She rose, and her eyes immediately began scanning for something else to arrange -

A hand shot through the water, snatching her arm and yanking her out of the shower. The side of her face collided with a bared, muscular chest.

Just as she was about to shriek, Cadeon covered her mouth with a callused palm. "They're coming..." He trailed off, those green eyes dipping to her body as she futilely tried to shield her nudity. Seeming to give himself a shake, he produced a T-shirt.

"Here. Arms up!"

"Stop looking at me! I need to dry o - "

"Holly, put your goddamned arms up!"

Startled into complying, she did, and he dragged a man's T-shirt over her wet body. He smoothed the shirt down her, boldly, familiarly.

"I'm not looking, pet," he said, but his voice was huskier, and she could feel his eyes on her br**sts.

She dropped her head in mortification, only to find that the button fly on his jeans wasn't all the way done, as if he'd rushed in here in the middle of getting dressed.

A line of golden hair trailed from his navel down his flat stomach to where only three buttons were fastened.

He wasn't wearing underwear. Stop thinking about that. Stop thinking about it!

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She swallowed, averting her eyes once again. Her gaze landed on the table beside his unmade bed, visible through the bathroom door. Atop it was a book on psychiatry, of all things.

Cade dragged a still sputtering Holly from the bathroom to the den, then bent down amid all the belongings scattered throughout the room. "Two black SUVs just pulled up outside."

He didn't want to freak her out, but Cade thought some vampires had already broken into the main house.

"Here, take this bag." He tossed a prepacked duffel bag to her. Inside were his clothes, his lucky bush hat, cash, and gear.

"How can you possibly find anything?" She surveyed the chaos as if horrified anew.

"It's my system," he said absently, distracted by her wet T-shirt.

She followed his gaze, flushing violently, plucking the fabric away from her hardened ni**les. But he'd already seen her in the bathroom.

Gods, how I saw her. Before, Cade hadn't known she was a true blonde. He hadn't guessed how pink and tight her little ni**les were. And her br**sts were much larger than they'd looked in the past, even when he'd seen her in her swimsuit.

They'd be a perfect handful for him.

He shook his head, needing to concentrate on getting her the f**k out of here.

"Cadeon, this isn't a system. This is the studied absence of one."

"Yeah, not as good as the one you were using for the shampoo samples. Agreed." He hadn't missed how she'd arranged them so precisely.

She had a disorder that made his disorder a special kind of hell for her. They were going to have to talk about her loosening up a bit.

Attention back to his task, he dragged on a black T-shirt, then snared a leather jacket from a chair. He spotted his flask of demon brew. "Catch." He tossed it to her without looking, but didn't hear it fall.

"Heads up," he said as he pitched a sat-phone in her general direction. Again she caught it. The Valkyrie reflexes were coming online nicely. Grabbing his sword and a sleeping bag, he turned to her.

She blinked at him, then down at the flask. "These are the supplies we needed to get here? Twenty percent of our supplies is alcohol?"

"Good point. Twenty percent is seriously underprovisioning - " Sensing a change in the air, he tossed her the sleeping bag as well, and unsheathed his sword.

In a cloud of smoke, Rök appeared, bloodied sword raised.

Holly jumped back, but Rök didn't miss a beat, lowering his weapon and raking his gaze over her. Still staring, he addressed Cade: "You dress her in a wet T-shirt and make her carry the bags? Damn, Cade, I like how you roll."

In Demonish, Cade said, "She doesn't know she's mine. She'll get an idea when I tear out your throat for ogling her like that."

"Point taken," Rök said smoothly in the same tongue, turning to Cade. "You've got a slew of leeches on the street, waiting for you to pull out. And two dead ones in the main house."

Cade sheathed his sword. "Lucky thing there's a back way out."

"You meeting up with Rydstrom?" At Cade's nod, he said, "Good luck with that. Enjoy her while you can."

"Are you going to provide a distraction? Or maybe you'll just get summoned away right when I need you most?"

Rök was one of his best men, but the demon got summoned more than anyone Cade had ever known.

"Swimbos," Rök said with an aggrieved shrug. Swimbos - Rök's play on She Who Must Be Obeyed. "Can I help it?"

"Yeah, you can, Rök." Smoke demons formed temporary pacts every time they had intercourse. Pacts allowed one to summon a demon at will. "Give celibacy a chance."

"Anything else you'd like me to do? Maybe something possible."

"Capture one of these vampires for info. Follow the trail and take out whoever ordered this. Also, get our crew to eradicate the rest of the Order of Demonaeus."

"Easy enough."

Cade took Holly's hand and dragged her toward the garage, but not before Rök let out a wolf whistle at her all too visible backside.

In English, Rök said, "Looks like you're getting a swimbo for yourself."

Cade yanked off his jacket, draping it over her shoulders. He bared his fangs at Rök, who merely gave a deep laugh.

"Who is that?" Holly whispered, cheeks flaming.

"Rök, a smoke demon. He's a mercenary in my crew. A fugitive. Lives under a terminate-at-will order in two dimensions." Cade took the bags from Holly. "As you can see, he's all broken up about it."

Inside the garage there was only one choice of vehicle. Rydstrom was driving his "normal" car, a rare Mercedes McLaren. And Cade had just hobbled his old truck.

All that was left was Rydstrom's pride and joy - which Cade and Rök were strictly forbidden to drive.

Desperate times, Rydstrom...

8

Cadeon popped the trunk of the most incredible vehicle Holly had ever seen, then hastily stowed their gear inside.

"What kind of car is this?" she asked, threading her arms into his jacket. It swallowed her. Though the bottom would probably hit him at the waist, it almost reached her knees.

"It's called a Veyron. It's my brother's." He unlocked the doors. "Quick - get in."

As she took her seat, he sank into his own, having to grasp his leg and drag it inside. At her look, he said, "The curse of the tall man in the small sports car."