The ground melted. Suddenly Jaenelle was holding her up.
“We need to finish this discussion later,” Jaenelle said. “I’ve done as much preparation as I can on Surreal and Rainier. Now we need to get them into the Coach so I can do the actual healing.”
Preparation? Come to think of it, shehad been feeling a phantom hand over the wound, easing the heat and pain.
“Yes,” Lucivar growled. “Our little cousin got herself poisoned.”
“You can’t yell at me if I’m sick,” Surreal said. “It’s a family rule.” And if it wasn’t a family rule, it was damn well going to be—starting now.
That was Lucivar. In a pissing contest, he not only stepped up to the line; he pissed on the other person’s foot.
Since she was the other person, she balled up her fist, threw a punch—and didn’t come anywhere close to hitting him.
“Lucivar and I will bring Rainier and the children to the Coach. Can you handle Surreal?” Daemon asked.
“Don’t need to be handled,” Surreal muttered.
“Do you really want Lucivar to help you into the Coach?” Jaenelle whispered.
“Tersa?” Jaenelle said. “Give me a hand?”
With Tersa on one side and Jaenelle on the other, she didn’t trip or stumble on the way to the Coach. Of course, Jaenelle was floating her on air and they were just tugging her along, but that was a small and insignificant detail.
“How bad is it?” Surreal asked when the Coach’s door opened and a young boy stared at her. “Really.”
“You’re going to be sick for a few days, but your body’s been burning out a lot of the poison in the same way you burn up food. An advantage you had because you wear the Gray.” Jaenelle hesitated, then added, “It was fortunate you were the one who was wounded that way. Rainier wouldn’t have survived it.”
Shit shit shit.
They floated her up the stairs to one of the Coach’s little bedrooms. As they settled her into the bed, she said, “Since this is the first time I was really stupid, do you think Lucivar will overlook the fact that I didn’t shield before walking into a strange place?”
Jaenelle looked at her and laughed. “Not a chance.”
Jarvis Jenkell picked himself up and brushed off his jacket with shaking hands.
This wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all. He hadn’t anticipated the SaDiablo family linking him to the spooky house. He’d deliberately told a few people “in confidence” about the setting for his next Landry Langston story so that there would be independent confirmation that he’d begun writing his bookbefore the tragic events that should have taken place here.
How had Lucivar known he was there? The passageways and observation posts had been carefully shielded. Had to be. Otherwise the demon-dead, chained to this house and craving fresh blood, would have been huntinghim. But the protection spells hadn’t been good enough to fool the Eyrien. Not at the end.
No matter. He had seventy-two hours to get out of the house. He wouldn’t need an hour. The last two exits were actually in this first house. Not easy to find if you didn’t know what to look for, but easy enough to reach.
He turned toward the door at the back of the hall—the door he’d gone through in the guise of the caretaker in order to observe this game.
“Regrets?” a deep voice purred.
Jarvis spun around, his heart pounding.
Daemon Sadi leaned against the doorframe of the sitting room.
“I thought you had gone,” Jarvis said.
“We still have a few things to discuss.”
“What kind of things?” Jarvis asked as Daemon walked toward him. Such a beautiful man. It wasn’t just his face or the way his body was put together. It was the way he moved.
A temptation—even if a man wasn’t usually tempted by his own gender. A promise—but the sleepy gold eyes didn’t reveal all that was being offered.
“A seduction?” Daemon’s voice still purred, but it also held cold amusement.
When had Sadi circled around him, come up behind him?
He could feel the heat of the man pressed against his back, could feel the light prick of those black-tinted nails as a hand closed around his throat. Lips brushed his cheek as Sadi’s other hand slipped beneath his shirt and began a slow caress down his chest, down his belly, stopping when the fingers slipped just below his belt.
Delight? Shame? He wasn’t sure what to feel when his body responded, helpless to resist.
“Same game, Jarvis,” Daemon whispered. “But the rules have changed a little.”
No other warning before Sadi’s nails ripped his belly open, tearing through muscle, slicing his gut.
He screamed in pain and terror. Struggled to get away from the hand digging deeper into his gut.
He twisted, determined to land one blow before he died. His hands shoved at Daemon’s chest—and hit the wall.
He stared at his arms, which disappeared into Sadi’s chest. He felt the wall under his hands. He looked at those sleepy eyes.
Daemon smiled a cold, cruel smile.
“A sophisticated shadow,” Daemon said. “All part of the new game. You can’t touch me, but I”—a nail flicked, slicing Jarvis’s cheek—“can touch you.”
Jarvis backed away. One arm cradled his ruined belly, while the other hand touched his cheek. He looked at his fingers.
He dared to look down.
“Feels real enough, doesn’t it?” Daemon said pleasantly. “But it’s all illusion. Well, the pain is real. The wounds are not.”
“What’s the point of that?” Jarvis asked.
Daemon looked surprised. “I did guarantee that nothing in this house would kill you. The predators you brought into this place might hurt you if they catch you, but I’ll prevent them from killing you.”
“Lucivar killed them all.”
“Oh, no. Most likely, he ripped them up enough to take them out of that fight. Since his main interest was getting Surreal and Rainier out of the house, he wouldn’t have bothered to finish the kill.”
“But they’re all still…”In pieces, Jarvis finished silently.
Daemon sighed and gave him an amused smile. “Jarvis, darling, a demon-dead witch who was beheaded will have to use Craft to float on air, but as long as there is some power still burning within her, she can hunt. And she does have teeth.”