"Are you kidding me? I've got an ally on the inside now, who'll be wearing down your defenses against me. It ups my chances of getting you back." Then he stilled. "Are you not happy?"

"I...could be. It's been hard to come to grips with." She quirked a brow. "You're not worried about your ally being the ultimate evil?"

He tenderly brushed a curl behind her ear. "If I were evil, I couldn't love you this much."

Breathe, Holly.

"If you give me another chance, I'll never lie to you again."

"But how can I trust you? Tell me. Because you've just waltzed back into my life with more words, more promises...." She trailed off with a frown. "Cadeon, where are your horns?"

He shrugged. "Ditched them. You need normal. And I need to give you everything you've ever wanted. Like this house. It's got a pool in the back. And it's freakishly neat and everything's in threes. I searched high and low for it."

So that's where he's been. "But your horns," she cried. He'd once told her how excruciating losing one was. And they were part of his identity, part of what made him a demon.

Yet Cadeon had cut them off for her.

"If you don't mind them, I can regrow them in a couple of weeks."

"Were you just going to keep cutting them?" she asked, thinking of the pain.

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"If that's what it took to make you happy, then of course I would."

At that, her defenses crumbled. Want! She'd missed him too much, needed him too badly.

"You're folding, aren't you?" He gave her one of his heart-stopping grins. "You can't stay mad at me because you know I'm going to get it right this time. Plus, you need someone to go with you to see some ghosties."

For some reason, she did believe he would get it right, believed it with all her heart. "I might be folding a tiny bit. But only because I need a ride to Michigan."

"Gods, I've missed you, halfling." He cupped her face. "But Holly, I have to tell you - I'm leaving for Rothkalina in the spring. We go to war."

She drew back. "If you want us to be together, then we stay together. None of this the male goes off to battle crap."

"You think I'll take my pregnant female into a war-torn plain?"

"You will if you want to keep her. My mother went to battle while carrying me."

He exhaled. "I never want to put more lies between us, so I'm saying at the outset that I will do everything in my power to dissuade you from this."

"And I'll fight hard to be by your side. Looks like it's on."

His lips curled. "Oh, it's on." But then, he grew serious once more. "Did you hear me when I said I was in love with you?" His voice was hoarse, laden with feeling.

"I heard you."

He brought his mouth down to hers for a searing kiss that left her knees weak. When they broke away, catching their breath, he said, "You're in love with me, too?"

"I might be," she murmured. "Are you going to use sex to try to seal this deal with me?"

"Oh, yeah." With a growl, he trailed his lips down her neck.

She smiled up at the ceiling, her eyes sliding closed in pleasure. "Because I'm okay with that...."



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