"Shouldn't I be? You took advantage of me."

"I didn't touch you!"

"You know that's not what I'm talking about," she snapped. "You interrogated me."

"You're angry that I happened to ask you some questions when you happened to be drunk? I can't figure it. But that doesn't matter. At least you'll be jacked up for training time."

"What is this training you keep talking about?"

"I need to teach you how to fight. Sparring, self-defense." When she made no move to cooperate, he said, "Come on, it'll be fun."

She raised her brows. "I do believe I took down a dozen demons all by myself."

"You said yourself that you were in a rage. What if you don't go into that state again? Or what if you want to fight someone off without killing him? As long as your life's in danger, you need to be preparing."

Sometimes she found herself forgetting that assassins wanted to murder her. "Would this involve hitting you?"

"Maybe."

Nothing could be more compelling to her right now. "Then I'm in. What do you want me to do?"

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"Take off your heels."

Once she'd removed her shoes, he motioned for her to stand facing him. "If you take nothing else away from what I'm about to teach you, remember two things: Never hesitate. If the instinct to strike is there, then do it. And second, don't be ashamed to run if you're outnumbered - but only if you think you can get away. Otherwise you're just wasting everyone's time and wearing yourself out."

She shrugged. "Okay."

"Now, how would you engage me if we were facing off? Say you had to get past me or you die."

"I'd try to hit you?"

"Unless you're battling another chick - which I wouldn't mind seeing if mud were involved - you shouldn't punch at all."

She pursed her lips. "I watch TV. What would a fight be without punches?"

"Okay, slug a haymaker at me." At her frown, he said, "You watch TV but never boxing? Forget it. A haymaker is an all-out, full-force hit."

The idea of battering his arrogant face had her clenching her hand in a fist.

"Do it now! Hit now - "

She did, aiming for his face; he turned so that the blow landed against his horn.

"Ow! That was unfair!"

"Don't ever strike a demon above the throat. He's going to use his horns in combat. And some of them can emit a poison from the ends."

"Can you?"

"Yeah, but only when I'm in complete rage form."

"So what you're saying is that you're toxic, and you can even be poisonous, too?"

He gave her an unamused look, then continued, "Even with other species, you should never go for the head. Think about it - most of it is covered by hard bone. The odds of hitting vulnerable areas like the mouth or nose aren't good. And if you land a hit anywhere else but those two spots, you'll likely hurt your hand more than your opponent. But that doesn't mean you can't attack the face. You can gouge eyes out, and rake your claws down a foe's cheek. Or you can give him a 'Glasgow kiss.'"

"What's that?"

"A head-butt. Say I've got your arms wrapped tight at your sides, and you can't get free. Just snap your head forward, aiming your forehead for the bridge of your enemy's nose."

"What about the old standby of kicking a guy in the groin?"

"Try it."

Love to... Without warning, she launched a kick. He caught her foot, forcing her to hop for balance.

"Cadeon!" she cried, and he finally released her.

"I could have tossed you backward. If you're going for the groin, use your hands. It only takes a little force to do a lot of damage there. And most males won't expect a small female to go for a grab. Now try to hit my torso. Charge me! Now! Do it!"

She did, but he snatched her hand. Using her momentum, he spun her around, looping his arm around her neck. "That's all it would take, Holly. Your adversary could break your neck."

They were both breathing heavy, his forearm easing down to her br**sts. She narrowed her eyes. He'd done this entire sparring scenario just to get her in a position like this.

At that instant, something snapped. Holly had officially had enough of Cadeon's tricks. She'd throw a few of her own.

She relaxed in his arms, acting receptive. As if pleased with her, he pressed his mouth to her neck. He was already growing hard against her.

Yet just last night, he'd been with another.

Don't think - just let instinct take over? She eased around in his arms. Gazing at his mouth, she whispered, "I want to kiss you."

His eyes widened, then narrowed. "Holly..." he said in a raspy voice, easing down.

Just before his lips reached hers, she jerked her head back to whip it forward into his nose. A Glasgow kiss. Distinct cracking sounded.

With his nose pouring blood, he squeezed her upper arms, "Holly, what the f**k - "

Using all her strength, she hiked her knee up between his legs.

His hands flew to cup his groin as his knees met the ground.

"You're right, Cadeon." She dusted off her hands. "That really was fun."

22

You broke my nose and my ballocks, and you're the one acting pissed off?" Cade said as he drove down the freeway, noting how nasally his voice sounded.

Without glancing up from her computer, she said, "You're the one who wanted to spar." Her tone was aloof, distinctly uninterested.

"I didn't know I was courting your feminine wrath. And I told you not to go for the groin. Doubtful I'll be able to reproduce after your knee-job."

"What will the world be like without little Cadeons to populate it?"

"If you were angry because I asked you some questions then you've gotten me back."

In that uninterested voice, she said, "Revenge is sweet." He'd never seen this side of her.

Yet even considering this animosity, he would still do the same thing again. He'd struck gold in his interrogation, having finally discovered why his female had remained a virgin.

She'd been too afraid of hurting another with her strength and aggression.

He'd also learned how she'd controlled her libido. With punishing swims and wet dreams. Thinking about the latter had even his abused manhood stirring.

"Is this how it's to be the entire trip?" he asked her.

"I simply don't have anything to say to you."

"Well, then I'm just going to talk. And talk. And say my piece. First of all, I didn't sleep with Imatra."

With a sigh, she asked, "Why do you care if I believe you or not?"