Page 32

“You’ll seriously let me go?” I ask, glancing back at the time. It’s only been thirty minutes…

“Like E said, can’t mess with true love. Even we have boundaries, Key,” Jude tells me, his tone very close to mocking.

“Then I have thirty minutes to kill, because he said to be there in an hour.”

“You should go now,” Ezekiel urges. “Guys prefer for a girl to be much earlier than expected. The more eager you seem, the better.”

I don’t really trust them, so I siphon away quickly, making sure they don’t stow away and ruin my moment with Neal. I land in the cemetery they frequent, then start asking people for directions when I turn whole.

It takes a little while, but I finally find the building and buzz the appropriate apartment. I think.

But he doesn’t answer.

“Already here?” I hear him ask, causing me to whirl around to see him as he grins at me from the sidewalk.

I’m actually late, but I know for a fact men hate it when you correct them. I’ve learned a lot since trying to be a real girl.

“I ditched them faster than anticipated,” I tell him with a shrug. “There’s something I need to tell you before we go any farther.”

His grin only grows. “I can’t wait to hear it, as long as it’s no freaky secret,” he says, holding his hands up, though a teasing glint seems to be in his eyes.

Smiling back at him, I blurt it all out.

Chapter 24

I appear in the living room, where all four guys are lounging and eating pizza, and their attention turns to me as the TV plays on. Four matching, taunting grins mock me with just their existence.

“I hate all of you,” I say flatly, walking up the stairs without a backward glance.

“I guess he wasn’t quite ready for true love?” Jude calls to my back.

I flip him off over my shoulder, ignoring the riotous amounts of laughter that heckles me. I’ve never seen a guy run so fast in all my life, or make up so many excuses as to why he had to get away from me.

Sheesh.

You’d think I offered him a deadly virus. I’m assuming this is a guy thing, and three out of four of them manipulated me into making an irredeemable ass of myself.

Next time, I’ll take it a little slower.

People say “live and learn” for a reason.

I change to my ghost form and fashion me some silk pajamas that I know will be comfy, then turn back and collapse to the bed. I notice the rest helps me grow stronger, which helps me transition easier between both forms.

As I get the TV turned on and get situated on my bed, Ezekiel appears in the doorway, holding a massive bowl of popcorn. My mouth waters instantly as the buttery scent permeates the air, smelling so much better than the times I’ve caught a whiff of it in my phantom body.

“Thought I might could sleep a few hours with you,” he says with a smirk.

“In exchange for popcorn?” I muse.

“You’ve been asking for it. And I’ve had two good nights of sleep in my lifetime. Both those came with you. I’m willing to barter.”

“And the others won’t get upset by this arrangement? You know, since you’ll be sharing a bed with my evil vagina and all.”

He snorts then rolls his eyes, moving farther into the room. He always moves with the same predatory grace as the rest of them, but his movements are lazier, luring one into a false sense of security.

“As long as I don’t do anything sexual, I’m not breaking any rules.”

I pull back the other half of the cover and pat the bed. He smirks again before coming toward me, and I reach out for the popcorn.

I’m digging in, pointedly ignoring him as he strips down to his boxers. The salty, buttery explosion on my tongue has me closing my eyes and moaning.

Popcorn is totally going to be my favorite junk food.

When I open my eyes, Ezekiel is staring at me, and he clears his throat before he slides into the bed, taking up a lot of room. I scoot over to him, and he curls around me, getting comfortable.

“Neal really hated the idea of love, it seems,” I tell him candidly, and he smothers his laugh against my neck as his body vibrates with it.

I shove at his shoulder, rolling my eyes as he continues to grin against my neck. I also pretend that there aren’t a thousand little shocks reminding me how much my body loves one of theirs.

It’s hard to ignore, but I manage to fake it.

“Life lessons are never fun,” he says, though it feels like he’s mocking me again.

I open my mouth to speak when Jude stalks into my room, his glare pointed at Ezekiel. “What the hell?” he snaps.

“Not breaking any rules,” Ezekiel says with a shrug.

“You said being around her without touching her was driving you crazy, and you think this is a good idea?” Jude growls.

I slip my leg over Ezekiel, pretending it’s merely to get more comfortable. Jude’s hands fist, and he levels me with a cold glare.

I, being a little pissy about their manipulation, wink at him as I “scratch” my eyebrow with my bird finger.

“Kiss my ass, Jude. I’m getting some sleep and that’s it. Hell, I’m too tired for sex with all the extra reaping jobs we’ve taken just to work her out of our systems,” Ezekiel groans.

Jude turns and stalks out, but not before he punches my wall, leaving a crumbling hole in the sheetrock.

“I find that to be a violent overreaction,” I state dryly, causing Ezekiel to chuckle against me.

None of the others come in, and when Ezekiel’s hand slips down my body, pushing the thin shorts down, I don’t stop him. His breaths get shaky when he brushes the bare skin over my pubic bone, and I slowly put the popcorn down, pushing it away from me.

His lips press against my neck, and my eyes flutter shut as he slowly starts working my shorts down farther. Every touch seems ten times more erotic than it really is, and a thousand times more electric than Neal’s touch.

I turn my head and find his lips, and I go a little boneless when he cradles my head and kisses me deeper. His body moves over mine, and my legs spread for him to move into the cradle of my thighs.

We stay like that, so close yet so far away, the thin material of his boxers being the only thing that separates us, as his mouth explores mine in a way none of them have ever kissed me.

It’s languid and slow, almost as though he’s savoring every drop. His erection strains against his boxers, and I slip my hand down, almost reaching him, before reminding myself this would tear them apart.

“We have to stop,” I groan against the kiss, which has him pressing against me harder, more desperate. “It’ll make the four of you fight.”

He breaks the kiss, breathing heavily as he drags his lips down my neck to my shoulder. He stays there for a second, like he’s catching his breath, before he finally rolls off me and scrubs his face with both hands.

“Shit,” he grumbles. “It’s like I can’t help myself.”

I pat his shoulder. “I’m not even going to tell you how miserable I am right now, but trust that you’re not alone.”

He laughs humorlessly. “That only makes me want you more, because I know how bad you want it.”

“Let’s talk about shark week or something. That should kill the arousal. As long as we don’t discuss sharks mating or anything. Not saying that turns me on, but it still makes me think of sex.”

He bursts out laughing, shaking his head as his fingers twine with mine. I’m not sure what’s going on right now, but it feels like Ezekiel and I just leveled-up together.

He reaches down and snags my abandoned shorts, dropping them to my lap. “Put those on before I forget how important that bond is to me.”

Chapter 25

The other side of the bed is empty when I get up the next morning, and my shorts are still on. I’m not sure why I smile when I smell his pillow, but I do.

I slide out of bed, moving through the hallway, and start down the stairs when I hear the doorbell ring. My stomach twists in knots, and I jog down quicker.

Why did I just get a bad feeling?

I quickly remember I don’t want anyone from their world seeing me, so I shift to my phantom form just as Gage swings open the door to two guys in fancy suits.

He hands Gage an envelope, and Gage takes it before saying something in a language I don’t understand. As he shuts the door, he flips the envelope over.

I can see a wax seal on the back before he turns and his eyes collide with mine.

“Just tell me if it’s something bad,” I say quietly.

His lips twitch as he holds it up, and I quickly hurry to him, turning whole just before I snatch it from his hand.

I tear the envelope open, and skim the contents quickly.

North Tower Quad,

Your attendance is requested for a royal celebration with the king and his heirs.

No weapons allowed.

“The devil invited you to a party?” I ask, my voice cracking a little. “Is that good or bad?”

“It’s hard to tell these days,” he says dangerously close to my ear as his fingers trail down my arm.

He presses against my back until his hand reaches mine, and he rips the invitation from my hand before leaving me bereft and a little light headed.

I’m getting a “gullible” tattoo.

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