Wraith picked up a scalpel from a nearby tray and tested the edge with his thumb. “You two are acting like she’ll be alive long enough to find out what’s wrong with her. Are you forgetting that she needs to die, and the sooner the better?”
Shade’s hackles raised. “You’re a little too eager to put her in the ground, brother.”
Eidolon stepped between them. “I need to see Runa. If she can shift at will, she might have some unique antibodies to the lycanthropic infection. If I could isolate what makes her different—”
“You might be able to develop a cure for me,” Shade murmured.
Shade tried to ignore the sense of relief that took pressure off his chest, tried to pretend the relief was due to the fact that he might be cured of his lycanthropy and not that Runa had been given a temporary reprieve.
The relief didn’t last long though. A wrenching, agonizing sensation slammed into his midsection, and his skin screamed as though he were being pricked by a million needles.
“Shade?” Wraith’s voice vibrated with alarm. “What is it?”
He heard the scalpel clatter to the floor and felt two sets of hands on his arms, felt his body being braced between his brothers’ large, sturdy frames.
“I’m okay,” he breathed. “It’s Runa. I felt her shift back. Burn of re-entry, I guess.” He shuddered as the sensations eased away, was suddenly very glad he’d been drugged for his transformation. “She’s hungry.” A stirring in his groin told him food wasn’t all she craved.
“Go to her,” E said, in a tone that said he knew exactly what was going on. “Bring her in later.”
Shade pulled in a ragged breath. “We need to deal with Roag. He’s after us, and he might have more spies in the hospital. And Runa killed his female. He’ll be after her, too.”
“I still can’t believe he’s alive.” Eidolon picked up Shade’s chart and tucked it under his arm. “Do you know where you were being held?”
“It was a castle. Ireland, I think.”
Wraith bared his fangs. “I’ll find it. I swear to you, I’ll nail his ass to the wall.”
Shade nodded. If anyone could find Roag, Wraith could. His job at UG was to research, locate, and retrieve rare artifacts, spells … anything that might come in handy during the course of treating demons. He had experience, instinct, and single-minded focus that couldn’t be easily broken. When he wanted something, he got it.
“Be careful, bro. Roag has always had a real hard-on when it comes to you.” And speaking of hard-ons, Shade’s punched painfully against his scrub bottoms. He needed to get to Runa.
“That’s flattering,” Wraith said wryly, “but he’s still going to die.”
The door whispered open, and Ciska entered. “Doc E? We have a new trauma patient in the ER. Gem is asking for your assistance.”
“Got it.” Eidolon slapped a hand on Shade’s back as he passed. “Go to Runa. When you bring her in, we’ll get this figured out.” He disappeared down the hall, but before Ciska could follow, Shade stopped her.
“Got a second?”
“For you?” she purred, sliding seductive glances between him and Wraith. “Always. Are we going to party?”
Wraith shrugged, the motion casual, but he still looked a little wigged about everything. “I’m game.”
Wraith was always game if the female wasn’t human or vampire, and since the nurse was a pretty little Sora demon both Shade and Wraith had tapped, Wraith’s enthusiasm was a no-brainer.
“Come here.” Shade pointed at his brother. “You. Stay.”
Ciska sauntered up to him, pressed her ample chest to his, and began to rub in a way that should have triggered an electric tingle. But it didn’t. “Is he just going to watch?”
“Touch me,” Shade commanded.
Smiling, she reached down, grasped his cock. For a moment, he stayed hard. Hope soared. Maybe he wasn’t truly bonded to Runa. Maybe … she began to stroke, and he deflated like a punctured lung.
He wheeled away. The need for sex was still there, raw and persistent, but his groin felt as if it was connected to Runa by a rope. It tugged, bringing his erection back, making him burn.
Runa might not be marked, but he was definitely bonded to her. She wanted sex, and by the way his adrenaline was surging, she wanted it in a way she hadn’t before.
Damn her, she was going for his jugular, and it was only a matter of time before he bled out.
“Ky, buddy, would you mind checking on Wraith?”
Eidolon strode into the ER, where Kynan and Gem had been treating a Trillah demon—a sleek, catlike species—with a mangled foot. Gem had just come on shift, so they still hadn’t dealt with how Kynan had practically run out of the break room yesterday, and the air between them crackled with unacknowledged tension.
“What’s wrong with Wraith?” Ky tossed some bloody gauze into the trash.
“Remember the dead brother I told you about?”
Kynan nodded. “Roag, right?”
“What?” Gem looked up from spiking a bag of saline. “That can’t be right.”
Fury flared in Eidolon’s expression, quickly snuffed by the doctor’s usual cool façade. “I’m having a hard time believing it myself.” He snapped on some surgical gloves, all business, which was, Ky had discovered, how the guy handled stress. “Shade says he’s behind the newest black market operation that’s been filling our ER and morgue. He captured Shade, forced him to bond with a warg, and … and he killed Skulk.”
“Jesus,” Kynan muttered. He watched Eidolon assess the patient as though nothing out of the ordinary had just happened, but his eyes, flecked with red that came out when he was extremely pissed off, were flashing.
“I don’t know how Wraith is going to react to all of this once it sinks in. I’d appreciate it if you could help me keep an eye on him.”
Great. Just his luck to get tasked with babysitting detail. “No problem.” He stripped off his bloody gloves and checked his watch. Six hours. He’d be off duty in six hours and drunk as a skunk in seven. Couldn’t happen soon enough.
He’d wanted to get lit last night after the encounter with Gem, but there’d been a minor crisis at Aegis headquarters, a rookie Guardian who’d fallen apart after her first battle. Tayla could handle pretty much anything that came up during normal operations, but she was a little too hard-edged to deal with meltdowns. The traumatized Guardian had also required medical attention, so he’d pulled double duty as medic and shrink. Afterward, he’d gone straight to the tiny bachelor pad he’d moved into after his wife left him and crashed out of exhaustion rather than an alcohol binge. Tayla had offered to let him stay on the couch at headquarters, a six-bedroom house where two dozen Guardians lived, but he couldn’t bear to stay where he and Lori had been happy.
Happy. What a joke. He had no idea how long Lori had been cheating on him before he caught her, but now their entire relationship was in doubt, all the way back to his first military deployment. She could have been screwing anyone while he was getting his ass shot at in deserts and jungles.
“I left him in Shade’s room,” E said. “Thanks, man. I owe you.”
“Damn straight.” Kynan stalked out of the emergency department, made it to Shade’s room a minute later.
The door opened as he reached for it, and Ciska brushed past him, a secret smile on her lips. The secret became less of one when he entered the room and saw Wraith zipping up.
Wraith rolled his eyes. “E sent you, right?”
“Yep.” Kynan closed the door.
“I don’t need a babysitter, so take a hike.”
Ignoring Wraith, Kynan sank down in a chair. “Where’s Shade?”
“Probably f**king his mate by now.”
Yeah, that news had spread like hellfire through the hospital. Ky wasn’t sure why Shade taking a mate was such a big deal, since E had done the same, but apparently it was a Very Bad Thing.
“It’ll work out, Wraith. It’ll be fine.”
“Whatever. I don’t care.”
“Don’t give me that shit. You care a lot.”
Wraith snorted. “I don’t care about anyone or anything, human.” He jabbed Ky in the chest with one finger, leaned in close to growl in his ear, “I’d sell out my own brothers for the right price. Get that through your thick skull.”
With that, Wraith stalked out of the room. As the door shut, Kynan heard him shout, “Hey, female! Come here!”
Kynan stared at the door. Wraith might not be looking for a fight or making a beeline for a junkie right now, but he had a tendency to use sex in place of drugs or violence when he was upset.
When the sex ran out, Wraith was going to go for one of his other two vices, and then things would get ugly fast.
Wraith waited until the lab technician he’d just screwed closed the door to the supply closet in which they’d just bumped uglies. Strike that—he’d bumped ugly. With her underbite, overgrown lower canines, and patchy fur, she wasn’t the most attractive Slogthu he’d ever banged.
As soon as she was gone, he slid to the floor, spine against the wall, and buried his face in his hands.
Fucking Kynan. What made him think Wraith cared about anything?
I’d sell out my own brothers for the right price.
His words rang through his head, a harsh truth because he had sold out a brother. He’d betrayed his own kind, his own flesh and blood.
And he’d f**king gotten off on it.
Three years ago, while hunting New York City street gang members for sport more than out of a need to feed, he’d run into an Aegis slayer. Naturally, the moron had tried to kill him. Wraith supposed the guy had been an adequate enough fighter, but there wasn’t a being on earth or in the demon realm of Sheoul who could take Wraith in hand-to-hand, and within seconds, he had the guy on the ground, dagger at his jugular.
It had been tempting to kill him, to drain him dry with his teeth. Instead, he’d given the guy a tip. Well, more than a tip. Wraith had practically drawn the Aegi a map to Roag.
Roag, who’d had a tenuous hold on sanity before s’genesis, and who had gone about as evil as could be after. Wraith and his brothers had agreed that none of them should have to live like that, but no matter what Roag did, Eidolon demanded full investigations before any severe punitive action was taken.
But the investigations took too long, and finally, after finding the remains of a human female Roag had raped to death, Wraith took action.
He could have killed Roag himself, but E would have figured it out. Wraith hadn’t counted on The Aegis taking out the entire demon bar where Roag had been hanging out. Not that it had been a big deal—so what if a bunch of vamps and demons got whacked? But didn’t it just figure that the one who was supposed to have died was the one who survived.
And now, because of Wraith, Roag had tortured Shade, nearly killed him, and had killed Skulk, one of the few females at UG Wraith hadn’t screwed—and not because Shade would have blown a valve. Wraith had kinda liked her in a big-brother way.
And now she was dead, and Shade was suffering. Because of him.
“I’m so sorry, Shade,” he whispered.
He threw his head back against the wall, eyes closed, mind jonesing for the mellow blotto of a drug binge or the cranked-up rush of a battle high. Sex wasn’t working; he could screw every female in the hospital and it wouldn’t be enough. He needed more.
Balling his fist, he punched it into the wall. The pain gave him a momentary buzz, but dammit, nothing was going to fix his life. He figured he still had a year left before s’genesis, and then he wouldn’t give a shit about any of this.
But right now it hurt. And with the exception of self-inflicted pain, he didn’t do hurt well.
“This is like the plot from a bad comic book,” Roag growled. “I’m surrounded by complete incompetence.”
A Drec minion knelt before him, his head bowed. It had been nearly a day since Shade escaped, and the mess still hadn’t been cleaned up. Several of his Ghouls were missing, and Sheryen hadn’t returned from Eternal yet, which wasn’t unusual, but which pissed him off nevertheless.
“Only two of our other captives escaped when their cell doors were damaged by falling stone,” the Drec said.
Roag’s withered hand curled into a fist. He wasn’t concerned about the other escapees. What really chapped his cracked hide was that Shade and the warg bitch had broken free.
Fury seared him, shivered painfully across his ruined skin. Wraith was going to pay for ruining his life. For turning him into a burned-out shell.
Because he had no doubt Wraith was ultimately responsible. The night at Brimstone played over and over in his head, a movie that was stuck in a permanent play-rewind-play cycle. He’d been minding his own business, f**king a couple of faeries in the back of the pub, when the place had been overrun by Aegi. Roag noticed that one slayer, a Mohawk-haired punk, had been searching for someone in particular, and when he laid eyes on Roag, he’d zeroed in.
Roag had known, in that moment, that he’d been targeted. Instantly, he used his gift to enter the slayer’s mind, and he’d seen a memory in the slayer’s head. One where he’d been tipped off by Wraith, given directions to Brimstone and a description of Roag. His little brother had even sweetened the pot by telling the Aegi that he’d pay for proof of Roag’s death.