She scooted down his chest and col apsed atop him.

Though his first thought was to clean them both, he couldn’t bring himself to move her. His arms wound around her, and he held on, knowing he would never be able to let her go.

His head was (somewhat) clear, so he couldn’t blame desire for the possessiveness. She was his.



FOR HOURS, HAIDEE AND AMUN alternated between sleeping, eating, kissing and talking, careful not to mention their pasts, their circumstances or their future. They were just a man and a woman, their hands never far from each other. Through it al , Haidee remained in a state of bliss, joyful in a way she knew she couldn’t afford.

For her, joy never lasted.

This joyful stretch ended when Amun released her to build a campfire—and didn’t return to her side. He fiddled with the backpack, then pul ed out two robes, his motions rigid.

Angel robes, he said (just as rigidly). Without looking back at her, he placed the white one at her side.

The material wil clean you. It’l even untangle your hair when you lift the hood.

A simple robe could do al that? Wow. “Thank you.”

Welcome, he said as he tugged the material over his head.

And damn if the dirt smudges on the back of his neck didn’t disappear. Now, we do what needs doing.

“You mean, now we play the quiet game?”

Among other things.

This formality…how she hated it.

He had given her the sweetest, most agonizing orgasm of her life, playing her body in a way that conquered al doubt, al inhibition. Passion had fil ed her so inexorably, she hadn’t been able to hold it al inside. She had erupted, barely managing to temper the ice. Her body was now so hyperaware of this man that the ache, the need for him, never left her. Constantly her stomach quivered and her skin tingled.

His name might not be tattooed on her arm, but she was nonetheless branded by him.

While they’d touched, there’d been no hesitation on his part. That had astonished her. He hadn’t withheld pleasure, hadn’t whisked her to the brink and walked away, leaving her empty, hol owed. Even though he’d been angry with her.

No, he’d been almost…reverent as he’d caressed her, as if they were lovers in every sense of the word rather than enemies.

She didn’t want to be his enemy. Not now, not ever again.

But she could think of no way to repair the damage she’d done to him. He hadn’t kil ed her family, another demon had. He wasn’t the one who had kil ed her husband, she was almost positive of that.

Another demon must have.

Probably one of his friends. Stil , it was Amun she had punished, taking someone he loved from him.

She hated herself for that. Wished she could go back.

Wished she had never walked into her husband’s bedroom that fateful night. The night everything had changed for her.

But she couldn’t and she had, and she hoped that maybe, just maybe, she could make Amun understand the pain she had experienced. That wouldn’t be enough to earn his forgiveness, but perhaps it would offer an absolution she wouldn’t find otherwise.

Sighing, Haidee donned the robe. Only a few seconds later, she realized Amun hadn’t done the thing justice. A bar of soap hadn’t touched her, but as the material settled over her, she’d never felt cleaner.


Her gaze returned to him. He was peering into the flames.

He should have looked like a monk, but even draped by the shapeless cloth as he was, he looked wicked and sensual and so damn powerful.

He’d mental y distanced himself, but she didn’t let that stop her. She settled in front of him, trying not to tremble. He didn’t spare her a glance, but reached inside the backpack and withdrew an apricot.

“I’d like you to do something for me,” she said. “Think of it as an extension of the quiet game.”

He had been in the process of biting into the fruit. His hand stil ed and at last he faced her, his dark eyes wary. Can it wait? We’ve been here too long. We need to leave.

Suddenly he was in a hurry? Hardly. “No. We have to do this now.” If they waited, she might lose her nerve.

He nodded stiffly. Very wel .

Haidee squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. “You’ve seen a smal piece of my wedding night. Wil you…wil you now watch the rest?”

His wariness intensified, and it was almost painful to see. I can’t control what secrets the demon shows me, Haidee.

“But you can try.” He had to try.

I don’t think you’re understanding me. To show you anything, I would have to use my demon.

“Yes, I do understand that. I’d stil like you to try.”

He studied her. May I ask why?

So polite, when he stil clearly wanted no part of this. Did he fear she planned to show him a time she’d spent in another man’s bed? Did he think she planned to punish him for being what he was? “You can ask, but I won’t tel you.” She didn’t want him refusing, and he would if he knew the truth going in.

Probably not a smart move on her part, though. He would have to trust her. Blind trust, at that.

Something a Lord could never give a Hunter.

A sigh wafted through her mind. Al right. I wil try.

The acquiescence surprised her, and for some reason, that surprise seemed to irritate him.

Are you ready? he snapped.

“Yes.” No. Butterflies danced through her stomach. “Yes,”

she repeated for her own benefit.

Motions stiff, Amun set the juicy apricot aside and fit his strong, cal used hands against her temples. As always, he was as warm and welcome as a summer day. But now that she’d had those big hands on her breasts, between her legs, inside her, having them placed so innocently was the most decadent of tortures.

She wiggled to get closer to him, settling only when their knees were touching, his wild scent surrounding her. If he did indeed tap into her memory, he would see one of the most painful experiences of her too-long life. A recol ection that never failed to tear her up and leave her broken heart bleeding. She would need his strength.

Concentrate on your breathing, he said, and she jumped at the gentle intrusion in her mind. And close your eyes.

Every friend she had would have cal ed her stupid for trusting a demon like she was about to do, but she didn’t care. Amun had given her the necessary blind trust, she could do no less. Her eyelids fluttered closed, hiding the features she’d come to crave, and she drew in a large quantity of oxygen. Slowly she released every molecule.

Good girl.

On her next inhalation, she felt tendrils of something…warm and dark drifting through her, rattling her mind as the wind often rattled the leaves on trees. She had experienced this before, but she’d been drugged, lethargic, and unaware of what that warmth and darkness represented. Now she knew—and tried not to panic.

She had asked for this. She wanted this.

But she didn’t stay calm for long.

Demon, she thought wildly. Her heart crashed into her ribs, threatening to burst from her chest.

Blindly she reached up and wrapped her fingers around the solid warmth of Amun’s wrists. In and out she continued to breathe. She held on as tightly as she could, not to push him away, but to remind herself that he was with her. That he wouldn’t let his beastly half hurt her.

And, to be honest, the demon had never real y tried.

Actual y, the demon had helped her, revealing her sister’s beautiful face, showing her the joyous minutes before her husband’s death. Why had the creature done that? Why had it shown her good things?

Weren’t evil beings supposed to focus on the bad?

Though she couldn’t fathom the answers, she relaxed. And as the rigidity melted from her spine, colorful images began to flash through her mind.

Once again she saw her little sister’s cherubic face, smiling back at her as they raced through a lush meadow. Innocent, carefree giggles echoed between them, and for a moment, only a moment, the cold completely washed from Haidee’s body, leaving her drenched in radiant heat.

The image shifted—come back! she mental y shouted, not yet ready to be separated from her sister again. But then she saw the adult version of herself standing on that long-ago veranda, lavender wedding gown draping her slender frame, her golden curls practical y glowing in the moonlight.

This was it. What she wanted to show Amun—what she dreaded showing Amun.

“Are you nervous, my sweet?” her former servant said, pul ing her back into the vision.

Haidee watched herself turn, heard herself reply to Leora. A conversation fol owed, dragging into eternity. When would they quiet? When would they—?

The old woman pivoted on her sandaled heel and led Haidee inside a torch-lit hal way. Toward the master’s bedchamber.

This was it, she thought again. Haidee’s grip tightened on Amun, tremors rocking her. Just as before, the arching doorway loomed closer…closer stil …only this time, she didn’t try to stop herself.


As Leora slowed, she smiled over her shoulder. Final y they reached the door, and the servant stepped aside.

Haidee wanted to vomit as she saw herself reach out. Saw her fingers curl around the edge of the curtain and move the material aside. Her shoulders squared as she stepped inside the chamber, the curtain fal ing back into place behind her.

At first, the Haidee in the vision couldn’t make sense of what she was seeing. But the smel , oh, God, the smel …

metal ic, coppery…mixed with the stench of emptied bowels. She knew that smel very wel : death.

Once white wal s were splattered with crimson. On the floor, her husband lay in pieces. Hysteria bubbled inside her as she spun. The carnage—there was no escaping it. Solon…

a piece here, a piece there, a piece everywhere. The words fil ed her mind, her encroaching madness making them a song. Her knees knocked together, and dizziness nearly drowned her. Frigid breath sawed in and out of her nose, uncontrol able now.

Then she saw something far worse than the carnage.

In the center of the room, the creature from her nightmares floated above a coagulated puddle of blood.