Jacob started as if waking from a dream. “Yeah, okay. I got curious. There hasn't been a succubus in this region for a couple of years that I know of. I thought this guy’s organs might still retain something, so I cut the stitches of the autopsy incision to get inside.
Alex swallowed. “You found something.”
He nodded. “I nearly choked on the poor guy's fear. I saw what he saw, which was the most gorgeous and horrifying woman ever created, if that makes any sense.” He surprised Alex by shuddering. “I guess you had to be there. She made short work of him. I don't think he lasted five minutes once they started – you know.”
“You're sure it was Lilith and not some other succubus?”
“Positive. We with demon ancestry sense each other. The less diluted by human blood, the more powerful that sense is. I've crossed paths with a pure succubus, one without a single drop of human blood in her.”
Alex nodded. “Okay, I get it. You know what you’re talking about.”
Colwyn leaned forward. Alex’s talent jumped a notch. She shifted in the chair as he said, “I heard a crash in the embalming room. When I ran in, Jacob was lying on the floor. He stopped breathing for about a minute.”
“Another second in contact with that man, and I think it would have killed me.” Jacob closed his eyes against the memory. “It had to be Lilith. I've never felt anything that strong. It was like I was being drained without her even being there.”
Alex studied him. If he was putting on an act, he deserved an Oscar, she decided. She nibbled her thumbnail. “I believe you. It must have been bad to shake a hulk like you up. But there's one thing I don't understand, and I think you'll agree it doesn't make much sense. Lilith's always gone after men with prestige, men with enough power to help her in her fight to destroy humanity. World leaders, military men, that sort of thing. Why would she be in a motel room with a nobody truck driver?”
Colwyn said, “For that matter, what's she doing in this small town? There's nothing of note in this area except—” He broke off. A smirk crept over his face. “Except the Segreto.”
“Regretting your phone call, Mr. Planter?” Alex asked. “You missed your chance to get rid of it. Lilith could have wiped the entire Segreto out before they even knew she was here.”
“And then she would have destroyed our kind as well,” he responded, still smiling a little. “We don't have much chance either way. One drop of human blood is too much for her, and one drop of demon blood is too much for the Segreto. People like myself and Jacob are very much between the proverbial rock and hard place. Each side condemns us for our ancestry.”
Jacob shrugged. “As for the trucker, he could have been just unlucky to find himself in her path. Lilith feeds on pain like any demon. Maybe that's all there was to it.”
Alex mused over his account. Her talent buzzed through her skull, making it hard to think. She'd not been in the presence of more than one demi-demon at a time for quite a while and had forgotten how distracting it could be. Then again, she was more accustomed to screaming exorcism rites at demonkind than holding conversations with them.
Colwyn asked, “What will the Segreto do now?”
“I have to track Lilith down and send her back between realms.”
“That’s a lot of ground to cover for one person.”
“As the one person trained to fight Lilith, it's pretty much left up to me. She's back on the corporeal plane, so she has a physical body with physical needs. She'll require a place to live.” Alex cocked an eyebrow at Jacob. “My best bet is to check with realtors to see if a gorgeous, horrifying woman has come looking for an apartment or house.”
The younger Planter’s lips twitched. “This time around she's got red hair, green eyes, and the most incredible figure I've ever seen.”
“It’s still not much to go on. Heaven knows how long she’s been here.”
Colwyn drummed his fingers on the desk. “So do my brother and I go into hiding now, or will you be needing us further?” As Alex glowered at him, he added, “Let's be frank here. The Segreto's intention is to destroy all demonkind, and I doubt our help makes us immune. You can at least give us a head start in gratitude for our warning you.”
She shook her head. “As much as neither of us likes it, I may need more information later. I'd appreciate you two not disappearing just yet.”
“A truce then,” he agreed.
Jacob's brow furrowed at his brother. “You're not trusting this woman, are you? What's going to keep the Segreto from attacking us now that they've got what they want? Besides, she and her kind owe us beyond just letting us live!”
The elder Planter snapped, “We and the Segreto have too much to lose to play tricks on each other right now. Ms. Williams seems intelligent enough to respect that. As for the other matter, reparations can wait.”
The intercom buzzed, interrupting him. Marta's voice flowed into the room. “You have a phone call from the mayor, Colwyn. Shall I have him call back?”
Colwyn glanced at Alex. “Our meeting's over. Patch him through.”
“The mayor, huh?” She frowned.
Colwyn smirked. “Friends in high places, Segreto. The kind who will ask questions if I disappear. Good luck in your search.”
Alex scowled at his confidence and abrupt dismissal. If the Planters had those kinds of connections, exterminating them would indeed be a little tricky.
Not my problem. Father Luis and the gang can worry about that. I've got more than my share already.
Pointedly ignoring her, Colwyn boomed a hearty, “Mike! How are you?” into the phone.
Fine. They were done then. Anxious to put distance between herself and the demi-demons, Alex stood. Without saying goodbye, she followed Jacob out of the office. She sighed as her body's reaction decreased.
Jacob led her down the hall back to the entry. Marta wasn't around to favor Alex with more of her glares.
“We’ll let you know if anything else comes up,” he said, holding the door open for Alex. She almost rebuked him for playing the part of a gentleman when she knew better. Since she thought she might need his goodwill later she kept quiet, simply nodding her goodbye as she left the funeral home.
The door shut behind Alex, and her shoulders sagged with relief as the last of the demon buzz died within her. She hadn't had prolonged exposure to demonkind since she was a child.
She made it halfway to her truck before Colwyn's voice shouted behind her, “Ms. Williams, wait!”
She swung about to see the giant demi-demon barreling towards her, his face twisted in a grimace. Her talent woke, buzzing through her system. She staggered back a couple of steps as he rushed for her.
Bastard! It was a trick after all!
Alex shoved her hand into her coat pocket and curled it around the vial of holy water. She braced for the coming battle.