Unless she could strew. Then he'd be at hers. The self-control he'd celebrated yesterday would be wrested from him yet again.

He had responded nigh violently to the scent of her arousal; he could only imagine what her strew would do to him. . . .

Munro had been trying to talk to him all afternoon. Light raps on his door had turned to open-palmed hits. In Gaelic, he'd said, "Mayhap succubae are taught to behave the way they do. Mayhap it's no' innate. I remember that night too, Will. I remember Ruelle eyeing that sword, thinking about seizing it, then begging for your help instead. Chloe would've dived for the sword and bared it along with her teeth. She stabbed you today. Which means she is no' like the others."

Munro's words had set Will to prowling his room, aching for that to be true, like a drowning man who thought he'd glimpsed land. But just because Chloe was one way now didn't mean she wouldn't transform, becoming more like her kind.

Toadying, ingratiating, seductive.



Downstairs, Will could hear Munro and the lads watching TV, what sounded like a ball game. How nice life must be for them, drinking beer and watching sports without a care in the world.

Then he frowned. He could have sworn he'd just heard spectators yelling, "Chloe!"

He bounded down the stairs into the great room, stopping short when he saw his mate in a clip splashed across the big-screen TV. She was in a blue jersey, running down the field in front of an audience of thousands. "What the hell is this?"

"Seattle Reign clips of Chloe," Munro said. "Ronan found them on a site run by some fanboys."


The website background was a collage of still shots of her in action. Her stats were listed on the side of the screen, along with a section for "Chloe Todd Trivia." Nickname: Baby T-Rex. Soccer style: Misdirection and sheer ferocity. School: Stanford. Likes: Eighties music and movies. Dislikes: Pushy fanboys.

Ferocity? And they'd never seen her with a shiv! He turned toward the liquor cabinet, grabbed a fifth. Doona give a shite about her. The last thing he'd be doing was checking out her games.

But why hadn't she told him she'd gone to Stanford? Not that he cared-

Ronan, Ben, and Munro simultaneously groaned, as if they'd all been kneed in the ballocks.

Despite himself, Will turned to the TV. Chloe had just gotten steamrolled by a six-foot-tall player.

He despised the succubus; he should be enjoying this. "If the runtling plays with the big girls, she's going to get hurt."

In a pissy tone, Ronan said, "We're trying to watch here."

When Chloe got to her feet and dusted herself off, the much larger Amazon shoved her again. Chloe shoved back, not giving up an inch.

When the Amazon yanked Chloe's ponytail so hard it looked like her neck had snapped, Will found himself growling. The others glanced over at him.

No wonder she'd shorn her hair. Yet now it had grown out with her change.

He drank his whiskey, but damn if he could take his eyes off the screen. The site had clip after clip of her exploiting weak coverage and scoring with clever, unexpected shots.

He casually sank down on one of the couches. "Playing against humans? Where's the sport in that?" he asked, even while he knew she'd been mortal during those games. There were clips of her limping as she ran for a penalty kick or spitting blood after being kneed in the mouth.

Which meant she'd been that good because of training-not because she'd been on the cusp of immortality. She appeared to have earned her skill.

When she had the ball, it was like a part of her; her body was constantly moving, as if in a dance of misdirection.

She would use her arms to telegraph a strike to the right, only to tuck the ball in to her left, slipping past a flummoxed player. He could never predict whether she'd push the ball with her inner left foot or outer right or vice versa. Always something different.

It was dizzying-jaw-dropping. When he could momentarily forget what she was, she spellbound him.

In one game in the cold, her breasts had pressed against her sweat-dampened jersey, her nipples hard against the material. Had the others noticed that? He recalled how those tight points had tasted-of rain and cherries.

He drew deep of his bottle, seeking numbness.

One clip showed her taking the ball down the field, sprinting all-out, leaving her guard in the dust-until another player clotheslined her, sending Chloe crashing to her back.

Will shot to his feet. -PROTECT.-

Had any Lykae ever sat back and watched his mate get beaten like this? His Instinct didn't know the difference between televised history and the present.

But Chloe hadn't needed any protection. She'd waited until later in the game, spotting her chance. The one who'd clotheslined her had been sidelined. Ronan cheered. "I think I'm in love!"

Will sat back down. She was like a mouse with a lion's roar, a wee warrioress.

Munro flashed him an I told you so look.

A succubus warrior? There was no such thing. Even the ones who'd attacked him in the prison had behaved out of character by using force.

Chloe didn't seem to communicate in any language other than force. But now she would begin changing, transitioning into a good little succubus. The ones he'd encountered before her had all been physically flawless, possessing innate talents to lure males into their clutches. Singing, dancing, cooking, and so forth.

Chloe had already become physically flawless. Thinking back, he realized that the scars on her ankle and knee had disappeared. Her new mane of tawny hair would draw male gazes like a flame amid moths.

Soon she'd be using her newly acquired arsenal of skills. The female in these games was gone forever. . . .

His claws sank into his palms when he realized some of the clips weren't even of her playing. In one, she did nothing but wipe her face with her jersey, exposing her flat stomach and the bottom of her bra. Who were these pricks who'd put together this site?

-Males covet your unmarked mate.-

As if she'd been conjured, he heard her emerge from her room. She appeared at the top of the stairs, her shoulders squared, eyes narrowed and watchful.

Will now recognized that look. It was the same one she wore in the seconds before kickoff.

As she descended the stairs, his predator's gaze was locked on her. Forever she would look this way. He allowed himself to stare, to assess the changes in her.

She'd already sheared off the length of her hair, leaving curling tousles jutting all about her face. From the looks of it, she'd used a knife or even another mirror shard. He wondered if she knew it would grow back in a day.

Though her scars had disappeared, her skin remained tanned, and she still had those freckles on her nose. Her figure was a touch curvier, but she'd retained her athletic shape. Anyone who saw her would know she'd been honed by sports.

For Will, she was a fantasy made flesh-and a nightmare.

Munro rose, as if a lady had entered. "Do you need anything, Chloe?"

"Just going to make myself some dinner."

Will gave a harsh laugh. "Did you no' get the memo, man-eater? What your kind dines on canna be found in a kitchen."

She pointedly ignored him. Stalking into the kitchen, she perused the meager offerings of the fridge, then took out bread, butter, and cheese.

In short order, Chloe scorched the butter, burned the sandwich, then plopped the resulting brick onto a plate. "Does anyone else want one?" she asked sweetly.

She might not be able to cook, but that wouldn't stop her from ingratiating herself with males, a succubus's m.o.

Ronan raised his hand. "I do." At Will's scowl, he said, "What? I like them burned."

"Okay," she said in a bright tone. "Then I won't clean up. Everything'll be right here when you need it."

Crestfallen, Ronan muttered, "That's my trick."

Plate in hand, she started back toward her room. She'd have to walk past Will again. Already she swerved closer to him. She's helpless no' to want me. Catnip.

Soon enough those claws would come out, and finally everyone would understand what they were dealing with. Strange that she wasn't looking at him-Ruelle had hardly taken her eyes off him.

Never missing a step, Chloe reached down to the side table next to him and stole his whiskey bottle.

Will's jaw slackened as he watched her trot up the stairs. When she entered her room, he turned to the others. The lads were flabbergasted. Munro stifled a grin.

Ben said, "She's no' scared of you at all. Even after she saw your beast."

I could show it to her again. She was immortal, could withstand even the beast's stiff fucking. At the thought of taking her, lust hit Will like a punch in the gut, making him growl once more. I could be inside her right now.

Her succubus allure was already working on him.

"He's growling for her?" Ronan asked. "His mate walks by, and he does no' touch her? Or pull her into his lap? It's no' natural! And it's starting to freak me out."

"I canna be with her as I would with a fitting mate," Will said. "She comes from a diabolical species. You have to be constantly on guard."

"Can someone please tell me why succubae are so bad?" Ronan said, quickly adding, "Ben does no' understand this either."

Munro answered, "They do have powers over men. The evil ones"-glower at Will-"can emit chemicals to make you want them against your will."

"She's Head Case's mate; he's going to want her anyway. Besides, it's no' like she needs any chemicals. She's smokin' hot."

Another growl from Will. A defiant look from Ronan.

"Succubae form a mystical connection with their bed partners called a venom bond," Munro said. "Once the male takes it into him, he's bound to her until she dies."

"Again, she's his mate. They're already bound."

Munro raised his palms: I've got nothing.

Will took up the cause. "They feed off you, boy."

"So do vampires, but that dinna stop our king from making one his queen," Ronan pointed out. "Does it hurt?"

"If you doona do it enough, it'll hurt." As if it'd been yesterday, he could remember how his bones had felt like they were shattering, over and over again.

"So let me get this straight. Your smokin' hot mate might use chemicals to make you want to do her. Except you already want to, so it's wasted chemicals. Then once you start having sex with her, you're going to keep wanting to, which would likely have happened anyway, because like I said, she's totally hot."

"And like I said, there's pain involved if you doona."

"Is there no' always? It's called blue ballocks. Mayhap you've forgotten what it's like to be in your teens-"

"That female has the power to enslave men." Will was growing exasperated.

Ronan seemed even more so. "Doona they all?"

Again Munro raised his hands: Pup's got a point.

"It's a violation!"

Ben cast a wary glance at Will. "Just leave it, Ronan. It's no' for us to understand." He rose, squiring his brother away.

But the lad wasn't finished with Will. "I'll never understand this. You're supposed to hunt and provide for your mate. All you have to do is nut with her? What is wrong with you people?" As they walked off, Ronan told Ben, "If she was no' his mate, then I could see, but she is. And she's never done anything to us-except for refusing to cook-and he's threatening to behead her and shite." In a quieter, even more confused tone, he asked, "Are all the old ones this prejudiced?"

"Fairly much, aye."

When they were gone, Will sat back, filled with fury. "She's already started working on the dunderheaded pup. He'll be infatuated soon."

Munro quietly said, "I feel the same way."

"She got to you too!"

"Nay! I agree with all his points."

"You know they're sympathetic-they make you feel sorry for them, to want to protect them. I faced off against my own father to protect Ruelle." Why did he no' hit me harder? I'd just gotten his beloved mate killed.

Done discussing this, Will stood.

"Where are you going?" Munro asked.

"To make sure our new houseguest understands the rules. . . ."

Chapter Twenty-Seven

It's just like reps, Chlo.

She figured there were about a dozen bites of sandwich that she had to get down. Then she could reward herself with whiskey, possibly getting drunk like last night and passing out.

Anything to end this day.

First bite. She used to love burned grilled cheeses. Second bite. Tastes like cardboard. Third. She could do this!

It wasn't just her utter lack of appetite that was freaking her out. If MacRieve hated her so much-and he'd just made that clear yet again-then why keep her here? This compound was huge, but he'd ordered her to stay here with one wall between them. She'd locked the adjoining door, for all the good that would do.

He should've let her go with those two succubae at the wall. How badly Chloe wanted to talk to someone of her own . . . species. To discover how to control her powers and her new strength. To determine a way around having to feed.

To find out about her mother and ancestors.

Until Chloe was able to escape this place, she'd have no answers. She set her plate aside and tilted her head at her room's TV. If it was connected to the internet, could she get a message out?

To who? Her friends on the team? She'd never involve them in this. With a start, she realized she might never see them again-

The adjoining door to MacRieve's room burst open, the lock broken. "You doona ever lock a door against me." His expression was enraged. "Understand me? And why the hell would you take my whiskey?"

She was presently experiencing the worst day of her life; she didn't need any more of his shit! "Because I want to get drunk and act like the last two days never happened."

He seemed confused that she was glaring at him. "What reason do you have to look at me like that? You're the one who hid what you were!"

"I didn't know what I was!"

"How could you no' sense something was wrong?"

"I believed there was a chance I was becoming immortal, but I didn't know what kind. Yet you knew you had a freaking monster in you just waiting to surface."

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