Had they wanted someone with the same physical characteristics as their friend Amun? Probably. How amused they must have been, using a Hunter to house one of their disgusting demons.

Don’t think about that, either. Get yourself in the game, woman.

Haidee shook her head, clearing her mind, thankful y thinning the fog. The two men were on their feet now, throwing punches, fal ing backward into the wal s, causing dust and plaster to waft through the air, then reconnecting and tossing each other into furniture. They were a blur of motion, brutal, like wild animals fighting over the only snack in the jungle. Wood chips were scattered across the floor, some even swimming in little pools of blood.

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

Again she had to shake her head, dislodging the memory.

“Amun,” Defeat snarled. “For gods’ sake! I’m your goddamn friend. What the hel are you doing?”

In the next instant, Micah’s thoughts hit her. Must kil . Must safeguard.

The words were sluggish, lower in volume than the ones that had come before them, and she realized he was weakening. His wounds were opening, seeping, dripping al over the room.

“She’s a Hunter,” the demon continued in that outraged tone, “and she’s my prisoner.”

Mine! blasted through her head. Not yours. Never yours.

Mine to safeguard.

Could Defeat hear him? Probably not. Otherwise, he would have been backing out of the bedroom and running for his life. There had been barbwire in Micah’s tone, the tips laced with poison.

But then, Micah’s thoughts switched direction. I have to stop this. Why am I doing this? I love this man.

Confusing, wrong, but again, those thoughts switched direction. Must kil . Must safeguard.

Micah snarled low in his throat, the sound rumbling through her mind as he punted Defeat into the already crushed vanity. More wood chips scattered. Red sparked in Defeat’s eyes, a gnarled mask of bone and scales fal ing over his features.

He was turning, she thought with dread. From immortal to demon.

“Win,” he growled now, and there was another voice fused to his. One that was guttural, raw.


Shit. She knew that determination. No longer would he pul his punches or deflect Micah’s. Now he would fight to win.

He closed the distance and threw his meaty clubs around, a jackhammer of lethal purpose. Not once did he miss. Micah weakened further, wobbling on his feet, his eyes beginning to swel shut as his head whipped left then right, alternating as Defeat switched fists.

The fact that Micah had lasted this long was astonishing, proof of his own determination, but he wouldn’t last much longer. He couldn’t. Not at the rate Defeat was delivering blows, and not with the already ravaged condition of his body.

She had to risk hurting Micah, she decided. There was no other way. Which meant she had to put herself in front of him, probably take a few blows before she was able to strike. No problem there.

Better she die than him, even though he was now tainted.

He was tainted, yes, but he wasn’t evil. That kiss…no, he wasn’t evil. And if she was kil ed this day, she would come back; she would remember him. Not the kiss, that had been too good, and al her favorite things were always wiped, but this fight. She would recal the blood, her fear…her despair.

But if Micah died, he would be gone forever.

Haidee stiffened, preparing to jump, waiting for the perfect moment. A thought suddenly hit her and she hesitated. If Micah turned his sights on her or even struck her accidental y… Oh, God. If she died, she wouldn’t remember why he’d done so when she awakened, only that he had—

and she would come back to kil him just as she planned to come back and kil the others. If he survived this, they would be enemies.

Defeat landed a particularly vicious blow to Micah’s side, causing him to wheeze.

Worth the risk, she decided in the next instant. He was teetering…fal ing…

At last Haidee jumped forward, hooked her arm around Micah’s waist and threw him with al her might.

I’m sorry, baby. As he stumbled to his knees—away from the action

—she used her momentum to spin and duck, swinging her right fist at Defeat’s groin. Contact. He doubled over, oxygen bursting from his bleeding lips. She used her other hand, the one clutching the fragment of glass, to slice across his stomach. No mercy.

As she straightened, she landed a hard right to his chin. His head jerked backward, and he grunted, blood and teeth spewing. She aimed the glass at his throat, but only managed to slash his shoulder as he pivoted.

His narrowed gaze landed on her. He could have hit her just then. He didn’t.

Firm hands suddenly gripped her waist from behind and tossed her. Through the air she soared, flailing for an anchor, wondering what the hel had just happened. The makeshift weapon flew from her clasp, then she was bouncing on the bed, realization setting in. Micah was aware enough to know who she was, aware enough to want her out of harm’s way. Sweet of him, but that wasn’t going to stop her. He’d done his part. Now she would do hers.

Before the bouncing stopped, she was throwing her legs over the side of the bed and straightening, once again intending to knock Micah out of way. Only, she saw that he had somehow tackled Defeat and now straddled the warrior’s prone body, punching…punching…

Between whaling fists, Defeat groaned and babbled.

“Lost…lost…no, gods, no…lost…”

For several moments, she could only blink, watch. Micah had done it. Despite his injuries, he’d won.

Against an immortal. That’s my man.

Seriously? You’re going to victory lap now? Haidee forced herself into motion and rushed to Micah.

She latched onto his surging elbow. He could have shrugged her away, batted her off, could have swung at her with his other arm, but he didn’t. He faced her. What she could see of his glowing red eyes locked on her, tormented, agonized.

Didn’t want to hurt him…couldn’t stop…couldn’t let him hurt you…. Why couldn’t I let him hurt you?

The words echoed in her mind. Didn’t want to hurt him. Why couldn’t I let him hurt you? Courtesy of the demon? Was the demon trying to convince him that he liked the Lords?

Didn’t matter, she supposed. They’d deal with it. Later.

Along with everything else.

“Come on. We don’t want to free his demon right now.” She tugged him to his feet, and God, he was heavy. “We have to leave before the others come.” They’d be pissed when they saw what had been done to their friend. She didn’t want Micah punished for that. And they would punish him. She had no doubt. Even though he was currently part of their group.

She ushered him to the doorway but had to pause there to wind her arm around his waist. He was stumbling, barely able to remain standing on his own.

“You can do this, baby. Come on.”

Where are…we…going?

“If we’re lucky, no one wil be around and we’l find a way outside.” Dragging him through the doorway left her shaking and ice-sweating. He was bleeding al over her, giving her more and more of his massive weight. How she maintained her grip, she didn’t know. What she did know after taking two steps to the right?

They weren’t lucky.

Her eyes widened as she stumbled to a halt, Micah moaning, nearly fal ing. She held tight. They were surrounded—but not by the demons she’d expected.

Robed warriors fil ed the entire enclosure, wings of white and gold outstretched. Scowls lined every single one of their faces, but even stil those faces were glorious, radiant.

So beautiful…so majestic…dazzling her. She couldn’t look away. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t look away. Exquisite…

Angels. These men were angels.

Maybe she and Micah were lucky. Maybe Galen had sent reinforcements to rescue them.

“Help us,” she beseeched. “The demons captured us, and we’re trying to escape.”

A lovely dark-haired male stepped forward, hard gaze pinning her in place more forceful y than any of the others.

“We were told to wait out here.” His voice was just as thril ing as his face. A sensual breeze, an exotic caress.

“We did so. We were told not to interfere with what happened inside the room. We did not. But now you have come to us. Now we interfere.”

Realization cut like a knife. The angels hadn’t been sent by Galen. They were helping the demons.

Horror barely registered before Micah was ripped from her grip. She’d never seen the angels move, had been too riveted by the one in front of her, but losing her man snapped her from that lost, dreamy haze.

With a scream of outrage, she kicked the angel in the chest. He stumbled backward only a few steps.

She spun, reaching for Micah. Her voice must have snapped him out of his pained, weakened stupor, because, as two angels dragged him down the hal , farther and farther away from her, he blinked open his swol en eyes.

When he spied the distance between them, he roared.

Loud and long and ragged, but only she seemed to hear him. No one else paid him any attention, no one else cringed. As she elbowed her way to him, the angels attempted to grab her. She twisted and squirmed for freedom.

Al the while, Micah fought his captors. Soon, the two holding him weren’t enough. Soon, she wasn’t pegged as the biggest threat. The angels turned their attention to the warrior, al but one needed to subdue him.

Haidee! Haidee!

Before she could reach him, the one that had remained behind caught her, strong arms banding around her and squeezing tight. Breathing became a thing of the past. Stil .

Her struggles never ceased.

Micah’s didn’t either, she noted as she was at last carted out of the hal . “I’l come back for you,” she screamed. “I swear I’l come back.”



He hurt everywhere but especial y his gut. Maybe because Ex had sliced him open from hip to hip, spine to navel. The angels had had to stuff his insides back, wel , inside.