As if to encourage her, he gave one flick of his tongue to hers. Then he let her take over, never rushing her as she began to explore him with tentative licks. Finally, he met her tongue again, but allowed her to control the pace, slowly tangling it with hers.

The kiss was languid, but unmistakably carnal. She couldn't seem to stop herself from deepening it -

Girls' giggles sounded in the dressing room next door.

Holly broke away with a gasp, trying to quiet her panting breaths and gather her wits. But then her brows drew together as she gazed at Cadeon's face.

His eyes had gone black, and his horns had straightened and thickened. Just like each time they'd been intimate.

Yet she'd seen none of these reactions when he'd kissed Imatra.

Was it because he'd already been satisfied? Or not at all?

"There." She ducked out from under his arm. "I've done it."

His voice hoarse, he said, "That you did. Glad I brought this." He donned his hat. That weather-beaten, leather one that made her heart thud. Once his eyes had cleared, he said, "I'll sneak out now. To go and sit like the other perplexed males who don't know how they got here."

"Wait!" She pointed at his pocket.

He chose to misunderstand her. "It's at - your - service, m'love."


She rolled her eyes and mouthed, "My panties."

He handed them over with a shameless grin. At last, she had the dressing room to herself. Yet as she zipped up a pair of three-hundred-dollar jeans, she stilled. I can hear the whispers from the girls next door.

Holly could tell they were whispering right at each other's ears, likely with a cupped hand, but she could clearly distinguish their words: "He's frigging hawt. Like the hawtest ever. Go act like you're getting me another size and see for yourself."

And Holly could hear their hearts clamoring each time they returned from walking past him.

Which meant he could hear them as well. No wonder he knew he was gorgeous.

"Come out so I can see," he called.

She checked herself out in the mirror and hardly recognized her reflection. She hadn't worn jeans since she was in her early teens. Because her chignon kept falling down as she tried on the turtleneck sweaters, she'd ended up plaiting her hair in two braids that would cover her ears. She wore no glasses, because she didn't need them. Her cheeks were pink, her skin seeming to glow - like Nïx's had.

She pursed her lips, hating to admit that there were advantages to being a Valkyrie.

"Come on, then."

"Just a minute!"

And then he was just outside her door. "Getting greedy to see you, pet."

At that, one of the girls in the next room sighed.

"The jeans don't fit." Though the waist was gaping, the back was too tight. She turned in the mirror, frowning over her shoulder. She'd never really noticed how big her backside was. No wonder Cadeon was always riveted to it!

"Then I'll get another size," he said.

"No, they're too big and too small."

"Let me be the judge of that."

"Fine." She opened the door.

His lips parted. "Turn around." Once she made a self-conscious circle, he said, "Well, then. I'd thought your ass in one of your skirts was earth-shattering, but your ass in jeans tops even that."

When the girls next door giggled anew, she glared. Undaunted, he reached past her for her computer case, then started dragging her out. "What are you doing?"

"We're done."

"But they don't fit," she insisted.

"We'll get you a belt."

"Wait, this is only one outfit!"

"None doing. We're getting you five pairs of these earth-shattering jeans, and that sweater in every color, and then we're finished, yeah?" Out in the store, he said, "Damn, that was close. I got you out of there just in time."

"What are you talking about?"

"You were about to claw out the girls' eyes for their interest in your demon. It was imminent - lives held in the balance."

"You're not my demon."

"No? You sure kissed me like I was."

"Ooh!" she muttered under her breath.

He snagged a black leather belt, coiled on a display table. "Try this." He looped it around her waist, taking his time with his arms around her, lingering. Ten to one odds said he was smelling her hair.

"It's fine," she said, so he got her a few more, then set about collecting all the jeans and sweaters.

When it was their turn to pay, Cadeon told the lady at the register, "Good evening, dove."

The woman stared speechlessly at him, unable to do more than fuss with her hair.

"Ma'am," Holly prompted, more sharply than she'd intended.

Once she snapped out of her daze and began scanning the tags, Cadeon murmured at Holly's ear, "Another close call. These silly chits flirt with death."

Holly kicked his shin. In response, he gave a deep chuckle.

When they'd finally gotten their bags and had taken the tags off the clothes she wore, he told Holly, "Go try on some hiking boots downstairs." He handed her a Centurion American Express card.

Apparently the demon was rich. "You need some expensive ones that you don't have to break in. With Gore-Tex for snow."

"Where are you going?"

"Getting a coat and some things. Stay in this store till I get back...."

In the shoe department, she picked out two types of boots. One pair was sturdy, with a Gore-Tex coating, because she needed them. Yet she also chose a pair made of sleek, black leather with higher heels - because her claws were curling for them and she was helpless not to.

When the saleslady returned with her size, Holly tried them on, walking around the area. Did everyone walk differently in boots? Maybe with a little more strut?

Holly bought the two pairs, wearing the black ones. Her task complete, she sat and waited for Cadeon to return. With no activity and no one to talk to, her mind began mulling recent developments....

She'd officially been unfaithful to her boyfriend. And that just wasn't her way. She'd never cheated on a test, had never even broken a promise. Tim was too nice a guy to deserve this -

How well do you really know Tim?

The thought came out of nowhere, making her frown.

He was perfect for her, a steady, even-tempered guy, who was incredibly driven in his career. As driven as she was. He was tall, slim, and handsome in an affable, non-intimidating way. And as she'd told Cadeon, Tim would make a great husband and father.

Which was more than she could say for a male like Cadeon, who would be unfaithful to her and most likely an absentee father to any children he might have.