Home > Life Cycle (Preternaturals, #4)(11)

Life Cycle (Preternaturals, #4)(11)
Author: Zoe Winters

“Go look for a plastic storage bag in the kitchen—the kind that zips,” he ordered.

While Luc was gone, Cain took in the rest of the basement. Would more investigators be by to find this? He couldn’t imagine how someone wouldn’t stumble upon it eventually. The basement had to be cleared out, especially the more esoteric books.

Most of the other things looked like your average occult-shop fare. Though, with the possible outing of the preternatural world, a complete absence of occult objects would be safer. When Luc returned, Cain carefully rolled up the scroll and sealed it in the bag. Then the two demons dematerialized, slipped out the back of the house, and woke the old lady.

“You’re a very nice looking young gentleman,” the old lady said, her fingertips trailing over Cain’s cheek when he woke her. “I bet you have a lot of lady friends.”

The demon chuckled. “Ma’am, you don’t know the half of it.”

Chapter Four

When they got back to the demon dimension Cain said, “Take her straight to Anthony so he can get a picture of who she saw. I’ll be there soon.” He’d been in too many time zones today, but he was sure sunset would arrive soon in Cary Town. Either way, Luc could hold her at the penthouse until the vampire king rose.

Luc led the old woman away, and Cain stopped off in his tent and wrote down the crime scene address. When he returned, about fifty demons waited with expectant looks. It was nearing feeding time, and some of them lived in the human dimension, so getting this many together had been a near miracle, courtesy of Daria.

He handed the paper to the succubus. “Go to this address and make sure you go in invisible. We don’t need any witnesses. The victim’s basement is filled with occult tools and books, some of them highly sensitive. Clear out the basement and bring it all to my tent. I’ll deal with it. It’s too dangerous for the humans to find. I don’t want so much as a sage stick or jar of salt left behind. If any humans discover it, wipe their memories and relocate them, but don’t kill. We don’t need more attention.”

“Whatever you say, boss.” She turned to the assembled demons. “Let’s move out.” The others followed her to the dimensional portal.

Cain moved with purpose to Tam’s tent, the ziplock bag clutched in his hand, careful not to damage the parchment inside. The tent was empty, but Jackson and Mace stood guard anyway.

“Where are they?” he snarled at Jackson as he fought with the tent flap to get out.

“Anna went to Cary Town for the meeting. I don’t know where Tam is.”

Cain felt the glow come to his eyes as the fire rose up in them. “Do you understand the concept of what a guard does? Nobody goes in or out without my say-so.” He had half a mind to put them in the caves, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Jackson was loyal. It wasn’t like him to defy orders. Cain took a deep breath and closed his eyes, willing the glow to go out of them so he could think straight.

“Believe me, the last thing I want to do is cross you, but she’s too strong. We can’t control her. She threatened us with energy balls and curses. I could have rounded up more demons, but then we would have ended up hurting her, and you said not to. We figured it was better to let her wander and burn off some steam. She can’t get out of the dimension.”

Cain looked to the other demon, who only nodded to confirm the story. “If she comes back before I find her, tell her to stay put. I need her for something.”

He wandered the desert for over an hour, moving at full demon speed but coming up empty. She couldn’t have moved faster or covered more ground in the time he’d been away. Had Tam somehow gotten a demon to help her? Because she wasn’t in his dimension. If she was out, The Cycler would find her and they were all f**ked.

There was only one place he hadn’t checked, but surely the caves were too foreboding for her to enter. It was Cain’s own private sanctuary, and the idea that the witch may have breached it made the fire glow in his eyes. Not only that, her magic stuff was there—she’d be armed. Or more armed than usual.

He put on another burst of speed to get to the caves, stopping dead in his tracks when he got inside. The witch sat on the ground in a meditative posture. Though the caves were dark, a light glowed out of her. Her eyes were closed, her face peaceful and turned upward. She looked like an angel. There was no sign that she’d found her things, at least.

Cain’s voice was a low growl when he spoke. “What do you think you’re doing in here?”

The light that glowed around her faded and she jumped, her eyes opening wide as she scrambled back.

He smiled. “Scared of me now?”

She got to her feet and produced an energy ball too fast for him to react and tossed it, narrowly grazing his ear. “What do you think? I was deep in meditation. You startled me. This is the only place I can focus without interruption.”

Cain concentrated and produced a ball of fire in his hand.

Tam had another energy ball ready. “Don’t even think about it.”

“I thought you wanted to die. I’m sure this counts as a magical death. We could find out if you like? Though I can’t blame you for not wanting to die by fire. I’ve seen my share of witch burnings. It’s a brutal death.”

“I know. Been there, done that.”

The retort caught him off guard, and for some reason the images it produced bothered him.

Tam braced herself, ready to disarm him, but the fireball hadn’t been meant for her; he just couldn’t resist the opportunity to screw with her head over the assumption. He stepped to the side and lit a torch on the cave wall. “Relax, this isn’t for you. Remember, I planned on seducing you first for the fun of watching you beg me to keep you. I continue to find that plan amusing.”

She held the purple glowing ball steady in her hand, clearly not trusting his word. He didn’t blame her. He wasn’t all that trustworthy when it came to things he told humans. He moved through the main part of the cave, lighting torches on the wall, then he let the fire fizzle out of his hand. For a moment he assessed the space, worried about the ventilation with a human, but the cave was large. It should be fine.

He laid the bag with the scroll on the ground and peeled his shirt off.

Tam took a step back, the idea of being his toy on demand not yet having settled in her mind—if her reaction to him was any indication.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I don’t think. I know. You and me. Now.”

“Here?” she squeaked.

He chuckled. “You’re the one who wandered out here. Nobody dragged you. And as you said, we won’t be interrupted.”

“I’m not in the mood.”

The chuckle turned into a full-bodied laugh. “I’m an incubus, sweetheart. I know that’s not true. You’re always in the mood when I’m around.”

Her cheeks turned an endearing shade of pink, visible even in the weak torchlight, but she quickly recovered. “What’s the point? You aren’t going to kill me anyway. You’re just amusing yourself with me.”

“Drop the shields, Tam.”

“No. Work for it.” A smirk lit her face as she let the ball of energy burn out in her hand. “Seduce me. No tricks.”

He pushed her against the wall, using his larger size in an intimidation attempt, but she remained unconcerned. He tried not to think about how much he loved that about her. He almost pulled back in surprise when Tam kissed a trail from the side of his neck up to his ear.

“I will never beg you to keep me,” she whispered. “I’m not one of these bubble-headed bimbos you take home every night. I have much more experience, enough to know the difference between sex and love. I don’t have sparkly romance fantasies.”

She did want him; he could smell it; he could feel it. Her energy pulsed with it. She may as well have been under his thrall, but her words still shook him because inside them, he felt the kernel of truth. It was the kind of truth that could be spoken because there was no danger in anyone believing it. But he believed it. God, she was just as jaded as he was.

He wanted to dampen her desire and end her game. “Okay. No tricks, then.” He couldn’t feed if she didn’t want him, but who said he had to feed? He had her alone out here in the caves in his dimension. He could do whatever he wanted with her, assuming he could stop her from hitting him with an energy ball or chanting him into a jar. Those were big assumptions, but right now all he wanted was to wipe out her upper hand.

He dropped his glamour, smoothing away all the perfection to leave someone who looked like a real man. A little less muscled, a few more lines, a scar across his forehead that marked him forever as a betrayer.

“You must be a mind reader. Rugged is just my type,” she said, the coy taunt still in her voice.

Fucking witch. She was right. He really wasn’t playing with his usual dimwitted bubble-heads.

She didn’t resist when he pulled off her top. She fumbled with the buttons on his pants while he dealt with hers. They ended up in a tangle of limbs and clothes on the cave floor. Cain laughed. Laughed.

He didn’t laugh when he was with a woman. They were food for f**k’s sake, not friends or companions.

The two of them struggled out of their pants.

His eyes narrowed as he looked her over in the dim light. “What’s your angle?”

She shrugged innocently. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Cut the crap. Why so eager? No matter what your body wants, you’ve made it clear you find me repulsive. I’m not naïve enough to think my plan to seduce you is already working. I’m good, but I’m not that good.”

“About that plan... if you keep bringing it up, it’s hard to trick me,” Tam said.

“I’m serious.”

She rolled her eyes. “It won’t hurt to tell you, I guess. I think I can get you to lose control and kill me far before you make me beg for anything—least of all you keeping me.”

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