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.”

“Sporn?”

“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?”

“Uh…no.”

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.

Nothing.

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.