She raised her brows at the plush interior. The dash was a brushed metal. The key looked like a minuscule USB drive.
Holly's dad had been a sports car enthusiast. She'd learned to drive in his Porsche Carrera and Maserati, and on many a Saturday, he'd taken her to auctions and shows. But Holly had never seen a car like this.
Cadeon pushed a button that said start and the garage-door opener at the same time. "Buckle up."
The seat belt was a four-point harness, a racing belt. As she hurriedly buckled it above her lap, he shifted into gear and pulled out.
The driveway from the garage split in two directions. He veered left, and the cement ended shortly, turning into a tree-covered lane. Slipping from that alley to another backstreet, he said, "I think we've lost them."
She glanced in the side-view mirror. Nothing but deserted streets. Then she turned to him with a frown. "You're not going to put on a seat belt?"
"Why would an immortal need one?"
"The law says you have to wear it."
"Human laws don't apply to my kind," he said.
"They should, especially since you're driving on human roads, operating a vehicle that was built by humans."
"That you know of. Are you really going to get your panties in a twist about this - oh, forgot you aren't wearing any."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "You're not going to distract me."
"You're not going to get me to wear a seat belt." At her look, he said, "Imagine the oldest, most stubborn, most cantankerous dog ever to live. He'd learn new tricks better than me."
Seeing the mulish set to his jaw, she decided to let it rest, for now. "Who was back at the house?"
"Vampires. They're hot on our trail, for some reason. They'll break into the pool house, find it full of smoke, and then lose their heads to Rök's sword."
"I see. What did he mean about a 'swimbo'? I probably wouldn't want to be called one, would I?"
"Some demons can get summoned, most often by the opposite sex. Swimbo is a play on She Who Must Be Obeyed."
"But why would he call me one?"
"It's kind of morphed into a sexual term for a female you wouldn't mind being summoned by."
"It's a compliment," he added.
"Of course. Since it's also a play on bimbo."
"Hey, I don't make the words, I just use them." When the traffic opened up, he was able to put the car through its paces, upshifting for speed. The ride was as smooth as silk
As the engine purred louder, he seemed to go heavy-lidded. "That sound never gets old."
She hadn't driven a fast car since her dad had died - her own vehicle was a hybrid - and she hadn't ever thought she'd missed it until now. "I've never seen this make."
"That's because there are only three hundred of them. It's the world's fastest and most expensive car."
"How fast does it go?" she asked.
"Over two hundred and fifty. Zero to sixty in under two and a half seconds."
She tried to imagine that. Full acceleration would be like riding a rocket.
"It runs a thousand and one horsepower," he added.
"Twice as much as a Porsche."
He looked startled. "How did you know that?"
"My dad was a car buff, and I used to go to auctions with him. Don't you think this will be conspicuous for our purposes?"
"We'll take my brother's other car when we meet him."
"What is he driving?"
"A McLaren," he answered. "It's a Merce - "
"I know what it is." She gave a laugh. "Not exactly the optimal choice for vehicle concealment."
Cadeon slanted her a surprised expression. "I was thinking the same thing."
The chit knew cars.
Demons loved cars. And Valkyrie. He was doomed.
She chose that moment to uncross and cross her smooth legs, drawing his eyes, reminding him that she wore no panties....
"Cadeon, eyes up!" She tugged on his jacket, but it had ridden up to her midthigh. "Clearly, I can't stay dressed like this."
"I've told you we can't go back to your loft."
"Then let me get a friend to meet us," Holly said. "I need to call her anyway to get her to stand in for my classes."
"Is she a good friend?"
When Holly nodded, he said, "Those demons knew enough about your teaching schedule to nab you easily. Would it be beyond them to keep a man on your friend's house?"
"But my glasses! She can bring my spare pair. I can't read anything without them."
Her glasses. Those small black ones that sat so sexily on her nose. They had the subtlest tilt at the corners, almost like cats' eyes, just enough to call to mind the fifties. The bombshells of the fifties.
He missed that decade.
"We'll get you new glasses. And we'll buy you clothes and shoes on the road."
"And we need to get my medicine refilled."
"What happens if we don't?"
She balled her hands into fists. "That's not an option."
"Some of these factions might think to check your pharmacy records. This is a life-or-death situation, Holly."
"Though I understand very little about tonight, that fact has fully sunk in. But I'm not overstating the importance of those pills."
"We'll see. That's the best I can promise."
"Where are we meeting your brother?" she asked, letting the subject drop. He knew she'd come back around to it eventually.
"North of the lake."
"So we have about thirty minutes. Cadeon, will you kindly explain why I am the most popular girl in town?"
"You're a Valkyrie now, so that makes you a member of the Lore - it's a collection of mythical beings, except we're not mythical. Just about anything you've ever imagined or read about exists in some fashion."
"Like vampires and Valkyrie."
He nodded. "And werewolves and sirens and ghouls."
"What are Valkyrie like?"
Strange, eccentric. Beautiful to a fault. Holly would fit right in. "They're strong as hell. Fast, too, with good senses." He couldn't stop himself from saying, "But they're very docile, and happy to do a male's bidding."
She frowned at that, but before she could ask, he continued, "Now, about every five hundred years, an Accession comes, and - "
"What's an Accession?"
"It's a force that affects Lorekind by pitting species against each other. Some think it began as a mechanism to kill off immortals, or we'd never die, continue spawning, and overrun the earth. So every five centuries, unique things happen. And you're one of them."