Adam lowered himself to my chest, his hands wrapping my legs around his hips. I cradled him there, squeezing with my thighs and meeting his thrusts with my hips. He didn’t try to kiss me. He knew the temptation to feed would be too strong to deny. Instead, he buried his lips on my throat, sucking and licking the sweat from my fevered skin. Harder now. Faster. Close, so close.
My stomach muscles ached with the exertion. My fingernails dug into his back. His slick skin glided against mine with delicious friction. Until… yes, yes, yes! The pressure reached its apex and I plunged into the void.
Adam thrust faster, faster until, finally, he joined me there. He reared up, every muscle taut, as he screamed his release.
I finally floated back into myself. Wrapping my arms around his sweat-slicked back, I held him to me, enjoying the weight. Yet, I kept my face averted from his until my fangs finally withdrew, unsatisfied.
The dream was different his time. His body fills the opening of a dark portal. In the small room, the blue light flickers against rough stone walls. I spin around, looking for another way out.
Even in the dim light, his green eyes shine like emeralds.
“Sabina.” My name spills from his lips like a prayer. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Suddenly, I am afraid. I never should have come here. My mouth opens to scream for help, but the words clog in my throat like glass shards.
“Lamashtu,” he breathes. “Do not fear me. We are meant for each other.”
The cave swirls around us like a cyclone. The rocks dissolve and painted walls rise in their place. Now I am strung up, my arms tied over my head. Bruises throb on my cheeks. Blood coats my chest from the wounds at my wrists.
“Come to me,” he demands. “Submit.”
“Never.” I raise my chin despite the pain. “I will never submit.”
He moves closer, gliding across the floor like a specter, though he is flesh and bone. I can smell the rage on him. Feel the heat of his wrath on my skin. “Let me go!”
He smiles sadly. “I can’t.” He touches my face gently. “Why do you make me hurt you?”
“Let me go,” I say again. This time the words are a plea. I hate him even more for making me beg.
Cain raises his gaze to mine. His eyes are unfocused, crazed. “You belong to me.”
He lifts the dagger high. The metal flashes in the light. His hand swoops down. I wake gasping and covered in sweat.
The next evening, Adam had to report at the Crossroads for a meeting with the other Pythian Guards about security for the Imbolc festival. Meanwhile, Giguhl and Georgia were about to head out to Vein for a practice session. Since the first Roller Derby match was the next night, Giguhl wanted to be sure the Manhattan Marauders were ready for prime time.
Before they left, Georgia seemed more chipper than I’d seen her in days. When I asked her why, she smiled broadly. “Mac called last night and said she’s made some progress with Michael.”
My brows rose in shock. “Really? That’s great.”
“Yeah,” she said, and nodded. “She didn’t have too much time to talk but said she’d fill me in at practice.”
“You better talk to her before,” Giguhl corrected. “Because by the time I’m done with your asses, you won’t have the energy to talk.”
“In that case we better get there early.” Georgia rolled her eyes and pushed the demon toward the door. “Let’s go, coach!”
After everyone left, I decided to head to Maisie’s apartment to check up on her and try to make some progress with her about the dream incubation. Time was running out before the festival, so I needed to step up my campaign.
When I reached the door to her apartment, I knocked twice but didn’t hear an answer. Just when I was about to turn and go look for her elsewhere, a loud crash sounded inside the apartment. The door was unlocked and I didn’t hesitate to rush inside.
Running through the apartment, I mentally prepared myself for anything. Probably the crash was nothing to worry about, but that didn’t stop my heart from kicking up a couple of notches. Especially when the scent of blood reached me.
I skidded to a halt in the doorway of Maisie’s bedroom. “Maisie,” I called, pushing open the door. When I saw what waited for me on the other side, I froze.
Maisie was in the corner of the room with her back to me. Her head was bent over a squirming figure struggling in her grasp. It took a couple of seconds for my eyes and my mind to make sense of what I was seeing.
“Help!” a panicked voice whimpered.
Out of instinct, I ran across the room and grabbed Maisie’s arm. Adrenaline and shock exaggerated my movements, and Maisie flew across the room.
I recognized my sister’s victim now as her maid, Hannah. The young mage’s dress was covered in blood and tears soaked her face. In her confusion, she didn’t realize I wasn’t my twin. She fought me, scratching and slapping at my face and chest. I managed to grab her arms and pin them to her sides. “Shh, it’s okay. You’re safe now.”
Wide, haunted eyes looked up at me. I tried to smile reassuringly. She blinked once or twice and collapsed against me. “Oh, Sabina, thank the gods.”
“Haven’t you heard of knocking?” a bored voice said behind me.
I turned slowly to face my sister. Her rebellious posture and bloody lips didn’t disguise the fear and guilt in her eyes.
“What the hell were you thinking, Maisie?” I demanded. Behind me, I felt Hannah cringe like she wanted to disappear.
“Don’t take that holier-than-thou tone with me, Sabina. You have no room to judge me.”
“Like hell I don’t. You could have killed her!”
Maisie rolled her eyes and crossed her arms like a rebellious child. I turned back to the maid. “Stand still and let me heal your wounds,” I said, softening my voice. I raised a hand to place over the puncture marks. She cringed but didn’t run away. Closing my eyes, I called up the Chthonic powers that allowed me to heal injuries. The energy zinged up through my body, making me gasp softly. It gathered in my fingertips, where it drew the pain from Hannah and into my body. My arm stung as if I’d been bitten myself. Gritting my teeth, I focused on reversing the energy and injecting her skin with healing energy. When her neck was whole again, I released the Chthonic magic back in a rush that left me light-headed.
The entire process took only a few seconds, but I was drained and panting like I’d run a race. My eyes blinked open and Hannah’s face wavered for a moment before my eyes regained focus. “There,” I said, breathless. “Good as new.”
A slow, ironic clap echoed in the room. Looking over my shoulder, I saw my sister watching us with a scornful expression. “I was going to heal her when I was through.”
“You shouldn’t have had to heal her at all.” I ran a hand through my hair, trying to gather my thoughts. “Since when do you feed from your servants, Maisie?”
She shrugged. “This was only the second time.”
My mouth fell open. “Wait, you’ve done this before?”
“Yesterday was the first time,” she said.
“But how—” I began, but my mind was having a hard time catching up. However, that certainly explained why she’d seemed so changed to Rhea when they’d had lunch together. I turned back to Hannah. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”
The maid frowned. “This is the first time.”
I looked back at Maisie, who cocked a brow. She waved a hand. I felt the rise of magic an instant before it zinged past me and slammed into the maid. I flinched and ducked a second too late. But Maisie hadn’t been attacking us. Instead, Hannah’s expression had gone slack and her eyes vacant.
“Hannah, you’ve spent your morning cleaning my apartment and then left without seeing me.”
The maid nodded. “Haven’t seen Maisie,” she said in a monotone.
“Go now,” Maisie commanded.
The next instant, Hannah brushed past me as if I wasn’t there and she walked out of the room in a trance.
“What the fuck, Maisie?”
“Please give me a little credit. I know better than to feed from someone without clearing their minds.”
I scratched my forehead, trying to keep my temper under control. “Let’s back up. Why exactly have you suddenly decided to feed from the help?”
Maisie grabbed a towel from the edge of the bed and took her time wiping the blood from her mouth and hands before answering. “I told you before. The lack of sleep is making my hunger grow. I tried to satisfy it with the bagged blood, but it wasn’t enough. And now thanks to you I barely got more than a mouthful.”
“Jesus, Maisie,” I said. “Why didn’t you tell me you were struggling this bad?” I waved my hand through the air to indicate the scene I’d walked in on. “If Orpheus found out you’re feeding from mages, he’d go ape shit.”
She rounded on me. “Orpheus won’t find out. You heard her. She didn’t remember the previous feeding. I covered my tracks. As long as you keep your mouth shut, no one has to know.”
For a split second, the air shimmered around her, allowing me to see through the glamour she’d used to hide her true appearance. Her eyes were sunken and ringed with dark shadows. Her skin was sallow and her cheeks sunken in. Despite the blood she’d been consuming, the physical toll of no sleep and, frankly, her personal demons were too much for the blood to repair. So she’d resorted to using a glamour spell to convince everyone she was healthy.
I didn’t mention the spell. In the grand scheme of things it was such a little detail compared to Maisie attacking an innocent and her continued mental decline. But seeing it made me change tactics. Yelling would only make her dig in her heels more. So I sucked in a deep breath and lassoed my anger. When I spoke again, my tone was even, reasonable.
“What exactly is your goal here?” I asked, and crossed my arms.
She frowned. “What do you mean?” Her free hand came up to tug the lock of hair beneath her ear.