hearing footsteps come up behind her, she jerked.

  “Hey there, little lady.”

  She saw a smile that was a comforting sight coming from her healer. Julie didn’t quite understand why she had an instant bond with him, but Jake made her feel content and comfortable in the crazy world she was thrust into.

  “Hey, Jake, right?”

  “That’s me. Jake Lee Mansfield.”

  He placed his hand on her shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze.

  “My best friend Tiffany is a Mansfield. Do you know her?”

  “I’ve known a lot of people. Can we talk?”

  “Yeah, I’d like that. By the way, thanks for everything.” She leaned her head over onto his arm. He not only cured her wrist but also her nerves.

  “It was my pleasure, sweetie.” He walked over and sat down on the edge of the patio. Julie went over and settled down beside him.

  “Are you a demon, Jake?” Julie started kicking her feet that hung off the edge of the patio.

  “Nah, I’m neither good nor bad, just ole’ Jake.” He gave her a soft punch on the leg.

  “Were you not horrified earlier?” Julie asked as she started biting her nails.

  “Of Truck, you’ve got to be kidding me.” He chuckled and threw his hand up dismissing the idea. “Truck and me go back a long way. I know he scared you, but sweetheart, he was just scared of losing you. You’re a very special girl and he needs you. He wasn’t going to hurt you. He just couldn’t think straight.” Jake squeezed her knee. “You’re the first thing he has ever had to fight for, it’s hard on him.”

  “Why me?”

  “Because you were made for him.” He jumped off the side of the deck. She reached to touch a stray hair that was falling across his forehead. His sandy blond hair was feathery soft as she pushed it back in place. No, Jake wasn’t extremely beautiful, but he had a charm about him that was indisputable.

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