The chains dug deeper into her flesh. “The stories … they’re wrong.” Can’t let him get Keenan. “Demons came from the Fallen, so Keenan’s blood won’t do anything to them!”


“His blood will kill them.” Absolute certainty in his voice. “What creates—can destroy. You should know by now that’s the way of the Other world.”

She swallowed back that rising fear. “He’ll kill you.”

He tucked the stake back into his boot and sauntered toward the door. “I don’t think he will. He’ll be too worried about saving you.”

“You won’t be able to hurt him! You won’t—”

Carlos’s claws lifted, and they were wicked sharp. “Did you know that angels can’t be injured by most weapons?” He nodded, not waiting for her to respond. “Si, they’re like the ancient demons that way. But now I know your Keenan’s weaknesses.” He turned away from her. “Both of them.”

Then he yanked open the door, that echoing groan filled the tomb, and after he stalked out, she was left with silence.

She pulled at the chains. Nothing. “What did he mean?” She whispered to the shadows. Shadows that were too dark near the left wall, right where the floral scent was strongest.

Silence.

She pulled harder. The thick metal dug deeper into her wrists and blood began to drip onto the floor. “What did he mean?” She shouted. “Dammit, I know you’re there!”

The air shifted around her, as if a fan had been turned on. Or as if wings had flapped.

“Answer me!”

“He knows what can hurt Keenan,” came the dark, cold voice. Az. Like she’d ever forget the sound of his voice.

“The gunshots didn’t hurt him.” Was the chain starting to give? She tugged harder, rising to her knees and straining as she stretched forward. “There weren’t any bullet wounds, no—”

“Weapons forged by man can’t hurt him.” He’d moved. She couldn’t see him. She just had the impression of dark shadows shifting. “And he controls fire,” Az said, “fire can burn his flesh, but it can never kill him.”

Fire’s kiss could sure kill her. “Then what is it? What makes him—”

“You make him bleed easily enough.”

She swallowed. “Yes.” She did. Biting him was as easy as biting a human. A slice right through the flesh.

“Because your weapon wasn’t forged by mortal hands.”

Her weapon was her teeth.

Carlos’s weapons would be his very, very big claws—and his teeth. Teeth that were sharper than hers. Not weapons forged by man. Shit.

“Get me out of here!” The chains wouldn’t break. “Get me out!”

“I can’t.” Said flatly.

“You’re just going to stand there?” Her eyes narrowed as she strained to see. Az seemed to be a shadow.

“I’m going to wait,” he said. “My job is to wait and then to take.”

Her soul.

“Do you fear death?” He asked her, and she could have sworn the guy sounded curious. Great.

“What I fear is what is going to happen to Keenan!” If Carlos got to him, he could take Keenan’s head with a swipe of his razor-sharp claws.

No.

“You care.” Again, the faintest hint of curiosity or … surprise? “I didn’t expect that.”

“Well, a year ago, I never expected I’d get turned into a vampire and I’d have an angel stand by and refuse to help me while I’m trapped in a crypt.”

Silence.

But he was still there. She could feel him.

“Don’t you ever get tired of watching people die?” She gritted. The chain was just locked too tightly around her wrist. She’d always had too-sharp, too-big wrist bones.

“I do what I was born to do. Watch. Shepherd.”

“Shepherd?” Yes, the bones were too big in her wrists and her hands … That was the problem.

“I take the souls when they are ready to leave this plane.”

“And you’re never tempted? Never once do you think, hey, maybe this woman wants to live longer with her daughter and not die from cancer when she’s only twenty-eight…” Her mother and the pain still bled inside her. “Or maybe this guy wants to have a chance to see—”

“I know why you were at the church that night.”

That shut her up. Figured he’d know. “I never made it inside the church.” The doors had been barred to her. Talk about a big glowing sign of things to come.

“He watched you then.”

Keenan.

“He watched too much, I knew it, but …”

“But you didn’t stop him.” Ah, sounded just like Mr. Hands Off. “You could have stopped him from falling!”

“If I had, you’d be dead.”

Right. There was no win-win in this game.

“He’s losing himself in you.”

She wasn’t sure what that meant. And the chains wouldn’t break, so that meant there was only one—

“If he goes too far, there will be no saving him. Once the line is crossed, he’s lost.”

What line? “Keenan’s not lost! He’s had my back this whole time and, by damn, I will have his!” Once she got out of there.

“Carlos can kill him.”

The chain wouldn’t break.

“I can’t see a Fallen’s future, can’t see what will be, so I don’t know how quickly he’ll die.”

Screw this. She sucked in a deep breath and slammed her right hand and wrist into the concrete. Once. Twice.

The chain wouldn’t break, but she could. Her wrist bones were twisted, mangled, but now she could get them out of the chain. One hand down. It will heal.

“Why?” His voice, showing more emotion. This time, there was no mistaking the confusion.

“Because he’s not dying.” She pounded her other wrist against the cement and ignored the waves of pain that rolled through her. She and pain were starting to become good friends. Tears slipped down her cheeks but she didn’t realize she was crying until she tasted the salt on her lips. She rammed her hand into the ground. Once, twice more, and the bones shifted. Nicole slid that hand free. “He’s not dying.”

“How will you save him? You can’t even fight now, you can’t—”

“I’ll just get a little bite first …” She rose, but almost staggered from the pain. “Then I’ll be ready.”

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