And finally, she'd starve to death before she ever "fed" off him again.
"Munro, you've been decent to me, so I'm going to level with you. I'm not planning to brave that wall by myself." Yet. "And I understand that my lodging choices are limited. But I also don't plan on putting up with any more wolven bullshit from your brother. He pulls any stunts like this morning, and I'm going to shiv him with the shard of mirror I'm carrying."
He looked startled, then . . . heartened?
"I'm not kidding," she insisted. "Somehow, someway, I'll nail his balls to that wall."
Munro's golden eyes widened. "I think that's a great idea-no reason to tamp down any ferocity, now, is there?"
Um, okay. "And another thing. I want a matehood divorce. I want no tie to your brother."
Munro's delighted look faded. "He'll change your mind once he's recovered from the shock."
I wouldn't take that to the bookie, Munro. . . .
She glanced up; clouds were moving in, just as they had yesterday afternoon. They reminded her of the idyllic time spent with MacRieve. Which made bitterness churn inside her.
As they approached the lodge, she spied MacRieve at the entrance, gripping the doorframe with outstretched arms. His claws sank into the wood, his body seeming to take up the entire width of the doorway.
His eyes were still that icy blue, but there was no shadow of his beast. He appeared on the ragged edge of control.
His bare chest was splashed with mud, heaving from his deep breaths. His face was streaked with blood.
She noticed passersby slowing near the lodge. Loitering to see the show? If MacRieve screwed with her, she'd give them a show worthy of a stadium.
Without a look at her, MacRieve lunged toward his brother. "Where the hell were you?" he snapped, bowing up to Munro. "You took her from here?"
Just like Munro had said. Chloe rolled her eyes and continued on toward the house, passing Ronan and Benneit, who gave her a wide berth.
While they were all outside pissing on each other for dominance, or whatever they did in times like these, she would move her things out of MacRieve's room, then raid the kitchen. As she'd told Munro, she fully intended to eat like a human.
She had to believe it was possible.
Munro said, "I just got her out of the house for a walk."
"You doona take her out without my permission!"
Chloe stopped in her tracks, turning on them. "Whoa, hold on! I'm Chloe; I'm not Pop's motorcycle. Nobody's giving permission or receiving permission to do anything with me!"
Her four new roomies frowned at her, as if surprised she'd even address them. They were in for a lot of surprises.
Every word booming louder, MacRieve said, "You'd do well to get the fuck out of my sight, succubus!"
"And you'd do well to shut your whore mouth!"
He lunged forward-like the biggest, baddest fullback she'd ever imagined. Picturing him like that enabled her to hold her ground.
His eyes narrowed, his voice vibrating with rage. "I beheaded the last five succubae I encountered. Keep talking shite, and you'll be the sixth!"
Me a sixth?" the bitch queried with a raised brow. "I'm going to have to say no to that plan, dickwad. What else you got?"
Will grabbed her upper arm. "You rile me at your own peril-"
"Fuck your peril! Beat feet, MacRieve!" she yelled at the top of her lungs, flinging her arm away, which surprised him enough to release her. "Get out of my face!"
"You have no idea what you provoke! Doona forget your fear when you saw my beast revealed."
Reminded of that horror, she would cast her eyes down, attempt to placate him-
Her chin went up and her shoulders went back. "For the record, asshole, I wasn't scared. I was startled. There's a difference. And now that I know what's lurking inside you, I won't be startled again." She turned toward the house.
Filled with fury, he stormed after her. When he snatched her arm again, she whirled around, kicking the side of his knee.
She'd definitely gotten stronger. Because she was a goddamned succubus.
Perhaps all the Lore needed to know what she really was. He turned toward the wall, his grip on her tightening until she cried out.
"Where are you taking me?"
"You were so keen to leave, mayhap I'll toss your arse over the wall."
Her heart pounded with fear, like a drum sounding within him. He might be the first Lykae to purposely frighten his mate; his Instinct was not having it.
-You harm what you've been given?-
Munro chased after them. In Gaelic, he said, "Are you insane? Treating her like this? I just got through assuring her that you would never hurt her."
Will answered in the same language, "Then you're a bluidy liar!" He swung her forward as she flailed against his hold.
"What are you going to do to her?" Munro dogged his heels. "She's no' as you think her."
"We're going to go have a peek at the wall. Mayhap I'll lob her over to the other side where she belongs!"
"Have you lost your mind? She's your mate, brother."
Over his shoulder, Will said, "I doona recognize her as such! Do you remember what Mam's last words were to me? 'Never one like her, my Uilleam.' "
Chloe thrashed harder.
"But this girl's no' a full succubus," Munro said. "She's a halfling."
"Aye," Will grated, "and her other half is WEBB!"
"I thought you were going to get past that."
"Canna. No' now. Just another example of how wrong she is."
"I heard your wish at Loa's. You wanted your mate to be made immortal. You've got your wish-her wounds regenerate. I saw them. You can claim her, man!"
"I'd rather she be mortal with a day left to live!"
"You speak so easily of a human dying? To me?" Munro snapped, past pain tingeing his words. "I'll no' let you harm my sister. You might no' want her, but I do." Then in a clearly desperate move, Munro said, "You owe her to me."
Will bared his fangs at his brother. "You bring that up now? Here?"
Munro was resolute. "I've waited a long time for her too, Will. And I like her, think she would make you a fine mate if you would only give her a chance."
Will gazed down at her struggling to keep up with his strides. Her eyes glowed succubus green. "Never. Happening."
Munro stopped. Just when Will thought he'd given up, Munro called, "She was discarded like trash by her father. That's why she was searching for him. She told him something was wrong, but the bastard revealed nothing to her, leaving her in misery for weeks-with no idea how to live as an immortal. Your young mate was abandoned by her only family."
Will's beast howled with rage. She'd been defenseless, vulnerable to the entire Lore. Kidnapped by witches! That this had happened to his mate-
Nay, nay, I should do worse to her! She deserved nothing less.
He slowed as realization dawned. There'd be no revenge. Webb wouldn't give a shite about who was defiling his daughter-because he didn't give a shite about his succubus offspring.
Chloe used the opportunity to resume kicking him. When she stomped her shoe directly atop his bare foot, he gave her a shake.
With a "You prick!" she kicked harder.
"Look at her!" Munro jogged up to them, still speaking in Gaelic. "She's no' like any succubus I've ever seen. She's no' changed. Like you said, she's fierce as a Lykae."
She had seemed fierce. But then, she'd also seemed human.
When Chloe sank her teeth into his arm, Will growled, "She has no' settled into her new role." He gave her another shake, loosing her bite. "Give her time, and she'll become the devious, selfish succubus she was born to be."
"You're no' thinking clearly."
"Nay, you are no'. You truly want me to be mated to a female who will take over my body and poison me? Who fed from me this verra morning?" He drew his lips back from his fangs. "She could be related to Ruelle, could be her granddaughter or niece or cousin! There are no' that many of them on this plane. Did you think of that possibility?"
That shut Munro up.
Will couldn't catch his breath. Ruelle laughing from beyond.
When they neared the wall, Chloe fought even harder. "Don't, MacRieve! I'm warning you!"
Switching back to English, he sneered, "Do you no' want to see your new allies-"
Suddenly a sharp pain pierced his flank.
He gaped down at a shard of glass protruding from his side. Chloe's green eyes were slitted, her teeth bared.
"You stabbed me?" He yanked the shard out, tossing it away. "I should return that to you in kind! Mayhap you're more like your father than your mother."
Munro snapped in Gaelic, "If she's harmed, you and I will no' come back from it! Do you want my hatred?"
"Brother, I've been awaiting it for centuries." Will clasped the back of her neck, forcing her up the stairs toward the watchtower.
She twisted back to cast Munro a look. Seeking Munro's goddamned protection? His brother told her in English, "He will no' harm you. I trust this."
Then Munro was vastly more confident than Will.
Atop the tower, he and Chloe passed a shocked Madadh. "What are you about, MacRieve?"
"Out of my way!" Will dragged her onto a platform overlooking the wall. Beings teemed directly below them, like a cesspool.
They fell silent at the sight of Chloe. She'd stopped struggling, gaze darting over the crowd. Though her heart skipped with fear, she put her shoulders back, as bold as a queen.
So much fire. How much he'd already come to crave it. How out of place in a simpering succubus.
Her looks had already been altered; her personality would transform as well.
That fire in her would soon ebb to ash.
"You all wait here," MacRieve addressed the mass of creatures, "for the chance to take this female from me. Yet she knows nothing about the Lore. She has no idea how to find her father or the other Order prisons."
His grip on Chloe's nape was like a vise. She was trapped here in front of these beings. Munro might trust MacRieve, but she didn't.
A centaur called, "Don't give a damn. She'll make good bait."
MacRieve cast him a cruel smile, flashing white fangs. "You all assume Webb will want his darling daughter back. He might have. Except for the fact that she's turned into a succubus."
That got the crowd talking. Then a female with cold eyes and golden antlers cried, "You seek to deceive deceivers? Her scent was human at the auction!"
"But it's no' now, is it? Looks like the commander got a succubus pregnant. His daughter seemed human, so Webb accepted her. Up until the minute she began to turn. Then he disposed of her like garbage."
Chloe was about to yell that that wasn't true. Surely it wasn't. But she knew she'd be safer if these creatures believed it.
Was MacRieve telling them this to get rid of this gathering-or simply to humiliate her?
"He will no' want the refuse he's discarded, much less risk capture to rescue her. Just be glad you saved yourselves a Bridefinder."
Hisses and mutters sounded as the monsters discussed this new turn of events.
"Why should we believe you?" asked one woman who looked human, although she was dressed in a scanty outfit made mostly of metal pieces and an elaborate mask.
"I vow to the Lore that she was betrayed by her own father. I vow to you that she's worthless in regard to him. And I vow that you could no' be more disappointed than me."
Chloe stiffened against him, muttering, "And I couldn't hate you more."
The masked woman laid her hand flat against the wall. Smoke rose as she burned her handprint into it. "If Daughter of Webb crosses this boundary, we'll know it."
MacRieve ignored her, telling the crowd: "Go away, you sodding fools. Do you really think he'll fight to reclaim a creature he's ashamed of?"
At that, some did start to depart. Others remained, unconvinced, or perhaps out of spite.
Two females toward the back of the crowd caught Chloe's attention. They stood in the shadows of a distant tree. One had black hair, the other chestnut brown; both were clad in flowing gowns, their shining locks intricately styled. The brunette spoke, hardly above a whisper, yet Chloe could hear her say, "She's of our kind, Lykae. You've no claim to her. Send her past the wall."
Their kind! Chloe was drawn to the women, wanting to go to them, wanting to be anywhere but here. They didn't look malicious or evil. They appeared concerned for her. She thrashed against MacRieve, reaching her hand toward the two. Would they have known Fiore?
He grated at her ear, "Look at them all you like. Long for them. But you will never, never be with them."
The succubus was pacing inside the adjoining guest room. Will could hear her, could sense her anger. She was angry with him?
Her scent was still that luscious, ethereal smell, but now it was underscored with the faint scent of her species, the one other males found irresistible.
Will was at once attracted to her scent-and plagued by it.
Earlier when he'd taken her from the wall, he'd shoved her into that room. "Your new accommodations."
"Why do I have to stay so close to you?" she'd asked. "Clearly I disgust you, and you repulse me. So why keep me nearby?"
He'd had no ready answer, still shocked by her attack with the shard-and shocked by the appearance of those succubae, the first two he'd encountered that he hadn't killed. Twenty-four had died by his hand-the same number as Chloe's age. "I dinna repulse you this morning when you were sucking my rod like a straw," he'd told her.
Face gone red, she'd answered, "That was before I saw what you really are."
Now questions arose within Will, one after the other. Had she known what she was turning into? What was she thinking as she paced? Plotting an escape, no doubt.
When would she grow hungry again? A day or two? Some twisted part of him could hardly wait. He'd make her plead to be fed.
She'd be at his mercy.