Eidolon gripped the steering wheel hard and tried to ignore his body’s needs as he worked Gem for information. He’d left Tayla mired in confusion, rage, and harsh truths, but the image of how she’d looked was burned into his brain, leaving him in a state of sexual frustration. It was a curse of his species that once they were aroused, release was all they could think about.
“Tell me everything you know about Tayla,” he said, pulling onto the interchange that would take him toward Greenwich Village where Gem lived. “Was her mother human?”
“Yes, she was.”
“Then, if your mother sensed the demon pregnancy, why was Tayla not destroyed or fostered at birth?”
As Sensor demons, Gem’s parents’ ability to detect demon blood in humans allowed them to sense pregnancies that would result in half-breeds. They then took care of the infants accordingly.
“When Tayla was born, there was no indication that she was part demon. Once her mother gave birth, the demon vibes disappeared.” Gem smoothed her hands down her thighs as though her black fishnets were wrinkled. Her micromini leather skirt wasn’t, for damned sure. “Eidolon, I’ve been checking up on Tayla for years. I’ve never sensed the demon in her. I thought maybe Tayla’s mother had some demon blood in her from way back in her family tree, and that’s what my mom had sensed. But tonight I felt it in Tayla.” She paused for a moment. “Something’s not right.”
No, something wasn’t right, including Gem’s explanation, but for now, he let it go. “I think her demon DNA never fully integrated with the human. A bite from an Alu probably triggered activation of dormant genes.” He glanced over at her. “Why would you be checking up on her over the years?”
Again, her explanation didn’t ring true. “Why so curious tonight?”
She sank her teeth into her lower lip in a way that reminded him of Tayla. Which set off a blast of heat in his body that couldn’t be hotter if he were standing next to a lava beast.
“My parents are missing,” she said. “I think The Aegis is involved.”
Gods, the Aegis had its fingers in more pies than a baker. “And you were what? Going to kidnap Tayla?”
“If that’s what it took to get some answers,” she said, pinning him with a look that said he’d best not lift a finger to defend Tayla. “And I will get those answers.”
Son of a bitch. The list of those who wanted Tayla strung up grew longer by the hour. And that didn’t make him happy, dammit. “Why do you think The Aegis took your parents?”
“Because someone is killing demons and selling their parts on the underworld market, and you know damned good and well The Aegis is responsible. My parents are being held as leverage.”
A chill ran down his spine. “Leverage for what?”
Her ominous pause made the chill spread to the rest of his body. “They want me to work for them. To remove the parts that’ll be sold. Obviously, they’ve expanded their operation and need more help to harvest the parts. That’s why I’ve been trying to contact you. To see what you knew. But I ran out of time today when they called and said they had my parents.”
“That’s a nicer word than I’ve been using to describe them.” She threw her head back against the headrest and stared at the roof. Her small br**sts jutted forward, the dark valley just visible beneath the neckline of her crimson corset top. Creamy, lightly freckled swells pushed up with each breath, the way Tayla’s had when he had her on the bed, working her into a passionate frenzy.
The temporary cool-down his body had experienced a moment ago only made the sudden flare of heat even more marked. Flames licked at his skin and burned deep into the muscle, the bone.
Clenching his teeth, he concentrated on driving and not on the erection popping at his fly.
Gem settled her palm on his thigh, and he jerked. “Eidolon, are you okay? Eidolon?”
Tayla’s voice rang through his ears. “Hellboy, are you okay? Hellboy?”
The palm on his thigh squeezed. He willed it to go higher. To squeeze harder. A low growl erupted in his throat as he turned to the woman in the passenger seat, her blue-streaked black hair pulled into twin ponytails, her profile so like Tayla’s . . . his head fuzzed and his vision swirled and he knew the woman wasn’t Tayla, but in his mind she looked like her, smelled like her, and he couldn’t wait.
Yanking the wheel so hard that vehicles behind him honked and slammed on brakes, he whipped the BMW to the side of the road.
“What the hell are you doing?” Tayla yelled, and he didn’t bother to kill the engine before he pounced on her, his control shattered.
Lust buzzed in his head, and through it, he heard the sounds of fabric tearing, of buttons pinging off the vehicle interior, of Tayla moaning. He would give her a release this time. He had to. It’s what he did, what he was born to do.
He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, taking her into his body. She smelled good. Dark, yet sweet, like cloves and citrus, the scents he’d forever associate with her. “I should hate you, Tayla,” he said as he wedged one thigh between her legs and used the other to brace himself against the dashboard.
She stiffened. “Eidolon.” Her palms shoved hard against his chest. “Eidolon! Shit.”
It wasn’t Tayla’s voice. It wasn’t Tayla’s breast he was caressing. Blinking, he looked down through eyes he knew had gone gold. He frowned. Tayla gazed up at him, concern in her expression. Her skin . . . no, not hers. Gem. Fuck.
Didn’t matter. His loins were heavy and full, his c**k so hard it could break, and his entire body was so wired for sex that she could be a mannequin for all he cared.
“You’re going through The Change, aren’t you?” she said quietly, and that fast he snapped out of the sexual haze.
Groaning, he untangled himself from the knot of flesh he’d created with Gem and settled back in his seat. “I’m sorry.” He scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling the fevered sheen of sweat that coated his skin. His right side throbbed, and a glance in the rearview mirror revealed a shadow on his cheek, a design pulsing just beneath the surface as though trying to get out.
“Don’t be. No one’s made a pass at me in so long I’ve forgotten how nice it can be.” She fastened the few remaining buttons on her top. “But calling me Tayla is one hell of a mood-killer.”
He groaned again. What had made him think Gem was Tayla? And why had it mattered? The slayer was nothing to him. He shouldn’t desire her like this. The s’genesis was really f**king with him. He hadn’t been this out of control since he was twenty and going through his first maturation cycle. At least then he’d had the comfort of knowing that once the days of nonstop lust were done, he’d come out of the transition stronger, bigger, more focused. Better.
That wouldn’t be the case this time.
“I have to get to the hospital. Can you drive?” His hands were too shaky to even want to try.
She nodded. “Are you okay?”
Not even close. “I’m going to transfuse myself. I’ve been saving up blood, hoping that if I transfuse when the s’genesis gets tough, the fresh blood will hold it off.”
“Even if it works, it’s just a temporary fix,” she said, in that know-it-all voice every doctor inherited upon graduating from medical school.
“I’m aware of that,” he snapped, unspent lust and harsh fact mixing into one caustic brew. “Just get me to UG. And Gem, do me a favor and leave Tayla alone.”
“No way. She knows something about my parents. She has to.”
He thrust his fingers through his hair. “Even if she does, she’s not going to talk. Nothing you can do to her will break her. Trust me on that,” he muttered.
“So what’s your great plan, then?” She made a sound of disgust and flicked the front of his shirt where a button had torn loose. “Pleasure her into admitting The Aegis is involved? How do I know I can even trust you? Boinking the enemy doesn’t say a lot for your reliability.”
That much was true. “I’m an incubus. Sex is a weapon for my kind.” Except, even he didn’t buy that, because he wasn’t sure sex with Tayla had been about hurting her, about making her feel self-loathing for seeking pleasure with a demon—a demon she should, by all rights, kill.
“Don’t give me that load of crap. Your breed of incubus doesn’t turn all evil-demonic until after s’genesis. Well, mostly. Your brothers aren’t exactly stand-up little Sems.”
“Leave her alone, Gem,” he growled softly.
“That’s not going to happen.”
He could feel Gem’s fear and anger as if it were his own. But his anger was darkly possessive and not at all welcome. “Tayla’s mine.”
“To deal with.” He ground his molars. “Mine to deal with.”
“Very reassuring. But my parents’ lives are at stake. I’m not letting this go, and no offense, but your thoughts seem to be originating from below the belt when it comes to her.”
“Just for a few days. She’s growing weak. She might cooperate if she’s sick and isolated from her human colleagues.”
Gem’s upper lip peeled back as she leveled a look of grave promise at him. Normally, she hid the demon well, but with her emotions ramped up, her human exterior had begun to unravel.
“I’ll give you twenty-four hours. After that, all bets are off. Tayla will be mine. And my way of dealing with her won’t be nearly as pleasant as yours.”
The seductive pull of the full moon had nothing on the lure of a she-warg in her season, and with both mistresses tugging at Luc, the next three nights promised to be both heaven and hell.
He closed the door to the reinforced steel cargo container in his basement and set the timer that would prevent the door from being opened from the inside. Ula, the female he’d won in a bloody battle with five other males, pressed her na**d body to his bare back as the clank of the outer metal bar falling into place echoed through the room.
“I still don’t see why we must lock ourselves away,” she murmured against the skin of his neck. “We could have gone to the country. We could run free. We could hunt.”
Hunt. The very word made his blood fire. Luc would love to run wild like Ula, who was a pureblood, whelped by warg parents and more animal than human. As a born warg, she lived by different rules than Luc, belonged to a different social order.
Luc had become a warg—a werewolf, to the ignorant—at the age of twenty-four, the victim of a warg attack in 1918, while fighting as an American soldier in World War I France. Every passing year chipped away at his humanity, but he retained enough to want to live among humans even if he didn’t associate with them. Living with the humans came at a price, however, and to keep from tearing them apart during the most powerful three nights of the moon phase, he imprisoned himself, something he swore to do until the last of his humanity had withered away.
At that point, Wraith had a promise to keep.
“We don’t need to hunt,” he said, turning into her so all six feet of her curvy body molded to his. “We’ll keep busy in other ways.”
Besides, two halves of a cow carcass hung from the ceiling, double his usual monthly order and delivered fresh from the closest slaughterhouse. They wouldn’t starve.
Her hand, already elongating, tipped with claws, closed around his cock, and a low growl escaped him.
“This union will produce young. I can feel it.”
He drew a sharp breath. Wargs didn’t take mates unless a female became pregnant, and then the bond would become permanent. He sifted his fingers through Ula’s waist-length, silver-blonde hair. Should his seed take root, she would be his.
One hundred years of loneliness would vanish.
“The Warg Council won’t be happy.” Not that he gave a shit, not when she rolled her h*ps against him like that.
“Only if the cubs are not born wargs.”
He tangled his fist in her hair and wrenched her head back. “We will not put down any that are born human,” he growled.
The silver flecks in her eyes sparked, but with annoyance or the impending transformation, he wasn’t sure. “But the law—”
“Is meant to be broken.” He released his grip and dropped his hand to her perfect, round ass. “We’ll nip the human cubs, turn them into wargs. No one will ever know they weren’t born that way.”
“And if someone suspects?”
“I’ll take out that someone before he can voice his suspicions.”
She grinned, her canines glistening. “Ruthless. Strong. Protective. That is why I wanted you to win.” She dragged her tongue over the claw marks on his clavicle, where one of his opponents had slashed him. “I haven’t forgotten what you did for my pack.”
Nor had he. They’d met in Austria three years ago, when he’d gone with Wraith to literally sniff out a relic made from warg hide. Wraith had returned to the hospital, but Luc had remained with Ula and her pack. He’d intended to make the move a permanent one, his longing for relationships with his own kind a factor. But a rival clan had attacked them, and when Ula had gone down beneath three enemy warriors, her family abandoned her in favor of saving their own cowardly skins. Luc alone remained, standing over her and defending her until the battle ended, her pack proving victorious.
But her family’s abandonment of her when she needed them had made him realize he wasn’t ready for pack life, and he’d returned to New York, disillusioned and more alone than ever.