Home > The Kraken's Sacrifice (A Deal With a Demon #2)

The Kraken's Sacrifice (A Deal With a Demon #2)
Author: Katee Robert

 

1

 

 

CATALINA

 

 

“I will ask again. Are you sure?”

I’m not sure what it says about my life that I’m sitting in a sticky booth at a dingy hole-in-the-wall bar staring at a handsome dark-haired white guy. Except, apparently, he’s not a guy at all.

Or at least not human.

One would never know he’s a demon just by looking at him, but as Azazel turns his head, the light glints strangely off his eyes. A flash of red that sends a shiver down my spine. Not that I’m about to let a little fear dissuade me.

I have nowhere else to go. My family have finally washed their hands of me. My friends are tired of my bullshit and have faded away. But the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was getting fired last week. I may or may not have been a tiny bit behind on my rent, and my landlord says I have to be out by the end of the month.

Tomorrow.

When you’re at rock bottom, sometimes the only thing to do is keep digging.

Azazel shifts, and the shadows seem to flicker strangely around him. They sure as hell aren’t following normal patterns in response to the neon lights over the bar. “Catalina.”

I jolt. “I’m listening.”

“This is of the utmost importance.” He leans forward and braces his elbows on the table.

I wince a little, because it’s just as sticky as the booth and his suit looks expensive. “Really, you probably shouldn’t touch anything in here. You’re going to ruin your suit, and, like, I don’t know if demons have money, but you’ll definitely need to drop a metric shit-ton on dry cleaning.”

He sighs, and it takes the wind right out of me. I know that sigh. It’s the “Catalina is wasting my time” sigh. I’ve heard it in countless variations over the years. From my parents, my teachers, my bosses. I am nothing if not consistent.

Catalina, the disappointment.

I clear my throat and work hard to smother the desire to prove I’m exactly the disappointment he already decided I am. Living up to expectations. Or down to them, more specifically.

“I read the contract.” I hadn’t believed that any of this was real, but at this point, a demon peddling contracts can’t be worse than my human options.

Mainly, having to crawl back to my mother and beg her to let me move home. The thought makes my stomach roil. I’ll do anything to avoid that outcome. Anything. “I accept.”

Azazel makes a slight move that’s almost a flinch. “If you need more time to think—”

“I don’t.” I speak too fast, too frantically. It takes effort to inhale slowly and moderate my tone. “I read the contract,” I repeat. “I accept the terms.”

Seven years of service in the demon realm.

But at the end of it, I get what I most desire.

Mainly, money. Enough that I’ll never have to worry about it again, will never be beholden to anyone ever again. I want to spend the rest of my life on a yacht surrounded by beautiful people who will dribble champagne into my mouth and feed me strawberries and tell me I’m pretty. Who will never decide I’m too much and withdraw their attention and love. Yeah, I’ll have bought that love, but if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that money paves the way to happiness. If that happiness is false and lasts only as long as the money does, who gives a fuck?

The only person who can tell the difference will be me, and I’m happy to close my eyes and pretend.

Azazel looks at me for a long moment, then finally nods. “So be it.” A flick of his long fingers, and the contract rolls out across the table in my direction.

All the details are the same as when I last read it. Seven years. I’ll serve, but no one can force me into doing something that will harm me. If I become pregnant, I will leave my baby in the demon realm when I return to this one.

I have absolutely no intention of getting pregnant, so that’s not an issue.

A pen appears next to the contract, and I don’t hesitate. I grab it and scribble out my signature. “Are we going now?”

The contract rolls back up toward him, and he grabs it. He narrows his eyes at me. “Normally, there’s more fear and weeping.”

He’s scary, but he’s nowhere near as scary as my mother, who’s so cold, she might as well have been carved from ice. It doesn’t matter what I do or say, because she won’t give me even the smallest reaction. Whether he knows it or not, he’s saving me from having to prove her low opinion of me correct. Again.

No use thinking about that. I signed the contract. It’s over. Or, more accurately, it’s only beginning. Can a demon back out on a signed contract? The thought makes fear flicker for the first time. I clear my throat. “Look, if you get off on that sort of thing, you should have said something from the beginning.” I lean forward and widen my eyes. “I’m so scared, Mr. Demon Man. Terrified. Shaking in my boots. Please take pity on me and put me out of my misery.”

He rolls his eyes, and a small smile curves his lips. “I take pity on whichever of the territory leaders you end up with. Come along, Catalina.” The words aren’t unkind, but they contain echoes from past years.

Your poor teachers, having to put up with your recklessness.

Oh, wow, you must be a handful for your girlfriend to deal with.

God, what boy would want to date someone who dances on tables and flirts with everyone who crosses their path?

You, Catalina, are a disappointment.

There’s only one way to escape the ghosts in my head, but Azazel takes my hand before I can do more than sweep a look around the bar. It’s just as well. For all my bravado, I don’t actually know what I’m walking into, and getting sloshed beforehand would be just another mistake in a long line of mistakes.

It’s tempting all the same.

The room goes wobbly and transforms to black in a swirling motion that makes me vaguely sick. And then there’s a lurch that feels like my guts are actually yanked right out of my body. I open my mouth to scream, but there’s no air to draw in.

Is this what dying feels like?

My feet hit the ground hard, almost as if I jumped from a high distance, and I crumple to my knees. “Ouch.”

“You didn’t pass out. Interesting.”

The voice above me still carries the cultured tones of the bargainer demon, but there’s a rougher edge to it now. It’s deeper too. My head feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, but I manage to lift it and look at the . . . creature . . . standing next to me.

No, not creature. It’s Azazel. He may have grown over a foot, gained a bunch of weight in muscle, turned crimson, and sprouted horns, but . . .

Actually that’s a lot.

I hiccup. “You really take the demon thing literally, don’t you? How very Christian devil of you.”

“We came first, Catalina. Where do you think they got the inspiration from?” He sighs, and the sound cuts right through me.

Or maybe that’s my stomach suddenly surging. “Az—”

To his credit, he responds quickly. He moves faster than anyone has right to and manages to produce a bucket from somewhere, then shove it under my face just as I throw up. I’m nearly certain I feel his hand rubbing my back, but figure that must be a hallucination.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Angry God (All Saints High #3)
» The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4)