“You know as well as I do that the entire thing stinks of a trap,” he growled.

Victor shrugged. “There’s only one way to find out.” “Why doesn’t the Jinn go after the female?” he demanded. “It’s supposed to be her mother, not mine.” “Jinn half-breed,” Victor unnecessarily corrected him, his eyes narrowing at Uriel’s odd behavior. Understandable. Uriel had never been a “yes-man.” Victor didn’t have the patience for kiss asses. But he didn’t usually pitch a fit over such a small request. The problem was, Uriel didn’t want to share the reason for his reluctance to get involved. “Tane and Laylah must return to Chicago and protect the baby.” There was a deliberate pause. “Besides, I offered your services, which is my right as your chief.” “There are others more suited to play the role of Knight in Shining Armor.” Victor didn’t move. He didn’t have to. His power swirled through the air, slamming into Uriel with enough strength to make him grunt in pain.

“Are you questioning my decision making skills, Uriel?” he asked, oh so softly.

Uriel grimaced. “I’m not suicidal.” “I’m beginning to wonder.”

“I just don’t know why you would choose me for this chore.” “When did searching for an exquisitely beautiful woman become a chore?” “When she. .” Uriel bit off his revealing words.

Too late.

“What?” Victor demanded.


Victor pushed away from the sideboard, moving to stand directly in front of Uriel.

“Uriel, is this because she is the supposed mother of a Jinn mongrel?” Uriel clenched his hands. Had Victor become a mind reader?

Damn. Talk about disturbing.

“I logically understand that she was more than likely a victim,” he said stiffly. “A Jinn wouldn’t hesitate to rape and impregnate a helpless female.” His hand instinctively lifted to rub the scar that was directly over his unbeating heart. “Bastards.” “But?” Victor prompted.

With a restless motion, Uriel turned on his heel and paced toward the window that overlooked the manicured parkland. He could easily sense the dozen vampires who patrolled the grounds, as well as the vast series of tunnels that ran beneath the estate. Closer at hand he could detect Juliet, Victor’s mate, and in the private quarters the fairies who happily provided dinner (and whatever else might be desired) for many of the warriors.

Including the exquisite fairy that was supposed to be on his menu.

“But I would rather return to our hunt for the Sylvermyst,” he said between gritted teeth.

Victor remained silent a long moment, then he moved to stand at Uriel’s side, his gaze boring into Uriel’s profile with a tangible force.

“I have never pressed you to share what happened in your battle with the Jinn, even when I eventually realized that you had been. . altered by the encounter,” he said, politely referring to Uriel’s sharp surge in power. A vampire gained his full strength within the first few decades of his transformation. It was unheard of for one to acquire a master level after centuries of life. “I think it’s time you shared.” “And if I choose not to?”

“I won’t force you.”

Uriel unclenched his jaw, accepting the inevitable.

He’d known from the minute Tane had arrived in London with his half-breed Jinn that the truth would have to come out.

Fate was too much a pain in the ass not to interfere. . again.

“It’s not much of a story,” he said, reluctant to start. Not only because he had done his best to block out the painful memories, but because Victor was not going to be pleased.

His lips quirked.

Hell, that was the understatement of the year.

“Then it shouldn’t be difficult to tell,” Victor pointed out. “You can start from when we went to the docks to battle the Jinn.” Uriel kept his gaze trained out the window, tracing the moonlit gardens, but in his mind he returned to two centuries ago, when Victor had led his clan (along with his stubborn mate) into the tunnels beneath the London docks, determined to drive away the full-blooded Jinn who’d set up residence there.

He hadn’t known what to expect. None of them had. Jinn were forbidden by the Oracles to settle in this dimension. They were too powerful, too violent, and too talented at ensnaring other demons into becoming their mindless slaves. Not to mention they were immoral bastards.

Uriel, however, had been stupidly confident that an entire clan of vampires would be able to convince the forbidden demon to move on to a less dangerous location.

“After we split off in the tunnels, Johan and I headed toward the Thames in the hope of cornering the beast,” he said, his tone brittle.

“A solid strategy.”

“We hadn’t gone far when we entered a cavern.” He could still recall the damp, musty smell of the barren cave that had been edged by the unexpected scent of an approaching thunderstorm. “Johan circled left while I circled to the right. I sensed something was near, but it was. .” He shrugged, turning his head to meet Victor’s searching gaze. “Elusive. Like a bad cell phone connection flickering in and out of service.” Victor nodded, his expression grim. Uriel knew the older vampire’s memories of the battle with the Jinn weren’t exactly shiny happy thoughts, although his mate did manage to kill the bastard in the end.

“A full-blooded Jinn is not of this world. It’s why they’re so difficult to hunt and even more difficult to kill.” “So Johan found out,” Uriel agreed dryly. “One minute he was standing near the entrance to the cavern and the next he was being skewered by a bolt of lightning.” Uriel shuddered. Johan had been his brother for two centuries. He’d deserved a better end. “He had no warning. No chance.” Victor reached over to lay a hand on Uriel’s shoulder. “Johan was a warrior. He understood the dangers of his position, just as you do. You aren’t to blame for his death.” “You think I blame myself?”

“Don’t you?”

Uriel gave a sharp shake of his head. “No.” Victor wasn’t convinced. “Uriel.” “I don’t blame myself for his death,” Uriel assured his companion, unable to hide the bitterness in his voice. “I blame the Jinn for keeping me alive.”

Chapter 2

Victor was predictably baffled by the blunt confession. “What the hell does that mean?”

“After Johan was destroyed the Jinn appeared in front of me.” Uriel had a vivid memory of the demon who had taken human shape, although there was nothing human in the lethally beautiful face and the slanted lavender eyes that held an unearthly fury. “I tried to fight, but I was no match for him.”

Victor’s fingers gave his shoulder a comforting squeeze. “The only way to hurt a Jinn is to destroy his tiglia.”

Uriel nodded. Victor had discovered during his battle with the Jinn that the demon’s actual essence was kept in a wooden box. At the time, however, Uriel had only known that his fierce blows had done nothing but amuse the bastard.

“He could have killed me. Instead. .” The words became lodged in his throat.


Stepping back, Uriel yanked his sweatshirt over his head to expose his chest.

“Instead he grabbed me by the throat and used his other hand to do this.”

The this was the thick scar in the shape of a fist that was seared into his flesh.

Victor made a sound of shock as he caught sight of the disfigurement for the first time. Uriel had always been careful never to be seen without a shirt. Even when he was with his lovers. He didn’t want nosy questions.

And there would most certainly be questions.

A vampire’s ability to heal even the most grievous injuries made certain that their bodies remained flawless

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