The guy didn't know jack or shit. Niol pushed away from the counter he'd been lounging against and stalked toward the guy. Old Zack flinched back with every step he took. "You think you know me, huh?" This was the bastard who'd thought to marry Holly?

Too f**king tame. She would have been bored out of her mind with this jerk.

Holly needed fire. Passion. Not a dumbass in an ivory tower coat who'd been stupid enough to let a woman like her slip away.

"I-I know you're trouble." The guy's jaw jerked up. "And Holly doesn't need you in her-"

Niol moved in a flash, coming to stand toe-to-toe with the bastard. He didn't like the sound of Holly's name on his lips, not at all. The hot rush of his power filled him. It would be so easy to rip into this ass**le's head. To make him forget he'd ever known Holly.

So easy.

"What Holly doesn't need," Niol gritted, holding on to his control, barely, "is a shithead like you trying to come back into her life."

Hall's lips twisted. "Because she's got you now? You think because you're screwing her-"

"Yes, I am-and enjoying the hell out of it," Niol drawled deliberately.

It was the shithead's control that snapped. In a blink. He attacked, screaming, coming at Niol with fingers fisted.


Niol stepped aside, waving his hand to stir the air around his body. Hall missed him, but caught his psychic blast and hurtled into the side of a lab table, moaning at the impact.

Shaking his head, Niol stared down at the human. "I'm here as a courtesy, but if you want an ass-kicking…" He knew his smile was evil, because damn but he liked that thought, "I'll be more than happy to give you one." And he'd even do it old-school style. No power. Just brutal blows until one man fell.

He wouldn't be the one to fall.

Zachariah was already down-and making no move to get up.

"Huh. Kinda thought that'd be your response." He squatted before the jerk. "You had your chance with Holly. You f**ked up. Now back the hell away because she's mine now and I don't share. " There was a push with those final words, one that he couldn't control.

Because she is mine.

The human blinked, then nodded slowly.

Satisfied, for now, Niol rose. He strolled toward the door, pushed it open, and ignored the slim brunette who stood on the other side, eyes wide.

He pulled out his cell phone, a new need rising in him.

Niol wanted to see Holly again. Just to make certain that she was all right. Just to…

Fuck, he wanted her.

"Bruce? Yes, that's done. Where is she?"

The response was one he'd expected, but his fingers still tightened around the phone. "Lay back.

I'll be there soon and I'll take over."

Because lately, he didn't feel Holly was safe enough, not unless he had her in his sight.

Zachariah rose slowly after Lapen left. He knew his hands were shaking, but couldn't seem to stop the tremble.

"Zack?" Denise's worried voice squeaked from his right.

Denise. Hell. The girl had been giving him come-and-get-me signals for the last two months. She just wasn't getting that he wasn't interested. Not anymore. "Leave," he snarled. He couldn't deal with her now. Too many girls like her-he'd screwed up his life with them.

One mistake after the other.

He'd been so busy with them, he hadn't seen what was right in front of him. What was in his hands.

Until too late.

Now everything in his life seemed to be falling apart.

Falling apart.

"But I saw him-you need-"


Her plump lips tightened, but after a moment, she turned and fled. Shit, but she was becoming a problem.

He'd have to deal with her soon.

Her…and Niol.

Zachariah closed his eyes, but he could still see Niol's eyes, those black pools of nothingness staring at him. Boring into him.

Holly had chosen that freak over me?

No, no, that wasn't even possible. Sure, she had a right to be angry with him, but– that freak?

A criminal, a thug-and she'd let him touch her.

Zachariah pressed a hand to his side. The edge of the table had stabbed into him and he knew the ache would stay with him for days.

Holly had sicced her new lover on him. Let the guy come and threaten him.

Fine. If that was the way she wanted it-

He'd tried to save her, but it looked like Holly wasn't interested in a savior.

No, she just wanted her ass**le lover.

Fuck her. And f**k Lapen, too.

Those black eyes…

A shiver slid over him. He'd never seen eyes quite like that before. So empty one moment. So cold and dark, then burning with fury in the next second. No, he'd never seen eyes quite like that and he hoped he never did again.


Kim was gone. Holly stared at the empty hospital bed, her stomach tightening. Not good.

Holly stepped back and eyed the uniformed cop who was stationed right in front of room four-

oh-two at Reed Infirmary.

"Uh, where is Kim?"

He blinked, that caught-in-the-headlights, surprised-as-hell blink folks get when they don't know what's going on. Then he swore and dashed inside the room.

"I went to the john for two damn minutes…"

Shaking her head, she eased back. Two minutes. More than enough time for Kim to get out of there.

But why would Kim run?

Two reasons: Because she was scared. Or because she was hiding something. Holly just didn't know what reason motivated Kim.

The cop was on his radio now, talking fast, and she knew the real shit was about to hit the fan. A patient under police protection wasn't supposed to be able to just walk away.

But it sure looked like Kim had done exactly that.

Holly's eyes scanned the hospital corridor as she marched down the hallway. It was just past lunchtime, and the place swarmed with activity. Patients walked up and down the hall in their gowns, pulling IVs behind them. Busy nurses bustled into the rooms. A tired blonde answered phones at the nurses' station.

Too much activity. Made for the perfect cover. Easy to leave.

Or…easy to take someone? Holly couldn't ignore the dry fear in the back of her throat. Because there was a chance that Kim hadn't left on her own. And Holly hoped she was wrong about that.

After punching the button for the elevator, she glanced back over her shoulder. The cop stood outside Kim's room, eyes locked on her as he talked. She knew that look of suspicion pretty well.

Shaking her head, she turned away just as the soft ding of the elevator sounded. The doors slid open with a quiet hiss and she came face-to-face with-


"What are you-"

His gaze raked her and he stepped forward, throwing up a strong hand to hold the elevator door open. "Where's the girl?"