Haidee, he projected to her, the word a croak, even in his mind.


Don’t do it, part of him cried. She was sweet and lovely and utterly luscious.

Secrets might even have whimpered, eager to return to her mind and play rather than destroy.

The other part of Amun recal ed her past deeds, her current motto. “Die if you must, but take as many Lords as you can with you.” The moment she realized he wasn’t this Micah—

Amun’s hands fisted, how he despised the bastard…for no other reason than he was a Hunter—she would attack.

There would be no stopping her if he failed to act. And fast.

Determined, he lifted his chin. Come here.


PANTING FROM EXERTION, those drugs stil playing havoc with her body, Haidee strode to the bed. She placed a sharp glass shard on the nightstand, within Micah’s reach, then stuffed one under his pil ow. Never hurt to have two weapons at your disposal, rather than one.

Then she searched the nightstand, surprised she hadn’t thought to do so before. She found al kinds of goodies inside. Toothpaste, a toothbrush, mouthwash, antibiotic ointment, bandages and wet wipes.

None of which made sense. Or had the Lords wished to torment Micah with what he couldn’t have or use?

Wel , she would show them! She made use of the wash and wet wipes and helped Micah do the same, cleaning them from top to bottom, even intimately, which left her blushing

—hel o, big boy—then applied the ointment to his wrists as gently as she was able.

He watched her, silent, his dark eyes intent but unreadable.

She hated that he didn’t remember her or their relationship.

Not that there was a lot to remember, but months ago they’d reached an understanding. They’d get to know each other before they had sex, but they’d get to know each other without discussing their pasts; they’d also vowed that no matter what, they wouldn’t see other people.

Why had he agreed to that? she wondered now. At the time, she’d thought he respected her, hoped to ease her skittish nature. But had she not had those visions, she wouldn’t have agreed to such an arrangement. Because with the restrictions laid bare like that, she realized they hadn’t had a relationship.

They’d had a tolerance.

That would change, she vowed. He’d come after her, fought to get to her and endured horrendous torture on her behalf.

He deserved everything she had to give. So, she would give.

When she finished, she put everything back inside the drawer. “Now. The shards wil cut your hand if you use them,” she said, easing beside him, “and with as much blood as you’ve already lost…” Her voice trailed off. She didn’t want to remind him of his frailty. He was a warrior to his soul and might think to prove his strength if she pressed too forceful y. “What I’m saying is, only use them if absolutely necessary. Okay?”

He might be healing physical y, and at an astonishing rate she couldn’t explain, but her worry for him hadn’t faded.

He’d been savaged and mind-fucked in the most terrible way. He would be a different man now. Was already showing signs of change.

He’d always been an intense man, and that intensity had deepened and darkened over the past few months, frightening everyone around him. Moods had blackened around him before he’d ever spoken a word. Even hers.

Now, he was just as intense, but the darkness had faded.

He actual y lightened her mood.

Before, the thought of sleeping with him had disturbed her.

She’d felt as if she would be cheating herself of…

something. The sizzle, she supposed.

And maybe if she’d felt that sizzle she would have felt comfortable discussing her past with him. She’d never told him that she’d lived before, that she’d died before. She’d never told him what happened to her after she died. That she’d lived far longer than her seemingly twenty-odd years.

That she’d had hundreds of lives but couldn’t recal any detail that didn’t involve blood, pain and death.

That she’d tattooed herself so that she would have some link to the good things that had happened to her.

To her knowledge, she’d never told anyone.

One, she didn’t trust people. Ever. Not even Micah, not ful y.

Two, when your business involved kil ing anyone with a supernatural ability—because that ability could mean possible demon contamination—you didn’t admit to having a supernatural ability of your own. And three, the less people knew about her, the easier it was to return from the dead as someone else.

Yet, she thought she might like confessing al her secrets to this man. Even though he was more distant than ever—

such clipped responses to her every word. Even though he was harder than she’d ever seen him—he’d endured so much, yet he barely seemed to notice his pain. They were connected in a way they’d never been before, and he’d been so gentle with her. More than that, she felt safe with him. And desired.

Yes, he’d desired her before. But that desire had been tempered with a bit of hesitation. Now, nothing would stop this man from getting what he wanted. If she rebuffed him, she thought he might help her see the sil iness of that. In a good way, of course. His protective instincts were too honed for anything else.

Look how tenderly he had caressed her cheeks.

And there were physical differences, too, she realized. His lips seemed ful er, but of course, that could be from the swel ing. His lashes were definitely longer, his eyes now so black you couldn’t distinguish pupil from iris. His shoulders were wider, the ropes of muscle in his stomach more numerous.

She knew the Lords had branded him with their butterfly, but what if they’d done more than that? What if they’d somehow possessed him with a demon and that’s why he carried the mark? The moisture in her mouth dried as she recognized the possibility for what it was: likely.

Galen, leader of the Hunters, had found a way to pair a human with a demon. Maybe the Lords had, too.


She blinked as that husky voice penetrated her thoughts, then forced her suspicions to the back of her mind. Scaring a man in this condition wouldn’t be wise. Or maybe he already knew, but didn’t know how to tel her. Did he fear she would turn away from him if she learned of his possession?

Haidee, he repeated.

“Sorry. My mind wandered. Twice.” She slid closer to him, not stopping until her hip met his.

He grimaced as he pul ed himself into a sitting position.

This close, she could feel the heat of his skin. So much heat she’d never encountered its like. Another difference. He’d never been this warm before. Otherwise, she would have final y given in and slept with him, even without the sizzle; she wouldn’t have been able to help herself. Nothing was more delicious than the sweet burn of him.

Haidee, he snapped again.

Again she blinked into focus. She had to stop traveling these unwanted mental paths. “Sorry. What do you need, baby?”

To touch you. He managed to raise his hands on his own this time and cup her temples.

More of his heat enveloped her, his skin like a live wire against hers. She shivered and leaned into his grip, practical y purring. Surprise flashed through his eyes—eyes now flickering with sparks of red. Oh, yes, she thought, hopes plummeting completely. He had been possessed.

He knew. And he hadn’t expected her to desire him.

Poor darling. As if she would ever betray him. He couldn’t help what had happened, and she wouldn’t reject him for it.

Besides, her war with the Lords had never been about their demons, but about their actions.

Micah hadn’t infected her. He hadn’t kil ed her family.

Blood, a river between her mother and her father. Both helpless…dead.

She shook off the memory before it could tug her into a pit of despair.

“If they did something to you, something…evil, I’l help you through it,” she told him gently, flattening her hands over his.

Touching him was definitely a need. “I won’t turn you in to Galen or Stefano. I won’t betray you. No matter what. And if you start to…do things, bad things—” like lashing out, kil ing indiscriminately “—wel

, I’l take care of you myself.”

Merciful y. And only after she’d done everything in her power to purge him of the demon.

She’d loathe herself, would probably replay the act again and again with every new lifetime she experienced, but she would do whatever was necessary to save innocent families from the blood-fate hers had received. Even destroy herself and the only source of her happiness.

“Do you understand what I’m tel ing you?” she asked gently.

Again surprise flashed in his eyes, adding tiny pinpricks of amber light to the dark irises. Thankful y, the red was gone.

Something evil. Like…?

Another shiver danced through her. She was coming to love the times his voice drifted through her mind, as warm as his body. “A…demon possession.” He tensed. Tel me everything. How you got here. What your purpose is.

At least he hadn’t flung her away for guessing the truth. Nor did he seem afraid of her. Good. “Okay.”

She lowered his hands to her lap, clutching them tightly. He didn’t protest.

“The demon of Defeat, the one hosted by the Lord named Strider—I don’t know if you remember him from the pictures we’ve seen?”

Micah merely blinked at her.

She continued. “He was in Rome. He had the Cloak of Invisibility. We spotted him, chased him. He managed to capture me.” Bitterness seeped into her tone. She’d been such an easy mark. “I think he meant to kil me, but for whatever reason, changed his mind. A few times, I even caught him looking at me like…you know, like he wanted me, but that can’t be right. He detests me. Anyway, he brought me here. Put me in the room next door to you. I heard you cal ing and basical y clawed my way through the wal to reach you.”

He offered no reply, but his expression was tense.