After texting the other Dark-Hunters in New Orleans about what was going on, Sam spent the next eight hours on patrol while keeping in touch intermittently with Chi. Neither of them found anything unusual. Not a single Daimon seemed to be out tonight. The only predators on the street were human and while Sam had chased the ones away she found, they weren’t the biggest threat in the world.

They just thought they were.

How she’d like to feed them to some of the things she’d killed over the centuries. Let them see what a badass really looked like up close and personal. They had no idea how insignificant and weak they really were. A dose of reality might serve them well.

Her phone buzzed. Looking down, she saw it was Chi. She flipped it open and answered.

Chi let out a long sigh. “Still bust. I’m heading back to my house to rest my feet and grab a bite. I’ll catch you later.”

“All right,” Sam said into her phone while she glanced back at the evil moon. A shiver ran down her spine. “See you tomorrow night. Sleep tight and don’t let the Daimons bite.” She hung up the phone and checked the time.

Three A.M. Almost three hours until dawn. On the one hand, Chi was right and they were wasting their time out on the street. On the other…

She just couldn’t let it go.

Something was here and she wanted to beat it into the ground. The only clue to what it might be had come from Dev.

Deciding to question the bear again, Sam headed back to Sanctuary.

It didn’t take long to reach the red brick building where the Sanctuary sign—a dark hill silhouetted by a full moon with a motorcycle parked on it—hung over the doors. A couple of drunken human men staggered out and got into a cab while laughing and joking with each other.

She paused in the shadows to watch Dev leaning against the wall, ignoring them. He had a jacket on with his arms crossed over his chest. A casual observer might think he was catnapping on the job. But Sam recognized that his eyes were at half mast. Still open. Still alert. He was aware of everything around him and while he seemed to be in repose, he was tight and ready to spring into action in a single heartbeat.

Impressive. The warrior in her could appreciate how hard it was to look that relaxed while keeping all senses sharp. But that wasn’t the only thing that impressed her. There was an undeniable aura of power that clung to him. One that told everyone who came into contact with him that he was lethal when crossed. All of his humor aside, Dev was a predator to the core of his soul.

And a nasty one at that. He was the kind who could kill and feel no remorse.

Like her.

A muscle flexed in his sculpted jaw making her wonder if he was hiding a yawn. More than that, the sight of that working muscle sent a shiver of heat through her. She didn’t know why he was so irresistible, yet something in her wanted to walk up to him and rub against that long hard body and feel every inch of it on her naked skin.

If only she could.

There had been times in the past when the loneliness had gotten to her. Times when it outweighed her common sense and she’d given in to that need for companionship…Oh, who was she fooling? Companionship she could do without. It was the raw, animal sex she’d craved.

That was what she really missed.

But each time had been a brutal mistake. Being that close to another person overwhelmed her with their emotions, insecurities, and memories. She saw things from them that she didn’t want to see. Old girlfriends and wives, low self-esteem, narcissistic egos, sick fantasies…

Sex never worked out when you could see straight into someone’s thoughts and hear them.

Even worse, she didn’t like lying to get laid or having to hide her fangs and other nocturnal habits. That was the real reason she’d slept with Ethon. He’d known who and what she was both past and present, and honestly, it’d been nice to be completely open and honest with a lover again.

If only his ego hadn’t taken up half the room….

Not to mention the other things she’d seen. Things about him she’d never suspected that haunted her to this day. Poor Spartan. No one deserved his past. She’d had no idea how bad his human life ate at him too. No wonder even as a Dark-Hunter, he was hell-bent on suicide. As a human he’d loved in a way few people could and in a way no one who knew him now would ever suspect.

How she ached for him.

But the bear wasn’t Ethon. And she wasn’t here to find a bedmate. She was here for information….

Dev felt the hair at the back of his neck lift. Someone was watching him. He could feel it with every animal instinct he possessed. Even though he wanted to go find them, he forced himself to remain perfectly still. Let them think he was completely unaware. If they decided to attack, they’d get the business end of his claws.

At least that was his thought until he caught a scent in the air that made him instantly rock hard.

Samia Savage.

Gah, what was wrong with him that the mere scent of her skin could raise his blood pressure? Probably the fact that she was off-limits to him. The lure of the forbidden fruit. It’d ruined many a man and even more bears.

“I see you, Dark-Hunter.” It was a lie. He had no clue where she was, but to say that he smelled her might offend her. Women could be weird that way.

“I see you too, Bear. Hard to miss since you’re standing under a light.”

She was to his left. Straightening, he pushed himself away from the wall as she walked slowly toward him. Damn if she wasn’t the sexiest thing he’d seen in a long time. The way she moved…

It was criminal.

She had her jacket back on as well as a pair of opaque sunglasses. Even so, he remembered how pretty her eyes had been and it made him wonder what their real color was. All Dark-Hunters had dark brown eyes. No matter what eye color they’d been born with, the moment they were brought back to life, in addition to being extremely light sensitive, their eyes were so dark as to be almost black. If they were ever lucky enough to get their souls back from Artemis, their eye color would revert to their human color and they’d become mortal again.

For some reason, he had an image of Sam with bright green eyes.

You’re being so stupid.

Yeah, he was. He’d never been the romantic kind of guy. It went with that whole half animal thing. Romance was for men who had to beg for women. Something that had never been his problem. Part of the blessing, or curse depending on your viewpoint, of being a shapeshifter was a deep magnetism that caused humans to seek them out and want to pet them. That allure definitely came in handy.

“I thought you’d be home by now,” he said as she neared him. Then he realized how stupid that comment was since he was standing right in front of her motorcycle.

Der…He might as well be wearing a sign that said I’m a moron. Please help me remember where I live. Oh yeah, it’s right behind me.

In my defense it’s late and all the blood has fled from my brain to the central part of my body.

She didn’t comment on his blatant stupidity as she stopped just in front of him and gave him a tight-lipped smile. Those sunglasses kept her eyes shielded from him, but he could sense her gaze on his body like a physical touch and it made him ache for her to brush her hand against his flesh. “I wanted to ask you more questions about your hallucination.”

“Please tell me it’s the one I have where you mistake my body for a popsicle.”

She let out a short laugh. “Where did that come from?”

Easy. The image he had in his head right now of her naked in his bed. “A bear can dream, can’t he?”

“A bear can dream. But those dreams can also get him skinned.”

“Will you be naked when you skin me?”

She shook her head. “Does everything come back to being naked?”

“Not everything. Just when a beautiful woman’s involved and only if I’m really lucky…. Any chance I might get lucky tonight?”

She let out a short “heh” sound. “You sure you’re a bear and not a horn dog?”

He laughed. “Believe it or not, I’m not usually quite this bad.”

“Why don’t I believe you when you tell me that?”

“Probably because I’ve been really bad tonight.” He winked at her. “I’ll stop. You said you have a question that unfortunately does not involve nudity?”

Sam had to force herself to keep a straight face while he continued to tease her. Don’t let your guard down. Men like Dev only wanted a woman for a few hours and then they were done with her.

No matter how cute he was, he was not her type and she was definitely not interested in learning the inner haunts of his mind.

“That Daimon you think you saw…did he say anything to you?”

“Not really. Just asked when we’d reopen.”

“You remember what he looked like?”

He gave her a droll stare before he answered in a flat tone. “Blond and tall.”

Sam rolled her eyes at his description. All Daimons, unless they dyed their hair, which was rare, were blond and tall. “Anything else?”

“He had fangs and dark eyes.”

Like every Daimon she’d ever seen. “You’re really not helpful…. Would you mind if I touched you?”

His right eyebrow shot north before that familiar teasing light came into his blue eyes. “Touch me where?”

“Stop being a perv for three seconds. I just want to see what you saw that day.”

He stepped away from her. “I’m not going to let you into my mind, girl. You might steal my passwords or something.”

“I don’t want your passwords.”

“Uh-huh.” The doubtful expression on his face was actually adorable. “That’s what they all say, then the next thing you know they’re in your bank accounts, stealing money, and using your Facebook account to sporn others and getting you banned for life. No thanks.”


“Porn spam. Don’t get that innocent look like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I know all about you and your Amazon buddies…. I’ve heard the stories. Seen the news and all that. I’m not letting you near my brain such that it is. Last thing I want to do is forget what Ms. February looks like in all her glory. I went to a lot of trouble to memorize that page and I want to keep it.”

Sam wanted to be angry at his ridiculous outburst, but he was too funny about it. “Stop being a baby and give me your hand.”

He took another step away from her. “No.”

“You’re serious?”

“Of course I am. I don’t want you in my head. Last time a woman read my thoughts, I got bitch-slapped so hard, my ears are still ringing from it. And as a guard bear, I need my hearing intact. Could be fatal to lose it.”

“I’m going to bitch-slap you again if you don’t stop being a baby.”

He growled like a caged grizzly. Impressive sound. But she’d once worn shoes made out of the hides of tougher animals than him and that had been before she’d had her Dark-Hunter powers to back her skills.

“I’m not intimidated.”

“You should be. ’Cause that’s the only warning I plan to give.” Dev really didn’t want to do this. He’d never been one to let anyone see inside him. It was intrusive and rude. “I can’t stress enough how much I don’t want you in my mind.”

“What’s in there that you’re so afraid of sharing?”

“My dirty underwear.”

She scoffed as she tried to touch him. “I don’t want that. C’mon, Dev.”

He shied away again. “C’mon Dev nothing. My thoughts are my own and I don’t see you letting me mind meld you.”

She kept trying to touch him, but he was really quick and darted just out of her grasp every time. “That’s ’cause I have nothing to show you that’s important to you. I just want to see what the Daimon looked like. That’s the only thing I’ll take. I promise.”

“Yeah, right. Can you honestly control your powers that well?”

She blushed.

“Ah, see, I knew it. You’re going to go digging in there and I’m going to forget how to do origami or something. Or worse, I’ll start peeing in corners and burping at inappropriate times.”

“Like you don’t do that anyway.”

“Are you profiling me because I’m a guy or a bear?” His tone was highly offended. “Lady, you don’t know me well enough to make that comment and for the record, I have a lot of unbearish habits. I even drink tea in a crappy pink-flowered cup. Have I said how much my sister annoys me?”

She ignored his tirade as she brought him back on task. “It won’t hurt.”

“Yeah, and the flashy thing is just an eye test.”

What in the world was he talking about now? “The what?”

“Flashy thing? Haven’t you ever seen Will Smith in Men in Black?”


He sighed. “You’re so deprived.”

“And you’re so peculiar. Is there anyone else who saw the Daimon who isn’t afraid of me?”

“I’m not afraid of you. I’m afraid of the brain damage you’re going to give me. No offense, but I need my last three working brain cells.”

“I’ve never given anyone brain damage by doing this.”

“Uh-huh.” He wrinkled his nose. “That you know of. Have you done CAT scans on everyone you’ve done this with? No. Do you know whether or not you took out their long-term or short-term memory portions of the brain?”

No, but that really wasn’t an issue. She wasn’t going to radiate him or anything. “Paranoid much?”

“Absolutely. You watch this door for a hundred years and see some of the shit that comes through here. You’d be paranoid too. I don’t want no mojo hocus pocus stirring in my head. If I want to play head games, I’ll download Sudoku on my iPhone.”

Sam held her hands up in surrender. There was no use arguing with someone who was this stubborn. “Fine. I’ll do it without touching you.”

“Ah, now that’s just rude.” He narrowed his gaze on her.

Sam knew he had something in mind and when he spoke again, she gaped at his intentions. “Fine then if that’s what you want. You go digging in my head and I’m going to stand here and undress you with my eyes until you’re buck naked. Just so you know, I’m putting you in a sheer red thong. No bra…maybe a pair of red pasties…no, better yet, strawberry-flavored nipple paint and I’m coating your entire body in honey.”

Sam grimaced. “You’re a male pig.”

“I’m a bearswain and you’re lucky I’m tolerating you to pick through my brain. Last person tried that, I ate their head, and besides, I should get something out of this before you destroy my frontal lobe and make me drool on myself and relearn how to use eating utensils. Have you ever tried doing that when you’re a bear? It wasn’t easy the first time. Last thing I want to do is relearn it at my archaic age.”

She had to roll her eyes again at his unwarranted hysteria. “I don’t think that’s the part of the brain that controls your drool.”

“But you don’t know for sure, now do you? No, you don’t. ’Cause you’re a Daimon necrologist, not a Were-Hunter neurologist. You don’t know what damage you’re going to do until it’s too late and then an I’m-sorry-Dev-I-burned-out-your-brain ain’t worth squat. Probably won’t even understand the apology because you’ll hose my Wernicke’s area of the brain and set me back to infancy.”

Ignoring him, she closed her eyes and reached out to him with her powers. “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t like doing this.”

“For the record, it don’t. But while you’re in there if you happen to see where I lost my nano, let me know. Been looking for it for days now. And the least you could do, Ms. Intrusive, is tell me where to find it.”

He was so strange.

Sam drew a deep breath and while he was distracted, reached out and wrapped her hand in his hair before laying her bare fist on his neck. She laughed triumphantly while he cursed. But she had him now and he couldn’t pull away without losing hair. She had no idea why getting something over on him made her feel so good, but it did.

Until she realized that she wasn’t reading anything from him.


What the…?

It wasn’t possible. She touched someone and they bled out thoughts. But not this time. Dev was completely blank to her.

She had nothing.

He snatched her hand away from his neck and grimaced as he lost some hair. “That was a dirty trick.”

She ignored his anger. “You’re empty.”

“Well, you ain’t so great yourself, lady.”

She shook her head at his offended tone. “No, that’s not what I meant. I can’t read you. At all. It’s like…” Like she was normal.

Not possible. She buried her hand in his soft hair again.

Still nothing.

Dev started to push her away, but two things kept him from it. One, he didn’t want her to snatch out another handful of his hair and two…

She felt really, really good this close to him. The scent of her skin filled his head and all he could see was the image he’d told her he was going to imagine. Every nerve in his body fired as he stared at his own reflection in her sunglasses and saw her naked in front of him. Before he could stop himself, he pulled those sunglasses off and tilted her chin up.

Don’t do it.

Asking him to stop was like asking a rock to swim—an impossible task. His body hungry for her, he dipped his head down and sampled heaven. Her soft lips met his and she breathed into him.

Sam’s senses fired as she tasted the heat of Dev’s kiss. Raw and demanding, he ravished her mouth and left her breathless. But it wasn’t just his kiss that ignited her, it was the fact that she couldn’t feel his emotions while he did it. Hear his thoughts. For one moment and for the first time in over five thousand years, she heard nothing but the beating of her own heart. She felt only her sensations.

Not his. Not even a smidgen.

That reality ripped through her and made her hungrier than she’d ever been before. She could sleep with him and not be haunted by it.

Her heart pounding, she deepened their kiss, wanting to savor every lick and touch the way she’d done when she’d been human.

Dev’s hormones kicked into high gear as she ran her hands over him, pulling him closer and closer…like she wanted to crawl inside him. She reached down between them to cup him in her hand through his jeans. Nothing could have made him hotter. Well, not entirely true. Had they been naked with her on her knees, it would have definitely made him hotter. But this was damn close.

He turned with her and pressed her against the wall. She lifted her legs to wrap them around his waist and squeezed him tight between her strong thighs.

Oh yeah… If they were naked, he’d be in complete ecstasy and right now all he could think about was being inside her.

“Dev! Fight!”

Dev jerked as he heard Colt’s voice over the headset—this time of night, they worked a skeleton crew which meant he and Colt were the sole awake muscle in the bar—the rest of the men were off the clock and most likely asleep. The only other staff in the bar was Aimee and their new human waitress who was the size of an emaciated twelve-year-old. Since he didn’t know if the threat was human or preternatural, he couldn’t ignore the call.

Damn it. He could kill them for the crappy timing.

He met Sam’s startled gaze. “Sorry, love. Gotta go.”

She nodded as her legs fell away and she freed him.

Whoever had done this, they better be dying ’cause if they weren’t, they would be. Grinding his teeth in frustration, he dodged through the doors to head for the ruckus.

Sam cursed in frustration as she took off after him to see what was going on.

Okay, I’m really not this big a slut. It’d just been so long since she’d touched a man without having to deal with his issues, that her hormones had swallowed her common sense. And honestly, she wanted him back for another round….

One that lasted a whole lot longer than three minutes.

Trying not to think about that, she went to help with whatever was happening.

Sure enough, there was a massive fight in the bar between two biker humans. Dev grabbed the biggest one and pulled him away from the smaller man he’d been pummeling while another shapeshifter male got between the combatants.

The bigger human slugged Dev hard across his face.

Dev didn’t even flinch as he grabbed the human by the shirt and shoved him back. “Boy, you knock on the devil’s door and he will head slam you through the wall.”

“Fuck you.” He moved to strike Dev again.

Dev ducked, spun the man around, and threw him so hard into the wall that his head left a dent in the Sheetrock. The human staggered back two steps, then crumpled to the floor.

“Dev!” Aimee Peltier snapped, coming around a table to check the human’s pulse. Tall and slender, her long blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She glared up in fury at her brother.

Dev’s face was a mask of innocence. “What? He was warned. Not my fault he’s too stupid to know when to shut his mouth and keep his hands to himself. I ain’t a saint, baby. They hit me. I hit back. You know the Sanctuary motto.”

The bear who held the other human laughed. “So Dev, you want to escort this one out?”

The human held his hands up in surrender. “I’m leaving. Right now. I don’t need to kiss a wall first.” He bolted for the door.

Aimee rose to her feet with a lethal glower. “He’s breathing, but damn, Dev…You know better. You could have killed him.”

Honestly, Sam considered Dev justified in what he’d done. Like Dev said, he’d warned the human.

A weird groan came out of the man before he rose to his feet. He narrowed his gaze on Dev. “You’re going to die for that, Bear.” He swept his gaze around at the other male bear and Aimee, then turned that soulless stare to Sam. “All of you are going to die, including you, Dark-Hunter.” Throwing his head back, he laughed maniacally.

This guy was definitely not human….

Dev grabbed him. “Enough of that crap. You’re—”

The man exploded all over him.

Dev cursed as he was soaked by something light yellow that had the viscosity and properties of snot. It went all over him, even into his mouth, eyes, and ears. “Ah, gah, it’s a slug demon. Aimee, mindwipe the humans. Colt, get me a towel and Lysol and Listerine.” Spitting out some of the mucus, he slung his arms, which caused the snot to fly in all directions.

“Hey!” Sam snapped, ducking the sticky shrapnel. “Keep your snot to yourself.”

Dev scoffed at that. “Oh, so now you don’t want to touch me, huh?” He tsked. “What is it with women? The instant you put a little slime on them, they get squeamish and have no more use for you.”

As he stepped toward her, she backed up. “Don’t make me have to hurt you.”

“You’re such a tease. I knew it. Fine, I’ll take my slimy self upstairs and deslug. Definitely brushing my teeth first. Then gargling with boiling water and straight rubbing alcohol.”

She shook her head at him. How could he have a sense of humor about being coated in slug juice that smelled so bad? She couldn’t imagine how a Were-Hunter with heightened senses could tolerate it and not toss his cookies. Though she’d never been hit by demon snot, she knew from others that it was nasty and that it burned.

“I think you’ll forgive me for my rudeness?” Dev vanished instantly.

Sam turned to see Aimee “visiting” the handful of humans in the bar to erase their memories of the demon and Dev. She met the other bear’s gaze and couldn’t help asking, “This happen often?”

“Not usually. Demons don’t normally come here, except for Simi and on rare occasion her brother Xed.” He glanced toward Aimee. “May the gods help them. Aimee’s not real good at that. Hope she doesn’t burn out anything they need.”

Ahhh, that explained Dev’s paranoia. Made her wonder what Aimee had taken from him with her ineptitude.

The bear extended his hand to her. “Name’s Colt.”


He dropped his hand when she didn’t take it and scowled at the mess on the floor. “Could you tell he was a demon before he exploded?”

“Not even a little bit. You?”

Colt shook his head. “Acheron moves all of you in here. We have a Daimon walk into the bar in broad daylight, and now a demon sliming Dev. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem coincidental to me.”

“I agree. Snot funny.”

Colt rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe you went there.”

“Me neither, but I couldn’t resist.” She jerked her chin toward the demon remains on the floor. “What would make a demon threaten us, then kill himself?”

“Stupidity? Slugs aren’t real smart. Maybe he thought he was teleporting and exploded instead. Or maybe even a bad case of indigestion. There’s no telling what he ate before he got here.”

“But why threaten us?”

“I’d say shits and giggles, but I’m with you. Something about this isn’t right.” Colt held his arm out toward her so that she could see his forearm. “Look…chill bumps.”

Yeah, right. Sam let out an annoyed breath. There wasn’t a chill bump on him.

Fang came running from the kitchen door with another blond man—a dragon shapeshifter—following a step behind him. He went straight to Aimee to make sure she was okay while the dragon took over mindwiping the humans.

Sam scowled. “Does the mindwipe happen a lot here?”

“Not as much as you’d think. We do a pretty good job keeping a lid on the unnatural around the humans. Max is the resident containment expert. He can clean out anyone without their knowing it.”

For some reason she heard Dev in her ear talking about stealing passwords again. The memory made her smile.

Colt frowned. “What?”

“Nothing.” She didn’t want to share it with him. She liked having it as something between her and Dev.

I have lost my mind. Dev was impossible and annoying. And right now, he was covered in demon mucus.

And still he’d been sexy.

I am a seriously sick woman. Only the deranged could think a man covered in paranormal snot was hot.

See what happens when you go a couple hundred years without sex. You lose your mind and all perspective.

She turned her attention back to Colt. “You know, I mentioned to Dev earlier that I wondered if the Daimon you guys thought you saw might be a demon in disguise….”

“No,” Aimee said as she joined them. “He was a Daimon. No doubt about it. Believe it or not, we can tell the difference.”

Sam still wasn’t convinced. Demons and Daimons weren’t really that far apart on a subspecies scale. “Let’s pretend for a minute that I’m right and he was a demon messing with you. Wouldn’t all of this”—she gestured toward the demon remains—“make more sense?”

Fang laughed low in his throat like he had a secret none of the rest of them knew. “Yes, but he was a Daimon. Trust me. I do know my demons.”

Why was he being so stubborn? “Some aren’t that easy to spot.”

Fang snorted. “For you people. I happen to be a Hellchaser so trust me when I say I can tell when a demon is nearby. Spot over there is what woke me up out of dead sleep a few minutes ago. I knew the minute he changed from possessed human to demon and manifested his powers. It makes my skin burn and Daimons don’t do that to me.”

Sam was unfamiliar with the term he’d used to describe himself even though he’d said it as if she should know. “What’s a Hellchaser?”

Fang flashed a cocky grin. “Dark-Hunters hunt Daimons. Hellchasers hunt demons. No matter what they do to disguise themselves, they can’t hide from one of us for long. The minute they use their powers anywhere near us, we feel it. Just like you guys with your prey.”

He was right about that. As a Dark-Hunter, she could sense anytime a Daimon was anywhere near her. So it stood to reason that he’d have a similar power with his targets. “Then do you know why Spot was here?”

“My job is to police them. I’m not their therapist or parole officer. He could have come in to harass me or just for a drink. With a demon, there’s no telling. He might have even followed someone else in here for who knows what purpose.”

Sam gave Fang a droll stare as she mentally came to terms with the inevitable fact she’d been trying to avoid. Daimons walked in daylight and Fang was psychotic.

“Fine.” Disgusted with what she was forced to do, she pulled her glove off and went over to the snot that Max was in the process of cleaning up.

Nice dragon to mop up without complaining. Though he did pause to give her a puzzled frown.

“Don’t ask.” She knelt down and touched a small spot of the demon’s remains. It was so cold and slimy…uuuggghhh! Trying not to think about that or the fact it was burning her fingertip, she closed her eyes and used her powers to conjure an image of the demon in his true form.

Oh yeah, that was a face even his mother would cringe over. Slug demons weren’t attractive. They looked like fat humanoid boars complete with tusks coming out of their chins and foreheads.

But the things she saw playing through her mind were baffling. They made no sense whatsoever….

She saw a place without daylight. Not a city in this world, but it was a city where the sun didn’t shine—she had to force herself to ignore that obvious pun. It was like the sun didn’t exist in that realm…and it had to be an alternate realm. There was nothing about it to say it was the human world and it looked completely different. An odd combination of an ancient civilization and a modern one.

Suddenly the demon was in a hall where Daimons gathered in a number she would have never thought possible for them. There had to be well over a thousand Daimons and they spoke in a language she couldn’t identify.

Crud. She spread her palm deeper into the ick on the floor to get a better immersion into the demon’s last memories.

The room around her spun until she was in the body of the demon. She could hear what he heard, feel what he felt, and see everything through his bloodred eyes. The roar of the Daimons made her ears hurt as she tried to wade through them.

Her master was summoning her and she was desperate to reach him. He was in pain. She could feel it and it made her own body ache. It was her duty to release him. To fight and protect him…

A male Daimon grabbed her brutally by the scruff of the neck and pulled her forward to a dais where two black thrones were set. Each one was heavily carved to resemble human bones—something no doubt meant to intimidate all who saw it and boy did it ever work on the demon as he faced the throne’s occupants. A gorgeous man with short black hair sat in one and in the other was a beautiful blond woman whose eyes were so cold they seemed brittle.

“Can we eat this one, my lord?” the Daimon holding him asked.

The man on the throne shook his head. “Slugs are soulless. Servants. They’re not worth our time. Besides, he’d give you indigestion.”

The Daimon made a sound of disgust before he flung the slug demon away. It was then the demon saw his master….

He was on the floor a few feet from him, being drained by two Daimons.

“Help me!” his master called as he reached out toward him, but he knew it was useless. There was nothing he could do against so many. The Daimons were killing his master….

He would be next.

The woman on the throne laughed. “Look at the poor creature, Stryker. I think you’ve scared him to death.”

He had, but it was more than that. His master no longer wore a human skin. He was in true winged demon form and still he couldn’t fight the Daimons….

The Daimons were far more powerful than all of the demon’s kind.

Terrified, he teleported away from the Daimons, back to the human world and to some semblance of safety.

No sooner had he arrived than he felt the unleashing—the sensation of his master’s death.

I’m free. After all the centuries of serving under his master’s cruel fist, he was now his own demon. Forever free. Joy filled him.

Until a Daimon appeared to his right. “What do you think you’re doing?”


The Daimon lunged at him, cutting off his words.

The slug demon ran.

“Come back here, you worm! Die like your master.”

Terrified, the slug teleported again, but just as he flashed out, he felt something hit his chest like a vicious battering ram. Unable to breathe for the pain of it, he’d headed to the only place he could think of where the Daimons couldn’t kill him.

Sanctuary. It was the one establishment that protected all preternatural classes equally. The bears would make sure no one hurt him.

He flashed into the third story of the building where humans were forbidden to go and stumbled down two levels to the bar. At this hour, only a few patrons were in the club, along with a bear at the bar and a bear waitress. It appeared safe. There were no Daimons at all. With that thought foremost in his mind, he went to the bar to order a drink all the while he watched for the Daimon to come for him and finish him off.

Seconds ticked by slowly.

No Daimons. No one approached him.

I’m safe.

His heartbeat slowing, he took his drink and sipped it, grateful that he’d escaped his near death in Kalosis at the hands of Stryker and crew. At least until the pain built inside his chest. It was unbearable. Agonizing.

What’s causing this? Was it something to do with the body he’d stolen before he’d gone to Kalosis? Did the biker have some kind of internal defect?

He staggered away from the bar, trying to find some way to make it stop hurting. He accidentally brushed up against a grubby human.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going, dick.”

He growled at the pathetic human waste.

The human stood up and shoved him. “You wanna fight?”

Was that a trick question? The demon rushed him as they locked horns….

Sam pulled back emotionally from the sight as it intersected with what she already knew. Dev breaking them apart and the demon dying after the pain in his chest burst apart.

She opened her eyes to find Fang, Max, Aimee, and Colt watching her with curious expressions. “He came to Sanctuary because he was running from the Daimons. He thought he’d be safe here.”

Max snorted. “Epic fail.”

Ignoring him, Fang crossed his arms over his chest. “Why run from the Daimons? Any idea what they wanted with him?”

Not really, other than the Daimons were twisted freaks. “They ate his master and then they shot something into him. That was what made him explode after he got here. There was one Daimon who wanted to kill him in particular, but I don’t know why.”

Aimee grimaced. “Why would they eat his master? They can’t feed off the blood of a demon…can they?” She looked up at her mate.

A tic started in Fang’s jaw as he considered it. “If a Daimon takes the soul of a Were-Hunter they get the Were-Hunter’s powers to use as their own.”

“But it’s only temporary,” Colt said. “When the Were-Hunter’s soul dies, they lose those powers.”

Max narrowed his gaze on where the demon had died. “I thought they kept those powers.”

Fang wiped his hand across his chin. “What ever. It doesn’t matter. We’re not talking Were-Hunters. We’re talking demons. And those rules could be entirely different.”

“The power to walk in daylight,” Aimee whispered, bringing them back to what was the most important part in all of this.

Fang gave a grim nod before he locked gazes with Sam. “Now that they’re not tied to the night, they’ll be coming for you guys when you’re most vulnerable.”

In the daytime when they couldn’t run. The Dark-Hunters would be trapped in their homes and if the Daimons broke out the windows of their bedrooms to let daylight spill in…

They were dead.

Or worse, just burn down their homes while they slept. The Dark-Hunters wouldn’t be able to evacuate. A bad enough fire would kill them too.

With the Hunters all gone, no one would be here to stop the Daimons from killing any human they wanted to.

It would be open season on humanity.

Bon appétit.