“What? Remember what? Are you going to…are we going to…” Please, please, please.

“Can’t.” He stilled. Their raspy pants were the only sound in the room, tangling together wildly, just as she wanted to be with him. “Can’t. We’re going to—” Another growl. He tore his hand away from her to scrub down his face. As that hand descended, revealing his features, she saw the change in them. From determined to enraged. “Most humans have to walk around unfulfilled. If you want to be a human, you should know how that feels.”

Unfulfilled? She’d rather die. “Teach me next time. Please, Aeron.” Too badly did she need him now. “Please.” She arched her hips, back and forth, this time fitting her moist core against the hot steel of his freed shaft, a shaft she’d tasted. Down she slid, up, down again. Oh, Deity. The pleasure…incomparable. Searing, thrilling…forbidden.

Must have been the same for him because once more he shot into action. He cupped her bottom and slammed her into that shaft. Over and over, again and again. Not once did he penetrate her, but that didn’t matter to her weeping body. What he was doing was too good, electrifying, and soon they were both groaning, panting more heavily, trembling.

Even their kiss spun out of control, their tongues dueling, rolling together, their teeth banging, scraping. Her nails clawed at him, at his hidden wings—too wild? Gideon had said that Aeron needed a wild woman, but this might be too much, too fast for her warrior and she didn’t want him pulling away.

Though it nearly cost her the last remnants of her sanity, Olivia tempered her touch, easing her nails out of his back, away from those sensitive slits.

“What are you doing?” he snapped.

“Enjoying you,” she replied. “Or I was, until you opened your mouth.”

He frowned, pulled his face away from hers so that he could peer into her eyes. “Well, start enjoying again.”

“I’d love to.” She bit her bottom lip and arched into him. “But I want your penis inside me first.”

A strangling sound left him.

Again she arched. The tip of his shaft rubbed her clitoris, and she gasped. He hissed. So good. Soooo good. Her head fell back, and her wet hair swung, once more tickling her skin. So close, she thought. So close to that pinnacle of pleasure he’d propelled her to the last time they’d kissed like this. The pinnacle that would ease the pressure still building inside her, still torturing her.

“Aeron, Aeron. Just a little more,” she rasped, “and I can—”

“No. No!” He released her, suddenly and without warning, and she fell off him. She hit the ground and lost her breath. That didn’t dull her passion. Or ease her aches. “Can’t.”

He wiped his shaky hand over his mouth, as if washing away the taste of her, briefly hiding the lines of tension banked there. Then he was refastening his pants with trembling fingers.

“No climaxing,” he said in that harsh tone she so despised. Angry, rather than desire-filled.

“I—I don’t understand.”

His narrowing gaze settled on her, his expression like granite. “I told you. Humans often experience unrequited yearnings. You want to be a human so badly, you can endure them, as well. Now get dressed. Like I also told you, we have somewhere to be.”


STRIDER HIT THE GROUND as a bullet whizzed past his shoulder.

“Sorry,” Gwen muttered with a grimace. Her red hair was pulled back in a ponytail and her silver-gold eyes were gleaming. “I’m having trouble channeling my dark side—” her Harpy “—so I thought I’d better carry a gun.”A gun that she’d never worked with before. A Dead Hunter special he’d augmented himself.

Damn, that’d been close. Nearly taken out by friendly fire. And then things really would have gotten bad. Even though she wouldn’t have meant to hit him, his demon would have seen it as a challenge. Gwen would have won, and he would’ve been writhing on the ground for days, lost to the agony.

As he’d lost a challenge a few weeks ago to Hunters—because Gwen and Sabin had let her father escape, something he was still trying to forgive them for—the consequences of failure were vivid in his mind, and he wasn’t eager to repeat the experience.

“Just take your finger off the trigger,” he told her. “We don’t know where the Hunters ran off to and hid, and they don’t know where we are. Gunshots could give away our location.”


Shaking his head, Strider straightened. Glanced around. Lush, thick trees surrounded him and most of the others who’d been at the temple with him—and who, like him, had been whisked to…wherever the hell they were. Close to water, like before, that much he knew. He could hear the lull of the sea a few yards away, and golden sand sparkled at his feet and clung to his skin.

Amun and Maddox were currently scouting for signs of the enemy.

Evidently the Unspoken Ones’ idea of a “gift” had been to whisk them and sixteen armed Hunters to a mysterious location. They’d all been here twenty-four hours, had endured one full-on shoot-out, one scramble to safety to figure things out, and now this. Waiting. Searching. It was like the boxing matches Strider liked to watch on TV: the Lords in one corner, the Hunters in the other. So when was the freaking starting bell going to ring?

Soon, if he had his way.

His phone beeped, drawing his attention and signaling success. In one area at least.

“Yes!” he said, punching a tree trunk in excitement. “My text finally went through to Lucien.” He’d been trying to contact his friends in Buda for most of the twenty-four hours with no luck. Either the powerful creatures had refused to let him make contact or cell towers were few and far between out here. His money was on the creatures. He needed Lucien to flash them more weapons and ammo. No way they’d leave this place until every Hunter was captured. Or dead. He wasn’t picky.

Now that the text had gone through, communication lines open, did that mean the Unspoken Ones were taking their hands out of the battle?

Only a few seconds later, his phone beeped again. He raised the screen to read Lucien’s reply. Tried to flash to you. Something’s blocking me.

Damn. Hands still in, just not as restricting.

He relayed the bad news to the others, scattered around him, and they groaned.

“We’ll be fine,” Sabin said. “If nothing else, Gwen can rip through them like a knife through silk.”

Strider knew the statement wasn’t a besotted husband’s exaggerated boast, but the truth. When her dark side overtook her, Gwen could immobilize an immortal army on her own. Humans would be child’s play.

“Only if my Harpy decides to show,” she grumbled. “Wait. No only about it. She will. I’ll make her.” When it came to Sabin, she’d do anything to protect him. A fact everyone in this little camp knew intimately, having been shredded by her Harpy’s claws a time or two during training.

Don’t worry, he typed, returning his attention to the phone. We’ve got this.

Good news is, Galen’s here in Buda and not among the group.

Surprising, since he’d seen Galen in that vision. You guys good to go?

We’ll be fine. But I should warn you, that bastard somehow got his hands on the Cloak. He could be in the fortress, and we’d never know it.

Shit! This just got worse and worse. Galen had an artifact, and a powerful one at that. Soon as this was over, Strider would do whatever was necessary to steal it. Meanwhile, it was his turn to drop a bombshell. Looks like Hope’s been a busy boy. I should warn YOU that Galen managed to merge the demon of Distrust with one of his soldiers. A female. We think he’ll be out for blood now.

At first, Lucien didn’t reply. Was probably battling shock as Strider and the others had. Distrust, the only thing left of Baden, was now in enemy hands.

Did Galen even need Pandora’s box anymore? he wondered now. With the box, he could gather all the demons at once, without having to search for them later. So yeah, probably.

Finally, a new text came in. This is bad. Really bad. And I think it’s only going to get worse. Aeron’s called a meeting. Found something out. More from me when I know what that something is. Meanwhile, be careful.

You, too.

A twig snapped. Everyone stiffened, half immediately pointing their weapons in the direction of the noise and half aiming in the opposite direction, just in case. Amun and Maddox strode through the bush, and everyone relaxed. Amun was dragging a man, a human, behind him. Expression grim, he tossed the motionless body in the center of the camp.

As Maddox tied the man up, Amun signed what they’d learned.

Strider had always admired Amun’s ability to absorb memories. Sure, it left him with a new voice in his head each time he did so, but that seemed like a small price to pay for knowing the thoughts of everyone around you. As he’d just taken a new crop of memories, though, Strider knew it would be a long time before he heard his friend speak again.

“Hunters set up camp about a mile north of us, and this guy was on guard duty. Their plan is to wait for us to attack them on their turf, where they can more easily injure us while remaining barricaded themselves,” Sabin said, interpreting. Then he laughed without humor. “We all saw Distrust merge with that female. They won’t just try to injure us. They’ll be out for our heads.”

“Gets better,” Strider said, pocketing his phone. “Galen’s back in Buda, and he has the Cloak of Invisibility.”

For several prolonged seconds, silence dominated their circle. Then he felt the vibrations of their anger as they considered the consequences. Then he heard their muttered curses.

“Obviously we can’t stay here much longer, but just as obviously, we can’t let these men go. Maddox can lead us to their camp, and we’ll fight them on their turf just like they wanted.” Sabin stood, hands clenched into fists. “Only, they won’t like the results. We show no mercy. Take no prisoners.”