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JACQUELYN FRANK

Kane

Prologue

Kane burned. His mind, his every sense, but most of all his body burned with need and lust unlike anything he had ever felt before. The Samhain moon was growing heavy and full, it would be at its apex in a matter of days, but it may as well have been scorching its full influence into him in that very instant, that was how ravaged he was feeling.

Or maybe it was just because of her.

He’d followed her for three days now, either in person or with the power of his mind, stalking her every step since the moment he’d first laid eyes on her. He was Demon, a creature born to the night, born with powers beyond human understanding. Every Demon favored a specific element: Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Body, or, as in his case, Mind. He was powerful, capable of great feats. . and yet always weaker than other Demons around him. They called him fledgling. A child. A nearly hundred year old child. He was a mere two years from earning a little more respect. Then he would be an adult. Not quite the deeply respected Elder that his brother was, nowhere near the astounding Ancient that Gideon was, but it would be better than that accursed title of fledgling.

But however much or little his contemporary Demons thought of him, this young female, this human, had lived for barely a quarter of his lifetime. She was ignorant of so much, ignorant of his kind and the other Nightwalkers that lived on the borders of her world. Maybe that was why she was so carefree in the way she lived her life. Granted, she was marred with emotional scars that others had so thoughtlessly burdened her with, but in spite of that she still managed to be vivacious and earthy, as vibrant as her brilliant red hair and sparkling green eyes. As clean and clear as her pristine pale skin.

Someone else had taken notice of her brilliance. He was unworthy. Even she thought so. The inept creature had bored her almost from the outset, and yet she carried on their date, trying to find comfort in his plainness and his constancy. Kane had been tracking this absurdity from a distance, pacing furiously as the ridiculousness of it all burned at his patience. But there was little he could do about it. She was human and to him she was forbidden. By all rights he should have turned his back on her days ago. He should have written her off completely. Keeping track of her, whether from near or from far, would only lead to trouble.

That trouble had come. It had come in the form of this overwhelming burning, this savage sense of lust and ownership that could not be denied. He couldn’t bear her being on that useless creature’s arm another second. Now he was flying to her side in a series of uncontrolled bursts of teleportation, each jump taking him closer to her and each jump leaving behind an ever more violent burst of smoke and sulfur in his wake. His emotions were out of his control and therefore his powers were also out of his control. But none of that mattered. He was close. Closer. Soon he would put this fiasco to an end. He would rip her from the side of this clown she was trying to make worthy of her.

He materialized on the seedy New York street in a violent flash, only his power to influence the minds of others camouflaging the frightening display from those nearby. His beauteous redhead and her so-called date walked on, completely oblivious to his presence.

He stalked after them quickly, his eyes tracking all the shadowy corners and alleys nearby. His distaste for her escort trebled. What male worth anything would bring a woman to a place such as this? Didn’t the fool realize the dangers all around them? Did that weak excuse for a human male honestly think himself capable of protecting her should danger present itself?

In truth, the thought wasn’t even in his mind, Kane realized as he scanned them both. The shocking fact was, he was barely even focused on the treasure walking by his side! All of this fool’s thoughts were eagerly focused on the film they were going to see. Apparently its special effects and coveted director warranted more attention than the one-of-a-kind sultry creature on his arm.

Disgusted, Kane seized control of both their minds at once. They stopped still for a moment and then Kane shaded out any awareness and recollection of her from the human male’s mind and sent him on his way to the moving picture that seemed to mean so much to him.

And now he was alone with her. Mere steps away. It would be child’s play for him to beckon her, to bring her to him as a willing, compliant thing. Oh, but that was not what he wanted. He wouldn’t take her as a mind-numbed slave. It was her spirit that so enthralled him.

He would only alter her perceptions a little bit, just so she would forget what she had been doing, thus opening an opportunity for him to enter her life. But first. . first he needed to touch her. Just one blessed moment of contact. Something to soothe this burn within him. Something to calm it a little so he could think straight and function properly.

Kane reached for her, his hand trembling as he did so, the vibration indicative of the power of his feelings, of his weakening restraint. His palm burned with anticipation, prickles dancing the length of his long fingers so that they twitched. Her unknowing smile was soft and serene. It could be anything he wanted it to be. It could be beatific, it could be wildly ecstatic. For now it remained that lovely neutral as he touched the tips of his fingers to the curve of her high cheekbone.

Oh, Sweet Destiny. It practically hurt, the overwhelming sensation of rightness and relief that rushed through him. He cradled that gorgeous face against his palm and fought off an emotional wash of tears that pricked behind his lids. His. She was his. At last he had her in his grasp, he had crossed the line and, contrary to all the warnings pounded into him his entire life, lightning had not come to strike him down. What was so bloody wrong about this, he wanted to know. Yes, she was human and he was Demon, but weren’t they more alike than unalike? Were they not both made of flesh? Did they not both crave the touch and presence of that special someone. . of a passion that blinded the soul? The world was not coming to an end! It was just beginning!

And then lightning struck.

Like the snap of a magician’s cape being pulled away to reveal a tiger in a cage, Jacob the Enforcer appeared before him. Dread and horror rushed into Kane from all vectors, the shock of suddenly standing toe to toe with his Elder brother slamming into him like a sucker punch. This was Jacob at his most frightening. His most terrible. Yes, he was still the same brother who had raised him and loved him all of his life, but this was the side of Jacob no Demon saw until he had crossed Demon law. This was the Enforcer. And he had come to punish Kane.

Kane’s throat went suddenly and brutally dry, his heart seizing in what he had to confess was fear. The punishment for what he had just done was the most severe a Demon could face, next to being put to death. His hand jerked away from the redhead’s cheek as if she’d burned him and his concentration broke from her. She blinked, suddenly becoming aware that she was sandwiched between two strange men and had no idea how she had gotten there.

“Take hold of her mind, Kane. Do not make this worse by frightening her.”

Kane obeyed instantaneously and she relaxed. The resulting peaceful beauty that washed over her was enough to distract him even from the knell of Jacob’s presence. He marveled at how soft and sweet she looked. He knew her mind and nature matched her looks. It was only the cold warning look from his sibling that kept him from touching her again.

“Jacob, what brings you out on a night like this?” he blurted out, unable to think of anything else to say. After all, they were blood brothers. If Jacob was going to give anyone a pass, wouldn’t it be him?

“You know why I am here,” the Enforcer said, nipping that thought right in the bud with a chill, disciplined tone that warned Kane not to test his mettle.

“So maybe I do,” Kane admitted. And still, the immediate danger didn’t seem to be getting through to the rest of him. It was taking everything in his power to keep from reaching for her again. Even though it made him look quite a bit guiltier than he really was, he lowered his gaze to the spotted, dirty sidewalk and shoved his hands deep into his pockets. He gripped hold of the fabric on the inside of those pockets and forced himself to hold on. “I wasn’t

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