no matter how many centuries they might survive. It was only when they were being simultaneously starved and tortured that they scarred.

Or when they were in the hands of a demented Jinn. “Bloody hell,” Victor breathed. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Uriel squashed the urge to snatch up his sweatshirt and cover the revealing wound. What was he? A warrior or a squeamish wuss?

Still, even in the company of the only person in the world he trusted, he felt vulnerable, exposed.

“Don’t ask if it hurt,” he awkwardly muttered.

“No need.” Victor lifted his gaze with a puzzled frown. “You don’t get marked like this without it hurting like a bitch. Does it still bother you?”

“Not physically.”

Victor lifted his hand, holding it over the scar without actually touching it.

“I sense. .”

“Power,” Uriel finished the sentence.

The silver eyes widened as Victor abruptly realized where Uriel’s sudden increase of power had come from.



“I have to admit I wasn’t expecting that.” Victor slowly shook his head. “Of course, I wondered what had happened to increase your strength, but. .”

“But you didn’t suspect that the Jinn had juiced me up?”

“I can safely swear that was at the very bottom of my list,” Victor dryly admitted. “I’ve never heard of a Jinn sharing his power with anyone, let alone a vampire.”

Uriel flinched at the memory of the white-hot pain that had drilled into his chest, spreading through his body like an infection.

“At the time I didn’t know what the hell he was doing. I assumed I was about to meet my well deserved end.” His lips twisted with a bitter smile. “Imagine my surprise when the bastard simply disappeared, leaving me with a pretty new tattoo.”

“Did he say anything?”

“He said. .” Uriel hesitated, bracing himself for Victor’s response. There was the potential that his chief would consider the secrets he’d kept hidden worthy of a death sentence. Not the most comforting thought. “He said that I was to be ‘the instrument of his revenge’.”

Victor’s brows snapped together, his power slamming through the room with frigid force. Uriel hissed, struggling to keep his own powers leashed. The potential for violence quivered in the air, just waiting for the smallest provocation to erupt.

Uriel didn’t intend to be that provocation.

“Why didn’t you tell me what happened?” Victor growled.

“You had just rescued your new mate from the gaping jaws of death,” he reminded his chief. “You didn’t leave your private lair for over a month.”

Victor’s aristocratic features briefly softened. Like Pavlov’s dog, Uriel wryly acknowledged. Victor might be a fierce clan chief who enforced his laws with a brutal strength, but he melted at the mention of his mate.

“Ah yes,” the ancient vampire murmured. “Now that was a month to remember.”

Uriel refused to acknowledge his stab of envy.

What was the point?

Many of his fellow vampires joked that becoming mated was a fate worse than death (at least until they became mated themselves) but Uriel had secretly longed for the day when he would meet the female destined to stand at his side for all eternity.

Until he’d been cursed by the Jinn.

Now he accepted that he could never put his potential mate in danger.

Not if there was the slightest risk he could be forced to lose control.

“Besides, I thought the beast was amusing himself,” he continued with a shrug. “Like a cat with a trapped mouse. It wasn’t until days later that I realized he’d given my powers a dose of steroids.”

The silver eyes shimmered with anger. “And it didn’t occur to you that the Jinn’s mark might compel you to carry out his mysterious revenge?”

“Of course.” Uriel reached into the pocket of his jeans to pull out a wooden box no larger than his thumbnail. “That’s why I carry this.”

Victor hissed at the unmistakable symbol branded into the wood.

“A thana hex.”

Uriel nodded. It was a rare hex that could only be performed by imps with royal blood running through their veins.

The damned thing had taken him years to track down and cost over half his fortune to purchase, but it had been well worth the trouble.

One flip of the lid and he would be dead.

Quick, easy, and supposedly painless.

“Death in a box,” he said, returning the hex to his pocket. “If I ever feel myself being forced against my will I can end it before any damage can be done.”

There was the sound of approaching footsteps from the hallway and with a scowl Victor crossed to meet the young vampire at the door who handed him a cell phone. The conversation was brief, but the clan chief’s temper didn’t seem to be improved as he shoved the phone back into the servant’s hand and turned to glare at Uriel.

“I don’t have time to finish this conversation, but believe me, my brother, it’s not over.”

“Brilliant,” Uriel muttered.

Crossing back to his desk, Victor grabbed a sheet of paper and shoved it toward Uriel.


Uriel paused before reluctantly taking the proffered paper, his brows lifting as he realized it was a map of England.

“What’s this for?”

“I negotiated with the local coven. They cast a searching spell.” Victor stabbed a finger at the odd markings that were drawn at three spots on the map. “These are the locations that blocked their magic.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means someone with magical abilities is trying to hide something.” Victor moved his finger to the mark placed over the plain of Salisbury. “I would suggest you start here. The witches claimed they could sense black magic in the area.”


Bloody hell. Could the mage be any more cliche?

Belatedly realizing his chief was headed back to the door, Uriel abruptly lifted his head, a flare of panic twisting his gut.


The older vampire halted, glancing over his shoulder. “Yes?”

There was an unmistakable warning in the silver eyes. Victor had given his orders. Now he expected them to be obeyed.

No matter Uriel’s reluctance.

Uriel gave a resigned shake of his head. “Nothing.”

Victor continued out of the room, his power still thick in the air.

“Don’t disappoint me.”

Chapter 3

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