He stifled a groan, beginning to pace back and forth.

A human male strolled by, then did a double take at her. The bastard's brows drew together with want.

Cade bared his teeth. Don't mangle the mortal! The human caught sight of him and wisely scurried away.

Once Holly had deposited everything in the hotel's trash bin, she used her wipes to eradicate innocent microorganisms.

"Are we ready, pet?" His voice was so hoarse it made her frown.

"What's wrong with your voice? Are you getting sick?"

He heard her asking the question, but his attention was already distracted. The evening was chilly, and her ni**les were stiff under the beige sweater she wore. He absently answered, "Immortals never get sick."

She caught the direction of his stare, and her lips thinned. "Must you?"

I must. "First day in the new bra, yeah?"

As if calling on some inner well of reserve, she said in a long-suffering tone, "Yes, Cadeon, it is...."

When they'd gotten on the road, she asked, "So tell me about the checkpoint. Who's this Imatra woman? Do you know her?"

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"Not personally. She's supposed to have been born of a sorcerer and a demoness, getting the strengths from both. Rumored to be a great beauty," he added truthfully, gauging her reaction. There wasn't a discernible one. "She owns a Lore tavern on the Mississippi River called the Sandbar."

"How cute." Had her tone been cutting?

Cade would be forced to take Holly with him there. The idea of leaving her vulnerable and alone in the hotel room was worse than what he expected at this bar. Besides, Groot's followers patronized the place.

Surely they wouldn't do anything to jeopardize what the sorcerer wanted so badly....

"And then at the Sandbar, we'll get directions to another checkpoint?" When he nodded, she said, "Any idea where Groot's could be?"

"Some say it's in the north."

"What is he like? I feel as though I'm off to see the wizard."

"He's a blacksmith as well as a sorcerer, supposed to be able to enchant metal."

"Why so much trouble to get to him?"

Stick to the truth. "My enemy Omort wants him dead. So Groot lives in constant hiding."

"Because Groot can forge a sword that can kill Omort."

"Precisely."

"So then, Groot must be one of the good guys if he and Omort are enemies."

Vague it up. "Good or bad, you need to remember that all sorcerers have to be dealt with cautiously."

"How will he reverse the transition? Will there be a spell?"

"I don't know. I suppose."

"But only if we get there in time. Why didn't we just fly to Memphis?"

"Nïx made me vow not to fly any leg of this trip. She must have foreseen something bad."

"Do you always believe her predictions?"

"She doesn't get foretellings wrong - ever," he said. "But whether she tells you the truth about them is another matter."

"You seem to know her fairly well. Were you two ever...involved?"

"Involved with Nucking Futs Nïx? Not likely. In case you didn't gather Nïx is" - he twirled his forefinger at his temple - "addled."

Chapter 10

"She's also beautiful."

"Never seen a Valkyrie who wasn't." He peered hard at her, making her flush and look away. "Speaking of Nïx - what'd you do with her letter?"

"I memorized and destroyed it while you were out for food."

"Then you knew I'd snoop through your things?"

"From what I know about you so far, it was a statistical probability."

Over the last three hours, they'd ridden in silence, with Holly working on her laptop, lost in thought - and him trying not to glance over at her more than twice a minute.

She had her computer stylus behind her ear, her glasses on, and she was now lazily fingering those pearls.

Don't do it...don't do -

And there she went, running them against her lips.

Maddening woman, with even more maddening ways about her! And she had no clue of the men she left hard in her wake.

Here he was, locked in a car all night with his female, knowing she needed to be pleasured. He had a driving demon instinct to please his female - and couldn't.

Cade was about to explode.

Just then her brows drew together, and she typed in rapid-fire taps. She paused, biting her bottom lip. When she hit enter, she glowered at the answer.

He wondered what proofs, theorems, or functions she was considering and then rejecting. What was going on in that incredible brain of hers?

But she hadn't only been concentrating on math over the last few hours. He knew she'd occasionally been thinking about earlier. Her face would flush, and she'd run her pearls against her lips, but faster.

Had she liked what he'd shown her? He'd been proud for her to see him hard, loving the feel of her gaze on his shaft, hoping to tempt her hands to it. And she'd been so close to touching him.

He knew he hadn't been on his best behavior at the hotel. But when she'd been talking to that tosser, Cade had been overcome with jealousy.

He tried to remember the last time he'd been so envious. Probably when the Lykae Bowen MacRieve had found his mate. Intense rivals, both Bowen and Cade had gone centuries without finding their females. Then the Lykae had gotten his in a pretty, funny witch - the one Cade had made a lackluster run at.

Now Cade had found his own female in a brilliant, stunning Valkyrie, who was so confident she made him speechless at times.

But she was one he couldn't keep.

Another rapid bout of typing came, with another glare at her computer screen.

"Has anyone ever told you you're sexy as hell when you're mathematizing?"

She sighed, closing her laptop and removing her glasses. "Is sex all you think about?"

"It is when I'm in sore need of it. My kind need it three or four times on a regular day. And then after what happened between us earlier...? You've got to be feeling the aftereffects, too."

"Hardly."

"Admit it. We had a moment." Though they hadn't even touched, he couldn't remember the last time he'd experienced anything so heated.

"It wouldn't matter if we did. I can control my baser urges."

"You said you didn't work things out for yourself. Which I know is a lie - "

"It is not!"

"It has to be," he said. "Otherwise the lust would just build and build."

"You're going to keep at this until I answer."

"You're beginning to understand me."