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The return trek to my house took place in near silence, interrupted only by a quick trip to the Verweald Plaza Hotel to retrieve my car, the demon—Darius—trailing me without a word, Tara's cat tucked under my arm.

I watched him from the corner of my eye, though no one else on the streets stared at the demon like I did. He was innocuous in his leather jacket and tinted wayfarers, a few women throwing appreciative glances in his direction, and I realized had I been in their shoes, I may have done the same and would have never, in a million years, guessed something was amiss. He walked among the humans with ease and indifference, this devil from another world, and I wondered how many creatures of his ilk I'd crossed paths with before, how many monsters dwelt in our misconceptions and preyed upon our naivety.

He vanished after we exited the taxi and before the miffed valet could retrieve my vehicle, seeming to step behind a swell of tourists and disappear, leaving me to drive home on my own. The cat remained a docile companion who did little more than sit on the middle console and watch with idle, feline contempt. I pressed on into mounting traffic, mind weighed by fatigue and suspicions. Where did the demon go? What is he doing?

The unanswered questions circled in my head like bloody water around a drain, my sister's image rising to the fore more often than not, quick flickers of affection in a seething tide poisoned by anger and loss, guilt and sorrow. I was a woman who appreciated plans; for all that I had made several of my life's most significant decisions at random or with haste, I still preferred routine and perspective. Having the demon flit about without saying a word left me feeling useless and stupid.

You're barely in a fit state to drive, let alone find a cult, I cursed myself, forehead lowered to the steering wheel's upper rim. You wandered out here half delirious in search of your dead twin, for pity's sake.

Evening crouched upon Evergreen Acres by the time I pulled into the driveway and killed the engine. Sighing, I got out of the car with Tara's animal in tow, listening to the loud clap of the door closing and how it bounced against the opposing houses, echoing into the muggy night. I dropped the cat once we were past my home's threshold and it started to peruse the living room with middling curiosity, tail flicking back and forth, amber eyes landing on me a final time before he slunk off into the thicker dark provided by the cold lights.

I'll need a cat box, I thought, reaching for the switch. And food. I should probably try to find it a new home.

The lights came on—and I let out a breathless shriek.

The demon, Darius, perched on the armchair near the hearth. Perched seemed the better word because he didn't sit in the chair so much as roost on it like a great, malevolent gargoyle, both feet balanced on the edge, arms braced upon his knees with a tattered book open between his poised hands. At first, I expected the book to be one of my own, purloined off my shelves without my notice, but the one the demon held didn't belong to me and I had no recollection of seeing it in my house before. The spine bore a grubby, peeling sticker.

"Is that—?" I questioned, heart lodged in my throat and seeming unwilling to relocate back to its proper place in my chest. "Is that a library book?"

Darius flicked a page over without looking up. "How very astute of you."

I braved the living room proper and glanced at the coffee table, spying a new stack among my leftover novels and Tara's forgotten magazines. Such titles as Ruminations on Occult Pedagogy, Obscure Symbology Reference, and A History of Fanaticism caught my eye. Picking up the topmost volume, a quick flip through the thick tome showed a prosaic slide-show of famous cults in recent time and a rough rundown of their sordid pasts, the references sparse, the author's voice bleeding through more than it should. In terms of academia, it was little more than an op-ed rag, if better written.

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