Cade considered himself a male of simple tastes. He didn't need outrageous lingerie to turn him on. But the thought of prim Holly in those wicked scraps of silk sent blood rushing to his groin....

She emerged then, wearing a bathrobe drawn up to her neck. "What are you doing?" she cried.

"Looking for Nïx's letter."

"You can't just go through my belongings!"

"I never would've suspected such naughty underthings from prim Miss Ashwin." He hooked his forefinger under the waistband of a thong, then spun it around.

"Give those back!" She snatched it away. "Nïx did this! She swapped out all my underwear and hose."

He didn't doubt it, but still said, "Yeah, right. Why would she do that?"

"I don't know - how could I possibly explain her actions?"

He snagged another pair of tiny panties, holding them up with both hands. "Then I bet a thong like this would still be feeling...unusual."

"Ooh, give it!"

Before she could lunge for it, he rose, tossing it back in the bag as if he'd grown bored with it. "Now I have to wonder what's under all that terry cloth." He pulled out another one of the chairs, then sank down.

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She jutted her chin. "Regular pj's."

"Bullshite. Then let me see."

"I don't have to prove anything to you."

He leaned back with his hands behind his head. "I've seen all the goods, Holly. Not even half a day ago, so the memory's still fresh. No need to choke yourself with terry cloth," he said, but she wasn't listening, her sad-eyed gaze back on the pile of her now unfolded clothes.

"I'll have to redo everything." She looked so despondent that he decided to cut her a break on his teasing.

"What would happen if you didn't?"

"I would be a basket-case, unable to think about anything else." When she bent down to repack, her robe tightened over her ass, drawing his eyes like a magnet.

She shivered, then frowned at him over her shoulder.

"You can feel my eyes on you," he explained. "Immortals sense things more acutely. Sound, sight, even tactile perception. We call it hypersensitivity. You'll get used to it in time."

Once she was finished with her bag, she stood, no doubt scanning for more disarray. If her eyes had gone wild at the sight of him scrounging through her bag, then seeing her laptop open and out of place made her sway on her feet. "No...you...my computer?"

Holly cast him the same look he'd give a hellhound that had eaten his Super Bowl tickets. She secured the laptop, assessing it, turning it this way and that. "Your hands were sticky! Oh, God!"

He might've had a donut or two while he'd been waiting for his order.

She dove for her antibacterial wipes. Sitting on the bed, she turned from him, hunching over the computer, wiping it down.

He could only watch her actions in grim fascination, noting her shoulders rising and falling as she took deep, calming breaths.

Apparently reassured that nothing was screwed, she put the computer back on the desk, arranging it by the cell phone, then smoothed the comforter where she'd sat.

"Look, Cadeon," she began, but her gaze drifted back to the computer. She hurried back, adjusting it less than a millimeter to one side, then started again. "Last night I was too stunned to react to half the things you did. Now I'm not. You won't be able to treat me as you have been."

"Oh? Like with the saving your life and then driving you all night while you slept?"

"Like with the t-touching my computer. That was...bad. I'm not saying you can't use it - I don't mind sharing. But I need to sign you in and make sure you know how to treat it properly."

"I wasn't downloading  p**n  or anything." Didn't occur to me at the time. "Just Googled some things and checked our route for tonight."

"Well, that's not the only area with you that has to change. There can't be any more planning to undress me as I sleep or bursting in on my shower and ogling me. Or even calling me those sexist pet names."

"You mean my endearments? What's wrong with them?"

"They're belittling to women."

He shook his head firmly. "None doing. It's just habit. This is the way males used to talk to females. And the endearments are female specific."

"Like how?"

"Like pet or poppet? I only call females I like by those." Only females he really liked. Pet was proprietary and poppet indicated affection. In other words, he'd never used those terms before. "If I'm not interested in a female, I'll call her sweet, sweetheart, or dove."

"Should I feel moved by this revelation? Honored to be deemed poppet?"

"I was going for charmed. But you're a hard one, pet."

"I'd be more inclined to be charmed if you had any respect for my privacy."

"We're going to be stuck together for at least a couple of weeks. Maintaining privacy would take too much effort, and would be futile anyway."

She pursed her lips, as if she couldn't argue with that. "Well, what about your cursing? Must you be so foulmouthed around me?"

"I've been using those words since before humans decided they were foul." He began to set out food from the bag.

"Those kinds of terms are very jarring to people who were raised to avoid them...." She trailed off. "Are those oatmeal pancakes?"

"They are."

"With honey?"

"Of course."

He knew her mouth was watering. "There wasn't any orange juice?"

"Oh, there was."

He dug into another bag and produced individually packaged cereals, a plastic spoon still in its wrapper, a sealed carton of milk and one of orange juice.

She narrowed her eyes. "All prepackaged. Exactly how long have you been watching me, Cadeon?"

"Long enough to know what you like to eat, and what you will eat..."

14

I guess I wasn't that hungry anyway." Holly pushed her plate away after finishing only half of her breakfast.

"It's the change," Cadeon said. "Valkyrie don't eat."

"How is that even possible?"

"Dunno. How's it possible for shifters to change form, or witches to move things with their minds?"

After she threw the breakfast trash away, fatigue set in. It didn't help when he turned on a low lamp and pulled the heavier layer of drapes closed.

She sank down on the edge of the bed. Her body was exhausted, but her senses felt alive, humming. Hypersensitivity? She believed it. And now she was in a darkened hotel room, alone with a demon she'd had not-so-subtle dreams about.