Halogens hung from hooks in the walls and drowned her in bright light. While that would have revealed another’s flaws and did in fact expose the dirt streaking her skin, it gave her a healthy glow. She was petite, with small, round breasts, narrow hips and legs long enough to wrap around his waist and hold on through the most turbulent of rides.Don’t think like that. You know better. Yeah, he did. His last lover, Darla, had killed herself and he’d vowed not to get involved again. But his attraction to the redhead had been instant. So had his demon’s, though Doubt wanted her for another reason. It had sensed her trepidation and had purposely targeted her, wanting inside her mind, pouncing on her deepest fears and exploiting them.

But she was not human, they’d both soon realized, and therefore Doubt had been unable to hear her thoughts unless she voiced them. That didn’t mean she was safe from its evils. Oh, no. Doubt knew how to size up a situation and spread its poison accordingly. More than that, the demon relished a challenge and would work harder to learn this girl’s nuances and ruin any faith she might have.

What was she? He’d encountered many immortals over his thousands of years yet he couldn’t place her. She certainly appeared human. Delicate, fragile. Breakable. Those amber-silver eyes gave her away, though. And the claws. He could imagine those digging into his back….

Why had the Hunters taken her? He feared the answer. Three of the six newly liberated females were clearly pregnant, which brought to mind only one thing: the breeding of Hunters. Immortal Hunters, at that, for he recognized two sirens with scars along the column of their necks where their voice boxes had obviously been removed, a pale-skinned vampire whose fangs were gone, a gorgon whose reptilian hair had been shaved and a daughter of Cupid who had been blinded. To prevent her from ensnaring an enemy in her love spell, Sabin supposed.

How cruel the Hunters had been to these lovely creatures. What had they done to the redhead, the loveliest of them all? Though she wore a tiny tank and skirt, he could see no scars or bruises to indicate mistreatment. That didn’t mean anything, though. Most immortals healed quickly.

I want her. Intense fatigue radiated from her, yet when she’d smiled at him in thanks for freeing her…he could have died from the sheer glory of her face.

I want her, too, Doubt piped up.

You can’t have her. Which meant he couldn’t either. Remember Darla? As strong and confident as she was, you still managed to break her down.

Gleeful laughter. I know. Wasn’t it fun?

His hands fisted at his sides. Fucking demon. Eventually everyone caved under the intense worries his other, darker half constantly threw at them: You aren’t pretty enough. You aren’t smart enough. How could anyone love you?

“Sabin,” Aeron’s cold voice called. “We’re ready.”

He reached out and motioned the girl over with a wave of his fingers. “Come.”

But his redhead had backed herself against the far wall, her body trembling in renewed fear. He’d expected her to beat feet, despite his warning of the consequences. He hadn’t expected this…terror.

“I told you,” he said gently. “We mean you no harm.”

Her mouth opened, but no sound emerged. And as he watched, the golden glow of her eyes deepened, darkened, black bleeding into the whites.

“What the hell is—”

One minute she was before him, the next she wasn’t, gone as if she’d never been. He spun, gaze scanning. Didn’t see her. But the only Hunter still standing suddenly belted out an agonized scream—a scream that halted abruptly as his body sagged, collapsing on the sandy floor, blood pooling around him.

“The girl,” Sabin said, palming a blade, determined to protect her from whatever force had just slain the Hunter he’d planned to interrogate. Still he did not see her. If she could disappear with only a thought like Lucien, she would be safe. Out of his reach forevermore, but safe. But could she? Had she?

“Behind you,” Cameo said, and for once she sounded more shocked than miserable.

“My gods,” Paris breathed. “I never saw her move, yet…”

“She didn’t…did she…how could she have…” Maddox scrubbed a hand down his face, as though he didn’t believe what he was seeing.

Again, Sabin spun. And there she was, back inside her cell, sitting, knees drawn to her chest, mouth dripping with blood, a…trachea?…clutched in one of her hands. She’d ripped—or bitten?—the man’s throat out.

Her eyes were a normal color again, gold with gray striations, but they were completely devoid of emotion and so faraway he suspected the shock of what she’d done had numbed her mind. Her expression was blank, too. Her skin was now so pallid he could see the blue veins underneath. And she was shaking, rocking back and forth and mumbling incoherently under her breath. What. The. Hell?

The Hunter had called her a monster. Sabin hadn’t believed it. Then.

Sabin stepped inside the cell, unsure of what to do but knowing he could neither leave her like this nor lock her back up. One, she hadn’t attacked his friends. Two, swift as she was, she could escape before the window closed and do serious damage to him for breaking his word.

“Sabin, man,” Gideon said, grim. “You might not want to rethink going in there. For once, a Hunter was lying.”

For once. Try once more. “Know what we’re dealing with here?”

“No.” Yes. “She’s not a Harpy, the spawn of Lucifer who did not spend a year unfettered on earth. I haven’t dealt with them before and I don’t know that they can kill an army of immortals in mere seconds.”

As Gideon couldn’t tell a single truth without soon wishing he were dead, his entire body wrapped in agony and riddled with suffering, Sabin knew everything he said was a lie. Therefore, the warrior had encountered a Harpy before—and he clearly didn’t mean the word in a derogatory sense—and those Harpies were the spawn of Lucifer and could destroy even a brute like himself in a blink.

“When?” he asked.

Gideon understood his meaning. “Remember when I wasn’t imprisoned?”

Ah. Gideon had once endured three months of torture at Hunter hands.

“One didn’t destroy half the camp before a single alarm could be sounded. She didn’t take off, for whatever reason, and the remaining Hunters didn’t spend the next few days cursing the entire race.”

“Hold on. Harpy? I don’t think so. She isn’t hideous.” That little nugget came from Strider, the king of stating the obvious. “How can she be a Harpy?”

“You know as well as we do that human myths are sometimes distorted. Just because most legends claim Harpies are hideous doesn’t mean they are. Now, everyone out.” Sabin began tossing his weapons on the ground behind him. “I’ll deal with her.”

A sea of protests arose.

“I’ll be fine.” He hoped.

You might not be…

Oh, shut the hell up.


“Coming with us,” he said, cutting Maddox off. He couldn’t leave her behind; she was too valuable a weapon, a weapon that could be used against him—or used by him. Yes, he thought, eyes widening. Yes. “And she’s coming alive.”

“Hell, no,” Maddox said. “I don’t want a Harpy anywhere near Ashlyn.”

“You saw what she did—”

Now Maddox cut him off. “Yes, I did, and that’s exactly why I don’t want her near my pregnant human. The Harpy stays behind.”

Another reason to eschew love. It softened even the most hardened of warriors. “She has to hate these men as much as we do. She can help our cause.”

Maddox was undeterred. “No.”

“She’ll be my responsibility, and I’ll make sure she keeps her claws and teeth sheathed.” Again, he hoped.

“You want her, she’s yours,” Strider said, always on his side. Good man. “Maddox will agree because you never pressure Ashlyn to go into town and listen to conversations Hunters might have had, no matter how badly you want to.”

Eyes narrowed, Maddox popped his jaw. “We’ll have to subdue her.”

“No. I’ll handle her.” Sabin didn’t like the thought of anyone else touching her. In any way. He told himself it was because she’d most likely been tortured, used in the most horrendous way, and might react negatively to anyone who tried, but…

He recognized the excuse for what it was. He was attracted to her, and a man attracted couldn’t turn off the possessive thing. Even when that man had sworn off women.

Cameo approached his side, attention riveted on the girl. “Let Paris deal with her. He can finesse the cruelest of females into a good mood. You, not so much, and we clearly need this one in a perpetual good mood.”

Paris, who could seduce any woman, anytime, immortal and human alike? Paris, who needed sex to survive? Sabin’s teeth ground together, an image of the couple flashing through his mind. Naked bodies tangled, the warrior’s fingers gripping the Harpy’s wild fall of hair, bliss coloring her expression.

Would be better for the girl that way. Would probably be better for them all, as Cameo had said. The Harpy would be more inclined to help them defeat the Hunters if she was fighting by her lover’s side—and Sabin was now determined to have her help. Of course, Paris couldn’t bed her more than once, would eventually cheat on her because he needed sex from different vessels to survive, and that would probably piss her off. She might then decide to aid the Hunters.

Bad idea, all the way around, he decided, and not just because he wanted it to be.

“Just…give me five minutes. If she kills me, Paris can have a turn with her.” His dry tone failed to elicit a single chortle of laughter.

“At least let Paris put her to sleep as he did the others,” Cameo persisted.

Sabin shook his head. “If she were to wake early, she would be scared and she might attack. I’ve got to get through to her first. Now get out. Let me work.”