Two hours later, I was walking through the mall. Rune had left us earlier and claimed he’d meet us with the rest of the boys in the food court. That left me alone with Alex once again. She still looked like me at this point, which caused me to wonder why she could maintain the form now and not earlier. We had stopped at three stores before now. Occasionally, I forgot what she was. For a bit, it actually felt like going shopping with the girls.
We each had a few bags of clothing. I had even picked out a cute little purple top for myself. Alex filled it out better than I did, I jealously thought, but I wouldn’t let that stop me. We were on our way to the food court, figuring it was about time to meet the boys there. Alex had informed me that we had to leave the boys waiting for just a little. I decided to take her word on it.
The newest hot boy musician’s hit song was playing over the mall sound speakers. It was called ‘Jane’s Dilemma’ by a guy named Demetrius. Samantha hadn’t let me live that one down. It was about a girl named Jane who had to choose between several men. In the end, she chose Demetrius, of course. Alex seemed to really like the song, though, humming the lyrics to herself. She said it reminded her of her younger days. She was surprisingly worldly and easy to talk to when she wasn’t trying to have sex with me. Finally, I mustered up the courage to ask her what I really wanted to know about.
“I figured once Daniel left you would have turned back into a guy?”
Alex shrugged. “Being a succubus is a funny thing. You assume we always turn into someone’s greatest sexual desire, but that’s not it. We turn into their greatest desire. Sometimes, that means we’re not what you’d expect.”
I raised my eyebrows in confusion, but Alex didn’t say anything more. I decided to change the conversation.
“You knew Daniel; you said he was going to kill you. Can he be trusted? What did he do with you?”
Alex blushed, “Nothing bad if that is what you were thinking.”
“I just… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry,” I replied.
“No, it’s fine. I was being melodramatic before. Back in the cave, I was making things worse than they were. It’s not simply my appearance that changes towards people’s desires, but also a bit of my personality. He had found me a few weeks prior. He had actually saved me from making a really big mistake. For the most part, he used me to try to guess what his mate, I guess that would be you, looked like.”
“So he was trying to make you look like me? So that’s why you look the way you do now?”
Alex smiled politely, then went on. “Well, to be honest, most of the time his inner wolf was battling with his ideas of a woman. Half the time I ended up looking like a female wolf in heat.”
Despite myself, I laughed. Alex joined with me. For a few brief moments, it actually felt like having a sister. I shut the feeling down quickly. She was an imposter invading my home; I couldn’t forget that.
“Hey!” Stephan shouted, waving his hands.
Stephan, Andrew, Rune and, surprisingly, Daniel were sitting around a table in the dining area of the mall. That looked like our stop. It almost took my breath away as I looked at each of the boys in front of me. Rune looked agitated to be there. His red hair was gelled up; his shirt was slightly less frumpled than it otherwise might be, tight against his well-toned muscular body.
Andrew wore clean, light colors; a pastel blue shirt, and light jeans. He gave me a golden smile as I came near. Daniel was wearing clothing for once; a leather jacket covering a sleeveless white shirt and black jeans. He seemed almost uncomfortable with all those clothes on. Stephan was by far the most nicely dressed; his button-up green shirt and brown casual slacks covering his unusually pale skin.
I had barely sat down when Rune spoke up. “So you got us all here, what do you want?”
“Actually,” Stephan began, “I was kind of hoping for more of this.”
“What?” I asked.
“Well you see, last night when we were hunting Daniel, I was thinking to myself that this is actually kind of fun.”
“It’s fun hunting me?” Daniel interjected with a frown.
“No, not that. I meant it was fun being around people. For most of my life, I’ve always been a bit of a loner. Never had a lot of friends. Last night, it was actually kind of nice to be with friends.”
“Woah, we’re not friends.” Rune leaned back.
“I think we can be friends,” I interjected, causing Rune to quiet up. Did I really want these people as friends? It was too late now; the words were out.
“Well, that got me thinking, why don’t we form a school club? Then we’d have real, legitimate reasons to hang out more,” Stephan declared.
Andrew raised an eyebrow. “What kind of club?”
“Well, I was thinking something along the lines of an assistance club. Detectives of sorts. We can solve problems around the high school; help people in need.”
“You know,” I spoke up, “That actually sounds like it might be fun.” I actually believed that, to my surprise.
“I’m in,” Daniel spoke up, glancing over at me.
“Me too,” Alex smiled.
Andrew nodded, “If you all insist on doing this, I want to make sure Jane stays safe. If so, I’m in.”
Everyone turned to Rune. “Well don’t look at me. There is not a chance in hell I’m joining your little Scooby Doo gang.”
“That’s fine,” Stephan shrugged, “I’m sure Andrew will be happy taking care of Jane as he spends every day with her while you do something else. Brood probably.”
Rune looked over at Andrew, who smiled devilishly, then back to Stephan. “Fine! You win, I’ll join your club.”
“Excellent, I have the forms right here; everyone needs to sign.”
As the papers got handed from person to person for their signature, Andrew looked up. “There is more to this though, isn’t there? You already have a mystery that you need us to solve, don’t you?”
Stephan looked down sheepishly, “It looks like you caught me red-handed.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“The reason I’m here. As you may remember, I came here hunting after several missing persons. I originally had assumed Daniel over here was the culprit. After last night, my lead went dead.”
“Missing Persons? Really?” Daniel spoke up suddenly, “That sounds similar to me.”
“What do you mean?” Stephan asked.
“Well, as you know, I’ve been here a while. I must say, the original reason I came was not to search out my mate. It was more a side distraction.” Daniel gave me an apologetic look. “You see, I was originally sent by my alpha, which is the head of my pack to you non-werewolf folk, to locate a cousin pack that went missing recently. A small, three-wolf pack just vanished off the face of the earth.”
“Rune, I saw a look on your face; do you have something you can add to this?” Stephan turned.
Rune looked away, but his face looked more thoughtful than angry for the moment. After a few seconds of silence, he sighed and threw up his hands.
“I suppose it’s no secret that I’m not usually here on Earth. A few low-leveled acquaintances of mine went missing around this area, too. That’s why I came to town. ”
Not on Earth?
“I always wondered why you showed up.” Andrew shook his head in wonder.
“What about you Andrew; why are you here?” Alex piped in.
“I was assigned here years ago. The place has been relatively quiet; until Rune showed up, that is.”
“Yeah, but aren’t you way too high-ranked and overqualified to be watching over this small town?” Rune responded.
“I never really asked. I just followed orders.” Andrew shook his head.
“So.” Stephan leaned back. “Missing people, missing packs, and missing demons; on top of that a misdirected angel. There is definitely something going on.”
“You think they’re connected?” Andrew spoke up before I could get a word out. “Do you have any leads?”
“Just one. We can check it out tonight if you want. We better start planning.”
“Wait! Just wait. You guys are losing me. What are you? What do you mean not usually on Earth? Andrew? Rune?” I demanded.
Everyone froze, the pair only now suddenly realizing that they had been speaking so openly in front of me. Rune relaxed first, sitting back and chuckling to himself.
“Well, we might as well tell her, Andreatis. I guess the simplest way to spill it would be to say that I am a demon.”
Alex snorted. “Not just a demon. Succubae like me are low-level demons. He’s an Archdemon, one of the highest levels of hell demon around. In any other circumstances, a lowly succubus wouldn’t even be allowed to be associated with his likeness. Of course, neither would a mere mortal human like you…”
“That’s enough,” Rune snapped, his voice suddenly full of an authority I never imagined he had.
“What does that make you?” I asked, looking at Andrew.
He smiled at me. “I am the Archangel, Andreatis.”