Ruby pulled back with narrowed eyes. "But is he staying?"

Carrow gazed at him as well.

He answered, "From now on, I stay with you two, my wife and our young one. 'Twill always be so."

Ruby laughed, bestowing another hug, while Carrow's eyes flickered amidst tears. "We wouldn't have it any other way, demon."

He'd just committed his life to theirs, had told his wife and adopted daughter in so many words that he would be with them, protecting them till the day he died.

Still he felt no apprehension about their futures, only anticipation. To dream without dreading...

Carrow slipped her hand in his, then said to Ruby, "Hey, your gang is downstairs. They've missed you. I was thinking a slumber party and pizza, if you aren't too tired - "

"They're here?" Ruby scrambled to the floor. "I have to show them Malkom!"

Show me to them? She is ... proud.

"Well, we can't keep them waiting," Carrow said. "Go get Mari to pop off your tor"ue. Unless you want to keep it on until you're eighteen, 'cause I'm okay with that."



"All right, all right. Hey, before I forget to tell you, while you're in spell school tomorrow, Malkom and I are going on a mercenary gig. But we'll be back by dinner."

"Okay. Can we have chicken dinosaurs?"

"I'm sure Malkom would love to try them." She grinned up at him. "He does so enjoy his phicken."

"I like this bed," Malkom told Carrow, his voice rumbling with contentment.

Carrow glanced over at him from one of her closets. While she'd been readying her clothing and supplies for their new job, he'd lain back in her bed with his arms crossed under his head and a light sheet covering his body. His feet stretched out over the end of her California king.

How could he look so absolutely right among all her things? Especially when males didn't usually go tromping around inside Andoain, much less a giant demon at home in a witch's bed.

In the hours since the other immortals had left, he'd examined most of her belongings, the plumbing, the air-conditioning, the TV, myriad appliances.

And he'd been "shown" to Ruby's friends. Carrow would never forget his reaction when Ruby had proudly introduced him as her stepdemon. He'd been briefly surprised, then moved. The same as when she'd declared him her husband.

He'd later admitted, "I have rarely been introduced as 'my' anything. 'Tis welcome now."

Ruby's friends had gazed up at him with owl eyes, but eventually they'd gotten used to him. When they'd learned he'd never had pizza before, they'd all waited with bated breath to see if he'd like it. Carrow thought he'd exaggerated his reaction just a jot for their enjoyment and loved him all the more for it.

Now the slumber party in the attic was in full swing, music blaring from the karaoke machine, kids laughing.

Malkom grinned, seeming to love the noise. So long was he alone...

"What else do you like?" she asked, determined to make him happy in her world.


She "uirked a brow. "You liked what we did to each other in the shower." That had only been the appetizer to the main course she planned. Beneath her unassuming robe, she wore her raciest lingerie.

" 'Tis true," he said with a shameless grin. She loved it when he smiled. Tonight, he had often, awkwardly at first, but he was getting the hang of it.

"Is this where you want to live?" he asked.

"Actually, I've got my eye on a house right down the street." She hurriedly piled up her folded clothes for tomorrow. She was gearing up tonight because once she got into that bed with him, she didn't intend to leave it until they departed bright and early. "It's got a pool."

"I think I traced there earlier. I must have seen it in your memories." Then his demeanor grew stern. "I will want to purchase it for my family."

"Baby, if you get Lanthe back for Sabine" - she slapped her hands, rubbing them together - "then it's ours, all ours."

He relaxed again. "The rage demons seemed decent enough."

As Carrow had caught up with Mari and Elianna, Malkom had been waylaid by the demons.

"And what were you talking to them about for so long?"

"King Rydstrom wishes me to war with them in the coming Accession."

"Did you tell him it'll cost him?"

Malkom nodded. "The king told me I had a clever - and violently devoted - wife. I was prideful."

She patted her hair. "I try. You're going to make a fortune as a mercenary, you know. Guarding people, fighting battles."

"And what were you talking to your friends about?"

"About how you and I are going to be Ruby's parents." Elianna and Mari had been completely supportive, pledging to help Carrow as much as she needed.

Then the three of them had teared up as they'd raised a glass to Amanda, a small tribute until a proper service could be held. Carrow had added a silent thanks to her cousin for having such a remarkable kid.

"I also told my friends how much I adore you," Carrow said.

"This is mutual."

"Oh, and how I think you're utterly fantastic in bed."

He scowled at that until he saw she was dead serious. Then he gave a modest shrug. "Also mutual."

"We've already gotten two wedding gifts. Elianna put a mystical noise dampener on our room, so no one can hear me having my wicked way with you."

He raised a brow, his erection already tenting the sheet in readiness.

"She also conjured you a new wardrobe." Carrow opened her second closet to display all his new clothes. At his amazed expression, she said, "They'll all fit. Eli's a genius at stuff like that." Absently adjusting the silky black ribbon tied around her wrist, Carrow said, "And Mariketa gave us a present, too. Something very valuable. But it's a surprise."

She wondered how he'd react to that gift. I'll know soon enough. "By the way, we're going to have a wedding celebration here at the coven when everything settles down." She might have felt a pang that her birth parents wouldn't be there for the festivities, but luckily Carrow's entire family would be. Mari, Elianna, Ruby, and Malkom.

"I liked the witches."

"Because they were all whispering about how gorgeous you are, and you could hear every word," she said as she finished prepping. Carrow had noticed his neck had gotten red, and he'd looked flummoxed a couple of times.

"I am only interested in one witch. Come to me, ara."

She sauntered over to the bed. "You like my bed, showers, and my coven. But how do you like this?" She let her robe pool at her feet, revealing tight black garters, fishnet thigh-highs, a black silk bustier, and a matching thong. Hey, it's his welcoming party after all.

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