Only thing she’d taken from him was clothing. His clothing. A camouflage tee and military fatigues. They bagged on her, even though she’d rolled the arms, waist and legs, but there wasn’t a female who’d ever looked better. With that wild fall of strawberry curls…those take-me-to-bed lips…she was utter perfection. And knowing the material she wore had once touched his body…

I need to end my self-imposed celibacy. Soon.

The moment he returned to Buda, that’s what he’d do. Find a willing woman who wanted only a good time and, well, show her a good time. No one would get hurt because he wouldn’t be sticking around. But maybe then his head would clear and he’d figure out how to deal with Gwen.

Something else that bothered him was the way Gwen had planted herself in the corner and watched him no matter who entered his tent. Him. As if he were the biggest threat to her now. He’d snapped at her that day in the cavern, yeah, telling her not to touch him, but he’d also ensured that she remained on her feet on the trek through the desert to set up camp. He’d stayed with her, guarded her while the other warriors went back to the pyramid to search for anything they might have missed the first go-round. Did he really deserve the death glares?


Shut up, Doubt! I don’t need your opinions.

Don’t know why you care what she thinks. You’ve never been good for women, now have you? Funny that I now need to remind you about Darla.

Crouched on the sandy floor, Sabin closed the lid of his weapon case with a forceful snap, locked it and turned to the bag of food he’d had Paris bring him.

Darla, Darla, Darla, the demon sang.

“Like I said, you can shut the hell up, you dirty piece of shit. I’ve had all of you I can take.”

Gwen, still in the far corner, jerked as though he’d screamed. “But I didn’t say anything.”

He’d lived among mortals for a long time and had trained himself to converse with Doubt inside his head. That he’d forgotten his training now, in the presence of this skittish yet deadly woman…mortifying.

“I wasn’t speaking to you,” he muttered.

Paler than usual, she drew her arms around her middle. “Then to whom were you speaking? We’re alone.”

He didn’t answer. Couldn’t. Not without lying. Since Doubt’s inability to lie had long ago spread to Sabin, he had to stick to the truth, evade, or he’d be sleeping for the next few days.

Thankfully, Gwen didn’t press the issue. “I want to go home,” she said softly.

“I know.”

Yesterday, Paris had questioned all the freed women about their confinement. They’d indeed been kidnapped, raped, impregnated and told their babies would be taken from them and trained to be defenders against evil. Afterward, Lucien had flashed all but Gwen—who had told Paris nothing—to their families, who would hopefully hide them from Hunters in the peace and comfort that had been denied them during their captivity.

Gwen had asked to be taken to a deserted stretch of ice in Alaska, of all places. Lucien had reached out to take her hand, despite her failure to cooperate, and Sabin had stepped between them.

“Like I said in the cavern, she stays with me,” he’d said.

Gwen had gasped. “No! I want to go.”

“Sorry. Not gonna happen.” He’d refused to face her, afraid he’d cave and release her despite the fact that her strength, speed and savagery could win him this war, thereby saving his friends.

By gods, he’d dreamed of an end, a victorious end, for too many years to count; he couldn’t put Gwen’s needs and wants before that victory.

Too badly did he want Galen, the person he hated most in this world, defeated and imprisoned.

Galen, the once forgotten Lord, was the very man who had convinced the warriors to help steal and open Pandora’s box. He was also the man who had secretly planned to kill them all, then capture the demons they’d freed, becoming a hero in the eyes of the gods. But things hadn’t worked out as the bastard hoped, and he’d been cursed to house a demon—Hope—right alongside the other warriors.

If only that had been the end of things. But as further punishment, they’d all been kicked out of the heavens. Galen, still determined to destroy the men who’d called him friend, had quickly assembled an army of outraged mortals, the Hunters, and this endless blood feud had erupted. A feud that only intensified with every year that passed. If Gwen could aid Sabin in even the smallest way, she was too valuable to release. She, however, thought differently.

“Please,” she had begged. “Please.”

“I’ll take you home one day, but not now,” he’d told her. “You could be useful to us, to our cause.”

“I don’t want to help with any cause. I just want to go home.”

“Sorry. Like I said, it’s not gonna happen any time soon.”

“Bastard,” she’d muttered. Then she’d frozen, as if she hadn’t meant to say that aloud and now thought he would launch forward and beat her. When he didn’t, she’d calmed a bit. “So I’ve traded one captor for another, is that it? You promised you wouldn’t harm me.” Soft, so soft. Even sadly resigned, and that had…hurt him. “Just let me go. Please.”

Obviously, the girl was afraid. Of him, his friends. Of herself and her deadly abilities. Otherwise, she would have tried to ditch him or bargained for her release. But not once had she done so. Did she fear what they would do to her if they caught her? Or what she would do to them?

Or, as Doubt liked to whisper in the dark of night, did she have more sinister plans? Was she Bait, a very convincing trap laid by the Hunters? A trap meant to ruin him?

Not possible, he retorted every time. Such timidity couldn’t be faked. The trembling, the refusal even to eat. Which meant her fears, whatever they were, were real. And the more time she spent with him, the more those fears and doubts would grow. They would become all that she knew, all that she thought about. She would question every word out of her mouth, every word out of his mouth. She would question every action.

Sabin sighed. Others here were already questioning his actions, and not because of his demon. At her plea, Lucien’s expression had hardened—a rare thing, for Lucien was always careful to contain his emotions. After ordering Paris to guard her, he’d whisked Sabin to the home they’d rented in Cairo, where they could talk away from the others. Away from Gwen.

A ten-minute argument had ensued. And because flashing always sickened him, causing his stomach to churn, he hadn’t been at his best.

“She’s dangerous,” Lucien had begun.

“She’s strong.”

“She’s a killer.”

“Hello, so are we. Only difference is, she’s better at it than we are.”

Lucien frowned. “How do you know? You’ve only seen her kill one man.”

“And yet you would ban her from our home for that very killing—despite the fact that it was our enemy she killed. Look, Hunters know our faces. They’re always on the lookout for us. But the only ones who knew her are now dead or locked up. She’s our Trojan horse. Our own version of Bait. They’ll welcome her and she’ll slaughter them.”

“Or us,” Lucien had muttered, but Sabin could tell he was considering the point. “She just seems so…fainthearted.”

“I know.”

“Around you, that will only get worse.”

“Again, I know,” he growled.

“Then how can you think to use her as a soldier?”

“Believe me, I’ve weighed the pros and cons. Fainthearted or not, spirit broken down by me or not, she has an innate ability to destroy. We can harness that for our own benefit.”


“She’s coming with us, and that’s that. She’s mine.” He hadn’t wanted to claim her, not that way. He didn’t need another responsibility. Especially a beautiful, apprehensive female he could never hope to possess. But it had been the only way. Lucien, Maddox and Reyes had brought females into their home, therefore they could not deny entrance to his.

He shouldn’t have done that to her, should have just let her go for both their sakes. But as he’d reminded himself already, he’d placed his war with the Hunters above everything else, even his best friend, Baden, keeper of Distrust. Now dead, gone forever. He could make no exceptions for Gwen. She was coming to Budapest, like it or not.

First, though, he was going to feed her.

Crouching a few feet in front of her, putting them at eye level, Sabin began unwrapping Twinkies and unsealing Lunchables. He poked a straw in a juice box. Gods, he missed the home-cooked meals Ashlyn prepared and the gourmet cuisine Anya “borrowed” from Buda’s five-star restaurants.

“Have you ever been inside an airplane?” he asked her.

“Wh-what do you care?” She lifted her chin, yellow fire snapping in her eyes. But that hot gaze wasn’t on him. It was on the food he was spreading on the paper plate beside him.

A show of spirit. He liked it. Definitely preferred it over the stoic acceptance she’d displayed earlier. “I don’t. I simply want to ensure you’re not going to—” Shit. How could he phrase this without reminding her of what she’d done to the Hunter?

“Attack you out of fear,” she finished for him, cheeks heating with embarrassment. “Unlike you, I don’t lie. You take me on a plane that isn’t headed to Alaska and there’s a very good chance you’ll meet my…darker half.” The last words were choked.

His eyes slitted dangerously, his mind caught on the beginning of her speech. He wadded up the plastic wrappers scattered around him and shoved them into the cloth trash bag. “What do you mean, unlike me? I’ve never lied to you.” That he was still conscious proved it.

“You said you meant me no harm.”

A muscle ticked in his jaw. “And I didn’t. Don’t.”