"I'm kind of getting handy," Carrow said as she began washing Ruby's hair with the feys' shampoo. "Little House on the Prairie-es"ue, even. We're just like pioneers, except we don't have to wear bonnets, right?" Ruby gave a half smile.

I'll take it. The first smile she'd seen from her since their ordeal began. "Look at that. I almost forgot you had dimples." Carrow ran her forearm over her brow. "Come on, let's get you rinsed off."

After the bath, once Ruby had been fed, washed, and dressed, with her hair combed out, Carrow gave a mental hat tip to moms everywhere. She also felt a flare of alarm that Malkom still hadn't returned.

"What're we going to do now?" Ruby asked.

"Maybe check out the beach?"

"It's raining outside."

"No prob." Carrow helped her don the tall fey's rain jacket, but it swallowed her, looking more like a poncho. After rolling up the sleeves, Carrow said, "Let me see you rock the poncho. Who rocks the poncho?"

"I do!" Ruby put her hand on her hip and flipped her hair. Adorable.

"Come on, you," she said, grabbing Ruby's hand as they tromped outside into the fog. One side of the cape was wave-tossed, the other smooth. They headed for the windward shore.

The beach there was eerie to Carrow, forlorn even. Giant whalebones arced up from the rocky ground, while ragged seaweed lined the edge.

Carrow was used to Gulf Coast beaches, full of fun, sun, and sometimes drunken nudity. This is not my scene. She recognized this like a malamute plopped in a desert.


As if reading her mind, Ruby said, "I wanna go home."

"Me too. I'm going to talk to the demon about it when he gets back." She gazed around. Hours had passed, and still no sign of him. Maybe he'd just left them behind? Said to hell with her and her kid? No matter that she and Ruby were defenseless without him?

" Now what do we do?"

"I don't know, honey." Or maybe he'd been waylaid by a covey of nymphs? Fornicating with them in the rain. His magnificent body damp and flexing with strength. "I'm coming up with an idea as we speak," she lied.

"What if he doesn't come back?" Ruby asked.

Then they'd be totally and une"uivocally hosed. Carrow could try to find Regin or Lanthe, but she would have to bring Ruby with her into the mountainous interior. Worse would be to leave Ruby here. What if I never made it back to her?

"I don't know. We'd probably be in a pickle." Last night Carrow had thought that she could get used to having a demon around to do things for them. Now she chafed at how dependent on him they'd become. For the thousandth time, she yanked at her tor"ue. She needed her powers back now!

"Should I be nicer to him?"

"You should be nicer to him because he's a good guy." Carrow sighed. He was good, a bighearted, proud demon. She knew better than to believe he would abandon them or leave them unprotected while he bedded nymphs. Which meant ... he could be hurt. "Maybe he's at the cabin, waiting on us."

The demon wasn't at the cabin. Now her worry went into overdrive.

She'd just slipped Ruby the last energy bar to de-chip and anxiously dealt a hand of go fish when the door swung open. He was safe! She leapt to her feet, rushing toward him.

He glanced over his shoulder, then faced her with a frown. "What?"

You're safe. "I was worried. Where'd you go?" She blinked up at him, trying to listen to his reply. Safe. With us.

"Searching for a better place to stay." He was soaking wet, but the grim set to his lips had eased.

Carrow tilted her head. I think he likes it here. Thank goddess for that.

He edged away from her, putting down some supplies he'd collected - ropes and a shovel. Then he shook his hair out, like an animal, making Ruby giggle around a mouthful of chocolate chips.

Had he just given a half smile before his face grew stern again? "You will remain here," he said. "This is safest."

"Okay, whatever you think."

"But others might come. I'll set up traps, block off this branch of land."

"A peninsula," Carrow absently corrected, then wished she hadn't. "Um, it's a peninsula of land."

"You're gonna make traps?" Ruby asked with wide eyes. "Can I see?"

"Honey, I'm sure he'll be busy."

"The child can come with me."

"She doesn't have to go, Malkom. It could be dangerous."

He glowered. "I would never let her get hurt."

"I know that." She trusted him implicitly, especially after he'd gotten her safely back to Carrow last night, a miracle in itself. "I just - "

"We will be back in an hour or so." He motioned for Ruby, who ran to him so fast she almost forgot her rain jacket.

Carrow wasn't invited? Leaving the little lady back at the homestead? Bite your tongue. She forced a smile that made him frown again.

At the doorway, he paused and asked over his shoulder, "Do you need anything?"

You. Being loving again. "I'm good for now." When they left, she glanced around the cabin.

I wonder if I can fit in that tub.

Chapter 37

Information. He wanted it and thought the girl could give it to him - though he hadn't encountered a child in centuries and had no idea how to deal with one.

But how difficult could it be?

As he strode down a natural trail, she jogged to keep up, out of breath, yet still chattering. She reminded him of the witch in Oblivion, talking to herself as they'd hiked to his mine.

What doesn't remind me of the witch? He'd spent the morning fruitlessly searching for a more defensible position, all the while thinking about Carrow until he'd wondered if he could go mad from it.

In his dank mine, Malkom had stared at her for hours, trying to determine what she reflected on when her eyes had grown soft. He'd found it so damned exciting to be with her. Rewarding.

Now what he felt for her was so raw it frightened him.

"Find a place to sit," he told the girl. "I'm digging here." A pit trap would do nicely on this path.

If not for the concentrated number of immortal enemies, he'd have considered this island a good place to live. Mist cloaked the sun, and even if it emerged as it had the day of his capture, Malkom could keep beneath the cover of trees. The vast forest surrounding them teemed with animals, sluggish creatures that seemed to go out of their way to be seized. Even more jumped in the water, taunting him to catch them.

Already, he'd drunk more blood than he would have over several days in Oblivion....

The child sat on a root that grew above the ground. "Why're you digging there?"

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