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Soul Conquered

An excerpt from


Soul Conquered

Chapter 1

Noah

I’m the Antichrist.

At least, that’s what Lucifer—the Devil—says, and he always tells the truth. I don’t feel any different than I did before I killed a guy and became the Antichrist, though. Hale was a dick and a drug dealer who constantly hurt other people, so my ridding the world of him isn’t, like, a huge loss for mankind or anything. But somehow it made me the Antichrist, Lucifer’s “hand on Earth.” According to him, that means I get to rule the world.

So the fact that I’m sixteen and getting home from school on a Friday after basketball—just like I normally would—feels way too ordinary.

I thought maybe I’d wake up and everything would change, but no. It’s the same old, same old—sharing the house with my mentally absent parents and dead sister’s room-turned-dusty shrine. I’d think I dreamed the whole thing if it wasn’t for the Devil himself waiting for me in my room every day to give me more instructions and lessons and all the other crap adults with authority tend to value, when all I want is to do something so I can move toward the goal of taking over the planet. I’m starting to wonder if Lucifer is so used to immortality that he’s forgotten I have a human timeline to work with. But he must remember—he’s the one who keeps reminding me how important it is that I’m “one of them” so I can rule here on Earth.

I’m about to turn the knob on my bedroom door when Lucifer appears in front of me, making me jump. Damn it. I hate it when he does that.

“You’re sulking,” he says. “You’re about to rule the world. What could be the problem?”

That’s the problem,” I say, puffing out my chest so I look like I have authority. “You say I’m going to rule the world, but my life continues to suck.”

Lucifer chuckles. “Ah, the impatience of the young. I have a gift for you, Noah. I know it must be difficult not seeing results yet, so I thought you deserved to feel like a king.” He throws the door open with a wave of his hand, and I step into my room—or what used to be my room.

It looks more like one of those entertainment rooms in a millionaire’s house—a huge, leather chair up on a dais, some sofas with cup holders on either side, and a giant flat-screen mounted to the wall. Granted, millionaires probably don’t have blue torches burning on either side of the screen or a deep crimson shag carpet that looks like the river of blood from The Shining.

“Um, thanks?” I say, looking around.

“It’s identical to my own throne room in Hell.” Lucifer claps his hands together. I guess he’s excited, but he looks more like he’s plotting something evil.

“What about my bed?” I ask, throwing down my backpack and basketball and climbing the double steps to the leather throne.

“You know you have enhanced strength, did you not think you could do more? You will find that some powers are quite natural to use. You have control over the furniture; simply will it to appear, and…” Lucifer waves a hand and one of the sofas turns back into my bed. “And if your parents or anyone else happens in—” Lucifer begins.

“They won’t.” They haven’t bothered to come upstairs in months.

If they do, it’ll look just like your old room to them.” Lucifer adjusts his tie, which matches the carpet perfectly.

The supple leather welcomes me home as I settle back into the enormous throne-like recliner.

“What’s that smell?” I ask. It’s light but persistent, like charcoal. At first I thought it was the torches. Now I’m not so sure.

“Brimstone,” Satan answers. He inhales deeply. Not weird at all.

“What about my clothes?” I ask, changing the subject. “And my other stuff?”

Lucifer grins, which is something I still have to get used to. I guess he means it to be friendly, but he is the Devil, and it’s kind of disturbing. “That’s what servants are for. I’ll assign you a Demon right away. I have the perfect one in mind. I imagine you’ll enjoy telling her to do whatever you want.”

My pulse speeds up, though I try not to show it. Even so, I can’t help but grip the arms of the chair tighter. Is he sending Keira back to me? She had ulterior motives when she met me, but there was no denying we were drawn to each other. What started out as attraction turned into real feelings faster than I expected. I’d thought she was playing me, but it turned out to be Lucifer’s doing.

I’m pissed that he’s been keeping us apart, but Keira’s begged me not to say anything. And now that I understand through the letters she secretly sends me that she really does want me, if Lucifer’s changed his mind about separating us, well, that would be an amazing gift. Way better than this stupid furniture. No more hiding our relationship. Talking is nice, but if I think the chair is supple… Well, let’s just say I’d rather have her within physical reach.

Lucifer snaps his fingers, and I nearly puncture the chair’s material with my fingers. It isn’t Keira’s sleek, black hair I see kneeling before me. It’s the golden curls of my ex-Angel sister, Grace.

“Noah.” Grace’s voice is hoarse as she raises her head and sees me in the chair. She starts to stand, and I feel queasy when I see the slutty outfit she’s in. I know she didn’t pick it; she’d never wear something so revealing. Lucifer better not think I’m going down that road with my sister, because he can go fu—

“Stay on your knees,” Lucifer barks, and she freezes in an awkward stance somewhere between a bow and a faint. Her face wipes blank of emotion as she complies, lowering herself back to the floor, but she’s silently trying to say something with her eyes. Probably telling me to pray for forgiveness. Why couldn’t she just leave me alone and stay up in Heaven?

“You weren’t kidding when you said she’s a Demon now,” I say, speaking directly to Lucifer. It’s easier to pretend she’s not right here in front of me. I remember him saying that during one of our first meetings in my bedroom after school. But…

“You couldn’t believe it?” Lucifer asks, back to his oily voice, the one reserved for placating me. When he does that I have to wonder if he’s worried about my reactions—if maybe I have more power than he’d like.

“No. I believed you, I just couldn’t picture it.” I stand, feeling the need to escape Grace’s vicinity. I notice a comb in her hair as I pass, the turquoise color catching my eye. It’s the shell I left at her grave. I keep moving away from her and closer to Lucifer.

“And you’re not happy? I thought you’d be thrilled with my gift. You did want to see her. That was part of your original request when you called me.”

“But our deal was for my parents to see she’s fine and forget her. So they’d move on. They won’t move on if they think she’s in Hell, so this does me no good.”

“Noah,” Grace’s voice calls to me from behind, but I cut her off and speak louder.

“It’s a little weird. I’d rather have someone else.” I straighten, ignoring the tiny gasp that comes from behind me. It isn’t my fault she’s a Demon now. She did this to herself, and I’d rather have no part in it.

“I’m afraid I don’t have many other Demons who are not on assignment at the moment. Perhaps I can create one to your specifications. I’ll show you the list of the expected incoming, and you can choose.” He throws an arm around my shoulders and leads me back toward the throne.

“I’d like Keira.” In her letters, she’s been clear that she doesn’t want me to say anything to Lucifer about her, but I can’t help it. I need her.

“Ah, well.” Lucifer’s grin gets creepier, and his hold on me tightens. He snaps his fingers again, and I sense Grace’s disappearance from the room. “I’m afraid that’s just not possible at the moment. Kiera’s on a special assignment. Don’t worry. I’ll tell you what, Noah. I’ll give you more than the ability to change the furniture around. I’ll give you a magic closet.” He snaps his fingers, and a giant wardrobe appears. He chuckles like it’s the coolest thing in the universe. “Just tell it what you need, and open the door.” He practically shoves me in front of it.

“Um, my new jersey?” I ask, glancing at my discarded basketball on the carpet near the sofa.

Lucifer throws open the door, and a deliveryman stumbles forward with a box, almost dropping his electronic signing thing as he looks around, disoriented. I grab the box, and Lucifer snaps, making the guy disappear and the door slam shut. He snaps again and my jersey’s out of the box and hanging there in midair. Number 666. Ha ha.

“The extra two sixes were a ‘mistake’ at the printers,” Lucifer chuckles. “But one they couldn’t fix before the first game.”

This time, I act grateful. Best to keep the Devil appeased—at least for now. “The guys on the team will love it. They’ll say I’ll intimidate everyone on the court.”

“Remember, you won’t have time for basketball once we’ve begun,” Lucifer says. It’s a command, not a suggestion.

I grip the jersey hard, but don’t turn around. “I know that the ultimate plan is for me to rise through positions of power and influence. I have to make people trust me.” I repeat it so he won’t. He’s only told me this about fifty times since introducing me to the whole Antichrist concept—the “AC,” as I like to call it. “But don’t I have to, I don’t know, graduate before I run for office?”

“No need. I have…influence. And so do my minions. Our minions. Go ahead, call Grace. You can send her back again with a simple command, but I want to show you how it works.”

I sigh, resigned. At least I’ll be prepared to see her this time. And there is something I’d like to get from her.

“Grace,” I say.

She appears before me, not kneeling this time but still expectant and hopeful. Damn, no matter what the situation, she always has these expectations of me that I can never meet. Why can’t I just get rid of her? She makes me uncomfortable.

“Noah.” The corners of her mouth turn up ever so slightly, drawing tiny curves in her cheeks. I guess she hasn’t smiled in awhile. “Please. Let’s talk.”

I reach out and stroke her hair, not quite able to smile back before yanking the comb from her head, letting her hair fall loose in her face. One of the points of the comb digs into the soft flesh of my palm, stinging as it punctures my skin. Without taking my eyes off her, I place the shell in my pocket and watch her brown eyes turn red. Good. She’s capable of Demonic anger. It’s the most human reaction I’ve ever seen from her.

“Go away,” I tell her. She vanishes.

“You have command over the same army I do,” Lucifer says, and I turn toward him, fingering the smooth shell in my pocket before I pull my stinging hand from my jeans and examine the cut on my palm. A small pool of blood gathers in the center, and I shake my wrist, trying to rid myself of the pain. Tiny droplets rain out from my hand, spattering Lucifer’s arm. Smoke curls from the dot that connects with his bare wrist, and he hisses at me, eyes glowing red, making me jump back.

Lucifer straightens his sleeve and collects himself. “This is my favorite suit,” he says, indicating the tiny droplets on his sleeve. “Not to worry, my boy. I’ll have your diploma by the end of the week, your Harvard Law degree by next Sunday. No need to let a few minor dips in the road slow us down. Not when I’ve waited so long.”

“I’ve always preferred Yale,” I say, though, in truth, I’ve never seen either up close. I have to be careful. I want Lucifer to know I’m not some puppet he can control—I’m not one of his Demons—but since I also want to finally get started on this whole rule-the-Earth thing, I have to go along with his plans.

Lucifer rubs his hands together. “Then Yale it is.”