She'd turned to him with her eyes narrowed, pushing up her glasses with the tip of her forefinger.

Rydstrom had leaned against the corner of the building, watching in grim fascination, like a bystander who saw the train coming and knew the track had been blown out ahead.

Cade's easy grin had charmed female after female, and he no doubt expected this one to heed him. Instead, she'd stood her ground and looked down her nose at him. "Can I help you?"

Flummoxed, Cade had crossed the distance to her as if helpless not to. "Ah, yeah. What's, uh, doing in there?"

She'd repeated, "What's doing?"

Taken off guard because she wasn't receptive to his flirting, Cade had stared, flushing at his own stammering attempts to talk to her. At one point, he'd blatantly peered around her to check out her figure again as if he couldn't help himself.

Just as Cade had reached forward, looking for all the world like he intended to undo her hair, and she'd looked as if she'd slap him soundly for it, Rydstrom had broken up the interaction.

Without a word, the girl had pivoted on her heel and started away.

As Rydstrom dragged him in the other direction, Cade had looked back over his shoulder. In a crushed tone, he'd said, "She didn't glance back at me. Not once."

In the months to come, Cade had discovered everything there was to know about her. Just last week, Rydstrom had caught him kicked back on a downtown roof with a flask of demon brew, spying on her swimming. Even at a critical time like this.

Yes, she was likely the only female he could ever be whole with, have offspring with, know real happiness with, but Rydstrom still couldn't understand it. The kingdom always came first.

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He would die for his people. Why wouldn't Cade -

Eyes stared back at him in the headlights. Not an animal, a woman.

He slammed on the brakes and swerved, the McLaren skidding out of control. Just when he was about to right the vehicle, a bridge abutment seemed to appear from nowhere; he careened into it.

When he'd finally stopped moving, he grasped his head, shaking off dizziness.

Staggering out to survey the damage, he crunched over cement littered with glass, chunks of ruptured tire, and even bits of the frame.

At the sight, he whistled in a breath. Totaled. The right side of his car was completely shaved off. So where is the woman?

Flashes of her arose in his mind - eyes wide with fear, long red hair whipping as he'd just missed her.

He lumbered back in the direction he'd come. "Is someone here?" he called. "Are you hurt?"

No answer. The closest gas station was at least twenty-five miles away. He fished out his cell phone from his jacket.

Out of area, the screen read. "Bugger me."

When he glanced back up, he caught sight of her farther along this deserted stretch of road, standing alone.

What the hell is she doing all the way out here by herself?

Their eyes met. At that moment, he caught her sultry, feminine scent.

The night began to feel dreamlike, surreal.

He started toward her, not bothering to retrieve his hat - with her otherworldly beauty, he could tell she was definitely one of the Lore.

Shining red hair curled down to her waist. As he neared, he saw that her eyes were dark as night. A gown of the palest blue silk clung to her lush curves. When he spied the outline of her hardened ni**les, he ran a hand over his mouth.

He was fifteen hundred years old. Had he ever been so instantly and fiercely attracted to a female?

She began sauntering along the road away from him.

"No, wait! Are you all right?"

Chapter 4

She turned to him but continued to step back.

"I won't hurt you," he called, following. "Do you have a car out here?"

"I need your help," she said, her voice throaty.

"Of course." What would she think of his battle-scarred face up close? He hadn't cared much in the past, but with her...the idea of seeing her disgust made him hesitate. Until she turned and skipped down an embankment - farther away from him.

He hastened after her. "Do you live near here?"

"Need your help," she said once more, ducking behind a willow by the water's edge.

He joined her beneath the tree. "I have to get back to the city, but then I can come back to help you." And get all your information so I can return for you once my duties are done.

As he gazed down at her face, he began to feel dizzy once more, on edge even. His reaction to her seemed too powerful, her looks too alluring to be real. She had high cheekbones and the most flawless pale skin he'd ever seen. Her pink lips were plump and glistening.

Just when he began to draw back, she said, "Help me now." Grasping his hand in her two small ones, she kissed his palm with those smiling lips, then placed it over one of her full br**sts.

Every muscle in his body tightened with want. Unable to stop himself, he kneaded her flesh with a low groan. The promise of pleasure blazed from her mesmerizing eyes, and he found himself lowering his defenses.

"This is what I need," she murmured in a siren's voice, arching to his hand.

"And the gods know that I want to give it to you, right after I've settled - "

"I need it" - she took his other hand and placed it high on her inner thigh - "now."

Rydstrom tried to shake himself. He had responsibilities. But I've been so long without a woman.

He hissed out a breath when she raised her hands to his horns, boldly grasping them to tug him down to her. "Kiss me, demon."

When a female steered a demon male like this...Rydstrom shuddered from the savage thrill, bowing his head as she bade him to with her sexual grip. Their lips met, and lust rocked him.

He felt a connection with her. Maybe even the connection.

With that thought in mind, he began taking her mouth hard. She was experienced, urging him on, meeting every thrust of his tongue, teasing him until his hands landed on her soft ass to rock her against his shaft.

Still, he somehow broke away from her. "I...can't do this now. I have to meet someone. Much rides on this."

"Make love to me," she whispered, now sidling closer to him. "Here. Under this tree, in the moonlight. I'm aching for you."

His horns were straightening, his c**k throbbing. He could scarcely withstand the need to be inside her luscious body.

But he had to. The kingdom's needs always come before the king's. "No. I have obligations," he bit out, hating those obligations for the first time. Resenting them.

When he backed away, her brows drew together. "Then you leave me no choice, Rydstrom."

Just when he wondered how she knew his name, the road began disappearing, as though the earth had been draped, disguised. He twisted around.