Dev was toweling off his hair, heading back to his room when Aimee met him in the hallway.

She handed him a piece of paper. “Sam wanted me to give you this.”

He scowled at the folded-up scrap of Sanctuary letterhead that still held the Amazon’s scent on it. “A paper note? How quaint. I haven’t seen one of these in a long time.”

Aimee laughed. “Yeah. It reminds me of the days when women would leave their numbers on napkins for you and I’d have to bring you a stack of them every night. Now it’s all about sending the text and digits over. Just wait until they release swipe technology.”

It was true. And that technology was just around the corner.

He met her gaze and held up the note with an arched brow. “You read this?”

She screwed her face up. “Oh God, no. Last thing I want is to read something I need eye bleach for. Learned my lesson a hundred years ago when that baroness left a note for you. I’m still traumatized…and nauseated by it.” She headed to her room.

Dev draped the towel over his bare shoulder before he unfolded the note and read the clean, feminine script.

Hey Bear,

I know I shouldn’t do this, but if you like to live as dangerously as I do, head over to my place before you go to bed.

6537 St. Charles.

It’s the white three-story with the black gate.

Don’t worry. No strings. No demon slime. Just lots of hot, naked sex.


P.S. Destroy this immediately. Better yet, eat it.

He laughed at Sam’s orders. It was a real good thing Aimee hadn’t read it….

And again, his body went rock hard. What was it with the mere mention of Sam’s name or the scent of her skin that drove him into mindless sexcapade mode? Yeah, okay, so the last line probably had more to do with his heated blood than anything else. But that was beside the point.

You don’t need this. Your life’s screwed up enough. Not to mention, you want to move on without any entanglements.

Yeah, but Sam knew the score as well as he did. Like she said, it was without strings. Mindless. Two adults pleasing each other.

As long as no one found out, it’d all be good.

He balled the note up, then froze. What if you mate with her? That thought made his blood run cold.

Anytime a Were-Hunter had sex, it came with one really bad gamble and it wasn’t the fear of pregnancy or disease. They couldn’t make a woman pregnant unless they were mated to her and Were-Hunters were immune from most human diseases and all STDs.

The horror was, they didn’t choose who they mated with for life. The Greek Fates did that and those bitches had a nasty sense of humor. Case in point, his bear sister was mated to a wolf husband. His sister was a human with the ability to shift into a bear. His brother-in-law was a wolf who could become human. Two entirely different animals. When they went to sleep at night, Aimee remained human and Fang was a dog.

If Fang and Aimee ever had kids, which would be a major miracle given the fact they were practically different species, the screwed-up things would look like some messed-up Chow. He shuddered at the thought.

So if he had sex with Sam—even mindless, sweaty animal sex—there was always a chance he could end up mated to her. And mating was something you couldn’t fight. If they didn’t fulfill the ceremony, he’d be left impotent for all eternity. Literally, since she was a Dark-Hunter.

He would never have sex with a woman again….

I’d rather have an acid enema followed by living mummification.

C’mon, Dev. Don’t be paranoid. What are the odds? Sam was a Dark-Hunter. Surely the Fates wouldn’t piss off cousin Artemis by mating them together. Dark-Hunters were forbidden from having significant others—the risk to their partners was too great. They had too many enemies for that.

Yeah, but…

Oh, what kind of wuss are you? She was offering him free, uncomplicated sex and he was second-guessing it? Yeah, that was totally messed up.

Shaking his head at his own stupidity, especially when he’d never once in his entire life been a coward, Dev teleported the towel on his shoulder to the bathroom, manifested a T-shirt to wear, then jumped to Sam’s front door. ’Cause it would just be in poor taste to show up shirtless on her doorstep even if it was only for a booty call. Contrary to popular opinion, he wasn’t a totally unsophisticated animal.

He could have driven over on his motorcycle, but he wasn’t willing to chance sense or anything else overriding his hormones. He wanted this and he wanted no delay.

Dev knocked on the black, wooden door of the pristine, rebuilt antebellum mansion. One of the weird things about Dark-Hunters, they couldn’t live in a home that had any kind of ghost. Since they were soulless beings, ghosts tended to want to take up residence in their bodies. So each place they lived in had to be carefully reviewed by the Squire’s Council to ensure the Hunter wouldn’t be possessed. Made him wonder what would happen if one of the Squires had a grudge against a Dark-Hunter and lied about their report.

That could get ugly….

For several minutes he heard nothing. But then the house was huge and if Sam was upstairs, it might take her a little bit to get to the door.

Or she could have changed her mind.

That would really suck. He’d be left out here looking like a giant bear goober on the front doorstep. Just don’t let the neighbors see me. That would suck even more. Especially given the obvious hard-on in his pants.

He looked over his shoulder to where the sun was just dawning. The warm rays were quickly spreading up the lawn and street. Could Sam be asleep already?

I should have moved faster.


Suddenly the front door opened into the house.

Assuming that was another invitation since he was pretty sure the door didn’t do this on its own for no reason, Dev walked through it. At least until he was inside the small foyer and saw Sam waiting for him on the bottom step of the winding, ornate mahogany staircase. Dressed in nothing but a sheer black robe that hung open to show off her naked body, she was exquisite. Every inch of her was ripped from exercise and it made his mouth water for a taste.

Holy gods…

The door behind him slammed closed, then locked…without anyone touching it. That might scare most people, but since he had a degree of telekinesis himself, he was used to weirdness.

What he found unusual was her state of undress. “You always answer the door like that? You must have the happiest UPS driver on the planet.”

She laughed as she walked toward him. “I wasn’t sure you’d come.”

He arched a brow. “You dress like that to wait on just me? I don’t think so. My God, woman, how many men did you invite over?”

“Just you, baby. Just you. No one else could ever…well, I won’t feed your ego. I have a feeling I really don’t need to.” She didn’t hesitate with her contradiction and by that he knew she was telling the truth—another bonus of his powers. He could smell a lie a mile away. People, mundanes and others, had an odor they let off whenever they lied. “But you took so long to get over here that I was beginning to think you intended to stand me up.”

Dev put on his best “aw baby” stance. “You leave a man an invitation like that…he’d have to be dead to decline. I am definitely not dead. Although rigor has definitely settled into at least one part of my body with a vengeance.” He glanced down at the sizable lump in his jeans.

She paused in front of him to run her finger down his chest, raising chill bumps the whole way. His body was absolutely on fire, especially when she bit her bottom lip and looked up at him from under her lashes. “Can you do that Were-Hunter trick where you conjure clothes?”


An enticing smile broke across her face. “Good.”

Before he could ask her what she meant, she reached out and ripped his shirt from neck to hem. Then she attacked him like he was the last steak at a dog kennel.

Dev couldn’t have been more floored had she set him on fire and toasted marshmallows over his boys. She ran her hands across his entire body while she licked and sucked his skin until he thought he’d go blind from ecstasy.

Never had a woman been so brazen and forceful with him.

He loved it.

Sam grazed Dev’s throat with her fangs. Part of her was dying to sink them in and taste his warm blood. It’d been so long since she was able to actually enjoy sex for herself that she wanted to completely devour him.

“I’m so glad you decided to join me.”

He breathed against her ear as he cupped her breast in his hand and toyed with her nipple in a way that had her wet and aching. “I wouldn’t think getting laid would be that big a problem for you.”

She nipped his chin while she splayed her hands over his muscular back and pressed her bare body against his. Gracious, his skin felt so good. She wanted to cry at the peace she felt touching him. It was truly nirvana.

“It’s not getting a guy that’s difficult, Dev. It’s getting a guy whose thoughts aren’t in my head. That’s always been impossible…until you.”

Dev laughed. “Guess I am brain-damaged.”

“No. Definitely not.” She kissed him, reveling in the silence in her head. She had no idea what he was thinking or feeling. None. She could shout in happiness at the blissful peace. “I could just eat you up.”

“I’m here to be your popsicle.”

She laughed as she nibbled his neck. “Did you really have that fantasy?”

He sucked his breath in sharply between his teeth as he cupped her head in his hands. “Depends. Would it be a buzzkill or turn-on?”

“Definitely makes me hot.”

“Then I am a banana-cherry pop, baby. Lick me to your content. I am yours to play with.”

She laughed, then nipped his chin, which was a lot smoother this time than it’d been outside Sanctuary. In a weird way it disappointed her. She’d always loved the prickly feel of a man’s face. “You shaved?”

“I scoured myself with lye soap from head to toe to get the evil funk of demon snot off me. I have flossed things the gods never meant to be flossed and used things that would be toxic to most living organisms. All to sanitize my body for your chewing pleasure.”

She laughed at his quirky humor.

Dev groaned as she slid her hand down his pants to touch his cock. He felt his powers surge through him. Oh yeah, that was sweet. Capturing her lips, he pressed her hips closer to his.

“Get naked for me,” she whispered in his ear.

Dev used his powers to remove his clothes.

She wrinkled her nose as her eyes twinkled in hungry satisfaction. “There’s definitely an advantage to having a Were-Hunter for a lover, eh?”

“Woman, you have no idea.”

She gave a low whistle of appreciation as she took him into her hand. “You’re even hung like a bear.”

He laughed at her pun. “You just don’t know, baby. You ain’t ever been loved till you’re loved by a Were.”

“I thought Kattagaria didn’t like to be called Weres.” Kattagaria were the animal branch of the Were-Hunter race. Like Fang, they were animals who could shift into human form and as such they didn’t want to be called human in any way. To many, it was considered an extreme insult.

“I’m not Kattagaria.” Dev dropped the shield on his face so that she could see the tribal symbol that marked one entire side of his face. It was unmistakable and it designated him as one of the most powerful of his kind. A Sentinel. “I’m Arcadian.”

She traced the pattern of his Sentinel markings with her fingertips. “They’re beautiful. Why do you hide them?”

Dev glanced away as old memories surged. Because his mother had been Kattagaria and had despised the Arcadian branch of their people, he’d chosen at puberty to hide his true nature from her as well as the rest of the world.

Now that she was dead…

“Habit. Everyone assumes all the Peltiers are Kattagaria. I let them have their delusions. Far be it from me to attempt to educate the ever shortsighted, small-minded morons who happen into our bar.”

Sam frowned as she heard the undercurrent in his voice. For the first time, she wished she could see inside him to find what had hurt him about that. “Do you count me in that group?”

“Not at all. You haven’t tried to kill me for being something I’m not…at least not yet.”

She ran her hungry gaze over his tawny body. Every muscle was a study of sinewy grace and perfection. All man and all hot. His chest was dusted by golden hairs. Not too thick, just enough to be manly and appealing. Goodness, how she’d missed touching a man and being close to one like this.

A part of her was still timid to touch him for fear that her powers would kick in, but the other part of her was desperate to be held. Just for a little while.

“You don’t like false people, do you?”

He narrowed his gaze at her. “Are you reading my mind?”

“No. It’s strictly from what you’ve said. I told you, I can’t read your thoughts right now and I don’t know why.”

He gave her a cocky grin. “It doesn’t take much to read them right now.” He gave her a scorching once-over.

Sam laughed until he dipped his fingers into the part of her that craved him most. Her legs turned to Jell-O. “I haven’t had anyone touch me there in centuries.” She gasped as she realized she’d said that out loud.

Dev didn’t blink or stop as he stared down at her. A wicked light came into his eyes as he kissed his way down her body. He paused to lave her breasts. Ribbons of heated pleasure burned through her while his fingers continued to tease her.

Then ever so slowly, he continued south until he replaced his hand with his lips.

Sam had to lean one hand against the wall for support as her body twitched and ached in response to his masterful touch. Before she could draw another breath, her body shattered as one of the most intense orgasms of her life claimed her.

Still he continued to please her until he wrung another one from her spasming body. She sank her hand in his soft hair, tugging at it as he continued to tease her.

Dev growled at how good she tasted. It’d been way too long since he last had a woman. Hell, he’d had so little interest in them lately that he’d been begun to fear he was broken. But there were no inhibitions or hesitation with her even though he should have them in spades.

He was sleeping with a Dark-Hunter. Who would have ever thought?

Unable to stand it anymore, he pulled back from her. He lifted her hips to brace her against the black marble-topped table in her foyer before he drove himself deep inside her body. She cried out his name.

Smiling, he thrust against her, seeking solace in her softness.

Sam balled her fist in Dev’s hair as she buried her face in his neck to inhale the warm masculine scent of his skin. There was so much power in him, so much skill in the way he filled her and touched her. It was like he knew every way to wring as much pleasure from every thrust as he could. And to be able to have him and not have his emotions overwhelm hers…it was incredible.

For the first time in centuries, she felt human.

“Harder, baby,” she purred in his ear, wanting him to love her with everything he had. This was the most incredible moment of her life and when he finally came, she joined him.

Completely spent and sated, she leaned back onto the table while he was still inside her. Her breathing ragged, she kept her legs wrapped around his waist while he stared into her eyes and toyed with her belly button. “That was incredible.”

He flashed a devilish grin. “Glad I could oblige.” He ran his hand around her breast, traced the line of her bow-and-arrow mark, then gave it a light squeeze as he brushed her hardened nipple with his thumb.

She picked his hand up and lifted it to her lips so that she could nip his fingertips.

Dev shivered as her tongue darted between his fingers. He didn’t know why, but it brought out a tenderness inside him. Something protective and scary.

What the hell was that? It was like the animal in him wanted to claim her and kill anyone who came near her. Anyone who hurt her or even looked at her wrong. It was feral and powerful.

Right now all of his paranormal powers were charged to their fullest. He felt like his entire body was made of thrumming electricity that needed to ignite and explode. Sex for Were-Hunters always heightened and strengthened their psychic abilities, but this was different.

He’d never felt anything like it before.

She nibbled his knuckle. “Is what I heard about Were-Hunters true?”

“Yes, it’s true. We all have a third eye hidden in our shoulder blade.”

She laughed out loud. “Where did that come from?”

“The bowels of my imagination and my desire to hear your laughter. You have an amazing laugh and I have a feeling you don’t do that much.”

Sam swallowed hard. He was right. She very seldom found anything amusing. Life was hard and she was hit with the reality of that fact every time she went near another person who was suffering. Which some days seemed to be everyone she came into contact with.

But Dev was different. He saw beauty and humor even when he had to dig it out of crap.

Or demon snot.

That, too, made her smile. “I meant that you guys can go all night and have multiple orgasms.”

He pressed himself deeper inside her so that she could tell he was already hard again and ready for more. “Oh, yes ma’am. Definite perk for my species.”

She tightened her thighs around him. “You telling me you’re at ready?”

He kissed her lightly on the lips. “Baby, I’m ready to go until neither of us can walk.”

She sucked her breath in sharply as he teased her nipple with his tongue. Oh, he felt so good. That tongue of his should be bronzed. “I intend to hold you to that.”

“Then let the marathon begin….”

Over the next few hours, he more than made good on that promise. Sam’s head swam from exhaustion and endorphins.

After starting in the foyer and working their way through the downstairs and staircase, they’d finally made it to her bedroom where they lay entwined in her light yellow silk sheets.

She was so sated and sore, she didn’t want to move at least for a week. “I think you’ve killed me.”

Dev laughed as he peeled the wax shell away from a mini Babybel piece of cheese—she didn’t know why she’d bought them since she normally couldn’t eat cheese without having farm flashbacks—which weren’t bad, just annoying to listen to cows mooing while she ate. But it’d looked so good on the commercials and in the store that she hadn’t been able to resist it. He offered her the first bite.

She hesitated, but as she sank her teeth in, she realized that it, too, was safe. It amazed her that she could eat it. There was just something about Dev…if he touched it first, it was like he cleansed it and removed what ever funk would attack her.

“You could have sent me away at any time,” he said as he ate his own little Babybel.

“True. But I’m just as bad and horny as you are.”

“Nah, you’re not…” A wicked light came into his beautiful blue eyes. “You’re worse.”

Laughing, she choked on the cheese.

Dev quickly handed her his glass of wine so that she could clear her esophagus. “Sorry about that.”

Sam froze as the domesticity…the normality of this moment hit her hard. It was like the realization knocked her out of her body and she floated above them, looking down. Dev was lying on his back with the sheet pooled at his waist while she lay beside him on her stomach. They were relaxed and enjoying each other’s company—like two old friends. She hadn’t been this way with a man since the night Ioel died.

Grief racked her entire being. How could I do this to him? How could I ever be so comfortable with another man after all he did for me? Gave me? Ioel had been loyal to her from the first moment they’d met. He’d never even looked at another woman. More than that, he’d almost caused a war within his own clan when he’d refused to marry the woman he was betrothed to so that he could marry Sam instead.

And he’d died protecting her and their children.

Images of that night ripped through her, shredding what little sanity she had as she saw him die in front of her eyes. Even after all these centuries, she still wanted him back. Still missed everything about him. The way he smelled. Felt. Kissed…

Oh God, Ioel…

How could he be gone?

Dev frowned as he saw the terrified look in Sam’s dark eyes. It was like she was reliving a nightmare. “You okay, baby?” He reached out to touch her.

She pulled away instantly. “I need you to leave.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Now!” she barked.

Dev held his hands up in surrender. “Fine. But if you need me—”

“I won’t. Now get out.”

Her tone offended him to the core of his being and it took everything he had not to lash back at her. If it wasn’t for the fact that he knew something inside her was hurting, he would have. But he wouldn’t be that cold. He didn’t believe in kicking anyone when they were down.

If there was one thing in life he understood, it was concealed pain. That core part of the soul that hurt so bad all it knew to do was lash out against anyone unlucky enough to be there when it snapped out of control.

Guess I was nothing but a booty call after all. He didn’t know why that thought cut him, but it did. He felt used. How weird.

What ever. He wasn’t about to sit around here and beg. It wasn’t in him.

Sam watched as Dev vanished from her bed. Part of her wanted to call him back and apologize. The other part wished she could return to the night Ioel died and have stayed dead instead of making her bargain with Artemis.

Yes, it’d given her vengeance against the ones who’d killed those she loved. But her family was still dead. And eternity without them was brutal. Their pain had ended. Hers went on to infinity. There was no hope of it ever ending and that was what had made her a Dog of War. That rage and fury over the injustice of it all that screamed out for some semblance of solace when there was none to be had.

Trust no one. Not even blood.

In the end, everyone had a price and for the right amount, anyone would betray even those they loved most. It was harsh, but true.

Dev had been a nice distraction for a few hours. Now real work began and he wasn’t part of her world. Her life was her job. She didn’t want any kind of emotional attachment. She didn’t want to be normal or have anything like other people.

She was a Dog and she bled their spirit.

A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi.

Age. Fac ut gaudeam.

Between a rock and a hard place.

Go ahead. Make my day. Loosely translated, but the meaning was the same. When cornered, the Dogs fought until they died. No one touched them.

They were the ultimate killing machine. The ultimate protectors of the world. She would stand and she would fight.

Forever alone. To the death.

image—either with her shield or upon it.

Those words resonated deep inside her as she went to shower. But as she let her mind wander, she saw a new enemy appear. One far deadlier than any they’d ever faced before.

And this particular one would be coming for her.

Things were about to get bloody and she would be in the very center of it.