When he was led from his cell, Dante wasn’t sure where they were taking him. As he was seated in one of the interview rooms, he wiped at his bottom lip and could feel the sting of the split there. The Captain had wasted no time in letting him know who was in charge here. His ribs still ached and his left arm was giving him fits, but it was nothing that he couldn’t heal from once he was free.

The surprise came in the form of his lover and she was joined by Councilor Kennedy and Largros.

“Hey beautiful.” His deep voice was raspy letting them know that his throat was sore and there were other areas just as sore that weren’t visible.

Inea couldn’t talk, she was just so happy to at least see him. She had hoped for more, but she’d take this. She would endure this for him, so that she didn’t make things worse. But she had to hold him. As soon as they had been left alone she was hugging him.

Dante tried not to cringe as Inea rushed to him and hugged him tightly. “Easy baby, I’m alright. Nothing a good sleep and some time in bed with you won’t fix.”

“Come Inea, give him room to breathe,” Largros encouraged. He could tell that the Director or whomever he had in charge of the half demon had worked him over.

“What have they done to you?” She let her fingers move over his bottom lip. If she could heal it, she would, but there would be no magic used in here.  

“Don’t worry gorgeous they aren’t stupid enough to kill me. They just want to toy with me while they can. They know once I’m out of here they are too weak and chicken shit to try any of this because I’d break them in two.” He still had the magic dampeners on which prevented him from mentally feeling her or talking to her.

“I miss you. Mira misses you, too. But Gabriel has a good plan and so we came…” she stepped back and looked up at him, showing for the first time the toll this lack of connection was taking on her human form. She had bags beneath her eyes and a pale flush to her skin. She had shaky hands that she tried to hide from him.  

“Are these really necessary right now?” Dante held the cuffs up for Gabriel to see. “I’m not going anywhere.. I just want to feel her damn it!” Dante actually growled because he could tell that Inea was ill and he wanted to help her. He couldn’t though because of the damned magic restraining him.

Gabriel watched the couple and glanced at Largros, “Go ahead and release them Largros, we are here and he isn’t going anywhere.”

“Not my call, but I can try and convince them. None of us can go anywhere but by physical means. Yeah, let me go talk to the guard. I’ll be right back.” The door clanked as he exited, leaving the two holding hands despite the cuffs and Gabriel across the table from them.  

“You look worn out beautiful.” Dante let her hands go only long enough to lift one and caress the back of it along her cheek. “Mira will be fine, it’s you that worries me. You need to eat and you need to rest. I love my lady and all her curves so don’t go losing them while I’m in here.” Dante breathed her in and kissed Inea’s forehead while keeping her as close as he could.

“You’re such a scoundrel. Stop, you’ll make me blush,” She smiled and placed her hand in his as best she could.

Gabriel hated to interrupt, but they were here for a reason. “Dante, I need to know when you were last in France?”

“It’s been almost two years. I’ve been busy with my club and my free time has been with Inea.” Dante hadn’t hesitated in his response at all. Like Inea, Dante was feeling drained and soon the wear would be showing physically as it was with her.

“And your sister?” Gabriel pushed on.

Taking a deep breath though it hurt doing so, Dante looked over at the Councilor with a narrowed gaze. “You aren’t thinking of getting me out by putting my sister in here are you? If you are, think again Councilor.” There was no way he’d let Mira be imprisoned. He’d take the blame before that happened.

“No, my love, it’s not that. He needs to know all of your movements so that he can prove innocence,” Inea whispered. She looked to Gabriel, “Mira wouldn’t do anything like this purposely. And their father wouldn’t use either of them in a way that was so noticeable.” It might have been a surprise for Dante to see his lovely willing to defend his sister, but things had changed.

“Calm yourself that isn’t my intention at all.” Gabriel said nothing more as the door opened for Largros and the guard. He’d wait until the guard was gone before proceeding.

Dante stared at the guard as his restraints were removed. He rubbed his wrists as the guard took several steps back from him. He gave a slow challenging grin that showed his double fangs to the quickly departing male. The fear off the man was exquisite. But as the door closed and the lock clicked, Dante had to grab the back of the nearby chair as everything flooded into his head like a tsunami. Everything from feelings to thoughts just piled in one atop the other until it made his stomach clinch.

Largros moved forward to help support Dante at the same time as Inea. Seeing the half-demon weakened as he was, well it wasn’t normal. It was a bit disconcerting.  

Between Mira and Inea, he was getting overwhelmed. Turning to pull Inea to him, Dante spoke to her mind, ~Easy lover, feel me, I’m still here.~ He mentally caressed her and let her draw from him just enough to re-secure their bond. Inea would feel better even though it drained him a little more.

~ I can see you with my eyes and feel you with my hands, but being unable to touch your mind and soul? Not knowing how you truly are? It’s Hell. ~ She nuzzled her face to his as a tear found its way free.  ~ Gabriel did not target you and I wanted you to know that. He was used and set up just as you were, just as Senias was. Please help him. I want you back in my arms away from this place. ~

When Gabriel cleared his throat, Inea forced herself back and let Largros help settle Dante back into his seat.  The younger dragon moved to the door and leaned against it. He had quite a cloud over his mind as well, but he was doing his duty.  

“Dante, I need to ask..” Gabriel started again only to watch demon lift a finger to his lips to silence him.

“Forgive me.” Dante looked right at Inea as he spoke the two words before he turned his focus on Largros. He needed energy, but not a large amount. They needed to speak safely in this room and he needed to make sure they could do that. He could feel the younger dragon’s emotions and though the Councilor across from him had strong emotions, Largros’ were stronger still – and he was a dragon, so he could handle the draw of energy right then.

~Largros come sit beside me.~ Dante waited patiently and hoped that his dragoness and the Councilor would do the same. ~I need your help.~

Largros raised a blonde brow. There was a snort of air from the dragon’s nose, which might let Gabriel know something was up.  

The younger dragon looked from Inea to Dante cautiously.  They had crossed lines in the other world, but both of them knew they had Inea’s blessing, even if words had not been spoken. This was a bit different.

A low growl came from the female dragon, but Dante’s grip on her hand and his condition forced her to calm her more feral nature. She looked at Largros and made a very slow nod. The Tasker walked over to pick up a chair from the side of the room and sat it on Dante’s free side. He sat down and placed his hands on the table and closed his eyes. He knew what this was about and he accepted it.

Just as he held Inea’s hand, Dante reached to take Largros’. There was a darker, richer taste to the energy that came from Largros. All it would take was a small bit of contact. So the incubus leaned to press his cheek to Largros’ and took a deep breath as it rushed over him. All that he drew from him was the intense energy that fed the younger dragons anger, but that was enough.

This was an interesting twist. Gabriel felt like the odd man out or at the very least like some pervert at a peep show. It made him uncomfortable and he even looked away thinking this was going to go even more private or at least it should have been private. He would have left the room except he couldn’t without drawing attention.

Dante’s eyes gave that soft ruby glow again and he let both hands go long enough to scratch three demonic runes into the table. Dante’s skin shifted color to his natural bluish gray as he pushed the newly acquired energy into the runes to activate them. The ruby glow dulled again as he took both hands once more.

Largros knew that Inea had been tested since her kindred had been gone, and since he didn’t actually have a kindred, he didn’t mind allowing a flow of energy to commence.  He placed his elbow on the table and put his head into his palm so he could relax. ~ Take what you need. I’ll be fine. ~

Dante wasn’t letting either dragon go and that was made clear as he looked at Gabriel Kennedy and spoke, “Now we may proceed.”

“I need to know everything to present a strong case.” Gabriel would say he was surprised, but very little surprised him these days. Though if he recalled correctly, Largros was dating his youngest cousin Isabel. The fact that he might also be getting tangled in the sheets with the demon did not please him. Gabriel kept that to himself though.

“Mira, Ash, and I went to get Derek to help keep the businesses straight and flowing. We’ve also been looking into possible other culprits. Skinner has been looking into both your own past and Senias’ past for years now.” Inea wanted to put all of the cards on the table, so to speak.   

“It’s alright,  tell Mira it’s good that she has Derek to help her out. He knows more than most give him credit for. Plus she has you.” Dante responded to Inea first. He then looked at the Councilor who looked as if he were ready to call an end to the meeting already.

Dante chuckled low, “Out of your comfort zone Councilor. You really are uptight. You should relax more and enjoy life.”

“I enjoy my life just fine within my comfort zone, thank you.” Gabriel withdrew the file from his briefcase and opened it on the table. “To business shall we?”

“I’ve already told you mine and I can only relate a few other things. I’m not sure if these things have anything to do with Dante’s case. They simply are,” Inea topped her lip with her free hand which now was holding her chin as she felt a bit more energy and was more relaxed with her connection re-established.  

“Go on,” Gabe encouraged.

“They’re interesting facts that I was unaware of surrounding Crimson and the director of the organization.”

“And I want to hear them, but I really need to find out about the transference of information over to the demon lord. This would be easier if I had Mira here with you two.” Gabriel rubbed the bridge of his nose in frustration.

“Well, I know having Mira here would be best, but I believe she wanted to help Dante by having another meeting with him. Two times out of lock-up is better than one?” Inea pointed out. She and the others waited for Gabriel to begin asking questions as he had begun before.

“What can you tell me about this woman?” Gabriel asked as he tapped the picture of their contact at the vineyard.

Inea didn’t recognize her. The other dragon was equally unaware of who she was.  

“And I believe Gabe was asking about Mira and France?” Largros prompted.

“Right,” Dante relaxed in his chair, “Mira hasn’t been there in the past two years that I’m aware of. She had an underground club, but she closed the doors almost three years ago. As to the woman,” he chuckled and gave that half grin of his that spoke of nothing but trouble, “Mira and I shared her as a lover for five years. She tended bar at Mira’s club when we were together. When we left France for good we cut ties with her. She wanted more than we wanted to give.”

“And the Councilor?” Gabriel asked.

Dante looked at Inea to let her know he was being very patient with this delving into his affairs before looking back at the Councilor to answer.

“I knew he was in contact with my sire, but it wasn’t through me. Look,” Dante readjusted himself a bit in his seat, “let me be honest with you, my sister is in contact with my father more often than I am. I do know that even though he’s been banished for all of these years that doesn’t mean he’s stayed over there. He has ways around his banishment and that is what you should be looking at Councilor.”

Gabriel’s voice was lowered just in case the wards weren’t strong enough, “You mean Darius doesn’t need messengers?”

Largros turned to watch Dante’s response. He wasn’t very skilled in planar travel, so he wasn’t sure about it either.  

~ I thought you said he was smart. ~ Dante spoke to his dragoness as he watched the Councilor piece it all together.

~ He doesn’t like to meddle in magic, so the ins and outs of planar travel are obviously not something he’d be able to pull out of his ass, my dear. ~ Inea pointed out. She rested her head on her long arm, which was now stretched across the table. Her eyes fluttered as she rested for the first time since they had left the lycan packlands on the other side.  

“What we dragons have to go through for our human bodies is a form of a possession.” Inea offered. “We find a human who is weak of brain and we hide our true forms somewhere safe, surrounded by magical energy. Then, we transfer our soul and mind into the living vessel. Perhaps he’s doing something like we do.”  

“Inea’s correct; it is a type of possession. But for him to take possession the human has to be magical in some fashion. In most cases they don’t even realize they have magic capabilities.”  Dante licked his newly healed lip and rose to his feet to pace just behind the two seated dragons. “He’s been leading the hunters on a merry chase for more decades than I can recall. They know what he’s capable, they just can’t catch him at it.”

“How can we reach him?” Gabriel inquired.

Stopping behind the two seated, Dante clasped his hands on the backs of their chairs as he leaned between them.

“Well with how easily you used his given name I’d assumed you already knew that. Perhaps you should ask your own dragon that particular question.”

Gabriel could already feel the headache coming on. This case was not easy by any means.

“Why don’t you just tell me and make this easier on us all?” He really did not want to talk to Senias about this.

“Honeymoon already over then?” Dante couldn’t help but tease the man a little given his own situation at present.

“I doubt it’s even gotten to begin,” Inea whispered.

Straightening up in his chair Gabriel adjusted the file and tapped his finger on it.

“This meeting is about you, not me. So again, how do we contact your father?” The demon had struck a nerve and it showed by how Gabriel’s attitude quickly changed towards him.

“In your case, you don’t. I’m sure my sister has already done so, though. You’ll be seeing him soon enough I’m sure.” Not that Dante cared to have his sire involved in his business.

“Oh, don’t play with him, lover,” Inea slowly sat up. “Just because Mira has contacted your father, doesn’t mean he’s going to be here at a specific time or place or that Gabriel will get the chance to see him. And we need to prepare your case.”  She knew Mira never actually talked to the man, she just knew the number for getting a message to him. Even Darius was cautious of giving Mira too much information.

~ You’ve often told me that he refuses to help you immediately, forcing you to do things you’d rather not. Don’t make it come to that. If nothing else, give me something I can use to help get into immediate contact with him so we can set up a meeting. ~

Dante huffed but removed a small stone amulet that hung from a cord around his neck. It wasn’t the most attractive looking chunk of onyx, but it didn’t have to be. There was no magical resonance on it and so the keepers had left it on him.

“If you need him that badly use it. I’d suggest waiting until it is necessary. He’s an even bigger asshole on his best days than I am.” He placed the piece into Inea’s hand and whispered into her mind the activation words, ~Veni ad me Darius.~ which was Latin for come to me Darius. His father had a flare for the old languages when it suited him. They were lucky it wasn’t Ancient Hebrew just to piss off the old religions.

The guard knocked hard on the door to let them know they had only a few more minutes.  

Glancing at his watch Gabriel started placing things back in his briefcase. “Alright so we have some more to work on, but didn’t you say you had something else to add Inea?”

 “Oh, that?” Inea nodded. She’d forgotten to explain what else she had found out on the other side. “The dragons of Iona are aware of a secondary set of rules about what they can and can’t get away with from Crimson. It’s kind of how they get a lot of their servants and fighters.”

“What do you mean? What secondary set of rules?” Gabriel didn’t like the sound of this. It wasn’t enough dealing with the demons, but now he was going to have to deal more dragon mess. Would it never end?

“She’s talking about the slave trade.” Dante wasn’t sure why she was bringing this up, but he’d let her explain.

“I’m talking about a possible connection,” Inea looked to Dante and let go of his hand, “Sorry, but I need my mind on this right now, and I can’t think well with our connection so strong,” She ghosted a kiss upon his lips as she rose to get up and move in the small room.  “Jean-Michel said he thought Skinner was to blame – before Sebastian shooed me away. Damned vampire hates me. Anyway, I remember you also saying that this was a setup, maybe? At the portal… or you at least were as surprised as we were…”

“He was. He had no idea what was happening, neither did … Raudine,” Largos almost slipped, he was actually tired, now that Dante had been taking from his energy.  “And both of you were mad as hell, too.”

“Right, sweetie,” He might’ve forgotten the runes. She smirked and patted the other dragon’s shoulder as she paced on by.

“What I’m saying is, Skinner set you up, but why?” she looked at Gabriel.  

“And Skinner set you up, using him. Why?” She looked at Dante.

All three of the men at the table looked to Inea, wondering what she was getting at, beyond Skinner was an asshole who had it in for them all. Well – except Largros. He was just wondering when he could go take a nap.

“So if there’s any place that underhanded things are afoot, it is in Iona. Skinner and the Crimson that are stationed there place higher tariffs on trade goods, especially when the dragons need them to look another direction. And if the dragons or others want to have dealings with the other side and try to circumvent Skinner and the Crimson Agents he chooses for Iona – they end up missing. Some who have crossed Crimson Agents under direct command from Skinner have found themselves in this world with no means of defense. Here, we are black listed. here we can be killed and no one cares. But there’s no way Skinner has that kind of power. Not on his own, not against a dragon or worse a dragon mage. It’s all very mafia-like, don’t you think?” Inea looked between both of them.  “Like replacing people in high offices with doppelgangers?”

“Tal’Seca..” Gabriel spoke the name of the sect that he’d been hearing about and watched Dante and Inea’s  reactions.

Dante went still and actually shh’d Gabriel. “You are to loose with tossing around names Mr. Kennedy.”

“If they have the demons and dragons out of their way, that leaves them with very little in their way in the form of competition. And since you Mr. Kennedy, helped foil their plans last time – taking you out of the way would also be great, right? A bonus?”  

Gabriel’s eyes lit up as he took this information in. “So you agree Inea it could be tied to them? Tell me that I’m not crazy and that all of you see the connections too.”

“Yes the connection is there but you should be careful voicing this out loud. You do not want their attention right now while you are defenseless and do not quite understand what you are up against.” Dante heard the guards coming and pulled Inea into a tight embrace for one more soul searing kiss. He poured energy into her and used the last dregs to remove the wards from the table with a swipe of his hand. ~ Let him speak nothing of the sect when you leave here. They have eyes and ears everywhere and he will suffer for even speaking it’s name. Call my father and use him. He owes me that much. ~

Dante and Inea had to be physically separated by the guards. One looked at Largros as if he should be helping. Largros shrugged.  “Not my job. not really.” He got up and re-buttoned his coat. 

~ I will be sure. I owe the younger generation of Kennedy’s that much, I suppose. And if he’s your best chance at getting free, definitely. ~ Inea bit her bottom lip as they placed the magic numbing manacles back on her kindred. The jolt of immediate nothingness was horrible, but she refused to show it to the guards.  

The door opened and Dante stepped back as the guard held the restraints out. “Soon I’ll be home to drive you mad.” The injuries were visible again as he didn’t want his keepers to know he’d been healed by his visitors. “Take care of my lady and see that she rests proper.” Dante winked at Inea even as he felt that hollow sensation settle over him again. It was excruciatingly painful to him to be cut off again, but he didn’t let on as he grinned for the trio while being led away.


~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018