But Eidolon couldn’t shake the feeling that in Wraith’s case, prayers went unheard.
The obnoxious beeping of hospital equipment pierced the dark depths of Kynan’s dreams and yanked him into real life. Where there was a demon parked next to the bed.
“Wraith?” Kynan blinked, trying to get the grit out of his eyes. He felt as if he’d been asleep for a week. Maybe he had. And why the hell was he in the hospital?
As a patient?
Wraith sat forward in his chair, propping his forearms on his spread knees. “’Sup, buddy.”
Buddy? Kynan blinked again. He wasn’t at UG. He was in the Twilight Zone.
“How … what happened?” The moment the words passed his lips, he remembered the battle in the Irish castle. But he’d only taken minor injuries, and Eidolon had healed those. “How did I get here?”
Wraith rubbed the back of his neck and looked down at his feet. “Yeah, ah … that’s sort of my fault.”
This was just getting weirder and weirder. Wraith was never uncomfortable, and as far as Kynan knew, the demon had never regretted anything in his life. But he was definitely doing the I-fucked-up shuffle.
“What do you mean, it’s your fault? What did you do?”
“Nothing much, really. Just nearly drained you of blood.”
Frowning, Kynan searched his memory. After the battle, they’d triaged and treated the injured. Wraith had gone after the escapees. He’d returned, bleeding and battered … and in desperate need of blood. Yeah, it was coming back. Including how Gem had volunteered to be Wraith’s donor, and Kynan had nixed that right quick. And it wasn’t as though he hadn’t fed Wraith before.
Only the first time had been about Ky’s need to connect with Lori on some level. To understand even a little of what had gone on in her head the night she’d been in Wraith’s arms. But the second time Wraith had come to Kynan’s vein had been about keeping him off Gem.
It had also been about helping the demon, because as pissed as Ky’d been at Wraith for what he’d done to him in E’s office, he was also grateful. Wraith had helped him make peace with his feelings for Lori, and even though the rest of his life was still f**ked up, at least that part of it had healed.
Wraith’s head snapped up. “What do you mean, what else?”
“I mean, why the long face?”
“I nearly put you in the grave, you stupid human!”
Ah, now there was the Wraith they all knew and loved. “Good to see that guilt hasn’t affected your utter lack of tact.”
“Good to see nearly dying hasn’t affected the fact that you’re an asshole,” Wraith shot back.
Kynan grinned. “Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, why don’t you tell me what I missed while I was out.”
That fast, the awkwardness in the room dissipated. The tension in Wraith’s shoulders, the embarrassment that he’d been caught giving a shit about someone, disappeared.
“Gem hardly left your side,” Wraith said, back to his cocky self.
Kynan blew out a long breath. “She’s a doctor.”
Wraith snorted. “She wants to play doctor.”
“Let it go, man.”
“Dude.” Wraith’s eyes bored into him. “You need to tap that.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Says the incubus.”
Wraith rolled his eyes. “You humans are so damned weighed down by morals. It’s sex. Your body is made for pleasure. Why not enjoy it?”
“Morals are not my issue.” Kynan didn’t know what the hell his issue was anymore.
“Then what? Don’t BS me and say you aren’t hot for her.”
“Well, duh. Look at her.”
Wraith waggled his brows. “I do.”
“That’s not a screaming endorsement. If it breathes, you look at it.”
“As E likes to point out, breathing is optional.”
Sighing, Kynan threw his head back and stared at the heavy-duty lift chains hanging from the black ceiling. Somewhere in the hospital, something screeched. “I don’t know, man. Lori really f**ked with my head.”
“You’ve made peace with that now.”
The reminder that Wraith had invaded his mind chafed a little, but he was right. “It’s not that. I don’t know if I can trust anyone like that again.”
“So who says you have to get that serious with Gem? See what I mean about you humans? Didn’t you ever do the man-whore thing when you were younger?”
“I was pretty young when I met Lori.”
“And you didn’t f**k around on her?”
Kynan snorted. “Nope. Stupid me, huh?”
“Sounds to me like it’s time you get out of the scrubs you’ve been hiding in and have a little fun.”
Wraith was calling him out. Wraith, who Kynan had thought to be so self-absorbed that he didn’t notice anything else around him. The guy was far more observant than Ky—and probably his brothers—gave him credit for.
Wraith shoved to his feet. “Look, dude. I know your wife did a number on you. But you’re giving her more power than she deserves. Dump your baggage and get on with your life.”
“Isn’t that a little hypocritical?”
“Damn f**king straight.” Wraith clamped a strong hand on Ky’s shoulder. “But I’m about to practice what I just preached. See you around, human.”
Wraith strode out of the room, his boots striking the stone floor with heavy, ominous thuds. Kynan had a sudden feeling that whatever the demon was up to was going to have consequences that would roll through the hospital like a never-ending seismic wave.
Knowing he couldn’t do anything about it, Kynan swung his feet over the edge of the bed and yanked the IV line out of his hand. He couldn’t believe he was going to take advice from Wraith, but the guy had a point. Kynan had spent far too much time drowning himself in work and alcohol, and in the process he’d lost himself. It was time to deal with his demons.
Gem was pouring a cup of coffee when someone knocked at the door to her apartment. “Come in!”
Boots thumped on the floor, and she turned. Kynan stood in the doorway to the kitchen, filling it, owning it, making her breath catch. “Here’s the deal,” he said, without so much as a hello. “I spent my life doing good, knowing good from bad, fighting evil. I wanted to save the freaking world. And then all of a sudden, evil wasn’t so evil, and the people I thought were good were bad. I lost myself for a time, Gem, and I need to get myself back. I went from killing demons to saving them … to wanting to have sex with them.” His eyes darkened dangerously, and her breath caught. “But I need to regroup. Figure out where I fit in this crazy world.”
The cup in her hand shook. She put it down before she spilled. “So what are you saying?”
“I’m going back to The Aegis.”
Her heart plummeted. “You’re … leaving us?”
He closed the distance between them in half a dozen strides, halting just inches from her. So close his heat engulfed her, and his rugged, male scent washed a tide of sensual hunger through her blood. “Hell, no. Listen to me. It’s not safe for me to be working at Underworld General anymore. I’m pretty sure the military is watching me, and I won’t put the hospital at risk. I’ll be working for The Aegis, but I’m not going anywhere. I have friends here. E, Shade, Wraith. Tayla.” His hand came up to cup her cheek. “You.”
Her heart pounded painfully against her ribs. “Friends. That’s why you’re here? To tell me we’re friends?”
“I don’t want to be friends.” He watched her with those patient, navy eyes of his. “I want to be lovers.”
Oh, yes, yes, yes! Excitement and joy bubbled through her. This had to be a dream.
Kynan traced her lower lip with his thumb. “I figure that if Tayla can serve in The Aegis while being half-demon and being mated to a demon, I can date a demon.”
“You’re … you’re serious.”
One corner of his mouth tipped up in a smile as he inclined his head in a slow nod. “Yeah.”
Kynan’s eyes darkened with longing, and she wondered if her own gaze had become as heated. He slid his hands up her arms, leaving a trail of goosebumps on her skin. When he reached her shoulders, he anchored her in place. Slowly, so slowly she wanted to gnash her teeth, he lowered his mouth to hers.
Someone knocked on the door. “Ignore it,” he murmured against her lips.
“I plan to.”
The door exploded inward. Kynan wheeled around, shoved her behind him. The next thing she heard was the sound of automatic weapons being brought to bear.
Fuck. Kynan had suspected that the R-XR was watching him, but he hadn’t expected them to come out into the open. He figured they’d hang back and watch his movements, his contacts. If they knew about Gem’s demon side … he reached back, tucked her more fully behind him, and faced off with the ex—Delta Force operative leading the team. His hair, cut in a severe high-and-tight, was as dark as his expression.
“Lower your f**king weapons, Arik.”
Arik gave a curt nod, and his men, all dressed in black BDUs, stood down. “We need to talk.”
“Trust me. We want to do this privately.” Arik moved into the living room, and Kynan had no choice but to follow.
“Stay here,” he told Gem. “I’ll take care of this. Don’t worry.”
“I’m not.” She smiled at him, and then scowled at Arik through the opening. “They’re going to pay for my door.”
“I’ll let them know.” He squeezed her hand and then moved off to Arik, though he kept Gem in his sights. He faced off with the other man, doing his best to keep his temper in check.
“What the fuck?” So much for the temper.
“I’m sorry we had to do it this way,” Arik said. “But you said you wouldn’t come in.”
“That’s because I wasn’t in the mood to be tortured for information.”
“You wouldn’t be tortured, but that’s not what this has been about. The fact that you’re working in a demon hospital is, ah, disturbing, and we could use the intel, but that’s not why Runa was sent to find you.”
“I’m starting to lose my patience, so get to the point.”
Arik glanced into the kitchen and lowered his voice. “We need you to come into R-XR.”
“No means no, buddy.”
“No is for when you have a choice.”
Kynan clenched his fists. “Tell me why I should go without a fight.”
Arik didn’t tense up, didn’t do anything to provoke. “You know that every military member attacked by a demon is tested by the R-XR.”
Yeah, he knew. He’d gone through a battery of tests before the military released him to The Aegis. “So?”
“New technology has become available, and we’ve run old tests again.” Arik glanced down before looking back up, directly into Kynan’s eyes. “Something came up in yours. A suspicious gene.”
Kynan’s stomach took a dive to his feet. “Do not say it’s a demon gene, Arik. Don’t. Even. Say. It.”
“That’s the thing, Ky. We think it’s something else.”
Arik shook his head. “It’s got divine coding. I don’t know the fancy technical term for it. I’m just the muscle.”
“Goddammit, spit it out.”
“Fallen angel, Kynan. We think that somewhere perched in your family tree, there’s a fallen angel.”
Kynan’s head swam with denial. “Fallen angels are demons.”
“Not always. This was probably an angel who hadn’t entered Sheoul yet. Fallen, but not quite demon.”
Kynan thought about Reaver, UG’s resident fallen angel. He was in that in-between state, though Kynan had no idea why. The guy never talked about it. As far as Ky knew, no one knew Reaver’s story … how he fell and why he hadn’t entered Sheoul.
This was just too unbelievable, and had to be a mistake. Had to be. But as much as he wanted to rail against the information, he also had to stay level. The tests could be wrong, but if they weren’t, he needed to know what the results meant.
“What does R-XR want with me?” he asked, his voice hoarser than he’d have liked. “Straight up.”
“We need to run more tests. Do some research.”
“Poke and prod, you mean.”
Arik didn’t deny it. “Nothing like this has ever been seen before.”
Yeah, and Kynan hadn’t been born yesterday. The R-XR didn’t send armed teams to grab someone they wanted to do tests on. “What else?”
A vein in Arik’s forehead pulsed, and Kynan knew this was Arik’s ace, the card he’d been given to play only if he absolutely had to.
“Jesus, it’s not some stupid prophecy, is it? Because those never make sense, never turn out like they’re supposed to …”
He met Kynan’s gaze with solemn eyes. “It’s more than a prophecy, Ky. We’re talking about a lock of biblical proportions. And you might be the key.”
“The key to what?”
“The end of the world,” Arik said grimly. “Armageddon.”
The concussion from Arik’s bomb rocked Kynan to his bones. His head snapped back, and he stood there in silence for a moment, too stunned and terrified to speak, move, or breathe. Finally, when his lungs began to burn, he sucked in some air and pulled it together. “Give me a second.” His legs were wobbly as they carried him to the kitchen.