Demon's Lover

Katelyn Smith has always known her life was never her own--not really. Ever since she first met Cory Lawrence, he's been the one person she's trusted more than anyone. Before the NSISD, she knew him as the lonely boy watching out a window as he grew into an honorable man whose arm any woman would be proud to be on. But fate seems determined to keep them apart as, time and time again, something finds its way between them. Can they find a way to finally be together? Or will the world claim victory in its endeavors? For the full story, check out Cory's side of the romance in "Demon Rising"! (Also available on Amazon and Lulu.)

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1. Prologue

 

 

I pulled up to the small office, shutting off my car in the same movement. My hands were shaking, I was so excited. Early yesterday I'd gotten a call from a Robert, claiming to have information regarding a demon in NSISD custody. Finally, after decades of work, there was progress! First, the legalizing of demon rights, now this?

Before I got out, I took a moment to pull out an old photo, smiling sadly. “We're getting there, Cory. We'll set things right.”

I slipped the photo back into my wallet, getting out of the car and all but running up to the office. I stopped to force myself to take a breath, my heart racing in my chest. This was it. After so many years, this was it. All I could see as I stepped into the office was him, smiling just for me through the exhaustion of hours of laboring in the fields, smelling like earth and early morning. As much as I hated to, I forced the memory to the back of my mind so that I could deal with this.

“Hello,” I greeted the desk clerk, my voice surprisingly steady for how I felt. “I have an appointment.”

The young woman smiled politely. “First name?”

“Katelyn.”

She started, then nodded. “Of course. Follow me, he's been expecting you, Mrs. Smith.”

“Alright. And—It's just Miss,” I corrected her, biting back my irritation at how often that mistake has happened since I'd crossed the line of forty. I still couldn't seem to get used to it, how my hand always felt pitifully light.

“Right.” She got up and led me down a short hallway, knocking on the closed door before opening it a crack and saying quietly, “Katelyn Smith is here to see you, sir. Shall I send her in?”

I didn't hear his answer, startled when he showed up at the door to open it completely. About mid-forties, Robert appeared to be quite average, although he wore an impressively excited grin for the bland office and equally plain suit he wore. “Kate! I'm sorry, Katelyn, I hope you don't mind if I call you Kate. I feel like I know you already. Please, come in, come in! Zooey, cancel the rest of my appointments for the day, and let my wife know I may be late.”

“Yes, sir.” She gave me a look of mistrust before heading back to her desk.

I entered his office tentatively. Was he just another nutcase? I sighed quietly. “Well, it's good to meet you...?”

“Oh, Robert Smith,” he introduced himself, offering a hand which I shook respectfully. He sighed. “Well, this is something. I've heard of your work, but...I'll admit, I never expected I'd ever meet you.”

“I get that sometimes,” I told him to try and get him to calm down. Just act like it's everyday, eventually every crazy person will give it a rest. “What was it you needed to meet me about, though? You'd said something about a demon...?”

His excitement burned out in an instant, replaced with a strange remorse that made him look years older than he had to be. He motioned to a chair. “You'll...You'll want to sit down, Kate.”

“If you say so.” I took my seat, unable to help tapping my foot impatiently. “So.”

Robert leaned back on his own desk for support. “You've heard about the demon that the NSISD has in custody?”

I nodded. It'd been all over the news. “Yes. Something about determining psychological stability before releasing it into the public?”

“Exactly that.” He nodded, taking a deep breath. Like he was bracing himself for something...big. “I had the privilege of performing said exam on this...extraordinary character, and I feel that there are some things you should know. As the woman who spearheaded these endeavors, but I also needed to ask you something.”

“Alright. Are you wanting to know my opinion based on past experience with demons or—?”

“Does the name Cory Lawrence mean anything to you?” he interrupted me, voice strained from nerves and stopping me short.

My heart constricted and I felt the tears wanting to start in my eyes, but I kept myself together for this. I owed it to him. “Yes. Why? What does that have to do with the demon in custody?”

“I know this isn't going to be easy news, but...” He took another deep breath and looked me in the eye. “I'm having him released on the 8th, Kate. Congratulations.”

I stared at him in shock, stuck in disbelief about what he was saying. Cory? Alive? I shook my head slowly, the grief that had been stirred up turning to indignation. “What is this, some kind of sick joke? Obviously, you've done your homework, Mr. Smith, but I think you've got better things to do than harassing the elderly.”

He stopped, just as stunned as I was a minute ago. “Wait. I don't understand, I thought you'd be happy?”

“Happy?” I laughed scathingly, standing from my seat. “Try insulted! Cory died in 1983.”

“His parents were William and Eleanor Lawrence, they found him August 9th, 1942—”

“Like I said, you've done your homework!” I snapped, going for the door.

“And you're the only one who can ID him anymore, Kate,” he protested, making me pause against my better judgement. Why was he so vehement about this? “At least look at the picture, tell me yes or no. He deserves that much, especially after what he's been through. He needs someone.”

You were almost out the door, Kate... I sighed, hating how stupid I was to turn around and keep going with this cruel prank. “Fine. Show me the picture, then I'm gone.”

Robert nodded, relief obvious on his face. He lifted a file off of his desk, flipping it open and rustling through the pages a moment before pulling out a full photo and handing it to me. I stared at it, taking a moment to see if I could identify whoever was underneath the thick layer of scars across his face. Slowly, I saw him, Cory, in the forest green eyes now dulled by the years spent in a cage with them doing God knows what to him. His lips, I could almost see pulling up into that smile I missed so much, that strong jaw that always went tight whenever he was upset. His hair had been cut to his scalp, chunks of his horns missing along with all of the brightness he'd once had, but it was him. There was no doubt that this was Cory.

I found the seat, falling into it before I hit the floor. My hands started shaking again, the tears jumping to my eyes and escaping before I could stop them. I forced myself to speak, the words thick, “Where did you get this? When was it taken? Was he okay? When you saw him, was Cory okay?”

It came with his patient's file and all of the relevant documents I need for his treatment. This...This is recent, within the last two months. It's his release photo, and...He didn't look too much better than that when I saw him,” confessed Robert regretfully, watching me carefully. He offered me a tissue.

I took one, drying my face gratefully. “What do you need me for, then? If you're his...What, shrink?”

Therapist, yes, I am,” he corrected somewhat habitually. “I want your help rehabilitating him, though. He's going to have difficulty, especially since there's an element of mystery regarding what'll set him off.”

I stared at him, confused. “I'm sorry, but can you explain that? What mystery? Why would he be set off?”

Robert took his own seat across from me with a heavy sigh. “He has amnesia. From what I can tell, he can't recall much, if anything, of the last fifty or so years. I need help filling in the blanks, and a familiar element that's likely able to help him transition and work through the traumas that are blocking his memory.”

Wow. Only?” I laughed nervously, turning my eyes back to the picture in my hands. This was him, it was really Cory. How long had I thought him dead? For what? Him to forget everything we'd ever shared, his family, his home? “What did they do to him? What does he actually remember?”

Robert sighed. “That's what I would like to find out, and why I've contacted you, actually. I need someone who was close to him, who would remember much of what he and his life was like, so that I can accurately monitor his condition. I contacted his immediate relatives, but you were the only one who returned my call.”

The only one? Of course. Everyone else gave up decades ago, except for Eleanor. She was so adamant that her son was alive, and she was right. I smiled sadly, unsure if it was better or not that she wasn't here to see what had actually happened to her precious child. All of those scars, and how dead his eyes were, too. Such a strong, dignified soul and they had broken him. I just prayed that it wasn't beyond repair.

I'll be happy to help you,” I agreed finally, a shock of fear running through me. Funnily enough, after all this time, I was terrified by the thought of him actually returning to me. “When can I see him?”

Actually...” He hesitated a minute. “I don't know. I need to determine his current condition, and then how to approach the subject of reuniting with you. Everything we do from here on, we have to be careful, because of the amnesia. If there's anything he doesn't remember that we mention, it could set him off and he could regress in his treatment. I'm sorry I can't give you anything definitive.”

The rush of relief and disappointment was confusing. “Okay. So, what do you need from me right now?”

Your side of the story,” he told me brightly. “I just need your time and your recollections, to get to know who he was before...this. Can you do that for me?”

Part of me resented how he talked to me like a patient, but I nodded, finally looking up from my demon's picture. “Yes, I can. What would you like to know?”

Why don't we start with the first time you two met?” He waved for me to go ahead.

I laughed, awkward and guilty. “Oh, well...That I'm not too proud of. My parents lived in the city at the time, and I'd gone to visit my grandmother's orchard out in Littleton for Christmas. We'd been at the church's annual Christmas party for a little while, when the Lawrences showed up...”

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