Over my walking-dead body.

Their separation had gone on long enough. He wanted his best friend back—while expanding a few . . . parameters of their relationship.

Ignoring all the looks of interest he received from myriad immortals—I’m quite taken—he squared his shoulders, scarcely believing he’d soon be blooded. Once he spotted his mate, his heart would thud back to life. His lungs would fill with breath, and he would get hard as rock. . . .

But as he surveyed the crowd, a rare whisper of doubt arose. What if Caspion wasn’t the male Balery had referred to?

No, no. Mirceo wanted Caspion to be his mate. Ergo, fate would comply. Such was how things worked for him.

Yet what if the demon stubbornly resisted the bond between them? And Trehan might have damaged Mirceo’s chances with Caspion beyond repair. Both the demon and Trehan had entered the infamous Iron Ring of Abaddon—only one had been able to walk out.

Mirceo didn’t see the demon among all the beings here. Strange. The locating crystal he’d used had indicated Caspion was inside this structure. Though Mirceo’s senses weren’t as keen as a demon’s, he inhaled. . . .

He picked up the subtle thread of Caspion’s unforgettable scent—

There! The demon was sitting alone at a table in the shadows, lost in thought.

Mirceo’s brows drew together. Caspion seemed much changed. His careless, tousled hair was longer, and his normally clean-shaven face now had a golden shadow beard. His midnight-blue eyes seemed more . . . knowing. His body appeared to have grown, his shell-colored horns as well.

His appearance was edgier.



That tournament in Abaddon had done something to Caspion, changing him.

Mirceo stared down at his chest. He wanted to change too, but his heart was still. His lungs took no breath. His cock was as hard as pudding.

No. It must be Caspion. He knocked a fist against his chest. Come on, heart . . . awaken!


Despite the patrons all around, Mirceo rubbed his member. Get stiff, you traitorous thing.

Not a twitch.

A buxom brunette demoness joined Caspion then, perching on his knee. Mirceo scowled. The female was all over him, peering up at the blond Adonis with an expression Mirceo had often received himself: I wore my pretty panties tonight, so let’s fuck.

A last lay before the demon left for the Plane of Lost Years?

Mirceo choked back a surge of jealousy. He’d never known this strangling emotion before he’d met Caspion—

A massive, behorned tavern-goer lurched near Caspion’s table, sloshing brew from a tankard the size of a vat.

Drawing the brunette out of the way, Caspion shot to his feet, saving her from a good dousing. “Watch what you’re about,” he grated to the giant.

Unbelievably, that male was at least a foot taller than Caspion. “Or what?” he snapped.

The horns of each demon breed differed. Was that giant a stone demon?

Caspion’s own horns straightened with aggression. “You need to back away.” Surely he wouldn’t brawl with a stone demon. That breed could tense their muscles until their bodies became like stone. If Caspion threw a punch against that male, he’d break his hand. “You do not want to do this with me tonight.”

“Do what? Kick your ass and steal your whore? Maybe that’s just what I want to do.”

Conversations dimmed, the violin going quiet. Sensing a fight, tavern-goers jockeyed for a better view.

When the giant’s towering companions lined up behind him, Mirceo wended through the crowd to back his own friend.

In a menacing tone, Caspion told the giant, “I know your type. Though you’ve got no hope of getting laid, you need to assert your dominance. You need to yell, to heave your breaths, to feel anything. But this fight will not give you what you seek.”

The stone demon’s brows drew together. Seeming to see reason, he held up his free hand and backed away.

Sounds of disappointment rippled through the tavern.

Caspion turned to the female—

The giant tossed his tankard, soaking Caspion’s chest in cheap brew, then he tensed for a fight.

Caspion still attacked, his fist flashing out with uncanny speed. It connected with the giant’s jaw.

Mirceo’s lips parted when that demon’s face fractured like stone.

The giant collapsed to his back—unconscious and broken. His companions cast shocked looks at Caspion, then scattered like rats.

Glorious male! Caspion’s damp shirt clung to his flexing muscles, his eyes gone black with ferocity.

Look at me, demon. Surely Mirceo’s heart would start once he met gazes with such a warrior!

Though Caspion had won the fight, even more tension stole over him as he turned toward Mirceo. His tousled hair tumbled over one of his eyes, and he impatiently raked it back. Their eyes met. . . .


Mirceo’s dormant heart sank.


Cas had scented Mirceo just as that stone demon hit the floor.

After so long, the mere sight of his former friend sent Cas reeling.

The vampire stood in the middle of the tavern, his bearing an equal mix of arrogance and elegance. He wore leather breeches and a trench coat—with no shirt. Only a prince like Mirceo could pull off that look. Among the rabble here, he looked like an angel, too perfect to be real.

A fallen angel; as he ogled Cas, Mirceo rubbed his tongue over one fang.

Cas had wondered if their . . . encounter would cool Mirceo’s attraction or make it burn even hotter. The vampire’s smoldering expression left no doubt in his mind.