And amazingly, anticipating a future with Ruby was the first thing that had ever made that yearning ebb.

"Ara?" he rasped.

"What?" He was studying her again. "I'm fine." Even though they didn't speak the same language, when he watched her for every tiny response, she felt like he was "listening" to her better than any man before.

He held up a finger again, then shot to his feet and away from the fire. When he returned, he had her backpack. He must have collected her things last night.

He presented it to her as if he'd known she was sad and wanted to cheer her.

"That was really nice, demon. Thank you." He truly wanted to please her. Which meant he was manageable.

I'm going to get him to that portal, and now I know how.

Chapter 14

Give and take.

Malkom had given her shelter and a present she'd appreciated, and they'd just finished a bountiful meal he'd provided.

Normally he would've taken the burning spit in his roughened hands and devoured the meat. But for her, he'd cut away a portion, offering it to her on his blade. In time, he'd coaxed her to bite the meat off his knife with her white little teeth. Which had made him stiffen with a swift heat...


Give and take. Now Malkom wanted to take something in return.

He was so used to denial, had known a lifetime of it, but no longer could he deny the need to touch her body.

I want to feel a female's br**sts for the first time and hear her cries in my ear.

The only time Malkom had ever been in sexual situations, he'd been forced by either hunger, pain, or the threat of both. Never had he voluntarily been with another. Now he wanted to know what it would be like to desire - and then to possess.

Yet earlier, she'd mimed that while he'd known pleasure the night before, she'd received only pain. Twice he'd found release and given her none. He felt his neck heating.

Why would she want to receive him?

She yawned, stretching her slender arms over her head, her br**sts pressing against her top. Gods, he'd never wanted to see a woman's body so badly. But his curiosity was understandable. He'd never encountered a female like her.

And I will be enjoying her body solely for the rest of my life.

His gaze dipped to the edge of her short skirt, to the shadow beneath it. What would she feel like down there? When he'd been a lad, the idea of rutting atop a female and spending betwixt her legs had aroused him unbearably. He knew females could grow wet inside, but would she be hot? Soft?

He remembered years ago a demon warrior saying, "The only difference between coupling with your fist and coupling with a female is that the fist doesn't follow you around afterward."

Malkom gazed down at his fist, recalling when he'd last brought himself release. Surely she'd be softer than that?

Curiosity. Possibilities. "uestions about females he'd forced himself never to consider. If he could convince her that he wouldn't hurt her again, he might at last get the answers.


"Yep?" She lazily gazed over at the demon, feeling more sated than she had in days. She'd had her fill of fresh water and succulent chickants. Earlier, when he'd handed her meat on a knife, she'd realized he had a thing about hand-feeding her, as if she were a prized pet or something. She'd said, "No plates? No fuss, no muss, huh?" thinking he was kidding.

But eventually she'd eaten every bite he'd offered.

She would be sleepy if it wasn't for the nearly seven-foot-tall demon getting hard right before her eyes.

"Sex," he said. In English.

"Whoa, what?" She nearly fell over. She'd thought they'd gone over this. But then, he hadn't promised anything on this score.

"Sex," he repeated. Thumping his chest, he said, "Nolo fortis."

She remembered the word nolo from all the times she'd pled nolo contendere - no wish to contest legal charges. He was trying to tell her that he didn't want to hurt her.

First of all: Yeah, right, she was going to hop back on the trust train with him. And second, even if she believed he wouldn't hurt her, she still couldn't have sex with him. Aside from the fact that she could get pregnant by a vemon, she didn't need to be intimate with him - it would make her mission that much more complicated. She shook her head. "No sex."

He flicked his hands out in that impatient What gives? gesture.

Okay, so he wanted to know why. Hmm, how to mime betrayal? She didn't see that answer forthcoming, so she knelt on the ground, wiping flat an area of sand. With a finger, she drew a profile of the three peaks of his mountain. Beside that she drew a doorway. The last picture was of a house. " Minde home," she said.

Curt nod from the demon.

She pointed at him, then herself, then walked her fingers from the mountain, through the door, to the house.

He gave another nod of understanding, but he was "uick to point to himself and then her, interlacing his fingers and clasping his hands.

"Together? Yes, we'll go together." He would follow her through. There went the first hurdle. Now for the next. "No sex till then."

Scowling demon.

She pointed at the drawing of her house. "There. Sex."

She wanted him to leave this plane with her, to go through the portal to her home.

Malkom knew there were other planes, some rumored to be heavenly. When young, he'd heard tales of one with blue skies, of all things. Food was said to sprout straight from the ground, there for the taking. No catching or hunting necessary.

Precious water was said to fall from the sky, riches given to all.

But as he'd grown older, he'd realized that all who came through the portal told different tales. Some said the fields were golden, some said green. Some said the "oceans" were blue, some said gray.

Of one thing he was certain. No plane could possibly be worse than this one. Would he go with her? Absolutely. She might have parents, siblings, or friends there. He had no one.

In the sand, she drew the symbols he'd used for a day, then held up five fingers.

She was telling him that he wasn't to claim her until then? The better part of a week? He held up five fingers in blatant disbelief, and her lips curled the smallest bit. "Yes, demon."

He recognized the word and liked it when she called him that. He did not like her conditions.

When he asked her in Demonish why he'd only have her there, she merely shrugged, and again he was struck by how little he knew about her. He didn't even know what she was, much less what her customs would be.

Perhaps she needed a binding ceremony to make him her husband. Perhaps marrying within her culture wasn't as easy as within his. With a few words spoken...

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