Sam jerked awake at the sound of a very small voice that was just learning to speak. She lay in bed, wondering if she’d dreamed it.

She hadn’t.

“Shh, munchkin, not so loud. We have guests.” Kerryna kept talking in that sweet octave mothers reserved for their children as she walked out of hearing range.

Sam cursed under her breath. If she heard or saw one more child…

It seemed like the gods were taking pleasure in punishing her lately. And she wanted to weep as her grief choked her. Why couldn’t she have raised her own children? Seen them grow and held them all the days of her life? That had been the plan. She and Ioel, growing old together…

Damn you, gods.

No. She had her sister to blame for their loss and it changed nothing. The pain was still there and it was raw and bleeding.

Suck it up, Amazon. You’re a Dark-Hunter. Mother to the entire human race she protected. She saved their lives even while she’d been unable to save the lives of her own family. The irony of that had haunted her for centuries. And it was what had given her the strength to tear out her sister’s throat even while the petty bitch had begged her for mercy.

Mercy, my ass…

That wasn’t in her. Not anymore. It hadn’t been since the day she’d crossed over and seen the real horrors life had heaped on not just her, but countless others. Images of the past burned her while she lay there and they left her aching. Wanting.

Please help me….

A light snore behind her drew her attention away from the past to realize that a heavy, muscular arm was draped protectively over her. To the fact that a warm body was pressed up against hers.


The bear held her like she was unspeakably precious. Like her husband had once done…

Tenderness swept through her. How she’d missed waking up like this. That feel of a man’s body entwined with hers. Of his prickly hairs rough against her legs. His hard cock resting against her hip. She didn’t know why she liked being with Dev. He drove her straight up the walls with no stop sign in sight. He manhandled her, which she hated with a passion, and was the epitome of a male horn dog at times.

He was arrogant. Hard-headed…

And he risked his life to keep her safe. Even now he didn’t have to be here and yet there he lay.

Like a teddy bear. She silently laughed at the thought. There was nothing cuddly about Dev. He was all sinewy muscle and he was huge.

Her gaze went to the bow-and-arrow tattoo on his arm. He hadn’t made the sacrifice she had, but he understood the call. Sam swallowed. I don’t want to be dead anymore….

She’d been alone for so long. Had hurt and sucked up her tears for centuries. Nothing had ever eased it.

Until now. For what ever reason, Dev took away the pain she felt. He somehow made things better with his screwed-up humor and peculiar outlook.

It was so wrong. She was a Dark-Hunter and he a Were-Hunter. They were supposed to be enemies.

Yet it didn’t feel that way. And right now with his breath falling on her skin and his arms wrapped around her, she wanted him. She wanted to bathe in the warmth he gave her. Breathe him in until she was drunk on his scent…

Dev came awake to the sweetest kiss he’d ever been given. Tender and hot, it set fire to him as Sam draped her naked body over his. Her breasts were pressed against his chest, reminding him of why he was so glad he was a man.

She nipped his lips with her fangs before she pulled back to look down at him. Her nightgown was gone, she’d thrown it on the floor before she woke him, and her curls spilled around her creamy shoulders. Her eyes were once again dark brown. She was the Dark-Hunter and right now, he was her willing victim.

He smiled at her. “Now that’s the way to wake a guy up.”

She shook her head, causing those curls to bounce beautifully. “No…this is the way to wake him up.”

Before he could ask her what she meant, she slid down his body and dipped her head to take him into her mouth. His mind spun as pleasure ripped through his entire being.

Yeah, she was definitely right on that account. This was a much better way to wake a guy up. Ah, hell, he’d gladly wake up in a good mood every day if it started out like this. He sucked his breath in sharply as her tongue darted down the length of him before she took him completely into her mouth. His eyes rolled back in his skull as he shook all over.

He sank his hand in her soft, honey curls as he watched her savor him. Damn if she wasn’t the most incredible woman he’d ever known. He loved the fact that she wasn’t shy or inhibited in any way. She loved him like it would be the last time she’d ever touch a man. Like they would be dead in a minute and this was her last chance to live.

Her intensity and skills were incredible. He laid his hand against her cheek as his powers surged. What was it about her that she could feed his abilities the way she did? More than that, she touched him in a place no woman ever had before.

His heart.

All his life, he’d been alone. Yeah, he’d been around people, but no one had ever seen him. He’d never allowed people, not even his brothers, to get that close to him. Not after he’d lost Bastien and Gilbert. As a young cub, he’d worshiped his older brothers and when they’d died protecting Aimee…

He’d never gotten over their loss. Not really. It was why he’d always been so protective of his sister and mother. He’d wanted to make his brothers proud. To let them know that even though they were gone, the snot-nose cub left behind could hold his own.

Life was shit. He knew that as well as anyone else and he hated just how much it had crapped all over Sam. He wanted to take her away from the pain that had been thrown at her. Take her away from the hostile world they both lived in.

But right now, she was the one taking him away from the hurt and the misery.

Sam growled as she nibbled on Dev. She’d always loved the way a man tasted. The way he smelled and felt. And Dev…He was sweeter than anything.

Hungry for more, she gave one last lick before she crawled up his body and impaled herself on him. He gave a deep, manly growl. She lifted his hand from her breast so that she could nip and tease the pads of his fingers while she rode him soft and easy. Oh, how she wanted to stay with him like this forever.

But they had lions tearing at the doors. Enemies after both of them and a world that depended on them to fight for it. She understood her calling. She believed in her cause. Yet right now, she wanted something for herself. A moment of peace and connection.

Was that too much to ask?

“You are so beautiful,” Dev said as he slid his hand between her legs so that he could heighten her pleasure.

Sam hissed. “Are all bearswain so gentle?”

He laughed at her question. “I don’t make a habit of sleeping with male bears, so how would I know?”

She joined his laughter. Then her laughter died under a wave of supreme pleasure. She let it flow through her, making her shiver and tremble.

Until her gaze accidentally fell to the door and reality interrupted her mood. It would be dark soon. She could sense it. Then she’d have to leave him and hunt the Daimons who were after her. For his sake as well as for hers. She couldn’t afford for the Daimons to return to Sanctuary. Not when it endangered his family.

She wasn’t worth it.

Why can’t I have one moment of peace?

Because she’d sold her soul for the sake of the world….

Dev sensed that something about Sam had changed. A wall had come up between them even though they were naked in each other’s arms. He pulled his hand back. “Did I hurt you?”

“No, baby. You definitely didn’t hurt me.”

But there was a shadow in her eyes. One of pain. How he wished he could take that from her.

Dev sat up so that he could hold her while she continued to grind against him. He buried his face in her neck and tasted her as he continued to stroke her in time to her thrusts. The scent of her made the bear in him feral.

Sam reveled in the sensation of Dev holding her. She ran her hands through his long hair, letting them tangle with his curls. Gods, he was gorgeous. It wasn’t every day a woman was lucky enough to find a man like him.

With a sharp growl, Dev pulled back from her and gave her a look so hot, it made her blood sizzle. Before she could ask him what was wrong, he shifted their weight and had her on her side in the bed. He used his thigh to separate her legs and entered her from behind. Completely wrapped around her, he drove himself in deep.

She felt exposed and at the same time powerful. “What are you doing?”

He cupped her breast in his hand before he breathed in her ear. “This is how a bear takes his woman.”

She couldn’t think as he quickened his strokes and her pleasure mounted. She didn’t know if it was his powers or what, but she’d never in her life experienced anything like this. Every thrust was a study in ultimate ecstasy.

And when she came, it was the most intense orgasm she’d ever had.

Dev laughed softly in her ear until he joined her. Then, still hard, he stayed inside her, holding her close as he breathed raggedly. His warmth enveloped her and made her feel blissfully safe and strangely sane.

Sam could feel his heart thumping against her shoulder blade as she savored this moment and his heat. “No wonder you’re a horn dog. You’re really good at what you do.”

He brushed her hair back from her cheek before he placed a tender kiss there. “Don’t cheapen this moment, Samia. I’ve never done that with any woman. It’s something we reserve for our mates.”

“Then why did you do it with me?”

“Because, as stupid as it sounds, I care about you in a way I’ve never cared about anyone else. As a rule, I don’t really like people much. I tolerate my family, but at the end of the day I much prefer to be left alone. You’re the only woman I’ve ever sought out.”

Did she dare believe that? It seemed impossible and yet…

She wanted it to be true because she understood it too. She felt the same way about him. “Why?”

He kissed her nose. “I have no idea. Aside from my little sister and nieces, you’re the most infuriating woman I’ve ever met. All I can figure is that I’m either sick in the head or a total masochist.”

She elbowed him in the stomach.

“Ow!” he groused at the same time his phone started ringing. “See what I mean? I have to be addicted to abuse to put up with you.” He reached over her to the nightstand to grab his phone so that he could answer it. His hair fell over her as he gave her a look that managed to be both adorable and vicious. “Be nice to me, Amazon, or I’ll touch you with my phone and give you visions.”

“You probably would, too.”

Smiling, he rolled away before he answered it.

Sam wrapped the sheet around herself as she realized that her powers were back and that the sheets weren’t contaminating her….

What was going on? Why wasn’t she picking up on other people?

“Are you sure about that?” Dev brushed his hair back and scratched his head as he listened to whomever was on the other line. “Yeah, okay. I trust you. We’ll be watching and I’ll let you know if something happens.” He hung up the phone and looked at her. “According to Ash, that wasn’t Nick who let the Daimons in.”


“He swears it was someone pretending to be him.”

She wrinkled her nose as she flashed back to her conversation with the Gautier lookalike. “I don’t know. The Nick we saw was pretty convincing.”

“True, but Ash wouldn’t lie to us. He might withhold things, but he wouldn’t lie, especially about something like this.”

That much was true. And as she sat there, she remembered the twinge she had that something about Nick hadn’t been right. Had she picked up on the imposter? “So if it wasn’t Nick, who was it?”

“That’s the question no one has an answer to.”

Sam leaned back against the brass headboard as she tumbled the thought around her head. “Why come to us as Nick? Were they trying to turn us against him?”

“It would make sense. Drive a wedge between him and the people who are on his protection detail.”

“But why?” No matter how she sliced it, she couldn’t come up with a reason for framing Gautier.

“Maybe it’s as simple as they wanted to get close to you and Gautier was the only one they could impersonate.”

That might work, and Dev was right. As suspicious as they were right now, it would be hard to get close to them. “But why not just attack?”

“It could be that they didn’t want to take on my family. As Nick, our guy was able to get right into the room with you and open the portal. Less bloodshed than coming in the front door and battling their way to you.”

Another valid point.

A knock sounded on the door.

Dev used his powers to manifest clothes on his body at the same time he tossed a thicker cover over her. “Come in.”

Sam was impressed with his reaction time. The man was definitely skilled in many ways.

The door opened to show them a Charonte carrying a large tray of food. “Xedrix thought you might be hungry.”

Sam smiled up at Dev. “I don’t know about you, but I worked up quite an appetite.”

Grinning, Dev got out of bed to take the tray. Just as he reached it, the Charonte flung the tray at him and used it to drive him back into the wall. Dev head-butted him, but it didn’t faze the demon. He grabbed Dev by the hair and took a bite out of his neck so deep, it literally ripped him open.

Dev staggered back as blood poured down his shirt so fast, he knew he wouldn’t have long before he bled out. Stumbling away, he manifested a towel and tried to seal the wound.

Even though she was still naked, Sam came off the bed and scissor-kicked the demon while Dev struggled to stay conscious. She wasn’t about to let him get hurt any worse. Not if she could help it.

Dev used his powers to quickly dress her in a pair of jeans, boots, and a T-shirt. While he appreciated her being naked, he knew she wouldn’t prefer it. Though he definitely appreciated her putting his life before her modesty.

Why the hell can’t I get this wound to stop bleeding? It was like there was a spell on it to guarantee he wasn’t going to survive it.

The Charonte lunged for her.

Sam caught it by the chin and drove her fist into its wind-pipe three times in fast succession. Coughing, the demon staggered away. Sam pursued it, punching and avoiding its bites with everything she had as she whaled on it like a pro.

Dev was impressed by her abilities, but it was time to stop this while he could. He went to rejoin the fight and tear the head off its shoulders.

No damn demon kills me and lives. If he was going to go down, he was taking the Charonte to hell with him.

Laughing, the Charonte lifted Dev up with one hand and flung him into the wall, five feet off the floor, then it turned on Sam and wrapped itself around her body. One moment she was fighting. The next, she and the demon were gone.

Dev lay in a bloody heap on the floor, horrified and stunned by what had happened.

The demon had ripped her right out of their existence.