He kissed his way to her zipper. Barrier. He couldn’t al ow a barrier. Another rip, and the pants were gaping open just like the panties. Then he was peering down at her, at a tiny triangle of pale curls, the rest of her pink and glistening. His.


Liiick. Holy hel , he thought again. Nothing had ever tasted this good.

Another cry left her, this one hoarse and broken. She released him to reach behind her and grip the headboard, her back bowing. Surprisingly the demons calmed, but only slightly, the pul on them somewhat eased, al owing them to go back into hiding.

The door handle rattled.

Amun was dimly aware of the possible intrusion but unconcerned. Liiick. Heaven and hel wrapped in temptation, leading him straight to his downfal . Addicting him. Consuming him. Owning him.

The door handle rattled again.

This time, there was a flicker of rational thought in his head.

Someone meant to enter his bedroom. Friend? Foe?

Didn’t matter. He had to wait to finish tasting her.

The intruder would pay for that. Painful y.

Haidee must have sensed his growing disquiet, because she opened her eyes and said, “What are you—” Her mouth floundered open and closed as she gasped in horror. “Your eyes. They’re completely red. Glowing.”

What she didn’t say: demon. She’d known he was possessed, no matter what she thought his name was, and had claimed she would shield him from Hunters. But this must be her first true confirmation.

There was no time to placate her. Someone comes. He swiped the glass shard from the nightstand and whipped around. Haidee jolted upright, the spike of glass under the pil ow already palmed. She tried to right her ruined clothing as another rattle sounded.

An instant later, the person on the other side decided to take things to the next level. Wood split from the hinges as the door was savagely kicked, the vanity in front of it skidding to the middle of the room.

A scowling Strider strode inside, knives in both hands. Al the demons inside of Amun danced into a sudden frenzy, Haidee forgotten, rushing back to the surface. Torment…

punish…pain…blood…suffering…must have. Needed.

Something else struck him. Something that had nothing to do with the demons, but everything to do with a long-buried instinct. Safeguard. He would safeguard the girl. Her taste was stil in his mouth, and he needed more. Stil had to have more. If she were hurt, he couldn’t have more.

Wrong, that thought was wrong, but he couldn’t banish it.

Instinct demanded; he heeded. Go! he mental y screamed at the warrior, but Strider didn’t hear him. Or didn’t care.

When Strider spotted Amun and Haidee on the bed, lower bodies stil twined around each other, he blinked. His jaw even dropped. And if Amun wasn’t mistaken, there was a flicker of fury over his expression.

Wil safeguard, Amun thought, scowling at his friend. No matter what.

“You bitch,” the warrior growled to Haidee. “What the hel did you do to him?”


HAIDEE JUMPED TO SHAKY LEGS, breath sawing in and out of her mouth. As she’d predicted, the glass shard she held had already sliced through skin, blood dripping to the floor. She barely noticed the sting or the loss.

Without her there to cushion him, Micah hit the mattress face-first and grunted, but she paid him no heed. She couldn’t. Not if she wanted to get him out of this fortress alive.

And shit! This showdown couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Desire stil pumped through her veins, thick and heavy, dul ing her reactions and making her limbs feel weighted with rocks. Her chest felt hol owed out, and her muscles ached. Perhaps she could have dealt with those things, but her mind was as clouded as if she’d popped a dozen different pil s, a mix of sedatives, stimulants and aphrodisiacs.

She could only blame Micah. His kisses had been CPR to her soul. He’d made her come alive. Split apart. Forget everything and every one. Common sense had abandoned her. So had survival instinct.

She’d never ignored her survival instinct before. Al she’d been able to think about was him. His touch, his taste. His tongue lapping between her legs. God, she could fly apart simply thinking about that heady caress. In seconds, he’d reduced her to an animal state, where nothing had mattered but sensation.

Now isn’t the time, remember? The doorway was open, offering a straight shot into the hal way. Either she or Micah could run, but not both. One of them had to deal with the demon.

Hopeful y Micah would understand what she wanted him to do.

“Not smart, coming in here on your own,” she said to taunt the Lord into an emotional response. What she’d learned about him during their time together? He was always quick to anger, and that anger made him easily distractible. “You ready to die?”

For once, he didn’t react. His gaze darted from her to Micah, Micah to her. He radiated a mix of rage, concern and disbelief.

Micah didn’t move.

Why wasn’t Micah moving? Damn it. If he would move, she could attack. Defeat would have to fight her. Micah was simply too weak to see to the battle himself.

She opened her mouth to chal enge Defeat but closed it with a snap. She’d chal enged him a few times during their trek. Bet you can’t catch me if you let me go. He’d let her go. And he’d caught her, pissed beyond imagination. Bet you can’t just stand there while I stab you. He’d let her stab him. And rather than pass out from blood loss, as she’d hoped, he had then returned the favor. He’d stabbed her thigh to keep her from bolting while he healed.

He’d then stitched her up, shocking her. Stil . His determination to win every chal enge gave him strength, more so than usual, and she couldn’t have him stronger than usual right now. Not while she battled the fog. So, as they stood there facing each other, both deliberating how to handle the coming fight—and there would be a fight—she was very careful not to issue another chal enge. Not even a chal enge to lose the fight.

She’d made that mistake only once.

Bet you can’t lose a fistfight to a girl.

He had al owed her to punch him, and he hadn’t fought back. Therefore in his mind, he had just lost a fistfight with a girl. She’d run off while he’d struggled to breathe—’cause yeah, she’d gone for his trachea—and he’d had to track her down. When he final y caught her, he’d trussed her up like a Thanksgiving turkey, gagged her and started drugging her.

And if she had tried to speak past her gag, he would have removed her voice box. No question.

“What the hel did you do to him?” Defeat repeated, dark, deadly.

“What did I do to him?” She assumed attack position: legs apart, knees slightly bent and ready for her leap. The cold, already so much a part of her, seeped out, sheened her skin. With every exhalation, mist created a cloud in front of her face. Al the while, she mourned the loss of Micah’s heat.

She stil didn’t know why she froze like this. Stil didn’t know how. Al she knew was that the ability manifested with her emotions, sometimes strengthening her, something weakening her. Today, she felt empowered.

“Me?” she went on. “What the fuck did you do to him?”

“If you hurt him…” A muscle ticked below his dark blue eyes, and he final y kicked into motion. If she hurt him?

What a joke! “This is gonna be fun. I’ve been craving a go at you.” One step, two, she moved toward him, determined to meet him in the middle.


In a sudden blur of motion, Micah sprang from the bed and flew past her, tackling the demon-possessed warrior and sending both men toppling to the floor. Grunts and groans soon echoed. Slashing arms and vicious kicks ensued.

They rol ed, they struggled, they assaulted each other ferociously.

She’d never seen Micah fight so dirty. He went for the eyes, the throat and the groin, biting and ripping flesh, fists hammering. Defeat, though, merely deflected each of her man’s blows. He never tried to cause harm. Why?

Something else she’d never seen—a Lord of the Underworld backing down. And this one, Defeat…

Something was wrong. Had to be.

Haidee stood there, numb, watching the bloodbath, sick to her stomach and unsure what to do.

Apparently, he’s not too weak after al . Like him, she didn’t run from the room.

God help her, she wasn’t leaving without him.

What should she do? If she threw herself into the fray, she might cut Micah instead of the Lord. They were moving so quickly…twisting and turning, flying apart, springing back together. And if she accidental y delivered Micah’s death-blow…

Damn it. What the hel should she do? she wondered again, no closer to an answer.

“What the fuck is going on?” Defeat demanded between punches. “Stop. Amun, you have to stop.”


She’d heard the name before, knew it belonged to one of the Lords, but she couldn’t connect the name with a face.

And because she had memorized al the names and faces of her enemy, she knew that could only mean one thing.

There was one immortal warrior the Hunters had never been able to photograph or even sketch throughout the years. Not that they hadn’t tried. They’d snapped pictures, but those pictures had never turned out, had always been blurry. And when they’d drawn what they’d thought was his face, they’d later realized they’d done nothing but scribble on the page.

Amun was also the Lord most people forgot the moment they walked away from him. He was the immortal the Hunters knew the least about. Maybe because Amun was possessed by the demon of Secrets.

Al the Hunters real y knew about him? He had dark hair and dark eyes, and he was tal and muscled.

That little bit of information had been acquired through centuries of observation.

Had this Amun died, his demon given to Micah? Did Micah now carry Secrets inside him? Was that why the Lords had chosen Micah? And he was demon-possessed. She no longer had any doubts about that. Those red eyes…peering down at her…hungry…craving…raging… She shuddered, then scowled.

This was another sin to heap on an already mountainous pile. Another crime to hate the Lords for.