The entire drive to Dominic's favorite park was dominated by the boy detailing every single new sea creature he saw. By the time she parked at the playground, the demoness swore she knew them all, too. Within a minute, she had gotten Dominic out, and the child had raced off while shouting to the other boys he saw, leaving her to find a spot to wait out his energy. She found a park table near enough the playground to keep an eye on Dom while still being away from the other parents. Sitting atop the table, her black Puma sneakers on the bench seat, Sakkara leaned back, hands planted behind her, hoping the distance and the dark sunglasses covering her eyes would keep others away.
She knew what changed Kade, always had known in some way. Beth.
The girl had had guts. The demoness had sensed that the one time she met Beth. Hell, had to have, being on Kade's arm and having friends like Alexandria. But after reading about the way Kade and Beth met.. the little mortal gained a bit more respect from her successor, even if it was post-mortum. Odd way of thinking about it, being the next woman in line, but growing up with the status of Hell's Heir, it didn't seem wrong, either. And now, she realized how hard it was to fill those shoes.
If she was being brutally honest, Sakkara knew deep within that though Kade said he'd grieved for his loss of Beth, there was no replacing her. She would always be there, etched in his being like the tattoos on his skin. Perhaps there were times he wished it was her he was spending his time with, rather than the demoness that wanted to kill him as much as love him. She had come to terms with that long ago, right around the time they started their insane affair.
That foundation was shaken to the core. Broken into jagged pieces. Reduced to rubble.
Kade saw her as The One. That very mystical, mythical One. Maybe not in such terms, nothing that fanciful, but it was the only thing she could relate it to being.
Perhaps not quite like the mortals think of it. Mortals have a time limit on their lives, after all, so everything seemed so dire and immediate to them. Thus the ideas of love at first sight and The One. For immortals, it was completely different. They could go from partner to partner for eons, staying longest with those they got along with best until they got bored or began to hate them. Very rarely would an immortal remain with a partner for eternity. That was pure fairy tale in their world.
Sakkara had armed herself with this idea, that true love and other such nonsense was absolute myth. Wrapped herself in her truest persona of Devilz Child with it, becoming unreachable, unattainable. And that idea added with the knowledge that Kade would never get over Beth, she felt guaranteed she'd make it through this relationship relatively alright when it expired.
Both assurances were ripped out from under her. Now, she had to reevaluate everything.
On paper, she and Kade shouldn't work. At all. They were demons, ones with completely different moral codes, levels of bloodthirst, driving forces in opposition. He liked mortals, she couldn't stand them.
Hell, they absolutely hated each other from the start.
Right from his first appearance in CCW, Sakkara knew the prick would be a constant pain in her ass. She couldn't fathom then just how long that would last or how encompassing it would become, but she knew something had changed.
And sitting on that park table ten years later, she realized exactly what it was.
Kade was the first to ever truly challenge her.
She had battled fierce demons throughout all of Hell and even in the mortal realm, but not a single soul ever drove her beyond her limits like Kade did on a constant basis. And it started with a match she devised that he claimed victory to. Back then, she had no idea how he could have bested her. In the years since, she knew it was because he pushed her beyond all she had, and then some.
Their alliances were strained, but built in respect. If one was in trouble, the other had their back. Yet they both knew they would rather be fighting against one another instead of alongside each other. It was simply who they were, too different to get along for very long.
And every single time they battled one another, it got bigger and better, they got better at their craft and their matches went down in history as some of the most brutal seen in years. While she could easily admit that the same can be said for her rivalries with Kveldulf the Reaver and Undead Enigma, the one with Kade was the first to awaken her to the desire to hone her skills for the simple reason that she wanted to see how much further she could push Kade.
Perhaps that was why it never worked out with Ryan or Bruce. They never challenged her personally to the extent that Kade constantly did professionally.
They were also mortal, so there was that.
She couldn't pinpoint just when the rivalry turned to an odd sort of friendship. Maybe around when she became President of CCW. Maybe later on, when Kade took those reigns himself. It had taken her by surprise, because she remembered exactly when she realized there was a friendship to speak of. She had picked up her phone to dial Kade's number, for what reason she couldn't recall, but the numbers were dialed from memory, like she'd always known their sequence. Immediately, the phone was hung up, of course, but the impact remained.
She had been changed forever by that, she could acknowledge it now.
Ever since, the times they'd run into one another, their verbal barbs were less acidic, becoming more like banter between long-time friends. When it started getting too cozy to her liking, she'd take off. No sense in getting buddy-buddy with a demon she wanted to kill several times over, she kept telling herself. Except she always knew there was something wrong there, that there was something she was missing. It eluded her.
Until the night Beth died.
One damn kiss opened floodgates that Sakkara hadn't been aware existed between them. Suddenly, she was helping Kade when she knew she shouldn't, and he was taking over her sensibilities like no other. She craved him more and more, and with that came feelings and a conscience she never had before. A moral compass she couldn't ditch, no matter how hard she tried.
Love. That's what had burrowed into the very back of her skull and the deepest part of her being. It drove her insane trying to squash it like a bug, but it remained and eventually won her over. It helped that she thought it wouldn't last long at all, not with Beth very much taking up all of Kade's heart. She was prepared for that day.
She hadn't counted on how far or hard she'd fall.
Or how she'd change because of him. How life would become agony without him. How she needed him beyond all reason. How much she missed him even now, just being out of the house and away from him. How it was because she had memories of him and Dominic, of their crazy life together that made no sense, that she survived at all while she was imprisoned.
In that moment, it dawned on the demoness.
No. Absolutely not. That was ridiculous. There was no such thing. It was all myth and fairy tale. But looking across the playground to the son they created, she began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, it wasn't as far-fetched as it seemed.
She never craved anyone like she did Kade. Never could she tolerate another creature to the depths as she did him, and certainly never could another give her reason to sit and contemplate the possibility of something as imaginary and unattainable as true love. The longer she thought about it, the more things started to make sense.
Perhaps it hadn't worked with anyone else because Kade had been it all along. He was her One.