Over and over he tried to tell himself that it was better this way. That he’d fought Hunters and won before her, and he could fight Hunters and win after her. And anyway, she was related to Galen. Sabin couldn’t trust Gwen’s motivation now. He couldn’t trust her to help him and not also help her family.

Gwen could be your family. He scowled at the wayward thought, scowled further when Doubt chimed in.

You don’t deserve her. Not now. Maybe not even before. She wouldn’t want you anyway, so this is moot.

“Shut up,” he muttered.

Kane flicked him a glance. “Your demon giving you trouble?”


“So what are we going to do about the current situation? It’s just the three of us.”

“We’ve fought with worse odds,” Cameo said, and Sabin cringed. Her voice always had that effect on him. Strangely, though, it didn’t affect him as badly as usual this time. Maybe because he was already miserable. How could he have done that to Gwen?

I just wanted to protect her.

Well, you failed.

“No, we haven’t,” he said. “Because this time we have to make sure no kids get hurt in the fray.”

Her finger flexed on her gun. “Well, we have to do something. We can’t leave them out there unfettered.”

Sabin studied the melee again. Just as crowded, just as dangerous. Those kids…shit. They complicated everything. Decision time. “Okay. Here’s what we’re gonna do. Split up, head in different directions, stay in the shadows, damn it, and take out the adults one by one. Kill on sight. Just…don’t get yourselves killed. Do me a favor and—” His words stopped abruptly, his gaze slamming into the camo-clad Hunters stuffing two unconscious men into their van at the end of the street. Several of the kids surrounded them, forming a wall.

Cameo followed the line of his gaze and gasped. “Is that…”

The chunk of earth underneath Kane split, and he fell into the widening hole. “Aeron and Paris? Shit. Yes. That’s them.”

Sabin cursed under his breath. “New plan. Kill as many of the men around them as possible, and I’ll take care of the kids. If you can, drag Aeron and Paris back to the fortress and I’ll meet you there.”


GWEN HAD LOCKED her sisters up. I’m as bad as Sabin.

She was inside Torin’s room, standing behind him, arms crossed over her chest. He kept his back to her, as if he didn’t have to worry about her approaching. He didn’t. But at the very least, he should have feared a bullet in the brain. She was a Harpy, after all.“I think I just made the biggest mistake of my life and it’s too late to fix it.” If her sisters forgave her, and if she forgave Sabin, they’d still want to punish her for her actions. Oh, who was she kidding? Everyone she loved—well, kind of liked, sometimes, in Sabin’s case—was stubborn to their very cores. There’d be no forgiveness.

Her gaze landed on one of the monitors, the one that showed her sisters. They were pacing, cursing and beating at the bars, to no avail. They were fast healers, so she had perhaps a few days before they were able to bust out. And punish her for betraying them, of course. Gwen’s chest constricted.

Taliyah had put up the greatest fight, and Gwen still bore the wounds. There were multiple gashes riding her ribs and neck. She couldn’t believe she’d actually beaten them, even weakened as they’d been. All her life, they’d been the pinnacle she’d longed to reach. Stronger, prettier, smarter. Better. She’d constantly compared herself to them and always came up lacking.

Now, here she was, a warrior to the core. If she succeeded with the Hunters, would they be proud of her?

On one of the other monitors, Maddox and William paced, both weighed down with too many weapons to count. Ashlyn and Danika were behind them, wringing their hands.

“I’m worried,” Danika could be heard saying. “The dream I had last night…I saw Reyes trapped in a dark box, his demon screaming and screaming and screaming for release.”

Ashlyn rubbed her rounded belly, her features pale. “Maybe we should travel to Chicago. I can listen, learn whether Hunters have hidden them and where.”

“No,” Maddox said.

“Good idea,” Danika said, speaking over him. “But what about what Torin told us? Hunters are out there in Buda even now.”

“Better head into town,” Torin suddenly said, drawing her attention from the monitors, his voice no longer dryly amused. “Just got a text from Sabin. Aeron and Paris are injured and being stuffed inside a van, Hunters are swarming and Sabin’s about to initiate battle.”

Gwen’s stomach twisted painfully. “Where are they?”

“I’ve got a tracker in Sabin’s cell and it’s showing his location as two miles north of here. Head out the back door and down the hill. Don’t take any turns and you’ll run right into him.”

“Thanks.” She needed weapons. Lots and lots of weapons. An image of the chest in Sabin’s closet filled her mind. Perfect! She spun on her heel, meaning to stalk out of Torin’s bedroom.

“Oh, and Gwen.”

She turned, faced him.

He opened a map of the surrounding forest on the far computer screen, a red line highlighting the way. “There are traps here, here and here, so be careful as you descend or you’ll be blindsided.”

“Thank you.” With another sigh, she raced to Sabin’s bedroom. The chest was no longer locked, thanks to her sisters, and nearly picked clean. There was only a gun and a knife. She took both. There’d been no time to train with a semiautomatic yet, but pointing and shooting didn’t sound too difficult.

“Here goes,” she muttered, wings fluttering frantically. Out of the fortress and down the hill she raced, not even glancing at the SUV parked in back. In Harpy form, she could get there faster.

The two-mile trek took her less than a minute to make. And it only took that long because she had to dodge the Lords’ booby traps. The town was bursting with pedestrians. Thankfully, blur that she was, no one had spotted her yet. Some felt her, though, looking confused as she breezed by and wind caressed them.

Once she reached her destination she continued moving swiftly, eyes drinking in the scene. A group of military types surrounded an open van. As Torin had said, there were two unconscious men lying inside. Three guards crouched beside them, guns at the ready, smoke wafting from their barrels.

There was not a driver in front. Odd, she thought, until she realized Kane was behind a building and killing anyone who approached the wheel. The front glass was already shattered, blood dripping from the wheel. Four bodies were sprawled outside the open door.

When a Hunter approached him, Kane simply switched locations and hid, keeping his gun trained on the van.

Where was Sabin?

Why weren’t humans screaming?

Even as she questioned herself, her gaze fell on a young girl who had her arms outstretched. A soft voice whispered through Gwen’s mind: Stay calm. Go home. Forget that you came into town. Forget what you saw.

That beguiling voice made Gwen want to do as it suggested, the memories already fading, her body already spinning toward the fortress. Perhaps she would have obeyed completely if not for her Harpy. The dark side of her nature squawked and clawed inside her mind, drowning out the voice, reminding her of her purpose.

What should I do? And what was up with all the kids she was suddenly seeing? One of them, a little boy, was moving through the town almost as fast as Gwen was. Only reason she saw him was that he left a slight trail of light in his wake. He was obviously searching for the Lords, and when he spotted one—Cameo, this time—he stopped and began to yell.

Frowning, clearly reluctant to hurt him, Cameo grabbed the boy and pinched his carotid. He went down like a brick. Sweat ran down her face, along her chest, soaking her T-shirt to her body. Gwen had never seen the female warrior so upset and tired.

But at least one question had been answered. The kids were obviously helping the Hunters.

There was an infuriated growl behind her. “Come out, come out wherever you are. You can’t beat us, and you can’t call for reinforcements. We’ve got your friends. You’ve never been more ripe for the plucking.”

Gwen spun, but another voice called out, “Why don’t you give yourselves up, save yourselves the humiliation of failing?”

“You claim you’re not evil—well, now’s the time to prove it! Turn yourselves over to us and give us the girl. Let us find a way to remove the demons from your bodies. Help us return the world to what it once was—good and right and pure.”

“Maybe beg us for forgiveness, too,” a male sneered. “Had you been locked up as intended, sickness would never have been introduced into the world and my son would still be alive.”

Wow, Gwen mused. Hunters really were fanatics. As if the Lords were responsible for all of the world’s evil. Humans had free will. Hunters, too. They’d chosen to lock Gwen up. They’d chosen to rape females of the otherworld. That made the Hunters evil—and unworthy of mercy.

Someone screamed, drawing Gwen’s attention. Her eyes widened when she saw Sabin dance through a mass of men, two daggers clutched in his hands. His arms moved gracefully, slicing through humans with lethal procession. One by one they fell around him.

Nearly every inch of his clothes was bright crimson, as though his entire body was cut up. Hopefully, that was not the case. Hopefully, he wore his enemy’s blood.

Gwen felt the now familiar surge of her Harpy taking over, mind and body, nothing holding it back. At first, she experienced her instinctive fear. Then the fear faded. I can do this. I will do this. Her vision tunneled to red and black, and her mouth watered for a taste of that sweet red nectar. Her hands itched to hurt…maim.

Just before she gave over completely, she thought: Please don’t hurt Sabin or his friends. Please don’t hurt the children. Please take as many as you can to the fortress and lock them up. That’s what Sabin would want.