“Oh, you’ll be taking one of us apart, but that’ll come later,” Roag promised, not looking away from Wraith. “Now, little brother, do you know what the vamp punishment is for taking more than your quota of humans each month? Do you know that they spend hours brutalizing Eidolon? By the time they’re done, there isn’t an inch of him that hasn’t been bloodied. Here’s the fun part. It’s been going on for years. I’ve been making sure of it.”
Eidolon’s eyes shot wide open. “You. You’ve been shifting into Wraith’s form and doing the killing.”
“Wraith flaunts his kills enough to get you tortured without my help, but really, I just like killing humans.”
Wraith began to tremble, and his eyes had gone so haunted and so full of pain that Runa could practically feel his misery. “Why, E?” he croaked. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Roag laughed. “Idiot. They didn’t tell you because you’re a f**king weak little worm. I never did understand why they didn’t just let you die in that warehouse.”
“Don’t listen to him, Wraith,” Shade said, his voice a cold, hard command intended to grab Wraith’s attention and keep it. “E took the punishment because you’d been through enough already. We didn’t tell you for the same reason.”
“He hasn’t gone through nearly enough,” Roag said. “None of you have.” He snapped his fingers, and two more demons who must have crept down the stairs while Runa was engrossed in the conversation brought forward a pale female who walked like a zombie.
Which was, Runa realized with horror, because she was a zombie. Jesus, it was the female Runa had killed when she and Shade had escaped.
“Oh, you sick fuck,” Shade said, as he stared at the female. “You reanimated her.”
“Yes, and your mate will be the blood sacrifice I need to bring my love fully back to life.”
Shade’s lips pulled back in a silent snarl. In a movement so fast Runa didn’t see it until it was over, he shifted into some sort of skinny, spindly demon and swiped an extra-long arm through the bars at Roag. Shade’s claws caught Roag across the chest, and blood splattered on the wooden rack next to him.
Roag yelped and leaped back. Cold, soulless fury flashed in his eyes. “I’m going to enjoy making you suffer. I’m going to enjoy making all of you suffer.” He held his hand to his ribs as he turned to Eidolon. “Did I mention the best part of all this? Besides killing Runa in front of Shade and watching him fade away forever? I’m going to remove a few of Wraith’s choice parts, skin him, and then make you transplant all of Wraith’s good bits onto me.”
Runa’s jaw about hit the floor. Eidolon’s eyes went furious crimson, glowing like Christmas lights. Evil Christmas lights.
“What makes you think I would ever do something like that?” Eidolon’s voice sounded like it had been dredged from the deepest pits of hell.
“Because, dear brother, if you don’t, I’ll torture Tayla in ways you can’t begin to imagine.”
Eidolon’s terror hit her in a blast of cold. “You don’t have Tayla.”
“Not yet. But I will. She’ll be lured to you by your suffering.”
Shade shook his head. “Don’t listen, E. Remember how Wraith couldn’t feel me when I was here?”
“I’ve removed the dampening spell,” Roag said. “She’ll come. And when she does, I’ll be ready.” He stalked to the fire, where several irons had been heating. He nodded to the two burly demons, and they each pulled a glowing iron from the coals. He smiled as he turned back to Shade.
“Time for some fun, boys.”
Kynan had no luck finding Shade or Runa. Hell, he couldn’t find Eidolon or Wraith, either. He’d gone back to the hospital and was about to call E again when his cell phone rang—from E’s home number. “Yeah?”
“It’s Tayla.” Her voice vibrated with panic. “Eidolon’s hurt. Oh, my God, Kynan, it’s bad.”
Adrenaline spiked, a freefall dump into the pit of his stomach and a steep mach-climb to the top of his skull all at once, and he struggled to find his calm medic voice. “Slow down and tell me what happened.”
A choked sob came over the line. “He called me hours ago from the hospital. Wraith needed him. At Shade’s place, I think. Wraith was freaked out about something. I haven’t heard from him since. Oh, God.”
A cold tremor went up his spine. If the brothers had been together and one was in pain, they were probably all in trouble. “Tayla, listen to me. You can feel Eidolon, right? That’s how you know he’s in pain.”
“Yes. I need to get to him.”
“Can you find him? Can you use your bond to locate him?”
“Yes … and he said something about Roag’s dungeon being in Ireland. I’m going now.”
“You can’t go alone. I’ll go with you.”
“You can’t pass through the Harrowgates.”
He blew out a breath. He’d forgotten about the restrictions on humans. Only dark-souled or unconscious humans could pass through them, so it looked like he’d need to be knocked out. The very idea gave him the creeps—apparently, humans who woke up inside the gates came out dead.
“We can get around the human restriction,” he said. “Meet me here at the hospital.”
“I need Gem. Can you find her?”
“I’ll call her.”
“She’s not answering her cell. She was all upset about some as**ole dissing her or something … she went to Vamp. Can you get her?”
Shit. Vamp. The Goth club from hell. And he knew damned good and well just who that as**ole was.
“Tay, don’t do something stupid and go by yourself. Wait until we all get back to the hospital. Got it?”
He hung up and headed straight for Vamp. The Goth club was dark, loud, and weird. Figured it’d be death metal night. Kynan moved through the mass of gyrating bodies, gritting his teeth against the grind of flesh. Half the people wore too much clothing, the other half, not enough. Gem would, no doubt, belong in the latter group, and the thought had him clenching his fists in irritation he had no right to feel.
Ahead, a black and blue head bobbed in the crowd, and he made a beeline for it. He saw Gem before she saw him, and though jealousy burned in his chest at the sight of some tall vampire wannabe dry-humping her as they danced, he couldn’t help but stop and admire her.
From her six-inch-heeled black boots to her black micromini skirt, she was all long legs and long-stemmed rose tattoos winding up the inside of her thigh. She wore a red lace-up corset that pushed her magnificent br**sts up and out, and the spiked leather dog collar around her graceful neck was connected to the top with a chain. He’d never been attracted to the Goth style or its fashion, but she owned it, and he found himself wanting to be the man rubbing all over her instead of the loser she was with.
That loser was probably going to give her what he hadn’t. Would probably take her home and make love to her with care and without anger. Would give her an orgasm while he was moving inside her, kissing her, touching her soft skin.
Except Kynan had a seriously hard time imagining that a guy wearing white makeup, black eyeliner, and black lipstick would be a good lover. Then again, he didn’t want to imagine anyone loving Gem.
As though she sensed him, she turned. Her green eyes sparked with surprise and then narrowed with mischief, a definite you’re-going-to-get-it light.
She shoved the horny guy off her and shouldered her way through the crowd, never looking away from Kynan. Shit, it was as if he was caught in some sort of spell, and he just stood there like a lump as she walked right up to him so they were touching, her br**sts to his chest. She fisted his shirt collar and jerked him as close as possible, straddling one of his legs between hers. No way could she miss the erection burning a hole in her belly any more than he could miss the heat she was rubbing into his thigh.
This was payback, and he knew it. And while he’d love to give her the opportunity to work him up and then walk away, there were lives on the line. Still, he took the time to put his hands on her slim h*ps and move against her, doing his own version of the dirty dance the vamp poser had been doing with her. And if the way she began to pant was any indication, he was doing it better.
Heat and passion burned in her eyes, and though he knew he shouldn’t, he claimed her mouth, fiercely, urgently. Her kiss stole his breath and his thoughts, almost making him forget why he was there. But he did remember, and he forced himself away from her.
“I’m not here for this,” he yelled over the scream of the music.
She jammed her fists on her hips. “No shit? I didn’t really think you’d come here to f**k me in front of a room full of people when you won’t even do it in private.”
Yeah, he’d deserved that. “Tayla needs us.” He grabbed her hand and dragged her out of the club. She yanked him to a halt outside it.
“What are you talking about?”
He pulled her away from the line of people waiting to get in. “The Sem brothers are missing. Runa, too. Tayla says E is in pain.”
“Probably. We’re going to find them.”
His cell rang, and he dug it out of his pocket as he and Gem hoofed it toward his Mustang. Arik’s name popped up on the caller ID. “Yeah?”
“You find my sister?”
“I have a lead, but I can’t get into it right now.”
Arik swore. “I’m on my way to New York, but I have something she needs to hear if you get to her first.”
Kynan listened, and though he had no idea what the hell Arik was talking about, he promised to relay the message to Runa.
If they survived the night.
Shade waited in his cage. Waited for Roag to come back and continue with his fun.
Fun. Right. Stabbing and beating Eidolon and Shade with red-hot pokers was a shit-ton of fun. At least Roag had taken his minions and girlfriend away so they could suffer in peace for a while.
Eidolon sat in one corner of his cage, concentrating on keeping his pain as buried as possible. He didn’t want Tayla to track him, but Shade suspected it was too late. Shade rubbed his thigh where one poker had gone deep, but as with most of his wounds, the heat had cauterized it, so few of his injuries bled.
Though Roag had threatened to let his minions rape Runa, it hadn’t happened yet, thank the gods, and neither had they touched Wraith, although he was the one who had been hurt the most.
He’d gone crazy as E and Shade had been burned, stabbed, and beaten. He’d thrown himself against his cage until he was little more than a bloody pulp. Now he stood motionless as a statue, staring at the stairwell Roag had disappeared into. There was murder in Wraith’s eyes. Murder and a touch of madness that said he was in a mental place Shade wouldn’t want to go.
Wraith hadn’t moved or uttered a word in hours, no matter what Shade did or said, and he wondered if his little brother would ever recover from this.
Assuming they survived.
A shudder shook Shade as he thought about the things Roag had planned for them. Death was one thing, but taking Wraith’s body parts and skin while he was still alive, and then forcing E to transplant the organs onto Roag … God … damn.
Shade rattled his cage, hoping to shake the wildness out of Runa’s gaze. “Baby? You okay?”
She hadn’t taken her eyes off him, not once since Roag had left. She’d gone as crazy as Wraith when Roag and his minions had been having their fun, and her ankles were bleeding where they’d been rubbed raw by the shackles.
“I’m going to kill him.” Her voice was hoarse from screaming, but the power behind her words wasn’t diluted. He knew she’d tear Roag’s heart out of his chest if she had the chance.
His chest expanded with a great breath, with a rush of blood that filled his heart. Love filled him, so warm, so wonderfully right that his eyes threatened to overflow with wussy-ass tears.
“Shade. Fuck.” Eidolon jumped to his feet.
Runa cried out. “Oh, no. Shade, no.”
He looked down and felt the ground fall from beneath him. He could barely see his body. He was fading, and at this rate, he had only minutes left to exist.
Kynan, Gem, and Tay stood next to the Harrowgate in UG’s ER. Tayla had eaten up valuable hours as she searched the area surrounding the Irish Harrowgates, but once she found the right gate and neutralized the demon guarding it, she’d zapped back to the hospital to grab Ky and Gem.
Gem still hadn’t said a word to him since leaving Vamp.
“Did you contact an Irish Aegis chapter for backup?” Gem asked.
“I wish I could,” Tay said, “but I can’t trust them to kill the bad demons and stop there.”
Ky nodded. “Agreed. As helpful as they’d be, we’d have way too much to explain, especially if you two shift form. Besides, we have help.”
There was a muffled consensus of agreement from the semicircle of demons surrounding them, hospital staff who insisted on going along. Nearly everyone on duty had volunteered to help rescue E and his brothers, which spoke volumes about their loyalty, when demons were notoriously self-serving.
Tayla smiled as she pulled her red hair into a high ponytail. “Who’d have thought, huh?” She wore her usual red leather fighting clothes—many demons were blind to the color, making it more invisible than black to them.
“Yeah. Demons who aren’t all bad. Who knew?” He slid a glance at Gem but looked back at Tay quickly. “Ready to roll?”