This was even better.
He pounded into her, giving her what she wanted, making her whimper as they climbed higher. The scent of her arousal rose up, intoxicating him with lust. Making him so drunk that the room began to spin, and when she commanded him to “Drink me” and dragged a long nail across her clavicle and drew blood, he did, without thinking.
She threaded her left fingers through his right ones, stretched their arms high above her head. Pain shot through him, lovely, delicious pain that radiated from his shoulder where she’d sunk her teeth. The dermoire that extended from his fingers to his neck began to glow with liquid heat, seeming to melt their limbs together.
Hell’s rings, they were bonding. Oh, shit, it was happening and he couldn’t stop it, not when her blood flowed like wine down his throat and she drew his blood with strong, erotic pulls. Not when his orgasm was barreling down on him like a freight train and she was screaming and …
He roared in his release as her cl**ax milked him, her slick inner walls contracting around him and holding him prisoner.
Blinded by the orgasm that went on and on, he couldn’t see straight, but something wasn’t right. The smells in the room were off, no longer chocolate and arousal, but mold and sewage. His knees weren’t sliding on satin. They were scraping on hard stone.
“Runa,” he whispered, and she moaned, rousing herself with the same dreamy fogginess that affected him.
“What happened?” She blinked up at him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the dermoire on his arm stop glowing. He felt her inside him, in his soul, his heart. They were bonded.
And with growing horror he realized where they were.
“You bastard.” Rage nearly boiled Runa’s blood as she glared up at Shade. “What did you do to me?” She shoved hard at his bare shoulders. “Get off me!”
To his credit, he seemed as bewildered as she was. He scrambled off her, his movements jerky and awkward. But then, she wasn’t exactly moving with grace and finesse, either. Her limbs felt heavy, as though her veins ran thick with lead instead of blood.
“Shit,” he breathed, kneeling beside her. “What happened?”
“You don’t know?”
“I know we just bonded. But I have no idea how we got to that point.”
Bonded? She winced at a twinge of pain in her head. She must have been drugged. Her mind worked furiously. Nebulous images swirled through her head. The Keepers had brought them food and water. They’d eaten, and after that … her mind was a black hole. She vaguely remembered hearing Roag’s voice, but then she was in a hotel room with Shade, and they were making love …
Bonding. The biting, the blood … some sort of mating ritual?
A tingling shock of arousal washed over her, purged her of coherent thought. Oh, she remembered this, remembered how sex with Shade left her enjoying orgasms for long afterward. She bit back a moan, ashamed that under the circumstances, she could possibly find another release.
As it swept over her, Shade drew her into his strong arms. “I love this part,” he murmured into her ear. “After I’ve taken you, and you come apart while I watch.”
She arched against him, clinging to his broad shoulders, clinging to the exquisite ripples of pleasure she didn’t want to end. His hard slabs of muscle buffered her body’s spasms. Dimly, she realized his thigh had spread hers and she was rocking against him. He held her tight, driving the hard length of his erection into her belly.
His lips brushed the rim of her ear as he talked her through the orgasms that came one after another. His words were graphic, hot, a verbal aphrodisiac that kept her shuddering in his embrace.
When it was over and her head had cleared, she shoved him away again, though with less force than before. “This is insane,” she said, her voice as hoarse as she’d ever heard it.
“So is Roag.” Shade shoved his hand through his hair, watching her as though gauging her ability to handle everything that had happened.
“I remember hearing Roag’s voice. They must have drugged us. But why?” She glanced around the tiny cell, only now realizing that they were no longer chained to the walls. Hope sang through her. She welcomed the feeling until a dark hunger made her realize that it wasn’t hope she was experiencing.
It was the pull of the full moon. The time was near.
“Why, I don’t know. But Roag has the power to make us think things that aren’t real. It’s the same gift Wraith has. He got into both our heads and made us want to bond.”
“And what, exactly, is bonding?”
“It’s what Seminus demons do if they want to either avoid or reverse the worst effects of s’genesis. We still go through The Change, but if we have taken a lifemate, we don’t sink into a life of violence, and we don’t have the urge to impregnate every female on the planet.” He leaned forward, his eyes dropping to her exposed breasts, which tightened under his hot gaze. “We only have the urge to impregnate our mate.”
She swallowed and wrapped her arms around herself. “Did you …”
“I’m not fertile yet.” He frowned. “Do I have a ring around my throat?”
“Yes.” It was an extension of the dermoire running up his arm … a knotted collar around his neck. She reached out to touch it, but he shied away.
“Don’t.” His voice was low and rough. “I’m having a hard time controlling myself. The things I want to do to you …”
Her heart thundered in her chest. Jumped to her throat so she could barely find her voice. “Is … is that normal?”
“I’ve heard that taking a mate before The Change brings it on faster.” His gaze darkened until the whites of his eyes had nearly been consumed by the black. “Because of the permanent supply of sex.”
The mere word, the possessive intensity in his expression, nearly had her moaning. “Think again, buddy. I’m not going to be your little sex slave.” She hoped that sounded more convincing to him than it did to her.
Shade put more distance between them, but the way his body was coiled, the way he watched her, reminded her of a panther ready to pounce. “That’s not how it works.” He fingered his throat. “Are there one or two rings?”
“There will be two once the s’genesis is complete. The first one means I’m bonded. The second means I’m fertile. You’ll develop arm markings that match mine in a few minutes. Since the lycanthropy altered your DNA, you’re no longer fully human, so the bonding shouldn’t kill you.”
This was really, really not good. She shoved to her feet and started to pace, the wolf blood itching just beneath the surface of her skin. “Okay, how do we unbond?”
He scrubbed a hand over his jaw. “We don’t.”
“What do you mean, we don’t? There has to be a way. A spell, a ritual—”
“There isn’t.” He rubbed his jaw again. “Fuck.”
It occurred to her that she should be more upset, but since they were probably both going to die sometime in the next day or so, mating for life didn’t seem like a big deal.
“For fun, let’s say we survive the Ghouls. What does being bonded mean for me? For us?”
He stood, paced for a moment, his toned body a thing of beauty as he walked. “Forced fidelity, for one thing. Neither one of us can willingly have sex with another. You’ll feel pain if you try. I won’t be able to get it up. It means we will sense each other’s arousal no matter how far apart we are. We’ll feel each other’s emotions. I can feel your anger right now.”
“I’ll just bet you can.” She glared at him. “So this all sounds pretty shitty. Why would anyone do this? I mean, I get that it might make things easier on you, but why would women do this?”
“Not women. Our blood is toxic to humans, so we can’t bond with them.”
“Fine. Females, then. Why would demon females bond with you?”
“Demons do fall in love, you know,” he snapped. “Females do want to keep the male they love from going insane and f**king everything that moves.” He took a deep breath, and when he spoke again, he was calmer. “Some species get longer lifespans out of the deal. Prey species get a protector in a mate. There are lots of reasons a female might bond with a Seminus demon.”
“What about werewolves?”
She stared. “That’s it? Great sex? I’m forced to deal with you for the rest of my life and all I get out of it is great sex?”
“Better than great sex,” he said, sounding a little put out.
She reached for her clothing, scattered around her. “This is just great.” And she wasn’t talking about her panties, which had been shredded.
“I’m not real happy either, princess.”
She resisted the urge to snap at him. This wasn’t his fault. “What’s up with your brother? Why is he so …”
“He’s always been off kilter. He was born to Neethul slavemasters, an extremely cruel race. When he went through his s’genesis, he lost what few marbles he had.”
She tugged on her jeans, and at some point she must have growled, because he shot her a curious glance.
“You’re close, aren’t you?”
In answer, her muscles tightened painfully, as though they were being separated from the bones. “The full moon is almost here.”
“Yeah. As soon as I change, they’re going to skin me.”
Shaking his head slowly, Shade fingered his earring. “I don’t think so. Roag bonded us for a reason.”
“So he won’t kill me?”
He met her gaze. “Oh, he’ll kill you,” he said quietly. “But not yet. I think he has something far worse planned.”
Doctor Gemella Endri stood in the physicians’ lounge at Underworld General, watching Wraith pace while Eidolon and Kynan tried to calm him.
The futility of their efforts was heartbreaking. Wraith had been coming apart at the seams for hours now. Even his clothes hadn’t been able to stand up to the stress. His T-shirt had been stretched irreparably at the neck from his hands’ constantly tugging at it as though it had been strangling him. She figured that as much as he’d been pacing, his combat boots’ soles should be completely worn down.
Shoving both hands through his hair, he stopped walking and threw his back against the dark gray wall covered with incantations written in blood—protective spells that prevented violence. Mostly. He and his brothers were exempt from the violence restriction.
“I still can’t locate him. Dammit, I can’t find him!”
Eidolon looked up from where he sat across from Gem, his dark eyes haunted. The ambulance Shade and Skulk had been driving had been found, but there had been no sign of the demons, and everyone in the hospital was operating in worry mode. “Can you feel him at all?”
Wraith stared at the ceiling, which was as dark as the walls. “I get blips of him when he’s in pain, but they don’t last. Someone must have put a masking spell on him or something.”
“It’s the Ghouls, isn’t it?” Kynan voiced what they had all been thinking, and Gem drew an anxious breath.
“No.” Wraith shot across the room and slammed Kynan against the wall, which began to pulse as the threat of violence rose. He shoved his forearm into Ky’s throat, putting pressure on the jagged scars running from Ky’s jaw to his clavicle. “Don’t say that. Don’t even think it.”
Kynan didn’t react, other than to watch Wraith with calm eyes. What he’d said was right on target, and they all knew it. Just this morning an Oni demon had been brought in, her tongue and three eyes harvested by Ghouls, which only intensified their worry.
“Let him go, Wraith,” Eidolon said in a soft, soothing voice. “Concentrate on Shade.”
Several agonizing heartbeats ticked by before Wraith finally shoved away from Kynan. “I gotta get out of here.”
Eidolon stood, adjusting his stethoscope to keep it from sliding off his neck. “Wraith …” The warning in his voice was as sharp as a scalpel blade.
“Spare me the just-say-no lecture, bro.” Wraith stalked out of the lounge, and with a curse, Eidolon followed, leaving Gem alone with Kynan.
“That is one messed-up demon,” Ky muttered, rubbing his throat as he snagged a Red Bull from the staff fridge. Gem had to pry her gaze away from the way his scrubs hugged his fine ass as he bent over.
“I think we’re all a little messed up,” she said tiredly.
“You mean everyone? Or just demons?” Ky popped the top while watching her with those denim-colored eyes that always made her breath come a little faster. “Like you.”
The blunt reminder put her in her place. He was a human who used to kill demons for a living, who now had every reason to hate them. Yet he worked with them, socialized with them, and at UG, he healed them. Still, he couldn’t see beyond what she was. Couldn’t see how badly she wanted him.
Granted, the wounds he’d suffered when his wife betrayed him were still raw, but Gem wanted desperately to heal him, if only for her own selfish reasons.
She loved Kynan Morgan, and had for years.
Didn’t matter that he was no longer the man she’d fallen in love with. The demon half of her rejoiced at the loss of his purity, his goodness. The human half wept, longed to see him whole again.