The Demon Inside
Demon Hunter #7
As Ruby is snatched away from Ravenshill prison, she ends up in more trouble than she thought possible.
The truth has finally been revealed, yet it seems the wrong people are in charge of this information. As she fights for her freedom, her captors have other ideas and as she's forced into a plan, like a cog in a wheel, Ruby soon comes to realise who her true self is.
Despite the disgust that comes with recognition, Ruby realises she must accept her true self if she has any hope of saving those she loves, and the entire world...
Everything hurt. My whole body ached with a dull persistence that thrummed through every fibre of my being, a niggling in some places, a roar in others.
I wanted to go back to sleep, to forget about how much pain I was in and fall back into my drowsy senses. But now that I was awake, my mind began to work. As my brain began to spark, I realised that I still wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Yet I didn’t need to be in complete control to know something was wrong. A sense of confusion pervaded everything and underneath it, simmering like a pot set to boil, was a streak of fear.
Where am I? What happened?
I forced my eyes open. The light was too bright, burning my retinas with a sharp pain. I hissed, half-closing my eyes. I tried to move my arms, attempting to shield myself further from the harsh glare, but found that they wouldn’t give in to my request. Taking a deep breath, I forced my eyelids open once more and dared a look down my body. My wrists were bound.
In an instant, my mind shook me to full levels of alert and I had taken in my current situation. I was lying on my back, wrists bound to shackles on either side of me. Nausea flooded my stomach as I realised the ground moved beneath me in a constant rumble. And the worse thing was, I wasn’t alone. Two men sat in the back of the van with me, either side, like I was a danger to someone. They were silent and staring, neither uttering a word as they watched me regain consciousness.
It all came back to me then. Prison. The fight. Wrath. And Sheila. Fury licked my veins as my head moved side to side, investigating my surroundings.
I was in a van. My stomach tightened as panic seized me. I fought to free my arms, straining at the bonds that held me down but there was no give. My wrists burned as metal cut into my skin with every movement. I was stuck. Lifting my head, I stared towards my feet and saw the doors of the van, white against the dim light.
I forced the panic to a dull simmer as I recalled the last thing I remembered, pushing my mind to focus on one thing at a time. The prison. I had been locked up and then I was fighting. Wrath. The sixth of the sins had been behind bars with me; close to me like all the others had been. Sheila had appeared. I fought the demon with the little I had and then they caged Wrath as if this was as normal as any other case. Sheila had another demon in her clutches. And then I was taken—dragged—out of there.
I was no longer a prisoner of the state but I was still bound like one.
I jostled as the van went over a bump in the road, my body shaking side to side uncontrollably. The floor was cold beneath my backside. My gaze flicked over the men again. They were dressed in dark clothing, expressions impassive. The one on my right leaned heavily on his knees, staring at me unblinking. What was Sheila worried about? That I’d somehow break the chains and escape a moving vehicle?
“What’s going on?” My voice shook, betraying the fear coursing through me. I swung to look between the two men. Aside from their hair colour and the shape of their faces, they were clones. Sheila’s private army. I’d seen them plenty before; every time we caught a sin and it was caged up and carted out, these guys, or others that looked like them were the ones doing the job. They were not Hunters.
Neither man answered and the guy on the right dropped his gaze. Cowards.
I let my head drop back down, taking the pressure off my neck as I mulled over my situation. I thought getting out of Ravenshill was going to be the best thing for me—despite the fact that it was at Sheila’s whim—but it looked like I had just hopped out of the frying pan and into the fire. The fact that I was so prone left my skin prickling. I was used to being in control, protecting myself and those around me, and now I was powerless. An animal locked in her cage.
But I was still a Hunter—her employee—and I deserved answers. I took a deep breath, steadied my nerves, and lifted my head once more. “Hey, I said—”
“Ruby, you’re awake.” A female voice spoke.
Instant hatred turned my blood cold. I tipped my head back as far as it would go, neck craning. I caught a glimpse of Sheila peering down on me from the front of the van. I saw her pale skin and grey steely eyes from behind a mesh barrier. Her lips were twisted in a wry smile. Her gaze flicked over me like I was a piece of meat.
“Is this how all prisoners are transported back home?” My voice was a deep growl.
“Afraid not, Ruby.” Her lip twitched. “We have things in store for you.”
I bristled. Whatever Sheila had planned for me was not going to be good. If I’d learned anything over the last few months, it was that Sheila had an ulterior motive and while I didn’t know what it was yet, I wasn’t about to let it happen without a fight. “I think you need to check your assumptions because I did not sign up for this.” My neck began to ache as I glared at her, the base of my skull irritated from prolonged contact with the rough flooring of the van, but I refused to back down.
“Perhaps not, but then most people do not sign up for the life given to them.” She paused and took a breath, looked deep in thought for a moment. “Have you never considered, Ruby, that humans are just here to serve a purpose. We’re born, we live, we die.”
“There is so much more to life than that, and you know it.” My voice was a deep growl.
“You’re right. There is. Tell me, what do you think your purpose in life is, Ruby Dawson?”
“I thought it was to be a Hunter, to follow in the footsteps of my dad, but now, I’m not so sure.”
“Explain.” Her head tilted to the side.
“I think I’m here to stop you.”
She chuckled, long and low. “You must know by now that there is no stopping me. I run The Agency. I have the power. And I am going to help you fulfil your true purpose.”
“My purpose?” My eyes widened. “I’ve been doing that ever since I came to The Agency so how about you let me out of these chains and I’ll pretend you didn’t lock me up.”
“You’re a good Hunter, Ruby, I can’t deny it. From the very beginning when your senses began to show you demons, you have learned quickly and fought hard. You took it all in your stride and have caught the attention of a lot of wizened Hunters. You even managed to capture the sixth sin while stuck behind bars with limited materials. You should be proud of your accomplishments. I’m not sure all of our Hunters are that resourceful.”
“It’s not an accomplishment. It’s my job. And now you’ve taken me away from all of those women who still don’t have a clue what was happening. They lost people. Their friends died and they have no clue how or why.” I thought of Michelle and Tracey. Of Donna who had lost her life because I wasn’t able to act quick enough.
“You were only there because I thought it might teach you a lesson in honesty. I could have pulled you out anytime I chose. You are not one of them.” She shook her head.
“All this time you’ve kept me incarcerated for your own gain.”
Sheila’s mouth turned down. “It sounds terrible when you put it like that. But essentially, yes. I have a lot of friends in high places, Ruby. How else do you think I was admitted into Ravenshill and into your very cell? Having you locked up has given me the time I needed to finalise my plans.”
“You’ll see soon enough. There are much bigger things in store for you.”
I asked the question despite hating having to still rely on her. “What’s in store for me, Sheila?”
Her smile widened, the deep red of her lips pulling tight across her gums. Rage boiled under my skin but I held it together and kept her gaze. Releasing my fury would do nothing when I was bound. I had to bide my time. “Oh, Ruby, if only you were as smart as you are a good Hunter. You could have pieced this together long before now.”
My cheeks flamed. “I’m not blind, Sheila. I know that you’ve been hiding something from me, from all of us. And I know it involves the seven sins. I know more than you think.”
“You do?” Her brow raised, the wrinkles on her forehead casting waves. “Then I don’t need to tell you.”
I cursed under my breath. Cool it, Ruby, I told myself. I had to find out exactly what she was planning if I had any hope of putting a stop to it. Gritting my teeth, I pressed for information. “Don’t you think it’s wise to tell me something I’m involved in?”
She watched me, head cocked to the side, for a beat too long. “No. I don’t think so.”
Her eyes flicked to the man sitting on my right—my guard. He stood, heaved the baton from his belt and brought it down with a wide swing. Everything went black.