Fallen Academy: Year Three Page 2

Lucifer didn’t say much during that time, just sat at his large desk, reading old tomes, and barking orders at Abrus demons that came and went. I sat in my wheelchair in a half-drugged daze, and just watched. I watched the creature I’d helped create come to life, I watched Lucifer—I watched it all.

“That was a nice first day of training, don’t you think?” Lucifer asked, snapping me out of my trance.

The creature on the table was nearly fully grown, and I’d been staring in sick fascination as its chest rose and fell. I had to play this right, make him trust me so he’d take me off the drugs. It was the only way I’d ever hope to get out of here.

“It was okay.” I shrugged.

A wicked grin stretched his lips. “What’s the matter? Miss your friends?”

I glared at him. “Yeah, I do.”

He nodded. “Then let’s see what they’re up to, shall we?” Clapping his hands together, the lanterns on the wall blew out, leaving us in total darkness. As if being in the pitch-black room with the Devil wasn’t enough, I heard rhythmic breathing right next to me. Realizing it was the creature, I grew terrified, inching my wheelchair away from the table, only to stop when I saw a projection open up on the far stone wall.

A sob left my throat when I saw Lincoln. He was wearing a black suit, eyes void of any emotion; he was just staring off into the distance. The scene panned out and I saw my mom was there, weeping over a gravestone. My gravestone. Right next to my father’s.

Oh God.

Mikey, Shea, Raphael, they were all there.

“I’m not dead!” I shouted through my tears.

Lucifer’s voice came from beside me. “It’s been a few months. They’ve created portals, they’ve paid demons for any news, but nothing’s turned up. They need to let you go.”

No. My chest was heaving up and down, as I fought the panic that was overwhelming me, threatening to consume me.

“I’ve barely been here a month,” I argued dumbly.

“Time is different down here,” he answered simply.

Lincoln had a dozen red roses in his hand, but they were just hanging there limply, facing the ground. I wanted so badly to tell him I was alive, to touch him—anything. Raphael approached him then, and some muttered words passed between them that I couldn’t hear. Lincoln must not have liked what the archangel said, because he threw the flowers on the ground, pushed Raphael out of the way, and in one quick second extended his wings and flew away.

Seeing him push Raphael like that shook me. The love of my life had given up on me, and it made me sick to my stomach.

“Stop!” I shouted finally, and the image dissolved. The lights came back on, and Lucifer was looking at me with an expressionless face.

“So there you have it. They’ve moved on, and you’re never getting out of here. We might as well just have a cordial working relationship, hmm?”

In that moment, I wanted to cut his head off and shove it up his ass. Trying to remain calm, I took several deep breaths before nodding. “Whatever. I want to go back to my room. I’m tired,” I finally muttered, not entirely a lie.

Two minutes later, Raksha was there to wheel me to my room.

“Rak, you may cut her medication in half tomorrow,” Lucifer ordered, as she gripped the handles on the back of my chair.

I tried to school the excitement on my face as my stunned captor nanny nodded.

When we reached the hall, she leaned in closely. “Good girl,” she whispered.

I was convinced then that she was as much a captive as I was.

Laying in my bed, I cried myself to sleep that night, thinking of nothing else but Lincoln shoving Raphael, and flying away in desperation.

The next day, with only half the medication in my system, I was able to walk with a cane. Still wobbly and weak, I was by no means going to lay an ass-whooping on Lucifer, but I would at least be able to strengthen my leg muscles a tiny bit.

“You’re permitted to join the others today,” Raksha told me after my creepy bath, which she watched to make sure I didn’t drown myself. I’d actually considered it on a few occasions.

I raised an eyebrow at the Dark Mage. “Others?”

She nodded curtly. “Yes. The Dark Prince only lets his most treasured beings live with him in his home. You’ll meet the others today, and then start your group training.”

I swallowed hard. I was going to have to play the actress of the year card with Raksha too. “Group training?”

She just nodded but didn’t say anything else.

Great. I loved surprises, especially ones you found out about in Hell.

Straightening my back, I leaned on my cane, and followed her out of the room. My clothes were made of some thick, durable canvas cloth but amateurly sewn together. The only thing that seemed store-bought was a pack of cotton underwear Raksha had brought me. It had been in a plastic Walmart bag, which raised about a hundred questions for me, but I kept my mouth shut.

Did Raksha go up to Earth and get them at Walmart? Was there possibly a Walmart in Hell?

It seemed plausible.

We walked slowly down the matrix of hallways, until I was officially lost and winded. Raksha waited patiently while I leaned against a wall to catch my breath. Just a little over a week in bed and my legs were mush, weak and quivering.

When we finally reached a set of plain double doors, I could hear multiple hurried voices.

My fellow captive turned to look at me then, and I noticed her brown almond-shaped eyes were beautiful when they weren’t staring at me with malice. On her forehead, in stark contrast to her skin tone, rested the red crescent demon slave tattoo.

“Listen carefully, Brielle. You are my charge. You are my responsibility. If you do anything to embarrass or discredit me, I will beat you within an inch of your life. Do you understand?” Her words were like steel, slicing my barely healed neck wound.

I’d actually grown to like her. A psychologist would probably have something to say about that. Maybe that’s why her words hurt so much. She wouldn’t hesitate to screw me over, and she wanted me to know it.

I simply nodded curtly, coming to the realization that I would have no allies here. She may have been a captive of the Dark Prince, but she was a somewhat willing one, it seemed.

She appeared pleased with my immediate consent to her demands. “You are permitted your meals in here with the others from now on. You have also been permitted training sessions with some of the others. They all know who you are, and they all know you’re important to the Dark Prince, but they also know you carry angel blood.”

Great. So basically they would all hate me. Whatever, nothing I wasn’t used to by now. It was like starting Fallen Academy all over again. There was a Tiffany in there somewhere, no doubt.

She continued. “Consider me your daily shadow. Do not lose your shadow.”

Don’t try to escape. Got it.

I nodded again, not daring to speak for fear I might cry. The scene of everyone at my funeral had been messing with my head all night, and it kept playing in my mind even now. Lincoln pushing Raphael and flying off. I couldn’t unsee that.

My shadow opened the doors then, and I was hit with over a hundred calculated stares. The voices quieted, and one by one I looked at the rows and rows of tables, full of demons. Larkspur, Abrus, Snakeroot, Grimlock, Brimstone—they were all there. My eyes flicked to a single female Succubus demon in the back, and I nearly ran the hell out of there.

Raksha shoved her thumb into my lower back and pushed me into the room. It was the first time since I’d been brought down here that I prayed.

God, let me survive this. Let me see Lincoln and my family again.

I knew from my early days at Fallen Academy that showing weakness wasn’t good, so I held my head high, gripped my cane, and walked into the room.

If they wanted to jump me, they could. I was outnumbered, still weak, and drugged to boot—not a good combination. As I passed the first table, I tensed every single muscle in my body, waiting for one of them to attack.

No one moved. They just glared.

By the time I made it to the buffet at the back, I thought I might actually survive the day.

Raksha carried my plate, spooning eggs, bacon, and fruit onto it, not even asking what I wanted. She’d become like some evil second mother to me.

She walked over to a table I hadn’t noticed before, one full of humans. Well, demon-gifted humans anyway. A quick glance across the arms of those who sat there, told me they were a mixture of Dark Mages, Necromancers, Beast Shifters, and Nightbloods. But these weren’t young Tainted Academy kids. They were hardened middle-aged criminals, littered with scars.

The room was still and silent. I had no clue what to do. How would I eat with a hundred pairs of evil eyes on me, and drugged oatmeal sitting in my stomach?

Raksha helped me sit at the end of the table, and then looked out across the quiet room. “As you were!” she snapped.

Holy shit, the chick has balls of steel.

A few growls reached us, and someone mumbled something that sounded like “Fuck you, princess,” but it had worked. They averted their eyes, carrying on with their conversations as they had before we’d entered.

After taking a seat next to me, Raksha leaned in closely. “Everyone at the Dark Prince’s residence has been ordered not to touch you outside of training sessions, and to obey my command as if it were his.”

She pulled away with a grin, and I could see she liked the power the Dark Prince had given her. Hell, I’d do the same thing. I’d lord over these assholes, barking insults all damn day.

But I knew better than to respond. I simply nodded and grabbed a piece of bacon, chewing it slowly as my tablemates stared at me.

If Shea were here, she’d tilt her chin up and stare these bitches down, but I just kept my gaze on my plate. I knew I was way in over my head. My spirit had been broken, and I was very aware of the fact that, against my will, James’s version of the prophecy was coming true.

“So, the Dark Prince really trusts her to join our mission?” a Dark Mage with jet-black hair asked Raksha, while glaring at me over her plate of food.

Raksha nodded curtly. “He does.”

I raised one eyebrow. “Mission?”

Raksha’s hand snaked out under the table, squeezing my thigh so hard that I almost throat-punched her.

The raven-haired Mage grinned. “Makes sense that he wouldn’t tell you yet. He’ll wait until the very last moment. Until he absolutely has to. That’s his style.”

Raksha snorted. “As if you know his style. You’ve met him twice.”

The table erupted into snickers and jests, but I just kept my face blank. I didn’t want to do anything that would earn me an ass beating later.

Raven rolled her eyes, and then tipped her head to me. “Is it true you trained with Archangel Michael?”

Oh God. What did I say to that?

I shrugged. “A few times.”

Every head at the table was now pointed in my direction, sizing me up carefully.

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