“So, I sort of felt sorry for him when he finally got the nerve to ask me to marry him. I had already shut the ballpark down for any rides, so I wanted to make up for it when he was brave enough to ask me.”

Jen rolled on the floor grasping her stomach as she laughed. “Shut the ballpark! Rides!” She laughed harder when she looked at Decebel, who couldn’t decide if he should risk walking through the estrogen bomb to see if she was all right or make a run for it, in the opposite direction.

Lilly tried to cover her laughter as she watched the gleam in Sally’s eyes, but the rest of the room had given up any pretense of trying to be cool.

Sally’s eyes widened as Costin came striding across the room. He stood just on the outside of the circle and the hazel eyes that met hers smoldered.

“Oh my,” Jen murmured, when she finally gathered herself. “I know that look, Jacque don’t you know that look?”

Jacque looked up at Costin. “Mm hmm, girl, I most definitely know that look.”

Alina smirked. “I even know that look.”

Sally’s eyes danced back and forth between Costin and her friends. “Well, somebody help a sista out because I don’t know that look.”

“You’re about to find out,” Crina muttered.

Costin smiled at her and the entire circle of mostly mated women swooned. He had one of those smiles. The dimple, the eyes, the wink, it was lethal to anyone watching.

“Shall I tell them what really happened, Sally mine?” He asked in a voice that should only be reserved for the bedroom or if you happen to work for one of those nine hundred number things.

Sally stood up slowly. She decided that it was time to fight fire with fire. She let her body unfold like a lazy cat and she smiled sweetly at him, biting her lip shyly.

“We could show them, you know, reenact it for them.” Sally tried for a sultry voice and thought maybe she had achieved it when Costin growled.

Jen laughed. “I think she’s got your number, dimple boy.”

Sally quirked an eye brow at her mate. “I’ll show them mine, if you show them yours.”

Costin knew he’d been beaten at his own game and snarled when Sally’s hands went to the hem of her shirt. He turned and stalked back to the side of the room where the other males were giving him sincere looks of sympathy.

“Welcome to my world,” Decebel told him, as he came to stand beside him.

Costin’s eyes honed in on his mate who was smiling and laughing with her friends. She was proud of herself, and to be honest, he was proud of her too. But, that didn’t change the fact that he didn’t like to lose and he had most definitely lost.

“Check mate,” he heard her giggle in his mind.

“How do you survive,” he asked Decebel.

“Killing things and lots and lots of s—,”

Costin choked before Decebel could finish. Decebel frowned at his Beta.

“I was going to say sleep you perv,” he laughed at Costin’s wide eyes. “I’m actually going to agree with my mate on this one, you two just need to get hitched and take care of business. The tension is so tight between you two, one of you is liable to snap and attack the other one in plain daylight.”

Costin laughed, “She would break before I would.”

Decebel shook his head. He looked over at Sally and then back at Costin. “No Beta, I don’t think she would.”

The girls talked late into the night, and when Jen dozed off, the males finally stepped in. One by one, they gathered their mates.

Lilly gave Jacque a hug before Fane picked her up. “I’m so glad you’re happy Jac.”

“Thanks mom, me too. Tell the Warlock King I’ll kick his posterior if he hurts you.”

Lilly laughed. “I’ll pass it along.” Cypher stepped behind her and wrapped an arm around her waist. “She’s going to kick my what?”

Lilly shook her head with a smile. “She’s all bark.” Lilly took his hand and let him lead her out of the study.

Decebel gently picked up Jen and she curled up in his arms. He kissed her forehead and nodded to Costin as he left the room.

Costin and Sally were the last ones in the study. The fire crackled and the light from the flames danced on Sally’s face. She had dozed off along with Jen quite a while ago, but he hadn’t wanted to disturb her. He knelt down next to her and ran a finger across her cheek. She nuzzled it and he smiled. Even in sleep, she knew who he was.

“Mine,” she mumbled.

Costin picked her up and held her close to his chest. “Always,” he whispered in her ear, as he carried her to their room.

Chapter 21

“In my long life there have been none who I would say had been a worthy opponent, someone who was worth the effort it took to kill. Not until now. Finally, a worthy opponent has come forward. He is the strongest of his kind, of pure heart and soul. Yes, he is a worthy opponent, and it was almost a shame that I had to kill him…almost.” ~ Desdemona

“I’ve been waiting, Warlock King,” Desdemona walked leisurely through the trees, and though she might have sounded irritated, she looked as if she were taking a relaxing stroll through the forest.

Cypher stepped into the small clearing and met the witch’s gaze.

“I have a question before we do this,” he told her.

“If you must,” she said tiredly, as if he were a child who had hounded her all day for a morsel of attention.

“What is it you hope to accomplish?” Cypher tilted his head and scratched his chin. “You’re going to let out a hoard of demons whose only desire is destroy everything in their path, to what end?”

When Cypher had dropped Lilly off at her room last night, he had gone back to his own room and studied the Nushtonia with Perizada. She had known the language, though she was very hesitant to speak it out loud. When she finally decided to say the words, she said them out of order so that she didn’t inadvertently invoke some unknown spell. Through their study, Cypher had learned that Mona was misinformed on her knowledge of the underworld. She believed that if she released the demons that she would be able to control them, but like any lies construed by evil, shreds of truth were woven within a web of deceit. The only control that she would have would be one request of the demon who wrote the Nushtonia and that was all. Desdemona did not realize that she was going to unleash not only her enemy’s destruction, but her own as well.

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