The demon hunter, p.1
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       The Demon Hunter, p.1

           Lori Brighton
The Demon Hunter

  The Demon Hunter

  Copyright 2012 Lori Brighton

  All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced , stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademark status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Other Books by Lori Brighton

  The Wild Series:

  Wild Heart (Book 1)

  Wild Desire (Book 2)

  Wild Passion (Short Story, Book 3) Available Free!

  The Night Series:

  A Night of Secrets (Book 1)

  A Night of Redemption (Book 2: Coming Summer 2012!)

  The Seduction Series:

  To Seduce an Earl (Book 1)

  The Hunter Series:

  The Ghost Hunter (Book 1)

  The Demon Hunter (Book 2)

  Young Adult Books:

  The Mind Readers (Book 1)

  The Mind Thieves (Book 2: Coming Spring, 2012!)

  The Demon Hunter


  Lori Brighton

  Chapter 1

  West Yorkshire, England

  It had been six months.

  Six long, horrible months since she’d been in the basement of the haunted hell she called a home.

  No one blamed her for avoiding the dungeon. They couldn’t blame Ashley when, in fact, they avoided the place of darkness and gloom as well.

  But tonight… the night of a full moon when that veil between other worlds was thinnest…things were about to change.

  Why did she have the dreadful feeling they would most definitely not be changing for the better?

  Perhaps past experiences made her leery. Or perhaps it was a warning from the afterlife. Who knew. But one thing was for sure, they had to try.

  A flicker from the light bulb hanging from a thin wire above interrupted her musings. Was it normal electrical problems, or something more nefarious? The bulb hissed and sputtered as if in answer to her unspoken question. Just freaking lovely.

  Ashley crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself as she focused on Camile. “You’re sure you’re ready?”

  Best to uncover any last minute weak links in their chain mail now, before they went through that door. Lord knew they’d screwed up enough in the past.

  The witch looked up from where she knelt on the stone floor, her backpack open as she shuffled through ingredients. Those large, green eyes popped against her dark skin and glowed with an uncertainty that didn’t exactly put Ashley at ease. “As ready as I can be.”

  Wonderful. Not the words of reassurance she was after. With a sigh, Ashley pulled her dark hair back into a ponytail. Time to get down to business.

  Camile cradled a drawstring bag of clear crystals in the palm of her hand. “With Aunt Rose and the other villagers binding the outside of the house and the moon in its full, there’s no better moment.”

  Isn’t that what they’d thought the last time? And look how well that mission had ended… with her friends, Death and Destruction, making an unwelcome visit.

  Ashley glanced toward the wooden door that settled quite leeringly in the corner of her basement. Large, Medieval-like iron hinges and handle, an icon of a cross and sword embedded in the wood. Intimidating, to say the least. Who would have ever guessed that behind that wooden panel lay a large room with a stone coffin holding the spirits of a demon and an angel? Two souls, locked together. A shiver of unease swept over her skin and although she wore a sweatshirt and jeans, she felt exposed, watched.

  About eight months ago she’d arrived in England, inheriting the very house where her father had disappeared. She’d been hoping to uncover not only the reason for her father’s death, but also the reasoning behind her odd ability of being able to communicate with spirits. She hadn’t expected to inherit a house haunted by ghosts, demons and angels. Suddenly, she’d become Buffy the Freaking Ghost Slayer.

  “Are ye ready?” The familiar Scottish burr whispered comfortingly up her spine. She hadn’t even heard Cristian come down the steps. He was a true warrior and nothing would ever change that. Ashley turned as he ducked under the overhang and stepped into the room. Although he’d lost most of his powers when he’d become mortal, he still looked every bit the fallen angel. The large, highland sword he had in hand, and another strapped to his back, only added to his powerful aura.

  “I am,” Camile stated.

  The black t-shirt Cristian wore stretched across broad shoulders and brought out that gray of his eyes. So strong, so reliable. Unable to help herself, she wrapped her arms around his waist and stepped up close to him, drawing comfort from his muscled body.

  “Question is, are you ready?” Ashley rested the side of her face against his chest, listening to the sure beat of his heart.

  “Of course,” he replied.

  He wasn’t afraid, but she was. Terrified, really, but not for herself. No, only terrified for the man she loved. Cristian was so…so damn human. He could die now, just as easily as she or Camile.

  “I’m worried about you,” she admitted.

  He cupped the side of her face with his rough-worn hand. “Ashley, I don’t regret staying on earth at all. Never. No matter what happens. I’ve had almost a year with ye and it’s been more than heaven could ever offer.”

  His words seeped into her chest and wrapped warmly around her heart. She knew he meant everything he said, but his life was more important than a few sweet words. Camile had the good sense to start rummaging through her bag, pretending not to hear their romantic exchange.

  He pushed the sword he held forward. A gold and silver weapon with intricate swirls along the blade. Devon’s sword. She wrapped her fingers around the hilt, the heavy weight of the metal pulling on her arm. A lump of emotion suddenly clogged her throat. Devon should be here, fighting beside them.

  “I say we leave the rotter to suffer for being a martyr,” Cristian muttered.

  Ashley frowned. Brat. She knew he was merely trying to get a rise out of her, attempting to make her think about things other than their possible demise. It worked.

  She stepped away from him, taking the bag of crystals from Camile. Devon’s spirit was locked in that coffin along with the demon. He’d sacrificed himself because someone had to bind the demon’s soul. Beautiful, blond, caring Devon. He’d been one of her best friends and he’d sacrificed himself so Cristian wouldn’t have to, so that Ashley and Cristian could have a life together. But until Devon’s spirit was free and in heaven where he belonged, she and Cristian would never be able to move on. At times the guilt was unbearable. She could wait no longer.

  “I’m jesting with ye,” Cristian said, raking his hand through his thick, black hair. “As much as I hate that bloody do-gooding bastard, Devon deserves to go to Heaven. Besides, we can’t have a life until we destroy the demon. We all know he’s regaining power, which means…”

  He didn’t finish. He
didn’t need to.

  It meant that Devon was losing power, his spirit slowly being destroyed by the demon’s. She’d noticed the unnatural storms brewing around their small village, the rumblings in the house as if they were experiencing aftershocks from an earthquake. It had all happened before… when she’d first arrived, precursors to a hellish nightmare.

  After Devon had sacrificed himself, binding his spirit to the demon’s, life had improved. Birds visited her gardens once more. Rabbits snacked on clover growing in her front yard. Her home had started to resemble a home. But a month ago, the rumblings had started again. Devon’s spirit was losing its hold.

  “No use in putting it off any longer. We need to destroy the demon once and for all,” Cristian said, lifting his sword and studying the blade as if looking for any weakness.

  The demon.

  She didn’t miss how Cristian refused to call the demon by his name, or by his relation. Father. He was Cristian’s father, yet Ashley couldn’t blame him for not wanting to admit to the relationship.

  “Are we ready?” Camile asked, swiping her hands on her jeans.

  “As well as we can be.”

  There was only a moment’s pause before Camile threw her arms around Ashley’s neck. The English witch had become her best friend. Ashley closed her eyes, breathing in Camile’s familiar scent…rosemary, lavender and other comforting herbs the witch used in spells.

  “Take care.” Camile pulled back, crystalline tears shimmering on her dark cheeks.

  Ashley’s fingers curled as she resisted the urge to give into her own emotions. They both knew this might be the very last time they’d see each other. “You too.”

  Camile nodded and handed her a glass bottle. “Holy water. Make a circle with the crystals. It will bind and protect the area. When the spirits are released, throw the water. It won’t harm Devon and the demon will be sent to hell.”

  At least they hoped.

  Ashley clutched the bottle and sword to her chest. Being the warrior that he was, Cristian had no need for sentimental goodbyes. The man was all business and for some reason, that made her feel better. He stepped toward the door and pressed his palm to the icon imbedded in the wooden panel. Almost immediately there was a creaking groan and the door popped open with a hiss of reluctance.

  “I closed it,” he murmured, stating the same thing he had said those six months ago.

  “Only you can open it,” Ashley finished.

  The experience was becoming entirely too deja vu-like. Cristian wrapped his hand around the large iron handle and pulled the door wide. A yawning pit of darkness stretched before them; a corridor that led into a large stone chamber…or hell, as she liked to call it. She could feel the low vibration of energy coming from that darkness. Pure soul, pure energy, and something darker, stronger. Something that took her breath from her lungs, making it difficult to draw air.

  The urge to grab Cristian and Camile and flee was foremost in her irrational mind. Fortunately, rationality won out. She couldn’t, she wouldn’t leave. Devon’s soul depended on her. And as ridiculous as it might seem, the very fate of the world depended upon her.

  “I’ll bind the door,” Camile said, “in case…”

  In case the demon escaped. A definite worst case scenario.

  If the demon escaped, that would mean Ashley and Cristian were dead. If the demon escaped, they knew Camile sure as hell wouldn’t be able to block him. If the demon escaped, his spirit would wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world of innocent, weak human beings. They couldn’t let that happen.

  Cristian stepped into the corridor and pulled the sword from the scabbard at his back. Determined to put an end to the nightmare that had become her life, Ashley forced herself to step over the threshold, following the man she loved into the pit of hell.

  Losing was not an option.

  The scent of mildew and wet earth hit her like a fist to the chest. A familiar scent. Ashley glanced back one last time. Camile gave her a wavering smile as she shut the door with a thud, trapping them in complete darkness. A moment of panic overwhelmed her and she edged ever closer to Cristian, needing the reassurance of his warmth.

  Fanfreakingtastic, it was really happening.

  There was a soft click and a beam of light lit the path before them. In one hand Cristian held a sword, in his other hand a flashlight. Much less dramatic than the fire he’d been able to produce when he’d been immortal.

  “Welcome to hell,” he said under his breath.

  The trip down that tunnel was eerily similar to the last trip they’d taken. For many sleepless nights they’d searched for a way to save Devon. According to Camile, Aunt Rose had found the error in the last spell they’d used. This spell should work now. Should. The word didn’t reassure her like it was supposed to.

  Ashley pushed aside her dour thoughts. “Do you think they’re here with us?” she asked. “Your angel friends?”

  Cristian snorted. “Doubtful, they have more important things to worry about.”

  She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. What was more important than saving the world? Ashley reached out, her fingertips brushing the damp, stone walls. The darkness, the energy, the lack of oxygen, all were destroying her sense of balance.

  The floor sloped and her heartbeat accelerated. She knew that large, stone room would soon appear. Even six months later she remembered every detail of the place. A straight tunnel that gradually sloped, that soft drip of water from somewhere above, a slight turn to the right… They were getting closer.

  “Ye remember the spell?” Cristian asked, his voice sounding unnaturally loud in the silence.

  “Yeah.” She’d memorized every word. As backup, she had the Latin spell written on a piece of paper and tucked in her back pocket, which, for some reason, made her feel like a student cheating on her final exams.

  The tunnel flared wide, the rough walls giving way and fading into nothingness. Cristian paused, Ashley stopping beside him, her heart thundering so madly, surely he heard the unsteady beat. For one brief moment, the entire world stood still. Slowly, Cristian lifted the flashlight. The beam of light crawled across the glistening stone floor, bouncing off the massive domed area. A room so large, the light couldn’t reach the end.

  But it wasn’t the end of the room that she searched for. The light hit the stone coffin, there in the middle of the room, and all thoughts vanished. Fear tasted bitter against her tongue. But overriding that fear was an anger so all-consuming, it left her trembling. It would all end here, now. The demon would no longer control their lives.

  “Shall we?” Cristian started forward, no nervousness in his steady step.

  On their previous visit the coffin had been split open, the lid in two and Devon’s lifeless body bleeding across the lid. Now, that coffin was closed, mended back together. Devon’s body was gone as if the incident had never happened. But his spirit was still in that tomb with the very demon intent on breaking free. They’d failed last time, they wouldn’t now.

  Steeling her resolve, Ashley handed Cristian the sword and opened the pouch of crystals Camile had given her. “Let’s get this over with.”

  Cristian pointed the flashlight to the floor. “Bind the area.”

  She stepped back about ten feet and tilted the pouch. Salt, quartz and other tiny minerals tumbled from the bag. Slowly, Ashley walked around the coffin, leaving behind a trail of crystals. “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti,” she whispered, the sound of her footsteps disappearing up into the dark, domed ceiling.

  At the same time, Cristian lifted both swords and murmured, “Pater Noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum.”

  Reaching her starting point, Ashley dropped the bag to the floor and pulled the cork from the bottle, her hands trembling with nerves and eagerness, desperate to see the situation through.

  “Ready?” Cristian asked.

  She nodded.

  He handed her the flashlight and lifted the swords higher. “Show no fear.”<
br />
  With a low growl, Cristian shoved the point of the blades into the middle of the coffin. The swords easily pierced the stone, like a knife through butter. For a moment, the world went still, but she knew better than to think nothing would happen.

  A low creaking moan vibrated the very room, sending her off balance. Ashley shifted her feet apart; this time she’d be ready. Cristian yanked the swords from the lid and stepped back, his breathing harsh. All they could do was wait…wait while emotion bombarded her…fear, worry, eagerness.

  A jagged line cracked up and down the coffin, separating the stone in two. Each side fell to the floor with a thud that shook the entire room. The flashlight fell from her hand, rolling across the ground and out of reach. Brilliant blue light burst from the opening swirling around her in a whirlwind that pulled at her clothing and hair. She was in the middle of a hurricane, the perfect storm.

  It had begun.

  Bracing herself, Ashley held tight to that little bottle of water.

  “Be ready!” Cristian yelled, the wind tearing his words from her so she could barely hear him.

  Be ready? Easy for him to say, he was the one carrying swords. Frantic, Ashley searched the light, looking for any indication of a human form. The blue glow danced around the room in waves that highlighted the paintings of mocking cherubs above.

  “Do ye see anything?” Cristian called out, starting toward her.

  Just as suddenly as it had arrived, the wind faded, leaving only a gentle breeze that wafted through the room. It was pretty, really, the blue light wavering upon the ceiling and walls. Almost as if they floated underwater. But she knew better than to get comfortable and enjoy the scenery.

  “Nothing.” Ashley tightened her hold on the bottle. Had Devon escaped to Heaven already? Or had he been destroyed? “Cristian, maybe—”

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