Assuming she would be able to get any today, and not just on account of her noisy neighbors.

“So I’m going to head back home now.” She couldn’t quite meet his eyes and had to force a smile. “Thanks for this—”

“I’m glad you came to see me. It was unexpected—I wish I’d known you were coming.”

“I—ah… I didn’t know this was your club, actually. Emile and I came here to calm down his girlfriend.”

Trez’s eyebrows lifted. “Emile. Has a girlfriend?”

* * *

Well, wasn’t this a happy piece of news, Trez thought. For that waiter. Because if the sonofabitch human was taken? It was going to dramatically improve his chances of seeing his next birthday.

“Yes, he’s dating a woman I work with.” Therese smoothed back the hair that was flowing over her shoulders. “Looks like I lost my clip, too.” She shook her head. “Anyway, yes, he’s with the dreaded Liza—although to be fair, I’m sure the girl’s mother probably loves her.”

“Is she giving you problems?”

Is she a problem I can solve for you, he thought to himself.

“No, not like you’re inferring. She’s just jealous.”

“Does she have reason to be?” Maybe his optimism was misplaced.

“No.” Those eyes, those beautiful pale eyes of hers, swung up and hung onto his stare. “There is no reason for her to be worried about me. Not on my end, at any rate. And I’ve made this clear to Emile.”

Trez tried to keep his smile to himself. Failed miserably. “Well.”

As Therese flushed, she went back to looking at the personal effects that had been thrown on the table. “Yeah, so the plan was for him and me to come talk to her. Calm her down. She was drunk and… whatever. It’s not my problem.”

He was more than happy to change the subject. “So you were going to move? Thanks to that tip?”

And P.S., there was only one blond male that Trez could think of who would eat so much that a security deposit’s worth of a tip would be warranted.

“Yup, I was going to ask you about the rental.”

“It’s still available,” he rushed to point out.

“And I’m broke again.” Therese took a defeated breath, but she didn’t wallow in any kind of poor-me. “It’s just a setback, though. A delay. It’ll happen.”

She put her purse on the table and reached inside to unzip a pocket. Taking out a cell phone that was not turned on, she shook her head. “At least they didn’t get this. Maybe because it’s dead. Or they just missed it.”

“You out of battery? Would you like to charge it in my office?”

“Nah, this is my old one. I don’t turn it on.”

When she glanced at the door, he felt the way he had when they’d been talking back at the restaurant. There was something about her leaving that always made him antsy—as if, maybe, he would never see her again.

As if, maybe, he would lose her permanently. Again.

This is my queen, he thought to himself. Back to me… by some kind of miracle.

“I’m glad I am your dream,” he said softly.

His female’s eyes returned to his and she opened her mouth to say something. Then closed it.

As the silenced stretched out between them, he knew what she wanted. And he wanted to give it to her. For hours. For whole nights and days.

Stepping into her body, he put his arm around the small of her back and drew her against his hard muscle. He was erect again. Desperate again. But there was no chance of doing anything about it. There was too much going on on the far side of the door—and then there was Xhex and her miss-nothing symphath shit.

Trez lowered his mouth, but stopped with a mere half inch between them. “I want to be in you again.”

Her sigh was as lovely as she was. “When?”

Now! Fucking now! his libido roared. NOWNOWNOW—

“Nightfall tomorrow. I’ll come to you at the rooming house.”

“I have to work.”

“You can be late.”

Therese shook her head. “I can’t.”

“Then after your shift is over. I’ll come and get you.”

“Okay.” She reached up to his nape and put her breasts to his chest. “It’s a date.”

“And I’ll find us some proper privacy.”

“I don’t know where this is going,” she whispered.

“Yes, you do. And so do I.”

They were talking quickly, their sentences bumping into each other’s, as if she worried they would lose out on the future in the same way he did.

Trez sealed her mouth with a kiss that took him right back to when they’d been joined, so rushed, so hasty, so raw on the floor of the hidden passageway. And the next thing he knew, he put her on the corner of the table, other people’s crap hitting the floor as his hands went to places that would get them into a compromising situation quick.

Places like zippers.

Trez cursed against her lips. “I need to stop before I can’t.”

“Me, too. This is crazy.”

Getting his body to pay attention to commands was not the easiest thing he’d ever done, but he eventually managed to peel himself away. The re-tuck he had to pull was more like putting a two-by-four in a flour sack—and the way she looked at him while he was touching himself did not help him cool off in the slightest.

“I’ll see you tomorrow night,” he said in a guttural voice.

“Yes.” She kept her eyes on his arousal. “You will.”


Xhex was scrubbing yet another human’s memories when she saw the door to the interrogation room open and Trez and that female step out. It didn’t take a symphath to know what was on both of their minds. For one thing, Trez had a tent pole in the front of his slacks. For another, that female—Therese—was looking at him under her lashes, as if she were remembering something the two of them had done, and not as in reading the paper.

More like Netflix and Chilling—without the Netflix or the chill.

It was unlikely that kind of thing had happened in that room just now, however. For one, they hadn’t been alone very long, and Xhex was willing to bet her boss worked fast with the females, but not that fast. For another, they were carrying each other’s scents when she had met up with them as they’d come out from the hidden passageway.

So it had already been a done deal.

Although that wasn’t even the interesting part.

Narrowing her eyes, Xhex focused on the female—and not just because she was a dead ringer for Selena.

Yup. She hadn’t been wrong. Therese had an extremely unusual grid.

As a symphath, Xhex was able to read the emotions of other people, sensing shifts in feelings and internal orientations along a three-dimensional grid pattern, the highs and lows plotted along axes. Everyone had such a superstructure. Doggen, regular vampires, Shadows—even symphaths, although most of Xhex and Rehv’s kind could hide their structures from others of the subspecies. What was impossible—or should have been impossible—was for an individual to have two grids. In fact, Xhex had never seen such as thing…

Until she had met John Matthew, her hellren.

He had what was a bog-standard grid, just like everyone else, but there was something behind it, a shadow superstructure. It was like a mirror image of the primary grid, and the emotions were always plotted the same on both, the two working not in concert but identically.

To this night, Xhex had no idea what it meant.

At least not for sure.

She had her suspicions, however, ones that were too private and personal for her to share with anybody except John, but also ones that were too shattering for her to share with him. The truth was, she had started to wonder whether John was more connected with his father, Darius, than just on a sire/son basis. Except that was impossible, right? Reincarnation didn’t happen.

Really. It didn’t…

Yeah, except how else would anyone reconcile an identical copy of Trez’s dead shellan—who had a grid like that?

“I don’t want to hear it, okay.”

At the sound of the terse male voice, she didn’t bother shifting her eyes away from the female who was walking out of the club. “Where did you meet her?”

“I’m not talking about her.”

“She looks like Selena.”

“Really,” he groused. “I hadn’t noticed. And I am not—”

“I think she’s Selena.”

As he froze where he stood, she wanted to slap herself. The guy was broken by grief, and therefore primed to do things that were not in his best interest with a female who looked like that. In spite of the grid issue. Or maybe because of it.

Xhex shook her head. “I didn’t mean that—”

“What do you see?” he demanded. He took her arm in a hard grip. “Xhex, what do you know?”

The sense that they were being watched made her glance around—and yes, there it was. In the far corner of the club, a dense shadow that couldn’t be explained by any objects blocking any of the light. But it wasn’t the Omega. It was not evil. It wasn’t even a shadow.

It was an optical illusion thrown up so someone standing behind it was not seen.

And she had a feeling who it was.

And why they were here.

An abrupt sense of peacefulness came over her.

“What do you see?” Trez put her face in his. “Tell me.”

The way the male’s voice broke, the desperation in his face, the painful cast of his eyes, made Xhex abruptly hug him. How could she not? His suffering had been indescribable, but the end was in sight. She knew this without a doubt.

Holding him close, Xhex said in his ear, “It’s going to be okay.”

“What is?”

As she eased back from her old friend, from her dear friend, she reached up to his face. “All is as it should be.”