Avan’s sudden expulsion from the bowels of Hell, a result of his softening heart, puts him on the streets of Upstate New York. In a strange environment and a new body, the one he serves for ages hunts him. A wounded demon, he takes shelter to rest and hide until he can find the substance, which will make him strong again.
Rita‘s business buzzed with the preparation of her chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day. A loner with a low self-image, her Valentine’s would be spent alone. She never expected an injured man in her store’s kitchen, one with an unbelievable past and an uncertain future.
Fate will bring them together, but will Avan see the goodness inside of him and help Rita see she is worthy of love?
Rita’s cell phone rested just inside her purse sitting over on the counter across the room. Damn it. Quietly as possible, she slowly moved away from the door, to make her way to the counter, all the while planning to call the police as she snuck out the front door. The man on the floor stirred and moaned seeming to try rolling over.
“Please…help me…” His voice resonated deep but quiet, pleading.
As he moved she could see the pool of blood behind him, she looked rapidly from him to her purse and back again. She watched him intently as his eyes fluttered open to display a pale amber color. Lying there, he didn’t look dangerous in his injured state. Normally trusting no one, Rita’s experience with people in general showed they were mostly insincere in their words and deeds. She should let the guy suffer. How the hell did he get in here anyway? But something in his voice when he asked for help, something in his eyes as he blinked up at her made her pause. She sighed in exasperation.
“I better not regret this, buddy. Just so you know, my father’s a cop, my brother’s a cop and my boyfriend is a bodybuilder. It would be a bad move for you to try anything stupid.” They were all lies. Her parents lived two hours away and her father made his living as a CPA, she was an only child, and the boyfriend…a joke. But he didn’t need to know it.
She bent down beside him realizing how large he was as he gently placed his cool hand on hers.
“I won’t hurt you.” His voice came out in a whisper.
Rita stopped breathing as the chills went up her arm. The sensation unexpected, not from fear but from a slight thrill, she paused then nodded acknowledging him. Moving behind him, she gasped, catching a good look at his injuries.
“We have to get you to a hospital. You’ve been shot. Oh my God, are those darts?”
“I can’t go anywhere. Please, can you help me remove them? I just need to remove them and…” The man dropped his weight under her grasp, her arms tucked under his as she struggled with his weight, trying to heft him to his feet. Rita grunted.
“Uh, guy? You need to help me here. I can’t carry you.” Weakly grabbing for some leverage, the man steadied himself and they maneuvered over to the counter. He slumped over the tiled shelf and with his hand, sought to pull the arrow out of his thigh. Rita winced as he groaned in pain.
“Wait, wait!” Rita placed her hands at her mouth and tapped them lightly over her lips in anxiety. “Let me get some gloves.” She moved over to the kitchen area and put some latex gloves on. Really for candy making, but she figured better than nothing.
Rita placed one hand on his back and the other gripped the dart.
“Ready? One, two, three,” She gave a hard yank and heard his flesh tear as the steel ripped free of his leg. He screamed as it left his body and dropped his head to the counter.
“We really should let a doctor do this.”
“No. You. I need you to do this. Please. Remove the others.”
Rita stood shaking for a moment, but then set to task. She didn’t know why but she felt badly for him, like this should have never happened to him. She braced her arm across his buttocks and bent over, wrapping her fingers around the steel peg in his calf.
“So, what’s your name?” She yanked, discharging the dart, wincing as he screamed again.
“Avan.” He spoke breathlessly, in obvious pain, keeping his head down on the counter.
Again, chills when he spoke.
“Two more, Avan. Then I need to clean the wounds and get you bandaged… somehow. I just hope there is no organ damage with this one.” She touched the dart at his kidney. “I’m going to try to be gentle with this, okay. It may hurt more.”
He gave a humorless laugh.“I’ll just have to brace myself then, right?”
Rita removed the two remaining darts, tossing the bloodied gloves before retrieving a clean pair and some hot water to cleanse the wounds. She reached up on a shelf above the sink for some clean towels and looked over her shoulder at Avan, barely hanging onto the counter. She turned back to the sink.
“I wish I had something to give you for the pain. I think all I have is Tylenol and I don’t think that’s going to cut it.” She carried the bowl and clean rags over to him.
“Mrachtora. I smelled it here. I need mrachtora to heal.” Avan’s voice sounding weaker by the minute, Rita looked at him questioning his statement.
“The only thing I smell here is chocolate. Is mrachtora an herb?”
“It is made from a plant. It is a rich drink. My kind needs it. I can smell it.” He inhaled deeply, a faint smile over his lips.
“Your kind?” She shook her head but couldn’t help but smile when the scent of the chocolate seemed to affect him, calm him. She walked over to the cooling unit and picked up a freshly made dark chocolate truffle, drizzled lightly with white chocolate and presented it to him.
“The only thing that smells good in my shop is my chocolate.”
Avan furrowed his brow at the small piece of candy, picked it up and sniffed, his eyes growing wide. He popped it in his mouth, closed his eyes and chewed, moaning in almost erotic pleasure.
Rita watched his face, her mouth dropping open as the ecstasy consumed him. People traveled for her candy but never did she see a reaction like this. Avan had the lushest eyelashes delicately laid against his perfect bronze skin, his plump lips moved slowly as he masticated the soft confection. She brought her hand to her throat to stroke the skin and felt the sudden warmth between her legs. He slowly opened his eyes, locking his gaze on hers.
“Thank you. May I have another?” Strangely he seemed calmer, the pain less. Rita retrieved a few more pieces and he devoured each piece with the same enthusiasm as the first. She shook her head in disbelief his strength seemed to return rapidly with the consumption of each confection. Trying to gain composure, she watched him lick his long fingers. She swallowed and cleared her throat as she turned to get the basin of water.
“Avan, I’m going to need to get at your skin to clean your wounds, so you’ll need to take your clothes off. There’s a bathroom over by the door and I’m sorry, all I have is this tablecloth for you to cover yourself with.” She turned toward him holding out the covering to find Avan standing shirtless, and pulling down his jeans.
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