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Katies hellion (rhyn tri.., p.2
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       Katie's Hellion (Rhyn Trilogy, Book One), p.2

           Lizzy Ford
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  In Hell, Rhyn didn’t even know what shape he was. His cramped prison cell was always dark as, his skin hot and clammy. He’d been fevered for a zillion years, trapped in the tiny cell in ever-changing forms.

  At least he wasn’t burning or drowning or freezing or watching his skin being pulled from his body and screaming. Sometimes his brother let him out for a furlough, claimed he was free, and then yanked him back. If nothing else, his traitorous half-brother Sasha kept things switched up. Rhyn would stay in this holding cell on the outskirts of Hell until Sasha figured out some new grueling punishment.

  A touch of coolness grazed his heated frame, which always grew hotter than Hell when he changed forms. His body contorted, and agony floated through him as the sixty seconds of being whatever he’d been was up and he changed again.

  "Still dark in here," said the voice of his only friend.

  "You here for me, Gabriel?"

  "No, but thanks for asking."

  Rhyn growled a painful laugh, appreciative of the death dealer’s dark humor. Especially now, when he had no one else.

  "What am I?" he asked, panting as he dropped to all fours.

  "Not sure. You look like a cross between a were-beast and a bird."

  Gabriel’s touch was like ice, and Rhyn shuddered. He changed again and this time recognized his human form. One wall of his cell lit up suddenly. He shielded his eyes and gazed into an empty prison cell opposite his. Surprised, he crossed to the bars of his cell but found the whole wall disappeared when he touched it. In darkness again, he dropped his hands.

  "Hell sucks."

  "Yeah." Gabriel’s voice was quieter.

  "You and Death fighting?"

  "Never. She’d win."

  Rhyn snorted and faced the corner, making out Gabriel’s eyes, which gleamed darker than a night in Hell itself. The death dealer was his only friend who’d stuck with him since he’d been banned to Hell by his brothers and dragged there by the immortal death dealer before him. Gabriel’s visits weren’t often, but Rhyn had grown to like him even more during their brief exchanges.

  "Brought you something."

  Gabriel held out a vial he'd last seen in the hand of a furious Death. A thrill went through Rhyn as he claimed it. He popped the top off and dumped the sandy magic into the air. The sand transformed into a mist and swirled around him before settling into his skin. He felt the magic penetrate him to the core, and the ancient tattoos marking him as both an immortal and an Ancient blazed red in the darkness before subsiding.

  For the first time in years, he felt whole again. He tested his ability to control the familiar magic. Hell buffered his natural inability to rein in the magic and absorbed much of his energies.

  "Who’d you kill for this?"

  "I have other means of obtaining stuff," Gabriel said with some offense.

  Rhyn felt Hell's and Sasha’s power roll over him like he was a boulder in a river. They couldn’t control him once he left Hell; no one could.

  Even Kris, the brother who headed the Council That Was Seven. Rhyn’s anger made his cell wall shake before the energies of Hell itself began suctioning his power from him.

  "Easy," Gabriel warned. "I’m breaking Immortal Code one last time to bring that to you."

  "Fuck the code."

  "Rhyn."

  "Don’t bother, Gabriel."

  The death dealer chuckled

  Rhyn stretched physically and metaphysically, testing the bounds of Hell. They were much older, much stronger than he. He sagged against the wall, exhausted.

  "Are there any girls down here?"

  Very little surprised Rhyn, but the death dealer’s question did. He squinted into Gabriel’s dark corner.

  "Or…women, I guess," Gabriel clarified.

  "You need a woman that bad?"

  "No, no. Just thought I’d check."

  Rhyn shook his head. He didn’t know why the death dealer was distant this visit, and he didn’t care. The only thing that concerned him now was killing Kris. And escaping.

  Escape first then kill Kris.

  "You wouldn't happen to have a key to my cell, would you?" he asked.

  "I'm not allowed to break any more Immortal Codes," Gabriel said with some distaste. "Or I'll end up in the cell beside you."

  "Better company than I have now."

  "Not my thing."

  "So you give me my power back but don’t free me. This does shit for me here," Rhyn grumbled.

  "I'm restricted by--"

  "I know, Gabe."

  The death dealer shifted but didn't leave, and Rhyn looked again at the corner.

  "I need a favor," Gabriel said at last.

  Rhyn never expected to hear these words from the death dealer, who needed nothing from anyone.

  "Whatever it is, I'll do it," he said without hesitation. "You’ve done more for me than anyone else."

  "There's going to be someone you'll meet soon. I can't break Immortal Code to protect her."

  "But I can," Rhyn finished. "Immortal? Demon? If you tell me it's one of my brothers, I--"

  "Human."

  "Human?"

  "One of the immortals wrote a book about caring for humans," Gabriel said with some reticence. “It might help you.”

  "You could've asked me for anything in the universe, and you ask me to babysit a human." Rhyn said, hearing the scrape of book and stone as the death dealer placed the book on the ground beside him.

  He reached for the book, convinced Gabriel had finally gone crazy after all his years serving Death. The book was an immortal's, clasped in a flexible, leather-like cover with thin, transparent pages. Rhyn was fascinated by the feel of both after so long with nothing but stone walls beneath his fingertips.

  "Where is this human?" he asked. "How do I find it when I'm stuck here?"

  "I haven't figured that out yet," Gabriel admitted. "I'll let you know."

  Rhyn lifted the book. He had no intention of reading it, but he liked how soft the cover was.

  "Why is this human important?"

  "Death won't say."

  Rhyn snorted and let his head drop back against the stone wall. Death and her pet worked in their own ways. He didn't mistake his returned powers for a free favor. No, Death wanted something from him, and gave him the ability to do her will.

  Yet another traitorous woman. He felt some peace knowing that--whatever Death wanted from him--she'd have to free him from Hell to get it.

 
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