by Christine Ashworth
Tribred Gregor Caine decided long ago to deny his blood legacy, so he isn’t thrilled when paired with a full-blooded Fae to hunt the demons threatening to decimate Los Angeles. As they fight side by side, he finds she calls to both his Fae and his demon blood; a call he can’t resist.
Warrior Fae Serra Willows crossed into the Human Plane to help destroy the demons released from the Chaos Plane. Finding and shutting down the portal between worlds is more challenging than she expected...and Gregor and his world more seductive than she had ever imagined.
As the killings escalate, Gregor and Serra realize one of the most deadly demons from the Chaos Plane has marked Serra as his own. To save her, Gregor has to face his greatest fear—losing his humanity to the darkness in his blood. But in a race against time, that darkness could become his greatest strength. And he will kill to claim Serra’s love.
Copyright © Christine Ashworth
All rights reserved — a Crescent Moon Press publication
A fierce wind tumbled Serra's hair about her face and sent chills across her skin, a shock after the humid heat of home. She stood, pushing weariness aside, and brushed her hands and knees free of sand as she did a quick recon of the area.
The wide beach lay pale in the darkness. Thick clouds overhead partially obscured the almost full moon, but she could make out the boardwalk, a mile or so distant, that would take her to the stairs and to her car. She headed toward the walkway at an easy jog, enjoying the stretch and pull of her muscles.
A scent crossed her path and she breathed it in as she jogged. Someone else was on the beach that early December morning and he smelled—arresting, alluring. Dangerous. He’d gone the other way not half an hour before.
A cry split the night. Lightning illuminated the beach and thunder cracked, hard and close, overhead. Her skin chilled anew at the hallmarks of death, but she resisted the urge to investigate and kept moving forward. There was nothing she could do. Not yet.
She zipped up the thin hoody and regretted her choice of shorts. The brisk wind spattered stinging sand on her bare legs as she jogged. Finally reaching the cement walkway, she picked up her pace, anxious now to get to her car.
She hadn’t come all this way to merely kill demons. She’d come here to help gather an army to stop a madman. Tomorrow, after she talked to Gideon Caine, everything else would fall into place.
The staircase loomed in front of her, rising the hundred feet to the bluffs and neighborhood above. She paused at the bottom of the stairs to stretch her legs. She loved running, but running on sand was much different than running in the treetops of home.
His footsteps registered not far behind, just before she caught his scent. She whirled around in shock. He hadn’t been there a minute ago. The male with the sexy scent. How could she be so careless as to not be aware?
He stopped a few feet from her and stared. She had to look up to see his eyes. Considered tall in her world, he was much taller. His skin shone as black as hers shimmered white. His jogging suit looked immaculate even in the wind and hugged his muscled body in all the right places, as if he’d been conjured up by her most secret night fantasies. She swallowed hard. Those fantasies had died years ago.
He cleared his throat, and she quickly brought her gaze back up to meet his.
“Excuse me, miss. Didn’t mean to startle you, but haven’t you seen the news this week? There’s a serial killer on the loose.” His voice, smooth and deep, rang with concern. “You shouldn’t be out here, not this late.”
“Yes, and the serial killer is killing homeless men. I’m not homeless, and I’m not a man, so I think I’ll be safe enough.” Serra cocked an eyebrow even as her shoulders tightened. “Thank you, but I’m just going up to my car.”
She caught his scowl out of the corner of her eye as she turned to go up the steps. The heat of his gaze brushed her back. She sighed and shook her head as he followed, checking the pocket of her hoody for her can of pepper spray, just in case. Human irritations were best taken care of using human methods. Though she had to admit her first thought of him was not as an irritation.
The wall of mist that had hung back on the ocean began its rush toward land, filling the air around her with a salty gray and somehow unfriendly density. She rubbed her arms against the chill, aware of the man climbing up the stairs behind her.
As she reached the top of the long staircase, a noxious odor drifted toward her, a remnant of death on a finger of wind. Demon stink? Dismayed, Serra followed it toward a small side street, in the opposite direction of her car. The stranger topped the staircase and came behind, his footsteps crunching through the dry leaves littering the ground. The wind had lessened up here on the bluff, and the night was oddly quiet.
She didn’t want an audience when she dealt with the demon. The sexy stranger behind her would either freak out, or he’d rush to protect her. Either one would end in his death. Caught between doubt and duty, she slowed her steps as she rounded another corner.
The stench hit her harder and closer this time, one of moldy socks and copper, with an aftertaste of an electrical fire. She sneezed and her stomach twisted. Definitely demon, and it was definitely close. She backed up the way she came, still sneezing, and bumped into a hard, warm body.
His arms came around her, steadying her even as he cursed all demonkind, his words low and bitter. In the next breath, he swept her off her feet, leaving her gasping at the sensation. He ran back the way they’d come, holding her high and hard against his chest.
Her heart thrummed faster than hummingbird wings. He’d known the danger, too. He’d known the scent. He’d known. “I can run.”
“Shut up.” The snap of command rang in his voice.
A crack behind him had him running faster. Wind tore at her eyes. She turned her face to his chest and breathed him in. He smelled like dark resins and crisp pine. Dangerous. Enticing.
“Hang on tight. We’re going into the bushes.”
Serra made herself as small as possible in his arms and kept her face buried against his wide chest. A crack and a wail had him cursing as they crashed through a hedge and into the bushes behind it, and only then did she realize they were being chased by a demon wielding a whip.
Her rescuer dropped to his knees and rolled onto his back, keeping her protected from the ground. She scrambled to get her mouth as close to his ear as possible.
“You know demon stench. How?”
His arms tightened around her, one big hand cradling her head, the other firm on her ass. She was sprawled over him. Heat sparked deep inside her. She could feel her breasts flattened against his broad chest, his knee possessive between her legs. Desire, long-forgotten, flooded her body and became a tart flavor on her tongue.
“Leave it alone.” His words were a thread of sound.
Silence fell around them, not a bird or an insect to be heard. The demonic scent grew stronger, and Serra’s stomach revolted. She pressed her nose into her stranger’s chest and took a tentative breath. His hand gentled on her head.
A loud whip-crack shattered the silence, the sound so near her ears rang with it. The man beneath her jerked.
He rolled her off him. “Stay here,” he muttered as he grabbed onto a sturdy trunk with both hands.
“I can help.” Her hand touched his cheek, lingered there. All she had to do was push slightly, and she could give him her energy, her strength. She gave a tentative push but was met with solid mental resistance.
“No. Stay hidden.” His deep blue eyes met hers. “I’m Gregor Caine. When the time comes, run like hell for your car.”