Leo’s Salvation by A.M. Halford
[This is a standalone story that does not require you to read the previous books in the series. Although reading the previous books will help you enjoy the overall story arc.]
Leo Eaus, a warlock from a cursed coven, hopes to make up for the sins caused by his family in the past by working as an exorcist.
Agnar Landvik, a berserker bear shifter, only hopes to get through his lonely days without killing his friends in the Twin Ravens MC.
Their paths cross when Leo’s job takes him to Tulsa Oklahoma. Agnar sees Leo as the end to his lonely days. Leo only sees what could happen to Agnar if Leo’s secret was ever discovered.
While they struggle to come to an understanding and form the relationship destined to be theirs, trouble stirs in the shadows of Tulsa. It’ll take Agnar and Leo working together to subdue this new threat.
Add in a snarky familiar that has an opinion about everything, a group of meddling biker enforcers, and a demonic grandfather and Leo’s Salvation seems to be either within grasp or just out of reach.
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“Oh, thank God you’re here!” Mrs. Arndell ushered Leo into the beautiful cottage style house quickly, and closed the door behind him like she was trying to keep his presence here a secret. “It just won’t stop. The nightmares last all night long and I’m losing sleep, but when I wake up, I can’t move,” she continued to speak as she showed him into the kitchen. It was a nice enough space, white cupboards, dark granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. “Please, tell me you can do something?”
Leo smiled warmly at the tired young woman. She couldn’t be any more than twenty-five years old. Judging by the Catholic rosary she wore, and the crucifix he’d seen in the living room, he was going to guess she was Catholic. Either that, or she thought the items would somehow shield her from the entity she believed was in her home.
Unfortunately for Mrs. Arndell no modern-day symbols were going to ward off her nightly visitor. He could already feel the creature tapping at his consciousness, trying to figure out if he was friend or foe. With a gentle nudge, he sent the specter a warning to get out before he got rough. The backlash he received made him smile. This was going to be fun.
“Did you do as I instructed?” Leo asked, looking about the kitchen for any signs of the specter. He didn’t see it.
“Yes,” she nodded, moving to the fridge and grabbing a glass of wine from it. “My husband cleared out our bedroom this morning.”
“Good. Then, show me the way,” Leo said. Other than that one psychic greeting, Leo hadn’t felt anything else since coming into the house. Meaning whatever it was that was haunting the Arndells, it had retreated to a place it felt safe, the master bedroom.
Mrs. Arndell showed him to the large room and instantly Leo saw it. A ghostly figure of a woman standing in the center of the room, hovering over the dark wood floors. Her garb indicated she was a native American, perhaps a spirit disturbed when they built the house here?
No, Leo looked closer and sneered. The specter’s deceiving visage melted away showing a gnarled old hag. It was a Mare, a creature very similar to a succubus. She fed off humans through their nightmares, causing sleep paralysis in the process. If left unchecked she would kill both of the residents of this quaint suburban home.
“Ma’am, I’m going to need you to leave the room,” Leo said calmly.
She didn’t argue, merely nodded, and dashed from the room. As soon as she was gone Leo withdrew his staff, his Salamander familiar Ignis crawled out from his hiding place in Leo’s jacket and perched himself on his shoulders. The large lizard like reptile hissed at the Mare standing in the center of the room.
“You aren’t welcome here,” Leo said firmly.
“And what are you going to do about it?” the creature’s voice crackled as it spoke. “A weak little wizard like you seeks to run me off?”
Leo smiled, she didn’t recognize him. Good. Taking a deep breath, he whispered, “Incanto.” When the Mare gasped, and shrank away from him, he knew exactly what she was seeing. Instead of his usual, nonthreatening brown hair and blue eyes, he stood before her with his true face. The face of one with genuine demon blood running through his veins.
“You, your kind are dead!” the Mare shrieked.
“Leave. Now!” Leo ordered again, black flames collecting around him in a lotus shape. The pendant he wore around his neck glowed as he spoke.
The Mare attacked and Leo sent his fire to encircle the malevolent woman. She wailed as the fire licked at her astral body. Obviously, she hadn’t been expecting Leo’s fire to be able to burn her directly.
“Why! Why do you kill your own?” she demanded as the fiery cage shrank in around her.
“Atonement,” Leo answered before he closed his eyes and heard the last pained cry of the Mare as the flames swallowed her up. Unlike when a demon was banished from the mortal realm, his fire could kill them, so long as they were lower level demons like those that haunted humans. Anything stronger than mid-level and even he had to resort to just banishing it back to whatever hell it originated from.
“You wasted perfectly good Hellfire on such a weak opponent,” Ignis hissed in Leo’s ear. “Why not just exorcise it?”
“Because, the Mare would’ve just found another way to get back to this realm,” Leo sighed, as he placed his staff back inside his coat, sliding it into the custom-made holder at his side. It was meant to keep the magical tool concealed.
“Your brethren would weep if they saw you now,” Ignis reminded him again.
Leo didn’t even bothering pointing out it was because of his brethren that he did this job. With a mental order, he sent Ignis back into his coat and left the bedroom to go in search of Mrs. Arndell. She wouldn’t have any more trouble sleeping.
* * * *
Paid, and back at his office, Leo stripped out of his coat, letting the leather material rest comfortably on the mannequin made especially for it. Ignis crawled from his pocket in the coat and perched himself at the top of the mannequin, hissing irritably. He always did when they got back from a job. Leo had learned to ignore the irate Salamander.
Walking by his desk Leo noticed he had one message on his answering machine. Yeah, it was probably time he just routed all his calls to his cell, but he didn’t like the interruptions when he was working.
Pressing play, he walked over to his mini-fridge and grabbed one of the cold coffees he kept in supply as the message played. “Hello? Um, my name is Danny Loreen, and I was told Leo Eaus was the best at helping with demonic possessions. I,” tears started to clog the man’s voice, “I think I’m being possessed. I have blank spaces in my memory and I don’t know why. I live in Tulsa Oklahoma, and I really need your help. My number is 539-555-3453.”
Leaning against the filing cabinet that didn’t hold files exactly, it held his weapons, Leo considered if he should take the job. A blank in memory didn’t necessarily mean demonic possession. The guy could just be suffering from a mental illness. Then again, judging by his desperation, Leo was willing to guess he’d already ruled that out.
“We going?” Ignis sounded interested. It was never a good sign when his familiar was interested in a case.
Still, it was a job and if the mortal was being influenced by a demonic or evil magick in any way, he was sworn to help. Sighing, Leo knew he was going to take the job. Of course, that didn’t mean he couldn’t be wary. If Ignis was interested in this job, then God only knows what was waiting for him in Tulsa.