Ryder couldn’t believe she had gotten herself into this predicament. Again. The council was not going to give her another chance after the last demon managed to possess her and cause more than a little havoc. So, what if the leader of the council had to be replaced? He was a complete jerk. No one really liked him anyway. She was sorry he had to die… but, it wasn’t really her fault.

Just like getting possessed by the demon Aximander wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t supposed to be sent out on that call alone. If her partner, Finn, had bothered to show up on time, none of this would have happened. She wouldn’t now be fighting against the complete control that Ax wanted over her body and her mind. And no, it wasn’t nearly as tantalizing as it might sound.

She could feel him there, struggling against her will, wearing down her resistance. She knew that the moment she fell asleep he would be in complete control and that when she woke up, if she woke up, she’d wake up in Hell.

So she had to get rid of him. Fast. But she was only just human and short of killing herself, there wasn’t much she could do to make him leave. Hurting herself wouldn’t matter. Demons liked pain. And Ax was no exception.

She even tried to do things she knew would repulse him, like visiting the maternity ward at the hospital. But that wasn’t one of her best ideas. Newborns may be cute, but they’re smarter than they look. And the screams that went up upon her arrival, well… her ears were still ringing. And Ax’s deep, rumbling laughter that echoed inside her head as she fled the hospital only added insult to injury, making this one seriously epic fail of a bad idea.

If she had just waited for Finn, she’d be in class right now, learning about how the long sword was used in Medieval times to vanquish demons. Like she didn’t already know that one. Sheesh. But still, it was way better than being possessed.

She’d like to say that it could have happened to anyone. But it couldn’t. It was because of her green eyes. Green-eyed people were at least sixty times more likely to be possessed than people with any other colored eyes. She wasn’t exactly sure why and she didn’t really care to know what turned a demon on. Would anyone?

Most of the other demon hunters were green-eyed. It made finding demons a hell of a lot easier. But her eyes weren’t the normal deep, emerald green like most of her fellow hunters. No. She got freaky green eyes. Hers were the brightest of greens, Harlequin green – yeah, don’t go there – a color that could not possibly have been made in nature, but one that drove demons wild.

So, even though she was only a junior hunter – she couldn’t get senior status until she was at least eighteen – she was the most popular to take on scouting missions to use as demon bait. Being used to lure demons wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t a forever thing. She knew that someday she’d be where Finn was, or maybe even have a seat on the council – that is, if she could get rid of this whole Ax problem without another council member’s early demise.

Being short and cute, with her crazy eyes made her the perfect temptation, one that no demon could resist. And having the mad skills that she did with almost every single weapon that could take a demon down, made her the perfect huntress. She expected to go far in this organization.

But all of this only worked if she had backup. Which she didn’t. Because, as usual, Finn was late. And she was impatient.

As she headed, alone, to the nightclub where they were supposed to find Ax, who was currently possessing one of the bouncers, she already knew it wasn’t one of her best ideas. From the intel, Ax was supposed to be one of the more charismatic demons. Yep, not all of them were charmers. Some just preferred to possess, destroy and kill, just like the last one that had taken her over.

But Aximander had once been human, and so he somehow managed to retain some of his original personality before he was sent to Hell to become the demon he was today. Something that apparently worked very well for him, as no one was able to capture him yet.

So, it was with way too much confidence that she went after him alone. Not bothering to wait until Finn decided to make an appearance. If she could just bag this demon, she was sure she’d be able to make things right with the council.

When she got to the nightclub, it was already dark. And there were two bouncers at the door. Until she got closer she wouldn’t be able to tell which one was Ax. Not until she looked into his eyes. That whole line about eyes being the windows to the soul wasn’t just some Hallmark card bull, a demons eyes were soulless and depthless, an endless blackness that you couldn’t stare at for too long or you would be a gonner.

She hesitated for only a moment, making sure her knife was within easy reach should she be forced to kill the vessel. If the reports were true, Ax was close to needing a new body to occupy, as the life-force of the one he was currently residing in was just about drained.

A human could only play host to a demon for so long before their will was broken and once that happened they were as good as dead. Nothing more than an empty shell where once there was a person.

Sad stuff, blah, blah, blah, but they were suckers for getting possessed in the first place and not figuring out how to get un-possessed in time.

She approached the club as if she were any one of the many people trying to be admitted for a night of dancing and drinking and more…. But she stood out. At only five feet four inches, with brown hair streaked with blue highlights, jeans and a T-shirt, she looked every bit the teenager she was. Great for faking vulnerability for the hunt. Not ideal to blend into a swank nightclub crowd.

With only just a few feet separating her and the two bouncers, when they both looked her way, she quickly avoided their gaze. She didn’t want to feel the pull of Ax’s desire when he saw her eyes. But turning away so fast made her look guilty. And it made her trip.

As she tried to stand up, feeling slightly mortified, but also glad that Finn wasn’t there to see it happen, someone was there to give her a hand. She was no damsel in distress, so she ignored it and attempted to get up as gracefully as possible.

But whoever he was, he was way too close and she needed his arm to steady her when it looked like she was about to take another spill. It must have been one of the bouncers, because the grip that held her in place was a strong one. And she could see the muscles straining in his powerful forearm as he held onto her until she got her balance.

She allowed her gaze to travel slowly up his body, lingering as they took in the firm, hard planes of his abs that were clearly visible through the taut black T-shirt he wore. She wanted to run her fingers along the lines that marked their definition and she wanted to feel the solid muscle beneath her fingertips as she delicately traced every inch of them.

She had never been quite so close to any boy – or man, because this was definitely a man – with a body quite as rock hard and muscular as his. All the hunters were lean and wiry. But this man, this possible demon, was tall, broad and very solid. His arms looked like they could crush her in their embrace, without even meaning to.

But it was his abs that kept drawing her gaze. She was transfixed. Powerless to look away. Powerless to move or breathe or speak. She could see them ripple with each breath he took. And she hoped, against all hope, that this was the other bouncer. Not the demon called Ax. And that this wasn’t the vessel she might have to kill.

She quietly slipped the knife out from its hiding place at her back, and stepped in closer so that she could move it next to his body, those abs, without him noticing its existence. She would hate to have to mar his perfect form, but if it meant her life versus his she would do it. Reluctantly. Oh so reluctantly.

She took one last glance at his abs, admiring the way the T-shirt hugged the six pack, and slowly met his gaze. She knew that it was a risk. If he was the demon and she lost herself in his eyes, much the way she lost herself in those abs, she knew it would all be over for her. And that there would be no one to stop him from possessing her.

What calmly and coldly stared back at her were two of the blackest eyes she had ever seen. Dark and empty and devoid of all light and humanity. They were the eyes of the demon. And she was lost.

***

Aximander was amused. He knew from the moment she approached the club that this was the demon hunter Ryder that everyone warned him about. She was just some young little thing. Acting all tough and covert as she walked toward him and Shay. But he saw the knife. And he was on guard.

When she fell, trying to avoid his stare, he nearly burst out laughing. This little nothing was the demon bait that felled so many of his kind? Please. It was just too easy. He would be the one that possessed her and took away any threat that she supposedly held.

When he reached out his hand and she tried to stand on her own, he stepped in closer, making her lose her balance on purpose. He knew that being this close to her would mess with her head. He knew just what power that he had over human females. Especially in this body he was currently in possession of.

The broad shoulders that could dwarf a woman, making her feel vulnerable and protected. The heavily muscled arms that could enfold her into an embrace he knew she’d never want to leave. And the tight, toned abs, that even he enjoyed running his calloused fingers over as they flexed during his nightly workouts.

He enjoyed this form he was currently occupying. The man who once lived there was weak and easy to possess, but he could feel its usefulness coming to an end. And so this girl, this feisty huntress called Ryder, would be his next conquest.

He wanted to possess her. He liked a challenge, and although this man fit his demon lifestyle, abs and all, in all the right ways, possessing this girl would be much more fun.

So what if had to lose this body and occupy her much smaller, perkier one? A body is only a temporary thing for a demon. But oh how he’d miss those abs. Abs that caused women much older, much more experienced than this young girl, to be nothing more than putty in his hands.

And so he’d use them one last time to give him power over this huntress.

He could already see just how captivated she was by them, as they strained against the T-shirt. He saw how she couldn’t tear her eyes away to meet his. He timed each breath to make sure that their movements would hypnotize her. And he knew that it was working.

This six-pack would get him what he wanted. Again.

He could see her fight to keep herself from reaching out, to keep from touching them. And he knew he was the victor in this contest of wills. Even with the knife that trembled in her hand close enough to end his existence, close enough to twist into his side, or into his abs.

But just seeing how she stared, with her half-lidded eyes, as he caused his abs to ripple right before them, he knew that the only thing that remained to own her completely was to have her look into his eyes. And after what seemed like a brief struggle, she looked up.

***

Ryder knew she was possessed. She may have lost a few moments, but being possessed wasn’t something you could not be aware of. The last thing she recalled was staring at those beautiful abs on the bouncer. But she could now feel his darkness inside of her, shifting her around to make room for him.

She knew that she had powers that she didn’t have as a human. She could hear everything for miles around her. She felt stronger. She still felt like herself, but better. But she knew it wouldn’t last.

She still wanted to be her. Even if she could now teleport – apparently one skill that Ax possessed that the council wasn’t aware of. As easy as it would be to let go, to allow him complete control of her mind and body, she wasn’t ready to let him take over.

She felt how much stronger he was than the demon who last shared her body, so she wasn’t sure just how she’d get rid of him, but she had to try.

She took one last, longing glance at the collapsed form of the bouncer that formerly contained Aximander. While he was still technically alive, he was now completely empty. Devoid of anything. A shell. But a beautiful, ab-tastic shell.

In the fall, his shirt had lifted, bunching around his solar plexus, exposing his ripped abs to her greedy gaze. She allowed her bright green eyes their fill, as his abs raised and lowered with each breath he took in the prone position he was now in, moving slowly and even more seductively than they had when he’d been standing. When it was Ax taking those breaths, causing those subtle, tantalizing movements that landed her in this nightmare situation she was in.

Such a shame. She knew that if she made it out of this alive, if she were to live to old age, she’d never see a set of abs so perfect, so delectable as the ones she was looking at right this moment. She took a mental picture, because she had forgotten her camera phone in her haste to bag a demon on her own, sighed and wiped away the solitary tear that managed to escape from the corner of her eye.

Now she just had to figure out how to get Aximander out of her before she ended up in a worse hell than the one she was currently in.

Stay tuned [not really] for the next chapter.