3, New Vampire Disorder
Bishop (Smashwords Edition) © 2016 by Lisa Elijah
by The Killion Group
Copy Editing by Razor
Proofreading by HME
Cover by P and N
places, and events in this story are fictional. Any similarities to
real people, places, or events are coincidental and unintentional.
Mixing fire and ice…
Fyra is on the run.
Permanently. She had one job: make the vampire Bishop the
underworld’s tool. But despite her best feminine wiles, the
stubborn, exasperating, delicious male wouldn’t break. Now pursued
by her fellow demons—and one very angry vampire—she’s running
out of options. Too bad she’s no good at hiding. Everywhere she
goes, fires break out. Her combustible personality is more than just
an annoyance, it’s going to get her killed. Leaving a fiery trail
for her enemies to follow, she’s as good as dead…unless Bishop
finds her first.
…can be hell.
Tricked into a bond
with a demon, Bishop must free himself before he is forced to turn on
his team, his people, and the realm he’s worked so hard to protect.
But even if he can catch his luscious demoness, just what will he do
with her? Her knowledge of the underworld alone is reason enough to
keep her—and use the unwanted bond for himself. But Fyra is no
pawn, and her fiery presence threatens to thaw secrets from Bishop’s
past best left on ice. As enemies circle and allies become foes, Fyra
and Bishop will have no choice but to take on hell with fire and ice.
To our puppy, Watson, who’s well past fifty pounds and a whole lot
more work than our cat. But he got me out of my chair and out of my
funk. So many times I didn’t want to move, but I had to rescue the
sock…and the towels…and usually him. Watson might be considered a
rescue, but he’s definitely saving me—and digging through the
laundry when I’m not looking.
Table of Contents
by the author
Bishop stared at the
disheveled room, clenching and unclenching his fists.
His nostrils flared.
Among the scattered drawers and strewn clothing was her scent.
With the owners dead,
this house was no longer a place to lure humans to become hosts for
demons. But she had crossed into his world without being
summoned. She’d used her bond—Bishop ground his teeth at the
reminder—and not a human. Yet she’d had the ability to land here
instead of outside of the compound where he and his team stayed.
He didn’t know what
she really looked like. She’d only come to him, tricked him into
binding himself to her, while in human hosts.
I pick what you
The memory of her
mocking tone shot straight to his manhood. Damn that bond!
He took another inhale.
Brimstone, of course, but laced with a…sweet wood-fire scent? Yeah,
like roasting marshmallows over a campfire. Then having sex and
licking the sticky goo off each other.
Gah! She was a demon
and he didn’t even know her real name. Always her with the upper
hand. She knew his name, had known his habit of frequenting busty,
buxom humans to sate his physical drives, had been able to use her
knowledge to lure him into swearing himself to her.
But he’d prevailed
and not turned on his team. Bishop snarled and spun around. Stomping
out of the room, he brushed aside the remnants of the crime-scene
tape from the murders of the house’s owners. His demon must’ve
busted through the tape on her way out, ripping it to shreds.
Had she known the
owners, the underworld’s human servants, were dead? That they’d
been killed only days ago? Yet she’d entered the realm in this
Frustration welled. His
team was tasked with protecting their people from the recent threat
of demons, but they worked with so little understanding of how demons
functioned. Bishop’s demon had wanted to use him, but he could play
that game. He’d use her to determine the rules of the
underworld—and destroy it.
He exited the room and
stopped, then backed up.
Several pieces of
yellow tape were singed. He grasped a piece between his fingertips.
Black dust, like soot, covered the ends.
He narrowed his eyes. A
clue to store away; the fact resonated deeply in his bones. What did
it mean? Did she singe stuff she touched? Had she blown her way
through the door and its taped exit? A quick scan of the frame and
floor showed no other signs of damage. His brow crinkled. He’d find
out what she was capable of if it was the last thing he did.
He stormed out of the
empty house into the night. A dog barked next door at an almost
identical colonial house, its claws scraping against the windows of
the dwelling. His bark brimmed with protective instincts and terror.
The pooch sensed another predator in the area and feared for his
“I’m not gonna hurt
your humans,” Bishop growled.
The dog quieted.
Huh. That was a first,
but they were smart creatures. He wished humans were the same. If
that woman hadn’t volunteered for demon possession, naively
thinking it was a one-way ticket to the supernatural world, he
wouldn’t be in this heap of a mess. Why would a human want to
become a vampire, anyway? Couldn’t they just be happy being humans
and enjoy their short life? Sip on merlot and not worry about finding
a vein to tap. Remain blissfully unaware of the underworld seeking to
overpower this realm and enslave all other species.
Bishop had dedicated
his life to the safety of his own kind and humans, too. For them to
hand over their bodies to a demon in hopes of changing their fate was
just plain insulting.
He glared at the dog, a
white poodle quivering from head to toe, mistaking Bishop’s ire as
being directed at him. “Which way did she go?”
He wasn’t sure the
animal heard him until the pup’s head kicked sideways, gesturing
down the street.
“Good boy.” Bishop
climbed into his Hummer and slammed the door. He sat for a moment,
staring into the shadows created by the streetlamps.
She was on foot. Had to
When his leader’s
mate had been bonded to a demon and the bastard had crossed over, the
demon had kept his underworld powers. Bishop had to assume his demon
had the use of her abilities, whatever they were.
Hoping they didn’t
include teleportation, Bishop scrubbed his face. He was already
behind the curve.
If she wasn’t able to
flash in the underworld, then she was either on foot or she’d
lifted a vehicle.
His demon had little
conscience. She’d probably stolen a car instead of running.
He studied the area.
Suburban, quiet. Older homes full of character, early
nineteenth-century construction. Close to a college campus, but full
of families instead of frat houses. His demon would only find plain
cars, probably a few years old, with some wear and tear.
He fired up the engine,
then idled through the streets in the direction the dog had
disrupting the silence of the night. Ahead of Bishop, an orange glow
pierced the moonless night. Must be a fire a mile, maybe two, away.
He almost dismissed it
until he recalled the seared plastic tape at the house.
His demon was hot.
Pressing on the
accelerator, he aimed for the blaze. Fire trucks zoomed ahead of him,
racing to the scene.
Bishop stopped a block
away, blending in with other late-night rubberneckers. Smoke rolled
from a building. A gas station. And not a building ablaze, but a car.
A car parked at the pumps was engulfed in flames. Did she really have
to pick the most dangerous place for an open flame? If it was
her. But his old friend intuition curled through his gut like a
tendril of smoke.
Yes. It was her. He’d
catch her and finish her. Cover up his mistake before she threatened
his team. The dependable, calm Bishop had royally fucked up. He’d
make it right. His friends had been through a lot and Bishop would
mop up his own mess and keep them protected while protecting himself.
He’d do it to honor his mam.
Firemen hopped out, but
Bishop remained in his vehicle. Hoses were unraveled and the crew
battled the fire as people fled the premises.
Bishop scanned the
crowd. His demon should be in her own form. Could she possess another
human without the help of humans who’d summon someone like her? It
was possible, but his pull toward her was stronger than ever, like it
wasn’t being muted in a host anymore. He had no clue what she
looked like, but he studied the crowd closely.
His bond didn’t ping,
didn’t tighten his gut with her proximity. She wasn’t among the
You can’t hide
from me, demon.
Fyra quit running.
You can’t hide
from me, demon.
Bollocks. Her big,
blond vampire knew she’d made it to his realm. Having Bishop after
her didn’t spear her with panic like having one of the Circle of
Thirteen targeting her.
Although the end result
might be the same.
No. Bishop despised
her, but he wasn’t innately cruel. Unlike Rancor. Her boss relished
how his cruelty reached above the other twelve of the Circle that led
the underworld. What he couldn’t achieve with brains, he did with
She shuddered. Her skin
still crawled from Rancor’s touch. After he was done brutalizing
her for her failure to extract information from Bishop, he would’ve
skinned her and used her pelt as a cloak. And probably fucked that,
Demons had no sense of
Okay. Plan B had just
become plan Right-Freaking-Now. Her underworld boss was
probably mobilizing the rest of his minions to find her, and now her
vampire was on her trail.
She had to find another
car to steal. Stupid humans. Why couldn’t they leave a car with a
full tank of gas sitting around?
Why did Fyra have to
steal the only one with an empty tank? Having to fill it with gas had
been flirting with disaster. She and fuel didn’t mix.
In the underworld, it
didn’t matter if she spewed a little flame here or there. She ran
hotter than most other fire demons. Her kind kept the fires of the
underworld going—job security down there, major bummer up here.
She shoved her hands
into the navy-blue hoodie she’d pilfered from the cult house and
put her head down. Two blocks ahead was a nice, charcoal-gray car
parked at the curb. An older model, so she wouldn’t have to worry
about so many of the new security features. Things had been so much
easier decades ago. People had actually left their keys in the
ignition back then. So handy. At least the previous car’s owner had
left his wallet on the seat.
Dragging in a calming
breath, she willed her internal inferno to calm.
Cool air snaked around
her, as if drawn to the heat. For a fire demon, the beginning of
winter was a good time to be stranded on Earth. Control of her
abilities was easier when she didn’t have hot weather encouraging
her blaze. Another benefit: stocking hats.
She might only be a
second-tier demon, but her status came with the benefit of a humanoid
form, even if she lacked the ultimate power of a full demon. But she
still stood out in the human world.
Her flame-hued hair was
tucked underneath a standard black cloth hat. She rolled her
shoulders. Too bad the previous owner of the hoodie hadn’t been a
larger guy. Her bust took up most of the extra room. Same with the
sweats. Her ass rounded out the back until the waistband dipped and
showed off her crack every time she bent.
She reached the car and
trotted to the driver’s door. Closing her eyes, she laid a finger
on the lock. A small surge of energy poured into the lock, and a
satisfying thunk signaled an unlocked door. She grinned and
Another zap at the
ignition and the engine purred.
Almost as good as an
orgasm. Unless it was with Bishop. He could make a girl roar.
She pulled away and
tore through Freemont. She knew the town well enough, but she
couldn’t stay. She couldn’t hide in Bishop’s backyard, he’d
find her in no time.
car had over half a tank of gas so she could ditch this city before
Rancor found a prime vampire to possess. He had surely sent one or
two second-tier demons after her already, but he had to earn his
reputation back. She’d destroyed it by getting away; therefore,
he’d use her to demonstrate that it had been nothing more than a
fluke, then claim he’d let her get away to lead them to Bishop.
She and Bishop weren’t
simpatico, but she didn’t want to see him get hurt. She was
fond of the big lug. Not even his do-gooder heart turned her off.
Could she find a way to warn him about Rancor without revealing her
location? Then the two males could tussle while she conned her way to
a tropical island where she could start bonfires with her fingertips.
There was plenty of
time for her to think about it as she drove. Weaving through the
city, she crossed into West Creek and found a way out of town. Where
was she heading? West?
Good enough. There had
to be a metropolis to get lost in west of Freemont.
Where was the
closest big city? There wasn’t a place west of this festering rat
hole along the Red River that was bigger than a couple hundred
Fyra blew out a breath
and fisted the map. Hours on the road until late in the day, and she
was heading nowhere, parked in a tiny town’s gas station parking
lot. Only she would go on the run in the Midwest, the land of
not enough people. Great. Everywhere she went, she’d start prairie
fires that’d draw an arrow pointing right to her.
Chicago. She flicked
the red dot on the map that indicated the city. A tiny flame ignited,
which she blew out. The blackened, gaping hole in the middle of the
map was southeast of her current location.
The stench of smoke
wafted around her. She sniffed and looked around. Scorching heat bled
through the cloth of her sweats into the upholstery.
Dammit! She scrambled
out of the car and rolled across the parking lot to extinguish her
clothing. Aw man, she’d just filled the tank, too.
Her anger at her epic
fail of an escape plan smoldered with the cushions of the car.
A puff of flame and the
inside of the car turned into a blazing inferno. Fyra jumped up and
ran as far as she could.
The fire started
attracting a crowd. She turned to watch while backing up and ran into
a burly, older man.
“What’s yer hurry
there, darling?” He eyed her up and down. Mostly up, because he was
a good three inches shorter than she was.
His Southern accent was
a put-on and his stench of lewd interest curdled the cheap cappuccino
she’d just downed.
She hunched her
shoulders and whimpered. “I just lost my transportation.” She
pointed to the car as the windows shattered from the heat. “I’m
trying to get away from my ex.” Clinging to the man’s clammy arm,
she beseeched him, making sure her breasts rubbed his skin. “Can
you help me?”
Lust spiked from him,
but he gawked at her. “You wearing some of them colored contacts?”
Her yellow eyes weren’t
normal in this realm. Of course they’d draw more attention than her
She feigned a sniffle
and wiped her eyes. “I tried some yellow lenses. Yellow and blue
make green, you know. But they stayed yellow.”
“I bet yer blue eyes
are just fine.” He clasped her hand to him as he circled around the
Fire engines sounded in
the distance. She rolled her eyes. That fire department. Always on
“I just need a ride
to anywhere,” she whispered, infusing her voice with urgency. “I
don’t want to be a bother.”
“I gotcha, don’t
She smiled to herself.
Gullible man, though he probably picked up any willing female he
could. From the sourness of his interest, those girls might not
always be willing.
He led her to a line of
big rigs. A wave of hope rose. She’d bagged herself a trucker.
Neither Bishop nor Rancor would look for her in an eighteen-wheeler.
Her heart fell as her
rescuer aimed for a tanker. Please be empty.
“What do you haul?”
She had a sinking feeling she knew the answer.
“Petrol. No one will
make no mind when I haul ass outta here. No one wants me here when
there’s a fire.”
There’s that. Maybe
her luck didn’t suck as badly as she thought.
He helped her into the
passenger side with a hand pressed up her backside, then closed the
door. She shrewdly eyed the man as he walked around to his side. Of
all the decent truckers out there, she’d been rescued by a sexual
predator. The honorable ones were back at the fire, trying to save
the people and the gas station.
together, she tensed as they drove out of the lot, waved on by the
firemen that had arrived and were directing traffic. She relaxed into
the seat with an exhale.
“Told ya I’d take
care o’ you. Name’s Jim.”
“I can’t thank you
enough, Jim.” She didn’t bother to throw him a fake name and
yawned exaggeratedly. “Do you mind if I get some rest?”
“Not one bit.” His
gaze landed on her breasts before sliding back to the road.
“Where are you
More proof her luck
wasn’t total shit. Sioux Falls was closer to Chicago than whatever
tiny town this was in North Dakota.
Resting her head back
on the seat, she didn’t sleep. Out of slit eyelids, she catalogued
his movements. Driving one of these rigs proved more complicated than
a normal sedan, but she was a quick study.
She opened her senses
up to the cab. It smelled of lonely bachelor—not enough showers,
too much greasy food, and masturbation. But more good news, this was
a sleeper cab. No need for a hotel.
Fatigue weighed on her
until each second was a struggle to keep from drifting off. She
thought of Bishop and his eyes. Every emotion turned them a different
shade of blue. Turned on, they lightened to the blue of the hottest
part of a flame. Cobalt when he was upset, and for her, steel-blue.
A warm glow settled
deep within her, but there was no combustion danger. Her heat
simmered inside when it was related to the big guy. She sank into the
comfort for hours.
The engine slowed and
jerked her attention back to the cab. Had they arrived in Sioux Falls
From her narrowed view,
she saw a small building to the right. A rest stop. Jim maneuvered
the truck into a long parking spot.
He reached over and
stroked her thigh. “Little lady, we’ve stopped for the night.”
She opened her eyes
fully and looked around with false wonder. “Have we arrived?”
Shifting, not having to fake stiffness, she managed to dislodge his
“Nah, it’s easier
to settle in for the night in a rest stop.”
Why, so no one could
hear her yell?
He pulled back a
curtain behind them. “Go on and get comfy. I’ll go drain the
beast and be on back.”
Raising an eyebrow, she
craned her head around. A small cot, sleeping bag, tiny fridge. Her
eyes widened in delight at the small TV. As long as his DVD
collection wasn’t porn, she could use some vegging out.
Jim wasn’t going to
leave her alone, though. Threading her fingers, she cracked her
knuckles. A few minutes later, he was waddling across the parking lot
back to the rig.
She jumped into the
back and stretched out on the narrow bed. The lurid aroma of hurt
women seeped from the mattress.
Oh, Jim, you almost
had a chance at living.
Might as well get this
over with. Holding up her fingers, she concentrated on the tips until
they released the gas she intended.
He got in and shut the
door. When he saw her running her fingers back and forth across her
mouth, blowing gently on them, he paused.
“I pinched my hand,”
“Need me to take a
look?” Jim’s sordid stench reached her.
Uck. She wanted nothing
to do with his beast. He flipped a lever on the passenger seat
and spun the chair around.
His ruddy face flushed.
“We haven’t talked about reimbursement.”
Jim, you just sealed
She sat up with an
affected gasp. “But I have no money.”
His smile was meant to
soothe her. It didn’t work and she didn’t need it. “I got
enough money. I think we could be good for each other.”
He really did make it
easy. She cowered. “What do you mean?”
Why didn’t she just
kill him? Why did she have to bait him to make sure his death was
warranted? She was a demon. A soulless creature who thrived on
evil. Jim was a pebble in her path. She could crush him. Burn him
alive. And if she didn’t care about high cholesterol, she could eat
“Come here, honey.”
He lifted his shirt and unsnapped his pants.
She fanned her hand and
waved it around. His expression grew perplexed and he stifled a yawn.
Why’d she wait? The
man preyed upon people more than she did. However, not
indiscriminately killing humans demonstrated her affinity for higher
thinking. A trait second-tier demons were known for, not allowing
instinct and rage to rule their actions, unlike those of purer
Yet second-tiers had
been enslaved by the Circle because cruelty won in the underworld.
He lunged for her, his
aggressive intent clear. She waved her hand some more. Jim’s blush
turned bright red and his eyelids drooped.
Didn’t even have to
lift a finger. “What’s the matter, Jimmy? Feeling tired all of a
His brows furrowed and
he slumped back in his chair. “I’m really drowsy. What did you—”
His head dropped and he
went limp, crumpling to the floor.
Waving her hand for
another few minutes, she ensured no more oxygen was left in the cab.
Jim’s heart rate slowed to a stop.
She eyed his bulk.
“Human blood’s affinity for carbon monoxide never ceases to amaze
Whipping her hat off,
she kicked back on the cot and relaxed for the first time in days.
Tonight, she could
sleep. In the morning, she’d raid Jim’s fridge and hope to find
more than beef jerky and cubed cheese.
From the wrappers in
his little garbage, it was unlikely.
Yes. She closed her
eyes. Solid plan. Travel during the day when Bishop couldn’t. Sleep
with one eye open the rest of the time. But tonight, she could rest.
Bishop kicked at the
lumpy mattress, but it was no use. There was no shape more
comfortable than the one it was in now. He rolled to his side.
Had he gone in the
right direction? The answer plagued him.
Hearing news of a near
miss with a car fire at another gas station, he’d gotten there as
fast as the speed limit would allow, driving all night.
The scorched car had
remained, a model similar to the other one she’d stolen. Had to be
From there, he’d had
to pick one of the four directions. Going north, his demon would have
to consider crossing an international border. She wouldn’t
backtrack east. There was nothing west, so he chose south and drove
Unwilling to risk
sunlight, he checked into a motel off the interstate.
His eyelids drifted
Within moments, he
found himself in an unfamiliar chair. Sunlight blazed into a tiny
space. He glanced over his shoulder at the rays streaming behind him,
worried he’d burn himself, but his skin felt pleasantly warm
despite the massive windshield and side windows allowing copious
Was he in an RV? He
glanced around. It was too small to be a camper. His gaze landed on a
cot that was dark except for what appeared to be flames at the top.
His eyes focused and
his heart stuttered.
Not flames, but hair
the color of fire spread across a pillow. He shifted forward, but the
toe of his boot hit a soft object. Switching his focus, he started. A
man’s body lay at his feet. His gaze flew back up to the cot just
as ember-yellow eyes opened.
His heart slammed once,
then kicked up its pace. His demon.
Soft light shimmered
over a fine jawline and high cheekbones. A healthy flush decorated
her ivory skin, startling him with such a human trait.
She gasped and sat up,
and he gulped. She had legs for miles and he tried not to like what
“How did you find
me?” Then she squinted at him. “You’re not really here.”
Sitting back, she chuckled. “Had me going for a bit.”
“You killed a human,
demon.” Bishop prided himself that he could get a coherent sentence
out. The exotic beauty in front of him stole his breath.
Her length was curled
into the small space, but she’d be tall compared to most humans.
Her glorious hair lit up the entire cabin of…was this a semi?
And those eyes.
A pout curled her
fire-engine-red lips. “Would it have been better if I’d fucked
him like he wanted? He actually preferred to force me.”
Bishop’s leg kicked
the body of its own accord. He sneered at the dead man, then turned
it on her. His demon deserved the look, not the dead human.
She studied her
fingers. “The cabin must’ve aired out, but I guess you’re not
really here, so the lack of oxygen won’t bother you.” Her hands
folded on her lap, on top of deliciously curved thighs. “What are
you doing here, Bishop?”
His name, in that husky
voice…he gritted his teeth. If he were tangible, he might not react
any better than the human had.
His eyes wandered her
lush body. Had to know what she looked like, after all. For research.
“What in the devil’s name are you wearing?”
A flash of
vulnerability preceded a petulant expression. She tugged at the neck
of her ridiculous sweater. It was ratty, two sizes too small, and
“It’s not like
there were many options, and females in this realm are pathetically
small.” She shifted and that only drew attention to the fabric
stretched over her wide hips, stopping short of her deliciously long
Heat flushed through
Bishop and it had nothing to do with the fiery demon. Good thing
there was a dead human between them. His foot dug into the man’s
guts again when he recalled his demon’s tale. Was she speaking the
truth, that he’d tried to accost her?
“What’s your name?”
Bishop’s guttural words reflected the lust slamming through him.
Damn that bond.
She batted long, sienna
lashes, the effect against her yellow irises like the flicker of a
flame. “Now, what have you done for me to earn my name?”
“What does it matter?
Do names hold power in the underworld?”
She adjusted in her
seat again and her gaze flicked out the window. Ah, of course. His
team leader, Demetrius, had pilfered a tome from a demon his team had
fought; in the text, many of its incantations needed names.
“I have to call you
something.” Bishop leaned back, the warm rays shining through the
window an unusual sensation, but not a bad one. His kind and sunlight
didn’t mix, but as his demon had mentioned, he was in the dream
world. “What about—”
tapped her chin in thought. “Monique? Cleopatra?”
If that’s what she
wanted, he’d pick a simple name instead. “Kim.”
A choking sound left
her. “Kim? That’s so…so…undemonlike. No, no. How
about…Celeste, Angelica, or something stronger, like Storm or
He fought a grin at her
indignant horror, but failed. “You’re Kim until you tell me your
“You play hardball,
vampire.” She tilted her head as she studied him. Her lively gaze
drifted over him, leaving licks of heat where it hovered. “I like
She started for him,
dropping to her knees to crawl toward him. He pressed back in his
chair. Resisting his demon in a human’s body had proved almost
impossible, but her real form in the dream world carried loads more
Fortunately, to get to
Bishop, she had to kneel on the dead guy, and a punch of gas escaped
him. The spell broke and the world faded around him.
Her nose wrinkled.
“Ugh, he smells even worse than he did when he was alive. I didn’t
think that was possible.”
She coughed and a spout
of steam escaped.
Bishop’s eyelids flew
open and he shot up. He was no longer in the semi, but back at the
dive he’d rented by the hour, expecting to be gone before dark. His
demon, Kim, would be on the run all day while he was confined to the
I swear I saw
sunlight touch him, his pap’s voice drifted up from buried
Bishop’s mam responded. You see no burn, correct?
Bishop had been hidden
in his room, listening to one of his parents’ arguments. They
always centered on him or his grandparents, his mam’s parents, who
he barely remembered.
No, his skin’s not
blemished, Pap had growled. But I saw the sun kiss his skin
and I tire of your constant lies.
There are such
things as genetic mutations. Science has come a ways since you were
born, but I’ll not risk our son’s life proving your
The memory faded and
Bishop flopped around on the bed, its weak metal frame groaning under
his size. He barely remembered Pap. The man had abandoned them when
they’d needed him the most, as far as Bishop was concerned.
He brushed the
recollections off. Nothing was going to distract him from pursuing
He grinned. But he’d
made good use of his time during their dream encounter and had noted
her surroundings, the vehicle information, and, he suspected, where
she was heading.
“Excuse me, ma’am.”
Fyra slammed the gas
nozzle back in the machine and spun to face the person addressing
her. She forced a smile that revealed more fang than she’d
The woman took a step
back, her hand on her heart. She wore an ugly orange shirt that had
the name of the gas station embroidered on it. “Well, I mean, I’m
not a truck driver,” her gaze bounced between the gas pump and the
semi, “but this is unleaded gasoline. Don’t semis usually use
Fyra stared at the
woman? Diesel? Wasn’t that the last name of a yummy movie star?
already filled the tank. The semi had proved to be a gigantic PITA.
There was no reason something should be so complicated to drive. And
wide right turns, her ass. Fyra had made it her goal to take as many
lefts as possible. Not even demons liked to be honked at and given
Finding the gas tank
had been enough of an adventure. Why couldn’t she tap the load she
was hauling and avoid gas stations?
A light breeze blew
smoke off her.
The woman squawked and
jumped away, her eyes wide with fright. “Y-you’re on fire!” She
sprinted for the building, yelling, “Call 911!”
Fyra raised her arm.
Yep. The turtleneck she’d pilfered from Jim’s storage was
smoldering against her red-hot skin.
Time to leave. Still in
rural America, she’d stand out too much if she ran. She sucked in
deep breaths to calm herself until her clothing quit smoking. The
effect was marginal, but enough, and she hopped into the semi.
muttered as she frantically pushed and punched anything that’d make
it go. The truck lurched and groaned but rolled forward.
Yes. She could work
with that. Increasing speed as much as possible, she lumbered out of
the small town. Only, in the confusion of her flight, she was on a
rural highway headed into the middle of nowhere instead of the
It’d have to work.
When nothing but open
road lay in front of her, she increased the pressure on the gas. The
She frowned. Many
noises had come from under the hood since she’d woken up and gotten
behind the wheel, but that was new.
Another skip. A
shudder. The speedometer fell.
Fyra slapped the
steering wheel. “Stupid truck.”
She stomped on the gas.
More shuddering and the engine cut out. Her emotions, which had been
stabilizing during her getaway, spiked once again. The atmosphere in
the cab smoldered. Tiny fires broke out on the fabric and upholstery.
She’d need to ditch
the truck. Climbing out, she realized her error, not that it could’ve
been prevented. All her turmoil, all of her unnatural fire, was now
free to lick along the exterior of the semi, even surround the
flammable load it carried.
She jumped the rest of
the way and ran. Maybe a nice sprint would calm her, because the
dried, crusty fields she sprinted through were nothing but tinder.
An explosion rocked the
earth. Stumbling, she pinwheeled her arms to regain her balance. The
shockwave reached her with an epic force of heat and debris. Rammed
into the ground, she rolled and flipped. Her skin, which was immune
to flame, was torn and shredded from the remnants of whatever had
been harvested months ago.
Coming to a stop on her
back, she saw the cloudy sky already darkening with black smoke from
the tanker. It laced the air around her, but like the flames, that
didn’t bother her.
Her ears rang and any
noise was dulled from the blast. The left side of her face throbbed
and she tested all her limbs, only to cry out when she tried to move
her left arm.
Broken. She tried her
legs. Sore, but intact. The arm would heal, but she needed her legs
With a moan, she got to
her knees but took a moment to rise to her feet. She squinted through
the smoke. Alarm pierced her gut.
How had the human
police arrived so quickly?
The gas station lady.
Fyra should’ve left the tanker there to explode. A true demon
would’ve. Some of Rancor’s ire might’ve been appeased if she’d
taken out ten or twenty decent human beings.
But she wasn’t
Rancor. Higher thinking, higher thinking.
Scanning the area, she
spotted a row of trees used as a windbreak about two hundred yards
away. Could she make it there?
Swaying on her feet,
she concentrated on one step in front of the other. Almost there.
“I said stop.” The
muffled words reached her injured eardrums just as a hand gripped her
She shrieked and
dropped to her knees. She had to school her reaction, otherwise she’d
bare her fangs. It was just a broken arm.
“Dispatch, we have at
least one injured.”
Blinking away her haze
of pain, she glanced over her shoulder. An older deputy in a brown
uniform cocked his head to listen to the reply coming from his radio.
came the static voice. “Ambulance is en route.”
“Thanks, Gail.” He
dropped his stern gaze to Fyra. “Ma’am, were you driving the
Well, Jim certainly
couldn’t while he was festering in a remote ditch. A giggle burst
forth and the deputy scowled.
have to come with me. What’s your name?”
Her attempt at holding
back another chuckle was in vain. “Kim.”
She sputtered, then
guffawed. Each laugh shook her body, sending waves of pain through
She lifted her arm to
assess the damage. Agony screamed through her body. Ah. No wonder.
Both bones in her forearm poked through Jim’s shirt, blood
spreading around the injury.
Her laughter died as
she prepared to do what was necessary. Concentrating on anything
else, like the sulfur-tinged copper flavor in her mouth, she ignored
the deputy’s constant questions and wrenched her arm until the
bones were back inside her body.
A scream tore from her,
but at least she could start healing.
More sirens approached.
The ambulance plowed through the field to reach her. Mr. Deputy held
his arm out to stall the EMTs that jumped out.
“You’ll need the
restraints for this one. Something’s not right.”
They all stared at her.
Maybe all the dirt ground into her skin and the debris in her hair
camouflaged her alien appearance.
“Go on,” the deputy
barked, spurring the two into action.
Nowhere to go and no
way to get there. Fyra would have to bide her time until an
opportunity for escape showed itself.
Bishop’s phone rang.
He ignored it, eyes
glued to the road.
His phone buzzed again.
Bishop rolled his eyes. Nonstop texts and calls from his team. After
he’d left, he’d sent Demetrius a quick text that he had stuff to
take care of. D being D, he wanted to know what. Bishop’s partner,
Rourke, had jumped in on the action, phoning and texting him, too.
The two were happily
mated to females. Why couldn’t they leave Bishop alone?
Because they’d known
something was going on with him and given him space to work it out,
trusting him to come to them with his issue. He was bound to a demon.
The feeling of constant betrayal weighed on him. He wanted to confess
what he’d done, what his demon had done to him.
But it was his issue,
and not the only one he kept from them.
Bile rose in his throat
until the sour taste overrode anything else. He needed real food and
blood. Only he couldn’t bring himself to feed from a human. When he
thought of feeding, his demon’s stunning eyes flashed in his mind,
wiping out the idea of feeding altogether. He cursed.
The phone continued
until he contemplated throwing it out the window, but he needed it to
follow the reports of random fires.
With resignation, he
“What the fuck,
dude?” Demetrius’s angry voice burst over the line.
“I said I got some
stuff to take care of.” Bishop winced at his defensive tone, as if
he were a child instead of a nine-decade-old male.
“And it’s the
‘stuff’ I need to know about.” His leader’s frustration was
palpable, even over the phone. “We’re all worried about you. We
can help, you know, but you need to tell us what’s going on.”
On so many levels. How could he tell D the depth of it?
Silence weighed heavily
“We all have our
shit, Bishop. Yours can’t be any worse than ours.”
Bishop swallowed hard.
D was right, on a certain level. The male had kept his oddball sister
a secret from the world. His buddy Rourke had been a blood slave and
hadn’t told anyone until his long-lost brother had tried to kill
him. Yet D, Rourke, Bishop, and the rest of their team had all come
together decades ago to undermine their government and protect their
species, even from their own kind.
Demons were the current
threat, so how could Bishop casually reveal he’d been enslaved,
sort of, by one?
So not a conversation
he was ready to have.
“I have to do this,
D.” He tried to say “trust me” but the words wouldn’t form.
Demetrius took his time
responding. “You and me go back a long way. All of us do. Don’t
shut us out. I’ll give you time, but wait too long, and we’re
coming after you.”
That was enough.
Bishop disconnected and
went back to scanning through radio stations.
explosion off of county road…”
listened intently. No one hurt, one person injured and arrested on
suspicion of stealing the semi.
Hopefully the humans
could hold onto his demon until he arrived.
Fyra huffed and a puff
of smoke escaped. She took another sip of ice water to cool herself
before she set the small five-bed hospital on fire. Her other arm was
secured with cuffs to the side of the hospital bed.
A doctor in her late
forties had listened dubiously to the deputy’s description of her
injuries. Fyra’s bones had been well on the way to completely
mended before the ambulance had arrived at the tiny ER.
She still had the
bandage on her face. Dried blood and debris covered the healed flesh
underneath. Fyra had smiled and refused treatment. As a second-tier
demon doing the Circle’s bidding on Earth, she was well acquainted
with many human laws and quirks, and in America, humans could refuse
anything they wanted to.
“I already read you
your rights, Kim.” The officer shot her a surprised look when she
snorted. “Rights” was not a word in the underworld. “It’s
time to take you to jail so we can have a nice long talk.”
Fyra shoved her breasts
out and jiggled her arm. “Why, Deputy, whatever are we going to
He pinned her with his
steely gaze. “Lady, I’m a happily married man. Been that way for
twenty-five years. Don’t bother.”
Her shoulders dropped.
Seduction was out of the question. She could fight him, and would no
doubt win, but the fool would kill himself to keep her from escaping.
Then she’d have more law enforcement after her. No, she needed a
better opening to run.
He cuffed her wrists
together in front of her and led her out to his patrol car. She used
the opportunity to search for a clothing store, but this place was so
small it didn’t even have a Walmart.
She needed to escape,
but she was getting to the point where she’d kill for women’s
clothing in her size. Unfortunately, women’s big and tall stores
The deputy pulled up to
a square brick building that was as small as the town. He led her
“Is, like, a shower
in my future, Detective?”
“Sheriff, and we have
to interview you first.”
Her luck on earth
sucked as much as in the underworld. A sheriff had arrested her. On
the bright side, maybe this rinky-dink county had a deputy or two for
her to dupe.
Her big vampire would
find her before too long. Bishop was smarter than he looked and a
tanker explosion would earn news time.
Inside the building,
she received the saucer-eyed attention of an older woman sitting
behind a wall of monitors. The woman slid a laptop case across the
top of the desk.
“Gail.” The sheriff
snatched it up. “Ready a cell for Kim here while I speak with her
for a bit.”
“Will do.” Gail’s
attention was glued to Fyra’s bandages and road rash, then her
bloodstained clothing, and her expression turned concerned. “I’ll
grab a men’s jail uniform for you, dear,” she spoke to Fyra.
The sheriff grunted a
reply. Fyra’s lips twitched. Ol’ Gail, jailer/dispatcher combo,
probably mothered every detainee that walked through the place. A
So why did a big, bad
demon want to sit and pour her heart out to Gail? Because Fyra missed
her own mother, and a genuinely caring person like Gail was a rarity
in Fyra’s world.
Chatting with Bishop,
witnessing his reaction to her real appearance, didn’t help.
Through the haze of the dream world, the interest in his gaze had
remained on Bishop as the sheriff plopped her down. Her cuffs jingled
when she rested her hands on the tabletop.
Sitting across from
her, the sheriff opened the laptop. “Spell your last name for me.”
She didn’t have one
of her own, so she used Bishop’s. “L-a-u-r-e-n-t.”
Suck it, vampire. He’d
given her a human name, so she’d take his last name and ignore the
flutter it caused in her belly.
“Kim Laurent. Why
don’t you have identification?”
Stifling a laugh, she
imagined the information on her driver’s license. Address:
underworld. Hair color: flame. Eye color: candlelight. Weight:
depends on the time of day. Height: hella tall.
“Ms. Laurent?” His
fingers tapped the table.
A knock on the door
Fyra looked at the door
with interest. Opportunity knocking?
The sheriff opened it
with a scowl to reveal a frumpy deputy with thinning blond hair.
“Sheriff, the mayor’s
house was broken into, some jewelry stolen. Thought you’d want to
Fyra narrowed her eyes
on the deputy. Not all was as it seemed. He wore something bulky
under his shirt that made him look bigger than he was. A bulletproof
vest, but that wasn’t what prodded her intuition.
A faint whiff of
brimstone teased her.
The sheriff started to
rush past the deputy but stopped, then turned back to her.
“Go ahead,” the
deputy encouraged. “I’ll finish here.”
Yes, go on. Fyra
“Get what you can out
of her,” the sheriff growled as he took off.
The deputy stepped in.
Fyra peered at his name tag. Johnson. How totally plain, just like
the guy himself.
The demon inside was
anything but plain.
Throwing her shoulders
back to jut her breasts out, she gave the new arrival a charming
smile while cursing her bandages.
He pulled out the chair
the sheriff had vacated and plunked down. “Save it, Fyra. But I
should leave you in those cuffs for a while for throwing me under the
bus with Rancor.”
I’m impressed. I can barely detect you in the skin bag. I didn’t
know a broker was in the area, but he bagged you quite a human.”
In rural areas, it
could be impossibly difficult—or ridiculously easy—to find a
human who could summon demons and recruit other humans as hosts.
His expression remained
unreadable except for a touch of irritation with her. “Rancor’s
sent other second-tiers after you besides me and you’ve cut a wide
path through the Midwest, so here’s the deal.”
“Why would I need a
deal?” Her true feelings didn’t match her cavalier tone. As far
as Stryke’s deal went, he held all the cards. “I can get away
easy enough. I just didn’t want to create a scene.”
He leveled her with a
grim stare. “Really?”
“Yes, really,” she
snapped. “A swath of human carnage would be as much of a beacon as
She flipped him off.
Such a satisfying human gesture.
“Fyra, I don’t have
centuries to wait for you to get control of your fire-starting
abilities, but I do need some extra time in this realm so I’m going
to get you out of here.” He punched a few buttons on the computer.
“There. You were never arrested. Your records have already been
cleared at the hospital, and the staff won’t recall who you are or
what you look like. I ensured that Gail’s forgotten about seeing
you, but the sheriff will worry he’s got dementia.”
With each statement,
her brows rose higher and higher. Stryke could do all that? With
spells or internal power? She shifted her gaze to the tabletop. “What
do you want from me in return?”
Demons didn’t do
things out of the goodness of their black hearts.
“Look at me.”
She did. The ordinary
human was the furthest thing from Stryke’s real appearance. Swarthy
looks, powerful physique, intense gaze—Stryke was the demon young
females like her would hang posters of on their cave walls. Only, he
didn’t put out, as far as she knew. Not an easy feat in their home
“How do you control
your emotions?” When she didn’t answer, he shook his head. “Why
didn’t your parents teach you?”
“My mom did what she
could”—not that it helped—“before the Circle slaughtered her.
Do you think I volunteered to be a second-tier demon?” Anonymity
would’ve suited her just fine. “I was volun-told, and I don’t
know who my sperm donor is.” Her mother hadn’t even said whether
it’d been consensual or not. In the underworld, it could go either
Stryke’s mouth was
flat and he didn’t speak for a moment. “You’ll owe me a favor,
and don’t worry, I’m not after your body.”
“I’d be insulted,
but I know you’re not after anyone’s body.”
He made a noncommittal
sound. “Don’t be so sure. At some point, I’ll want into
Bishop’s inner circle, and you’ll get me in there.”
A flutter of laughter
escaped. “Okay. Well, I plan to use Bishop to destroy Rancor. If he
survives that and somehow catches me to bring me in—as a prisoner,
by the way—then, yeah, I’ll see what I can do.”
remained hard. “I don’t care if you have to stroll into
Demetrius’s compound with your wrists pre-cuffed, you’ll do it
when I tell you.”
All that assuming
Bishop didn’t just kill her first. “Fine.”
“Here’s a tip. When
your heat builds, think of icebergs. Ice baths. Polar bears. Pretend
you’ve just dunked yourself in a fishing hole in the middle of the
Arctic. Think of cold, and calm yourself the fuck down.”
He pulled a key ring
off his belt and beckoned for her wrists. She was unlocked in seconds
and rubbing her skin. Next off were the bandages.
“You look like hell,”
“From the guy in the
sexy-as-hell human,” she teased.
“The other deputy is
a married woman with small children. Call me stupid, but I didn’t
think the sheriff would buy that you could seduce her. And I’m not
sure you’d be willing to hurt her.”
“Of course I’d be
willing,” she snapped, more irritated that he read her so well.
“How old are you, anyway, to be dispensing sage advice?”
“Older than that
vampire you’re crushing on.”
With startling clarity,
she realized two things. Stryke had more on her than all thirteen of
the Circle combined. And she was lucky to have him on her side. Her
behavior would be scorned as severe weakness by most others of her
She stood. “What do
you need me to do until then?”
“Stay on the run and
stay hidden. I’ve got some things to do here while Rancor thinks
I’m looking for you.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled
out a wad of cash. “There’s a bag of clothing outside in the
rental car I used to get down here.”
“Wait. You used
another body to get to this town, then switched to the detective’s?”
All without the help of a human broker?
“Deputy, and let me
worry about what I did.”
Okay. Stryke had more
than a few secrets. Did she care? She tucked the money into her
cleavage. He led her to a tiny blue sedan, which she eyed dubiously.
“Big girl in a little car.”
His deep chuckle ripped
her attention off the clown car. He quit laughing, but his smile
remained in place. “I like you, Fyra. Until you came along, I
didn’t know other demons could use their own brain, much less have
Her hand touched her
heart as a foreign feeling assailed it. Was that a compliment, and
from someone she wasn’t trying to seduce? From someone she kinda
respected, someone she could call—if she weren’t from the
The keys jangled from
his fingers. “Go on now.”
Stryke maneuvered into
the gas station lot and killed the engine. The patrol vehicle drew
attention from a few people. He ignored them and grabbed his bag of
clothing. The stuff he’d gathered for Fyra would look atrocious on
her. Served her right for ratting him out to Rancor about his
unsanctioned trips to the human realm.
His bag of clothing
would both fit him and help him blend in. He walked through the gas
station, glad to be able to shed the bulky bulletproof vest and
weapons belt that dug into his hips. How did cops roam in this gear
all day and chase down criminals?
Locking himself into a
bathroom stall, he sat on the toilet and waited until he was alone.
Once he heard no one else, he closed his eyes, concentrated, and
stepped out of the human’s body.
No broker necessary. No
host death required. A special skill no one knew he had, all thanks
to a bond a certain vampire didn’t know she had.
He hefted his duffel
and stepped out of the stall and into another one to dress. Deputy
Johnson next to him groaned and slumped against the wall.
Dude would have some
major questions, like how he’d driven to another town without any
Not Stryke’s issue.
He finished pulling his clothes on and jerked his ball cap down low
on his head. The hat covered his horns and shaded his eyes. His real
eye color usually attracted too much attention when paired with his
normal looks. Females of any species found him attractive, which was
only a drawback for a guy who preferred to fly under the radar.
He walked out of the
convenience store and kept going. In a few blocks, he’d take a taxi
to the car rental place and make his way back to Freemont.
Zoey cried, her climax sweeping through her.
grunted underneath her.
As usual when she was
with Creed, memories of intimate moments with her deceased mate
filled her head. Except instead of her mate’s red, passion-infused
eyes, he had deep violet irises.
Fucked up in so many
She waited until
Creed’s orgasm finished before she crawled off him to throw on her
clothes. Poor guy. He’d been hinting at things getting more serious
between them. Outside the bedroom, Creed was her teammate and a most
respected friend. In the bedroom, he was a living vibrator she used
to keep lonely depression at bay.
“You can stay for a
while, you know.” He reached to the floor for his board shorts.
“No, I can’t.”
She readied herself for what she had to say and faced him. “I can’t
do this anymore.”
grew troubled. “Was it something I did?”
“Not at all.” She
feathered the tendrils that had escaped her tight bun out of her
eyes. Her hair had literally and figuratively never been let down
around Creed. A major sign she hadn’t truly moved on after
Mitchell’s death. And one that meant she couldn’t keep using
Creed for a few minutes of not feeling so hopeless.
She leaned down and
kissed him on the cheek. “You’ve been really good to me, but I
just can’t. Mitchell…”
“I understand.” He
blew out a breath. “Sort of.”
She gave him a grateful
smile. “We good?”
He nodded, but his face
didn’t say yes. Her heart broke for him. He seemed almost as sad as
she was, and she wouldn’t have thought that was possible. Probably
what had drawn them together.
She was almost out the
door when he asked, “What’d you mean ‘he’s coming’?”
Pausing, she glanced
back, keeping her expression plain. “What?”
“Nothing. See ya
Heading back to her
room, she buried herself in those two words.
Not I’m coming,
but he’s coming. Did it have to do with that feeling that
someone was after her? Why shout it during orgasm? Like the thought
that an unknown someone after her turned her on?
A warm glow spread
along her center, a feeling that had nothing to do with her last few
minutes with Creed. A feeling she hadn’t experienced since her last
night with Mitchell, before the fire had claimed him. How she missed
that glow. Many times, she weighed what she’d give to feel it
She was fucked up. No
more males until she straightened her shit out.
Bishop studied the
remnants of the tanker. Twisted, blackened metal sat in a heap
surrounded by singed earth. The blow had been a doozy. The
surrounding gravel and grass were still damp from the effort to put
out the blaze. Good thing it’d been in the middle of nowhere.
So his dream hadn’t
been a dream. He’d somehow visited Kim in his sleep.
He could work with
She wasn’t far ahead
of him, he could feel it.
A car approached, but
he didn’t move. Either they were going to pass or stop and ask him
questions, of which he had a few of his own.
His phone vibrated.
Damn Demetrius wouldn’t leave him alone. Bishop knew he’d have to
spill his guts. The time Demetrius had given him was running out.
Headlights grew closer
and slowed. A patrol car with the word “Sheriff” scrawled along
the side parked several feet away. Could be good, could be bad.
An older man climbed
out, his expression troubled.
Bishop greeted. “Hell of an accident you got here. What happened?”
The man scratched his
head. His rumpled uniform and tired eyes looked like he hadn’t
slept for a week. His gaze was wary as he absorbed Bishop’s size.
“I can see that,”
Bishop replied drily. The deputy—no, his insignia said he was a
sheriff—was already bristling from his tone. “The driver okay?”
Silence. Bishop froze,
waiting for the answer. That certainly wasn’t pride he felt, that
his demon could drive an eighteen-wheeler. But could she survive an
“Remains to be seen.”
Enough waiting. Bishop
caught the man’s gaze and held it. “Where is she?”
The sheriff’s eyes
glazed over. The fatigue lining his face made Bishop’s mental
takeover as easy as slicing through warm pie.
“She got away. All my
records were deleted, and my deputy disappeared. The hospital doesn’t
remember her.” Information spilled forth easily, like he’d been
dying to confess his troubles to someone. “It’s like she never
existed, but I remember.”
“What’d she say her
Shock broke his contact
with the sheriff, but he recaptured it before the man grew too
troubled to entrance. Why had she used Bishop’s last name? Couldn’t
another fake one do? Smith? Cornucopia?
“How’d she get
away?” Had she seduced the sheriff? Bishop had sworn to protect the
weaker creatures roaming this earth, but the sheriff’s life
expectancy was dropping.
“I think my deputy
let her go. He’s missing. I went to his place, and except for the
overwhelming smell of matches, nothing’s out of place.”
demon had gotten to her. Was she running from more than Bishop? He
hadn’t questioned why she’d appeared on Earth and then taken off.
Assumed it had to do with him, and how he, Demetrius, and Rourke had
taken out their intermediary for human hosts. But why was she here in
the first place?