With no other weapon to rely on, Sam sank her fangs into the Daimon’s arm an instant before he would have taken her through the portal.
Cursing, he dropped her.
She hit the floor hard, but luckily it freed her arm and part of her body from the net. She moved to roll out from under it. The Daimon recovered and caught her, then tossed the net over her again.
Ugh! She tried to fight, but that damned net made it impossible.
He rolled her onto her back, bared his own fangs at her, then plunged a dagger deep into the center of her chest—something only a Daimon with superhuman powers could do. Had she been human or a Daimon, it would have killed her instantly.
As it was, it just burned like madness. And if the idiot had possessed a brain, he’d have known that had he left it in her heart, that too could have killed her. But lucky for her, his education was stringently lacking and he pulled it free to let her bleed.
Something that wouldn’t kill her. It’d just piss her off.
“Hurts, doesn’t it?” he snarled. “How many my people you kill that way?”
“Apparently I missed one,” she ground out between her clenched teeth as she struggled against the pain. “But I won’t make that mistake again.”
Then he went flying over her, head first into the wall.
Completely stunned, she watched as Dev whipped the net off her body and tossed it to cover the Daimon. Using the net, he spun the Daimon around, then let him fly into the wall on the other side of her bed. The Daimon hit it so hard, he went through the plaster and landed in a tangled heap half in her bedroom and half in the hallway.
The bear had strength. There was no denying that.
Sam pushed herself up only to slip on the blood that still poured out of her chest. She grabbed the dagger the Daimon had dropped and went for the bastard.
Unfortunately, his tumble through the wall had thrown the net off most of his body, allowing him to push himself to his feet. He stood to attack.
“Move, Bear,” she growled.
Dev didn’t have time to obey before a dagger went whizzing past his cheek so close he swore it trimmed his whiskers. It buried itself in the Daimon’s chest.
With one last foul curse, the Daimon exploded into a shower of golden dust, leaving the net that had been wrapped around his feet to fall to the floor.
Turning, Dev narrowed his gaze on the portal the women had vanished into. As long as it was open, the Daimons could return and grab Sam, who now slumped against her bed. She was bleeding like crazy and panting from the agony of her injury. That sight made him want to reanimate the Daimon so that he could rip his heart out and feed it to him.
But first he had to get her out of here.
Without a second thought, he scooped her up in his arms, grabbed the net from the floor to keep the Daimons from reclaiming it, and used his powers to teleport her to Carson’s examination room in Sanctuary where the doctor could hopefully help her stop bleeding.
Sam was completely disoriented as she found herself inside a windowless room that appeared to be a hospital. There was a stretcher for a bed and glass and metal cabinets that held surgical instruments and medicine. The bear must have used his powers to teleport her.
A little warning before he yanked her out of her house would have been nice. As it was, it made her feel like she was about to be sick. Literally. The bear was lucky he wasn’t wearing her last meal.
Before she could think to protest, Dev laid her down on the bed while he called out for someone named Carson. The moment her skin touched the sheets, other people’s emotions ripped through her. Someone had died on this bed…recently. She could feel his panic as he desperately sought to stay alive and the tears of his mate when he’d lost that fight.
Someone else had been badly wounded while another had been sick…one of the bear cubs. Dozens of images and emotions hit her and, being wounded, she had no defense against it. Her head felt like it was going to explode. She couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t escape.
Dev winced as Sam started screaming. She curled into a fetal ball where she trembled and shook. It was like she was being tortured.
What should I do?
Carson flashed into the room beside him, then took a step back, his eyes wide as he took in her hysterical condition. Dev had never seen anything rattle the Native American shapeshifter before, but Carson was definitely wary over this. “What’s going on?”
Dev held his hands up. “She was wounded…. I-I don’t know why she’s screaming.” For once he hadn’t done anything to cause it.
Then he remembered her powers….
Dev picked her up and held her close, pulling her as far away from the bed as he could. “Shh, Sam,” he whispered in her ear in an attempt to calm her. “I’ve got you. I’m so sorry I forgot.”
Sam tensed as the emotions fell away so fast that it left her weak. One moment she’d been in absolute agony.
In the next…
Total peace. It was like being in a sensory dep cocoon where nothing intruded. There were no thoughts. No feelings. It was just her and her alone inside her head. Astonished, she looked up at Dev who watched her with concern creasing his handsome brow.
She nodded slowly, still waiting for the assault on her senses to return. But it didn’t. What ever Dev had, it was still holding. Thank the gods. She laid her forehead against his right cheek and cupped his left one with her hand, so grateful for the silence that she could weep.
Carson approached her cautiously. His long black hair was pulled back into a braid that fell down his back. Extremely handsome, his features were sharp and something about them reminded her of a bird. He reached his hand out to touch her.
Sam cringed and wrapped herself tightly around Dev. “Don’t.”
His features offended, Carson pulled up short. “Beg pardon?”
“You can’t touch me. It’ll open a conduit between us and I’ll see everything about you and I do mean everything. Any instrument you touch me with and I’ll know things about everyone you’ve ever used it on. No offense, but I don’t want to be that intimate with you.”
Carson let out a low whistle as he held his hands up in surrender. “No offense taken. I don’t want to be that intimate with you either. No wonder you went crazy a second ago.”
He had no idea.
Dev scoffed as he shifted her weight. “Yeah, and I don’t want to know what she’s getting from me right now. I cringe at the mere thought.”
Sam met his gaze. “We both know what a perv you are.”
He actually blushed which made her wonder what was on his mind.
Deciding to alleviate his embarrassment, she wrinkled her nose. “Relax, Grizzly Adams. I’m still getting nothing from you.”
Carson laughed. “Damn, Dev. Remi’s right. There is nothing going on inside your head.”
Dev cut him a vicious glare. “You better be glad I’m holding her, Birdman, else you and I’d be going round right about now.”
Carson ignored him as he returned his attention to Sam. “How are you feeling right now?”
“Aside from the gaping hole in my heart and the pain it’s causing, I’m strangely okay.”
Dev looked less than convinced. “So what do we do about this, Doc? You have to have something to fix it.”
Sam shook her head. “It won’t kill me. Take me home and I—”
“No.” Dev cut her off before she could finish her thought. “You can’t go home. The Daimons could come back through the hole they made or be there waiting for you and you’re in no shape to fight them. Why the hell did you invite them into your house to begin with? What were you thinking?”
His accusing tone seriously offended her. “You think I’m insane? I did not invite them in. I…”
They both fell silent as the reality of that thought went through them simultaneously. Daimons couldn’t enter a private residence without an invitation—that had been part of Apollo’s curse that was designed to protect humans from them. If a place was public domain, they could enter.
But her private residence should have been completely off–limits….
“How did they get in?” she whispered, trying to think of something she might have done. But there was nothing. She’d been extremely careful about setting up her home and no one other than she had been in it.
Dev shifted his weight before he spoke again. “You really didn’t invite them in?”
She shook her head.
Carson stepped closer. “Maybe they came in as pizza delivery or something and you forgot.”
That was a ludicrous thought. How could she forget something so intrinsic to her sanity? “No one comes inside my house. No one. Not for any reason. I know better. If they touch something, even briefly, it contaminates it and I have to throw it out.” Another valuable lesson she’d learned from her one-night stand with Ethon.
Dev met her gaze. “Then how did they get in? You leave a window open with a note on it or something?”
She gave him an irritated smirk. “Yes, yes I did. I told them to come in and make themselves at home and while they were at it, to immobilize me and stab me straight through the heart ’cause I’m just that effing bored.”
Carson laughed. “Wow, someone who has your knack for sarcasm.”
Dev glared at him.
Sam sighed before she continued with only a tiny bit less venom. “I don’t know how they got in. I happened to have been asleep at the time they entered. Maybe what ever’s allowing them to walk in daylight is also allowing them to come into a house uninvited.”
Carson’s face paled as if the thought of that horrified him. “This can’t be good.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Dev’s voice was saturated with his own sarcasm this time. “I think it’s great that they can come in and suck us dry. Remind me to leave my window unlatched tonight. Oh wait. It don’t matter anymore. Day. Night. What ever. Come steal my soul, you worthless bastards. I’m open like a twenty-four-hour blood diner donor.”
Carson didn’t respond to that in the least as he kept his attention on Sam. “If they can come into any home anytime they please and we can’t stop them…We have skidded off the hell ramp into Shitsville.” He indicated Sam’s injury with a jerk of his chin. “We need to get that tended before you weaken any more.”
“No. I’ll be all right.” She had no intention of anyone touching her if she could help it.
Dev notwithstanding. And she definitely didn’t even want to think about Dev and the fact that he held her like she was petite—something she most certainly was not. Nor did she want to think about how feminine and dainty he made her feel.
Or how great it’d been to make love to him…
Forcing those thoughts away, she focused on the matter at hand. “What we have to do is tell Acheron they can get into homes and let the other Dark-Hunters know before they’re attacked like I was.”
Dev arched one brow. “I can’t do anything if I’m holding you. Not that I mind. I’m just saying.”
She looked down at the floor, wishing she could stand on her own two feet. “I need some of my shoes.”
Carson frowned. “You can’t even touch the ground?”
“Dang,” Dev breathed. “Artemis got her jollies with you, didn’t she?”
“Yeah. I definitely didn’t get one of the better powers. Now could you please get my shoes for me?”
Carson stepped back to give them room. “I have a thought. If you’re immune to Dev…would his room work for you?”
Dev looked down at her. “Want to try?”
She wasn’t so sure about that. The last thing she needed as bad as she currently felt was another assault on her senses. But she couldn’t stay in his arms all day either and if she couldn’t go home…
“Let’s try it.”
Dev heard the reluctance in her voice. “Just because I’m a bear doesn’t mean I live in a cave, you know?”
She frowned up at him. “Pardon?”
“My room’s not gross. You don’t have to have that I-am-so-disgusted-by-the-mere-thought tone.”
“That wasn’t what I meant. And do we have to argue this while I’m in pain and bleeding?”
Dev flashed her into his room, then cringed as he realized he was a bear in a cave. Why didn’t I make up my bed before I left? And for that matter, pick up a few of the dozen car and motorcycle magazines on the floor. The bag of potato chips…and the three pairs of dirty socks. Good thing he didn’t wear underwear or there would probably be a pair or two on the floor to mortify him even more.
His mom had been right. He’d finally lived long enough to be embarrassed by his messy ways.
When he started to put her on the bed, she clamped around his neck so tight, it strangled him.
“Um, Sam…you’re killing me. I’m not immortal. I really do need to breathe.”
She loosened her hold. But only by a little bit. “Sorry. Reflexive habit.” She swallowed. “Let me try this before you set me down completely.”
She reached out with one hand and gingerly touched his pillow.
Sam held her breath as she waited for the pain to start and his memories to surge through her.
But just like touching him, they didn’t. There was nothing in her head but her own thoughts.
She wanted to shout in relief. “Set me down.”
He hesitated. “You sure?”
“I think so.”
“All right.” Dev very carefully lowered her to the bed, then stepped back. He didn’t go far though. He hovered near, just in case.
Sam didn’t move for several minutes as she waited for the images to come. Not until she was sure she was safe. At least in a manner of speaking. The warm masculine scent of Dev was all around her. That conjured images, but they were fantasies of what she wanted to do to him and had nothing to do with his memories or thoughts.
She leaned back on the bed, still free of his emotions. It was so amazing. “I think I’m good.”
Dev gave her a cocky grin. “Cool. Let me go get something to clean you up and—”
“No!” She rudely barked the word, then regretted the sharpness of her tone. “I mean…if anyone other than you has touched what ever you bring…”
He rubbed his jaw as he considered that. “Maybe it’s not just me. I’m an identical quad. You think what ever immunity I have spreads to my brothers too?”
Oh, now that would be nice. But it was too much to hope for. Still, it was worth a shot. “We could test it.”
Dev searched the room with his gaze until he spied Remi’s book he’d borrowed a week ago. By now the stench of his brother should be off it. He picked it up from his nightstand and handed it to her.
She barely touched it before she withdrew her hand and hissed as if it’d burned her. “Did you know Remi listens to the Indigo Girls when he’s alone in his room and that his favorite movie is Just Like Heaven?”
He burst out laughing at the idea of his surly brother watching such a chick flick. Gah, he’d rather have both eyes gouged out and force fed to him than watch that. “Really?”
She nodded. “Yeah. He’d die if you knew that. And whatever weirdness you have seems to be yours alone.”
Good, ’cause he definitely didn’t want her picking up on his embarrassing habits. Though to be honest, they weren’t nearly as bad as Remi’s. And he liked the idea that what he had with her was special and wasn’t shared with other people. “We still need to tend that wound. If nothing else, it needs to be bandaged so that you’re not leaking blood all over my sheets.”
“No offense, I’d rather keep bleeding.”
He gave her a sharp look before he headed to his chest of drawers and pulled out a T-shirt. “No lip from you, Amazon. We’re going to stop that bleeding. I know it won’t kill you, but it does weaken you.”
Sam watched as he tore up his shirt to make a bandage for her. She didn’t know why, but it touched her that he’d do such a thing. It’d been a long time since anyone was so kind to her. He returned to the bed and carefully tended her wound. “You’re not bad for a nurse, Bear.”
Dev smiled. “I have my moments…few and far between, I will grant you, but on rare occasions I can almost pass for a human.” He paused as he had another thought. “If you’re this sensitive to everything, how do you wear clothes? I mean they’d have the same property as a bandage, right?”
“Acheron conjures them for me.”
“Well, why didn’t you say that before I tore up my favorite shirt?”
Before she could ask him what he meant, he’d conjured a bowl of water and a washcloth.
Sam backed away as he reached for her with that cloth. “Test. Test!” she shouted when he didn’t get the hint. “Don’t stick that on me until we know for a fact that you have the same power Acheron does to keep cooties off that stuff.”
“Cooties? You did not go there. Now who’s being the big baby, huh?” He put one corner of the cloth on her arm. “There. You hallucinating yet?”
She took a minute to make sure before she answered. “No and you’re lucky I’m not or I’d skin you and turn you into a rug.”
Smirking at her, he wrung out the excess water and gently cleaned her injury while she lay on his bed.
Sam didn’t speak as she let the heat of his skin soothe her. His hands were large and calloused, his knuckles scarred from centuries of fighting, yet at the same time his touch was gentle, soothing as he pushed up her shirt, baring her completely to his gaze. She didn’t know why it made her feel vulnerable, but it did. He traced the cloth over her breasts, removing the blood before he bandaged her.
It seemed incongruous that a man so tough could be like this. That he’d been so tender earlier when he made love to her.
She’d been sure she was dead when the Daimon had picked her up to carry her through his portal. But for Dev, she’d be in Kalosis right now at their mercy. No doubt being tortured and killed. She owed him.
“Thank you, Devon, for rescuing me.”
He paused to look at her. “Dev is short for Devereaux, not Devon.”
Wow, she’d never been wrong before. It was a weird sensation after all these centuries to not be able to pull out information like that when she needed it. “Devereaux Peltier.” She savored the syllables of his name that flowed and rolled from her tongue. “It’s very soft sounding.”
He made a sound of disgust in the back of his throat. “Oh thank you so much. That’s what every man wants to hear about his name. You might as well call me ‘Little Pecker’ while you’re at it and tell me you’d love to have me go shopping with you for feminine hygiene products. Oh and by all means, carry a big, sparkling pink bag with flowers on it and make me hold it.”
She laughed at the images he described, then winced as it sent a wave of pain through her chest. “I didn’t mean it that way. It’s a beautiful name and I doubt even an oversized pink purse could erode your tough machismo.”
“Mmm-hmm. Too late. You’ve emasculated me. There’s no coming back from it now.”
“None at all?”
“No. I’ve been relegated to gay friend status. It’s all right though. They have a cool bar down on Canal and I have a lot of friends there. I’m sure they’d let me watch the door for them. Probably pay me more than my family does, too, so you’ve actually done me a favor. Thanks.”
Dev got up and went back to his chest of drawers. He pulled out another T-shirt and brought it to her. “I’ll leave you alone to change ’cause you might share your cooties with me and I haven’t had a recent vaccine against them.” He vanished before she could say a single word.
“You are so weird, Dev Peltier.” He was an absolute nut and yet she found him strangely entertaining.
What is wrong with me? She was never really attracted to a man, not even when she’d been human. Ioel had been the lone exception. As a Dark-Hunter, she’d taught herself that the only male companionship she needed came with batteries.
But Dev made her rethink that lifestyle. He made her remember what it was like to laugh with someone she cared about.
Don’t go there. She didn’t really care about Dev. She barely knew him.
Herding her wayward thoughts, Sam changed her torn, blood-soaked gown for the shirt he’d given her, then leaned back wishing she’d thought to grab her cell phone on her way out. It actually angered her that she hadn’t thought about it at the time.
You are insane. Getting out alive definitely trumped getting more injured trying to grab her iPhone.
True, but she needed to warn the others and to do that, she needed her phone.
Dev came back a few minutes later with a laptop. “Out of curiosity. How do you eat?”
She paused as she remembered that she’d been able to eat the food he’d given her…strange. But why didn’t that extend to the other things?
With no answer, she moved to his question with what the truth had been prior to this morning. “There’s a reason I’m thin. I live on a lot of salads that I grow in a garden behind my house. You ever try gardening at night? Really sucks.”
She appreciated his sympathy, but there was no need for it. It was what it was. “You get used to it.”
“I don’t know, Sam. I can’t imagine life without steak. I think I’d rather be dead. Why didn’t you tell me this at your house?”
“Because it was my stuff in my house and I don’t have anything there that will cause me pain. Here, I’m not so lucky.”
He pulled his phone from his pocket and held it out to her. “No one’s touched it but me so it should be safe for you.”
If only it were that simple. “Thanks, but someone put it together. It too is kryptonite.”
“All right then. I’ll get started notifying Acheron and crew.” He called Ash while she leaned back to listen and mull over everything that’d happened since last night. It was almost more than she could even follow. How could so many things be crammed into so little time?
But what amazed her most was that she couldn’t even overhear Dev’s phone conversation as he talked to Acheron. For the first time in five thousand years, she felt normal. It was so peculiar.
At least that was her thought until she saw the look on Dev’s face.
“You sure?” he asked Acheron.
She frowned at his tone. There was a hint of anger in it. What had happened to trigger it? Had a Dark-Hunter already been killed by the Daimons?
Or something worse?
She bit her lip in trepidation as she listened.
After a few minutes he spoke again. “I’ll tell her…. Yeah, you too.” He hung up the phone and stared at the wall for several heartbeats as if trying to come up with the right words.
A sick, cold knot formed in her stomach. “What?”
“Two demons were found drained this morning and left out on the Moonwalk for the humans to see. Apparently there’s been a rash on demon slayings lately and Ash thinks it’s a harbinger for us, saying we’re screwed.”