“Ride it out,” he murmured.
When she came down from the high, she didn’t have a chance to feel embarrassment, and honestly, she didn’t know if she would. The way he took her in, the admiration in his gaze, wow. Suddenly, she understood feminine power.
“You’re lovely when you come. I could watch your pleasure all day long.”
“Not one for TV, huh?”
His laughter rang out, deep and hearty. “You are much more fascinating than anything I could watch on TV.”
So was he, as much as she hated to admit it. “Eidolon?”
He pushed up on his elbows. “No, thank you.”
He smiled, the one that made her weak in the knees. “For reminding me why I need to fight the s’genesis.”
“So you can heal women with sexual hangups?”
“No,” he said, dipping his head to kiss her, “so I can be with a female because I want to, not because I need to.” His voice dropped lower, became a hypnotizing purr. “Let me heal the rest of you. Let me integrate your demon half.”
“Yes . . . no, wait.” She struggled to sit up, but with one hand on her breastbone, he kept her down and still.
“I don’t want you to die.”
“That’s what it could really come down to, isn’t it?” God, she was insane for even considering it. “If I agree to this, I need you to promise me something.” She couldn’t believe she was asking a demon for a promise. A week ago she’d have killed anyone who said she’d ever do such a thing. “If I turn out to be something really horrible . . . you’ll kill me.”
Eidolon’s dark brows shot up. Before he could say anything, she pressed one finger to his lips. “Please. I can’t say yes unless I know I won’t be a danger to anyone. Can you promise me that?”
After a moment, he bowed his head so his forehead rested on hers. “I promise. I’ll give Shade a call in the morning. We’ll do it then.” He palmed her hip and pushed his thick thigh between her legs, making her sigh with contentment. “Tonight, we have other things to do.”
The hazy morning light streaming through the window seared Eidolon’s eyes. He didn’t think about the reason he was so sensitive. He didn’t care. All that mattered was getting to the blinds and closing them.
His feet hit the floor, but his legs didn’t work. Rubbery muscles couldn’t support his weight, and he crumpled next to the bed. Pain covered him like a blanket of thorns. Everything hurt. His eyes. His face. His entire body throbbed.
Had Tayla done something to him?
A surge of lust shot through him like a burning arrow. He lifted his head, caught the savory scent of the sex they’d had for hours last night. Yeah, she’d been cured. She’d come over and over, in every position, in every room.
Forgetting the blinds, he staggered to his feet, swaying until he caught himself on the side of the bed. Tayla lay tangled in the sheets, her hair fanning out over the pillow, her br**sts exposed to the air and his gaze. Lower, the sheet had fallen away, allowing a glimpse of her thighs and the sweet place nestled between.
He wanted her. Needed her.
Growling low in his throat, he lowered himself onto the bed and opened his mouth over her hip.
“Mmm, Hellboy,” she murmured, smiling, her eyes still closed.
She shifted and stretched. Opened her eyes. And gasped.
“Shit!” She scooted toward the headboard, but he grabbed her foot and tried to drag her back down. A kick aimed at his chin nearly connected. “What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing’s wrong with me. What’s wrong with you?”
She jerked free of his grip and rolled off the bed, coming gracefully to her feet.
The delicious, potent aroma of fear came off her hot body in waves. He had to have her. Now.
“Stay away from me.”
Not going to happen.
His nostrils flared as he separated the scents coming from her. Fear, confusion . . . ovulation.
Mingled with her smells, masking the scent of human, was the one of demon. His body answered.
Power rippled beneath his skin, threatening to tear him apart. His brain fogged. Pain crackled through him. The sound of ripping flesh hit him at the same time as the stabbing sensations in his back.
When his vision cleared, he looked down at his hands. No, not hands. Paws. Red, scaly paws tipped with serrated talons.
“I’m going to have you now.”
Tayla’s scream shot straight to his groin. The sound of terror was a rush, an aphrodisiac for both the mind and cock. Now he needed to taste her, to rip into her flesh with his teeth—
He shook his head. These thoughts weren’t his.
He lunged. Landed on her, held her shoulders with the claws on the tips of his wings, while his hands grasped her h*ps to bring her closer to his barbed penis. She brought her knee up, nailed him between the legs so hard he roared. Rolling, she caught him behind the knees with her foot, and he went down.
He snagged her calf, but she wriggled out of his grasp and darted to her weapons bag.
“Esraladoth en sludslo.” The words came out of his mouth, but he had no idea what he’d said.
She whirled, a boleadora in her fist. “If that means kick my ass, then fucker, you’re in luck.” She hurled it at him. He felt it wrap around his throat, and the world went black.
Tayla watched the Soulshredder go down, her heart beating so hard her ribs hurt. Terror like she hadn’t felt since the day her mom died threatened to turn her into a useless blob of jelly, and she had to fight like hell to stay on her feet. The thing twitched and went still.
The events of the last few moments played back in her head like a horror movie, but no matter how much she paused the video, she couldn’t find an explanation for what had just happened. Where was Eidolon? One moment he’d been kissing her hip; the next he’d been sprouting membrane-thin, veined wings from his back. Had the Soulshredder killed him and taken his form? If the Soulshredder had taken someone else from her, she swore she’d make what Jagger and Lori did to Yuri appear tame.
Hand shaking, she drew a dagger from her weapons bag and nearly dropped it. Twice. If this was the best she could do, beheading the thing would be messy. Not that she cared. Oh, no. She was going to work the beast over, make it suffer until she discovered what it had done to Eidolon.
She swung around.
It was gone. In its place, Eidolon was there, the boleadora around his neck.
Still clutching the knife, she pulled a set of manacles from the bag and hurried to him. In the gray, cloudchoked light filtering through the window, he looked the same, except for the huge, swirling tattoo on the right side of his face.
And when she’d first seen him in the bed, his eyes had been red.
Cautiously, she shackled his ankles and wrists, and removed the weighted rope from around his throat.
Sitting on her heels, she stared at him, wondering what to do now. Besides get dressed, anyway. She couldn’t leave him here, tied up, indefinitely, but neither could she turn him loose and risk his spontaneously shifting into something horrible again. Of course, that was assuming the creature on the floor was him at all.
Maybe one of his brothers could help.
Quickly, she threw on some jeans and a plain black T-shirt from the bag of clothes she’d brought with her, and then she hunted down his cell phone and dialed Shade. When he didn’t answer, she found the hospital’s number in the phone’s directory. A female answered and identified herself as the nurse in charge at Underworld General.
“I need to speak to Shade.”
“He is unavailable.”
“Then get Wraith. It’s an emergency.”
“Do you require medical assistance?”
“I require Shade.”
“Ma’am,” came the irritated voice that sounded as if it was being sifted through fangs, “Shade is busy—”
“You can get him on the line, so do it. Now.” Actually, she had no idea if they could get him, but she was done being nice.
There was a pause, a click, several rings, and then a grumpy, deep voice.
“Yeah, look. It’s Tayla. Eidolon . . . he’s in trouble.”
“Again? This wasn’t Wraith’s doing. He’s been level. So what the f**k did you do to E?” A vicious snarly sound vibrated through the phone. “If you hurt him—”
“I didn’t, asshole. Something’s wrong. He went crazy. He’s got this big tattoo on his face, and his eyes were red—”
“Ah, shit.” Curses flew over the airwaves, and she hoped the underworld equivalent of some FCC wasn’t listening in. “Where are you?”
“Well, duh. Where else would I—”
The line went dead. Demons were so rude.
She didn’t want to go back to the bedroom. What if Eidolon had morphed into a Soulshredder again?
What if he hadn’t, but was awake and wondering why she’d beaten and bound him? What if he’d known exactly what he was doing when he turned into the thing that terrified her most in the entire world?
Nervous energy zinged through her like an electric current as she paced in the kitchen, jonesing for an orange. She finished off the last of the orange juice, and as she drained the glass, someone pounded on the front door.
“It’s Shade. Open up.”
She did, and he strode in, completely encased in black leather and steel-toed boots. Wraith entered behind Shade, somehow looking even more lethal than his brother despite the fact that he wore torn jeans and a Hooters T-shirt. Danger followed in his wake . . . followed, because it wouldn’t dare get in his way.
They both stopped short at the sight of Eidolon on the floor in the bedroom, in shackles and unmoving.
“Overkill, much?” Shade said, striding forward to drop his medic bag next to Eidolon.
“You didn’t see him before.”
“What do you mean?” Wraith asked, joining Shade.
“He turned into a Soulshredder.”
Shade let out a low, stunned whistle, but Wraith grinned over his shoulder at her. “Damn. First time he shapeshifts, he picks something like that. Who knew he had it in him?”
“Is it really him?”
Shade knelt and palmed Eidolon’s forehead. “Yeah, it’s him. Tayla, I need you to remove the restraints.”
She tossed him the key, still hesitant to go anywhere near.
“E?” Wraith helped Shade turn him onto his back. “Bro, you hear me?”
Eidolon groaned. “What happened?”
“You got your ass whupped,” Wraith said, squatting on his heels and bracing his forearms on his knees.
“Almost sounds like you deserved it.”
“Where’s Tayla? Is she okay?” He tried to sit up, but Shade and Wraith pushed him back down.
“I’m fine.” She moved closer, drawn by the concern in his voice. “I’m not sure what happened.”
“She says you turned into a Soulshredder.”
The blood drained from Eidolon’s handsome face. He levered into a sit even with both brothers trying to make him eat carpet. “I what?”
“What do you remember?” Shade asked, as he inserted a needle into Eidolon’s hand. His dark hair had fallen down around his face, concealing his expression, but his broad shoulders hunched with tension.
“Not much.” Eidolon’s voice turned husky, and his eyes went gold as he looked at her. “I wanted her. I know that.”
Wraith placed a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Idle down, man. Now’s not the time. And that’s something I never thought I’d say.”
Eidolon went utterly still, and then he shook his head as though trying to clear it. “That’s all I know. I wanted to take her. More than I’ve ever wanted anything.”
Heat washed over her body at the memory of how she’d awakened, ready for him even though they’d spent the entire night engaged in the most amazing erotic play. But then she’d noticed that he looked different. Acted different. Terrifyingly different.
“It was weird,” she said. “It was like he was possessed.”
“So you refused him?” Shade asked, and she bristled.
“Well, hello . . . he wasn’t himself—”
“Chill,” Shade said, his voice softer than she’d ever heard it. “I didn’t mean anything. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this. For his sake.”
She felt herself blush. Talking sex with Eidolon’s brothers was just too weird. “Yeah, I refused him. That’s when he turned into the Soulshredder.” She shuddered. “We were talking about them last night. Maybe it was the first demon he thought of to change into.”
Wraith and Shade exchanged glances, something ominous passing between them. Eidolon seemed distracted, looking inward, his face still ashen.
“That’s why he didn’t return,” Eidolon muttered, making no sense. He shoved both hands through his hair and focused on her with an intensity that made her take a step back. “It bothered me, why the Soulshredder didn’t come back to torment you after he killed your mother. That’s what they do. They keep at it, driving their victims insane.”
“You don’t think the memory of what he did has tormented me all these years?” And why did her voice have to tremble like that? Eidolon had helped her through so much last night, and now she felt as if she was living the trauma all over again.