“And I repeat, what the hell? What is going on here?”
Kynan gazed at her with slumberous eyes that made her body flood with heat. “What’s it look like?”
She glared at Wraith. “Looks like someone was too lazy to order a pizza delivery guy for dinner.”
Wraith disengaged his hold and smacked his lips. “This is better. Home cooking.” He held her gaze as he licked the punctures in Kynan’s wrist to seal them. Slowly. Sensually. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry.
Wraith knew. Knew she wanted Kynan, was toying with her because he was aware of the fact that she wanted to be the one licking the human. And when his nostrils flared, she knew he could smell her arousal.
“Why are you here?” Ky’s voice was husky, lazy, as if he’d just woken up. He’d have a great morning voice.
“Wraith called me.”
Ky shot Wraith a you’re-going-to-get-it look, but Wraith just shrugged and leaped nimbly to his feet. “What? I called while you were in the bathroom. Didn’t think you should be alone. And I gotta go. I need more than the measly pint you gave up.” He headed for the door. “Later.”
Throwing his head back to look at the ceiling fan as it spun in slow circles, Kynan heaved a sigh. “Shit.”
“Shit, is right. What were you thinking? You didn’t do something dumb, like ask him to turn you into a vampire or something, right?”
“I might be guilty of poor judgment, but I’m not stupid or suicidal.”
“Well, don’t get stupid or suicidal, because I don’t think Wraith can turn anyone. He’s not technically undead.”
Kynan threw his arm over his eyes. “Ever think about that, Gem? You know, wonder what kind of person would trust a vampire enough to drain them to the point of death? I mean, what’s to stop a vamp from just leaving them for dead instead of giving them the exchange of the vamp’s own blood?”
“I’m sure that happens.” She looked into his kitchen, which was basically a cove in the corner of his living room. “I’ll get you something to drink. You need to hydrate. And a little tip? Next time you decide to donate blood, give to the Red Cross.”
He said nothing as she searched his fridge, came up with Gatorade, and poured a glass. When she returned to him, he was in the same position, eyes closed, though he’d dropped his arm. She planted one knee on the cushion next to him, lifted his head, and put the glass to his lips.
He emptied half the glass before opening his eyes. “Thank you.”
“Well, you couldn’t very well hydrate on beer,” she said, eyeing the bottles scattered on the end table and floor.
His smile was lopsided as he tugged on one of her braids. Her pulse jumped wildly. “You ever get drunk, Gem? Ever lose yourself in a bottle and hope to drown?”
Abruptly, she became aware of the heat of his outer thigh against her knee, the stroke of his fingers over the braid, the hot fan of his breath across her cheek. “No,” she whispered. “I can’t.”
“You get sick?”
“Yes,” she lied, because she couldn’t tell him the truth. Not now, when he seemed to have forgotten what she was.
Which was a demon of the Fifth Tier, the last, worst level on the Ufelskala, a scoring system for evil. If the demons of her species were tornadoes, they’d be F5s.
That she was only half demon made little difference to her, or to Kynan. She did what she could to contain her Soulshredder half, which included having ensorcelled restraining tattoos inked around her ankles, wrists, and neck. She also avoided alcohol. Drinking reduced her ability to control the demon within.
She’d learned that the hard way, when she’d gotten drunk at a frat party during med school. Something minor had sent her into a rage. Fortunately, she’d recognized the sensation that felt like claws scraping the inside of her skin, and she’d raced for the nearest Harrowgate. Somehow she’d ended up at UG, where Reaver had sedated her until the buzz wore off.
The fallen angel had prevented what would have been a bloody rampage.
Kynan’s knuckles brushed her throat, and at her quick intake of breath, his hand stilled. She searched his face, saw a range of emotions playing out like a movie in fast-forward. Sadness. Fear. Arousal.
“You’re so pretty,” he whispered.
It was the alcohol talking, but she didn’t care. For nearly a year he’d viewed her only as a colleague on a good day, as a demon on the rest. Right now he saw her as a woman, and it didn’t matter that he was looking at her through beer bottle glasses.
Slowly, so as not to startle him or snuff the sexual spark arcing between them, she set down the drink. She lifted her hand to his face, marveling at how his cheek felt hot against her cold palm. He stared at her, and when she swiped her thumb across his full lower lip, his mouth opened, just a little. God, she wanted to kiss him. Instead, she kept stroking. Lightly. Gently.
His hand rested on her hip, nudging her closer. Nerves made her tremble as she leaned in, her gaze fixed on his mouth. He tipped his face up to hers. The hand that had been playing with her braid cupped the back of her head and pulled her down.
Their lips met. Hesitantly at first. His were firm, unyielding, and then, as though a dam had broken, he ravaged her. She gasped into his mouth, a sound of surprise and relief. Thank you, God.
He dropped both hands to her skirt and roughly hiked it up. A sweet, pinching ache began to pulse between her legs as he dragged her onto his lap so she was straddling him. She clutched his shoulders for balance, the rock-hard muscles not giving at all under her fingers.
As her core came in contact with the rigid length straining at the fly of his jeans, she went utterly wet. With a groan, he arched into her, using his grip on her h*ps to hold her against him.
Still he kissed her, his tongue alternately sweeping her lips and thrusting deep to mate with her tongue. Need consumed her, and she found herself rocking in his lap, rubbing her sex against his, the thin layer of her silk panties creating a delicious, hot friction.
This was a dream. It had to be. She was kissing the man who starred in all her fantasies, was on the verge of orgasm, and they hadn’t even removed any clothing. She wanted to reach between their bodies and release his shaft from its denim prison, but she was terrified to do anything that might make him change his mind.
His lips burned a path along her jaw and down her neck. “Gem,” he murmured against the sensitive skin of her throat. “God, you’re so warm.”
She shuddered with delight at his words, at the way his tongue was a hot, languid caress down her jugular. Sensation raced in a circuit from where his tongue flicked over her throat to every point of contact.
A low moan dredged up from deep in his chest, the vibration buzzing through his entire body and into hers. Sharp, panting breaths marked the beginning of a new, frenzied rhythm of thrusts between her legs. A sheen of sweat broke out on her skin. Her thighs quivered and her br**sts tightened and a powerful implosion took her apart from the outside in.
Crying out, she clung to Kynan with her hands as he ground against her. He hissed through clenched teeth, his big body jerking as his release took him. The orgasm had stolen coherent thought but not her vision, and as she watched him come, she thought she’d never seen anything so beautiful.
He bucked a final time, and as their breathing slowed and the hormones settled, her heart sang. God, he was perfect. A man made for sex.
“Ah, fuck,” he groaned. “Gem … shit. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?” She smiled and drew a finger down his T-shirted chest. “The only thing you should be sorry about is that we’re still clothed.”
He averted his gaze, his expression tight, and she became aware of a new tension between them when all tension should have dissipated. Darkness fell over his face like nightfall, and he shoved her off his lap and stumbled to his feet. She opened herself up to what Tayla called her “demon vision” and gasped.
Kynan’s emotional scars ran deep, but they’d been knitting together over the last couple of months. Now, centered over his heart like glowing, bleeding fissures, they looked as fresh as the day he’d received them, the day he’d found Lori in the arms of someone else.
“Kynan? What’s wrong?”
He hooked his thumbs in his jeans’ pockets and looked at the ceiling. “You’d better go.”
“We should talk—”
“Please, Gem.” His shoulders rose and fell. “I’m drunk, exhausted, and a pint low on blood. I need to be alone.”
Awkwardly, she stood and tugged her skirt down, for the first time wishing it was a lot longer. “If you need anything …”
She cast a glance over her shoulder as she left, knowing damned good and well that her phone was not going to ring.
He was taking a chance, hanging out in the hospital. Before he “died,” Roag had hung out here because of the endless supply of nurses to screw, but he’d always hated this place, had never understood why his brothers had built it. Who gave a flying f**k about patching up demons? Taking them apart was a lot more fun.
But his Ghouls had been unsuccessful in finding someone who would spy for him, and he didn’t have time to get one of his minions on staff. Revenge had taken far too long as it was, and now that Sheryen had been reanimated, he had only days to find Runa before Sher’s zombielike body gave out. He needed Runa’s blood, and he needed it now.
Wearing the form of a common Slogthu, he was practically invisible to the staff as he kept to the shadows, pretending to be visiting a patient. He wasn’t worried about his brothers’ discovering him—Eidolon didn’t work nights, Wraith spent his nights carousing, and Shade would be dealing with his warg bitch.
Still, a few staff members possessed the ability to see through alteration magic. Not that they’d recognize him, since he resembled a charcoal briquette more than his former self, but any demon masquerading as another would arouse suspicion.
So he watched. Watched for the perfect victim for the next phase in his plan. He wanted to strike his brothers where it hurt—the hospital and its staff. Once his brothers were rattled, they’d make mistakes.
A female Sora—Ciska, according to her name tag—sauntered past, toward the Harrowgate, her red skin smelling faintly of Wraith. Roag’s hackles rose. Too many of the females in this place smelled like his little brother, who was living the life Roag should be living, screwing females without a care in the world.
He’d start having a care. Right now. Because the Sora didn’t know it, but she was about to become his next victim.
He took a deep breath, filling his nostrils with Wraith’s scent and comforting himself with the fact that this would be the last time she smelled of his brother. Because in a few minutes, she was going to smell of nothing but her own terror.
Runa didn’t remember much of what had happened the night before—at least, not much of what happened after she’d come out of the shower. She’d gone straight to the tether and chained herself up before Shade had a chance to. Everything after that was a blank, but she did remember shifting back to human form at the same time Shade did. Though she’d still been angry, she’d given in to her raging hormones. She definitely remembered the sheer ecstasy of finally having someone there to relieve the cravings that came every morning following the full moon.
Shade had taken her three times, wordlessly, ruthlessly. Afterward, they’d collapsed into bed, and they still hadn’t spoken a word. Oddly though, he’d tucked her up against him and held her close as they fell asleep. It occurred to her that he’d wanted to make sure she didn’t escape while he was sleeping, but that theory didn’t track with the way his fingers had stroked her skin in long, lazy passes.
Six hours later, Runa awakened, but Shade still slept, so she wrapped up in a robe and padded around the cave, exploring the nooks and crannies, but mostly, she was looking for a phone. She found one in his TV room. Quietly, she checked on Shade to make sure he was still sleeping, and satisfied that he was crashed hard, she slipped outside the cave.
Steamy jungle heat engulfed her. How did he keep the cave so cool and dry, when it was obvious that he didn’t have air conditioning? Odd.
That she was obsessing about how Shade kept his cave cool instead of making the call she needed to make didn’t escape her notice. She had a life outside this weird one she’d stumbled into, and now she had to face it.
Stomach churning, she dialed her brother’s cell phone. He answered on the third ring.
“Runa. Where are you? I know you aren’t due to check in until tomorrow, but I thought I’d hear from you before now.”
That was because she rarely went more than three or four days without calling Arik. Working for R-XR was lonely; few coworkers wanted to hang out with her socially, and Arik was her only outlet. Apparently, being a werewolf was something of a roadblock to friendship with humans.
She eased away from the cave and propped herself against a tree. “I ran into some complications.”
“Are you okay?” The strain in his voice was obvious even over the static crackle and echo.
“I’m fine. But I need you to research something for me. Maluncoeur.”
She heard the scratch of a pencil on paper, and then, “What is it?”
“You going to tell me what’s going on?”
She peeked around the tree to the cave opening. All clear. “I was picked up by Ghouls.”
“What? Where are you? Do you need help?”
“Calm down. I’m safe.” Sort of.