“It’s far more than just a wife,” he said softly, “but yes, vampires often seek their mates among other demons. Viper’s mate, Shay, is a Shalott, which is one of the few demons capable of besting a vampire, and Dante is mated to a goddess.”
“A goddess?” She gave a short, disbelieving laugh. “You’ve got to be kidding?”
“Not at all.” Cezar tugged one of her honey curls. “Abby is a Chalice that carries within her a spirit that is worshipped by many, and feared by even more.”
“Do you worship her?”
“No. Vampires don’t worship the Phoenix, although I’m intelligent enough not to piss her off. Dante is a brave vampire to live with a woman who carries such power within her.” A wicked smile touched his lips as he studied her delicate features. “Of course, many would consider me brave to dare being so close to you.”
She gave a soft snort. “I’m far from a goddess.”
Cezar hid his smile. As a member of the Commission, Anna would be revered by vampires and demons throughout the world.
Her word would quite literally be law.
“Perhaps not so far from a goddess as you believe,” he murmured. Then, as she frowned in confusion, he brushed a kiss over her lips and reluctantly slipped from the bed. “As much as I hate to end this lovely interlude, your dinner will soon be here. We must make our plans for the night.”
“Plans?” Sitting in the center of the mussed bed, Anna reached for the robe and pulled it around her naked body. Cezar stifled the urge to reach out and tug it back off. As much as it might be a sin to ever cover such beauty, he wasn’t about to risk having the dinner tray arrive while Anna was still naked. Viper might not be entirely happy if Cezar was forced to kill one of his servants. “You have plans?”
His lips twitched at her obvious disbelief. “They’re still a work in progress.”
“Ah.” She slid off the bed and moved to stand directly before him. “Meaning that you don’t have jack crap?”
He tapped the end of her nose. “Get dressed, little shrew. I must speak with Viper.”
Locking herself in the bathroom, Anna indulged in a quick shower before pulling on her one clean pair of jeans and a heavy sweatshirt. After her recent demolition derby in the parking garage, she had no desire to play around with her powers. Not even to warm the air around her.
Pulling back her hair and securing it with a scrunchie, she brushed her teeth and returned to the bedroom to find a tray filled with eggs, French toast, bacon, and a muffin drenched with butter and honey. At first glance it appeared to be enough food to feed an army, but once she began eating she discovered herself unable to stop.
It could be the fact that her meals had been few and far between since arriving in Chicago, or that the use of her powers had increased her appetite, or it could be quite simply that Viper’s chef possessed the touch of an artist.
Whatever the case, she made swift work of the mounds of food, not setting aside the tray until it was empty. Only then did she pour a mug of coffee and allow the caffeine to stir her blood.
Walking toward the windows on the far wall she twitched aside the heavy curtains to watch the sun slip over the horizon. Three stories below her the street was narrow and already cloaked in shadows. Night was creeping across Chicago and soon she would be forced to decide what she was going to do.
Which truly was a hell of a question.
She’d always considered herself an intelligent, fairly resourceful woman. After all, she’d managed to survive for two centuries completely alone. Nothing to thumb her nose at.
But during all those years she never had to face something like Morgana le Fay. She hadn’t even known there was anything like Morgana le Fay. How the hell was she supposed to protect herself when she didn’t have a clue what might be thrown at her next? It wasn’t like she had a Dummies Guide to Battling Demons.
Leaning her head against the chilly pane of glass, Anna remained lost in her dark thoughts until a subtle movement caught her gaze.
Instantly on alert, she stiffened, her gaze searching the shadows across the street. It didn’t take long to spot the tall, red-haired man standing in a recessed doorway across the street. Holy crap. It wouldn’t take long to spot the man anywhere.
Large and muscular, he wore a stunning pair of lime-green spandex pants and a sparkly T-shirt so tight that it looked painted across his rippling chest. And his hair…even in the darkness it held a fiery glow and fell well past his waist in thick waves.
Definitely the sort to stand out in a crowd, let alone near an empty street.
It could be nothing, she tried to reassure herself. This was a nightclub and the man could simply be waiting for night to fully fall and the vampires to arrive for a little fairy goodness.
It could be, but Anna couldn’t ignore the prickles of warning that raced over her skin. There was a frozen watchfulness about the stranger, the sense of a predator on the scent of his prey.
God, what if she was the prey?
Instinctively she stepped back, her hand pressed to her racing heart. As she moved, a pair of strong, familiar arms encircled her waist from behind, bringing with them a sense of reassurance that only Cezar could offer.
“Anna, what is it?” he whispered close to her ear. “I can sense your fear.”
She pointed a finger toward the window. “There’s something down there watching the building.”
His arms tightened. “An imp.”
She blinked in shock. She thought that imps were tiny little creatures that danced about causing mischief. Not towering oafs who looked as if they could crush her with one hand.
“Are imps different than fairies?” she rasped.
“They are distant cousins, although they rarely admit the connection. They’ve been at war for centuries over which race is superior to the other.”
Bad for them, but maybe good for her.
“So they wouldn’t be in the command of Morgana?”
His arms tightened. “If she called upon the imps they would have to respond.”
“Great.” Her brief flare of hope faded and she turned in his arms to meet his worried gaze. “How could they know I’m here?”
His brows drew together as he swiftly considered the various possibilities. “One of the fairies must have realized that the wreckage in the garage wasn’t due to the troll that Viper claimed had gotten loose, and contacted the queen.”
He shrugged. “There’re few other things that could cause such damage. And many establishments keep one or two around to deal with troublesome customers.”
Anna shivered. God, she didn’t even want to imagine what one of those might look like. “Remind me not to cause trouble at a demon bar.”
“We must leave.”
Anna was more than ready to leave before the imp decided he was tired of just watching, but she wanted to be assured that they had some kind of plan.
Something beyond running through the dark streets with a pack of imps nipping at her heels.
“And go where?”
“First I need to find somewhere you will be safe.”
“And what about you?”
“Viper has a friend who might possess information that will help us discover more about Morgana le Fay.”
She frowned, sensing that he wasn’t entirely happy with their proposed destinations.
“What kind of information?”
“I don’t know for sure.” A grimace touched the lean, bronzed features. “I hope he might have a book that includes the history of Morgana before she retreated to Avalon.”
“You think that could help us?” she demanded in confusion. She enjoyed books as well as the next person (perhaps even more than most), but right now it seemed like a big gun or maybe even a flamethrower would be a little more helpful.
“It might reveal why she has remained hidden there. If there is something she’s afraid of, it might help us.”
It took a moment before realization at last hit. “Ah. The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”
His dark eyes held a hint of regret. “I know it’s not much…”
She placed a finger on his lips. This man had done everything possible to keep her safe. She wouldn’t allow him to feel guilt because things weren’t running as smoothly as either of them might want.
That blame lay firmly on Morgana le Fay’s shoulders.
“How are we going to get anywhere if the building is being watched?”
His grim expression eased as he arched a dark brow. “Surely you haven’t forgotten that a vampire owns this building?”
“No, but…oh. Tunnels?”
“Of course.” His head tilted, his eyes abruptly narrowing. “Dios.”
“What is it?”
“It sounds as if the imps have grown tired of simply watching. No doubt Morgana has promised them a reward for your capture.”
Anna’s stomach clenched with dread. “Or my death.”
“Never,” he hissed, grabbing her hand and dragging her out of the bedroom. “This way.”