When a breach in the Prism of Nezrabi frees creatures from another plane, a troubled wizard learns there are things more terrifying than the bogeymen of our nightmares. Like inner demons . . . and love.
* * * * *
"Did you see anything unusual while you were out and about?" Adin, who’d apparently found a couple of lawn chairs in the garage, sat placidly, ankle resting on knee, just outside the front door. He reached out and gave Jackson’s fingers a quick, affectionate squeeze.
"Yep, I did." Jackson self-consciously returned the pressure and took a seat in the empty chair.
He wanted to lean over and give Adin a long, slippery kiss. Just hold the man’s head and plant one and let their lips and tongues slide around. Since the house wasn’t far from the sidewalk, he refrained. The impulse continued to needle him, even though they’d had sex that morning. Why couldn’t he seem to get enough?
"Well," Adin said, "I’ve been hearing unusual things."
Before he could explain, a metallic clangor came from inside the flat. It sounded like a chef was throwing a tantrum in the kitchen. A distressed voice let out a mournful, blood-curdling moan. As Jackson bolted up from the lawn chair, Adin grabbed his wrist.
"Don’t bother," he said. "Nothing’s being trashed. Your domowoj isn’t real pleased by my presence, that’s all. So he’s banging the cookware."
"I don’t give a shit what his problem is. I just want him to leave us the hell alone."
A new crash echoed inside the apartment.
"I don’t think he’s happy with my language, either," Jackson said. "They’re sanctimonious little pricks."
This time, something thudded against the door.
Adin kept hold of Jackson’s wrist. "It wouldn’t be a good idea to banish your domowoj. He belongs here. He’s only doing his job."
Indecision made Jackson pause for a moment. He wasn’t sure he could communicate with the creature; he didn’t know its native language.
Slipping out of Adin’s grasp, he turned to the door. "I’ll try something else, then."
Entering the cool, dim flat, Jackson immediately spotted his domestic guardian diving beneath the stove. He didn’t bother wondering how the thing fit under there. It just slipped out of sight. Walking to the range, he gripped the top edge of each side.
In Latin he said, "This is my home. You are welcome here. My guest is also welcome here. You and I have nothing to fear from him. Therefore, you must dwell here peaceably, in silence. Leave me and my guest be."
The domowoj must have understood him. Perhaps because Latin was the universal language of magic, perhaps because this guardian could understand any language in which the homeowner spoke. The stove shuddered beneath Jackson’s hands. A disgruntled mumbling came from behind it.
Jackson sent tendrils of white light from his fingertips. The light spread over and seeped beneath the stove like irradiated frosting. Then it soaked into the stove. When no trace of it remained, the domowoj was still.
"Thank you," Jackson murmured. "Now stay that way."
He turned to the fridge and grabbed a beer, then rejoined Adin outside.
"Got it under control?" Adin asked, twisting around to look up at him.
"I think so."
Continuing to stand, Jackson let himself enjoy the view. He loved looking at Adin from different angles. It was like rotating a well-cut gemstone to admire its facets. Some things, and people, just seemed to redefine the concept of perfection. If only the man were dumber than a stump...