as well by the same culprit. Still, whenever he looked at her, all he saw was the vibrant green-eyed beauty who had stood mere inches away from him, stood within his reach, a sensual, vital, and beautiful creature without compare. He had touched her then. For an instant, a single charged moment that had struck down through him like a killing spear, and he had known the feel of refined pale skin and forbidden human warmth. She had scorched against his fingertips like ignited butane, burning so sweet and clear and clean.

That single touch had nearly written a warrant of death for her.

Kane swallowed in pain that had little to do with the fire of a full Samhain moon crackling in his blood. Oh, yes, the curse of moon madness had flared through him in agonizing ways before, a struggle of morals and conscience every Demon, male or female, young or old, had to wrestle through each time the moons of Samhain and Beltane came around full, but never before had he crossed boundaries and broken laws to reach out and touch a human woman.

This human woman.


Kane whispered her name in a raspy voice, trying out his newfound right to speak it. . just as he was shockingly now permitted to be at her side. The very idea of it was baffling. A week ago he’d stalked her and been duly set back from the forbidden line he had crossed. But now. . now a new truth was known. A new understanding. Maybe it had been madness that had fueled his hunt for her, maybe it had been a curse that had compelled him to break Demon law. . or maybe it had been fate and Destiny. Maybe he had not stalked random prey at all, but instead had been driven by a single, sharp truth.

She was meant to be his.

The truth of it was known now. A single touch of his hand had awakened a change within this human woman who wasn’t entirely human. Dormant Druid DNA, the perfect complement to his own Demon genetics, had woken inside her with a vengeance. The reaction was volatile and demanding, needing power and energy to complete the conversion.

Power she simply didn’t have living in the simple ways of humanity. It was his power the change needed to feed off of. His and his alone. No other Demon would do. No other man would do. It was his abundant and complementary power she would need to fuel her existence from now until the day one or the other of them died.

And because he had been slapped back by the Enforcer, Kane had not been there to provide that desperately needed energy resource. The result had been the starvation of what had once been a vibrant and sensually stunning beauty, leaving behind a pale-grey and fragile girl who now tottered on the precipice of life and death. If he stepped too far away from her for even a moment, he might just as well shove her over that cliff.

So here he stayed, sitting in reach of her, staring at how she had been ravaged because of their ignorance of what she was. But he had known. Some instinct had called from his depths, demanding he take what was meant to be his. He had been so sure of it, so determined she was his even though it was against everything his brother had raised him to believe.

Kane had known she was meant to be his. He only wished it hadn’t taken such brutal damage to her to make that clear to everyone else. Almost as much as he wished to control the fire of need burning in his every last cell.

It was called the Imprinting, this thing between them. Though it was a very rare connection between two Demons, he was quite familiar with the lore of the symbiotic bond. Every Demon was. It was something every Demon longed for just as all young men and women longed for soul mates and true love.

Kane ran a hand back through damp, ebony hair, the already mussed curls licking around his passing fingers in clingy determination that matched the guilt riding deep and sore within him. The Imprinting was a sacred event, the ultimate connection between complementary souls. The couple involved began to exchange the essences of themselves from the very instant they touched. Between Demons it was the emotional and spiritual bond that threaded the two together, but with Kane and Corrine it was the physical one that had been crucial. He was supposed to provide for her and protect her, keep her safe, strong, and treasured. It was his right. . his duty. Destiny had gifted him with her, his mate, and he had. .

He had almost destroyed her. He had driven her almost to the point of death. Kane couldn’t stand the thought and it chilled him even as his stomach turned. The sensation of powerful guilt was bracing and welcome. It was the only thing that cooled the fiery call of Samhain in his blood.

Because nothing stood between an Imprinted pair on the night of Samhain. On this night, above all others, they would be driven into each others’ arms. The demand to mate would be imperative; there was no ignoring it.

But his mate lay unconscious and inaccessible. He could not touch her. . and he could not leave her side. Only his essential energy could revive her from this state of deathly limbo, and he must stay near for that to aid her. But with Hallowed moon madness screaming in his head, it was taking all of his significant discipline to keep from clasping her to himself, to keep from doing the unimaginable to a helpless, weakened girl.

Kane was literally in hell.

Jacob watched his brother tensely from the outer hallway, hanging as far back as he could so his telepathic sibling would remain unaware of his presence and, more importantly, his overriding concern. Newly Imprinted himself on Corrine’s blood sister Isabella, he could easily feel the struggle his brother was wrestling with. It was a credit to the fledgling’s mental control that he was sitting there so determinedly. As a Demon of the Earth, Jacob had no access to the thoughts or emotions of others; those were the skills of Mind Demons like Kane. However, he knew the scent of a warm-blooded creature infused with lustful need very well. The mystical force of the Samhain moon would eventually wrest control away from his brother. . just as it would wrest away his own control and force him to make haste to his Bella’s waiting arms.

“He will not make it,” he said softly to his companion.

“No,” the Demon King, Noah, agreed grimly as he glanced into the bedroom. “He is too young by far.”

“I am an Elder of great power and control and I do not think even I could keep away from Isabella tonight even if she were lying near death before me,” Jacob growled in sharp defense of his brother. It was a grim truth and it galled the Enforcer to admit it. It would horrify any respectable male to no end even to think of using his mate sexually when she was injured or ill, but inside every Demon lay a beast that could devolve into something uncontrollable on the rare occasion. Those occasions always seemed to center around the volatile emotional conditions of lust, rage, possessiveness, and protectiveness. And it was always worse on Samhain and Beltane.

“Sweet Destiny,” the King swore softly. “It infuriates me to think we have evolved so little that we would be compelled to something that amounts to rape in order to satisfy a biological urge!”

“Agreed. But this is an urge that ought to be mutual. It ought to be between immortals so powerful and dynamic that things like illness never become a part of the equation. This imperative does not take into consideration that a mate might not be fit for mating and it does not give us conscious control over ourselves in that instance.”

Noah already knew this and it was apparent in his hard sigh. The Demon King was the offspring of one of the oh-so-rare Demon to Demon Imprintings that had taken place in their history. He had seen how his parents were driven to one another on a daily basis, connected beyond his scope of understanding, and he had always known that Samhain and Beltane meant he would have no access to his parents as they locked themselves away from the world in order to indulge in each other. No matter what. If they had been arguing for days or angry with one another, they were forced to put their differences aside and left only with the choice of satisfying nature’s demand to mate.

It was a nearly foolproof plan meant to forever keep the Demon population thriving on this earth.

Tonight was an example of the horrible hitch in that plan.

Noah lowered his voice to the barest whisper of breath. “We will have to bind him.”

“We will have to do more than that or he will simply teleport free of the bindings,” Jacob pointed out grimly, feeling a sickly response to the realization that he was plotting to trap his brother in a literal hell on earth. “And we will have to bolt him down right beside her. Too much distance and she will die. By all rights she should already be dead. Only his presence spares her now.”

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