Branded (Demon's Mark 1)

By: Nora Ash

Summary



Submit to Your Demons

Being different was never easy.

After 27 years of living as a social outcast, Selma has become quite accustomed to the isolation and lack of dreams for a happy future. What she's never gotten used to are the demons she sees; the dangerous creatures masquerading as humans, blending into the regular world as if they belong.

No one else ever sees what she does—not when she was younger, and not the night she is attacked by horned monsters, losing the precarious grasp on her already damaged mind.

Trapped in a mental hospital, Selma's only hope of gaining back her life is a young psychiatrist with smoldering looks and some very disturbing ideas for her treatments. If she is ever to see the outside world again, she must submit to him.

But he is one of them—and his intentions are far more devious than they appear.

First installment in the 6-part serial Demon’s Mark.

Branded contains explicit sexual scenes featuring light bondage, a manipulative demon who likes to play rough, as well as an achingly thorough fisting session.





Branded



It had never been easy, being like this.

As a child everyone had assumed that her imagination was just a bit vivid, that maybe the fairy tales read to her before bed were what caused the nightmares and unexplainable daytime terrors. When she hit puberty and the frequency worsened, assumptions of imaginative illusions were dismissed in favor of concern for her mental health; no teenager should believe that the shadows under the bed truly hid monsters, or that the physics teacher was something not-quite-human.

Her fourteenth birthday, and the incident she now silently recalled as ‘The Bogeyman and the Tea Party’, marked the beginning of a few years of sifting through therapists and, eventually, more than seven months in and out of mental institutions until she’d finally learned to keep quiet. It had taken more than a little practice to not flinch or stare at the inhuman features of some of the people walking freely around the city, seemingly leading perfectly normal lives.

However, when the nervous tics started to be less obvious, the monsters seemed to become less noticeable. It wasn’t exactly that they went away, but where before they had stared at her, followed her, they now seemed to ignore her, making it exponentially easier to do the same in return. For years she had actually managed to keep up an appearance of being ‘cured’, to her parents’ great relief. And she had felt... if not cured, then in control; like her illness was managed and manageable.

The young woman sighed softly, leaning her forehead against the cool glass panel, brown eyes staring past the trickling raindrops on the other side of the window and into the gardens of Ravenswood House. She had been perched on the window ledge for a few hours, waiting.

It had been a horrible episode; the worst yet. Maybe if she hadn’t been so unprepared... so much time had gone by without incident that she had let herself believe there would be no more lapses, but that group... It had been dark, which hadn’t exactly helped. Ever since childhood she had been wary of the dark and the things it hid, and as an adult she usually stayed inside after sunset, if at all possible.

Of course, in the wintery half of the year that inclination got more troublesome, and thanks to her supervisor’s poor demonstration of time management skills they were once again behind at work. She’d had to put in some overtime, resulting in emergency grocery shopping hours after the sun had set.

There had been three of them, and they all looked like the dangerous kind; early on she’d noticed a certain pattern in the others, something about their appearance that hinted at what kind of monster they were. It was something in their eyes, and the slight shimmer around them, though she found it hard to pinpoint exactly what. It was most definitely there, though, that dangerous darkness, and before she had learned to hide her fear they had been the ones to go so far as to chase her and, sometimes, harm her. She still had a scar down the back of her left calf from the claws of a horned one that had stalked her for days when she was eleven, seemingly enjoying her terror.

If she’d just ignored them, thrown her groceries in the trunk and hurried into her car, she would have been home and safe within twenty minutes, which was exactly what she would have done under normal circumstances; the core part of keeping her illness under control was avoidance at all costs.

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