Redemption

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Blowing out a frustrated breath, Seth stared at himself in the mirror as he tried to do something with his rebellious hair.

It was useless.

Even worse than the curly mess he couldn’t control were the clothes Lydia had picked out for him to wear. The black pants that buttoned on the sides were extremely uncomfortable and they only went to his knees. From there down, he had on white... what had she called them? Stockings? And weird buckled shoes that pinched his toes and rubbed his heels worse than his armored boots.

But the thing he despised most was the gold, high collared, heavily embroidered jacket with a white shirt that had mountains of girly lace cascading down the front. She’d called it a cravat. He called it hideous. And that same scratchy lace spilled out at the end of his sleeves, covering both of his hands, all the way to his knuckles.

He’d bitched about this monstrosity the moment she’d shoved it at him. The only reason he’d finally agreed to wear it was that she’d pointed out the fact that it couldn’t possibly be any more uncomfortable to wear than armor- something he emphatically disagreed with. Only an outright moron laughed at a man in armor. Dressed like this, only an outright moron wouldn’t laugh at it.

And two, he wouldn’t have to wear it long. As soon as they were done, she’d promised to rip it off him and make him deliriously happy that he’d humored her.

Little did she know, he’d have worn it for her anyway. All she had to do was smile at him and he was sunk.

Still...

“I look like an effing idiot.”

Dressed in black tails and tie, Asmodeus snorted from behind him. “I would respond to that, but the fact that you have more powers now than you did when I served you in the Nether Realm, and the fact that I’m fond of my body parts in their current locations, prevent me from saying a single word.” He flashed a fanged grin at Seth. “Sorry.”

Yeah, right. His expression said he was anything but. In fact, that expression said the bastard was highly amused... and at Seth’s expense.

See. Point taken. Asmodeus had never dared laugh at him when they were in Azmodea and Seth was in armor.

But in this...

Laughter was a moral imperative.

He was tempted to offer the demon money to change clothes with him. Unfortunately, Asmodeus was an amorphic demon who could take any form he wanted, and for the wedding, the little creep had decided to be only six feet tall with short, white-blond hair he had spiked up over his head. Then again, he could use his powers to simply change his clothes into something else.

Like armor.

But that would upset Lydia.

For her, he would suffer.

Maybe not in silence, but...

He stifled a whimper as he met Asmodeus’s gaze in the mirror. Those gray eyes of his were the only thing that stayed the same in all incarnations. Eyes that saw far deeper than the surface of any being.

While Seth had been locked in Azmodea, the demon had been the only one, besides Jaden, who’d never harmed him. In fact, it was Asmodeus who’d taught him to paint his face to intimidate the others. And in spite of what Asmodeus had said, Seth had never once done him harm either.

The sad news was that Asmodeus was the closest thing to an actual friend he’d ever had... which was why the demon, who’d been freed from Noir’s service a few years back while Seth had been confined, had been asked to be his best man.

Asmodeus moved closer to straighten the cravat. “I have to say that I’m glad you’re the only one she wants dressed this way. ‘Cause it is epically hideous and you look like a woman in it.”

Seth glared down at him. “You better be glad I’ve mellowed and that you’re one of only four guests I have.”

Asmodeus’s grin widened. “Infinitely so, Lord Master Guardian. Besides, you wouldn’t want your best demon to have blood on his rented tux at your wedding, would you? It might distress Mistress Jackal.”

A wave of anger shot through him. “I know you’re joking with the title, but don’t call me that anymore.”

Stepping back, Asmodeus inclined his head as if he understood why that reminder stung him. “What do I call you then?”

“Seth.”

He started to chuckle, then stopped the moment Seth lifted a questioning eyebrow. “Sorry, Lord Master... that which I cannot say.”

“What’s so funny about my name?”

“I just thought you’d have a more sinister one than Seth. Although it does rhyme with death... Perhaps apropos after all.” Asmodeus clapped him on the back, then changed the subject. “Are you nervous about this?”

Not really. Bored. Irritated. Impatient. But definitely not nervous. “Am I supposed to be?”

“I’m told many are when they go to tie their lives to someone else. I, personally, would be vomitous over it.”

“Why?”

“One woman? Forever?” Asmodeus choked himself.

Seth shook his head at the demon. “She’s not just any woman.” She was unlike anyone he’d ever known.

“That’s what they all claim. Then you marry them and they spend the rest of their lives trying to kill you.”

“How so?”

Asmodeus checked the list off his fingers. “Whining. Nagging. Expanding.”

Seth scowled. “Expanding?”

“You know, getting fat on you.”

Seth was baffled by his reasoning. “Lydia’s pregnant, not fat.” And that was definitely his fault and not hers.

“Asmodeus!” Maahes snapped as he flashed into the room. “Stop trying to run him off.”

“Run him off? I’m trying to save him.”

Maahes grinned at Seth. “I don’t think he wants to be saved.”

Definitely not from Lydia, but he wasn’t about to say that to them.

“Is it time?” he asked the god.

“Almost.” Maahes squinted at him as he studied his clothes. “You’re not wearing your hair like that, are you?”

Yeah, okay, that succeeded in making him nervous. “Why? I thought I’d tamed it.”

Maahes snorted. “Looks good, Poindexter.”

“Poindexter?”

Without answering, Maahes grabbed him and pulled him away from the mirror so that he could tug at Seth’s hair.

Seth tried to pull away, but Maahes wouldn’t let him. Then he tried to fend the obnoxious god off. “What are you doing?”

“Put your hands down.”

Like hell.

“What in the world is going on here?”

Seth pushed Maahes back at the sound of Ma’at’s voice. He turned to see an amused light in her eyes as she watched them. “Nothing.”

“I’m trying to make his hair semi-attractive.”

Ma’at arched a brow. “That is not attractive.”

Seth turned to look in the mirror. He’d had his hair kind of smoothed down. Now it stuck out all over his head like Asmodeus’s.

“I wasn’t through with it.”

Tsking at them, Ma’at came forward. “Come here, child.”

Seth’s first instinct was to glare, but he’d slowly learned over the last few months that Ma’at and Maahes weren’t his enemies.

They were his family. After all this time, he really did have one. He still couldn’t believe it.

That had been the hardest adjustment. Forcing himself to remember that not everyone wanted to hurt him. That there really were people in the world who could love him and not cause him harm.

Smiling, Ma’at patted him gently on the arm. “You’ll have to sit or kneel, Seth. I can’t reach your hair from here.”

Her powers and personality were such that it was easy to forget just how tiny she really was. Like Lydia, she barely reached mid chest on him.

Seth knelt down so that she could quickly style his hair.

Once she finished, he rose and went to look at it. The curls were all over his head again. Curling his lip, he reached to straighten it.

“Don’t you dare!” Ma’at’s voice was as stern as he’d ever heard it.

“I look like a woman.”

“No, you definitely don’t. Trust me.” She turned a sharp glare toward Maahes and Asmodeus. “And don’t you dare contradict me.”

Maahes held his hands up in surrender. “I would never contradict you.”