"Can you keep a secret?" Carson asked in a whisper.

I watched him closely for a moment and smiled. Of course I could. I had never once slipped and let my own secret come out, hadn't I?

The truth was, I wasn't a human in the remotest sense. I am a succubus – a bat-like female figure that seduced young men and brought them to the dark side through the use of lust and sex. I had succeeded twice in the past two months. I was very good at it, never going too fast with any of the assignments Satan gave me.

I wasn't supposed to die when I was eighteen; an accident Satan told me when I ended up on his darkened doorstep. I had gotten in the way when he was trying to take down one of God's heavenly beings. Had I known it was one of His beings, I would not have gotten in the way. I had been against Him since He had taken my sister from me, leaving me with no reason to live.

That was why Satan had healed my wound, given me the form of a succubus, and sent me back to Earth. I had a vague suspicion that he also did it to make sure I couldn't take over Hell. I knew I could.

"What is it?" I asked with a nod.

Even Carson didn't know what I was. I didn't know anything about Carson besides his name and I even doubted it was his real name.

"I'm not human," he said.

The news surprised me. Satan never sent me to anyone but a human before. Then I remembered I was here to protect the little girl, not seduce the man.

"OK," I said. "What are you?"

"A spider demon."

I had not been a succubus long enough to know what that was. I needed The Succubus's Guide to Demons – Greater and Lesser. "Oh?" I asked.

He watched me cautiously, as if he expected me to take off. He had something else coming for him. I looked up at him defiantly. He was six foot three. I was five foot ten. I had always been tall but standing next to him, I felt I was short. That always made me feel good.

"Do you understand that?" he asked.

"I get the fact that you're a spider demon, but what is a spider demon?"

"A demon that takes the form of a spider – a long legs in my case." That explained the tattoo on his back.

"Oh." I thought about that for a moment. "And why are you here?" I asked.

I liked Carson. I bet even Satan could see that. I cherished his friendship and liked it when he was my lover but if he was after the girl, I would kill him in an instant. Satan sent me to protect his daughter. I would do that.

"Satan sent me to protect his daughter. It seems that two rogue demons want her dead because she is to take over Hell when she's old enough."

I turned my head just enough to look at the little girl as she slept. With Satan as her father and an angel as her mother, she lived a tough life. There were moments she disgusted me and acted like her mother wanted. Then there were times she pleased me and created holy Hell!

"She's worth protecting," I said finally.

"Are you her mother?" he asked.

I laughed. "I'm no angel, Carson." I looked at him. "I too was sent here to protect her. I'm a succubus."

His eyes widened. "That explains why I'm attracted to you."

I grinned. "Doesn't it?" I asked and twisted as a sound caught my ears from downstairs. Someone had just blasted his way through the front door.

"Grab the kid!" Carson whispered fiercely in my ear. Any other time his voice would send shivers down my spine, but now I just nodded and went into the girl's bedroom.

She didn't wake as I picked her up and carried her out to Carson's side. I looked at him.

"Flight?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Hold her and turn away."

I did as he asked and when I heard a fierce click, I turned back. Before me stood a large brown spider with eight long legs. I reached up on my tiptoes to touch the brown abdomen and heard him click again. His human skin lay forgotten on the floor.

Before I could speak, he the girl and spun her in a web and hooked her to the ceiling corner. I felt my claws and teeth grow, my skin change as my tail sprouted from my backside, and my wings replace my human arms.

"Let's kill them," I said to Carson who towered over me. I heard him click a reply even as the first demon came into my line of view. I took to the air, which was difficult in a rather small space even as Carson's spider form disappeared down the stairs. I spat poison into the demon's shadowed face, listening to him scream as the acid burned away his features.

Above me, I heard the girl wake and scream in terror. What girl in a web in a corner wouldn't? I hated that she had though. A second demon, uglier than the first, raised its bull-like head and caught sight of her.

"Carson!" I screamed as the bull-like demon charged up the stairs, over his fallen friend and towards the girl. I had to land. There wasn't enough space in the building for me to maneuver in the air. The bull-like demon lay me flat even as I tried to spit some poison acid at him, knocking the breath from my body and mauling me with the curved horns attached to either side of his head.

Suddenly, a large spider towered over the bull demon, spinning a web straight into his face and causing him to lose his sight. I found my feet and pushed the bull-like demon over the landing towards the floor below, sending forth a glob of poison acid with him.

Then, as Carson climbed back into his human skin and shifted back to his human form and the girl screamed in terror once more, pain ricocheted through my body and I fell to the ground and blacked out.

When I awoke, the ground I was lying on was hotter than any other fire than those of Hell. I groaned and sat up, pulling my arms up to cover my body. I had forgotten the shift from human to succubus left me completely naked.

Carson laughed at my modesty. "You have a lovely body," he teased, his voice low and husky, his eyes smoldering hot.

"You have a dirty mind," I retorted and groaned again. "Where's the girl?"

He shrugged. "Visiting with her father, learning her destiny. I guess we weren't supposed to let her know what we were."

"How else were we to protect her?" I snapped and then closed my mouth with a frown.

He tossed me a dress. "Here."

I ignored the dress. It was too hot for it. I didn't mind my succubus shape, so I took it instead. My succubus form is molded for the perfection men wish in their women with an hourglass figure, a heart-shaped face, unblemished skin, not to mention not a sting of hair besides that which rests on my head. I am a beauty to behold in this form, which is why I chose it for my meeting with Satan. "He will wish to see us?" I asked, although I already knew he would.

He gulped as he looked over my succubus form and nodded, licking his lips. I haven't met a man yet who could resist their need when confronted with the bird-like form of their wildest fantasies.

"I don't think he would mind if I had my fill of first though, right?" I asked as I walked over to Carson.

His eyes trailed the length of my body as I walked and his smoldering eyes burned with a fire so passionate, it torched my skin long before he did. He was hot and fast and harsh, but I loved it, taking my need from him as he did from me. When it was over, we were both breathing quite heavily and sweating severely, more from the heat of Hell than the actual sex.

"Let's go," I told Carson and made him walk before me as we went to meet Satan. No reason to risk him wanting to take me again before our meeting, which I knew he would.

Satan was pleased, it seemed, to find that his daughter was safe. He was also pleased to see that I had survived. "I didn't heal myself," I told him. "I can't."

He sighed. "As much as I'd hate to say it, I believe you, Succubus, have His blessing, which entirely gets to me. It was no hellish feat that healed you when you should have died a second time."

I nodded and looked at the girl. She was staring at the floor. "She shares a bit of her mother's trait then," I said in the silence and she looked up to meet my eyes. Hers were soft blue – like that of an angel – while the rest of her features made her look like what she was, one of the spawns of Satan. I still didn't understand how that had happened. She understood what I meant even if the other two in our presence didn't and accepted my thanks with a simple blink of surprise, as if she didn't expect it.

I looked at Satan. "So, what now?" I asked and sent a prayer up that his daughter was part angel.