It’s release day!!! The Devil Will Care is out today, and I was just about to write it’s the first story of the year, but it’s the second 😱 Time moves too fast for me to keep track of things.
I wrote this for World Nutella Day, which is tomorrow, so we have Nutella, we have aliens who look like the devil, a human with a supernatural ability to steal life, and they’re all trapped in prison. It’s a fated mate story, so when Khaal the devil sees Azrail the life stealer, it’s love at first sight. The same can’t be said for Azrail. Humans don’t have fated mates, so he needs some time to adjust.
I don’t want to call this story pure silliness, but it’s not exactly serious. I mean devils and Nutella… 😆
Below you can read the first chapter, so grab a cup of coffee and set in to get to know Azrail and Khaal!
The Devil Will Care
What would you do if the devil claimed you were his destined mate?
Khaal Lupehell isn’t really the devil, but he’s a red-skinned, horn-wearing, tail-waving, eight feet tall alien who claims Azrail Crow is his mate. For eight months, Azrail has been in an intergalactic prison, and for the most part, he’s managed to keep his head down and melt into the interior. That all changes when he runs into Khaal.
Khaal has to get out of prison. He’d planned to escape even before he met Azrail, but now he has to find a way out. He can’t live with his mate in a prison cell. It’s out of the question. So he’ll steal a ship, take Azrail, and they’ll run for their lives. It’ll work out fine. Hopefully.
Azrail has read stories about destined mates, but surely it can’t apply to him. He’s human, and humans don’t have mates. But when Khaal talks about escaping, Azrail wants to come with him. Being mated to the devil can’t be worse than being locked up in prison, can it?
Paranormal Gay Romance: 35,225 words
JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/TheDevilWillCare
Azrail Crow crouched low and pressed his back against the dented metal of the wall. His lungs were screaming for air, but he didn’t dare breathe. Around the corner was a creature. He didn’t know what kind. Despite having spent eight months in the bowels of Nix, a moon turned into an intergalactic prison camp, he had no idea what those around him were. Aliens, obviously, but where had they come from?
Everyone knew there were aliens. There were even humans on colonies in space since Earth was becoming a dangerous place to be—not as dangerous as to be in space, but people on Earth were insane. Yet Azrail had always deemed it best to stay put. You never knew where you’d end up once you boarded a space vessel. There were terminals, big floating cities in space where people of different species interacted and traded, but Azrail had never believed he’d be up close and personal with an alien. Earth was a nice place—at least, parts of Earth, and he’d never voluntarily leave. But things didn’t always go as you planned.
“Hey, death bringer, get a move on.”
Azrail jumped at Dot’s hiss. She looked like a goth chick, but he suspected she was a demon—not really. She’d arrived from Earth with him, and they’d managed to snag a cell they shared, only the two of them. Some cells were crowded, and some scary creatures lived alone. Prison hierarchy and all that. He did his best to keep quiet and not be noticed.
He shook his head at her and held his forefinger to his lips.
“It’s a squid.”
Some tension bled out of him and he breathed. The ones Dot called squids had some weird tentacle thing going on in their faces, and Azrail believed they were deaf. They never reacted to the sirens, and he’d seen other creatures call them more than once without getting any kind of response.
“They might have an excellent sense of smell.”
“They might.” Dot curled into a ball next to him. “But then we’d been screwed already.” She straightened and tried to look around the corner, but Azrail pushed her back.
“We don’t have much time.” She tried to crawl forward.
He nodded. Their section of the prison was let out of the cages for some time every day. Some were never let out, some were let out once a week, but they were let out every day. The difference between being locked in a cell and locked in the building wasn’t huge, but they had a bigger area to move around in, and—and this was important—they could walk right up to the kitchen.
It was always guarded, and they weren’t allowed to be there, but today he was crouching against the wall inside the kitchen. He hoped they wouldn’t cook him if they found him here.
The lock siren would sound soon, and if they weren’t in their cell then, they’d be in deep shit. “Maybe we should head back.”
“No. I watched them unpack yesterday.”
He glared at her. “If they catch us, I’m stealing your life essence to save myself.”
She grinned. He’d told Dot he was a life stealer the moment they stepped off the spaceship, but while she called him a lot of creative names connected with life and death, she didn’t believe him. He didn’t want to steal someone’s life to prove a point, and most people avoided life stealers at all cost, so it might be for the best if she believed he was joking.
“You could try it, death cheater, but you know they’d behead you.”
He nodded. They would try, but he was pretty sure they didn’t have a clue what he was. If they had, he’d be in solitary confinement. He’d never understood why he wasn’t. He’d been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in isolation. They must have messed up the paperwork. Maybe some poor chap was locked up in a tiny cage instead of him.
While it would suck for the poor soul, he wasn’t complaining. They might be surrounded by aliens, but he’d rather watch bug-like creatures shuffle around than spend the rest of his life in a windowless room.
“I don’t know, Dot.” He glanced around the corner and spotted the squid on the other side of the room. “Maybe we should head back and try again tomorrow.”
“Human food, Azrail. Nutella. There were two boxes of Nutella, and if I don’t get something chocolaty soon, I’ll turn you into a toad.”
She might be able to. While he’d tried to be clear about what he was, she’d never told him about herself in return. Considering her make-up and clothes changed every day—and they weren’t allowed any personal possessions—he was sure she was a magic user of some kind. He didn’t care what she was. She was human enough, and she was his partner in this hellhole. A hellhole they’d be trapped in forever.
Melancholy pressed down on him. Life stealers could live forever if they wanted to. All he had to do was to steal life from someone else. Easy-peasy. He’d done it before, though not for the purpose of prolonging his life. Nope, he only wanted to kill the bastard, and there was no one else around to give it to, so he’d consumed it.
He’d been buzzing with life energy for days after.
Taking a deep breath, he focused on the squid again. “Are you sure you saw Nutella? We’ve never been given Nutella before.” They were almost never served anything from Earth.
“I know what I saw. It was two boxes, so not enough for the prisoners.”
Azrail narrowed his eyes. “The guards are getting Nutella?”
She shrugged. “I wonder what else they’re getting.”
The squid turned the corner. Azrail didn’t know what was around the corner. More cells were his guess, but he’d never gone there. “Now.”
They ran in a crouch. Azrail’s legs were protesting and he feared he’d stumble, but he pushed on. The door to the storage or whatever it was came closer and closer.
He reached for the door handle and tried to open it, but it was locked. “Fuck.”
“Step back.” Dot’s eyes had an unnatural glow, and soon smoke was wafting from the lock.
“Dammit, Dot, don’t set off the fire alarm.” Though it was pretty cool that she could get metal to fume.
Tiny droplets of sweat formed on her upper lip right as the deadbolt melted, and she heaved a sigh. “I hate doing that.” She opened the door, and they stepped into a large storage room with shelves from top to bottom. There were boxes and bottles. Azrail had no idea what they were. Probably alien food.
“Here!” Dot hurried into the room, but it looked like each step hurt her. She motioned to a shelf with several boxes with brands he recognized.
“Oh, shit, human food.” His mouth watered as his gaze landed on a bag of apples. There was only one bag, clearly not meant for the prisoners. They never got fresh food. They were fed three times a day, so they shouldn’t complain, but he’d kill for a salad.
Had he not lived with Dot, he wouldn’t have known for how long he’d been here, but she kept track of the days. He assumed all women did. She never asked the guards for feminine products, but he’d seen others do. She could change her clothes every day without having any, so he assumed she’d be able to provide herself with whatever she needed. Or maybe she could control her body? Magic users could do all kinds of things. He glanced at her.
“What?” She glared.
“Nothing. We need to get a move on.” How would they carry anything to their cell without getting caught? He grabbed an apple and put it in his pocket. If he only could have one thing, an apple would be what he picked.
Dot ripped open a box of Nutella and swayed. Azrail caught her. “Are you okay?”
“I’m not good with melting metal. It takes too much energy.” Since she hadn’t shoved Azrail away yet, she must be wiped.
“Shit, why didn’t you say?”
“I’m good at blowing things up or burning things down, but not fine-tuned things, and metal is hard.”
He would have guessed fine-tuned things were right up her alley considering what she did with her appearance every day. “Pyrokinesis?”
She nodded. “And a few other skills, but I’m not strong.”
He’d have argued, but the lock had been hard on her, and they needed to get out of there. He grabbed a jar of Nutella and tried to push it into his pocket. It didn’t fit, so he put it in his underwear instead.
“Eww. I want to eat that.”
“It’s in a jar. If you can fit it anywhere on you, please do, because I don’t know how I’ll be able to stroll back to our room without anyone noticing this.” He motioned at his crotch where the jar and apple pushed against the fabric.
Dot giggled. “Maybe you’re happy to see me?”
“I’ll go first, and you go right behind me.”
Touch wasn’t allowed in the corridors, but maybe they could get away with Azrail shadowing her. “Okay, let’s go. The siren will ring any minute.”
She nodded and turned around, but right as they got moving, the door was kicked in with an earsplitting bang. Without thinking, Azrail grabbed hold of the creature’s life force, the warm glow much stronger than a human’s, but Azrail took it into himself. He was gonna explode from it. Fear rose in him. When did it end? How much life could one creature have?
Without thinking, he grabbed Dot’s shoulders and shoved the power into her. It burned and fizzled. Azrail saw white light as if he was sending lightning bolts into her. She yelped, and he tried to remove his hands, tried to prevent himself from harming her.
“Damn, that’s… something.”
She didn’t sound as if she was in pain.
“Move.” Azrail’s vision changed. Everything took a red tint, and he feared his eyes were bleeding.
Dot didn’t move. She stood frozen and stared at the devil—red skin, horns, and a tail—who’d fallen to its knees on the floor. Azrail had never seen anything like it, but it was similar to the tattoos covering most of his own body.
There was a devil in Nix.
“Dot.” The life energy was still pouring into him, and he had to stop it, but he wanted out of the storage room before he let go of the hold. “Dot!” He shook her shoulder.
“Holy shit. You are a life stealer?” Her laugh had a hysteric ring to it.
“Get a move on or we’ll drown in it.”
“Dot!” The desperation in his tone yanked her back from the euphoric state she was in. She curled her fingers around his wrist and moved. As they neared the devil—what if it was The Devil for real?—she kicked him in the chest, and he tumbled into the wall with a snarl. Sharp canines, Azrail noted, both in the upper and lower jaw.
“Fuck.” Dot yanked at him, and they ran toward the door, but right as they made it past the devil, their tail wrapped around Azrail. He would have fallen to the floor if Dot hadn’t caught him. Flames erupted on the tail and the devil released the grip with a howl.
“For fuck’s sake, Dot!” He pushed her forward, hoping the fire would die out if they weren’t close to it. They made it out through the door, and luckily, the area outside was empty. The squid must not have heard the devil kick the door in. Stupid thing.
“Was that a guard?” Azrail slowed his steps as they rounded the corner back to their corridor. Before Dot could reply, the siren forcing everyone back into the cells shook the building.
“No idea. I’ve never seen anyone like them before.”
Azrail hadn’t either. Red skin and horns, for fuck’s sake. Curled horns like a… goat. “Jesus.”
“Pretty sure he wasn’t Jesus, more like his opposite. My God, Azrail, you sucked a demon dry.”
He snorted, but a sense of doom engulfed him. “I didn’t suck him dry. He had plenty left. Was it a he?”
She shrugged and headed for the door to their cell. “Keep your gaze down. Your eyes are weird.”
Shit. “Weird how?”
“They’re not bleeding, are they?” They didn’t hurt. Maybe he was suffering a hemorrhage in his brain but walking through it because he was buzzing with stolen life force.
“Your irises are red. Creepy as fuck, but maybe they won’t notice. They have red demons running around, so what’s a pair of red eyes?” She shrugged and stepped into their cell. It was empty, which had Azrail breathing a sigh of relief. The guards made sure nothing happened out in the open, but what went down in the cells was most often ignored. Though he suspected if he had dropped a devil to his knees, and Dot then set fire to him, the guards would come running.
The grid door slid closed, and Azrail sank down on the thin mattress on the concrete-like floor. “Shit. Do you think we’ll get in trouble now?”
He shivered. The cell had turned really cold these last few days.
“Considering you outed yourself as a life stealer, broke into the storage, stole food, and nearly killed a demon? Maybe.” She sat next to him. “Now, give me the jar.”
“Can you keep the door locked so no one can come in?”
“No, but I can burn them. Seriously, Azrail, you don’t need me for protection. I was sure you were joking when you claimed you were a life stealer. How are you allowed to walk around among the rest of us?”
He grimaced. He trusted Dot, but what if he was wrong in doing so? What if she’d tell the guards?
“They don’t know, do they?”
“It’s in my file. I was sentenced to life in isolation, but when I got here, they let me out along with the rest of you.”
She shook her head. “I stuck close to you because you looked least dangerous.” Her laugh was a bit frantic. “I thought you were pretty cute. Those dimples work in your favor.” He smiled at her. “And I didn’t get any creep vibes, so I figured you might not rape me.”
Azrail winced. He wouldn’t, but throwing men and women in together was insane. It wasn’t the sanest people vacationing in facilities like this. He was pretty sure no one ever got out. The travel time was long, and they shipped them out here to get rid of them, so the chance of anyone ever leaving was slim to none.
“I didn’t realize you were the most dangerous person here.”
He shook his head. “I don’t think I am. The energy I took from the devil was more than what ten humans have. I’ve always believed I can suck this place dry if I want to, but now I’m not so sure.”
She watched him with an expression he’d never seen before—fear. She’d been sad, she’d been worried, she’d been angry, but he’d never seen fear.
“I won’t let anything happen to you. You know that, right?”
“You flooded me with life, Az. I could feel the buzz. All my aches and pains are gone.”
“You have aches and pains?” Life stealers had a bad reputation, rightly so. Being high on life created a buzz, and too many got used to the feeling. But they hadn’t always been shunned. Azrail had never healed anyone since no one allowed him to get close to them, but technically he could. He wasn’t sure how, but considering he’d directed the devil’s life into Dot, he had a pretty good idea. He’d never done it before. One human’s life was enough to fit inside of him, and so far, his reputation aside, he’d only ever stolen one life. And it had given him a one-way ticket to Nix.
“I need living things. Nature, not people, to use my powers.”
Azrail frowned. “You use your powers every day.”
She scrunched her nose. “I don’t create anything new. All these clothes are in my wardrobe back home. I connect with my sister and together we move them through time and space.”
“What? I’ve never seen you do anything. When you get out of bed in the morning, you’re wearing a new outfit.”
She shrugged. “It’s her skill, not mine. Had I been back home, I could’ve changed my appearance, but it takes effort. Here I can’t, but I refuse to wear prison clothes.”
Azrail nodded. He didn’t understand what she did, but it didn’t matter. He unscrewed the lid of the Nutella jar, pushed it down between them, and dipped his pinkie into the brown cream. Dot followed his example, and they exchanged a look before they put the Nutella into their mouths.
Groaning, Azrail sucked his finger and looked toward the door. There, right outside, stood the devil. A squid guard was holding their arm but didn’t appear to be in any hurry to shove the devil along.
“Oh, shit.” Dot’s whisper was hardly audible, and Azrail prayed the jar wasn’t visible from where they were standing.
The devil growled and threw themselves at the bars of their cell. Azrail sucked in a breath but didn’t dare let the air out until more guards came and dragged the devil away.
* * * *
Khaal Lupehell glared as the guards shoved Chavir Congod, his mechanic, into the cell. He waited until they walked out and the door slid shut and locked. When the footfalls of the guards died away, he turned to Chavir.
“What the fuck?”
When he didn’t reply, Khaal frowned. He was pale, and when he slid down on the mattress, it looked more like he collapsed than made a conscious decision to sit.
“What happened?” Had the guards done something? Tortured him for information? If they knew about the plan, they were screwed.
Yilea Angelen, his second in command, pushed up from where she’d been lying on her mattress. “Chavir?”
“I don’t see any food. Did you get caught?”
“No.” Chavir peeled his lips back and showed his fangs.
“No? Those were your friends helping you back?”
Khaal was prepared to interrupt but waited. Chavir and Yilea were cousins but fought like siblings.
“I got into the storage, but two earthlings were there.”
Earthlings were weak beings. Khaal had been amused when he’d first realized they, too, were sent to this facility. Earthlings were an approved race by the Allied Species Federation (ASF). Khaal believed most of the species sent here were. Dogron wasn’t, but luckily they’d installed the ASF language chip anyway. Not that he spoke to anyone but his crewmates, but sometimes it was good to understand what the creatures around you were saying.
He’d hoped there would be earthling guards, but he’d never seen any.
“And they kicked your ass?”
Chavir snarled. “No, they were there stealing food. When I entered, they… did something. I died.”
Yilea rolled her eyes. Her tail flicked back and forth in annoyance. “Of course, they did. Earthlings normally kill Dogron on sight. It’s the outcome every time.” Sarcasm was dripping from her words. “And instead of eating them like normal folk, you allowed the guards to get you?”
Before Chavir could answer, Khaal cut in. “So you didn’t get any provisions?” His tone grew sharper with each word. Khaal was the leader of their diminished band of marauders, and since there was only three of them left, he’d tried to be democratic. It was a mistake. Democracy never got the results he needed.
His idea was they’d go together. They’d steal and hide whatever they could in their cell, and when the time was right, they’d commandeer a ship. Chavir suggested he’d go alone since they never left their cell, and three Dogron walking the corridors when they never did otherwise would raise suspicion.
He had a point, and Khaal wasn’t keen on leaving the cell unguarded. It was next to the port, and they’d had an ongoing battle with those who’d lived there before them. It had almost lost him his tail, and he had the scars to prove it. Nasty teeth, like some prehistorical water-dwelling creature. Khaal didn’t like water. There was no way to know what was lurking under the surface. He shuddered.
Taking the cell had been the first step of the plan, and he didn’t want to risk losing it now when it was theirs.
The next step was to learn the schedule of all flights, and they needed to make sure they had enough food to get to a trading post. Since they had no idea what the ships coming here were equipped with, Khaal wanted a lot of food.
“No, they almost killed me and then the siren sounded and…”
“And the guards caught you. Cephalopods?”
Cephalopods were deaf. Khaal was surprised they allowed any of them to work as guards. They had excellent vision. But was it enough to compensate for their lack of hearing? It didn’t matter. Having cephalopods as guards would work in their favor. Maybe. They were strong and could be quick when they needed to be.
Chavir scowled at Yilea. “There were others too.”
“I know where they live.”
“The cephalopods?” Khaal scratched the skin behind his right horn. Fighting with the guards wasn’t good, and he wouldn’t allow it, not unless they could get keys or something else invaluable.
“I think they call themselves humans.” Khaal crossed his arms over his chest.
“No, not humans. Hamens?” Chavir frowned. “Humans sounds wrong.”
Yilea threw herself back on the mattress with a groan. “It’s not hamens.”
“Homans then.” Chavir nodded as if they’d come to an agreement. “Remember when we raided one of their ships? They have good food.”
Khaal nodded. They did have good food. “What were they stealing?”
“I don’t think they stole anything. They were tradesmen.”
“I mean the earthlings who beat you.” He silently begged for patience.
“They didn’t beat me. The female kicked me and burned me.”
Khaal took a calming breath. “She burned you?”
“Yes, but only for a second, then… I don’t know. It stopped.” He looked at his tail. There was a small injury, but Khaal couldn’t say for sure it was a burn wound. Though why would Chavir lie about it?
Maybe he’d hit his head or fallen asleep and the guards had found him.
“I’m gonna kill them.”
Khaal waited for the patience to arrive. He had begged after all. No one ever got out of prisons like this one, so murdering someone wouldn’t make a difference in the length of the sentence, but there was always isolation. Chavir was like a brother to him, and he didn’t want to have to leave without him because he’d had himself thrown in a cage—a smaller, more remote cage than they already were.
“I don’t know if it’s a good idea. We have to be ready to get out of here. Which means we have to get food, not play with humans.”
Khaal growled. “You will not attack the earthlings.”
“You can’t take away my right to revenge.”
“What is there to revenge? You’re unharmed!”
“I’m not! They stole something from me.”
Khaal straightened his back, his tails swishing through the air. If they stole something, they’d get it back. Chavir must have taken food, and the humans had ganged up on him. Normally, it would take ten humans to stand a chance, but maybe they’d caught him unaware. He nodded. “Okay, we’ll get it back.”
Chavir nodded. “We’ll go over there when the door opens before they can go into the open area, and we’ll get them.”
“How much is it to carry and how will we get it here without getting caught? Maybe it’s better to have them carry it here, then if the guards see us, they’re the ones who’ll get thrown in isolation.”
Chavir didn’t meet his gaze, which made Khaal glance at Yilea. She shrugged and Khaal went to his mattress. They needed more mattresses. When they’d taken over the cell, there had only been two, and since no one wanted to share, they’d taken one more from another cell where the inhabitants were of some small species Khaal hadn’t seen before. They needed more, though. His back hurt, and his feet drooped over the mattress to the floor when he slept since everything in this place was built for tiny creatures.
* * * *
The moment the cell door slid open, Chavir was out in the corridor. Khaal didn’t like how unsteady he was. It had been a day since the guards had brought him to the cell, and he was still pale and weak. They must have done something to him.
“It’s this way.”
People, creatures, aliens, whatever he was supposed to call them, were spilling out of the cells but quickly stepped back in as they noticed them move through the corridor. Yilea had stayed behind to guard the cell. It would be more important to keep the cell once they’d filled it with food.
“Over here in the other wing.” Chavir took a turn before they reached the kitchen. He lengthened his steps, and Khaal had to hurry to keep up.
“Here.” He grabbed the bar closest to the open gap where the door had slid back and snarled as he stepped into the cell.
On a mattress on the floor sat two tiny earthlings with paint and patterns on their skin. Khaal had seen humans before, but he hadn’t understood why they decorated themselves. It could be a tribal tradition or a sign of status, he wasn’t sure.
Heat erupted in his chest, an invisible fist squeezing his heart.
The female hissed, but the male put his hand on hers, which had Khaal snarling. He should not be touching her. He should only touch Khaal. He was Khaal’s. He snarled again since words failed him. Chavir reached for his human, but Khaal stopped his hand with his tail. He didn’t want to touch Chavir more than he had to. It was the wrong touch. He needed the human. Had to have the human. “Mine.”
“You promised me revenge.”
Khaal punched him in the gut. “You’re not touching him. He’s mine.”
Chavir hit him back, a fist connecting with his jaw, making him see stars. After that, it was a flurry of fists and kicks, and Khaal managed to trip Chavir with his tail.
He didn’t know how long the commotion lasted, but strong hands soon pulled him out into the corridor. Few species were stronger than the Dogron, and since Khaal couldn’t free himself, he assumed there was at least one Hominidae or similar working as a guard. He was slammed into the metal wall opposite the cell his mate was in and took a deep, calming breath. Chavir soon followed. He glared at Khaal. Blood was trickling from the corner of his mouth and his eye was swelling.
Khaal snarled. “He’s mine.”
“No, I have the right to revenge.” Chavir spat, which earned him an extra shove from the guard.
“He is mine.” Khaal shook with the effort not to try to get to Chavir again. He was threatening his mate, and Khaal had every intention of taking him out. Before he could, motion behind the guards caught his attention.
His mate was tiny. Not as tiny as the painted female, but tiny all the same.
“Can we go?” His voice sent tingles down Khaal’s spine, and he groaned. He wanted him speaking softly against his skin, telling him secrets, and making naughty suggestions in the dark. Now he was addressing the guard, though, and Khaal’s groan got replaced by a growl. He shouldn’t be talking to anyone but him. He realized it wasn’t rational thinking, but it didn’t matter.
The guard nodded.
“Could you lock the cell, so they don’t come in while we’re in the common room?”
The guard didn’t reply but the sound of the cell door sliding into place sounded, which made Khaal realize there were more guards than the two holding him and Chavir to the wall. Fuck.
“Thank you.” His mate nodded at the guard and took a step to walk away. Desperation clawed at Khaal. He couldn’t leave. They were meant to be together forever. How could he abandon him? Without thinking, he reached for him with his tail. For a second, the tip brushed against his hand, then a stinging burn grew on his ass. Khaal screamed, and the female blinked one eye at him as she grabbed his mate and pulled him away through the corridor. Damn, it hurt. He tried looking over his shoulder and his trousers were burned. How the hell did that happen?
“Will you walk back to your cell without a fight, or do we have to throw you in confinement?” Khaal had no idea what species the creature talking to him was, but while they were shorter than Khaal, they looked strong.
“We’ll go back.”
The creature nodded. “We’ll escort you.”
Damn. He wanted to search for his mate. He needed his mate.
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Happy Release Day! ❤️
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