Who would guard your precious Gwen?

Her sisters. Shall I go get them? Let you talk to them?

Silence. Sweet silence.

Sabin gently placed Gwen on the bed and tucked the covers around her. A loud knock echoed from his door, and he scowled. Gwen didn’t move, didn’t moan or act as if she was aware of the interruption in any way. That saved the intruder’s life.

Three long strides and he was at the door, removing the barricade then ripping it open.

Kaia tried to push her way inside. “Where is she? You better not have hurt her, Mr. Pound On Gwen For Giggles.”

“It wasn’t for giggles. It was to strengthen her, and you know it. You should be thanking me, since you failed to do your job. Now go.”

She glared up at him, hands on her hips. “I’m not leaving until I see her.”

“We’re busy.”

Golden eyes, so eerily similar to Gwen’s, darted down his naked body. “I see that. I still want to talk to her.”

Don’t let them see, Gwen had beseeched. “She’s naked.” Truth. “And I’d like to get back to her.” Again, truth. “Your conversation can wait.”

A wide grin spread over the Harpy’s beautiful face, and his shoulders sagged in relief. Thank the gods sex wasn’t against those damned Harpy rules.

He and Gwen were going to have a long talk when she awoke, and she was going to outline exactly what was permitted and what wasn’t. And then the rules he didn’t agree with would be demolished.

“Mom would be so proud! Little Gwennie, bagging an evil demon.”

“Get lost.” He slammed the door in her face. Then he grimaced and spun. Thankfully Gwen still hadn’t moved.

Throughout the day, warriors, females and Harpies alike came knocking on his door. He couldn’t relax because he couldn’t get Gwen’s words out of his head. Don’t let who see what, damn it? The sisters had already seen her sleeping with him, the night of their arrival, so now he wasn’t sure that was such a big deal. They hadn’t tried to punish her or anything. Was Gwen ashamed of the wounds in her neck? Maybe he shouldn’t have bitten her.

The first visitors were Maddox and a smiling Ashlyn, holding a plate of sandwiches. “After such an intense training session, I thought you and Gwen might be hungry.”

Maddox hadn’t been smiling, but he hadn’t insisted Gwen be made to leave, either. “Thanks.” Sabin took the plate and shut the door. He’d pulled on a robe, wanting to give the appearance of a sexual marathon—Kaia had seemed happy about that, so surely it wasn’t shameful to the Harpies—while still maintaining his dignity.

Next came Anya and Lucien. “You and Gwen wanna watch a slasher movie with us while we pretend to read those dusty scrolls but really make everyone else do all the work?” Anya asked, waggling her eyebrows. “It’s gonna be fun.”

“No, thanks.” Again, he shut the door.

A short while later, Bianka arrived. “I need to talk to my sister.”

“She’s still busy.” Sleeping. He shut the door in her scowling face.

Finally the visits tapered off. Sabin texted Torin to let him know he was staying behind while the others went to Chicago.

Figured, was the reply. Which is why I already found you a replacement. Gideon’s taking over the mission.

His relief was almost palpable. Leaving Gwen like this wasn’t even an option.

If any of the men are injured, you’ll blame yourself, Doubt said.

Sabin didn’t try to deny it. With reason.

What if you begin to resent Gwen?

Now he rolled his eyes. I won’t.

How do you know? Sulky, whiny.

She’s not to blame. I am. If I resent anyone, it will be myself.

Seriously, how could he resent this tenderhearted woman? If she’d known about the trip, he suspected she would have wanted to go herself.

Sabin watched the sun set, the moon rise and the sun reappear, unable to rest or relax. Why wasn’t Gwen waking up? No one needed this much rest. Did she need blood again? He’d thought he’d given her plenty in the heat of their loving.

Sabin leaned back in the chair he’d dragged to the bedside. The wooden slats dug into his back, but he didn’t mind. They kept him alert, his mind active.

Look at you. You’re becoming everything you’ve ever despised, he thought. Weak, because of a woman. Worried, over a woman. Vulnerable to attack, because of a woman.

“Sabin,” a breathless sigh rang out.

Sabin jerked upright in the chair, feet hitting the floor with a thump. His heart skipped a beat, his lungs nearly seized. Finally!

Gwen’s eyes blinked open, but her eyelashes were matted together and she had to scrub them. Then their gazes collided, and he forgot to breathe. He’d wondered how she would react to awakening in his bed; he should have wondered how he’d react. He could have prepared himself. He was shaking, his blood heating at the sensual sight of her, rumpled and ready.

She frowned, attention sweeping the bedroom. “How’d I get here? Wait. Tell me when I return.” She threw her legs over the side of the bed and lumbered to a stand.

Sabin was already on his feet, already swooping her up in his arms.

“I can walk,” she protested.

“I know.” He deposited her in the bathroom, stepped back into the room and shut the door behind him, allowing her a measure of privacy.

What if she falls and hurts herself?

Shut up. You’re not going to affect me right now.

A horrified gasp pummeled through the wood, and he grinned. She must have only then realized she was naked. Holding her like that had affected him madly. He was hard as a steel pipe, her female scent in his nose.

When he heard the water switch on, he grabbed a change of clothes and stalked to the bedroom next to his. The door was open, so he walked inside without preamble. The three Harpies sat in a circle on the floor, stacks of groceries in the center. They were laughing about something—until they spotted him.

Kaia’s eyes began to bleed black, and Sabin’s demon quickly retreated. “Our food,” she squawked and he grimaced. Funny. Didn’t bother him when Gwen sounded like that. Rather, he just wanted to please her. “We stole it. It’s ours.”

“Calm down.” Bianka slapped her arm, though her gaze never left Sabin. “About time you showed up. Where’s Gwennie?”

“Showering. I need to use yours.” He didn’t wait for permission, but headed into the bathroom and gathered a towel.

“After hours and hours of nonstop sex, you guys can’t share a stall?” one of them called. Sometimes, when he couldn’t see the twins, it was hard to tell which was speaking.

“Maybe there’ll be another marathon if they try and share,” another teased.

They cackled.

“Did she put you in a coma? Has she been hiding you all this time to keep you from being shamed?” Taliyah had spoken this time; he recognized that cold timbre, which never failed to make him shudder.

She knew the truth, he realized. He wondered yet again if sleeping like that was against Harpy protocol. “What if she did?” he found himself saying.

Bianka and Kaia twittered. “Go little sis,” one of them said.

Sabin kicked the door shut and jumped into the shower, moving quickly, afraid the females would burst in on Gwen and question her before he could. But they were exactly as he’d left them when he emerged, eating and laughing.

Taliyah, the only one not smiling, nodded at him. In gratitude?

He took a quick detour through the kitchen—someone had shopped, thank the gods—and rounded up a bag of chips, a brownie, a granola bar, an apple and a bottle of water. Loaded down, he entered his bedroom, shut the door with a backward kick, and found Gwen seated on the edge of the bed. She wore a pair of sweat shorts and a bright blue T-shirt, both of which she’d picked for herself in town the other day, her hair wet and dripping from a knot atop her head.

Doubt peeked from the shadowed corner in Sabin’s mind, but decided not to risk incurring the Harpy’s wrath and hid again.

Forcing his expression to remain neutral, he settled into the chair he’d occupied for far too long already. He balanced the tray on his stomach.

“We need to talk,” she said, gazing at the food with longing. “About what happened in the forest…”

Before she could venture down that path, he told her how long she’d been out, how he’d guarded her, how no one had seen her neck, no one knew what she’d really been doing and how everyone assumed they’d been going at it like animals.

“There is a God,” she said on a relieved breath.

Or gods. But whatever. Any other woman would have been horrified, he thought, fighting a grin. Still more proof that she was the only woman for him. “Now you’re going to answer some questions for me.”

She gulped, eyes luminous in the sunlight that streamed through a gap in the dark, heavy curtains. “All right.”

“Why can you only eat stolen food?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I’m not supposed to discuss it.”

“I think we’re beyond that point.”

“I guess we are,” she said grudgingly. “Why do you want to know?”

“So I can understand.” He popped open the brownie and bit into the end. “You’ve trusted me with your body. You’ve trusted me to guard you while you sleep. You’ve even trusted me with your weakness. Now trust me with your secrets.”

Up and down her chest moved, her breath emerging shallow and raspy. Her stomach rumbled, and she rubbed it without looking away from him. Or rather, the food. “I—I—okay. Yes.” She licked her lips. “Will you pay me?”

“Pay you? How much and for what?”

“Just say yes!” It was snarled.


She licked her lips again, words tumbling from her. “The gods despise Harpies and consider us an abomination since we were the spawn of a prince of darkness. Long ago, they hoped to bring about our ruin in a manner that would not reflect poorly on them. A way that would seem as if we’d destroyed ourselves. So they cursed us in secret, stating that never again could we enjoy a meal freely given to us or one we had prepared ourselves. We sicken terribly if we disregard the curse; some even die. It only takes once to learn that lesson. As you saw for yourself at the camp in Egypt.