He shrugged.

" Sex, demon."

His body shot through with tension. Sharp nod.

"Gentle? Can you not hurt me?" Ah, Hekate, was she actually going to do this?

"Yes." He lifted her into his arms, carrying her to the pallet. "Will not hurt you."

He laid her down, joining her there. Then his brows drew together, as if he'd just recalled something. Was he hesitating?

"You are mine, ara. Say this."

At that moment, she was. "I'm yours."

Seeming to make a decision, he removed his shirt, revealing the tan, smooth skin of his chest. Then he eased above her. As she gazed up into the blue of his eyes, any doubts she had faded. The demon won't hurt me.

He dipped down to cover her mouth with his own. She loved the way he kissed now. He was aggressive with it, having learned exactly how to drive her wild. Strong flicks, teasing licks that set her body on fire.

As their breaths mingled, she gasped against his lips, "Yours."


She wants me to claim her. Malkom's chest was tight with feeling, his mind filled with thoughts of pleasuring her, so that she'd cleave to him.

"Bound forever," she'd told him. And, gods, he wanted to believe it.

So why did he continue to have the sense that she was slipping away?

As he levered himself above her, the importance of this moment struck him like a hammer blow. But he had no words to express to her what she was about to give him - and how long he'd waited for it.

How long he'd waited for her.

He didn't know how to ask her why his heart seemed to stop every time he gazed at her face. No way to tell her what being inside her would mean to him, the trust he would bestow when he gave up his seed. I could put a babe inside her this night.

"Witch," he grated. He kissed her palm, then laid it over his heart again, as if she could feel how heavy his chest was. That sense of possessiveness flooded him. With these kinds of feelings and no outlet ... bewilderment roiled.

She couldn't understand him, and he didn't know what to do.

"Malkom," she breathed, beginning to look uneasy, "y-you have to be gentle."

"Do not ... want to hurt you."

"The more needing I am, the less it will hurt."

Then he wouldn't enter her until he'd made her beg for him to.

Lying in the cradle of her thighs, he removed her top, baring her br**sts to him. Never get enough of these. He bent down to kiss that tender, giving flesh, knowing how much she desired him to.

Yet once his lips closed around one of her ni**les, his fangs sharpened. Claim her, his instinct commanded, in all ways. As his tongue swirled around the peak, he felt a hot jolt. A drop of blood had hit his tongue.

He rose up, eyes riveted to the line of crimson just above her stiff nipple. Starkness against her creamy breast.

He'd never felt so close to his female as when he'd bitten her. Surely she would feel it too, now that she didn't fear him, now that she wanted his claim upon her.

Must make her mine.

She shook her head, likely to tell him not to bite her, but he cut her off, warning her in Demonish not to deny them this.

Never deny us this.

As he leaned down, she kept shaking her head, shoving against his chest.

"But you are mine!" he told her in Anglish. "Feel this." The connection.

Cleave to me, witch! With a yell, he sank his fangs into one plump breast.

His eyes closed with ecstasy before he'd even drawn from her. When he licked her nipple as he suckled, she tensed beneath him, crying out.

He forced his lids open, alarm flaring. But then he saw her head and arms had fallen back, her lips parted.

When he realized she was coming, he gave a desperate groan, sucking her harder, palm covering her other breast, pinching the tip.

The way her body worked beneath his bite ... maddening. She arched her back and writhed, screaming as she climaxed, whipping forth his own release.

His sac tightened in readiness. Place your claim. His c**k swelled unbearably. Plunge it inside her.

Snarling against her breast, he fumbled for his trews. Too late. Before he could even think of penetrating her, he began coming within them.

He tongued her nipple as pleasure racked him, so strong he jerked from the force of it again and again.

With a final ragged moan, he collapsed over her body, relin"uishing his bite with a tender kiss. "Ah, ara, you felt it."

Chapter 23

"You bastard!" Carrow pressed her palm to her breast, flushing from her reaction. "You promised you wouldn't bite me! Does what I want matter at all to you?"

The demon stared at her as if dumbfounded, while she was panicked. She couldn't catch her breath. There was still time for him to see her memories - out of context - still time for him to balk at the gate and doom Ruby.

"Let me up!" She shoved against him, grappling to get his weight off her. "I trusted you."

"Carrow, I wanted - "

"I know what you wanted." She'd offered herself to him, and instead of making love to her, he'd preferred to steal her blood.

That stung so much. At once, she felt both violated and rejected.

"Get off me!" When he wouldn't, fury filled her. She launched him into the wall, feeling stronger than she had in years. And he'd fueled it. Which made her wonder - what in the hell had that bite felt like to him?

Rock dust clouded over him where he'd landed. Had she heard something snap?

As the dust abated, she gasped in horror. She'd launched him into the blade corner. His skin was gashed open in a dozen places, blood pouring. On top of that, one of his shoulders had been dislocated, and his right arm appeared to be broken.

Sympathy swept over her, and she rose to see to him. "Malkom, I ..." She trailed off when blood trickled down her breast and dripped from the peak. Despite his injuries, his gaze was rapt on her nipple, on each droplet of blood.

She dabbed at the puncture wounds, and her regret vanished, resentment and doubt taking its place. Does he prefer my blood to my body? "Just ... just get out!"

He gazed at her with guilt, even yearning in his blue eyes. But above all else, his expression looked disappointed.

Didn't matter how he felt. That bite could spell her doom, Ruby's doom. Ruby, who was sitting inside a cell, motherless, wondering if Carrow would ever return. "Out!"

With a frustrated growl, he left the chamber, limping away. How badly had she hurt him?

After he'd gone, she stared at the exit. For as long as she lived, she'd never forget the look on his face. The disappointment in his expression ate at her.

Which confused her. She cleaned up and dressed, then began pacing. He'd just hurt her, so she should want him to hurt in return. Yet he had her so mixed up.

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