Down, boy. He didn’t need the hassle tonight.

“Hey, Wil iam,” a beautiful blonde frolicking in the water cal ed. “You said you wanted to taste me when I got wet.

Wel , I’m very, very wet,” she ended with husky entreaty.

“Come taste me.”

“You’re not quite wet enough, honey bun. Keep playing, and I’l let you know when you’re ready.”

For al his own dib-cal ing the past few hours, Wil iam hadn’t touched a single female yet. Strider had, though. He’d already taken the one with blue streaks in her sandy-colored hair upstairs. For forty-five minutes he’d unleashed his sexual needs on her wil ing body, making her moan and scream and writhe.

He’d even made her beg.

Clearly, he’d been the best she’d ever had. Not that he’d ever doubted that would be the case. Not that he’d waited several minutes after the loving was done, tense, expecting to double over in pain since he hadn’t laid his patented moves on her, had just acted on need.

When he and Defeat had realized they could add another name to their ever-growing list of completely satisfied females—not that they remembered any of the names—

Strider should have shot right into another climax. But the rush of victory hadn’t done anything for him.

He hadn’t felt any better about his situation. He might even have felt worse. Like, hol owed out or something.

The girl had fal en asleep immediately afterward, thank the gods, because if she’d tried to talk to him, he would seriously have cut off his ears. Sex, good. Conversation, bad. He should have let her rest, but he hadn’t trusted her enough to leave her unattended, so he’d carted her back outside and placed her on a lounge—on the opposite side of the pool, where she was stil sleeping. A guy couldn’t be too careful.

Stil . She hadn’t been a chal enge, not in any way, real y, and he’d liked that. Liked being able to relax.

With Ex, the chal enge would always be there, influencing everything he did, so he would always be on edge. Of course, that would also mean the pleasure of final y winning her would be unparal eled, because the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.

Not that he gave a shit about that now. He just wanted to take the easy road, damn it. He deserved the easy road for once. Even though he was learning the easy road sucked.

“Why don’t you join us, Paris?” a brunette cal ed silkily, dragging Strider’s mind back to the party. She sat at the edge of the pool, her feet dangling in the crystal ine water.

She nibbled on her bottom lip as she swirled a finger over one of her bared nipples. “I’ve wanted to get my hands on you ever since you first said hi to me.”

A few others sighed dreamily, as if remembering that very thing. As if Paris’s “hi” was the most stimulating conversation they’d ever had the privilege of enjoying.

“I’ve been watching you al this time,” Paris responded in a rumbling purr, “and as you can guess, I’m practical y on fire to have you. But I gotta get myself under control before I can trust myself to even kiss you.”

The girls giggled.

Such a smooth talker Paris was, flattering without hurting a single feeling, yet doing exactly as he desired.

Staying just where he was without inviting anyone over. But his desires were stupid, Strider thought. Did Paris want to spend the night alone and untouched?

And what the fuck, man. Was Strider dog food? Where was his shout-out? Where was his “come over here and play with me?” Or maybe they thought he only wanted the sandy-haired wench. Wel , he wanted the topless one.

Win. Defeat stretched a little more, practical y humming about the possibility of trying to steal the girl’s affection away from Paris.

Damn it. Can’t I have a single night to myself?

The demon replied with more humming. Meaning, hel no.

I gave you a victory tonight already.


Fine. One more. But it wouldn’t be the fight his demon wanted. Frowning, Strider pointed to the shortest female in the group. “You.”

Her eyes widened with pleasure. “Me?”

She was slightly older than the others, putting her in her early thirties, with black hair and green eyes. He kinda wished she were a blonde, but she had a few tattoos scattered across her back—birds rather than words and faces, not that he cared—so he figured she would do. Not that he was particular or anything, or going for a specific type. He just knew what he wanted, and there was nothing wrong with that.

“Yeah. You. C’mere, honey,” he said, crooking that finger and motioning her over.

She giggled and jumped to a stand. Several of the other girls threw her jealous scowls as she closed the distance and plopped onto his lap, and he nodded in satisfaction.

Now that was more like it.

There’s your one more, you little shit.

Defeat quieted, happy with the win but bored by the ease of it.

Strider sighed. Earlier, this female had taken a dip in the water, and her gold-foil bathing suit was stil damp. She fit her ass right over his semi-erect penis and leaned back, stretching out against him. Her large—real y large—breasts jutted up, her nipples beaded underneath the fabric of the suit, and she squirmed against him, trying to rub him into ful arousal.

Suddenly he wished he’d kept his mouth shut. He didn’t want to be rubbed—or talked to. Damn his irresistible sexual magnetism.

“Easy now,” he told her, gripping her hips to ensure she slowed down. “I need a few minutes to recover from the excitement of having you here.”

Thankful y, she stil ed. She twisted just a little, peering up at him through heavy-lidded eyes. “Want me to turn around?”

She smel ed of peaches and cigarette smoke. “Actual y, be a good girl and get me another beer from the kitchen.” He hefted her to her feet and gave her tight ass a pat. “I need to rebuild my strength or I’l never be able to keep up with a woman as talented and beautiful as you.”

The action startled her, and she yelped, then threw a narrowed glance over her shoulder. “Beer?”

“Yeah, and sometime tonight,” he prompted, not wanting to give her time to question him further. “That’s a sweet girl.”

“Grab me one, too, sweetness,” Paris cal ed. “Don’t pop the lid, though, al right?”

With a huff, she flounced inside. The kitchen sat right next to the patio, the glass doors al owing him to watch her as she dug into the fridge, turned and stalked back out. By the time she reached him, she had calmed down.

When she tried to sit back on his lap, he confiscated the beers and gave her a little push toward the pool. “Watching you swim is about the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. Show me that swan dive again, and transport me right back to heaven.”

“But I thought you wanted… If you’re sure you don’t…”

“I’m sure. I’m practical y drooling just thinking about how graceful you are.”

Her shoulders squared proudly, and she raced off to do just that. Strider tossed Paris his beer.

“I just had the best idea ever,” Wil iam said the moment they were alone. Wel , as alone as three guys could be with a backyard fil ed with strippers. He grinned evil y. “Let’s give Maddox a ring.”

Paris had dumped a baggie of ambrosia in the new bottle and had just taken a swig. The liquid caught in his throat, choking him. After banging a fist into his sternum, he regained his breath and said, “You mean propose to him?

To grumpy ole Maddox? Shit, Wil ie, why didn’t you tel us you’re a masochist who swung that way?

You’re so delicate, he’l rip you to shreds the moment you climb into his bed. Plus, he’s hitched himself to Ashlyn. You try to lay a move on him, and that sweet thang wil rearrange your face.”

Rol ing his eyes, Wil iam withdrew Paris’s cel phone from the pocket of the swim trunks he’d borrowed.

“I mean cal him, you idiot. What’s with you tonight? Permanent brain damage? We’l breathe heavily and ask him what he’s wearing. I bet no one’s phone sexed him before.”

“Hey!” Paris frowned as he eyed the smal black device. “I had that stashed in my bedroom.”

“I know. That’s where I found it when I was snooping through your things.” As always, Wil iam was unrepentant about his sins. “So who has the titanium bal s to actual y do it, huh?”

Defeat raised his arm like a schoolboy, the only kid in class who knew the answer to the seemingly impossible mathematical equation on the board.

Enough from you already! You had your “more.”

“Why Maddox?” Strider asked. If anyone could kick his ass over the phone, it was the keeper of Violence. The warrior would probably find a way to reach through the line and strangle him the moment he started describing al the naughty things he supposedly planned to do to him.

Wil iam flashed his perfect white teeth. “Because he’l curse the most, and that’l make me laugh the hardest. Now, are you in or not?”

“Give me that effing phone,” Strider grumbled, opening his palm and waving his fingers.

“Effing?” Wil iam laughed with genuine amusement. “You ever realize how polite you get when you’re hammered?

And you know what they say. A man’s true character is revealed when he’s toasted. So you gotta face facts, man.

You’re a closet gentleman.” He shuddered. “Loser!”

“The heck I am!”

Even Paris laughed at that.

Strider snatched the phone out of Wil iam’s hand and started dialing. Yeah, Maddox—like every other warrior—

was on speed dial, but Strider didn’t know the order Paris had them listed and he didn’t want to ask. If Strider wasn’t first, he didn’t want to chal enge the bastard to fix the mistake.

A few seconds later, Strider realized he’d dialed the wrong number because some dumb kid answered with a “What’s up, yo?”

Strider quickly hung up and tried again, careful y pecking at the keys. After the first ring, he switched to speaker.