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Jude curses as he gets stuck out in a newly made opening, and he dives for the coverage provided by the thickly vined trees.

But the rain catches up too quick, passing through me as I shout a warning to them.

Ezekiel dives to the same broken hole Kai and Gage fell to, but Jude is swallowed up by the earth much farther away. I zap myself to him, landing beside him as he roars in pain, his back arching as agony steals every feature and twists him in knots while the merciless rain pelts him.

I turn whole, not feeling whatever excruciatingly painful thing he is feeling. The rain slaps against me, pounding relentlessly, and I grab his arms, dragging him over to a small cave. The forest has been full of them, but I don’t actually think we’re in the forest right now. It’s more like we’re under it with massive openings over us, exposing us to the surface.

Roots are sticking down all over in this underground world with thousands of large cave holes that I hope aren’t occupied with monsters the same size.

The rain pours through the openings that lead back up the large drop to where the forest is, but at least I have Jude sheltered from it now.

Jude is shivering violently, and I hate to leave him, but I have to make sure the others are alive and okay before I focus on what’s going on.

“Are you okay? Can I go check on them?” I ask in a panic, even though I can sense all three nearby when I go phantom.

“Go,” he bites out. “Check on them.”

I vanish, feeling sick about it as I zap myself to the others.

Ezekiel is staring down at his arm, cursing as he makes a frustrated and pained sound. I dive to him, looking around for the other two, wondering why Ezekiel is just in his boxers.

“What happened?” I ask on a gasp when I see his arm.

It looks and smells like decay, and it’s visibly spreading through the veins.

Kai and Gage jog over, both of them also down to their boxers, and Kai answers.

“Black ice. If it penetrates the skin, it starts freezing you with certain death from the inside out. It spreads fucking fast too,” Kai growls.

Gage starts looking around him. “We need something to cut away the arm.”

My hands reach for Ezekiel’s arm on instinct, and I turn whole when phantom hands don’t seem to be doing much.

“Don’t!” they all shout at once.

Immediately, I flinch at the burning cold on his skin, but the pain is brief, and his relief is instant as his eyes flake gold again, his arm warming under my touch.

Then my stomach roils when I think of how violently Jude was shaking.

“I have to go,” I gasp, zapping back to Jude.

My stomach completely drops when I get back to see him practically convulsing as he wheezes in pain. His neck has an icy, veiny black coloring, as he continues to shake violently on the ground.

I turn whole and dive to him, ripping open his shirt to reveal his entire torso. The decay is spreading quickly, and it’s so much worse than Ezekiel’s was.

With panicked, shaky hands, I fumble with his belt before getting it off, then grab his pants and boxers, jerking them both down to his ankles.

The decaying process goes all the way down to his knees, and it’s spreading lower.

He starts choking when it reaches the top of his throat, and I strip out of my Devil dress, whipping it over my head before I drop to him. Putting as much of my skin against his as I can, I press my cheek to his, hoping this works as fast on an area five times the size of what Ezekiel had.

The burning cold is so much harsher than it was with E, but I grit through it, telling myself in mantra that it’s working. That it has to be working. I’m too terrified to look and see, though.

I don’t speak, unable to find any words that sound soothing enough for this situation. It isn’t until I feel his shaking start to slow down, that I finally look up, finding his eyes already on me.

His teeth chatter, even as his jaw tics.

“If it’s not infecting you, don’t move. It’s working,” he manages to say through a great deal of strain.

I tuck my head back under his chin, sliding my hands over his shoulders that still feel cool, even though the darker color seems to have faded.

After a few more minutes, the shaking stops completely, and he releases a breath that sounds as though it’s been held for ages.

His arms slide around me, almost hugging me, while the rain ceases as abruptly as it began. The neon blue light flickers, losing some of its energy, but still lingering enough to offer us light from the roots above.

Lazily, his fingers toy with the garter straps holding up my red fishnet stockings. At this particular moment, they seem very inappropriate.

I lift up, my eyes meeting his as I cup his face in my hands, studying him to make sure he’s not still in pain. His hands tighten on my ass when my gaze flicks to his lips.

“Ghost Girl! Jude!” We hear Ezekiel shouting.

“Over here,” I say, going phantom and zapping myself up to the forest entry nearest to us.

I see Ezekiel running toward me, still illuminated by the lingering neon blue ooze.

Kai is right behind him.

Both of them stumble to a halt and rake their eyes over my barely dressed appearance. I’m only wearing the lacy panties, the fishnets hooked to the garter belt, and the matching red heels.

It’s definitely inappropriate now.

“Jude is down below, but I think he’s healed. Just a little tired from almost dying and all. Again. Seems to happen a lot with you four,” I say, reminding them this is a time for action as I fashion a more appropriate outfit.

They blink once my bare breasts are covered.

“Only since you came around,” Ezekiel tells me before he winks. “Care to go heal Gage’s leg? A leak sprung above us just before the black ice stopped, and it landed on him before he could get away. We can’t touch it, or it’ll infect us.”

“I’ll go.”

“We’re going to cover as much ground as possible while the black ice residue is glowing. It won’t last long.”

“Go on without us. We’ll catch up. I can find you,” I say before zapping to where I sense Gage.

The second I see the man of the hour, he gives me a tight, pained smile infused with frustration.

“Struggling to catch a break, it seems. Day two is not your day,” I tell him as I kneel down and try not to pay attention to the fact his boxers are now gone.

The gray icy pattern is spreading from his knee, and is high on his thigh. Trying to cover as much as possible all at once, I lose my new pants before becoming whole.

Gage’s eyes widen marginally, and his nostrils flare as I sit down on him in nothing but a corset. Because while I’m healing him, I’m going to be as sexy as possible just to be an ass.

I almost died for him, and still didn’t receive gratitude. Kai set the bar for showing gratitude a little high.

I straddle his lap, sitting back enough to where the bottom of my thigh covers the top of his. The sting of burning ice is once again enough to make me flinch, but it’s dulled almost immediately.

Gage’s hands go to my hips as we sit here, waiting on him to completely heal. His gaze dips to where he grows harder between us, his very aroused cock teasing me with its proximity.

Slowly, his hands travel up my back and back down to my hips.

“I think you’re healed,” I say a little too quietly.

When I start to get up, he tightens his grip on my hips and jerks me forward until my chest smashes against his, and his cock rubs against my slit in the most tormenting tease in history.

I shiver embarrassingly dramatic, and he smirks as I press even closer.

“You were going to go into that lake with me, weren’t you?” he asks seriously, his eyes searching mine.

I shrug and roll my eyes as though it wasn’t quite the big deal he’s making it. I wanted gratitude, but now I think it might make me uncomfortable if he actually gives it to me in such an intense manner.

“You were whole. It would have probably killed you too,” he goes on, still studying me like he’s expecting to see something.

“I thought it’d be a terrible way to die. It’d be even worse to have to do it alone. I just didn’t want you to be alone. Can we go now? We’re already going to have to run to catch up.”

I don’t even try to get up, because his fingers dig in harder on my sides. When his gaze dips to my lips, I decide not to delay the inevitable and lose the moment like I did with Jude. He meets me halfway, and our lips clash almost violently.

He groans into my mouth like he’s never done before, and he flips me to my back so fast that I’m left a little dizzied from the abrupt swap.

He settles himself between my legs, only teasing me more as he kisses me harder and the tip of his cock toys with the entrance of my evil vagina.

But I know he’s not going to have sex with me. None of them will cross that line until they’re sure my vagina isn’t going to destroy them.

Really, they’re so dramatic. I’m apparently just as dramatic, because I’ve started fretting about it as well.

That glorious tongue ring of his wreaks havoc on my fantasies, spicing them up as I imagine how good it would feel lower. The way I’ve witnessed him do for other women.

“I hate to point out the obvious,” I say when he breaks the kiss and pulls his hips away, kissing a heated path down my throat, “but your timing is positively terrible.”

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