“Kali.” Cole stepped to my right, his voice cutting through the heavy coating of power floating through the room.
I followed his gaze and my breath caught. There, on the stairs headed my way, golden eyes blazing directly at me, was a gorgeous specimen of male. Half-demon, half-human, Rad Beaumont looked like a fallen angel. A dance floor spotlight zoomed from a stripper humping a pole and followed Rad’s ascent up the stairs. Maybe it was the focused illumination, but he looked pale, and even the light on his face couldn’t bleach out the smudged shadows under his eyes.
At the sight of him, everything in me rejoiced, including my demon.
He took the stairs two at a time, and in his wake, chaos erupted. Glasses on the bar shattered, random objects flew through the air, chairs flipped over and people screamed and ran for the doors.
Chaos demons. Always the life of the party.
Because he was half-human and my blood slave, his stormy energy coursed through my body. Wild, unsettled and definitely volatile. And all of it directed at me.
Probably should have answered his texts.
I motioned my head at Cole and he went into full War demon mode, a hell and damnation doorstop intercepting Rad. Brianna looked startled and then her lust spiked, flooding the room with another layer of emotion as she stepped back and acceded the door to my bodyguard.
I extracted my hand from Dru’s, folded up the contract and stood. “Nice doing business with you, boys. I’ll be in touch.”
All five vamps rose, either because they were gentlemen or because the chaos below made them antsy. “We haven’t discussed your fee,” Stephen said.
“You’ll owe me one.”
Stephen didn’t look happy about the arrangement, but at that moment, Rad crashed through the door, chaos following him.
I touched my ring fingers to my thumbs. Too late, my defenses weren’t sufficiently raised when his energy hit me like an ocean wave. The scent of a briny storm filled my nostrils as air swirled in the room. The invisible wave sucked me under, making me stagger and gasp for oxygen.
Dru grabbed me to stop my fall. Cole stood his ground and Rad hit him like a hurricane. The two tousled, the vamps looking on with something between amusement and scorn. Maybe a touch of concern. I was the vamp queen, after all, and Rad was obviously a threat.
“Let me at her,” Rad said, shoving Cole back a few feet.
Cole lunged and punched him solidly in the stomach. Rad “harrumphed” but didn’t so much as bend over. The chairs the vamps had been sitting in careened wildly across the floor, smacking into the plexiglass. One flew at Cole’s head. He ducked and it skimmed his hair.
Though most of the crowd had vanished, a few brave stragglers cowered around the bar below to watch the unfolding drama. The glittering witch was one of them. All that glitter combined with the waves of chaos and vamp power made my vision blurry. For a split-second, her features faded out and new features formed under a ghostlike mist. The new face was familiar. I gasped, my heart stuttering for a second.
She looked like Queen Maria. The female succubus who’d practically raised me in the Italian court. The woman who’d turned me into a sadist.
Dru’s fingers dug into my upper arm. “Kali? What is it?”
I shook my head, blinked my eyes. When I looked again, Maria was gone and the redheaded witch was back.
Drawing a deep breath to steady my overworked nerves, I withdrew from Dru’s grasp and pulled myself together. “Let him through,” I said to Cole. Then I motioned at Brianna. “Blinds.”
A flick of her fingers at the window control panel on the wall and a coppery-brown film slowly rolled down the plexiglass creating a two-way mirrored effect. We could see the club. Those below, however, saw their reflections.
“Are you crazy?” Cole stopped a punch Rad threw at his face and I heard bones break. “Guitar Boy’s out of control.”
Exactly. And I was the only one who could give him back that control. I wasn’t sure why he was so angry, why he needed to drink again so soon, but I had to find out.
Dru’s protective energy had revived me. I touched my fingers and thumbs together and raised my magic. A cool blue light engulfed me and my senses cleared. I took a deep breath. “I can take him.”
Across the room, Rad’s gaze snapped to mine and held. There was more desperation than anger in his eyes. Why? Was he that hungry? Usually when he needed to feed, he lost his strength, not dissolved into a chaotic mess.
Losing control of his demon side, breaking into my meeting with the vamps and calling attention to our relationship was dangerous for both of us. Dangerous and completely unacceptable. “Control yourself, slave.”
The nasty moniker got him. Or maybe it was the look in my eyes. His jaw tightened, but he did as commanded. The chairs righted themselves. The breeze he’d created died.
Everyone’s focus turned to me. “If you’ll excuse us,” I said to Dru and the vamps.
Dru gave my arm a slight squeeze. “You’re sure?”
Another of those sharp pains hit my stomach but I gritted my teeth and held still until it passed. Unable to speak, I simply gave him a curt nod.
The vamps filed out past Rad, Cole keeping his body planted between us. Brianna was the last to leave, giving Cole a meaningful glance over her shoulder. “See you tomorrow night,” she said, her focus doing a direct and open appraisal.
He didn’t respond, but once again, I sensed the tension in his muscles ratcheting up. As soon as the door shut behind the vamps, Cole gave Rad a solid push against it. I had to give Rad credit for not fighting back. The two demons stood there, breathing heavy and staring each other down.
“Do that kind of shit again, Guitar Boy, and I’ll rip your head off, regardless of what Kali says.”
Cole might as well have said the Cubs were the best baseball team to ever take the field. Rad laughed, no more intimidated by Cole than a mongoose facing down a cobra. “Any time you want to try…”
Cole made to hit him. “Don’t,” I said. He dropped his fist, shook his head and moved aside.
I wanted to go to Rad, touch him. Instead I stood my ground. “Why are you here?”
His voice shook. “I need to feed.”
All he did was nod, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. There was pain in his eyes and deep privation.
The cells in my body did a little dance. They knew that look and responded to it like a dog to the scent of a juicy bone. But I stopped myself from stepping toward him. “You cannot interrupt my business dealings and make a spectacle of our relationship in public. Next time, go to Chloe and get a damn bottle of blood to hold you over.”
He stalked toward me, the pain look morphing into something more animalistic. “I don’t drink from the bottle.”
It took all my willpower not to step back. With one hand, he sent the table between us sliding out of the way. With the other, he grabbed me and yanked me to him. His body was hard and hot and demanding, his emotions and chaotic magic swirling around both of us.
My cool blue light struggled to stay intact. At the same time, my inner demon struggled to free herself from the leash I had on her. She wanted Rad with a —dare I say it?—vengeance and she urged my blood and my inherent magic to lose control just like he’d done.
I held my breath as Rad lowered his lips within an inch of mine. “Feed me, Kali,” he whispered against my lips.
Damaged demon that I was, I didn’t say no.