Standing beneath the shower, as cold as he could get it, he waited for the frigid water to slice over his skin, controlling the burn. Making a trip into the mountains wouldn’t help. The new Queen of the Succubi wanted him too badly, although she hid it better than had her deceased predecessor, a fountain of pure evil. Still, he doubted he’d return from a run to Demon Hall.
By the time he slid into his seat at the head of the long, formal dining table, he’d managed to clamp a lid on the furnace broiling within. Not that he considered himself human, even on the best of days. But the shower had brought his temperature down. He glanced at his reflection in the back of a soup spoon.
“Your eyes are lighter,” Blackburn confirmed. “Almost normal.”
“Yeah, if normal is the color of dirty snow. Or ash.”
“As a matter of fact, I could use a new tube of Opaline gray, if you’re ordering. Also, Mars black. I’ll get you a list.” Raines dipped his spoon into the bowl of chilled gazpacho Blackburn had served, but looked up when the majordomo remained silent. “What?” His razor-thin patience wouldn’t tolerate social diplomacy today.
Blackburn cleared his throat. “You could use a woman, sir, is what you could use.”
“Yeah. Don’t go there. You know the drill. Unless you want to sweep Opaline gray ashes off the sheets?” His stomach grumbled and he turned to the cold, delicately spiced mélange of tomatoes and peppers with gusto.
When the silver utensil clattered against the delicate china, Blackburn sighed and whisked the empty bowl away. He returned a few minutes later with a crystal goblet filled with ice and ringed with an artistic array of shrimp and lemon wedges.
“I sense a theme.” Raines speared a jumbo shrimp on a tiny cocktail fork and squirted it with lemon.
“I didn’t think hot and sizzling would be your preference."