“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.
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.
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.
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.