He’d have to tread carefully. At the same time, he couldn’t—wouldn’t—back down.

What if he hurts you? the demon was suddenly whispering into her mind. What if he—

“Shut the fuck up!” he snarled, and Doubt laughed gleefully at the damage it had already caused.

Gwen tensed. “Must you curse like that?”

“Yes.” He tugged her now reluctant form through the door, shutting and locking it behind her. They faced off. She was pale, trembling again. “Besides, I wasn’t talking to you.”

“I know. We’ve had this conversation before. You were talking to your demon. To Doubt.”

A statement, not a question. He massaged the back of his neck, wishing his fingers were curled around the goddess of Anarchy’s neck instead. “Anya told you.” He didn’t like that Gwen knew, would have liked for her to have time to get used to him first.

A shake of her beautiful head. “William did. So the demon wants me to…doubt you?” She twirled the ends of her hair. Another nervous gesture?

“It wants you to doubt everything. Every choice you make, every breath you take. Everyone around you. It can’t help itself. The indecision and confusion of others is where it derives its strength. A moment ago, I could hear it shooting its poisoned barb into your mind, trying to make you believe I’ll hurt you. That’s why I felt the need to curse.”

Her eyes widened, those silver striations expanding and overshadowing the amber. “That’s what I’m hearing, then. I wondered where the thoughts were coming from.”

His brow furrowed as he processed her words. “You’re able to distinguish its voice from your own?”


Those who knew him often recognized the demon simply by its word choices. But for a virtual stranger to separate him from his demon…How could she tell the difference between them? “Not many can do so,” he said.

Her eyes widened. “Wow. I actually have a skill most don’t. And an impressive one, at that. Your demon is sneaky.”

“Insidious,” he agreed, surprised that she hadn’t fainted, screamed or demanded to be released from his despicable clutches. She even seemed proud of herself. “It senses weakness and pounces.”

Her expression became pensive. Then depressed. Then angry. She’d discovered the hidden meaning to his words: she was weak and the demon knew it. He preferred her pride.

His gaze snagged on the tray resting on his dresser. An empty tray. He nearly grinned. Anya had gotten her to eat, thank the gods. No wonder her color was higher, her cheeks sweetly fuller. What else was different about her? he mused, studying her. At her waist, there were several slight bulges—but those, he was sure, weren’t the result of her recent meal.

A quick scan of the room revealed his weapons case was three inches to the right of its normal mark. She must have disabled the lock and pilfered the contents. The little thief, he thought, eyeing her again.

She squirmed under the scrutiny, cheeks pinkening. “What?”

“Just thinking.” Let her keep them, he decided. Hopefully, they made her feel safer. And the safer she felt, the less likely it was that he’d have a confrontation with the Harpy.

“You’re making me nervous,” she admitted. She rubbed her palms on the front of her thighs.

“Then let’s speed things along and assuage your fears.” Gods, she was lovely. “Take off your clothes.”

Her mouth fell open on a strangled gasp. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. Strip.”

One step, two, she backed away from him, holding her hands up and out. “Not just no but hell, no.” Her knees hit the back of the bed and she fell onto the mattress, gaping up at him in horror. “I fell! That was an accident, not an invitation,” she rushed out, popping to her feet.

“I know. The hell, no gave you away. But it doesn’t matter. We’re going to shower.” She needed to clean up and he needed to mark her. They could knock out both objectives at the same time.

“Feel free.” Her voice trembled. “Alone.”

“Together. And that’s not an invitation, either. It’s a fact.” He reached behind him and dragged his shirt over his head. His favorite necklace, a gift from Baden, bounced against his chest as the material pooled at his feet.

“Put that back on!” she said, her gaze locking on his butterfly tattoo. “I don’t want to see you.” Her pupils dilated, belying her words.

Good. She was intrigued, if panicked. He toed off one boot, then the other. They landed with echoing thumps. He unsnapped his pants and shoved them to his ankles. “This is going to happen whether you agree or not, Gwendolyn.”

She gave a violent shake of her head, those strawberry curls flying. Still her gaze remained on him. Between his legs now. Her breath emerged faster, raspier. “You said you meant me no harm.”

“And I don’t. There’s nothing menacing about a shower. It’s…cleansing.”


He stepped out of the fatigues, now totally and completely naked. And yeah, he had an erection. He willed it away, if only to relax her, but the stupid thing refused to obey, remaining long and hard and thick.

She swiped her tongue over her lips, a telling reaction, like a neon sign that read I Want Some of That. Her borrowed T-shirt was baggy but he could see that her nipples were hard. Another tell.

After the way she’d kissed him on the plane, he’d suspected she desired him. Now, he knew for certain. She did. And he was glad. It was foolish, wrong, and could only hurt them both in the end, but he couldn’t make himself care just then.

“I’m not going to fuck you,” he said, purposely being crude. Anything to snap her out of the staring contest she had going with Little Sab.

It worked. Amber met brown in a heated clash. “Wh-why not sex? And what are you going to do to me?”

Kiss you. Touch you. Give you a hickey—and an orgasm that will make you scream the roof down. No way William could question his claim on the girl after that. The lack of sex, well…Sabin’s control would snap and his demon would have free rein if he allowed himself to experience too much pleasure. So he’d do what he could: a little petting for him, a lot of petting for her.

Sure you have what it takes to please one such as her? Pretty as she is, she’s probably had scores of men. They’ve probably done things to her you’ve only dreamed about.

His jaw clenched. Old as he was, he didn’t have a tremendous amount of experience with women. While living in the heavens, he’d been too busy defending the gods to pursue his own pleasures. When first cast to earth, he’d been too evil, too crazed to want anything besides destruction. And once he’d gained a measure of control over the wickedness inside him, he’d quickly learned how bad he was for the opposite sex.

A few times, though, he’d considered himself in love and had chased the women shamelessly. Single, married, it hadn’t mattered. He supposed he and William had that in common. If he’d wanted them, he’d gone after them because the want had been such a rare thing.

Darla was the most recent—and devastating—example of his destructive impact. She had been married to a Hunter, Galen’s right-hand man. She’d come to Sabin with information, knowledge of where her husband and men kept their weapons, what they were planning. She’d seen the hypocrisy of the Hunter code, she’d said, and had wanted the war to end. At first, Sabin had thought she meant to act as Bait. To lure him and his men into a trap. But she hadn’t. Everything she’d told him had been accurate.

They’d soon become lovers. He’d wanted her to leave her husband, but she had refused because she would have been unable to help Sabin. He hated to admit this, but part of him had been glad about her decision. He hadn’t lost his mole. But every time she’d visited him, every time he’d taken her to bed, she’d left with a little less sparkle. All too soon, she’d become clingy, needy, desperate for a kind word. He’d tried, gods had he tried, to boost her confidence back up, telling her how beautiful and brave and intelligent she was. She had, of course, doubted him, so in the end it hadn’t mattered.

She’d called him after slashing her wrists.

He hadn’t gotten to her in time. No, Stefano beat him there and kept Sabin from seeing her one last time. He hadn’t even been able to attend her funeral, not wanting Hunters to catch sight of him.

Eleven years had passed since her death, but his guilt was as fresh and clear as if it had happened yesterday. He should have left her alone. If he had, Stefano might have grown tired of the chase and the battles and bowed out. Instead, fueled now by vengeance as much as fanaticism, the Hunter was as savagely determined to win as Sabin.

Sabin hadn’t been with anyone since, avoiding female companionship entirely. Until Gwen. Could she handle him, though? Even a little?

“W-well?” she stammered. “What are you going to do?”

He forced the demon’s worries from his mind. “I’m going to clean you.”

Again she shook her head. “I don’t want to be clean. I swear I don’t.”

“I don’t care,” he said, and advanced.

Panting, she fell back onto the bed once more and scrambled backward, not stopping until her shoulders hit the headboard. “I don’t want to do this, Sabin.”

“Yes, you do. You’re just afraid.”

“You’re right. What if I kill you?”

“I’ve handled Hunters for thousands of years. What’s a lone Harpy?” Brave words, but he couldn’t admit the whole truth. That he didn’t know what she’d do, how he’d react or what would happen if they were forced to fight each other. But he was willing to risk her wrath to see this done.

White-hot desire pushed itself into her eyes, lighting them up. “You truly think you can defeat a Harpy in attack mode?”

Up he climbed on the bed, closing more and more of the hated distance between them. “Hopefully, it won’t come to that. If it does, well, we’ll find out together.”