“You’ll just have to teach him a few things.” Azazel whispered across to his sister. “But we can work everything out later.”
“That’s easy for you to say.” Bezer frowned.
“You knew that if we ever did this we would both have to make sacrifices.” Azazel sighed. “If this isn’t what you want, just say so.”
“It is.” Bezer told him. “I just don’t know how to make it work.”
“Me either.” Azazel admitted. “I just think it is worth trying.”
“I still can’t believe you kissed him.” Bezer giggled softly a bit jealous that he had beaten her to it. “I just worry that trying is going to ruin everything. Once the decision is made, that’s it. Forever is a long time.”
Nikolai had woken to their whispers and listened silently. Her last words stirred memories, warnings from Artemis.
“It’s also a long time to be alone, Bezer.” Azazel grinned at her. “There aren’t many that can even tolerate both of us. You think we will ever find anyone else that actually wants us both around?”
“It’s not that.” Bezer explained. “It’s the details that bother me. It’s hard to tell someone you love them and then have to tell them they aren’t enough to satisfy you.”
“You think I don’t have the same problem?” Azazel tried to slide from the bed, but he had still been holding Nikolai’s hand and when he tried to pull away he felt the vampire tighten his fingers. Azazel relaxed back into place. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“You didn’t.” Nikolai whispered. “I’ve been awake.”
“You sneak.” Bezer blushed. “You should have said something.”
“I was thinking.” Nikolai told her. “I still am.”
“Svetlana snores.” Azazel giggled as he tried to change the subject. “It’s kind of cute.”
“It is Svetlana that concerns me in all of this.” Nikolai told them. “If I were only considering myself it would be easy to accept your offer. Though I still don’t understand why either of you want this.”
“You could just let us ask her.” Bezer said hopefully. “You don’t have to decide for her.”
“She would agree.” Nikolai explained. “It isn’t her willingness that is an issue. It is what it would involve on my part and what your dear brother wants from her that makes the decision difficult.”
“You know I wouldn’t without your consent.” Azazel frowned at him. “Don’t use me as an excuse.”
“We should discuss this elsewhere.” Nikolai worried that his denial of their request was going to aggravate Azazel and he would wake Svetlana with his shouting.
“You’re starting to piss me off, Nikolai.” Azazel pulled his hand away and leapt from the bed screaming. “Either wake her up and let her decide or leave her out of it and make a decision.”
“Azazel, stop it.” Bezer ran over to him quietly and insisted he calm down. “This isn’t going to help.”
“What’s wrong now?” Svetlana yawned as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. “What decision is worth screaming about this early in the morning?”
“Marriage.” Azazel grinned mischievously.
“Who is getting married?” Svetlana asked sleepily.
“No one if Azazel keeps behaving this way.” Nikolai kissed her forehead. “We have a lot to talk about.”
“I’m done talking.” Azazel announced as he held his phone to his ear. “Hey, can you do me a favor?”
“I am going to shove that phone down your throat.” Nikolai grabbed him by the wrist as he spoke. “You don’t need to involve anyone else.”
“Be there shortly.” Azazel hung up the phone before he answered Nikolai. “I just need you to answer a really simple question.”
“What?” Nikolai sighed.
“Do you love us?” Azazel asked and Bezer stood beside him waiting just as hopeful for the answer. Azazel beckoned for Svetlana to join them and she did so nervously. “And I mean all of us.”
“You know that I do.” Nikolai answered as he watched each of their expressions soften and tears ran down Svetlana’s face. He walked toward them and wiped away her tears.
“Svetlana?” Azazel nudged her. “I hate to ask you so suddenly.”
“More than anything.” Svetlana grabbed Nikolai by the shirt and pulled him close to hug him. “I have loved you for every minute of our time together.”
“And us?” Bezer hung her head and waited.
“Do you really need to ask?” Svetlana took Bezer’s face in her hands and kissed her softly. She blushed when she felt Nikolai’s hand on her shoulder and turned her head to look up at him apologetically.
“Settled then.” Azazel laughed as he took them all to the gates of a dark building somewhere unfamiliar to Nikolai and Svetlana. Azazel led them past the gargoyles that expected his arrival and through the doors that swung open to greet them.
“Where the hell are we?” Svetlana whispered.
“Exactly.” Bezer giggled. “This is Lord Lucifer’s estate.”
“Why did you bring us here, Azazel?” Nikolai asked quietly as he looked around in awe of his surroundings. “We still have things to discuss.”
“Only the little things.” Azazel pushed open a set of doors and led them into an enormous chamber. Empty but for the large throne where Lucifer sat waiting with a beautiful woman at his feet.
“Make this quick.” Lucifer smiled as they approached. “I have other things to do today. You can bicker elsewhere.”
“Lord Lucifer, Mistress Lilith.” Azazel and Bezer were quick to drop to one knee and bow their heads as they spoke in perfect unison.
“My Lord.” Nikolai begrudgingly paid the same respects.
“The Golod vampire, I presume.” Lilith walked over to Nikolai and reached up to lay her hand on his head. She smiled at the nervous girl who stood behind him.
“Nikolai and Svetlana, my love.” Lucifer introduced them quickly. “I had forgotten you have not yet had the pleasure.”
“My apologies for the intrusion.” Nikolai looked up at the woman. A perfect compliment to Lucifer in every way.
“We are used to intrusions.” Lilith smiled before she turned to reclaim her place in front of Lucifer. “What sort of trouble have the cubs been causing you?”
“No trouble.” Nikolai stood slowly as the twins got to their feet. “At least nothing we should have bothered you with.”
“But here you are.” Lucifer laughed. “So what is this favor, Azazel?”
“Bezer and I want to give ourselves to him.” Azazel explained and Bezer nodded in agreement. “Svetlana does as well.”
“You wish to be wed?” Lucifer grinned.
“He is being stubborn about it.” Azazel giggled. “But he will get over it. I came to you because of the bigger problem.”
“He has no way to create the bond on his own.” Bezer explained the dilemma.
“You understand the implications of what you ask?” Lucifer stroked Lilith’s hair as he spoke. “If I help bind you, it is permanent.”
“We thought the cubs untamable.” Lilith laughed softly. “Now they want to give their devotion to one who shares Maefyl’s curse. You must be truly remarkable, Nikolai.”
“You know of Maefyl?” Nikolai became distracted at the mention of the name.
“Very well.” Lilith smiled.
“One thing at a time, vampire.” Lucifer demanded. “A vampire with claim over one of our kind is unheard of. Yet you stand here with not one, but two ready to give themselves to you. Kindly stay focused.”
“Of course, My Lord.” Nikolai bowed his head embarrassed for losing sight of why he was here. “I’ve told Azazel how impossible I find this proposal. He brought us here without waiting for a decision on my part.”
“You can punish me for that later.” Azazel grinned a him and turned back to Lucifer. “Svetlana is just as eager as Bezer and myself. Can it be done?”
“There is nothing I can’t do.” Lucifer grinned and beckoned them closer. “All of you come here.”
“This is worth the intrusion.” Lilith climbed up to Lucifer’s lap to watch him work. He spun a dagger through his fingers and whispered to her as the four of their guests approached.
“Lie your left hand here, Svetlana.” Lucifer tapped the arm of his throne with the dagger. When she hesitated Lilith ribbons of chaos form her fingers to claim the girls hand and hold it in place. “Thank you, my love.”
“Of course, My Lord Lucifer.” Lilith shot Nikolai a glance of warning not to move against them as he watched nervously. “Bezer. Azazel. Your hands.”
“It’s okay Svetlana.” Bezer hugged her and laid her hand on hers.
“Is it?” Svetlana asked. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”
“Yea, you do.” Azazel whispered to her as he added his hand. He smiled up at Nikolai when without any prompting the vampire rested his hand on theirs. “Finally giving in?”
“I’m helpless against all of you.” Nikolai smiled.
“This may hurt.” Lucifer smiled as he drove the dagger through their hands. Chaos spilled into the wounds as Svetlana whimpered. Lucifer laughed as she bit her lip. “I warned you.”
“She doesn’t mind.” Azazel told him. When he felt the pain spreading up his arm he reached over to squeeze her shoulder and comfort her. “It’s worth it.”
“If it succeeds.” Lilith added.
“Meaning?” Nikolai asked as he watched the strange magic at work. The mist pulling their blood with it as it pushed it’s way into the wounds.
“Meaning it isn’t my power alone that will bind the four of you.” Lucifer explained. “I’m only providing the magic necessary. If the four of you truly want this, truly love one another, it will become obvious and the bond will be unbreakable.”
“And if not?” Bezer asked angry at the idea that it could possibly fail.
“If not, I will be canceling my other arrangements, because I imagine this will be far more entertaining.” Lucifer laughed as he watched the four of them gladly suffering the pain as it increased. The blade of the dagger that pierced through their left hands burned brightly as it catered to their desires and he smiled. “It seems I will be keeping those appointments.”
They watched as the mist concentrated and wrapped around each of their ring fingers before it burned so badly they all wanted to tear free of it, but not one of them moved until the pain stopped and Lucifer removed the blade.
Nikolai and the twins healed almost instantly but being human meant Svetlana would need assistance. Nikolai took her hand and ran his finger across the gash as Bezer squealed happily behind him.
“Look! New stripes!” Bezer pounced on Nikolai’s back and held her hand in front of him. Around her ring finger were four perfect thin black bands; until she had pointed it out he had been too concerned with Svetlana bleeding to notice that they had the same bands. Svetlana pounced up into his arms and kissed him when she noticed.
“Happy now, Azazel?” Nikolai asked as he sat Svetlana down and turned to see the demon sitting on the floor facing away from him. He crouched behind Azazel and wrapped his arms around him. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Azazel sniffled as he leaned back against him and wiped his face before he admired the wedding bands that wrapped his finger and took Nikolai’s hand in his. “Nothing at all.”
“You’ll have to tell me later why you were crying then.” Nikolai whispered and kissed his cheek before he stood and bowed his head to Lucifer. “You have our thanks.”
“No need.” Lucifer waved off the gratitude and focused his attention on Lilith. “I will return soon.”
“I have plenty to gossip about in the meantime.” Lilith nodded and kissed him before she turned to smile at the guests he left her to see off in his absence. “This news may stir up a bit of trouble for you. It may be for the best that you go enjoy your wedding day at home.”
They all said their goodbyes and Azazel brought them back to the apartment and waited for Nikolai to start screaming at him. For the moment Nikolai was distracted by the girls fawning over him, so Azazel leaned against the wall and waited patiently.
“Do we get to sleep here all the time now?” Bezer purred beside him.
“I may need a bigger apartment, my pet.” Nikolai smiled at her. “I suppose you also want to celebrate?”
They both nodded and Nikolai watched Azazel duck into the kitchen.
“Put on some music then,” Nikolai said as he stood to follow the suddenly very quiet Azazel. “Give me a moment.”
Azazel was leaning on the counter with his head down. His whimpers barely audible over the girls’ laughter and the music they had already turned up far too loud.
“Regrets already?” Nikolai asked as he leaned on the counter beside Azazel.
“No.” Azazel smiled. “Don’t be an idiot.”
“Then tell me why you are crying.” Nikolai insisted. “You were the one who wanted this.”
“I was petrified.” Azazel admitted. “You know why Lucifer would have found it so amusing for this to fail?”
“Because he is horrible and enjoys watching me suffer.” Nikolai grinned.
“Because he knows me well enough to know what would have happened.” Azazel explained. “I know how I feel, how Bezer feels, and I can read Svetlana as easily as I read her diary. You, I can never figure out. If it failed it would have meant you lied to me. I would have ripped you to shreds.”
“Comforting.” Nikolai put his arm around Azazel and let him cry against his chest. “Just be glad you didn’t have to. Now try to enjoy the fact you got what you wanted before we have to work out the details you were so quick to ignore.”
“Okay.” Azazel smiled up at him. “And don’t worry so much, I haven’t ignored anything. We will make this work.”
“We will have to, now that you have given me no choice.” Nikolai ran his fingers up Azazel’s neck. “Would you care to explain the trouble Lilith mentioned?”
“Nothing for you to worry about.” Azazel hoped he was right as he crawled up into Nikolai’s arms and tilted his head. He and Bezer had left quite a few spurned lovers in their reckless wake. “Go ahead.”
Nikolai accepted the offer, biting harder when Azazel began to purr. Once again he had allowed himself to be swept along by his companions, another oddity accepted as he changed in another impossible way, and he could not have been happier.