Cade wouldn't dwell on that thought. He was taking action, closing in on their goal.

Whereas Holly was plagued with unwelcome thoughts, Cade was mentally nimble, skirting disagreeable realizations with ease.

It was what would allow him to grow more attached to her with each hour - even as each second took him closer to the time he'd be forced to betray her.

13

Holly was at a ball, standing out on a terrace with Cadeon watching her from the shadows. He wanted her to join him there, but she was afraid to go into the darkness.

She kept looking over her shoulder back inside, unable to leave behind everything she'd ever known.

Yet his green eyes glowed from the shadows, and he held out his hand, beckoning her, promising pleasure more wicked than she'd ever imagined....

Chapter 8

"Good morning, beautiful."

Holly woke with a start, finding herself in Cadeon's arms in a dimly-lit room. He was staring down at her - with eyes that glowed.

"Didn't realize you had freckles," he said, his voice rumbling.

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"Put me down." She squirmed to get free. She didn't need to be reminded of his deep voice, not when she'd just been dreaming about him - her subconscious telling her things with all the subtlety of a hammer's whack. "Where are we? What are you doing holding me like this?"

He set her on the edge of a bed with a soft comforter. "We're in a hotel for the day in northern Mississippi, and I was going to see if I could get you ready for bed without waking you."

"Ready for bed?" She rubbed her eyes and surveyed the suite. It looked like they were in an upscale hotel, not that she'd been in many - or any - hotels in the last decade. The place might be nice, but right away she could see some things that needed to be rearranged to make sense. First, the chairs at the dining table -

"Yes, ready for bed," he said, plucking off her glasses, and setting them on the bedside table. Then he bent down to unfasten her heels.

"I'm sure I can manage the rest." She frowned at his sudden attentiveness. "I can do that," she insisted, but he wasn't listening.

He studied her shoe, with his lips curling as if he found it adorable. "You've the smallest feet, poppet." Once he'd removed her shoes, he said, "And now your top."

Before she could stop him, he pinched the bottom of her sweater and began tugging.

"Are you crazy?" She slapped his hands away, ducking under his arm to flee to the other side of the room.

"It's nothing I haven't seen before."

With her arms crossed over her chest, she said, "Just call me about thirty minutes before you're ready to leave tonight."

"I will be bunking here with you."

Holly tensed. Sharing a room with the husky-voiced demon she'd been dreaming about in the car? This wouldn't work at all. "How exactly would I explain this to my boyfriend?"

"How exactly are you going to explain any of this?"

Indeed. "I'm not going to tell him. If I can get this reversed, he never has to know."

"Good answer. It's against the rules of the Lore to tell humans about our world."

"But why do we have to share a room?"

"Because we're still too close to your last known whereabouts. There could be more vampires."

"I can take care of myself."

"That you can," he said easily. She was alternately discomfited and pleased by his ready confidence in her abilities. "But you'll have a hard time defending yourself when you're asleep. So that's where I come in."

Her stomach chose that moment of silence to growl loudly.

He grinned. "If you're going to be up for about twenty minutes more, I could go for some food. It's too early for room service, but there's a breakfast place across the street."

She nodded. "Can you just get me a bottle of orange juice? I don't like food prepared by others." Or by myself.

"We'll see. If you want to grab a shower, now's the time." At the door, he said, "And, Holly, do not take those pearls off. Or we'll be in deep shite."

She was still in the shower when he returned, which meant she was fair game. He grasped the bathroom door handle, gave a heft to easily break the lock, then swung the door open wide.

"The male's back from the hunt," he called, grinning at her outraged screech.

"Get out! Shut the door!"

Since he could only distinguish a vague shape behind the clouded-glass shower stall, he decided to comply with her requests.

Crossing to the dining table, he set down the plastic bag of food. Finding her something to eat actually had turned into a hunt - because she had such strict criteria. He'd watched her enough to learn about her eccentric eating habits.

Cade had wondered why she hadn't hurried into the shower and been dressed by the time he returned, but now as his gaze swept the room, he realized she hadn't been able to drag herself away from rearranging everything not nailed down.

Three of the four chairs were neatly pushed in. With the fourth, she'd propped the chair's back against the table, leaning it forward on two legs. She'd clearly remade the bed and adjusted the pillows on the room's small sofa, which she'd also moved a few feet over.

The alarm clock on the bedside table was flush against the wall with no wire to be seen, and the remote control sat at a right angle to the center of the clock. The trash can was pressed directly against one end of the dresser, her suitcase against the other end. Her wireless laptop and cell phone sat perfectly parallel on the desk, charging.

Cade needed to check his e-mail and sports scores and map out their route for the day, so he opened her computer, and signed in as a guest. After routine Web stuff, he Googled a couple of things, unsurprised to find that she had the safe content filter on.

He leaned back in his chair, trying to imagine a life filtered of anything sexual.

Not worth living.

Hell, he was one to talk. He hadn't been with another woman since the day he'd met Holly, the longest stretch of celibacy since he'd first had sex. A few months ago, when he'd finally become convinced he could never have Holly, Cade had given a halfhearted try for a witch, but she'd wanted another.

Now he was glad of it.

He set the laptop back on the table, his attention drifting to her suitcase. Cade was itching to get a look at Nïx's letter. Thinking this a fine time to snoop, he crouched beside the bag, dragging it away from the wall so he could open the top wide.

After rooting through her folded skirts and sweater sets, he opened the side compartment, raising his brows at the contents. "Hellooo, lingerie," he murmured.