“Yes, of course.” Mirceo jutted his chin. “As will I.”

Half a dozen vampires appeared not fifteen feet away, forming a rough semicircle, weapons raised. They had clear eyes. Forbearers. That order of turned humans took a vow never to drink blood from the flesh.

The largest male, the apparent leader of the troop, said, “As predicted, Mirceo Daciano has returned to his favorite pastime.”

“Are you insinuating that I’m predictable?” Mirceo sniffed. “How unsexy.” Did he concern himself about nothing?

Cas warned the newcomers, “You do not want to challenge me tonight.”

“We have no fight with you, demon.” The leader pointed his sword at Mirceo. “We only want the vampire.”

Cas’s horns straightened, his fangs lengthening. Only want the vampire? His demonic instincts erupted to a savage degree. These six would try to kill Cas, then incapacitate Mirceo to take him alive. Not while I’ve a breath. I’ll slaughter them all.

With a cocky lift of his brow, Mirceo said, “What would you want with little ol’ me?”

“You are going to show us the way to Dacia.”

“I certainly shall, lamb.” Mirceo’s own fangs and claws sharpened, his eyes turning black. “All you have to do is come and get me.”

THIRTEEN

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The Forbearers split up, three attacking the demon, the others targeting Mirceo.

The largest of that trio lunged for Mirceo, swinging his sword. Ducking under the whistling blade, Mirceo used his speed to maneuver around the other two.

He punched one in the back, cracking the male’s spine and catching his weapon before it hit the ground. Severing the Forbearer’s head, he faced off against the remaining pair. One brashly charged, telegraphing his moves; Mirceo coldly cut him down. Sword raised against the last of his trio, he chanced a glance at Caspion.

Blood sprayed half of the demon’s face as he tore his second victim’s head off. Caspion seized that vampire’s sword, then used the decapitated body to block the last of those three Forbearers.

The demon’s eyes were obsidian black, his muscles bulging, his sinews like whipcords.

My gods, look at him. Mirceo stared in awe. He’s as magnificent as I am.

Caspion showed even more confidence and daring than before—and a thousand times more ferocity. Because these enemies threatened his mate?

The idea gave Mirceo a delicious rush of adrenaline—

“Look out!” Caspion yelled.

Mirceo traced, eluding a sword strike, then swung for his attacker’s neck. Wet warmth spattered his chin as a head went flying and the body collapsed to the ground. Mirceo’s opponents were finished, but the demon had one left.

Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Caspion pivot sideways as if to throw something. With a bloodcurdling roar, he flung his sword, sending it tumbling end-over-end in the air.

Right at me.

The weapon zoomed past Mirceo’s head, slicing a lock of his hair. He twisted around.

Thunk. The blade had sunk into the eye of another Forbearer who’d just materialized behind Mirceo, weapon raised for a blow. The swordsman must have remained hidden, awaiting his moment.

Mirceo swung for the male’s neck, and the headless body dropped. Fuck me, that was close.

He glanced over at Caspion. Without a sword—the demon had sacrificed it to protect Mirceo—Caspion used his horns to impale the last Forbearer.

Then the demon descended upon the male in a blur of fangs and claws. When Caspion finally pulled back, the decapitated corpse collapsed at his feet. Almost as an afterthought, Caspion tossed aside the severed head he was holding.

The demon scented the air for any other hidden dangers. Satisfied, he turned to Mirceo and swiped his sleeve over his mouth, smearing blood and sweat.

Mirceo’s gut clenched with wanting.

Heaving breaths, they stared at each other. Mirceo cast about for something to say. I desire you beyond reason, demon. No, too heavy. Say something cavalier. “Bravo, sweetheart.” He discarded his appropriated sword. “More deaths to add to your tally, making you even stronger.”

Caspion was before him in an instant, his hand wrapped around Mirceo’s throat. The demon lifted him by the neck high in the air. “You think I need more strength? I slew more foes in Poly than you ever will in your life, leechling.”

Mirceo gasped, “Fair point.”

Caspion wasn’t done. “In the future, you dispatch your godsdamned enemies immediately. Understand me? You don’t play with them. On second thought, you trace away to begin with.”

Aww, he was worried about me. Mirceo couldn’t breathe; his lips still curved into a grin.

“Why do I bother explaining things to you?” Caspion hurled him away, but Mirceo traced to right himself and landed on his feet.

When the demon snagged a flask from his coat pocket, Mirceo recognized the scent of demon brew. Not the cheap stuff either. Had Caspion truly amassed wealth over these centuries?

Pity. Mirceo had loved spoiling the demon. Rubbing his neck, he rasped, “In the past, you never expected me to trace away then, even told me I was an uncanny fighter.” Mina wasn’t the only talented swordsperson in the family. All Dacians were skilled with weaponry, but Mirceo had become an expert just to keep up with her. “So what’s changed? Perhaps you were worried about your mate?”

“You are not my mate!” Another slug from his flask.

“How do you explain your concern? I might not be as strong as you are, demon, but I am a Dacian; I can handle myself.”