He knew that Mona wanted him to open the veil to let out the hoard of demons and he had planned to help her do just that, but there was something deep inside him that was telling him he wouldn’t follow through. Oh, he may appear to be doing what she asked, but he could find some way to foil her plan. Now, seeing Lilly in his house, seeing such goodness left in the world, he knew he wouldn’t help Mona. If he could convince Lilly to stay with him, to maybe one day love him, he would move heaven and earth.

“It’s late,” he told her in a soft, deep voice. “Let me show you to your room so you can get some rest. I need to think.”

Lilly followed him without a word. He led her up a flight of stairs and turned right down a hall. They passed three doors until he finally stopped at one on the right. He opened the door for her and turned on the light.

“There is a bathroom inside that should have everything you need. Your bag is in here as well.” Cypher turned to leave her for the night but stopped when she placed a small hand on his large arm. He looked down at the hand on his arm and then into the whiskey-colored eyes of its owner.

“You don’t seem evil to me,” she said softly. “Why are you working with Desdemona? What could she possibly offer you that would be worth it?”

Cypher turned so that his body was flush with hers. He took a step closer and took a deep breath, taking in her delicate scent.

His eyes locked meaningfully with hers when he spoke.

“You,” he told her. “She offered me you.”

Chapter 16

“'Who am I to you?' That’s what she asked me. 'Who am I to you?' I told her ‘You are my friend, my mate, my beloved; you are all the things I need and all the things I don’t deserve. That’s who you are, Sally. You are mine.'” ~ Costin

Costin walked with Sally and Drake to the bar the next evening. Things had been tense ever since Sorin had met his met. Decebel had ordered everyone but Costin, Sally, and Drake to stay in their rooms until he said otherwise. Costin had agreed that it was best that not everyone returned to the bar, especially after what had happened. They had drawn a lot of unnecessary attention to themselves. Though unintentional, it was still not good.

“How was Sorin when you talked to him?” Sally asked.

“He’s good, just a little off-kilter.”

“I can imagine. He’s been alone a long time. I’m so glad that he found his mate. We were all rooting for him.” Sally smiled up at the night sky.

Costin and Drake both laughed.

“You were rooting for him?” Costin asked playfully.

Sally pushed him. “Shut up. We hated seeing him alone when others were finding their mates.” She looked over at Drake. “Sorry Drake, I didn’t mean to…”

Drake cut her off with a wave and a smile. “No worries, Sally,” he told her.  “Mine’s out there somewhere. She’s just not ready for me yet.”

Sally smiled back and then laughed when Costin pulled her closer to him.

“Problem?” she asked him, using their bond.

“You’re smiling an awful lot at someone who isn’t me.”

Sally laughed again as they arrived at the bar and Costin pulled the door open. He walked in first and after determining it was safe for Sally, he ushered her in.

“You find that amusing?” he asked her as they continued toward the bar and Drake broke off from them, heading to the back of the room.

“It’s just weird to see you be possessive, that’s all.”

Costin’s eyes began to glow as he paused just behind the counter.

“Make no mistake, Sally. I love to have fun and can cut up with the best of them, but when it comes to you, there is nothing I am more serious about. You are mine. As long as you and everyone else remember that, then all will be fine. If anyone forgets that, if they think that because of my good nature that I will be okay with anything less than the way Decebel expects Jen to be treated, they will be making the biggest and last mistake of their lives.”

Sally stared in awe at her mate as she saw his wolf stare at her through his eyes. Costin was fun and lighthearted, but as she stared into his hazel glowing eyes, she saw that Costin was also deadly – very, very, deadly.

“Now,” he said in a totally different voice and a big grin on his face, “let’s show these fine patrons what a fantastic bartender I am.”

Sally snorted. “We really should work on your self-esteem.”

“I know, I know. I really don’t think very highly of myself.”

Sally watched Costin greet new customers, pour drinks, and occasionally make the bottles dance in his hands doing fancy bartender tricks. He would turn back and wink at her to make sure she was watching anytime he performed a nifty maneuver.

It was during one of the times when Costin was chatting amiably with a guy who had just sat down that Sally overheard a conversation going on to her left. Distinctly she caught the words, pixies, spell, witch and price. She listened harder, trying to figure out exactly which order those words went in. She knew that the group that Jacque and Fane were with was supposed to be meeting the pixies.

Sally picked up a round tray that she had seen one of the few waitresses that worked here holding –  whenever they felt like it, it seemed –  and walked out onto the floor. She went slowly around the table where the conversation was taking place. In the guise of cleaning dirty glasses off the tables and wiping crumbs off of them, she listened.

“I’m usually hunting in the Carpathian Mountains this time of year,” the guy in a long black jacket with messy black hair said. His eyes seemed to glow slightly and something in Sally told her he was a werewolf.

“So why aren’t you there now? Why are you way down here?” the other guy asked.

“It’s like I said, the pixies are all in a tizzy. The witch has offered them something they can’t resist, apparently, because they have protection spells all over the forest. She must be desperate if she wants something badly enough to petition the pixies. You know how temperamental they can be.”

Sally realized that she had caught their attention when they stopped talking. She looked over and smiled innocently.

“Hello,” the one with the messy dark hair said. She realized that he had been speaking really fluently in English the entire time.

“What’s your name?” His eyes were kind and his tone of voice didn’t indicate that he wanted to do anything other than talk. She glanced over at Costin, who had his back to her.

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