“Keeping me here is harming me. You said you’d free me.”

“I did free you. From the pyramid.” He shrugged, sheepish. “And as long as you’re uninjured physically, I consider you unharmed.” A sigh slipped from him. “Is it really so bad, being around me?”

Her lips pressed into a thin line.

Ouch. “Doesn’t matter. You’re gonna have to get used to me. The two of us will be spending a lot of time together.”

“But why? You said I could be useful; I haven’t forgotten that. What I don’t understand is what you think I can do.”

Why not tell her everything? he thought. It could soften her toward him and his cause. Or it could frighten her even more and finally send her running. Would he be able to stop her?

Not knowing what he wanted of her had to be torture, though, and she’d suffered enough. “I’ll supply you with any piece of information you want,” he said. “If you eat.”

“No. I—I can’t.”

Sabin lifted the plate, circled it around. She followed every movement as though entranced. Sure that he had her attention, he lifted one of the Twinkies and bit into half.

“Can’t,” she said again, though she sounded exactly as she looked: entranced.

He swallowed before licking away any remaining cream. “See. Still alive. No poison.”

Hesitantly, as though she simply couldn’t help herself any longer, Gwen reached out. Sabin placed the dessert in her hand, and she immediately snatched it to her chest. Several minutes ticked by in silence, and she did nothing but eye him warily.

“So this food is payment for listening to you?” she asked.

“No.” He would not allow her to think bribery was acceptable. “I just want you healthy.”

“Oh,” she said, clearly disappointed.

Why disappointment?

Doubt nearly danced with the urge to crawl out of Sabin’s head and into Gwen’s. Much longer, and he’d lose his hold. One wrong suggestion from the demon, however, and Sabin knew she would throw the tiny morsel to the ground.

Eat it, he projected. Please eat it. It wasn’t the most nutritious of snacks, but at this point he would have been happy if she’d eaten a pile of sand.

Finally, she lifted the golden cake and tentatively nibbled on the edge. Those long, dark lashes closed, and a tiny smile appeared. Absolute ecstasy radiated from her—the kind that usually arrived on the heels of an orgasm.

His body reacted instantly, every muscle hardening. His heartbeat picked up speed; his palms itched to touch. My gods, she’s lovely. Quite possibly the most exquisite thing he’d ever beheld, all carnal pleasure and blissful decadence.

The rest of the cake was inside her mouth a second later, her cheeks puffing with its mass. As she chewed, she reached out, silently commanding him to give her another. He did so without hesitation.

“Shall I take half?” he asked before letting go.

Black began to swirl in her eyes, obliterating gold.

Maybe not. He raised his hands, palms out, and she stuffed the second cake into her mouth. The black faded, the gold returning. Crumbs fell from the corner of her lips.

“Thirsty?” He held up the juice box.

Again she reached out, fingers waving him to hurry.

Within seconds, every drop of juice was gone.

“Slow down, or you’ll make yourself sick.”

Just like that, the black returned to her irises. At least it didn’t bleed into the whites as it had moments before she’d slain the Hunter. Sabin pushed the plate to her, and she polished off the rest of the food.

When she finished, she settled back into the tent, that contented smile making another appearance. Rich pink painted her cheeks. And before his eyes, her body filled out. Her breasts overflowed. Her waist and hips flared perfectly, sinfully. His cock, still hard and aching, twitched in response.

Stop. Now. His erection would probably terrify her, so he remained in the crouch, his knees together, his chest hunched.

What if she liked it? What if she asked you to close the distance and kiss her? Touch her?

Zip it.

But then Gwen began to pale. Her smile fell, becoming a frown.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

Without a word, she jerked up the bottom tent flap, leaned outside and retched, heaving, every drop and crumb leaving her. Sighing, he pushed to his feet and gathered a rag. After soaking it with the contents of a water bottle, he shoved it into her fingers. She eased the rest of the way into the tent and wiped her mouth with a trembling hand.

“Knew better,” she mumbled, returning to her former position. Arms locked around her legs, holding them to her chest.

Knew better than to eat too quickly? Well, yeah. ’Cause he’d warned her.

Sabin cleared his throat and decided to feed her again once her stomach had settled. For now, they could finish their conversation. After all, she’d lived up to her side of the bargain. She had eaten.

“You asked what I needed you to do. Well, I need your help finding and killing the men responsible for your…treatment.” Tread carefully. Don’t rouse her dark side with painful memories. But there was no way around it. “The others, they told us what had been done. The fertility drugs, the rapes. How there were other women once locked in those cages. Women who were raped as well, their babies taken away from them. A few seemed to think this has been going on for years already.”

Gwen’s back was pressed against the sand-colored tent flaps, yet she tried to scoot backward, as though she needed to escape from his words and the images they evoked.

Sabin himself had cringed, hearing the stories. He might be half demon, but he had never done anything as terrible as what had been done to the women in that cavern.

“Those men are vile,” he said. “They need to be destroyed.”

“Yes.” One of her arms fell from her legs, and she drew little circles in the dirt beside her hip. “But I…wasn’t.” The words were so softly spoken, he had to strain to hear them.

“You weren’t, what? Raped?”

Nibbling on her bottom lip—a nervous habit of hers?—she shook her head. “He was too afraid to open my cage, so he left me alone. Physically, at least. He…took the others in front of me.” There was guilt in her tone.

Ah. She felt responsible.

Sabin felt only relief. The thought of this fae-like creature being held down, her legs pried apart while she cried and begged for mercy, mercy that would never have been given…He anchored his hands on his thighs, his nails elongating into claws and cutting past fatigues.

When he returned to Budapest, the Hunters in his dungeon would suffer untold agonies, he thought for the thousandth time. He’d tortured men before, considered it a necessary part of war, but this time he would truly enjoy it.

“Why did he keep you, then, if he was afraid of you?”

“Because he hadn’t given up hope that the right drugs would make me biddable.”

Blood beaded where claw met skin. She’d lived in terror, he was sure, of that very thing happening. “You can avenge yourself, Gwen. You can avenge the other women. I can help you.”

Her lashes lifted, the sand she played with clearly forgotten, and then those amber orbs were probing all the way to his soul. “So can you. Avenge us, I mean. Obviously those men did something to you. You came here to fight them, didn’t you?”

“Yes, they did something to me and mine, and yes, I came here to fight them. That doesn’t mean I can destroy them on my own.” Otherwise, he would have done so by now.

“What did they do to you?”

“They murdered my best friend. And they hope to murder everyone else I hold dear, all because they believe the lies of their leader. I’ve been trying to obliterate them for centuries,” he admitted. The fact that the Hunters continued to thrive was like a dagger in his side. “But I kill one, and five more take his place.”

When she didn’t blink at the word centuries, he realized she knew he, too, was immortal. But did she know what he was?

No way she’s guessed. Like most every other woman in your life, she would despise what you are. How could she not? And look at her now. So sweet, so gentle. No evidence of hatred. Yet. The last emerged in a singsong.

Doubt. His constant companion. His cross to bear.

“How do I know you aren’t one of them?” she demanded. “How do I know this isn’t simply another way to try and gain my cooperation? I’ll help you fight your enemy and you’ll rape me. I’ll get pregnant, and you’ll steal the child from me.”

Doubts. Courtesy of his demon?

Before he could think up a reply, she added tightly, “I watched you fight those men. You hurt them, claim to hate them, but you didn’t kill them. You let them live. That isn’t the action of a warrior who wants to annihilate his enemy.”

As she spoke, an idea sprouted. A way to prove himself. “And if we’d killed them, you would have been convinced of our hate for them?”

More nibbling on that lush bottom lip. Her teeth were white and straight and a little sharper than a human’s. Kissing her would probably draw blood, but part of him suspected every drop would be worth it. “I—maybe.”

Maybe was better than nothing. “Lucien,” he called without removing his attention from her.

Her eyes widened, and again she tried to scoot back. “What are you doing? Don’t—”

Lucien stalked through the front flaps, glancing between them expectantly. “Yes?”

“Bring me a prisoner from Buda. I don’t care which.”

Lucien’s brow furrowed in curiosity, but he didn’t reply. He simply disappeared.

“I can’t help you, Sabin,” Gwen said, sounding agonized. Imploring him to understand. “I really can’t. There’s no reason to do whatever it is you’re about to do. I shouldn’t have yelled at you the way I did. All right? I admit it. I shouldn’t have insulted you with my doubts. But I seriously can’t fight anyone. I freeze up when I’m scared. And then I black out. When I wake up, everyone around me is dead.” She gulped, squeezed her eyes shut for several seconds. “Once I start killing, I can’t stop. That’s not the kind of soldier you can rely on.”