“Help,” she managed to whisper, hating that she was already losing control of herself. Her knees were knocking, about to give out. “Amun.”

In the next instant, he had turned, his arm winding around her waist and holding her up. What’s wrong?

Her lashes fluttered shut, suddenly too heavy for her to keep open. “Don’t know. Head…spinning…”

He was so stil against her, she couldn’t even feel his heartbeat or the rise and fal of his chest. Couldn’t feel his heat, that amazing heat.

There’s ambrosia in the air, a substance very harmful to humans, but you aren’t…

“Human. Yes. I am.”

I don’t understand. You died. Now you’re alive. You can’t be human.

The dizziness intensified, pul ing her under a dark, dark wave. No matter how hard she fought, she couldn’t swim to the top. “Amun…”

Haidee. Listen to my voice. Stay with me.

“Can’t,” she wanted to tel him. No sound emerged.

If you pass out, I’l strip you and touch you again. Do you hear me? I’l view it as an invitation to take you.

Before she could tel him the invitation wouldn’t have an expiration date, that his “consequences” were not a threat but a delightful prospect, the darkness swal owed her completely.

DAMN THIS. Amun hefted Haidee over his shoulder, barely registering her slight weight. He did, however, register the fact that her breasts were smashed into his back. Because of her unusual y cool body temperature, her nipples were already pebbled.

She’d been behind him for what seemed an eternity, touching him fleetingly yet awakening every nerve ending he possessed. Despite the danger, he’d almost stopped a dozen times, desperate to taste her again, to hear her moan his name. His, and no other.

When she’d confessed that she had only dated that bastard Micah because she’d mistaken him for Amun, she’d almost found herself pressed against the cave wal , her jeans and panties ripped away, his shaft pounding its way home.

Control had been maintained through a wish and a prayer only.

Confounding baggage. How was he supposed to cal ously use her and work her from his system when she treated him with such…sweetness? When she responded to his barbs with hurt rather than venom?

Secrets stil couldn’t read her mind, but the demon had begun to sense the absolute conviction in her every word.

She believed everything she said. Of course, the demon also retreated every time Haidee touched him.

The coolness that so delighted Amun terrified his companion.

Al of his companions. Since leaving the fortress, the other demons had yet to try to influence him in any way. Why?

Damn this, he thought again, striding forward. Didn’t matter why. He needed this woman.

A little dizzy himself, he shouldered his way through the foliage. He’d whisk Haidee to safety if it kil ed him. And it just might. If he was affected by the ambrosia in the air, how much damage would the substance do to her?

Through Maddox, Amun had learned that humans simply couldn’t tolerate ambrosia, a drug meant only for immortals.

They were better off being injected with tainted heroin.

Haidee hadn’t ingested the substance, had only breathed in the fumes, so Amun told himself she would be okay.

Was she human, though? She truly believed she was and could very wel be, despite the fact that she’d risen from the dead. But surely she was more than she realized. That unnatural coolness, her mental connection to Amun, the way she corral ed his demons, each bespoke something beyond mortality.

Stil . To be safe, he wanted to get her out of this forest as quickly as possible. Al he had to do was find the entrance to the next realm. Which, if he wasn’t mistaken, would be the Realm of Shadows. So far, al he could see were trees.

Trees, trees, trees. They surrounded him so completely they were like a second layer of clothing.

Soon he was panting from exertion. His dizziness increased, and he tightened his hold on Haidee. They didn’t touch skin to skin, merely cloth to cloth. Perhaps if he slid his hands up the hem of her pants and gripped her thigh properly, her temperature would stave off the dizziness the same way it staved off the demons.

Fol ow your own advice and stay alert. No touching the girl.

A single touch, and he’d become lost to the lust again.

Branches slapped at him, slicing his cheeks. He shook his head, clearing his thoughts. The action must have roused Secrets. Instantly agitated, the demon prowled through his skul , hatred for this place wel ing up.

Voices suddenly wafted to Amun’s ears.

Come closer, warrior…

Welcome to our home…

We won’t hurt you…much…

Thoughts soon fol owed, fil ing his mind.

They’l taste so good.

Maybe she’l scream just the way I like…

The snakes were closing in, ready to strike. To kil . He couldn’t fight them with Haidee dangling so precariously over his shoulder. She would take the brunt of the action, her body acting as his shield, and that he wouldn’t al ow.

Not knowing what else to do, he stopped and eased her to the ground—no sudden movements—then fit the backpack she stil carried around her neck, shielding the sensitive area as best he could. As he slowly, so slowly straightened, he withdrew two of his blades, metal whistling against leather.

That must have been the starting bel for the snakes.

Dozens of crimson eyes leveled on him… Fangs flashed bright white.

He tensed.

The snakes launched forward.


NOW THIS IS THE SHIT, Strider thought with a slow grin.

A few hours ago, Lucien had flashed him and Wil iam to Paris. The guy, not the city. Though the evening had only just begun, Paris had been wel on his way to ambrosia intoxication, already laughing like a loon.

So rather than cart him off and start hunting Gil y’s parents to play a little game of slice and dice, as planned, and rather than leaving him behind in such a vulnerable condition, Strider and Wil iam had decided to take care of Paris—aka down a little ambrosia themselves—and head out as a unit in the morning.

Brotherly love and al that. The things I do for my friends. Not that Strider was intoxicated. He was the sober one.

He reclined on a delightful y cushioned lounge in the sprawling ranch Paris had rented. In Dal as, Texas, of al places. Promiscuity had decked himself out, too, wearing a Stetson (weird), no shirt (understandable), unfastened jeans (smart) and cowboy boots (weird again). Dude looked ready to rustle cattle or something.

At least the girls Paris had invited to party with him were more sensible. They wore bikinis.

Best of al , as the girls swam in the moon-and-lamplit pool, laughing, playing, Strider was reminded that he’d always preferred females with big boobs and lots of makeup. He was able to forget al about only-a-handful Haidee and how lovely and delicate she’d looked in Amun’s arms. Arms that should have been his. But whatever.

“I cal dibs on the topless one,” Wil iam said from Strider’s left, throwing back his ambrosia-laced beer.

“And the one wearing dental floss.” He’d changed his mind five times in the past ten minutes. As of now, he had dibs on every single female in sight.

“That’s a thong, moron,” Paris slurred from Strider’s right.

They reclined in lounges, too, the only cocks within miles of this little henhouse.

The girls were in front of them, some using the concrete rim around the hourglass pool as a dance floor.

Gods love this modern era, because the females weren’t afraid to grind on each other.

“If the thing riding up her ass is a thong, whatdya cal that string across her nipples?” Wil iam countered.

“A string,” Paris said, then nodded as if confirming his own genius. “And by the way, I get first pick since I rounded ’em up and brought ’em here, and I cal dibs on the topless one.”

“Where’d you get ’em, anyway?” Strider asked. Funny. His own words were slurred.

“Strip club downtown,” Paris replied, finishing off his latest bottle of jack. “Throw enough money around and you can have anything you want. Except, maybe, fried Twinkies. I can’t find those anywhere.”

Wil iam tapped two fingers against his chin. “You had any of

’em before?”

“Fried Twinkies?” Paris nodded. “Only once, but I’ve never forgotten the experience. It’s like heaven in your mouth, man.”

“Fried— Paris, you dumb bastard.” Exasperated, Wil iam shook his head. “I meant the women.”

Exasperated himself, Paris splayed his arms. “How would I know whether or not the women have had a fried Twinkie? I only just met them.”

“Dear gods.” Wil iam pinched the bridge of his nose. “Have you. Slept with. One of. The women.


“Oh. Sure, I have. And shit. Why didn’t you say that to begin with?”

“Final y,” Wil iam said. “We get somewhere. Who?”

Because of his straight-up awesome demon, Paris couldn’t screw the same woman twice. Sure, he weakened unbearably if he failed to rol around in the sheets at least once a day, but that was a smal price to pay for unlimited nookie.

“Like I remember,” Paris replied.

“Your cock always remembers.”

“Wel , we’re currently not speaking, so…”

“And we come to yet another dead end.” Wil iam’s sigh was somehow as wry as his tone. “You’re just gonna have to take who I give you and deal.”

“Like anyone would pick you over me.”

Wil iam blustered over the insult. “You just wait and see. I’l have every single one of them eating out of my hand.”

“Only if you find one of those delicious fried Twinkies,”

Paris snapped.

Strider rol ed his eyes. Egotistical morons. Anyone with a set of eyes could see that Strider was the pretty one in their little threesome.

His demon immediately recognized the chal enge and stretched, gearing up to do whatever was necessary to ensure that statement was true. Win?