Even after all this time, that look affected Cas. He could kill this smirking prince for what he’d done. For what he was still doing. Mirceo’s needy moans and abandoned words from that last night in Dacia forever rang in Cas’s ears: I’ve dreamed about this, beautiful. Ride me! Use me, demon. Use me to come.
Gritting his demon fangs, Cas strode through the tavern toward the exit, beings darting out of his way. He passed the vampire without another look, then shoved open the door, taking it off the hinges.
Outside, he crossed to a rickety fence that edged a viewing platform. In the valley below was the portal to the Plane of Lost Years, a.k.a. Poly. The large rift between dimensions shimmered with welcome, giving no hint of the hellhole that lay beyond—sweltering during the day, bone-chilling at night, and rife with violence.
As he watched, Loreans stepped through the portal to the other side. Gods help you all.
Sucking in the cold night air, Cas struggled to control his thundering heart. He caught the scent of sandalwood just before he heard a raspy voice: “You won’t spare a word for your friend?”
Cas’s shoulders tensed. Friend? More like betrayer. He’d believed Mirceo would intercede with his uncle. Instead, the spoiled prince must’ve told the assassin how to find Cas.
Trehan had descended upon Abaddon the same night Cas had fled Dacia.
Mirceo joined him at the fence, gazing out over the portal. “I can’t believe you fractured a stone demon. I always loved to watch you fight—when I wasn’t battling by your side—but what you just did was spectacular.”
Before the fight, Cas had been lost in thought, wondering why he felt no satisfaction with his life. He’d had coin in his pocket, a drink in hand, and a buxom brunette ready to go back to his lodgings here at the outpost. Life was good.
So why wouldn’t this emptiness in his chest ease?
The female had been just his type—a comely demoness with generous curves and a submissive disposition, who’d be all too happy to let him dominate her. Yet Cas had felt zero anticipation for what he’d thought to experience.
Life was good indeed—he’d worked his ass off to change his entire existence—so when would it feel good?
Maybe when he’d reclaimed the honor he’d lost in the Iron Ring? Cas turned to Mirceo. “How did you find me here?”
“I heard you were heading to the Plane of Lost Years—for some kind of self-inflicted punishment—and figured you’d stop at this outpost for a last lay.”
You’re a little late, prince. Cas had already been there for centuries, now returned. As a death demon, he derived strength from his every kill, and he’d made thousands on Poly; at last he was ready to fight Trehan again. Cas had simply needed a way to send a challenge to Dacia.
Which meant Mirceo’s presence might actually be a boon.
“I was right as usual,” the vampire continued. “I’m well aware of your immense sexual appetites, because I enjoyed them.”
Cas shook his head. “You watched me with females.”
“We watched each other. And then there was the night of our kiss.”
That night had fucked Cas up for ages! He had never desired another male before or since Mirceo. “Just tell me why you’re here.”
“Testing a theory.” The vampire’s gaze rose. “Look at your gorgeous horns, Caspion.”
The way Mirceo said his name was like a graze of lips across his throat, making Cas’s pulse race. Godsdamnit, what hold did this male have over him? I’ll fight it to the death!
Mirceo continued in that hypnotic voice, “I loved to watch them straighten and swell, transfixed by the sight. I still fantasize about kissing them. Licking them. Clutching them as I straddle you, riding that mouthwatering shaft of yours.”
Fucking seductive vampire! Now Cas would be picturing those mental images for another eternity. “What do you want?” he demanded, his words embarrassingly thick.
“Are you heading to the Plane because you’re still in denial about what happened between us? I know how much it affected you.”
“What your assassin uncle did in the tournament affected me!” Though Cas had known Bettina wasn’t his fated one, he’d entered for her hand to save her from some of the more monstrous entrants.
One problem: Trehan Daciano had sensed his mate in Bettina. The ruthless assassin had entered as well.
“Was the tournament really so bad? You fought hard, and you made it to the very end. People loved you.”
Cas clenched his fists.
“I secretly watched you win an early match. All the demonesses threw their garters at you, screaming for your attention. At first, I thought I was jealous of your acclaim, wanting it for myself. Then I realized I was jealous whenever you smiled at those females. You were obviously enjoying their adoration.”
“Oh, I did enjoy it. It felt ungodsly good to be respected and adored by my people.” Crowds had cheered for him, chanting his name. The same demons who’d disdained Beggar had called Cas the first son of Abaddon! Until the final round had pitted him against Trehan. “Yet then your uncle wiped the floor of the ring with my face!”
Trehan had been poisoned by persons unknown, but he must have suspected Cas and Bettina. In his rage, the Prince of Shadow had annihilated Cas.
Snippets of that match flashed through his memory.
Trehan hurtling me against the side of the Iron Ring. A rusty spike breaking off inside my skull. Unimaginable pain. Vision fading to black. Where will the vampire strike next??? Can’t see! Can’t hear over the roar of the crowd! Blindly taking the attack, helpless to fight back. The snap of bones as the beating went on. And on. Choking on blood and humiliation. Bile. My own people cheering for Trehan.