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Chapter 23

Eidolon felt like shit. Utter, stinking, shit. The kind produced by bone devils after gorging on a live meal.

Hed come to Shades place, the Jackson Heights apartment where his brother stayed when he was working or when he needed a normal place to bring his human sex partners. To his relief, Shade had been gone all night, which was fine because Eidolon had been too juiced to sleep, and even if he hadnt been, he was terrified to close his eyes for fear that when he woke up, hed have completed the sgenesis. Not that it couldnt happen while he was wide awake, but hed rather not waste a single moment of being who he was.

The downside was that hed spent the entire night thinking about Tayla and the part shed played in Roags death.

Hey, man.

He looked up at Shade from where he sat on the balcony, looking out at the garden park below. His brother wore his usual black leather pants and jacket, and not surprisingly, he smelled of sex. Hey.

Figured youd be at the hospital with Tay. Isnt she supposed to be talking to her Aegis boss? Shade came outside, closing the sliding door behind him. Aw, E, you look like hell. Whats up?

How to answer that. Shade hated Tayla enough without knowing what shed done.

E? Shade hooked a chair with his foot and planted his ass in it across from Eidolon. Youre making me nervous.

Tayla was there, he finally said. She was there when Roag died.

Shade sucked air between clenched teeth and looked at Eidolon for a moment. I guess it shouldnt be a surprise. We knew The Aegis was responsible. Shade stood. So, you gonna sulk all day? Or do you want to catch a movie or something before the field trip to the zoo tonight?

Eidolon jerked in surprise. Did you hear what I said?

Your slayer might have whacked Roag. Bummer. But Im seriously craving greasy popcorn.

Eidolon burst out of his chair and right up into Shades face. What the fuck is your problem?

My problem? Shade jabbed a finger at his own broad chest. Youre the dumbass who has never seen Roag for what he was. Me and Wraith? Were going to thank Tayla next time we see her.

Snarling, Eidolon seized Shade by the throat. He was our brother.

He was a monster. Shade bared his teeth.

Shut up! Eidolon flung Shade against the balcony railing. Shade fumbled for the rail, and for a split second, it looked as if he would go over and plummet the fifteen stories to the ground. Eidolon grabbed his brothers shirt, yanked him so hard they both stumbled backward. The scare broke his anger, but it sent Shades into orbit.

You blind, self-righteous fuck! He shoved Eidolon into the glass door. Do you intentionally block out how he was off screwing some whore in an alley while we were putting Wraith back together that night in Chicago? Do you not remember how he went completely batnuts after The Change, how he was raping and killing? Shade closed his eyes, clenched his fists, and when he opened his eyes again, his expression was softer, and so was his voice. You know it was only a matter of time before a demon took him out. The Aegis just got to him first.

Eidolon swallowed. Looked down at the concrete deck. Rubbed the back of his neck but couldnt stall any longer. Shade had him by the balls with that truth of his. Holy hell, he breathed.

Man, I know you two were close, maybe because Wraith and I left you out, what with the weird mind connection. I dont know. Shade clapped a big hand down on Eidolons shoulder and shook his head ruefully. Im sorry about Roag. Sorry for you. But I was never able to grieve his loss.

Eidolon frowned. He and Roag had been close, but not in the way Wraith and Shade were. Even now, as he looked at his brother who, with his long hair, looked more like Wraith than Eidolon, he could feel the wall between them. A wall that had never existed between Wraith and Shade. Those two were open about everythingthe phrase too much information, wasnt in their vocabulary. But Eidolons more reserved nature had paired well with Roags secretive disposition. Secretive and cruel. Eidolon swayed, thankful for Shades bracing hold. Gods, but hed overlooked so much

Where have you been? Shade snarled to Roag, as Eidolon lowered Wraiths shattered body from the ceiling, the chains that held him clanging.

Roag sauntered across the abandoned brewery, kicking through the piles of vampire dust, looking calmly at the two left alive, cuffed to each other in a puddle of their own blood. You two handled things well enough. He jerked his chin at Wraith. Looks like you found our long-lost little brother. Not much left. Leave him. Well go find the whore I just balled.

Shade and Eidolon had known Roag for ten years before theyd found Wraith, twenty-two years old and nearly dead, but never had they seen the ice-cold side of him until that day. It had only grown worse after that, Roags strange jealousy of Wraith causing a rift between all of them. Eidolon had played peacemaker for decades, until Roag went through his sgenesis ten years ago.

Roag had not come out of The Change well. Hed gone mad, had been unable to control his powers and urges. Shade was right; if Roag hadnt died when he did, hed either have been killed by other demons, or the Seminus Council would have eventually brought him to heel, and as the next-eldest sibling, Eidolon would have been required to carry out the punishment.

Shit. Eidolon sank into a chair and buried his face in his hands. I need to talk to Tayla.

Has she agreed to bond with you?

Eidolon looked up. She doesnt want me.

Shade crossed his arms over his chest and braced one hip on the patio railing. Shes a fool.

I cant blame her. She thinks I want her because shes my last resort.

Is she right?

He swore, frustration and conflicting emotions churning in his mind. I dont know.

What is it about her that has you all wound up?

A dull ache pounded in his chest. Shes brave. Strong. What shes lived through. He shook his head, amazed at her resiliency. She does everything with so much passion, something Ive never had. For anythinguntil her. He rubbed his breastbone as though he could relieve the empty sensation inside. Fuck me, I love her.

Well, Id say you have your answer. Shes not a last resort.

Shell never believe that, and I dont have time to prove it. He locked gazes with his brother. I can feel The Change, Shade. Im not going to make it through another night.

A pained light came into Shades eyes. Maybe

Dont. Ive already had a taste of how its going to be, and who I am now is not who Ill be afterward. But I need some favors.

Anything. Shades voice trembled.

I want Tayla cared for. Shes to have full access to my bank accounts, and I want her set up in an apartment of her own.

Done. What else?

I need you to give her a once-over as soon as possible.

Shades brow furrowed. For what? Oh. Oh, man, you think you knocked her up?

Youve been taking tact lessons from Wraith again, havent you? Eidolon muttered. I doubt she carries my offspring, but if she does, shell need to understand that going through with the integration is the only thing that will save them both.

Shade shook his head. I cant do the procedure without you.

Ive been thinking about that. I believe you can. Youll need Gem, though. Using your gift and her blood, youve got a shot. If you dont do it, shell die anyway. One more thing. He took a deep breath and spat it out. If I turn out like Roag

You wont, Shade croaked. You wont.

Put me down.


Promise me, Shade. I dont want to live like that. You have to promise me.

Swallowing over and over, Shade nodded. Then he turned on his heel and headed inside. Eidolon followed. What are you doing?

Shade drew to a halt in the middle of his living room, head bowed. Something plopped to the floor at his feet. A tear. Im calling Wraith, he said, his voice shot to hell. Were all gonna do the brother thing today, kay?

Yeah, Eidolon said, his own voice cracking. Sounds good.

Kynan was still reeling from his meeting with Tayla five hours earlier. He couldnt decide which was worse: people he trusted being demons, or people in his cell lying to him. Adding to his frustration was the fact that Jagger and four other Guardians were nowhere to be found, and when he asked Lori if shed seen anything strange going on within the cell, shed said no and then promptly seduced him. Which wasnt unusual or a problemhe was a guy, after allbut afterward shed been anxious to go out hunting, when usually, daytime sex sent her into a fit of domesticity. Guardians joked that they could tell how frisky she and Ky and been by how many batches of cookies she baked in a week.

Half an hour before sunset, just as he was preparing to dial Lori for a status check, the phone rang.


Its Tay.

What do you want?

Her soft sigh crackled over the bad cell connection. I guess you havent learned anything. When he didnt answer, because he wasnt about to tell her that his spidey-sense was tingling, she sighed again. We think the captured demons are being held at the old zoo. If any Guardians are involved, thats where theyre going. Tonight.

Something tightened in his gut, because as much as he wanted to get to the bottom of this, if only to prove that his people werent involved, he was terrified that Tayla might be right.

Or it could be a trap. He couldnt trust anything she said. Not anymore.

Kynan? Did you hear me?

Loud and clear.

Okay, then. Um, see you around.

He hung up. Checked his watch. Tonight. It was already tonight. Quickly, he dressed to kill; leather pants, T-shirt, weapons harness, leather jacket, and finally, every fucking weapon he could load on his body. If this was a trap, he wasnt going down easy. He was, however, going alone. If Tayla was right, he couldnt trust any Guardians to go with him. If this was a trap, he couldnt risk getting any of them killed.

One way or another, the truth was coming out tonight.

Chapter 22 | Pleasure Unbound | Chapter 24

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