Excerpt: Made For You
Charlie pulled the broken glasses from the pocket of his corduroy jacket and carefully unwound the kerchief in which they were wrapped. He stared at the bent frames. One lens was shattered, the other was gone entirely.
He didn’t know why he kept looking at them, as though they would somehow magically be fixed. Magic would not fix them until they were returned to their owner, and he first had to find Jed. Despair clawed at him, but Charlie fought it back.
Jed was alive and he was close, Charlie could feel it like cold rain on too hot skin. He drew a deep breath and let it out slowly, then tucked the glasses away again. The clock on the wall ticked softly, and Charlie sighed, looking around the fancy office where he had been sitting for the past half hour.
It was handsome, classy, but a waiting room was a waiting room. He wondered miserably if Sable Brennus would even see him; he was still tempted to walk out and just find Jed without permission to be in the territory—but if he caused even half the havoc he suspected he would, then it was better to do it with the demon lord’s approval (or at least his knowledge).
Charlie reached up to touch the collar around his throat: butter-soft, dark brown leather embossed with runes. The sound of a door opening drew his attention, made him drop his hand and stand up—only to see it was Brennus’ secretary again. Disappointed, shoulders slumping, Charlie resumed his seat.
He’d been told that Sable Brennus was good so far as demons went. Charlie had hoped that meant that Brennus would not look down on him, as so many others had, for failing his master. He flinched, fingers twitching with a need to reach again for Jed’s glasses, but he refrained. He caught the secretary’s sympathetic look and felt dejected all over again. “Should—um—should I just go?” he asked.
“Go? Oh, no, honey. Don’t go. Sable will be seeing you shortly. He’s downstairs putting out fires—figuratively speaking. If you’d come yesterday, it would have been literally.” She rolled her eyes, and then smiled warmly. Charlie was again reminded of how much she looked like someone out of the old movies Jed liked to watch. But given she worked for a demon, and was around abnormals and magic all day, it was entirely possible she was from the 40s or 50s—or even earlier. “You sure I can’t get you something to eat or drink? You name it, I can get it, honey.”
Charlie shook his head. The only sustenance he craved was the presence of his master, to see Jed healthy and happy again. If his wings were out, they would have fluttered restlessly, but as it was, he could only fist his hands in his lap and try to keep himself together. He was so close, he couldn’t fall apart now.
Six months he had been trying to find Jed, six months since that djinn had thrown him so hard Charlie swore sometimes his head and back would never stop aching. Six months since he’d heard Jed screaming his name as he was taken away.
Charlie fisted his hand so tightly his nails bit into his skin.
He heard the door open again and looked up—and then stood up when he saw a tall, broad-shouldered man in an expensive-looking, dark-gray, pinstripe suit with a dark blue tie secured by a sapphire tie pin. Demon radiated from him; he wore his nature as arrogantly as he wore his wealth. His eyes were the color of a stormy summer sky as he glanced at Charlie. “I was told there was an angel waiting for me,” Sable Brennus said, and he extended a hand. Startled, Charlie shook it. “A pleasure to meet you, angel.”
“Um—Charlie. That’s what my master named me.”
Sable smiled and rested a hand lightly on Charlie’s shoulder, guiding him toward the double doors that proved to lead into an office that was larger than Jed’s whole house had been. Fire and smoke filled Charlie’s mind, and he hastily pushed the memories away. He focused on the floor to ceiling windows that lined two sides of the office, the magnificent view beyond of cloudy skies painted rose, orange, and violet as afternoon sank steadily into evening, and the glitter of city lights rose to beat back the growing dark.
“Would you like anything to drink, angel?” Sable asked.
Charlie tamped down a flicker of annoyance that no one ever seemed to want to use his name. Jed had assured him many times people used ‘angel’ more as an honorific, a sign of respect, but he would rather they used the name his master had given him. “No, thank you. It was not my intention to detain you, my lord. I only came to inform you that I would be in your territory, and might make some noise, as my master would say. I—” He swallowed because it was always so painful to speak of Jed; every time he did so, the wounds tore open anew. He had failed when Jed most needed him because he had let the damned jinn get the best of him. “I am searching for my master, who was kidnapped six months ago. I have been on the trail of the kidnappers, but never managed to get close. But I think they are holing up here because the signature stops. So…”
Sable strode over to him and pushed a glass into his hand. Wine, Charlie saw, a rich merlot in a stem-less wine glass. He took a sip of it from habit, not wanting to be rude by refusing it now that it had been given to him. He loved wine; how had Sable known?
He’d sat with Jed at so many tiny motel tables, drinking wine and food obtained from whatever restaurant they had picked that day. The few precious months they’d had in Jed’s old home before they’d been forced to go on the run. Italian food had been their favorite, and he would always remember best the night Jed had overindulged in the wine and fallen asleep against him, soft hair falling in his face, snoring quietly, relaxed and warm in Charlie’s arms.
It made his eyes sting, made the back of his throat ache, and he drank more wine just to keep from saying something stupid.