The monster that monsters feared.

She and Ruby both gaped up at him. Ruby whispered loudly, "He scared 'em away, Crow."

"I-I saw that, honey."

Ruby was shaking, soaked through. Though Carrow could scarcely imagine getting to her feet, she knew she had to. They had to keep moving. I've got a little girl to protect.

But where to take her? Carrow swiped her forearm over her face, s"uinting through the persistent rain at their surroundings. The rocky beach was part of a small cove. The forest bordered it. Mountain peaks soared in the background.

"She n-needs shelter and a fire," Carrow told Malkom. "She'll grow too cold. Will you help us again?"

A sharp nod.

As ever with things concerning the witch, Malkom's thoughts were in turmoil.

She'd asked him to get them somewhere safe, but he knew nothing about these lands. Falling back on habit, he'd begun heading for higher ground, had led them for more than an hour.

He glanced over at her now. She was petting the girl's damp hair as she murmured reassuringly to her. The child looked like a tiny Carrow, a doll in her image, a deela.

Though he'd offered to carry both her and the girl, Carrow insisted on holding her, saying that she would be shaken.


Shaken? He was still shaken from seeing Carrow lying lifeless, with her face so pale. Her heart had been still in her chest. She hadn't been breathing, until he'd given her breath.

The least he could do, since she'd first given it to him.

Earlier, when he'd realized that Carrow hadn't wanted to betray him, he'd been so damned relieved. His rage had been like a noose around his neck, easing its bite.

But now that he'd had time to come to grips with everything, he wondered how he could ever trust her again. Although he understood why she'd done what she did, the fact remained that she'd led him to what could have been his death. And his rancor over that had begun to grow.

A drop of water splatted him in the face. This place she'd taken him to was an alien world of green and water. The stories had been true. Yet even faced with all these new wonders, Malkom's gaze wouldn't stray long from the witch.

She looked exhausted, but she was putting on a smiling face, chattering to the girl. "Do you think your posse will believe that there were sharks?"

Sharks. Those powerful beasts in the water. He'd asked Carrow if there were creatures that strong on land, and she'd told him that there should be only Lore creatures from the cages. When she'd added that he would be more powerful than any of them, he'd nodded in easy agreement.

He could protect the two witches from any of those beings - unless those creatures joined forces.

The girl whispered at Carrow's ear, "Why can't he swim? Everybody can swim."

Carrow stumbled a step, knowing he could hear a whisper from a mile away, much less from three feet. "Um, he comes from a place where there's very little water. So no need to learn."

The girl yawned, the subject forgotten. "Are we going to go home now?"

"We're going to do everything we can to get back. I promise you."

Home. Back to the child's father? It struck him then that Carrow had a man, a sire for her offspring.

'Twas one thing to know that she'd been with another male, but this reminder that one had planted his seed within her was too much.

Jealousy scalded Malkom, and his claws drew blood from his palms. He wanted to hate this other man's get.

But couldn't. The child reminded him too much of Carrow when she'd been young.

Have I rescued them only to turn them over to some other man? One who hadn't protected them from this Order in the first place? One who'd given Carrow the baby she obviously adored?

The male would want them back.

Malkom's fangs sharpened. The male would die.

Once the numbing cold of the water had worn off, Carrow's battered body and injured fingertips had grown agonizing. Her waterlogged boots were weights on her feet and her legs were like jelly. Still, Carrow carried Ruby while trying to keep up with Malkom.

The girl had started drowsing against her shoulder, waking up in a rush, then falling back asleep.

In the distance, the war continued with explosions of light and sound, the ground still vibrating beneath their feet. Bands of creatures passed too close for comfort, running or galloping, probably bent on marauding.

They'd passed none of the witches' allies.

The air around them was crisp and laden with fog. The air between Carrow and Malkom remained brittle and tense. What is he thinking about all this?

His shoulder muscles bulged with tension beneath his black T-shirt. Earlier, she'd noticed that he was dressed in new clothes, and his horns had almost grown back. Now his injuries had faded.

Beautiful, heroic male.

He'd mentioned her promise of sex. Would he expect it later tonight?

Carrow knew that she and the demon wouldn't just automatically go back to the way they'd been. But she'd hoped that once he understood why she'd had to betray him, his resentment would ease.

It seemed to have been buried deep, simmering beneath the surface.

Ruby finally fell asleep and remained that way. Her arms went limp, her face slack as it pressed against Carrow's shoulder.

Carrow waited a few minutes, then murmured, "Thank you again, Malkom."

At length, he grated in rough English, "You should have told me."

"How? Besides, I had no idea how you'd react. If you'd refused ..."

"You knew how I felt. About you. Likely, I would have done anything at that time."

Felt. At that time. Past tense. "I never wanted to hurt you, but Ruby's life was on the line. Some things you just can't risk. If it makes any difference, they'd promised to release us." She met his eyes. "And I'd vowed to come back for you."

"Should I believe that?" He looked like he wanted to.

"Believe it or not, I wouldn't have stopped until I'd gotten you free."

He gazed away. "Why did those mortals want me?"

"I guess because you're uni"ue in the Lore."

"And their aim?"

"They want to war with our kind, to stamp out immortals. We know very little about them. I was captured only three weeks ago."

"You told the child you would try to take her home. Where is it?"

"A place called New Orleans. Which must be very far from this island."

"Island," he repeated thoughtfully. "Water all round. How big is the water to cross?"

"Thousands of times bigger than your mountain."

He slanted her a disbelieving look.

"It's true ..." Hearing what sounded like a small plane taking off, she gazed up, holding her hand over her forehead to shield her eyes from the rain. She caught sight of a prop plane, and her heart fell. There goes a way home -

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