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Curse of a Demon King

warriors of the veihl

April Rankin


© 2014 by April Rankin

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual locales, events, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever, with the exception of quotes used for reviews.

Curse of a Demon King Smashwords edition July 2017

Cover Illustration Design © April Rankin

For those of you who listened to me rant and rave about writing this story. For all of you who have (im)patiently waited for me to get my ass in gear and finish Brynna’s story.

For my FaceBookies and all my readers who have decided to take this elaborate, insane journey with me. And for D, forever my heart.

Thank you!

Table of Contents

Front Matter



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24


Author’s Note

Curse of a Demon King

Warriors of the Veihl

April Rankin

Chapter 1

“Brynna the Deceitful, get your ass out here or the bug gets it!”

What. The. Fuck? All around me, witches burst into cackles. 

My mouth drops open. I'd recognize that roar anywhere, had hoped never to hear that voice again, never to lay eyes on its owner again. How did he find me?

Witches rush to the windows, filling every spot they can in order to peer down at the idiot who dares to order a witch and threaten her familiar. 

“You deceitful bitch, show yourself!” he bellows.

Brushing the hair from my face, I stand and move to the window.

My newly adopted Valkyrie friend Kat turns to me. “Is that him?” she asks, her eyes filled with surprise.

I nod.

“He's not at all old and wrinkled. As a matter of fact, he looks to be in his prime.” She licks her lips, sexual interest filling her eyes.

“You’re taken, remember?” I say, trying to ignore the flare of jealousy. No, not jealousy. No way I’m jealous over that asshole.

“Me wants,” mutters another of my friends, and several heads nod in agreement.

“Your bug is about to become a splatter on the bottom of my boot! You have exactly thirty seconds to face me!” 

He has Lucky! The reminder makes my heart lurch. I knew I should have gone back for my familiar earlier, but damnit, Lucky pissed me off about this very same demon and I had walked away, refusing to discuss the topic. Which conveniently left my familiar behind. To be bug-napped. By the fucking bane of my existence.

“What if she isn't here, Demon?” one of the coven calls from the window.

Thank the gods! Maybe I can still hide from him.

“I can smell her, witch!” 

Damn oversensitive demon senses.

My hopes crash when he begins counting down. The coven laughs, taunting him, warning him that he'd best step away from Lucky, but he continues steadily counting.

“Brynna, you’d better go. I don't think he's playing.” 

I nod at Kat and rush to the main entrance of my coven’s four story mansion. His eyes fall on me as soon as I appear on the front porch, his lips peeling back in a snarl. 

Beneath his foot is Lucky, a teeny-tiny cricket looking frightened and tiny. Of all animal familiars that my coven sisters have, I somehow ended up with the most minuscule. On these massive grounds roam tigers, a bear, several cats, owls, reptiles, and even a sweet little hummingbird. 

But I have a damn cricket. Named Lucky. The irony never ceases to amaze me. Or piss me off, rather. Naturally, the Fates had thought to make me a laughingstock. The smallest witch with the tiniest familiar.

If not for my powers striking the fear in my sisters, I would be ridiculed. 

“Remove your boot this instance!” I say furiously. Lucky is very fragile. With the tiniest movement, the demon could accidentally squash him. Then where would I be?

A witch without a familiar is a witch with volatile and uncontrollable powers. Small and breakable as he is, Lucky is still mine. I love him as I would any other creature as my familiar.

“Remove this curse!” the demon demands.

“Boot! Now!” I repeat, gearing up for a fight. Power flows into my fingertips, glows in my eyes, makes my hair billow behind me. I know he can't see me clearly thanks to the glamour I’m throwing, but it’s as if his eyes can penetrate it to focus on my face anyway.

From above, someone calls out, “Now would be a good time to run, Demon.”

“Butt the fuck out of our business, slitches!” he yells to the window.

My mouth drops. Slitches? Did he seriously just call us slutty witches? To our faces? Few immortals have the balls to do so. I can't decide whether to be angry, appalled, or impressed. Apparently this Demon has a death wish.

I drop my glamour and glare at him. “Let Lucky go, or I will punish you in ways you never thought possible.”

For a second, he looks stunned, his eyes drifting the length of my body before slowly gliding up to meet my eyes. His foot relaxes a little, easing back.

I prop a hand on my hip, pushing my breasts out to let my size C girls dazzle him. “Like what you see?”

His mouth opens and closes several times.

“Use your words,” I say, something akin to pleasure sinking into my veins at his reaction.

“No! What the fuck are you wearing?” he asks as if we aren't in the middle of an all out power struggle.

“I call it Harlot Vampire chic.

He stares at me as if I’ve grown a second head. The fact is, I know well why we are called slitches. My clothes are minuscule, barely covering the goodies. Not to mention, witches were almost as nympho as actual nymphs. Something about the power coursing through us makes us lusty and promiscuous. But the fact remains that I would never get horizontal with this particular demon—despite the tales of his stamina—even if I were on a deserted moon with nothing but him and a sheep. No, thanks. I’ll take the sheep. 

For long moments, his mouth opens and closes again without words, as if he is struggling for his mind to keep up. One big hand comes up to wipe down his face.

I swear I am not getting aroused by the look in his eyes. 

“Toast him, Brynna!” someone yells, breaking him from his speechlessness. 

His face once again falls into that mask he is so fond of presenting. His shoulders go back as if readying for a battle. “Take this hex from me, witch.”

I look at him innocently. “What hex might that be?”

He growls. “You know of what I speak. Do not play games with me!”

“No, really. Which hex do you want me to remove?”

“You've placed more than one on me!” he roars, questioning me in outrage. 

I’m pretty sure I feel the ground shaking with his fury. Oh, but the wild ones are always the most fun to tease. I sigh and move down the steps to stand before him, separated only by a few meters. “I have done nothing to you.” Yeah, that’s mostly true. 

His anger is amplified. “Witch! No. More. Games!” His voice drops dangerously, but above, several witches sigh dreamily. There's nothing like a strong, virile, dominant male to get a witch's blood pumping and juices flowing. Not that mine are. “Fix this problem, witch!”

I can't help myself. I giggle. “You got ninety-nine problems, but a witch ain't one.” My sisters belt out laughter above us.

His eyes narrow just as he stomps down. 

He did it! The fucker actually did it!

I shriek as Lucky is flattened under the bastard's foot. A collective gasp goes through the crowd above. And just like that, I snap. Tears flood my eyes. Grief swamps my chest. Anger sears my veins.

I charge him, moving forward with orbs of incinerating light in my hands, tossing them at him in a rage, hoping that I don’t lose control of my powers without my familiar. The demon falls to his knees as I run at him, bolt after bolt hitting him in the chest. He jolts as each one strikes, but doesn't go down.

Shit. My powers must not be as potent without my sweet little cricket. Grief washes over me and without thinking, I rush him, hands going for his throat to rip out his jugular. Or tear his head off. Or gouge his eyes out. I haven’t decided yet. All of the above sounds good.

Just as I reach out, claws lengthening for a kill strike, he stands, smiling. Trap! my mind screams, but it's too late. His arms wrap around me in an unbreakable clasp, banding my hands at my side, my front to his. Oh, gods, I can't do anything without my hands!

My coven sisters screech and then the sound is cut off as the demon gates away with me. The world disappears as I become nothing but tiny microscopic molecules, trapped by him until he solidifies us again wherever he’s decided to take us. Struggling against him is futile. He’s easily one hundred pounds heavier than me, if not more. I could never win a battle of strength, only of wits, because, let’s face it: I’m one hundred times smarter. And prettier.

Five foot two inches of witch against six foot four (or five) of pissed off demon spawn? Impossible. I struggle anyway, feeling like a fly caught in the spider’s web. I swear I can hear him grind his teeth.

The ground again appears beneath my feet and he snarls down at me. “Stop moving!”

Yeah, like that’ll happen. I only struggle harder. “You bastard! Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Tears threaten but I blink them away, swallowing hard to keep my voice from breaking.

His eyes close as I thrash. “Cease. Your. Movements.”

Then I feel it. The fucking demon is getting a chubby against my stomach. His length feels like a brand pressing into my soft flesh. Instantly, I freeze.

He rocks into me and stills, hissing in a breath. His eyes snap open and I gasp. His pupils have flared, from tiny pinpricks to slits much like a cat’s.

“See what you’ve done to me, witch?” he snarls, lips curling back to show a set of sharp white fangs at the side of his mouth. “You’ve cursed me! Remove. It. Now!”

I shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t. He is mistaken. “There was no power behind my words, demon. I only said them in anger.”

“Three months of your hex is enough! Gods, woman, my bollocks are like boulders, aching for a release you took away!”

I raise a brow. “TMI, blue, TMI.” Sarcasm. A girl’s best weapon. Next to a vagina, that is.

He growls and shakes me hard enough my teeth snap together and I feel like a bobblehead. Damn demon’s about to give me whiplash. “Gods damn you, woman.”

“So it’s my fault you have blue balls?”

“Yes!” he shouts.

Okay, so maybe I did threaten him with a curse that would inflict failure to perform upon his happy stick. But I really hadn’t juiced the words at all. Nada. Zilch. Therefore, he should be right as rain. I mean, it’s been almost three months! And he’s a virile demon in his prime!

That’s the thing with demons: they’re all man-whores. Once they reach puberty, their bodies produce a toxin that is only lessened by sex. Without sex, they basically poison themselves. After a few months, they die. So naturally, they wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am their way through the female population like I consume chocolate. Mmm, chocolate.

“Fix it, now,” he demands, breaking into my delicious fantasies of me, naked with a five gallon bucket full of Lindt Lindor truffles.

“I’m not responsible for this,” I say, wishing I hadn’t thought about chocolate. Now I want some and I’m pretty sure the demon won’t invite me to stay for a gluttonous coco fetish.

“Do you not remember that night? What you said to me?” he snaps. Anger lights his features.

Oh, I remember. Vividly. That night replays in my dreams. It haunts my every waking moment. It follows me into the bath where I can’t reproduce an orgasm of that magnitude for anything. Not from lack of trying, I assure you.

Three months ago, I went out with the other witches, looking for trouble. Trouble, as in—tall, sexy, horny, and energetic enough to keep up with my lasting stamina. In other words, we hit a bar that is frequented by others of the Veihl with hopes of getting laid. I wasn’t necessarily looking for Naked Happy Fun Time, just a good drink, but one step into the bar and my eyes landed on the giant demon and my intentions had changed. His swagger and devil-may-care attitude instantly captured my attention. Not to mention those oh-so-lickable horns peeking out from beneath his unruly hair. My girly bits immediately demanded scorching hot, mind-in-the-gutter, howl-at-the-moon, rough and dirty sex. Yeah, I’d wanted him instantly. Not that I’d admit that now.

His green eyes had landed on me and with just a crook of his finger, he beckoned me over. I dazedly walked over to him with a sexual swagger to my hips and sat right in his lap instead of the barstool next to him.

All night, he charmed me as we slammed back one beer after another. In a darkened corner, his fingers and mouth had skillfully brought me to orgasm in a room full of people. It had proven that the stories about demons were true: they gots skillz.

I had excused myself to the bathroom, needing some cold water on my face to cool off, and when I returned, he’d already replaced me. With a nymph, of all things!

And then he had the gall of saying he didn’t mind all three of us getting horizontal together. I never share. I’m stingy that way.

But he’d pissed me off, moving on to the nymph as soon as I disappeared from sight despite my promise to be right back after I used the ladies room. So I’d cast an illusion of my hair billowing in the wind and lightning illuminating my face and said, “Take heed, Rhys of the Overworld Demons. From this day forth, each time you seek to claim a conquest, you will be unable to perform. Your cock will flag before you spend, yet women will flock in droves to seduce you. And each time you think of me, it will be a plague, causing you to harden without end. You will climax by neither your hand nor another’s body. Until you learn commitment or claim your fated mate, this will be so.”

Looking back, it may have been a bit harsh. If I had actually used my power to inflict the curse. But I hadn’t. The only power I used that night was casting the illusion to scare the ever-living hell out of him, not to curse him. Granted, the look of absolute horror on his face as I stomped out of the bar had been totally worth it.

I can’t help smiling at the memory of his face gone pale, green eyes widening, and his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed.

“You’re smiling?” he yells in my face, in the present. “Do you want me to kill you?”

I smirk. “My bad. I was remembering the look on your face when I told you mini-Rhys was taking a vacay.”

He growls, shaking me again. “Tis no laughing matter. Do you know the hell I’ve been through? I’ve tried fucking, but can’t come. I’ve taken myself in hand, but nothing. I’ve tried hiding from the bloody women, but the bitches always find me to drive me mad. I am becoming a damn joke to demons everywhere.”

“Aww. Poor baby. It sounds so terrible,” I mock. At least I hold the giggles in. Barely.

“End it. Now.” He shakes me, rattling my teeth.

I try to free my arms, but he’s locked them too tightly to my sides. “I’ve done nothing to you. They were words, demon. Nothing more. There was absolutely no power behind them at all.”

“Bullshit! Then why can’t I come?”

If he shakes me one more time, I may end up with shaken-baby syndrome. After all, I am a babe. “Prostate cancer? Performance anxiety? Erectile dysfunction”

His eyes flicker again, his pupils shrinking then widening, displaying the change that is nigh upon him. I remind myself to stop pissing him off. I sure as hell don’t want a fully-turned angry demon on my hands.

That would be bad. With capital letters.

“Look, even if I had put a curse on you—which I didn’t—you’d be shit out of luck now. I mean, did you really think that I’d help you after you killed Lucky? Are you that fucking stupid?”

His head inches down towards mine until only a breadth remains between us. “You will remove this curse. Because for each day that I continue to suffer, you will experience the same.”

Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Everyone knows witches are the lowest on the pain-tolerance totem pole, and I’m no exception. Shove a splinter into my smooth skin and I’d sing like a canary. The only problem is that I really didn’t curse the bastard. “Wh-what are you going to do?”

“Witch, you’ll soon find out.”

Chapter 2

He tied me to the fucking bed.

Of all the horrifying images of torment that my mind conjured, this wasn’t one of them. My hands are bound, which prevents my fighting. I’m spread-eagle, face down, my limbs tied to bedposts. His bedposts. And around my left wrist is a magic-nullifying band. So there goes any magic I did have left without Lucky.

If not for the crazed demon wandering around cursing my name, I could almost believe this was some kind of kinky foreplay. After all, demons like it rough. And kinky. Scratch that. Demons like it any way they can get it. Period.

“Are you ready to remove this hex?”

I jump at his voice next to my ear. Hadn’t he been on the other side of the room seconds ago, slamming drawers and cursing?

“Are you ready to admit I had nothing to do with your current predicament?” I reply stubbornly. “And when a certain Fury finds out you’ve witch-napped me, she’s going to nail your balls to the wall. With a railroad spike. And you still attached.”

He chuckles. “Do you think me completely incapable of a tidy little kidnapping? I did my research. I took…precautions with your friend.”

My blood chills. First Lucky. Now Tara. Did he kill her too? So help me, if he did anything to hurt her, I would personally peel the flesh from his bones. “What. Did. You. Do?”

I feel his shrug next to me. “I may have set up a few…distractions. The Furaie do so love their pets. It’s a shame hers was just so mortal.

My claws dig into my palms, drawing blood. “If you’ve harmed one hair on Kasey’s head, I’ll make you eat your own entrails. And when they grow back, I’ll hang you with them. After Tara makes you wish you’d never been born.”

He snorts. “Please. Your threats mean nothing to me. I have no reason to hurt that child. She’ll be dead in a mere blink of the eye anyway, what with such a finite lifespan. Why do you automatically assume I would harm an innocent child?”

“I’m innocent!” I shout. “Lucky was innocent!” But I do hope he has enough of a moral compass not to hurt Kasey. That poor child has been through enough and Tara would do anything to keep her safe.

“Your bug’s name was Lucky? Of all the-” he sighs and moves into view, raking a hand through his hair. The locks stand in disarray all over, giving me a glimpse of his horns. His eyes flicker black. “You had to have known your crime against me would meet with punishment.”

But Lucky? He had just been a tiny bug. An innocent insect. “Release me, and I will forget you ever did this to me.”

He shakes his head. “Not until you remove this hex.”

I clamp my jaw shut, tired of telling the stubborn ass that I had no part in his forced abstinence.

“No? Then let the torment commence.”

I feel his hand at my nape, tracing a claw down my spine, slicing through my halter’s strap then between my shoulder blades down to the top of my skirt. Riiip. He slowly tears the leather, splitting it from the waist down, baring the globes of my ass.

Shame. That was my favorite skirt. At least I have three more just like it.

He inhales and I stiffen when one of his fingers dips under the string between my cheeks.

This is what you had on under that? Anyone could have looked up your skirt to see what you flaunted.”

“That’s the idea, demon. Temptation and easy access.” In reality, these things make me feel sexy. There are advantages to dressing like this. The slack-jawed, eye-popping looks I get walking down the street, for one thing. I like attention. So what? Doesn’t mean I spread my legs for anything with a dick.

He trails his fingers over my ass, allowing me to feel the sharp tips of his claws. I shiver, but not from fear. This man had found every sensitive spot on and in my body that night so long ago. He’d been good. Very good. Unforgettable. The stuff of fantasies and daydreams when nights get long and lonely and all you have is a battery-operated wiggle stick to fill the emptiness of your down-yonder. Not that I do that or anything. Much.

“I remember the night you were riding my fingers to climax, your tight little pussy shuddering around them as you bellowed my name. Tell me, do you still think of that night?” One long finger dips down, sliding over the thin fabric, seeking my damp heat.

I can’t hold back the gasp as he nears it, my senses heightening as if I crave his touch. “Which night would that be? There’s been a long line of demons between my thighs lately.” Bluff.

He stiffens, a barely-controlled growl rattling his chest as he slaps the right side of my ass hard enough to leave a flaming red hand print. “I suppose I’ll have to remind you. You were eye-fucking me as soon as you walked into the bar. By the end of the night, you had that sweet pussy against my mouth, my tongue deep in your little quim, your little clit on my fangs.”

Oh, dear gods. I’m not going to survive this. With the throb where he slapped me, I can feel warmth flooding me despite my attempt to get my body under control. But the damn thing isn’t listening. Traitor.

He continues. “Your hand was wrapped around my cock as I fucked you with fingers and mouth until you could barely walk. Admit it. That was the best orgasm you’ve ever had.”

I try to shrug. “Meh. Guess not since I don’t remember.” I glance at the ceiling for lightning to strike.

His finger presses against my thong, right at my entrance. I bite my tongue, hard, determined to hold back the moan rising in my chest.

He leans forward to my ear. “I could have filled this with more than my fingers or tongue. I could have erased your every thought for hours.”

“Must have been forgettable,” My voice shakes, belying my words. “Isn’t ringing a bell.” Oh, gods! Hearing him speak of that night makes it more real. He could probably get me off just talking about it.

The bed shifts as he leans over me. The heat from his muscular chest sears my back. His fangs scrape the back of my neck and I barely control myself.

“Sure about that?” He slides the thin fabric aside, claws now retracted, and presses one thick finger into me.

The moan I was holding back escapes.

He chuckles against my neck. “Ah, now you remember. And you’re wet and wanting.”

Oh, gods. I want to thrust back against him, press him deeper into me but I refuse to give him the satisfaction. He crooks his finger wickedly into me and I yell, “Yes! I remember! But I didn’t curse you!”

“Then what is this?” He presses his erection against my hip, rocking against me. “By your own words, there is no end in sight.”

I’m shaking with need. The need to move, the need to be filled with something, the need to just fucking climax. But the bastard pulls away, leaving me bereft.

“Now you will know how it feels,” he says, licking my neck.

Then he does something shocking.

He walks away, leaving me achy and wanting.

Fucking demons.

Chapter 3

I fell asleep disappointed and sore several hours later. Disappointed because I really wanted that orgasm. Sore because my arms and legs are tied to a fucking bed. And this isn’t a little bed by any means. I’m stretched to my breaking point. The only thing I can move is my hips. Everything else is tied too tightly to maneuver in any direction.

And crying hadn’t helped. Grief had overwhelmed me at some point during the night, and the dam broke, making me sob over my poor smushed familiar. Though we fought a lot, Lucky had been my friend, my confidant, my advisor. He’d been mine to care for. Mine to love and protect. And I had failed him.

The tears had finally dried up and I was left to examine the situation in which I found myself. Truth be told, I’ve been in worse scrapes than this. But there is no way I can escape with my arms and legs bound to the bed. Not to mention, the bracelet on my wrist hinders any magic I have left.

My freedom relies solely on my demon captor.

He hadn’t returned throughout the night but I can sense him somewhere near.

Not the problem right now. I gotta pee like something fierce. “Hey, Blue Balls, I need some help in here stat!”

Moments later, his footsteps enter the room. “I see you slept well. Maybe now you will consider removing the hex.”

Wow. That’s some serious drunk-breath he has. Whiskey fumes follow him into the room. “There’s no curse on you, Bird Brains, except maybe one of stupidity but I’m not sure you could have actually gotten much dumber.”

He growls and moves into my line of sight. “You best remember that you are at my mercy, witch.”

His steps waver slightly and his eyes are glassy. Great. I have a drunk demon.

“And you’d best recognize that I’m about to pee all over your nice king sized bed, asshole,” I reply tartly, just to piss him off.

His eyes narrow suspiciously but he bends to untie me. Leaving the ropes around my wrists, he rolls me over, eyes dropping when my halter falls away to bare my breasts. Those green eyes darken and a low, vibrating growl starts in his chest.

“Don’t even think about it,” I snap when one of his hands reaches towards me. This girl’s got priorities. Pee first, touchy-feely later.

His fingers curl into a fist, but then he grabs my ropes and re-ties my hands in front of me. With one hand around my ankle, he drags me to the edge of the bed. “If you even think of running, you will regret it,” he warns.

I smile sweetly. “What? When we are just now getting to know one another on this sweet honeymoon vacay you booked just for the two of us? Why would I want to run?”

He looks at me like I’m crazy.

Mission accomplished.

I had expected a hole in the ground, but he actually leads me to a very nice, modern bathroom painted in rich hues. “You have two minutes,” he snaps, leaving me inside, but holding the ropes in his hands just outside the door.

“Hey asshole, I need the use of my hands.” If I could get the band off my wrist, I could blast a hole straight through the wall to freedom. Maybe. Who knows how my powers will work with Lucky gone. Either way, I can’t get to it with my wrists bound together so the point is moot.

“One minute forty-five seconds.”

“Seriously?” I squeak. “Dude, you suck!” But I manage to do my business in record time.

He steps back into sight while I’m attempting to pull up my thong. Instead of helping, he leans a shoulder against the wall and watches my wiggle dance.

“Enjoying the view?” I ask.

“Tremendously,” he replies with a smirk.

“Guess it’s too bad you can’t do anything with that,” I stare pointedly at the bulge in his pants. “We could have such fun together.”

His eyes narrow.

Finally, I manage to get the scrap of thread back where it belongs. I don’t even know why I bothered. It’s not like it’s really hiding anything with its barely-there sheer fabric. Not to mention, it’s the only scrap of clothing I’m wearing. Witches are known to be notoriously unabashed in our nakedness. If it didn’t make other creatures of the Veihl uncomfortable, we’d prance around in the buff twenty-four seven.

“Look. We can work out this little problem. Seriously, keeping me here tied up is bad press for you. Unless it’s foreplay. Then I’ll consider staying a little longer. But since this has nothing to do with me—I mean I did not put a curse on you—you should release me before my coven comes a-knocking. You know, for your own good and all.” I want my hands untied most of all. Not to touch him like I’m secretly craving, but to blast his ass into oblivion.

He smiles at me, showing those sharp little fangs that make my heart race. “I don’t think so. This has everything to do with you, sweetheart. You think to toy with me, and I return in kind. Remove the hex and I will release you after I’ve exacted revenge.”

“You’ve had your revenge! Do you have any idea what Lucky was to me? Do you have a clue in that thick skull of yours what a familiar means to a witch?” My breath catches and I choke back a sob at the thought of Lucky. His death is weighing me down. And this accusation is getting old. “And there is no curse you brick-brained slug!”

Reaching for my arm, he drags me along, back to the bedroom. I remain stonily silent, glaring at him as he ties me back to the bedposts. He sits next to me with a sigh.

For the first time, I really look at him. I mean, really look. Past the drop-dead sexy features, beyond the muscles and tattoos, through the demon-esque attributes that make my mouth water. And what I see astounds me. He’s dying. Like, very soon, only days-to-live dying. The venom in him has reached a toxicity he would be lucky to purge with marathon-sex. A porn star probably couldn’t rid him of it. Perhaps a nymph. If he’s lucky.

“There is a curse,” he insists. “I’ve been unable to fuck for months. You’re in my head, making my cock stand at the very thought of you and it won’t bloody go away. This has to stop!”

“I didn’t curse you, Rhys. I swear it. It wasn’t me,” I say softly, hoping a change in tactic would get it through his thick skull.

His eyes narrow as he studies my face and for a moment, I actually think the truth is starting to penetrate his mushy gray matter. Until he opens his mouth. “Then why the fuck are you in my head? Every time I tried to take another woman, it was your face I’d see, not hers. If not a curse, what is that?”

I laugh. As far as confessions of love go, his sucks. Is it really so unbelievable? I’m a sexy, powerful witch with mind-blowing hand-job skills. That is what’s stuck in his head. “Because you lurve me. I have to say, your confession needs work, though. Here’s a tip: women don’t want to hear that you love them and that you’ve tried to fuck other women in the same breath. It’s just bad manners. You’d think your mother taught you better.”

For a second, I think he’s going to explode. A growl rattles deep in his chest and his pupils contract and expand. “For every time I’ve been unable to come, I will torment you in the same manner. Over and over. You owe me three month’s worth of un-obtainable orgasms, witch.”

“Ooh. I love it when you talk dirty.” My voice is laced with sarcasm, but anticipation surges through me. I pray he can’t smell the desire coiling in my loins.

But he can. Against my hip, his erection stirs and lengthens. He takes a deep sniff, eyes growing darker, pupils expanding even further.

Curse demons and their heightened sense of smell. “Is it true that when you come, the earth quakes beneath you?” I had to ask, trying to distract him. Over the years, I’ve heard many rumors about many kinds of demons, but few about his kind. He’s an earth demon, said to be able to affect the earth around him with his emotions. So far, I have no proof of that.

He snorts, eyes falling to my lips. “I wouldn’t know since it’s been three fucking months. Should we test the theory?”

Yes, I want to scream. Another flood of arousal dampens my core. He inhales deeply, eyes closing briefly. When he opens them, I feel I could burn under that hot gaze.

I open my mouth for a smart-ass comment but his lips smother mine, tongue taking full advantage. He tastes just as I remember; heady, addictive, a promise of satiation no one had ever fulfilled. Add to that the spicy cinnamon that is the toxin and I’ve found my new favorite flavor.

He pushes my lips even wider with his tongue, invading my mouth, stabbing at my tongue, taking and tasting more than any other had before as he claims me. Fangs sharpen with his arousal, scraping my tender lips. I can’t stop myself from tracing one with my tongue and he groans deep in his chest.

My fingers curl into fists, nails biting into my skin. I want to touch him, to trace his shoulders, chest, abs. To thread my fingers tightly into his hair and hold him to me. To grab his horns and guide him where I want his mouth to be. But I’m fucking tied up.

He releases my mouth to trace a path down my neck, mumbling, “So fiery. So hot.”

And I am, burning with a need I couldn’t have imagined possible as that toxin of his spreads throughout my system, driving my need higher until I’m at a breaking point.

One fang finds the turgid peak of my breast and scrapes before kissing the sting away. I arch further into him, moaning his name. Curse you, libido!

His hand finds the vee of my thighs, runs a finger along the seam of my nether lips and I buck against him.

“More,” I demand, wanting it, needing it, needing him.

He moves above me and settles between my thighs, that thick length pressing deliciously against the achiest part of me. His mouth finds mine again, taking, controlling, stoking my fires higher until I feel as if I’m burning from the inside out.

He rocks against me, over and over until I hover just at the brink, perched on the edge between cataclysm and euphoria.

“Don’t stop,” I gasp against his lips.

He mumbles something back that I can’t make out.

“What?” I ask as the roughness of his jeans finds a particularly sensitive spot. I moan. Loudly.

“I said ‘Remove the curse.’ I will finish this, just remove the bloody curse.” He punctuates his words with a roll of his hips.

His words are ice water to me. He doesn’t want me. He is just using sex as coercion to get me to remove a curse that doesn’t exist. “Get off of me.”

He looks confused for a moment.

“I said get. The fuck. Off!”

Slowly, Rhys removes himself. “You have no right to be angry,” he says once he is standing at the side of the bed.

“I have every right! You barge into my life seeking a night of pleasure and then in the same hour, after you’ve had your fingers inside of me, you turn to another woman. Then you accuse me of putting a curse on you—which, need I remind you again—I didn’t. Add to that a kidnapping, murder, and cruel and unusual punishment and yeah, I think I have every right to be pissed.”

“You brought this on yourself.” He scrubs a hand down his jaw.

I glare at him. “I did this? I did?”

“Perhaps I was too hasty in trying to coax another female into my bed that night. Is that what you want? An apology? If that will get this curse off of me, then by all means, I am sorry for the way I treated you. I’m sorry I gave you release. I’m sorry you enjoyed it. I’m sorry you were jealous over a promiscuous nymph.”

My mouth opens and closes without words. Seriously? Had he just apologized for my behavior? Yes. Yes he did. I take a deep breath and calm myself enough that I won’t shout. As sweetly as I can, I say, “The moment you killed Lucky, you screwed yourself. The only thing I can remove from you without him is your dick.”

He steps back. Perhaps that little realization hadn’t struck him before he committed insecticide. “You admit there is a curse?”

“I admit that if there was, I couldn’t do a damn thing about it since you killed my familiar.”

He sways on his feet and I wonder if it’s the toxin getting to him or the whiskey. Probably both.

“Look. I didn’t do it. If you let me go, I can get you help. Maybe another witch placed a curse on you. If that’s the case, I know someone who can remove it. Nerys can help you. You’re going to die if you don’t get help, Rhys.” Why does that thought fill me with sadness?

He actually seems to consider it. Then his eyes harden and his jaw pops. “Then you will be here to see the last of my days. Enjoy it witch.”

He abandons me. For hours!

I can’t even hear him moving around in the other rooms for the rest of the day. Or night. Whatever. I hope he hasn’t died and left me tied to his bed because that would literally suck.

It plays over and over in my head in an endless loop. As much as he irritates me, I don’t wish him dead. Maybe some rash on his nether parts that will make his joystick itch and shrink, but not death. The bastard. How dare he abduct me! How dare he torment me like this after killing my familiar! How dare he keep me tied up when he has that big, strong body that my fingers ache to explore!

No. I want nothing to do with him. I can’t help that my mind and body aren’t in accordance.

When he comes back, I’m going to—

“Plotting my downfall?”

My eyes dart to the door, where he leans against the wall, arms and legs crossed. He looks worse than he did earlier; sicker, paler. How many days does he have left? Two? Three?


He lifts a brow. “And? What terrifying, horrific way did you decide I’m going to die?”

“Poison. A toxin, in fact. It has already filled your body. You’re slowly growing weaker, more exhausted by the minute. Your brain is getting sluggish and your appetite is gone. Sound about right?”

“Sounds to me like you planned this. Why?”

I sigh, tired of having to break it down for him. Then again, with the toxin, he isn’t thinking right. His thoughts aren’t clear and any sort of reasoning is almost non-existent. I researched the matter after I heard what was wrong with him a few weeks ago. Not because I cared or anything, but out of curiosity. “I didn’t plan this. I don’t want you to die. I swear on Lucky’s life I didn’t do this to you.”

That got his attention. He straightens. “Say it again.”

“I don’t want you to die.”

“Swear you didn’t curse me. Those exact words.”

“I swear on Lucky’s life that I did not curse you.”

The fight goes out of him. He allows himself to slide down the wall to the floor, his expression one of devastation. My heart hurts for him.

“What do I do now?” he asks, running his fingers through his hair in frustration.

I shrug. “Untie me? Maybe we can figure something out. If this really is a curse, you have to go see Nerys. She can remove it, I promise.”

He studies me, eyes moving from my face down my body. “Will you run?”

Holy guacamole! Is he actually considering releasing me?

I shake my head. “No. I will help you, but once I do, that’s it. I go my way, you go yours.”

With a nod, he actually gets up and unties me. Before releasing my last hand, he leans forward and bites the side of my neck. Hard.

“Ouch! What the fuck, dude!”

My blood is on the tips of his fangs when he smiles at me. “Insurance. I can find you if you run.”

I press against the little holes on my neck, stemming the blood. They were nothing more than tiny scratches, but still. That shit hurt. “You found me last time without biting me. Geez. You freak.”

He shrugs and leaves the room, returning a few minutes later with a shopping bag. “Get dressed,” he instructs, tossing the bag next to me on the bed.

Is that where he’s been all day? Shopping? That isn’t a sign of a sick, sick man. Did he push himself too far today? Is that why he looks incredibly exhausted right now?

I rub my hands together and realize he left the band on my wrist. “This too,” I say, holding my arm out to him.

“No. That stays on. No negotiations. You aren’t using your blasted magic around me.”

“Not fair. I said I would help you. This is the same as keeping me tied to your bed. This makes me your prisoner still.”

He lifts one big shoulder and drops it. “I will remove it when we are done. And if I should die first, the spell in it will be nullified, so you’ll get your powers back.”

“Not without Lucky,” I mumble. But that’s a different issue for later.

He allows me a quick shower which does wonders for my bed-head and the funky I-need-booty smell. After, I stand wrapped in a towel and dump the clothes on the bed and stare horrified. “You did not expect me to wear this.”

“What is wrong with them?”

I lift the offending garment with the tips of my fingers, holding it out as far from my body as I can. “Besides the fact that I’m not a wrinkled old lady or a perky school teacher? It has flowers on it. Hideous flowers. And it’s too long.” Give me sexy, not schoolmarm.

“You can buy more later. Put them on.”

I shudder at the thought of others seeing me dressed in this outfit. The skirt is light and airy, floral print and falls beneath my knees. The shirt isn’t much better; a light blue blouse with buttons, a collar, and sleeves. “I’m a witch for gods’ sakes. Not a freaking nun.” Granny panties is not my forte. I’ll go commando, thanks.

He even tosses me a pair of sensible shoes. Short heels, beige. I feel my sexuality immediately start withering in this getup.

When I’m done, I turn to him with narrowed eyes. He looks me over and gives a satisfied nod.

“Were you trying to cover up as much of me as you could? Cuz if so, congrats. You succeeded.”

“If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little on edge. I prefer not to see a female at all if I can’t do what I’m meant to do to her. So yes, I’m trying to make this as easy as possible.” He leads me from the room into a kitchen, nodding towards a stool.

I sit. “Easy for you, maybe. I feel my lady parts drying up. Thanks a lot.”

“You’re welcome.” He sets a take-out bag in front of me. Smells like Chinese.

“That was sarcasm.”

“And this is food.” Handing me a box of what looks like cashew chicken and a fork he says, “Eat. We are going to see this Nerys person.”

I’m starved after being tied to the bed for who-knows-how-long. He watches me eat with an amused expression on his face and then hands me a powerade to wash it down with.

I make a face at the drink. “You forgot the alcohol.”

Rhys shakes his head. “You will remain sober until this is finished.”

“So you can get shit-faced and I can’t?”

“Yes. It helps dull the pain.”

I notice he hasn’t really touched his own food. The toxin has to be really bad if he’s already lost his appetite and feels the pain that the toxin causes in his limbs. “You do know that there are ways other than sex to slow down the toxin.”

He lifts his brows in question.

“Eating, for one. I know you aren’t hungry without an appetite, but food does help keep your strength up to fight the toxin for longer.”

He scoops a huge mouthful of beef and broccoli into his trap. “What else?”

I look at the other powerade pointedly. “Lots of liquids.”

In two gulps, it’s gone. “And?”

I shrug. “I don’t remember them all, Rhys. Food, fluids, rest, claiming your mate. I don’t know.” He’s a demon, shouldn’t he know more about this than I do?

“My mate?” He looks confused.

“Uh, yeah. Mate. As in, the one woman meant for you in all of eternity.”

“I know what a mate is,” he scowls. “How the hell would I find my mate with it already being this late?”

“I don’t know. But if Nerys says she can’t remove the curse, or that you don’t have one, then your mate may be your only chance.”

His hair stands on end when he rakes his fingers through it. Those horns peek through his locks at the sides of his head and I want to touch them to see if they’re as smooth as they look.

“Stop that,” he says, snapping me from my daydream.

“Stop what?”

“That. Staring at me like that.”

“You’re offended by people staring?”

He presses his palms into his eyes. “No. But you can’t look at me like you want to fuck while licking a fork. Are you trying to kill me?”

“Sorry. I was just lost in thought.” About him. And me. Naked. Me moaning. Him thrusting.


Shit. I did it again, apparently.

I drop my eyes and stare at my box of take-out.

He sighs loudly and then asks, “Where will we find this Nerys?”

“She operates a shop in the Quarter. Voodoo stuff, love spells, charms, that sort of thing for humans. For us, she does much more. She should be able to read your aura and tell whether or not you have a curse.”

He looks suspicious. “What is she?”

Lifting my shoulder in a shrug, I reply, “Not sure exactly. Definitely fae, but beyond that, I dunno.”

He actually lets me finish my food and use the bathroom again before gating the two of us directly in the middle of Jackson Square in New Orleans.

“Which way?”

I point and he leads me away from the cathedral towards the heart of the French Quarter. A few blocks later, we stand outside the shop.

A little bell above the door rings when we enter.

The smell of incense hits my senses. A quaint little store filled with all sorts of souvenirs and voodoo dolls, the shelves are lined with mystical candles, packets of herbs, and other magical items.

At the sound of the bell over the door, a woman steps into the shop from a back room. She takes one look at Rhys and her mouth curls up.

“I’ve been wondering when you would come,” she says to him as she takes her place behind the counter.

He raises his brows in curiosity and interest as his gaze travels the length of her body.

Standing at almost six feet tall, very slim, with features worthy of a supermodel and chestnut hair streaked with golden highlights, Nerys is a bombshell. In fact, she’d been a supermodel in the nineties. Add to her beauty an ethereal glow that looks like iridescent dust over her skin and eyes of the purest gold and you have sex in the making.

Those gold eyes turn towards me. “Brynna. What the hell are you wearing?”

I shrug and tilt my head towards Rhys. “Blame it on the big guy. He bought it.”

She raises a delicate brow and shakes her head in disgust before changing the subject. “How’s Tara?”

“She’s good. Her powers are still wonky, but she’s getting better at it as time goes on.”

“We aren’t here to discuss your friends,” Rhys says, stepping between us.

Nerys turns to him. “You are taller than I expected. Not quite as handsome as I imagined, though.”

A laugh escapes before I can choke it back. Rhys looks confused and slightly offended.

“Nerys has premonitions,” I explain to him.

She stares at my neck for a long moment, studying the spot where, just a few days ago, I’d let a vampire drink from me. With her stellar abilities, I’m sure she can see where he’d bit me, even though Bayne had healed the pinpricks after feeding.

“He’s getting closer, isn’t he?” I ask. Her vampire mate has been searching for her for years. Nerys has managed to hide from him for the last century by moving around and changing her name, not to mention a few glamours.

She nods, looking sad. I have the urge to cover my neck. “He was. But I think I lost him at the turn of the century. I figured a name change was due.” That was when she’d changed her name to Nerys.

“Enough!” The demon snaps. He moves closer to me, maybe trying to intimidate me. “This isn’t a pleasant little visit between friends.”

“Ah yes. You seek a remedy. Unfortunately, I can’t help you.”

His brows lower as he glares at her. “Am I cursed?”

She shrugs noncommittally. “Curses. Hexes. Spells. Magic. The universe. Tiny molecules floating around in a vast endlessness. Life. Death. War. Peace.”

“Are you mad?”

I clear my throat to hide a laugh. That’s the thing about Nerys. She often loses her train of thought in momentary craziness more often than not these days.

“Mad. Crazed. Glorified. Bound.” She continues. “Monsters within and monsters without. The Veihl breaks. Creatures escaping Tartarus. Keepers no longer one but two. Then three. Four. At the door. Five, six, pick up sticks.”

“Can you help me or not?” Rhys snaps, glaring at me as if it’s my fault she’s lost her mind.

She stops her musings and stares at him.

He raises his brows, waiting for a response.

She stares back.

“Well?” he asks.

Nerys lifts a finger to her lips. “Shh. I’m listening to your heart.”

Rhys shoots me a look.

I glare back. The fae has her own process of giving answers and I’ll not disrupt that.

“Aha!” She moves around him in a circle, studying him. “There is a solution to your problem.”

He lets out a relieved breath. “And that is?” he prompts when she doesn’t elaborate.

Her gold eyes turn towards me.

“How am I a solution?” Is that what she means? Did I put a spell on him accidentally and just can’t feel it?

She tilts her head up at Rhys. “Why haven’t you told her the truth?”

He ducks his head in shame and I curse myself for thinking he’s adorable.

“What truth? About what?” Imagine that. The demon lying to me. Again.

“Lucky is alive,” Nerys answers for him.

Rhys scowls. “She didn’t need to know yet.”

“She did. You have no idea what a familiar is to a witch. Imagine you losing your cock. Chopped off. There one moment, gone the next. That is basically what you did to her.”

He looks sick. Good.

“You bastard! I grieved for him! I cried for hours thinking I would no longer have my powers, that I was a witch with no familiar, no way to control myself!” I vent, punching him in the chest.

“You are still powerless.” He looks pointedly at the bracelet.

Fuck. I hadn’t even tried to use my powers after he’d kidnapped me. I’d handed myself over to him so easily, believing what I’d seen, believing what he’d said. I kick him in the shin. “I hate you,” I snarl, trying to blink back tears.

He grunts.

“And yet, you’re his only hope,” Nerys interrupts my tirade.

I shake my head. “I’m done. I’m through with this asshole.”

“If this curse is removed, you can walk away right now,” the damn demon says.

The fae shakes her head. “There is no curse. You’ve met your mate, demon.”

Chapter 4

He stares at me.

I stare back, barely leashing every hateful word I could muster. She can’t mean…No. H-E-double-hockey-stick to the N-O!

“Brynna may very well be the only one who can help you find her again,” Nerys says, interrupting the god-awful nightmare I’d been sucked into briefly.

We both let out sighs of relief.

We aren’t mated. Thank the gods!

“How?” Rhys asks.

“You have mere days left. If you don’t find a way to release some of the toxin, you may die even sooner.”

He stares at her. “Don’t you think I fucking know that? Why do you think I am here? Incense and candles? No. I wanted the fucking curse lifted.”

“I told you I didn’t curse you, you bastard,” I snap.

“What else was I supposed to think? It began that night,” he snaps back.

“Children!” Nerys snaps her fingers in our faces. “Back to the issue at hand. You can still gate, right?” she asks Rhys.

He nods sharply.

“Good. Now think back to that night. Were there any other women?”

He nods again.

I gasp. So it wasn’t just me and the trampy nymph that night. He’s such a whore. “You’re an ass.”

“Were there any that you felt something with? A deeper connection, perhaps?” Nerys asks.

Rhys runs his fingers through his hair, letting the horns at the side of his head peek out from between those locks. I look away sharply. “I don’t know. I was drinking. It was already late.”

“Hmm. That makes your process more difficult, then,” she replies. “You must find those women. I am sure by now that they are scattered all over the world, but you must find them.”

“How will I know?” he asks.

She shrugs. “Simple, really. Kiss them. Either it will be right or it won’t. Your body will know.”

“So what’s my part in all this?” I ask, wishing she’d say I just have to buy him an airline ticket and kiss his ass goodbye.

“You are going with him.”

“Uh, no. I’m needed here.”

“He needs you.”

“And I need some new clothes and a five bajillion volt cattle prod to poke his ass with, but that hasn’t happened yet, has it?”

She looks at me, those gold eyes staring deeper than I wish them to. “If you don’t go, I’ll remove your powers for good.”

“Why you gotta be such a bitch? You traitor. And I thought we were friends. Fine. I’ll go. He’ll probably be dead in a few days anyway.”

He cleared his throat. “Let’s hope not.”

If I had a dagger, I’d hurry the dying for him. “What’s my part then?” I ask Nerys.

“You are going to help.”

I cross my arms over my chest and look at her suspiciously. “Yeah. And how will I be doing that?”

“He has to find these women. His strength will wane daily, and you may very well be the difference between his life and his death.”

And that means what, exactly? “Explain.”

Nerys sighs as if impatient with me. “You will have to help get him there. Help him find his mate before it’s too late.” She props her hands on her hips and stares at me.

“So I’m to be his babysitter and hand-deliver him to these skanks until he finds the one who can make him sing soprano? Great. Just what I always wanted to do in life.”

Rhys laughs.

“Shut up,” I snap. “I am ready and willing to dig you an early grave, so do not get on my bad side.”

His humor turns to disgust. “And you think I want this? Were I not close to the end, I never would have taken you from your coven.”

“And I suppose that’s why I was tied to your bed with you between my legs? Because you don’t want to break a piece off of my rock-your-world awesomeness?” I retort. He’s getting really good at pissing me off. The nerve! To pretend he doesn’t desire me. As if any man can resist my charm. Or curves. Or my glowing personality. “I felt how much you wanted it, remember?”

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