"Maybe a little of both."

"Why would you be attracted to me? It isn't logical."

"You're not just a nerd's wet dream, you know."

"What does that mean?"

"Means I find you sexy. I'm not going to lie to you about this."

"Sexy?" she said in a strangled tone. "But...but you like tarts. With more meat on their bones. That's what you said! And I've done nothing to try to attract this attention from you! I don't wear makeup or low-cut tops - "

"Do you think just because you don't try that you'll be unattractive?"

Well...yes.

"Face it, Holly, you're a natural."

This would not do. She pointed her forefinger at him. "No more kissing me, Cadeon. That's not part of this deal. I have a boyfriend."

"No, you don't. You've got a friend. The two of you don't sleep together, or do anything couples should do. And that's because you don't know better. You have no idea what you're missing."

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She didn't have the heart to deny his words.

"In the short time that we're going to be together, I intend to keep trying to seduce you," he said. "Why not use me to ease your curiosity while we're stuck together? You can take a vacation from your boring life, get all this craziness out of your system, then go back to normal."

She hesitated, tilting her head...then railed at herself. Was she was actually considering getting lured into his sensual world? The dark side. Just like her dream.

When she parted her lips to speak, he said, "You don't have to answer right now. Just keep the offer in mind. And one thing I can promise you: What happens with the demon, stays with the demon."

"How considerate an offer."

"That's me. Always thinking of others."

She squinted at him suspiciously, having the sense that he was excited, even...happy with her.

"I'm going to sleep." With her robe still firmly in place, she crawled under the covers.

"Ah, come on, halfling, you don't have to keep your robe on like a shark suit."

"I do when there are still sharks in the water."

"You can trust me not to do anything to you. I give you my word as a mercenary."

She glared at that. "Where are you going to sleep?"

He crossed to the couch and sank down, stretching his long arms along the back. "Here, unless you're wanting to share your bed with me."

"Ha!" She turned off the lamp. "In your dreams, demon."

"Admittedly, halfling," he rumbled from the dark.

16

When she woke near sundown, Cadeon was exiting the bathroom wearing only a towel, displaying far too much of that muscular body. Her lips parted with appreciation.

His tanned skin was taut and smooth over his rigid muscles, showing no signs of being shot just yesterday. His broad chest and back were damp from his shower.

Acting as if she still slept, she watched him moving about the room. She'd just been dreaming about him, the same vivid dream she'd had before. She swallowed, eyes riveted to that intriguing bulge behind his towel that swayed when he bent for his bag -

He abruptly turned, catching her staring at that part of his anatomy before she yanked her gaze up. He gave her a grin, and the blond stubble on his strong jaw glinted in the low light.

Even with the horns, he was too gorgeous for his own good. Worse, he knew it.

She resolved then that he'd never know that she found him handsome.

"Good, you're awake. I'm in need of your services."

"Pardon?"

"I need you to extract a bullet from me. I haven't been able to shed it."

She sat up, rubbing her eyes. "How would I do that?"

"Dig it out with your claws."

For all her phobias, she wasn't afraid of blood. But helping him would entail touching him. No way. It was too soon after their kiss this morning.

As she'd tossed and turned, trying to get to sleep, she'd decided that she would stay as far away from him as possible, biding her time until they stopped sharing rooms. "This is just one of your ploys to seduce me, isn't it?"

"Look, I wouldn't ask, but it's high on the back of my thigh and I can't easily reach it. Hurts like hell." He held her gaze as he said, "And, pet, I did catch it saving your life."

Guilt flared. He was in pain and needed her help. "You're right." She reached for her glasses, then tightened her robe. "Of course, I'll see if I can help." She hastily added, "But you have to keep your towel on."

"I will," he said, adding in a mutter, "but it won't do any good."

She frowned. Of course it would. He'd be covered.

When he stretched his massive body out on the bed, she sat beside him, trying not to stare at the muscled expanse of his back.

With a trembling hand, she eased the towel up, brushing it over the blond-tipped hair that covered his legs. "Where is it?" she asked, her voice unaccountably throaty.

"Farther up."

With a swallow, she tugged the towel higher. She glanced down to find that her claws were already curling.

Those thoughts began to suffuse her mind. She wanted to lick each droplet from his damp skin, to dip her tongue to the slight collection at the base of his spine....

She shook her head hard, trying to jar loose the unwelcome images.

"Higher," he said.

"Yes, yes - "

When she uncovered the wound, she gasped. But not at the injury. His penis hung down between his legs. Turn away. Turn - away. Turn away!

Face burning, she finally did.

"Told you it wouldn't do any good."

She was furious, as much at his actions as at her own reaction - the mere site of his privates made her feel hot and flustered. "You could have arranged yourself differently!"

"You would've seen some or all. What's the difference?"

"I...there's a difference!"

Unable to help herself, she let her gaze flit to it again. Had it grown? Her lips parted. "You're...you're getting aroused!"

He looked up at her. "So?" With what sounded like a stifled groan, he adjusted himself until he lay on it. "Males do that." Seeming uncomfortable in that position as well, he turned to his back.

He'd gotten even bigger! "What do you intend to do about...with...Are you just going to walk around like that?" She'd wondered what he'd done with his previous erection as well.

"I'll grin and bear it, till my next shower."

"Next shower?"

He gave her a leer.

"Oh!" Her face flushed. He was utterly unembarrassed to divulge that he masturbated, and that he'd be doing it again at their next hotel stop.