1 Chapter 1 (updated)

CHAPTER ONE

San Francisco, CA

Lyla marched through the front door of her house humming the melody of Demons by Imagine Dragons.

She was half way to her bedroom when she spotted a pot of water on the stove top that was boiling over, spewing sprays of scolding hot liquid on to it's surface.

She shrugged.

It wasn't a common find, but she assumed that Rebekah, her mother, had probably rushed to the bathroom and would return any second to rectify the situation.

She sauntered to the kitchen and found herself painfully landing flat on her back.

Her feet had shot out from under her so fast that the impact of her back slamming into the hardwood flooring had knocked the air out of her lungs.

Just as she was about to peel herself off of the floor, her stomach dropped like a weight gradually sinking in water.

A heavy metallic smell filled her head when she sucked in a breath.

She looked down and gasped.

She was sitting in the middle of a puddle of blood and the fabric of her clothes were soaked in fresh warm crimson.

Her stomach turned with nausea and her heart pulsed with sharp stabs of anxiety that rippled through her lungs like the surface of a body of water being disturbed by a fallen leaf.

Without giving it a fraction of a seconds hesitation, she jumped up and darted toward her mother's bedroom. On the way her mind conjured up multiple scenarios that made her lungs climb up her throat.

There was so much blood. Too much blood.

With her trembling hands she gently nudged the cracked door open and her breath hissed between her teeth.

Lying on the floor just a few steps ahead of her was a slender crumbled body.

It was her mother.

She laid on her stomach with her hands sprawled out on both sides of her like a cross. Her dark auburn waves draped over her face like a curtain, and the ends of her hair kissed the halo of red that outlined her silhouette.

Adrenaline kick-started Lyla's heart. Jerking her body forward, flinging her to her knee's. The bones inside of her arms and legs felt like they had been infused with lead, making each movement more taunting than the last.

Her sobs gurgled in her throat, choking her as she crawled toward her.

When she reached her she outstretched her hand and lifted her thick hair with the touch as soft as a rose petal.

She wanted to scream and tear her throbbing heart out of her chest, maybe then she wouldn't feel the pain. But when her mouth open all that slipped out of her lips was air, her throat was dry and welded shut.

She had just seen her mother this morning before school, and now she was dead.

Bile rose in her throat, filling her mouth with the bitter taste of stomach acid.

Her mother's eyes were open, fixed on Lyla in an empty hollow gaze. There was no more of the sparkling light that lit her features like a burning star, there was only a vacant body that her mother's spirit had left behind.

A solid lump of cement grew in her throat as her eyes trailed over her. She had hoped maybe a freak accident had been the cause of her death, but she was horribly mistaken. Set in the center of her Mother's throat was a large gaping wound that stretched from one ear to the other. Blood that had streamed out of the infliction was dried into a dark maroon color.

A coldness swirled in her chest.

She wanted to sew the angry tear together and wash the dripping brown-red residue off. She wanted to pretend it wasn't there.

But it was. It was there.

She cursed her narrow build and the insecurity of her small stature stung her eyes with freshly brewed tears.

She knew that even if she had been there thirty minutes earlier she couldn't have saved her. Her body would be lying beside her mother, empty of the blood that once animated her.

She fell backward and hung her arms over her legs, pulling them beneath her chin like she was hugging a teddy bear.

The whooshing of her raging pulse filled her head. She didn't even realize that she was holding her breath until her vision began to darken at the edges and she felt herself sway from the lack of oxygen.

Everything from that point forward was a blur.

From the blaring sirens of the ambulance to the thunderous pounds of the Police knocking on her front door.

She dug her nails into her palms creating lesions in her flesh when the paramedics placed the woman that had given her life in a body bag. Her hands uncurled when they wheeled her out of sight, her lungs greeted her by cycling the oxygen through her body, functioning once again at their full capacity.

She knew nothing would ever be the same. How could it? It was like waking from a deep sleep to find the world burning down, turning everything the flames licked to ash around her.

It seemed as if she had only blinked and mysteriously appeared at the police station. But somewhere along the way of her scattered mind, she remembered small details of her ride in the back of the police car.

She sat on an uncomfortable folding chair just outside of the reception area. Her eyes moved to the front door, then the ceiling, then the floor. She picked out the gray and black splattering design on

top of the off-white tiling, trying to keep her mind busy. Forcing anything into it that would keep the haunting images away.

It felt like it had been days since the haziness had wrapped around her like cling wrap. It felt like weeks.

But it had only been an hour.

A soft clicking sound approached her. She raised her head to see a middle aged woman with warm brown eyes and fawn brown ringlets that hugged her heart shape face.

"Ms. Daniels... the detective would like to speak to you." The woman plastered a fake smile on her lips, so fake it nearly looked like rubber.

Lyla took a deep breath and followed her to a room at the back of the department. Her eyes clung to each detail of the police station. The large pictures of different deputies and sheriff's, the American flag hanging idle in the hallway that they walked through, the green plants that sat just outside of each office door.

She always wondered what being inside of the police station would feel like, she wondered if under other circumstances if she would still feel like she was going to throw up.

It was meaningless things question. But it kept her mind moving forward instead of hanging on to the horror film that suddenly became her reality.

The room reminded Lyla of a prison cell. It was empty aside from a folding chair in front of a wooden table. A large mirror embellished the plain wall. She could see her reflection in it. Her eyes were swollen and wide. Her face somehow looked thinner, like the hour had fit five years into her aging process.

She knew exactly why they put her in there. It was a place to be ruthlessly interrogated and bombarded with inappropriate inquiries, while on the other side of the reflective glass they could study and weigh her responses.

The door gently creaked open.

A man entered the room. He had a neatly trimmed beard and stern black eyes that narrowed at Her without compassion.

"I'm detective Shepard." He stated flatly, like he had said this sentence so many times that there was no way to put any emotion in to it. A deep line marked a place between his eyes brows as he took the seat across from her with a vanilla folder in his hands.

He hunched forward and steepled his hands in front of him.

A cold shiver rushed down her spine and she took a sharp intake of breath. He was frightening. Mountains of muscles lined his biceps, his skin was dark brown but his eyes were nearly black.

"Ms. Daniel's, would you say you are a rebellious teenager?" His voice was firm, it was purely an accusation, not an ordinary question.

Lyla's brows rose in astonishment.

Rebellious? Her? A girl that quaked at the thought of being late for class? A girl that hasn't given a second thought to spending all of her free time creating the perfect college resume instead of making friends?

Unforgiving nausea poured into her gut. Her belly was full of aching and a deep sinking feeling that made her feel wobbly. Like she was teetering on the edge of a cliff, merely millimeters away from falling to her death.

This was going to be far more excruciating than she had anticipated.

"No sir." She breathed an answer. She locked her ankles together beneath her chair. She wanted to fidget, she wanted to cry, she wanted her mother back.

"Perhaps you were angry with your mother. Maybe she didn't like your boyfriend or refused a demand of yours." He crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat. His eyes danced like black flames as he scrutinized her. She felt herself shrink in the weight of his stare.

"I've never had a boyfriend." She replied. Her voice was steady, but even the most untrained ears could hear the slight falter in her words.

"My mother was also my best friend. She was all I had." She finished.

Speaking about her mother in a past tense way made it seem more real. She had unknowingly acknowledged that this really happened. Her mother was really murdered, and she was somehow a suspect.

She lowered her eyes to her hands, curling them into solid fists in her lap. She watched them blanch as she squeezed them tighter and tighter. Her mask was splintering into fine cracks like shattering glass.

The detective stroked his square jaw, she could tell by the look in his eyes he was weighing her response, seeing which side the balance tipped.

"What about your father?"

Lyla suddenly felt uncomfortable and wiggled in her seat. It wasn't often that her father was brought up.

She had never met the man before.

She would like to know herself of this mystical being that had helped bring her into this world. She didn't have so much as a picture of him. It was almost like he didn't exist.

"I never met him. I don't even know his name."

Her lips flattened into a thin line, revealing the annoyance at the intimacy of the Detectives questions.

It wasn't enough that grief's thorny edges slowly crept into her veins. She was also cursed to suffer the Man's obvious lack of decency.

Miraculously, the detectives eyes softened a touch. He leaned forward and placed his hand on hers in a purely sympathetic response. She wasn't surprised that his hand was two times larger than her own.

"We will contact your relatives. Everything is going to be fine." His harsh tone had subsided and was replaced with a soothing melody that melted the ice that slowly spread through her heart.

She raised her eyes to his, lifting her chin. A rebellious tear rolled down her cheek.

"Like I said.. she was all I had."

The detective frowned before he gave a slight nod of his head. He removed himself from his seat and with his hand he gestured for her to follow him out of the room.

A familiar voice yanked her out of the dark hole that she had stumbled into.

"Lyla?" The soothing raspy voice said from a few steps ahead of her.

Her head jerked up, and before she had even decided to, her body rushed forward in to a sprint. She flung herself in to Rick's arms and buried her face into his chest. He stroked her hair in soothing motions.

"I'm so sorry.." He whispered into her hair.

She slowly pulled away from him and stared up at him with her tear blurred eyes.

Confusion rolled over her thoughts as she took in the sight of him. There was no argument that she was beyond relieved to see him.. but how did he know to come? She hadn't even mentioned to the police that her mother had a fiance. But then again, he may have been on her mother's emergency contact list.

Instead of confronting him with her curiosity, her heart sunk in to her stomach.

The whites of Rick's eyes were infested with small red lines, the wrinkles that usually crinkled when he smiled looked more defined.

His skin was pale and the set of his jaw sharpened his angular face.

He placed his hands on her shoulders and offered her a warped down hearted smile.

"It's my turn to talk with the detective. Wait here."

Nearly a half an hour later Rick exited the interrogation room. There were purple crescents beneath his eyes that weren't there before, a significant sign of mental exhaustion. His countenance lacked his usual jubilant persona, his shoulders slumped, like a hundred pounds laid on them..

He lowered his head and massaged his temples.

He was the perfect image of a defeated man, a man that had just lost everything.

"What happens now?" Lyla breathed.

She curled her hands into the fabric of her jeans until she felt the sting of her nails embedding into her legs.

He raised his face to hers with a brow arched.

"I mean.. what's going to happen to me?"

His eyes soften with a parental like affection. Lyla couldn't help but smile inwardly.

Rick has been in her life for nearly five years. He was the closest thing she had to a father figure.

"You'll stay with me. We'll figure out where to go from there." He draped his arm around her shoulder and lead her out of the building.

Point Reyes, CA

Jesse sat at a coffee table in a small cafe on the outskirts of Point Reyes. He kept his eyes fixed on a couple just a few tables ahead of him. He knew what they were, he could feel it. A sense of wrongness filled the room with cruel intentions. It pulsed off of them in waves, and with each current he could smell the unpleasant scent of poisoned blood and sulfur.

A true marker of his suspicion.

They were in fact lowers.

They obviously skinned a very attractive couple and wore their flesh to lure in their victims.

The girl had brown hair, so dark it almost looked black. Her lips were painted with the color of rubies, and her teeth sparkled like pearls.

Her companion was a blonde headed young man, a strong jaw and hallowed out cheeks.

Jesse gritted his teeth.

"Have they made a move yet?" Ky said, filling Jesse's ear with his untameable excitement.

"You do realize it's hard to gather information with you squawking in my ear " Jesse hissed.

Ky groaned and a soft rumble of a chuckle followed after.

"Can you guys pretend you can stand each other for at least an hour?" Said Ash amused.

"One more word and my ear piece is going to be disconnected." Jesse warned.

He was answered with complete silence. A smug smile stretched across his mouth.

Every moment wasted was another moment the lower realms won. Stealing souls and lives like currency.

He hated demons, but he hated hybrids even more so. They were exceptionally harder to kill, but he thrived on the challenge. He lived for the adrenaline that coursed through his body when he was in the midst of battle.

He traced his finger around the rim of his mug, waiting for one of them to make move.

Shortly after a young woman passed by the large window outside that was placed beside the couples table.

The young man smiles a wicked smile, his eyes flashing with malice. He leans over to peck his mate on the cheek. Then he was on his feet, bolting through the door with new purpose.

Jesse squeezed his hands into fists. He hoped the woman would hurry up and confront the boy she has been making eyes at since the couple first entered the cafe.

"What time do you get off sugar?" The woman said to the boy that brought her a tall glass of water. She leaned over, exposing her cleavage that nearly busted out of the tight blood red dress she was wearing. The poor fool didn't stand a chance, he was sucked under her spell instantaneously.

Jesse tilted his head toward them, listening to their exchange.

The server smiled a sheepish smile. He probably didn't get much female interaction. Little did he know that this female wasn't human, she was waiting for the opportune moment to have her way with him and then feast on the fluid that lived in his veins.

"I.. In about.. th.. three hours." He stammered nervously. He pried his collar away from his throat, opening his airways. A thin sheen of sweat collected on his forehead when she bit her lips seductively.

Jesse let out an exhale of relief.

They'd have just enough time to take care of the both of them.

"Here's your check sir." The young waitress, Amy, slid a yellow receipt toward him.

He knew it wasn't fair to play with her emotions, but sometimes it was satisfying to see the affect he had on women.

He winked at her, sliding a crisp hundred dollar bill toward her.

The girl flushed and her eyes widened at the large amount, she opened her mouth to thank him but he was already gone.

Only leaving an empty cup as evidence that he had been there.

Jesse hid in the shadows of the roof tops. It was the easiest way to conceal himself.

That's why he only hunted at night, the darkness made it easier to prowl.

"I'm going for it." Jesse pressed his earpiece.

"Are you mad? Wait!" Ash protested.

But it was too late. He spotted his target, the incubus-Lilu hybird.

Just as he had cornered the helpless young girl in the alley way and leaned over to whisper in to her ear, Jesse leaped from the building, landing on the creatures shoulders.

He grabbed the back of the monsters head and forced his face into the pavement.

The young woman's eyes grew the size of golf balls and a horrified scream rushed out of her throat.

Jesse's head snapped in her direction, his lips curled around his teeth as he hissed.

"Get out of here!"

The girl did as she was told, darting down the alley way, fading into the background as if she were only a ghost of a memory.

A dark chuckle ripped out of the hybrid's mouth. He thrust his head back, slamming the back of his skull into Jesse's nose.

Jesse staggered, his nose streaming scarlet. He wiped the blood off with the back of his hand and glared at the hybrid.

"I liked this shirt." He frowned, looking down at the large splotches of crimson that now decorated his white v-neck shirt.

The creature let his disguise fall away. His body shook violently, peeling away the face he had stolen until he was in his natural state.

He crouched in a defensive stance. His sharp teeth gleamed in the moonlight, his pale ghoul eyes trained on Jesse's.

"You don't know who your dealing with, boy." The lower snarled. His nails grew three inches longer, they were as sharp as razors.

Jesse's lips curved into a demented smile. His silver eyes flashed with elation, there was nothing he wanted more than his blade stained with the monsters tainted blood.

"On the contrary. I know exactly what I'm dealing with."

He brought his arms to his side with his palms facing up. His veins pulsed with a galvanic blue, his palms blazing with what looked like fire. But it wasn't fire, it was his life force.

It was his energy.

The incubus-lilu hybrid's eyes widened, and Jesse felt his mouth curl in a smile. He drew his quartz sword out of his weapon belt and filled the stone with his essence, trapping bolts of blue lightening through it's vessel. It illuminated against the darkness like a blinding star.

"Let's dance." he jeered.

The creature jumped, cutting a flip over Jesse's head. Jesse whirled around, slinging his blade outward. An angry lesion opened across the lower's chest. Dark blood oozing from the wound, the skin around it melting like wax.

The creature screamed through his teeth, not in pain but in frustration.

A blinding hot rage welled in his eyes. He lunged forward digging his needle like talons into to Jesse's arms, tearing away the sleeve of his leather jacket and scraping the flesh of his forearm open.

Jesse growled, dropping his stone blade to the ground, it's illumination disappeared as soon as it left his hands.

He rammed into the lower, knocking him into the brick wall of the alley. Debris of loosened bricks rushed off of the wall like dust. He wrapped his hand around the hybrids throat and his mouth curving with a sinful edge.

Strands of his black hair fell into his eyes, sticking to his forehead that was damp with sweat.

"Where's your partner." Jesse snarled.

The creature glared at him, both of his hands tried to wedge his throat free. But it was no use, Jesse's strength was undeniable.

"I'll never tell you." He said through clenched teeth.

"Suit yourself."

Jesse let the hand that wasn't pinning the hybrid fill with the blue flame. He placed his palm over the monsters forehead and listened to the satisfying sound of sizzling flesh beneath his hand.

The creatures eyes bleached, his body slowly transforming to ash.

Jesse dusted the particles of creature off of his pants then walked back to retrieve his sword.

He felt himself tense when it saw it wasn't there.

"You really ought to care for your weapons better." Ky said calling from behind him. His shirt was torn to shreds and his jaw was stained with flecks of scarlet.

"I didn't know they were holding auditions for the Texas chainsaw massacre." Jesse grinned.

Ky rolled his eyes. Flinging the sword at him, he caught it in his hand and wiped the black liquid off of it.

"You were suppose to wait." Said a voice above Jesse's head. He lifted his eyes to see Ash perched on the edge of the building. The wind slinging his white hair in odd directions. The street light casted light on his face, making his lip ring glisten.

"I'm sorry, I don't remember Regina making you the boss of this operation." Jesse slitted his eyes, following Ash's silhouette as he dropped to the ground.

"Being reckless has always been your downfall." Ash said approaching him. His turquoise eyes gleaming with frustration.

"Don't forget who your speaking to." Jesse cautioned. Ky groaned and wedged himself between the two boys.

"Can we get on with this whose is bigger banter and finish this."

It hardly did any good. His voice was drowned out by the tense electricity swirling around the young men like tidal waves of fire.

"Did you find the succubus/lilu hybrid?" Jesse turned his attention to ky. His weapons belt was nearly falling off of his hips, his throwing knives sparkled against the moonlight.

"First things first, you need to tend to your wound." Ky pointed at Jesse's arm that had been filleted by the lower.

Jesse scowled and hovered His hand over his torn skin, watching as the blue flames of static stitched it back together.

As they set out to find their new target, Jesse's watched beeped.

Regina's name flashed in yellow across it's face.

He rolled his eyes and tapped on the button that connected to his earpiece.

"Yes?" He sighed annoyed.

"How much longer will you be?" Regina said.

He could hear her rummaging through papers. He could see in his minds eye, Regina's brows furrowed with an indent between them. The left side of her lip turned down at the corner.

"We have a loose end to tie up."

Regina made a sound of impatience.

"Stop by my office on your way back. I have a few words for the three of you."

Then the sound of a dial tone filled his ears.

"I told you." Ash muttered.

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