Another naked concubine—a godsdamned redheaded nymph—slid off the bed and sauntered off to retrieve some. As she sashayed back to Mirceo, she held the vampire’s eyes.

He gave her a courteous bow. “My thanks, tulip.” He began to dress the man, threading Harea’s legs into the slim-fitting pants. Cas gritted his teeth when Mirceo had to lean his face down close to the male’s groin.

The redhead rejoined the harem on the bed. “If you’re taking him away, who will tend to our lusts?”

Mirceo laced the breeches over Harea’s member, then grinned at Cas. “It does sound like a quandary, doesn’t it, demon?”

“You two should stay for a bit.” The redhead’s hand dipped between her thighs. “We’ll pleasure you so hard that you’ll never want to leave us.” The others murmured encouragement.

“Will you, indeed?” Mirceo said with a devilish light in his eyes. “Tell us more, tulip. . . .”

TWENTY-ONE

“Tulip? Tulip?” the demon snapped at Mirceo. “Why do you call females that?” In the alley behind the Red Flag, Caspion dropped the still-unconscious sorcerer onto the grimy bricks. Harea hadn’t so much as twitched when they’d teleported him from Poly.

The weather between dimensions had gone from freezing grit to muggy fog. In this plane, mere seconds had passed since Mirceo and Caspion had left.

Mirceo leaned against a lamppost, grinning at the demon’s jealousy. “Because they love it when I do.”

As they awaited the Gaolers, Caspion kept his sword at the ready. “Are you going to continue fucking them? They also love it when you do that.”

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“I only have eyes for you.” Sometime over the last three nights, Mirceo’s fascination with his mate had escalated into . . . hero worship. Whenever he gazed at the demon, he was almost humbled that fate had connected them.

Caspion paced the alley. “Perhaps at present.”

Who could compete with such a warrior? One day Mirceo would convince the stubborn demon that he would be faithful. “There’s a difference between trifling and fucking, love. A bevy of beauties was flirting with me, and I flirted back—a touch. Face it, my charm’s the only thing that got us out of there with our virtue intact.”

Caspion shook his head hard. “You’re a player. You always will be.”

“This jealousy of yours is delicious.” Mirceo licked his bottom lip.

The demon’s gaze locked it. “You’re never going to change.”

“Exchanging repartee is a far cry from plowing through them all.”

Caspion slowed his pacing. “Did you . . . did you want to?”

“No. Not whatsoever.” They both knew he couldn’t lie.

“And Harea? You couldn’t have gotten your mouth closer to the sorcerer’s dick without biting it.” Caspion’s fierce expression made Mirceo’s toes curl in his boots.

“One more time: I want my mate alone.”

“Why would you clothe Harea?”

“Seemed like a decent thing to do. Hell, demon, a few months ago, we might have befriended a hedonist like him. And for the record—I was trying to make you jealous.”

“Maybe I’m not jealous. Maybe I’m pissed because you keep throwing out this idea that we’re fated—yet your behavior doesn’t back that up whatsoever. I’m too old for bullshit.”

“Your pique isn’t surprising. Your demonic temper will continue to get more volatile the longer you go without claiming your mate.” He pointed a thumb at himself. “Claiming me.”

“If you are mine.”

“Uh-huh.” The demon wasn’t going down without a fight. But that was okay. Mirceo had always savored a good conquest. He’d first viewed Caspion as only a conquest. One day Mirceo would have to come clean about that wager. And about the demon’s last night in Dacia.

But for now . . . “What about you? Did you desire the concubines?”

He so clearly wanted to lie. But other than when he denied his feelings, Caspion had always been honest with Mirceo. “Why wouldn’t I? I’m not mated.”

Deflection! “It’s a simple question. Did you want any—or all—of them?”

“My mind was on the job.” Caspion’s scowl deepened as Mirceo’s grin spread.

“Right. Back to the job. Should we have a plan in place for when the Gaolers show?”

“Yeah, the plan is: let Caspion do the talking.”

Mirceo gave a mock bow. The demon could be overly domineering—nature of the beast—but luckily Mirceo had a more laid-back disposition. Such a change from how I used to be when young.

Otherwise he and Caspion would never make it. Now more than ever, Mirceo believed they would. Yes, seeing the hell his mate had called home had undermined his confidence. But the two of them had triumphed over incredible odds. Mirceo had pulled his weight and demonstrated that he could be an asset—

Harea heaved. Vomit spewed from his lips onto the street. And still he didn’t wake. Brows drawn, the sorcerer mumbled, “Dragon’s breath. Apocalypse. Nightside is real.”

Mirceo chuckled. “I think we did that harem a favor. . . .” He trailed off when his breaths condensed into puffs of smoke. In this warm air? “Caspion?”

The demon’s alert gaze swept over their surroundings. “I see it.”

Mirceo stepped back to view the larger side street beyond this alleyway, his eyes going wide. A garbageman was poised with a can over his head, motionless, the truck’s compactor suddenly silent. “Time’s standing still.” The driver had been pouring coffee out of his window—the fluid hung suspended in midair—when he’d been frozen in place.