She swallowed. "And how often do you get enraged?"

"It's extremely rare to turn fully. It happens only when a demon's life or the life of one of his family is in jeopardy." Or when he claimed his female for the first time.

"Why is Lorekind hidden from humans?"

"Historically, anytime some faction comes out of the closet, they get slaughtered."

"Like who?"

"For millennia, the witches kept outing themselves - until that last rash of burnings. And all those people in the past who were killed because they were supposedly possessed by demons? They were demons."

"But how do all these beings keep secret from humans?"

"It's easier than you think. We mainly stick to crazy cities, party towns. Most humans assume that anything off is a costume or, these days, part of an MTV prank." He grew more serious. "But every myth is an example of when some Lore creature boned up."

"What would you do if you got pulled over right now? What if you threw on your hat and a cop wanted you to take it off?"

"A lot of demons would run, collect a couple of bullets, then get out of sight to trace."

"Trace? I read about that. It means to teleport?"


He nodded. "But not all demon breeds can do it, and of those that have the potential, they have to work at it to master it."

"I assume you can't since you didn't trace us instead of going through the swamp."

"I used to be able to. For centuries I enjoyed that power. But Omort bound my ability to trace. My brother's as well."

"Will you ever get it back?"

He met her eyes. "As soon as that sword severs his head from his neck, we'll be free."

Cadeon's expression grew sinister, as if he was imagining beheading Omort right at that moment. Then his gaze slid to her, and he seemed to shake himself. "So questions about you now..."

"What do you want to know?"

"How did you find out you were adopted?"

"My adoption was never a secret. My mom used to tell me the story of the day someone left me on their doorstep. She always called me her foundling." Holly smiled softly. "They'd tried for years to get pregnant. When they couldn't and sought an adoption, the parish said my father was too old. And he outlived her."

Though not by much. He'd been so utterly in love with his wife of forty-five years that when they'd lost her to cancer, he'd wanted only to follow her wherever she'd gone. Her parents had had an extraordinary kind of love, the kind that you read about but rarely see.

Had her biological parents experienced it, too?

"I bet you never imagined your real mum as a warrior Valkyrie," he said, taking a deep swallow of Red Bull.

"No, we'd always supposed she was an unwed teenager." An unfamiliar scent hit her, and she sniffed the air. "Are you...tippling? Did you pour alcohol in your drink?"


"You're drinking and driving!"

"If I were blotto, my reflexes would still be a thousand times better than a human's."

"You curse like a sailor and denigrate women, and now I find out that you drive under the influence." She peered over at the speedometer. "And you do it too fast."

"True, true, true. And you don't live a little, don't get the lead out, and never have fun."

"I do have fun!"

"You wouldn't know fun if it bit you on the ass."

Her chin jutted up. "You think I'm a goody two-shoes, a prude."

"I was going to say preachy tight-ass. But prude might fit. Especially after what Nïx told me about you tonight."

"What did she say?" Holly demanded.

"She said that you're innocent, and not just in body. I'd figured you were definitely a virgin, but - "

"How?" she interrupted. She wasn't secretive about her virginity, but she hadn't thought it'd be patently obvious to others.

"You've got it written all over you. It's like a flickering beacon for males like me."

"Please. Tell me. What do I have inscribed and flickering over me?"

"Starving - for - it."

She glared at the roof of the car, grasping for patience. Because heaven help her, he might be right.

"So, I got that you were innocent body-wise, but the innocent-in-mind bit threw me. How is that even possible?"

"Why couldn't it be?" she asked.

"The media and such today. Sex is pervasive."

It was. But Holly had diligently trained herself to Turn Away. Somehow, she unfailingly forced herself to avoid anything that might make her lose control - anything erotic, passionate, moving, angering....

A couple necking on campus? Turn away. A steamy scene on network TV? Turn away. "Can you accept that an alcoholic avoids the liquor store? Or that a dieter avoids the bakery?"

"A dieter still has to go to the grocery store."

"Unless he gets the groceries delivered," she countered.


"Why would a dieter have to be a she?"

The corners of his lips curled. "Almost forgot what a little feminist you are."

"I guess everyone would be considered so, compared to a huge chauvinist such as yourself."

"Back to the subject. You're telling me you've never even seen people having sex in a movie?"

"Regrettably, my adult video collection isn't as extensive as yours."

He shrugged. "Not going to apologize for that. I'm currently between females. Flicks help to...pass the time."

Though she could scarcely believe she was discussing  p**n  with an immortal in a million-dollar car, alas, she was.

"Answer the question," he said.

"No, I haven't viewed more than a glimpse."

"Before this trip is over, I'm going to get you to watch a flick."

"Never. I'm just not interested in seeing things like that." She was dying to see things like that. Turn away...


Now she shrugged.

"Do you even know the logistics?" he asked.

"Of course I do. I went to high school."

"And how does your boyfriend feel about all this?"

"Tim and I have decided to wait to have sex until we get married."

"He's onboard with that?" Cadeon met her gaze. "If you were mine, I'd give you a good seeing to at least five times a day."

This was why she avoided talking and reading about subjects like sex. Now all she could do was envision what a day would be like broken up by regular bouts of sex.