going to do anything. I was just. . restless.”

“I see. So you thought to seduce this woman to appease your restlessness?” Jacob asked bluntly as he folded his arms across his chest. His manner was that of a parent scolding a wayward child. It could have been an amusing thought, considering Kane was just about to enter his second century of life, but the matter was too serious by far.

“I wasn’t going to hurt her,” Kane protested. He would never hurt her. She was precious. She was everything. He would love her as deeply and as thoroughly as he could.

“No?” Jacob asked, his sarcasm very obvious. “Just what were you going to do? Ask politely if you could visit the savageness of your present nature on her? How does one word that exactly?”

Kane fell stubbornly silent. He knew that the Enforcer had read his intentions from the moment he’d decided to stalk his prey. Arguments and denials would just worsen the situation. Besides, the incriminating evidence of his transgression was standing between them.

For a brief, passionate moment, Kane’s thoughts filled with vivid mental imaginings of what could have been more incriminating. He suppressed a shudder of sinful response, his eyes falling covetously on the woman standing so beautifully serene before him. Had Jacob been even slightly off his irritatingly perfect game and come into the picture a half hour later. .

“Kane, this is a difficult time for our people. You are as susceptible to these base cravings as any other Demon,” the Enforcer said with implacable resolve. It was as though Jacob were the one who could read Kane’s mind, rather than the other way around. “Still, you are a mere two years from becoming an adult. I cannot believe you have me chasing you down like a green fledgling.” There it was. That word again. That. . term. “Think of what I could be accomplishing if I were not standing here saving you from yourself.”

The remark was like a kick in the pants, and it smarted. Sweet Destiny, it was true. Near Samhain his brother Jacob was weighted down by his responsibilities even more than usual. The last thing he had needed was to be chasing after his own baby brother. Jacob had never asked for his mantle of responsibility. He had inherited it suddenly and unexpectedly when their eldest brother Adam had suddenly gone missing, presumed dead at the hands of some necromancer and a nefarious summoning spell many centuries ago. Jacob had lost a beloved brother and inherited a ponderous duty in one fell swoop. Now he was the pariah of his people. A necessary evil, as it were. Sort of like the internal affairs division of the human police. They were necessary, they were members of the same brotherhood, but oh, how they were held in contempt.

“I’m sorry, Jacob, I really am,” he said at last. Kane felt utter shame washing over him as he appreciated the position he had put his beloved sibling in. It actually surprised him that he hadn’t thought of the consequences of his actions and how they would affect Jacob. He glared up at the Samhain moon and knew that was where the blame belonged. Kane’s throat closed with a sharp sense of remorse that knifed through him.

It was as overpowering as the dread that was welling up within him. He’d betrayed the sanctity of their laws, and there was a punishment for that. A punishment that made an entire species catch their breath and back away whenever the Enforcer entered the vicinity. Kane could suddenly feel the weight of Jacob’s position, and it sharpened his regret to a point of pain in his chest.

“You will send this woman home safely by reuniting her with her escort and making sure she remembers nothing of your misbehavior,” Jacob instructed softly. “Then you will go home. Your punishment will come later.”

“But I didn’t do anything,” Kane protested, a swift rise of inescapable fear fueling his objection.

“You would have, Kane. Do not make this worse by lying to yourself about that. Do not try to convince yourself that I am the villain others like to make me out to be. That will only cause us both pain.”

Kane recognized that truth with another upsurge of guilt. Sighing resolutely, he closed his eyes and concentrated for all of a second. Moments later, the redhead’s escort loped back across the street with a smile and a call to her.

“Hey! Where’d ya go? I turned the corner and suddenly you weren’t there!”

“I’m sorry. I was distracted by something and didn’t realize you’d gone, Charlie.”

Charlie linked his arm with his date’s and, completely oblivious of the two Demons barely a breath away, drew her off, chattering incessantly about that ridiculous movie he was so damn excited to see. It grated on Kane’s nerves to hear it, set off a screaming sensation in his blood to allow her to walk away from him. But what else could he do? She was forbidden and Jacob would fight him if he tried to do otherwise. Sweet Destiny, fight with the Enforcer? Even Gideon the Ancient had not been able to come out a winner against Kane’s powerful brother.

“Good,” Jacob commended Kane, unaware of how the fledgling had to struggle to stay where he was, to let her go into the dangerous night and a ridiculous date where she wouldn’t be even slightly appreciated for the wonder that she was.

Kane sighed. Nothing about this felt good. Not the position he was currently in, and certainly not turning her back over to that inept buffoon who knew nothing of how precious she was. . of how exquisitely, painfully she was capable of making a male feel just by her very presence in a room.

“She’s so beautiful. Did you see that smile? All I could think about was how much I wanted her to smile when. .” Kane flushed as he looked at the Enforcer. He had not intended to speak aloud. He had not wanted to confess so much to his brother. Oh, nothing would change the inevitability of the consequences to come, but there was a sanctity to what he felt for his redheaded human torturer. It was private. Nothing to be shared with others. “I never thought this would happen to me, Jacob. You have to believe that.”

When it came down to it, Kane didn’t want Jacob to think he had purposely brought them to this pass. He loved his brother.

“I do.” Jacob hesitated for a moment, for the first time making it obvious to Kane that this had been a terrible struggle for him, no matter how well he projected otherwise. “Do not worry, Kane. I know who you really are. I know that this curse is hard for us to fight. Now,” he said, his tone back to business, “please return home. You will find Abram there awaiting you.”

This time, Kane brushed away the welling trepidation within himself. He did it for Jacob’s sake, knowing how deeply the situation cut the Elder Demon, even though the Enforcer’s thoughts were too carefully guarded for Kane to read. “You must do your duty as you would with anyone. I understand that, Jacob.”

Kane then gave the Enforcer a short nod of kinship. After glancing around to make sure they were unobserved, he exploded into a burst of sulfur and smoke as he teleported away.

It took everything. . every fiber of control he could muster, not to stray from the course Jacob had demanded of him.

Chapter 1


Sweet and bitter all at once, it raced through his blood, stretching every muscle and stripping down his control to the very thinnest of threads. Swallowing down a groan lest the others hear him, he bent forward in his chair and braced his elbows on his denim-clad knees.

This was intolerable. It was a recipe for disaster and devastation. His rushing and pounding heart would not bear the strain of this pace for all the hours that stretched out before him.

Peace, he whispered into his own mind, find peace. Think on it a moment. Here you are, by her side, where you never thought to be again. You thought you would never be allowed within miles of her again, and yet now you can reach out and touch her. .

But he didn’t dare reach out to the unconscious form of the woman in the nearby bed. He was terrified that if he began to touch her he would not be able to force himself to stop. The fever in his blood was what made that fear boil so hot and so true. It was a caution he must heed. No matter what. No matter how tempting a figure she was to him.

It wasn’t her beauty or shapeliness that captivated him, or even the fiery brilliance of her coiled and curling hair. The former had been starved and drained away from her in by a terrible illness and the latter had been dulled

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