“She pleasured me with her mouth until I was crazy with lust, and then she stopped.”
“So … didn’t the fact that you’re in a chamber of horrors put a damper on your libido?”
“My mind wasn’t willing, but my body responded.” He drilled her with a hard look. “I’m an incubus, and she was as aroused as I was. I couldn’t help it.”
Right. His nature again.
“So if you sense arousal, you have to respond?” When he nodded, she bit her lip, thinking. “The day we met, you said you sensed my need. Is that what you meant?”
He nodded again. “It’s why I generally avoid public places. A nightclub, especially a demon nightclub, can be hell. No pun intended.”
That would explain why they’d never gone anywhere during the month they’d dated. Their entire relationship had revolved around his place or a hotel, sex and food. Once, they’d taken a walk in a park—at night when the area was deserted. At the time, she’d thought it romantic. Now she knew better.
“Then, no matter where you are, you have to stay if you sense need? You can’t leave?”
“Not if a single female wants sex. I’m compelled to find her. If she’s with another male, the results can be violent.”
“Why not just, um—”
“Release can’t come by my own hand.”
Which was why he’d tried to get to her when they first brought him in. He’d been frantic with pain and lust, needing release, and she’d been the only female in sight. They’d chained him just out of reach to torment him. Sick bastards.
“And you needed me to hurt you … why?”
“It was a gamble. I hoped the pain would overwhelm the lust-agony.” He studied his foot and applied pressure to a gaping wound that was bleeding badly. “Your turn. Why can you shift at will? Wargs only shift during the full moon. And shapeshifters turn into true animals, not were-beasts.”
“I’m not sure why,” she lied. “I was hoping maybe your hospital could help me find out.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “How do you know about the hospital?”
“I’ve been hunting for my sire, which means I’ve met some nonhumans. And your uniform pretty much gave you away.” More lies, but the truth wasn’t an option. He couldn’t know that the R-XR knew about his hospital and that one of the reasons she’d been looking for Shade was to learn more about it.
Shade had told her he was a paramedic, but it wasn’t until the R-XR was given a caduceus pendant taken from a shapeshifter doctor The Aegis had killed that she realized Shade must work at the demon hospital. The shapeshifter’s pendant had been identical to his.
Normally, her job with the R-XR was to literally sniff out other were-creatures. The military would then secretly tag them, and their information would be added to a giant database, allowing for monitoring.
But Runa’s familiarity with New York City, as well as her past association with Shade, had earned her this assignment.
“You shouldn’t hang out with nonhumans,” he growled. “You aren’t ready.”
“I didn’t ask for your permission.”
“You’re a baby in my world, Runa. Stay out of it.”
She waved her arm in an encompassing gesture. “Look around you, Shade. I can’t get in much deeper. I certainly don’t have a choice.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “It’s your fault I’m in this world in the first place.”
“You do realize that as a warg, your lifespan has quadrupled, right? So you should be thanking me.”
“Assuming I don’t die in the next couple of days. Or get killed by The Aegis. Or by other wargs.” She huffed. “If you’re expecting gratitude, you’ll be waiting a long time. Not that we have a long time.”
“We’re going to be okay.”
“And you know this how?”
“My brother can sense me. He’ll find us.”
Too bad her brother couldn’t sense her. Heck, neither he nor the R-XR would know she was missing until after the full moon when she was supposed to check in. She watched as Shade checked his bleeding foot and returned pressure to the wound. He didn’t so much as flinch, his movements precise and coldly efficient.
“How many brothers and sisters do you have?” She’d asked him the question a long time ago, but his answer had been vague—a few—and then he’d changed the subject as deftly as a politician.
“One sister—the Umber. Two brothers. Wraith and Eidolon.”
“Are they Umber demons, too?”
He shook his head. “No. They’re Sems like me.”
“How is it that you have an Umber sister?”
“We share a mother. With my brothers, I share a father, but our mothers are all different species.”
“So … you’re half-breeds?”
“No. All Seminus demons are purebred and male. There are no female Sems, so after s’genesis, we impregnate females of other species. The offspring are born purebred Seminus demons, though everyone inherits minor traits from his dam.”
Interesting. “Why would these other species volunteer to have Seminus children?”
“They don’t. Sexually mature Seminus demons gain the ability to shapeshift into the males of other species. So basically, we trick them into ha**g s*x with us. If that doesn’t work, rape does.”
Shade rolled his eyes. “We’re demons. But if it makes you feel any better, most of us are disgusted by our destiny until we go through s’genesis. Then we don’t give a shit anymore.”
“So you do care?”
“Right now, yes. The idea of deceiving or raping any female in order to knock her up disgusts me. So does the reality of what happens to the infants.”
“Most are slaughtered at birth. Few demons are willing to raise a demon of another species, let alone one that was conceived through trickery or rape.”
“So I’m guessing the fathers don’t have anything to do with the children.”
“Most of us never meet the male that sired us. All we know is the family that raised us, though we can sense our brothers.”
“So you never knew your father?” She shifted to get more comfortable, wincing at the dull ache in her ankle.
“All I knew of him were secondhand stories.”
“Do all sexual demons reproduce like that?”
“Nope. Most incubi and succubi use humans for reproduction, but Sems can’t. Impregnating humans results in cambions.”
“Sterile half-breeds.” The way he said it, with a slight sneer, told her what he thought of breeding with humans.
Apparently, screwing them was just fine, however. She tried to keep the bitterness out of her voice as she asked, “So your mother’s an Umber, right?”
Shade nodded. Runa didn’t know much about the cave-dwelling species, had only skimmed the information she’d found while researching demons to identify Shade’s breed. Apparently, they were gray-skinned and humanoid, though they avoided contact with humans. They were extremely social in their family orders, but were isolated within the demon world—probably because they were the natural prey of some of the more vicious species of demons.
“What about your brothers?” She leaned forward, intensely curious. She’d had a rude introduction into the demon world, but once she got over the shock, she’d dedicated every spare minute to learning as much as she could. “What species are their mothers?”
“My older brother, Eidolon, was born to a Justice demon, and Wraith’s mother was a vampire.”
She blinked. “I didn’t think vampires could breed.”
“They can’t. Wraith’s an anomaly.”
Somewhere in the dungeon, something screamed, and Runa shivered.
“What about your parents?” she asked quickly, and a little shakily. “Was what you told me when we were dating true? Your mother lives in South America and your dad is dead?”
A long, awkward silence filled the cell. Finally, just as Runa was about to give up on getting an answer, Shade said, “My mother was killed a couple of months ago.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“Did you kill her?”
Her voice cracked with astonishment. “No.”
“Then don’t be sorry.”
“Am I annoying you with my questions?” she snapped.
“Yep.” He shrugged. “But it’s not like we have a lot else to do.”
As if on cue, footsteps pounded outside. Runa crouched, ready to attack, but Shade remained where he was, looking for all the world as if he was lounging on a couch with a beer. If the fact that he was nude bothered him, it didn’t show.
The door swung open. The Nightlash who had dragged Shade out of the cell earlier entered and dropped a gym bag on the floor. A robed figure slid inside behind the other demon, its face hidden inside a deep hood, though she thought she caught a glimpse of some sort of mask. Only the creature’s hands were visible—clawlike, skeletal things wrapped in leathery skin. Some of its fingers were missing, but that didn’t stop him from holding a wicked-looking spiked club.
It turned to Shade. “I see you’ve recovered from your ordeal.”
“That’s what happens when you hire second-rate whores like Solice. You should have instructed her in the proper art of blowjobs.”
The thing hissed. “I’m going to make you suffer.”
“Promises, promises,” Shade drawled, turning away to study his fingernails.
Runa could practically feel the rage billowing like steam from the robed creature. “I will make what I did to your sister look like fun.”
Very slowly, Shade lifted his head, his dark eyes narrowed and gleaming with hatred. “Where is she? What did you do to her?”
“Do you really want to know?”
Shade leaped to his feet. “Tell me!”
The creature nodded to the Nightlash, who opened the bag on the floor and pulled out what looked like a leather blanket.
Oh, God. Runa’s stomach lurched. She felt the blood drain from her face as the robed one cackled.
“Umber skins are worth a fortune on the underworld market. She’s going to make someone a fine cloak.”
A blast of darkness hit Runa a second before the icy wind, and then Shade let loose an agonized wail that would stay with her for the rest of her life.
Kynan Morgan was probably the biggest pain in the ass on staff at UGH. Scratch that. Not probably. He was, and he knew it.
He also didn’t give a shit. He didn’t give a shit about much anymore. His give-a-shit meter had broken nearly a year ago when his wife betrayed him and then died at the hands of her lover. One of her lovers, anyway. The human one.
Then there was Gem, with her black and blue hair, Goth clothing, piercings, and tats. He’d forgiven Tayla for being a demon. Mainly, because she hadn’t known the truth of her paternity until Eidolon figured it out. But Tayla’s sister, Gem … not so much. He’d met her a few years ago at the New York City hospital where she’d worked, pretending to be human. She’d talked to him, laughed with him, seen him nearly na**d during exams.
Truthfully, it wasn’t a betrayal; she’d owed him nothing. But he’d liked her, trusted her, and all along she’d been the enemy.
But even that wasn’t entirely true. Since the violent night nearly a year ago, he’d come to the disturbing realization that not all demons were evil, that some strove to be good. The knowledge, on top of his wife’s betrayal, had shaken his moral, spiritual, and emotional foundations. He’d pulled away from The Aegis, from one of the two things he was good at: killing.
Which had left him with only one skill remaining, something he hadn’t even been sure he had the stomach for anymore.
At that point, Eidolon had stepped in and offered him a job at UGH, as one of the half-dozen humans already on staff. The irony was flat-out, f**king funny. He’d spent years killing demons, and now they wanted him to heal them.
He’d accepted, but on the condition that he chose who he helped. He would not be responsible for putting evil back on the streets. Eidolon had understood, and he’d even made Kynan a doctor, since the hospital was short on physicians with degrees, and Kynan had a shitload of medical experience thanks to his Army medic training and years of patching up Guardians after battles with demons.
Still, this was a temporary gig. Hanging out with demons was a perfect mirror for where he was mentally, but he had to believe it would come to an end, that he could find himself again. He wasn’t sure he could go back to being the Regent of the New York Aegis cell—hell, he didn’t think they’d even want him. If the Sigil—the twelve supreme leaders of The Aegis—knew he’d been working with the enemy … well, he’d become the enemy. They could never know what he was doing at the hospital. And if they knew that the New York City cell’s temporary Regent, Tayla, was half demon and mated to a demon, he and Tay would both end up with death warrants hanging over their heads.
Apparently, the Sigil didn’t yet know about Tayla’s new approach to demon-slaying—she’d educated the Guardians in her cell to recognize the difference between evil demons and harmless ones, a move that had rewarded them with a handful of demon informants. She’d also instituted a capture-instead-of-kill policy when it came to were-beasts. Another good move—some weres didn’t cause harm intentionally—they had escaped their cages, or were new enough to not understand what had been happening to them three nights a month. Only those with no regard for human life were put down.