“It will not be so sharp a danger for her with a little time.”

“I wish I could say the same for my brother,” Jacob replied, reaching up to rub at the wrenching tension in his neck. He could barely think; his psyche was torn with the needs of others. There was his would-be bride, with whom he was sharing an exclusive telepathic connection, inundating him with fear for her sister’s life as she waited in the parlor downstairs. On the flip side of that coin was the Imprinting that demanded they come together soon. Very soon. There was his worry for Kane and the stress of knowing other Druids like Corrine had already died horrible deaths because he had unwittingly done his job as Enforcer and kept humans away from Demons, not realizing there were some with Druid DNA that were calling a particular Demon to them. And once they touched. .

And he always made sure to wait until they touched. Once the Demon transgressor touched the human victim, it was irrefutable evidence he or she had crossed the line.

“Better this than the alternative,” Noah remarked knowingly as he turned serious jade and grey eyes on him. “We had best get on with it. We shall use Legna to tamp down his ability to teleport for the moment. She is strong enough to master him, I think. But I believe, in the end, it ought to be his Siddah who binds him for the long haul. He will be better able to forgive those of us he loves much easier than those who are less intimate with him.”

“I suppose we will see about that,” Jacob replied.

In truth, Jacob could not see how his brother was ever going to be able to forgive him for putting Kane’s destined mate in such horrible danger. Ignorance was no excuse, in Jacob’s mind. In all these centuries as Enforcer, why had it never once occurred to him to question his duties? Why had he never thought to look deeper than the responsibilities thrust upon him?

And why was he the first to be rewarded with the incredible beauty and breathlessness of a Demon and human/Druid hybrid Imprinting? After destroying countless others’ opportunities to know the same blessing, however unwittingly, why was he now to be the one to find joy?

Ironically, it was the soothing comfort of his mate’s voice in his head that helped ease his guilt and put it to rest.

Chapter 2

Corrine awoke very slowly.

She never woke quickly. She had always despised mornings. As necessary as they were, right along with the whole job thing and the responsibility-to-pay-the-rent thing, she just hated motivating herself out of warm and cozy sheets and into wet and bracing showers. Give her Saturday and super lazy Sundays and she was a happy girl. She was as opposite her obnoxiously energetic and efficiently motivated sister as you could get. Especially when it came to Corrine’s weekends. But since Isabella wasn’t there prodding her awake and waving coffee under her nose, Corrine had to assume it was the weekend.


She cracked an eyelid open and immediately shut it when the blare of colored sunlight struck her pupil. Groaning in complaint and refusal, Corrine burrowed her face back into her pillow’s super soft belly. Then she turned and tried to curl up into a morning-resistant ball.

It wasn’t until she knocked a knee into a distinctively warm body that she realized she wasn’t alone in her bed.

That woke Corrine up like nothing else could have.

She jolted upright like a shot, a rush of cold washing over her and making her realize she was bare-assed naked even as she squinted against the harsh light all around her. All it took was a moment to focus, but as soon as she did, her jaw dropped so far open she heard the hinge pop. She was now staring in utter disbelief at the man. . yes, it was definitely a man and not a freaking doubt about it. . in her bed.

Okay, wait. Not her bed. His bed? Her bed was low and simply lacquered, this was a four-postered monstrosity made of what was probably a long extinct type of oak tree and had had dozens of slaves carving pictures onto it or something. Corrine dismissed that thought immediately though because she could only focus on the absolutely astounding body laid out beside her.

Oh. No. Inaccurate.

Tied down to the bed beside her! This forced Corrine’s mind to race madly for some kind of explanation that would make sense.

I got drunk, picked up a hottie who was into kink, passed out before untying him.

That would account for everything, she thought with a kind of hysterical satisfaction. Except she didn’t overindulge anymore. Not since college and the time she’d. . well, she’d learned her lesson and had never again wanted to know what it felt like to wake up lost and confused in the wake of bad choices.

Rather like she was feeling at that very moment.

Corrine bit her lip anxiously as she took in the sexy beast beside her. Naked from the waist up, he certainly fit the description. Lean and athletic though he was, he was thick with nicely contoured muscles. Muscles pulled into taut relief by the shackles around each of his wrists and drawn up so tight his knuckles brushed the headboard. Thick cuffs circled each strong lower forearm and linked into dense steel chains that disappeared seamlessly into the wall. A wall made of pure concrete and stone! It was as if the cement had been poured over the chains while the building had been created.

Well, that was just much too kinky for her.

Corrine backed away from her chained stud, even as her darting eyes took in the raw, torn wood of the thick headboard and the whitish-yellow coloring of the wood’s wounds. The shavings all around both head and footboards and scattered across the bedding attested to his having violently struggled against his bondage.

What the hell is going on here? Corrine wanted to know this even as she took in his wide shoulders, their breadth obvious even in spite of his awkward position of captivity. His handsome face was so classically beautiful, in a very dark and Romanesque fashion, that it absolutely fascinated her. Thick dark brows, distinct from each other and shaped with an elegant curve, seemed to point down toward the blade of his nose. Sculpted lips were tightly pressed together, as if he was hurting even in his. . sleep? God, was he asleep? Or was he unconscious? Corrine’s eyes darted down across the dusting of dark hair that created a light pelt that eventually narrowed to a single line bisecting him to his navel and beyond. It wasn’t until she could see his bared belly that she realized his dark skin was painted with perspiration. She reappraised him to check the data, from hip points to the ebony hair curling back from his forehead. When she had determined he had some kind of fever or was in some sort of pain, she continued to let her eyes drift down the denim encasing his thighs and calves, the faded, snug material leaving very little to the imagination.

Corrine purposely drew her gaze away from his fly and glanced at his ankles. She inspected the shackles locked around them, the length of metal climbing almost halfway up his calves, which she could see when she dared to pick up the hem of his jeans with a single delicate finger. The footboard was just as chewed up as the head, with shreds of wood everywhere there as well. When she moved carefully to peek over the bed, she found those chains sinking directly into the stone floor just as they did the wall at the head of the bed. Only this time there were two chains per leg, as if someone had thought one chain wouldn’t be enough to hold him.

No. She would never have agreed to something like this. And judging by the amount of blood staining the manacles and his jeans, he hadn’t wanted any part of it either. He was tied down like some kind of dangerous animal.

Corrine fought her compassionate impulse to reach out and touch his face, which was vibrating with nervous twitches and spasms as if he was fighting his bonds even in his sleep.

What if he was dangerous?

What if she’d been kidnapped or something and thrown into. . into. . into a lion’s den? Was he some kind of deadly killer? Some kind of Hannibal Lecter in need of a redheaded appetizer?

When bold blue eyes suddenly appeared in the face she was staring at, Corrine yelped in fearful surprise. She

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