Someone had raided the rooms in the castle and brought down some of the sacklike tunics Roag’s minions wore, so Runa and Shade donned them while Eidolon used the last of his energy to heal Runa, Gem, and Kynan, and when he was done, Shade made him take a seat on a wooden stool before he fell over. Tayla crawled into his lap and wrapped herself around him.
“Got all the bastards.” Wraith stumbled out of the stairwell, a mass of blood and gaping wounds. “And Solice.” He swayed and hit the stone floor with a crack of kneecaps. “That bitch.”
Shade darted to him. He and E reached their brother at the same time, each grasping one shoulder to hold him up, and both sending waves of their power into him. Eidolon’s energy began to knit the massive injuries together, but the process was slow … E was drained. Cursing softly, Shade probed for internal injuries. Fortunately, Wraith’s organs were intact, but he was dangerously low on blood. His head hung so his chin touched his chest and his long hair concealed his face, and Shade wondered if Wraith was too weak to lift it.
“He needs to feed,” Shade said, coming to his feet. “Now.”
Straw on the floor stirred in the cold drafts and the silence. Gem stepped forward. “I’ll do it.”
An erotic swirl of lust spun up like a breeze from Wraith, and E raised an eyebrow. “You prepared for that? Because you’ll be beneath him with him inside you in about five seconds after he starts feeding.”
She swallowed, but nodded. “It’s not like I’m a virgin or anything.” There seemed to be some subtext there, but f**k if Shade knew what it was.
“No.” Kynan moved forward and knelt in front of Wraith. “I’ll do it. He’s fed from me before.”
E stood and shot Shade a look of surprise that had to match Shade’s own. When the hell had Wraith taken Kynan’s blood? And why? He couldn’t imagine Kynan allowing it, but Gem didn’t seem surprised. Maybe … nah. Seminus demons didn’t do males—they could reach orgasm only with a female. Though he supposed a Sem could screw around with a male as long as a female was present. So had Gem, Ky, and Wraith …
Shade shook his head, needing to clear it. His mind was taking him places he did not want to go.
“Will he still need sex?” Runa asked, and Shade nodded.
“Best to have both at the same time, but if he can get blood now, we can find him a female at the hospital.”
They backed away as Kynan rolled up his sleeve and offered Wraith his wrist. Wraith’s nostrils flared, and before Shade could shout a warning, Wraith sank his fangs into the human’s throat. Kynan flailed, convulsed once, and then relaxed.
“I’ll bet he doesn’t volunteer to do that again,” Shade muttered.
After a few minutes, Gem knelt next to Wraith, who growled at her, his gold eyes viewing her as a threat to his food.
“Easy there,” she said softly, as she took Kynan’s wrist. “Wraith, you need to stop.”
Wraith jerked Kynan closer, taking long, powerful pulls as though trying to ingest as much nourishment as possible before his meal was taken away.
Shade felt for Kynan’s pulse on the other side of his neck. It was fast, too fast, and weak. He probed with his power, and yep, the human was too low on blood for comfort.
“Stop, bro. Now.”
Wraith sucked harder. Eidolon grasped Wraith’s shoulder and tugged him back.
“Dammit, you’re killing him.” E cuffed the back of Wraith’s head. “You’re going to kill Kynan. Wraith!”
The gold in Wraith’s eyes faded, replaced by electric blue. He disengaged his fangs, blinking as he came out of his bloodlust. Kynan sank to the ground, way pale and way unconscious.
“Hypovolemic shock.” Shade caught Kynan’s head before it hit the floor. “We need to get him to the hospital.” He shoved his arms beneath Ky’s limp body, but Wraith locked his hand around Shade’s wrist.
“I’ll carry him.” The determination in Wraith’s voice left no room for argument. His brother needed to do this.
“Fine,” Shade said, “but step on it.”
Kynan lay unconscious in the hospital bed, hooked up to an IV delivering B-positive blood. Shade stood quietly at the foot of Ky’s bed, Runa at his side. Wraith sat close to the rails, head in hands and looking as if he’d been through the Neethul slave pits a few times.
“He’s going to be okay, man.” Shade clapped his hand on Wraith’s shoulder, now covered, like the rest of them, in scrubs, and his brother looked up, dark circles ringing his bloodshot eyes.
“That’s what Gem said.”
“She wouldn’t lie.”
Wraith nodded. “I’m just going to wait until he wakes up.”
“There’s something I gotta do.”
Shade knew better than to lecture Wraith about eating junkies or getting into fights, and after Roag’s little revelation about E being tortured when Wraith went over his monthly allotment of kills, Shade had a feeling that Wraith would be careful from now on. At least, he’d be careful not to kill. Careful with his life? That was another question.
Shade squeezed Runa’s hand, and they slipped silently out into the hall, where E was waiting. Tay and Gem were talking a few doors down, giving them some privacy.
“How is he?” E asked.
“Ky or Wraith?”
“Ky’s looking better. Wraith …” Shade shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“I’m glad Roag’s torment is eternal,” Eidolon muttered.
“You and me both, bro.”
E gazed absently into the room, and then he turned back to Shade. “I have some good news. First, Luc’s alive.”
“Luc. You know, Runa’s sire?”
A surge of possessiveness had Shade clenching his teeth, but Runa stroked his fingers with her thumb, bringing him down. “Yeah, you could’ve not mentioned that part.” The sire thing stuck like a bone in his craw. “So how’s he alive?”
“One of your new EMTs found him. He resuscitated him, got him on life support, and after that it was a waiting game. I just checked on him. He’s out of his coma and pissed as hell. Says some burned thing disguised as you tried to kill him. Also says we just put off the inevitable by saving him.”
“That boy needs an attitude adjustment.” Shade narrowed his eyes at E. “Hold up … when did you learn he survived?”
“After we lost Roag in the park and you went back to your cave with Runa. I meant to tell you, but …”
“Roag grabbed us.” Shade took a deep breath and asked Runa the question he really didn’t want to know the answer to. “Can you sense Luc?”
She grinned. “I can’t feel a thing.”
Eidolon cleared his throat, and Shade knew there was some doctorish know-it-all speak coming up. “His death, however brief, must have severed the connection, like what happened to us when Roag died. I have a theory about that—”
“What’s the other good news?” Shade cut him off, because really, he didn’t give a shit and wasn’t going to look a gift hell stallion in the mouth. Not that he’d do that, anyway, because the things breathed fire.
E didn’t miss a beat. “Thanks to your information about Runa’s Army experimentation, I was able to narrow my focus.”
“You saying you have a cure?”
Eidolon nodded. “I’m close. I was able to isolate the proteins that caused your infection. I should have a vaccine ready in a couple of weeks. Month, tops.”
Yes. Shade wanted to shout to the heavens. Wanted to grab Runa and twirl her around until they were both dizzy. “What about Runa?”
She touched Shade’s shoulder, and her hopes and fears transmitted to him in a surge of electricity. Eidolon’s expression quickly brought them both back down to earth.
“You can’t cure her,” Shade muttered. “Why not?”
“A warg’s bite alters human DNA,” Eidolon explained. “Whatever the military did to her affected the way her genes synthesize proteins. Those proteins allow her to shift at will, and they’re also what infected you—without altering your DNA. I can destroy the proteins in both of you, and it’ll cure you … but all it will do to her is end her ability to shift at will.”
Runa blew out a long breath. “And I’d still grow fur during the full moon.”
“Yes,” Eidolon said. “I’m sorry.”
She shook her head. “It’s okay. I’m getting used to being a werewolf. It’s been handy a couple of times. And hey, the quadrupled lifespan alone is worth it.”
Gods, that was something he hadn’t considered. If she became human again, he’d lose her way too soon. He couldn’t handle that. Breaking the bond wouldn’t physically kill him, but a broken heart would.
She squeezed Shade’s shoulder. “Get yourself cured. You’ve had enough to deal with without having the werewolf thing on top of it.”
He didn’t deserve her, but man, he was so lucky to have her. He hated Roag with every cell in his body, but the bastard had given him Runa. It hadn’t seemed like a gift at the time, but now he would never regret the bond he had with her, even if it didn’t go both ways.
She knew what he was thinking. “I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “Markings or no, you’re mine. I love you, Shade.”
He drew her hard against him. “But with the bond being one-sided, you still can’t feel me. If I need you, if I’m hurt—”
“I’ll never be far from you. We’ll work it out.”
“Damn, I love you.”
She sighed, a sweet, soft sound he’d never grow tired of hearing. “Agree to the shot.”
“I’m not so sure I want it now.”
Eidolon backed away to give them a chance to talk.
“Don’t turn this down,” she said. “This is your chance to be free.”
“Maybe I don’t want to be.” He drew his finger along her jawline, enjoying the way her champagne eyes darkened to a smooth, swirling caramel. “Maybe I like what we do to each other during the full moon. What we do to each other when we wake up, and the moon is still stirring us.”
“We’ll still have that. You can shapeshift into a warg any time you want.”
“Shade.” Eidolon came close again, bringing Tay with him. “There’s something else to consider. Your offspring.”
“What about them? Runa isn’t human anymore, so they’ll be born full-blooded Sems.”
“Yes, but they’ll also be wargs.”
“Runa wasn’t a born warg, so that shouldn’t happen.” Humans who were turned into werewolves gave birth to normal human babies—unless conception took place while the mother was in beast form—but those born as werewolves usually gave birth to werewolves no matter how the young were conceived.
“I think the experimentation could have screwed with that. If we cure the lycanthropy in you, I can use your antibodies to create an immunization for your children. Even those conceived in beast form during a breeding heat.”
Shade blew out a breath. He didn’t want the cure for himself, but he wouldn’t wish lycanthropy on his offspring. Without mates, full-moon nights would be dangerous for them and any female who got in their way. “Fine. Do it.”
Runa reached for his face with both hands and brought his mouth down hard against hers. “I love you,” she said, against his lips. Her voice was a deep, husky rasp that lit him up the way only she could. “And you know how I’m going to show you?”
He pulled back a little. “How?”
“You know that thing you never let me do when we were dating?” Her gaze flickered to the rapidly growing bulge in his pants, and he took in a ragged breath.
The image of her on her knees, taking him into her mouth … damn. “I couldn’t let you,” he croaked. “My s**en is an aphrodisiac. I wouldn’t have been able to explain why you went mad with lust afterward.”
Her wicked grin cut off his words and his breath. Nearly stopped his heart, as well. “Not that I’ve ever needed an aphrodisiac with you, but it sounds interesting.” She licked her lips, the little vixen, and that was it. He was done for, beyond the point of no return.
He grabbed her hand and turned to E. “I’m outta here. Call if you need me, but do not call any time soon.”
E opened his mouth, but Tayla walked up to them and shot E a shut-up look. Way to go, slayer. He started toward the Harrowgate, wondering which of his two places he’d take Runa to, but dammit, both his apartment and his cave were a good walk from the exit point. Again, Runa knew what he was thinking, and she tugged him to her.
“Do you think there’s an empty exam room available?”
Amusement—and not a small amount of lust—bubbled through him. “Could be needing it for hours …”
“Days,” she said, with a naughty smile.
His insides liquefied and his outside went harder than stone. “Oh, yeah. Let’s go.”
Eidolon watched Shade whisk Runa away, their aroused state obvious to his incubus senses. His own body stirred to life, so when Tayla wrapped her arms around him and whispered, “Do you think there’s more than one exam room open?” he didn’t hesitate.
He slid a glance at Wraith on the way past Kynan’s room and prayed that Wraith, too, would find the peace he so desperately needed.