It had taken some time to convince Isabelle that holding off for a few weeks, before starting in the recording studio with Alan and her band, was not going to be a detriment to her career, or theirs.
My company owned a small fleet of luxury planes. I would have preferred to fly us to Africa in my small jet and keep our location and timetable as private as possible. However, a long overseas flight in my Cessna Citation was out of the question, designed as it was for short three to four-hour flights.
I had reasoned that my staff was entirely trustworthy. Yah, right, after the Devi incident, a young woman I’d felt was very loyal, I would need to investigate and possibly revamp security protocols. From the hierarchy of my vast empire right down to the part-time night cleaning staff. Still, I took comfort from the fact our flight was private, and very few knew of it.
With Isabelle being at risk, her hidden identity maybe not so secret, we needed to fly under the wire. We didn’t know yet if Asmodeus had been working for his selfish pleasures or if he had shared the identity of the savior with his overlords, but we had to assume he had.
Not only that, but Devi had conspired with him. She was ignorant of his identity. Of that, I was sure, but still, he had an in with her now, and I wasn’t altogether convinced that the demon of vice was dead. That was another reason for meeting with my father; Enoch would have the answers we sought.
As God’s scribe, Enoch had more knowledge of the “nasty things” that lurked in the dark than anyone. After all, at some point, hadn’t he shared Heaven with a few of them?
I whisked Isabelle through the one required security check right before we hit the tarmac outside the hangar. She was quiet, no doubt nervous for her first time on a plane—another reason for choosing one from the fleet. The larger the jet, the more comfortable she would be.
I chose the Embraer Phenom 300E, the fastest single-pilot jet in the world; we would be in Africa three times faster than on a commercial airline. The pilot, Ted, welcomed us. He had been with me the longest and had flown me to see my father before. I trusted him, for the moment, at least. We also had Susan, our flight attendant, who was there to take care of all of our needs.
Because of Isabelle’s kidnapping, I wanted only people whose loyalty I was sure of with us. I added Raphe, a business partner, friend, and super immortal, and our head of security for our many clubs, Serge, to our manifest.
Isabelle’s phone beeped as we boarded. She laughed when she read the text, snapping pictures of the interior of the plane as well as of Raphe and me. “Smile,” she coaxed when she pointed her camera at Susan and Serge.
“Isabelle, who are you sending those to?”
She turned her sexy green eyes on me. “Steve and Mitchell, they wanted to know what the plane looks like.”
“Let me see them before you add them and hit send.”
“Why?” she pouted. “What harm could it possibly do?”
I escorted her to the two seats in the rear of the plane. It wasn’t a sizable jet, only holding eleven people, so that privacy could have been an issue. I leaned in close so only she could hear what I said next.
“Because, you naughty girl, you are at risk. We don’t need anyone to know more than they should. What if Steve or Mitchell get kidnapped, or they lose their phones?”
“Really?” she said, looking at me with her big doe eyes. “You think they are in danger?”
I leaned in close, nipping her ear with my teeth. “Most likely not, but you will be if you keep questioning me.”
Her eyes dilated as they did every time I talked to her this way. She resisted me at first, but our first time alone together, when I’d pulled her over my lap and landed a few sharp slaps to her backside, I knew that she liked being a bad girl or pretending, to provide context to our play.
Her eyes narrowed; she was going to challenge me. She didn’t know I’d converted part of the plane and created a soundproof bedroom. I decided to let her play her game, let her think she was going to tease and hound me all the way to Africa.
Two rows ahead, I made eye contact with Raphe. He was grinning. He was the only one on the plane, other than me, with super hearing. Raphe’s father, like my own, was one of the Fallen, his mother, a tribal leader in Africa about four thousand years ago. She lived a lengthened mortal life of eighty years, almost unheard of for that time in history.
I grinned back at him until Susan blocked my view as she collected a list of drink orders. It was early in the day; I hadn’t expected anyone to drink. But Raphe asked for scotch, top shelf, of course. Serge took a coffee, and the lovely Isabelle ordered a mocha. I had made sure that I was fully stocked with the ingredients to make Isabelle mochas.
After our first night together, I had learned of her favorite drink when I’d run out to get coffee for us both. A total night hawk, her apartment had been pathetically empty of anything edible or drinkable, with only a beer in her fridge.
I ran across the street to the Split Bean, the local coffee shop. I asked the lovely, older Italian couple if they knew Isabelle and asked them if they knew how she liked her coffee. We struck up a conversation while they made the custom mocha.
When Isabelle woke, I told her she talked in her sleep and told me what she liked; she’d fallen for it. I still had not told her that I’d struck up a conversation with the owners, Tino and Rea, that day I brought her first coffee in bed.
“What if he doesn’t like me?”
I was so deep in thought, I almost missed the question. “Sorry, Bella, if who doesn’t like you?”
She rolled her eyes. “Your father, of course, Enoch.”
I laughed. Enoch was as old as creation; he didn’t like or dislike anyone.
“Well, if you want him to like you, stop rolling your eyes. He hates that.”
Her eyes widened. “Seriously? Uh-oh! I’d better work on that.”
The effort to not laugh was hilarious in itself; couple that with the expression on Raphe’s face, and we simultaneously broke out in peals of laughter. Isabelle altered her glare from me to Raphe.
“Seriously, you could hear everything, Raphe? Ugh,” she uttered as she rolled her eyes.
I leaned in, close to her ear. “Tsk, tsk, Bella, you don’t seem to be able to control that eye roll you have going on. Maybe you need some correction?”
She wanted to glare at me, but her eyes showed how turned on she was. Which, in turn, made me hard. I had to admit that despite being dominant and immortal, my control around this one female was a lost cause.
Isabelle did all kinds of things to me. The thought of losing her was so overwhelming that I couldn’t entertain the idea. I was probably more bossy and overbearing than usual, but the scare she had given me two days ago, when I’d found her, roughed up by her childhood stalker, slash powerful demon, was terrifying.
Because she was immortal, I knew that killing her would not be easy; hellfire or head removal would do that. But she assuredly could still be broken in many other ways. She was, after all, a typical twenty-year-old woman, despite her immortality.
Watching the single tear slide down her face when I found her tied down to a bed almost did me in. I felt all that stood in between her and utter despair was knowing I was there, that she wasn’t alone. In that moment of silent connection between us, I saw the world in its eternal revolutions. Her single tear held me, just as tightly as knowing the end was coming or nuclear fallout was moments away.
Ripping off the head of the demon, Asmodeus, was an act of surety, and her single tear forever etched on my soul. Ensuring that no matter what, I would protect her and love her with all of me.
Hours later, after food and idle chit chat, Raphe reclined his chair into a bed, as did Serge. Susan was busy elsewhere; it was time to take my minx to our secret room for some much-needed alone time.