Princess of Lust
For the Love of Evil, Book 2
Heat Level: Erotic F/F, M/F, M/M/F
Paranormal Erotic Romance
Editor: Rie Langdon
The drums of war are beating in both Heaven and Hell and only the love of a half-demon Princess, Natalia, can stop the oncoming slaughter. Unfortunately, Princess Natalia has her hands full trying to keep her human concubine from killing her demon lovers, in addition to learning how to survive the deadly pleasures and politics of the Court of Lust.
With the abuse of opium increasing in the mortal world, High Prince Belal, ruler of the Deadly Sin Sloth, is gaining power by the day and threatens to soon rule all of Hell. In a desperate attempt to curb Belal’s powers, Natalia is sent to mortal earth to stop what has been prophesied to be a major turning point in the war. Cut off from her men in Hell, Natalia soon realizes that all is not as it seems.
What may have at first been a blessing has become a curse.
Nataila Shura, the half-demon princess of the High Court of Lust, stood beneath a large oak tree inside of a circle of protection with the children of the small village on the outskirts of her father’s territory in Hell. A light breeze penetrated the pychic shield around them, but nothing else got through without permission. The children, more than a dozen, sat on blankets and clutched each other or a favorite toy.
Natalia stroked the bright yellow braids of the little girl next to her, her gentle touch at odds with the fear that saturated the air like rain. Unlike a human’s blond, the little girl’s hair was indeed a true yellow, the color of dandelions in the summer sun. Apple green silk ribbons with anti-hex patterns stitched into the cloth were woven into her braids. More protective charms were embellished into the fabric of the little girl’s dress and Natalia could feel their power humming against her skin. All the children wore similar charms and spells of protection put on them by parents desperate to keep them safe. Natalia couldn’t blame the little girl’s mother for wanting to do everything she could to protect her child during these terrible times in Hell.
All around them, the adult devils of the village raced about at a frantic pace, trying to save everything they could from the approaching Chaos. Or more correctly, from the approaching bubble of Chaos. Wagons stacked with household goods rumbled past and Natalia made sure all of her charges stayed within the confines of the circle. During an evacuation of another village last month, some children had been lost in the commotion, only to be found later, dead and partially eaten, in a flesh troll’s cave.
A rocking chair crashed off of one of the overloaded carts and no one stopped to pick it up. Natalia stared at the abandoned piece of furniture and noted the marks worn in the golden wood from the hands of countless generations stroking the arms of the chair as they rocked. The chair broke with a snap as a beast resembling a cross between a rhinoceros and a pig, lugging the heavy weight of the town’s anvil, stepped on it.
Hundreds of soldiers joined in the evacuation, the second one Natalia had to oversee this month. Each wore the royal crest of her father, Asmodeus, a High Prince of Hell and keeper of the deadly sin Lust. All across Hell, bubbles of Chaos were erupting, destroying everything in their path. The only chance she had at saving the villagers was to relocate them closer to the palace, Asmodeus’ seat of power.
The bubble of Chaos approaching this village now trembled on the edge of town, beginning to swallow an outlying barn. Natalia watched in horrified fascination as the darkness inched and ate away at the structure. Black was the only word her mind could come up with to describe it, but black wasn’t exactly right. The use of the word black would indicate something capable of reflecting a color, something with depth and substance. The bubbles were Chaos in its purest state, a mixture of the raw energies God used to create the universe.
Heaven, Hell, and all of the Universe had been formed by God out of Chaos, reshaped into everything around her, and held together by the will and strength of the High Princes and the King. Together they ruled Hell, each gaining power from the deadly sin they had been given charge of by God. That energy, in turn, allowed each to shape his portion of Hell into his image. As the balance of power shifted due to the rise of opium use in the mortal world, portions of Hell were reverting back to Chaos.
Everyone waited for Satan, the King of Hell, to end his seclusion and do something, anything, to stop the destruction.
One of the little boys moaned and wrapped his cream-colored scaled arms around himself. He—well he wasn’t really a he, but Natalia had had no better term for him—had human features for the most part, but his teeth and nails were long and curved. She knew from her studies about the different species of demons and devils that when he reached maturity, the cream scales would fall off and depending on what color his adult scales were, he would either become male or female.
“Easy. The princess won’t let anything happen to you,” Eline, her master of the guard said in a deep voice.
Dressed from head to toe in onyx-black armor, the golden script of Natalia’s name shone on his breastplate and shoulders. His long, black hair hung in a war braid down his broad back . That silken rope of hair could be used in battle to choke an opponent. He radiated menace, his pale white skin shimmering with hints of gray, as he constantly scanned their surroundings.
Normally, this deep in her father’s territory she wouldn’t have to worry about an attack, but as Chaos unmade her father’s realm into nothingness, and the assaults from High Prince Belal and his allies increased, it seemed as if nowhere was safe. Even groups of angels had begun to attack Hell in increasingly bold numbers.
Through it all, there had been no sign of King Satan.
A matronly devil with threads of ivory streaking through her yellow hair swung down from her loaded wagon as it stopped in front of the group of children.
“Mama!” The little girl in Natalia’s arms cried out and tried to go to her.
Natalia held her back and let Eline stand in front of them. The little girl made a noise of complaint, but they had gone through this with every family who came to retrieve a child. The girl didn’t try to break out of Natalia’s grasp.
Eline blocked the child’s view of the woman. “What is the name of your daughter’s favorite food?”
The little girl stood on her tiptoes and whispered into Natalia’s ear. “Kelpie pie.”
“Kelpie pie,” the frightened woman said at the same time.
Natalia led the little girl to the edge of the circle and passed her through the protective barrier. Once the little girl stood on the other side, the mother grabbed her with a soft sob and held her close while the little girl cried as well. The mother babbled thanks to Natalia as her husband shoved them into the wagon, with an anxious look over his shoulder toward the bubble of Chaos.
Eline pulled Natalia to his chest and she breathed in the scent of metal and male musk. Through their psychic bond, she could feel his concern and impatience.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he said for the fifteenth time in less than an hour.
She rested her cheek against the hard curve of metal that made up his breastplate and watched as her concubine, Gregor, directed a group of demons and devils in the removal of the town’s keystone. The stone consisted of a massive block of silver-chased black marble, installed by Asmodeus when the village had been founded after God had sent his Fallen Angels to Hell. It formed a protective barrier around the village, marking it as Asmodeus’s territory and warning the other high princes of Hell that these were his people. Now the earth groaned as the men lifted it from the ground with heavy steel bars—and magic.
Natalia detached herself from Eline’s arms when Raum, her father’s general and her lover, approached the edge of the protective circle with his lover and concubine, Kirin. Both men looked sweaty, dirty, and grim. Raum’s pale demonic skin, with its hint of shimmering turquoise blue was the same as ever, but his normally pristine white hair lay caked with grime where it had escaped its braid. Kirin sported the beginnings of a nice sunburn despite his swarthy skin and his black curls were plastered to his head with sweat.
Raum took a formal tone with her since they were in public. “Princess, it is time.”
She tried to move forward, but Eline blocked her and said to Raum, “What’s your favorite food?”
Raum’s lips twitched and a soft wave of energizing lust radiated from him. “Natalia.”
Eline snorted, but he let her pass through the wards of the circle and exchange places with Kirin. “We’ll stay here with the remaining children until the keystone binding is done.”
Behind him, Kirin sat cross-legged on the ground and children immediately clambered all over him as he laughed and began to sing them an ancient Greek marching tune.
Raum’s arms wrapped around Natalia’s body and she took a moment to stroke his back, both to reassure him and herself. The cinnamon smell coming off his skin marked him as a potential blood-bond mate and the dark part of her soul purred in contentment. A shout calling for her echoed through the village and she flinched. “I hate this.”
The bubble of Chaos hovered closer now. The barn that had marked its edge when she’d last looked had vanished. Now the trembling darkness crept up the porch of the farmhouse. A brilliant blue sky still arched above, but it seemed as if the bubble of chaos stretched impossibly high.
“I know,” Raum murmured in a low voice as they carefully made their way through piles of abandoned furniture and personal items.
The bulk of the villagers were gone and just a few desperate clusters remained, still trying to salvage what they could. Raw, emotional blasts of sorrow, rage, and defeat filled the air until Natalia could almost taste them, a bitter mixture on the back of her tongue.
Raum’s voice tightened with worry. “If there were any way I could do this for you, I would.”
Lifting the edge of her golden dragon-skin skirt, she stepped over a pile of discarded stuffed animals. While she would rather have been in work clothes, her men insisted that the people gained courage from her being their princess and that she had a duty to uphold the image of her station, even if she’d only recently learned that she was demonic royalty. “My father is meeting with ambassadors of the other high princes and I’m his only living child. We have no other choice.” She slowed her pace as they neared Gregor. His soul brushed against hers and she wanted nothing more than to run and throw herself into his arms. He was her concubine, bound by blood, and they shared a piece of each other’s souls.
Gregor’s normally deep red hair looked black, as it lay close to his skull with sweat. His shirt had been shed long ago, revealing a heavily muscled body built for fighting. He was something of a rarity in Hell, a human living among devils and demons. She paused and allowed her gaze to travel over him, letting him know she loved him and found him desirable. The jealousy Gregor felt over Raum sharing her bed continued to worsen and she didn’t know what to do to make it better. Monogamy was unheard of among the royal houses of Hell, and as a princess of Lust, Natalia gained her power from having multiple partners.
Gregor came from a family of Russian drug lords who moved massive amounts opium through the world for Belal. He had fallen in love with Natalia and paid the price, almost killed off by Belal’s minions before she’d rescued him. Now he lived in Hell as her beloved concubine and her father’s prisoner. Not an easy thing for a man used to ruling the world around him with an iron fist.
“My Mistress, I need you,” he said, and held out his hand. His dark, tilted eyes flashed with anger as he looked at Raum.
Raum tightened his grip and drew her into his arms for a kiss. His lips were hungry, demanding as he tasted her, but she could almost feel how he intended to annoy Gregor. Sure enough, rage and jealousy burned through the bond she shared with Gregor and she gently pushed Raum away. “For someone who is over two thousand years old, you sure act childish when you’re around Gregor.”
Shrugging, Raum didn’t even try to look sorry. “What can I say? He brings out the worst in me.”
The remaining villagers milled about and she tried to put the confusing mess that was her personal life to the back of her mind. Compared to the destruction happening all around them, her love life seemed positivly rosy. Well, maybe not rosy, but certainly not as terrible as the bubble of Chaos consuming their world…at least not yet. With a sigh, she stepped away from Gregor and tilted her head in the direction of the crowd.
“This is neither the time nor the place. While you two are growling over me like dogs fighting over a bone, these people are fighting for their lives.”
Both men looked chagrined and Gregor started to say something, but she held up her hand. “I don’t want to hear it. In case you’ve forgotten, I need to empty the cornerstone and I’m going to need every ounce of concentraition to keep from ending up as either a dried-out husk or a drolling idiot. So Raum, if you would like to pick out a spot in my father’s gardens to bury me, by all means keep baiting Gregor.” She caught Gregor smirking out of the corner of her eye and whirled on him. “And you, Gregor, if you want to spend the rest of your life changing my soiled diapers while I rot from the inside out, please continue to poke at Raum.”
The task ahead would call for all of her attention, all of her focus. She was about to become a vessel for her father’s power, and if she wasn’t careful, it would destroy her. While she loved her men, sometimes she really wanted to smack them upside the head. She started to walk away, but each man placed a hand on her arm at the same time, holding her in place.
“Please forgive me,” Raum said in a soft and seductive voice. She knew he wasn’t trying to be sexual at this moment, that his essential sensuality was as much a part of him as his blue skin and moonlight-white hair, but that didn’t stop the tingle of warmth in her belly.
“Us,” Gregor said from her other side and pressed her hand to his lips. “I’ll behave…until we’re safe. Then you can punish me for being so wicked by making me serve your pleasure until I can’t move.” He gave her a charming smile that made her heart beat a little harder.
Holding each man’s hand, she hurried across the village, steeling herself as the stone came into sight.
“That’s hardly punishment,” Raum muttered but Gregor ignored him.