Would a male like Cadeon simply find her wherever she was and take her? She stifled a shiver.

He slanted her a heart-stopping grin. "Got you thinking about it, didn't I?"

"Got me thinking about what it'd be like with Tim five times a day," she lied.

Cadeon's knuckles went white on the steering wheel. Almost as if he was jealous. But why? Maybe demons felt possessive of females that were in their care?

"So tell me about Tim," he bit out.

"We've been dating for two years, and still, every day I'm struck by how perfect he is for me. He's caring and funny, and he's going to make a great husband and father. My parents both got to meet him before they died, and they liked him, too."

"Planning on marrying this bloke?"

"We're getting engaged as soon as we get our degrees."

In a brusque tone, he asked, "Aren't you a little young to get hitched?"

"Maybe, but when you find the right one..."

"And he's it?"


She sighed. "Yes. He's brilliant. One of a kind." When Cadeon snorted, she said, "How many men can discuss extremal combinatorics or how to use Mahalanobis distance in cluster analysis? How many know what a permutohedron or bipartite graph is?"

"Extreme combining?" He cast her a leer. "I'll discuss that any day."

"It's extremal...oh, never mind. You wouldn't understand. Tim and I comprehend each other on a different level."

"How smart can he be if he hasn't figured out a way to sleep with you in two years? I'd have had that locked up tight already."

Holly couldn't even manage a response. This male couldn't be more rude or overbearing.

He continued, "How're you going to know if you and Tim are compatible in bed if you don't do the deed before you get married? Come on, pet, you've got to kick the tires before you buy the car."

"I think that's a ridiculous" - valid - "argument. Sex can be taught just like any other skill. If there's something one of us needs, I'm sure the other will figure it out."

"You can't teach intensity. And who knows - you might discover a few kinks in your closet that old Tom might not be onboard with."

I know this. "Tim would do whatever it takes to make me happy," she insisted. But a full, abiding relationship between them would work only if she were normal sexually. Otherwise, how could he survive her strength? And how could they deal with her weird conflicting needs?

At once, she had the instinctive drive to overpower, and the instinctive need to be overpowered.

"What happens when things get a bit out of hand with you and Tim? How do you kids pull back on the throttle?"

Tim took so many herbs and extracts that she suspected his libido was chemically stunted. "We're strictly platonic right now." Yet even without his GNC stash, her boyfriend wasn't a very sexual person - which was perfect for her. "We're more cerebral than physical."

"Your cerebrum can't have an orgasm."

"We don't believe life has to be filled with orgasms to be meaningful."

He coughed on a swallow of Red Bull, then looked at her as if she'd spoken the vilest blasphemy. "You're killing me, halfling."

"I really don't want to talk to you about anything of this nature anymore. It's not an appropriate subject between us."

"A shame. 'Cause it happens to be my favorite one." Seeing she was unbending about this, he said, "Then ask about me more about the Lore."

"Very well. Do beings get married? Or form family units?"

"Some marry. Especially the species that are more humanized."

"Does your kind?"

"A lot do. More now than in the past. But not as a rule."

"Oh," she said, sounding as if his answer displeased her.

He hastily added, "Though we might not marry, we have something more lasting between us. A demon male has one fated female that he desires and needs above all others. He spends his whole life looking for her. A demon would be crazy to stray when he wants nothing more than to pleasure and protect his woman. Marriage is a little redundant."

"Have you found yours?" she asked, seeming fascinated with the idea.

"I...don't have mine yet."

"How do you recognize her?"

"You just know. A feeling. A connection. But, for my kind, we can't say for certain if she's ours or not without having sex with her. As they say, In the throes, you know."

"How convenient."

"It's true. Things occur when you're having sex with her. Things you need in order to claim her." For the first time, the way would be opened, the dam breached.

"Like what?" she asked, then immediately added, "Wait - will your response be graphically sexual?"

To explain how a male rage demon could orgasm but never ejaculate until after the initial claiming of his female...? "Odds are."

"Then please don't answer."

She gazed out the window, peering hard at the night, as if she desperately wanted to block him out. "Maybe I'll just rest for a while."

Minutes after she'd closed her eyes, she had nodded off. He kept glancing over at her, wondering what she was dreaming about with her brows drawn.

As he drove, he decided two things. If they were going to be on the road together for potentially weeks, then he would begin teaching her how to defend herself.

If I turn her over to Groot, she's going to have a sporting chance.

And second, he would be with her sexually. He could never take her completely - she may not be far enough into the transition to immortality to survive it. And if she did, once he'd experienced what it was like to be inside her, he might not ever let her go.

No, he couldn't claim her, but before he relinquished her, he would pleasure her. Cade thought she could be seduced - he'd seen a spark of interest in her eyes. She wasn't immune to him. Which meant he now had to coax her to trust him. Which meant he should be on his best behavior.

Except he had to admit that he kind of enjoyed baiting her like this. When her cheeks went pink and she grew flustered...

And Nïx did say she wanted her niece educated.

Cade wondered what his stalwart brother would think about his plans for Holly. Good money said he'd disapprove. Rydstrom was a fairly stand-up guy, with only a few skeletons in his closet.

Ah, but they were big ones.

Cade stilled. What if the Queen of Illusions discovered Rydstrom's secret weakness? What would she do to him then?

He also wondered if Rydstrom even now believed that their cause was lost because it rested on Cade's shoulders.