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A smile twisted my lips, as my good hand pulled on Eric’s death-grip on my throat. My body shifted slightly. I could breathe. Inhaling only made my head spin harder. There was so much blood. I could barely think. But there was a desire, lingering in the back of my mind. I did what it wanted—I clenched my injured hand closed, feeling pain shoot up my arm. But I didn’t care. Blood wrapped around my wrist, flowing down to my elbow, and dripped onto the floor. Eric’s expression shifted, and he opened his mouth to speak. Before he uttered a single word, I lunged my bleeding fist forward. My hand flew at his mouth. Blood dripped from the wound, covering every inch of my fist. My fingers flattened at the last second. And I pushed my fingers past Eric’s lips and into his mouth. His tongue flicked against the intrusion and he tried to close his mouth, but it was too late. His hand released my neck as both arms shot up to push my bloody hand away, but I felt it. He swallowed. My blood slid down his throat. That was all I needed.

I fell to the floor laughing, leaving a smear of blood across the silken carpet. I cradled my bloody hand to my chest and looked up at him, utterly cocky. “You should have killed me when you had the chance.” I slid my feet under me, and pushed myself off the floor. Walking over to him slowly, I saw the look of horror on his face. A smile slid across my lips.

The expression on Eric’s face shifted. It became more intense—more focused. He stalked towards me, one step at a time. His mouth pulled back into a wicked smile. His tongue slid over the blood that stained his lips, like he couldn’t get enough. It was what I wanted. I wanted him to swallow my blood. I wanted control over him, so I could kill him. But instead of being elated, fear coursed through me. The look on Eric’s face was predatory. My foot slid backwards as he neared me. Eric was breathing hard. Dried blood clung to his shirt where the wound I’d inflicted on his flank was already healing. Saliva filled my mouth as my eyes slid over his side, forcing me to swallow. Eric leaned close to my face and looked down at me. Fear coursed through me. My gaze shot across the room to my weapon. It was out of reach.

His voice was seduction, “Ivy.” My stomach floated inside of me as he spoke. I couldn’t move. Heart racing, I looked up at him, breathing hard through my mouth. Eric reached for my wounded hand. It was cradled against my chest. Crimson ribbons of blood were still wrapping around my wrist, and sliding down my arm. The wound hadn’t healed yet. I watched as he reached for me. His fingers grazed my breast, as he slid his hand under mine, and lifted it to his mouth.

Eric’s gaze locked with mine. He pressed a kiss into my palm, before licking the pooled blood at the center. My heart raced as I watched him, mesmerized. The trance continued, as he pressed my hand to his lips and kissed it softly. His tongue slid across my wrist, and licked away the blood that had streaked across my pale skin. Unable to speak, I stared at him. His actions were carnal. It didn’t shame him. It didn’t even make him pause. He saw what he wanted and took it.

Al.

That was what he did with Al. He saw what he wanted, and he took it. With a snap I came back to myself. My mind cut through the lust induced haze. I jerked my wrist away from him. Eric laughed softly as I tore my hand out of his grip. Surprised and suspicious, I looked up at him. I didn’t remember laughing like that when he fed me his blood. Eric’s blood was so powerful that I could barely think when he first gave it to me.

But Eric smiled at me, alert and unhindered. “Did you really think that would work?” He turned and picked up my blade. The weapon hissed in his hand. Eric tossed it to me. The silver blades flashed in the sunlight as it flew toward me. I reached up and snatched it out of the air. Dread started to pool in my stomach as he moved across the room. The confident stance of his shoulders didn’t waiver.

“Yes.” My eyes were wide. “It should have…” My voice was deep. I tried to keep it from shaking. I wrapped my fingers tighter around my weapon, but it was my left hand. And I wasn’t a lefty. My right hand was still healing and unable to grasp the hilt. The wound was deep, and cut into the bone. Wounds like that took more time to heal. Time I didn’t have.

Eric turned with a smug smile on his face. “But it didn’t… You don’t have enough demon blood. You’re not a Valefar.” He turned and walked toward me, his eyes sliding over the curves of my body as he moved. I swallowed hard, trying to fight off the haze of lust that froze me to the floor. He lifted his hand and took a stray curl between his fingers. I released a breath. He looked me in the eye, “You don’t have enough demon blood to make me crave your blood. You can’t bind me—it’s too late. And you cannot kill me,” he paused, dropping the lock of hair, and looked down into my face. His eyes searched mine, as if they revealed something hidden. When his lips parted again, a thin smile line spread across his mouth, and he said, “Because you need me. You want me.” He slid his hands around me waist and jerked me towards him.

I gasped, as he cradled me tightly in his arms. I wanted to fight back, but it was like I was drugged. Eric’s touch shattered my thoughts, breaking them into a million incomprehensible pieces. He pressed his body to mine and tucked his finger under my chin. When he pulled my face up to look into his, he said, “We are the same, you and I.”

His touch melted my mind. I wanted it. I wanted him. To feel his rough hands slide across my skin… My lashes lowered as I realized what I was thinking. As I realized he was right. Eric’s golden gaze was intense. He lowered his face toward me. His smooth lips were so close that I shuddered. Warm breath washed across my face, as Eric’s fingers tangled in my hair. His other hand slid down my shoulder, gently caressing my breast, before it landed on my waist. I gasped. My eyes fixated on his lips. It felt hot. So hot.

Eric’s gaze burned into me. Desire ignited within their depths as he pressed his lips to mine. Only softly. Only once. A rush of air escaped my lungs when he pulled away. Eric’s lips curled into a smile. My mind floated on the feelings stirring within me. His lips pressed to my ear as he did things that made me want him even more.

Whispering in my ear, he said, “We’re the same. Whether you admit it or not, we are the same.”

His words swam in my head. I didn’t answer. I only pulled him closer. His lips slid over my neck, making my knees buckle. To keep me from falling, Eric thrust me into the wall pinning his body onto mine. My back slammed against the plaster, as Eric’s body pressed into me. The jolt made me feel like this was wrong. I shouldn’t be here like this, but I couldn’t remember why.

Eric’s hands slid over my body, as he pressed his mouth to mine. This time he kissed me, opening his mouth as I wanted. My lips parted and his tongue swept against mine, gently. He teased and tasted my mouth in small kisses that were driving me insane. My stomach flipped as his hands moved over my waist, and slid down my back. But, it wasn’t enough. I needed him. I needed more. My arms laced behind his neck, and Eric glided his hands over my body feeling every curve beneath his palms. My body responded to his touch, gently pushing into his hands as they caressed me. Eric suddenly broke the kiss, and grabbed my wrists from his neck. He held them over my head and pressed me into the wall. Heart pounding, I gasped. My body writhed beneath him, longing for his touch. Longing for him.

Eric’s breathing was jagged. He pressed his forehead down to mine, while keeping my arms pinned above my head. He laughed, “And I thought that you could resist me?” His eyes slipped down to my chest, and I pressed against him. “Do you want me, Ivy?” My eyes were wide, fixated on his face. I didn’t understand why he was speaking. I wanted his lips on mine. He knew I wanted him. As if he could read my mind, Eric lowered his face, and his soft lips brushed my neck. I moaned. A smile twisted his lips. “We’re the same, because we see what we want—and we take it. And right now… I want you.”

CHAPTER FOUR

Eric’s lips pressed down on my mouth, but a scream erupted from my throat. He pulled back, and looked at me. His words stoked the dying embers of my brain, cracking the lust with lies. With a forceful shove, I untangled us, and pushed him away.

Pointing my blade toward him, I screamed, “We are NOT the same!” My entire body was red, covered in a blush that I couldn’t conceal. And I hated him for it. I hated what he did to me. And why he thought we were alike was incomprehensible.

His gaze was intense, still burning for me. “We are. You just haven’t accepted it, yet.” He took another step toward me, ignoring my weapon. “You just… ” He didn’t get to finish his sentence. I lunged my left arm forward as if I fought with this hand all the time. The movement made him stop. The smile slid off his face.

“We are not the same!” I screamed. “You killed her! It was you! I trusted you! I said there was something different about you!” The night of Al’s death rushed back into my mind. A string of a hundred images played back to back, and I couldn’t make them stop. My fingers pressed against my temples for a split second as I tried to stop the memory onslaught.

Eric stepped toward me. “There is,” he answered.

But I didn’t let him say more. My hands fell back into an attacker’s position, and I jabbed the blades toward his chest. “There is not.” I snarled. “I was wrong. I was wrong about me and I was wrong about you.” I held my ground. I needed more time. The rage burned off the lust for now, but my right hand was too weak to grip the blade. I’d need to throw some force into the lunge if I was to pierce his heart. It was the only way to kill him.

Time. I needed more time, but his words confused me. They awoke the lust he made me feel. Eric’s touch made me a mindless slave. I spoke, not caring what I said as long as it held him back and kept him silent. “I don’t need your help. I can figure out what’s on that page from your book without you. To think you even remembered was… ” I shook my head, not bothering to finish my sentence. “You’re right, Eric. I am a fool. There is no trusting demons. There is no compassion, no kindness, no love left in your putrid body. I’m the one who did this to you and I’m the one who will end it.”

While I was speaking I could feel the rage seeping from the depths of my soul and filling every part of my body. My eyes pooled violet and I ignored it, thinking I could control myself, but the longer I spoke the more I began to question why I shouldn’t let the rage overtake me. Al had warned me not to. She told Eric to teach me how to contain it, but I didn’t want to. Not now. Rage held power—power I needed to kill Eric. After my eyes pooled, I felt tingling in my right hand. The skin was smooth, and crusted in blood. My blood. Drawing my hands together, I switched my weapon into my right hand. Eric watched me do it. Every muscle in my body felt like it was on fire. White hot fury washed through me with a deafening roar. I didn’t hear Eric’s words. His lust had no power over me in that moment. He no longer tried to move towards me. His words held no seduction.

I lunged at him, swiping my weapon at his throat.

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