Authors: Tiffany Allee
Tags: #paranormal romance, #demon, #incubus, #succubus, #banshee, #killer, #detective, #stalker, #crime, #tiffany allee, #files from the otherworlder enforcement agency, #urban fantasy, #chicago
The hair on my body pricked up, and I felt goose bumps rise to cover my arms. I heard a buzzing sound, and struggled to keep my focus. The space around us vibrated, and I could no longer smell the herbs. Instead, everything reeked of burnt things. The spell hit me with a blast of energy that skittered its way up my arms and into my body. The air pushed from my lungs as if a great weight pressed against me. I couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t care because the energy felt
. Painful yet powerful, as if before that moment I’d never felt anything real, only shadows of what living was supposed to feel like. I struggled to keep my focus on Amanda, on her killer. Then, as if someone clicked a light switch, the weight was gone. Nothing crawled up my arms begging to be freed, no energy pulsed through me.
I gasped and blinked stupidly at the witch, my brain fuzzy from the force of her spell. “Jeez,” I managed after a few moments. “Could’ve warned me.”
But the witch wasn’t paying attention to me; she was frowning at the map. “Just as I thought,” she murmured.
“What?” She didn’t answer me, so I reached out and grabbed the map and scanned it. The surface was perfect. No marks scarred it. Nothing showed it hadn’t come new off the shelf only minutes before.
“I take it something was supposed to happen to this?” I stared at the map. Then I tossed it back down and struggled to my feet. “What happened? I thought you were a powerful witch?”
She shook her head, and then pushed herself up and dusted off her knees. “It didn’t work. Whoever you’re looking for is powerful. Powerful and possessing no small amount of psychic energy.”
“Now you’re telling me he’s psychic?”
She looked at me like I’d said something especially stupid and took a deep breath. “No. I’m saying he’s full of energy and he knows how to use it to protect himself. Lots of things can accumulate energy, though few to that degree. Are you sure he isn’t a vampire?”
“He’s not a freaking vampire. I told you that!” I took a breath and lowered my voice. “I think he might be an incubus.”
She raised an eyebrow. “An incubus who has drained how many women to the point of death?”
“Maybe a dozen.”
“Well that would have been good information to have, Detective.”
I threw my hands up. “What difference would it have made? Other than making you think I was nuts?”
“I would no sooner try an open trace spell on an incubus full of psychic energy than I would on a vampire who had been draining victims at that rate. It’s dangerous. It’s possible for a creature like that, with appropriate knowledge and training, to use such a spell against you. And almost impossible for you to actually succeed in using it against him—not without something of his to use as a focus.”
“My partner found him and she was a freaking amateur!” My voice rose to a yell, but I couldn’t help it. How the hell was I supposed to find him now?
Natalie raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. “Did she really? I don’t think so, Detective. I suspect she tried, probably using the hair of a victim like we did here. But she wasn’t a Covenant witch, and not equipped with the same defenses I created for us. She opened a doorway and found something stronger than her. She didn’t find and track him with that spell. He used that spell to track
My mouth dropped open, and I stared at the witch.
She sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m sure your friend was a good amateur witch. But few outside of the Covenant realize such a thing is possible.”
“And you don’t think he’ll find me the same way?”
“Not with the precautions I took. And as the caster he would only be able to trace it to me, not to you.” She sounded convincing, but a bit of doubt nagged at me, adding to my frustration.
I wanted to scream, use the power of my voice to destroy her baubles and bottles and the precious spell ingredients within them, but such a display would have been childish, and wrong. Amanda’s death wasn’t her fault. And screaming would only further hurt my bank account.
So I kept my mouth shut, shook the witch’s hand, and left.
fter leaving Natalie’s, I drove around for a while, trying to focus my thoughts. Giving up on that, I stopped at Sylvester’s to make sure the incubus hadn’t been there. Kimmy looked at me like I was a nut, considering it was only six o’clock. I ordered a sandwich to go and headed home.
By the time I got there, I felt like I’d run a marathon. Spell casting required energy and since I had the strongest intent—an important thing in witchcraft—Natalie had used mine for the spell, intermingled with her own to direct the magic. I considered what fueled her side of the energy, and decided that anyone would have a good amount of motivation with the exorbitant fee she charged. I wondered if she’d have had the same intent on an hourly wage.
My keys clanked when I tossed them on the coffee table. Cold beer in hand, I sat down to consider my next move. I could go to the bar, in the hope that he’d show with a new date or come in seeking one, but that was a long shot. After taking a cop there the night she died, he would almost definitely avoid the place like the plague now. In fact, he’d probably head out of town, if he were at all smart.
The doorbell sounded, interrupting my thoughts. I checked the peephole, and then sighed and turned the deadbolt. I opened the door a crack to peer out at the man on my front step.
“Wow, so welcoming. I’m amazed you don’t have men beating down your door with that attitude.”
I gritted my teeth and stepped away from the door. I walked back to the couch and plopped down. Aidan could come in or go straight to hell for all I cared at that moment. I took a long drink from my beer, nearly finishing it, and I heard the door click shut.
“You all right?” He sat down on the couch next to me, not touching, but oh, so close.
“I’m fine.” I shook my head to clear the cobwebs. What was wrong with me? My friend is dead for two days and I was ready to jump someone I barely knew?
“You don’t look fine.”
“Yeah, well, it’s been a shitty week.”
He got up from the couch and disappeared into the kitchen. When he reappeared, he carried two bottles of beer. Handing me one, he took a sip from the other.
I teetered between feeling annoyed at him for acting so comfortable in my house and happy he got me a fresh beer. The lure of the cold liquid proved too good to stay irritated, so I settled for a quiet seething while I nursed it.
“Want to talk about it?”
“Not particularly.” I pressed the bottle against my head and wished I could have a redo of the last few days. “Like I told you on the phone, I got the incubus’s description from Kimmy. He took the first local victim—Claire Simons—to Sylvester’s, too. Not sure about the second one.”
Aidan didn’t say anything; he just watched me with his dark eyes and sipped his beer. God, he was attractive. My heart raced just looking at him—even while talking about my murdered friend and partner. Ridiculous.
, I told myself. Stress plays havoc with emotions and hormones.
“He likes to toy with his victims. The first two were acting odd for several days before they were killed. He thralls them, then hunts them.”
“You think the fact they could escape gives him a thrill?”
“But you said your partner seemed fine the night before she died. She didn’t act like she was under any kind of influence.” He took a longer drink from his beer, and then swallowed and stared at me, gaze running down from my face to my body.
Ignoring the tingling along my spine his eyes elicited, I said, “No, she didn’t. I think she wasn’t a victim he planned on. I think he killed her out of necessity. He didn’t play with her as long.”
“Yes. Amanda didn’t match his other victims. She was a cop and a witch. Tough as nails. She did bodybuilding for a hobby. She was a black belt. Nothing about her suggested she was a normal, weak human.” I stifled a gasp as he reached out and pushed a chunk of my hair behind my ear, scooting closer to me.
“Why her? He hasn’t gone after investigators before,” he said in a low voice. “Except our psychic, and she wasn’t exactly a badass cop.”
“She took some of the last victim’s hair with her when she left the scene, and was going to try a locator spell using it. Whatever she did, it must have led her to him.”
Or him to her
, I mentally amended, remembering Natalie’s warning.
He frowned. “Makes sense. But then why did he send her out at all? She went to the restaurant by herself. Maybe other places.”
“I think he still needed to get some kind of thrill out of it. He’s driven to kill a certain way. Maybe he wanted the rush. Needed it. Especially because of who she was, and how powerful she was. Might give him an even better high than the weaker victims.” I considered telling Aidan about the spell I’d cast with Natalie, but it seemed pointless. It hadn’t worked, after all.
“Perhaps.” He leaned in closer to me. “Which means he might be even more dangerous now, and expand his list of potential victims.”
“Might…make him slip up,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady.
“We can hope.” He took the empty beer bottle from my hand and set it on the coffee table along with his. I almost sighed when he moved away from me. Out of relief or disappointment, I wasn’t sure.
My relief, if that’s what it was, proved short-lived. He leaned back toward me and lowered his face to mine.
I took in a quick, short breath and looked up into his eyes. They were dark pools that would drown me if I let them, but I couldn’t pull myself away. Scratch that, I didn’t want to pull myself away. I wanted him to kiss me.
“You’re irresistible,” he whispered, his voice caressing me. “I promised myself I’d leave you alone, but I cannot.” He lowered his lips to mine. It was a soft kiss, but it lit a match inside of me.
I deepened the kiss, opening my mouth to his. His tongue slipped between my lips and stroked mine. A moan escaped me, and my arms found their way around his neck. He tensed even as I relaxed in his arms.
He pulled back from me and stared at my face. His lips were slightly parted and his eyes were heavily lidded. His breathing came in harsh gasps. He looked passionate, seductive, and in painful need. Did I look the same to him?
“If you want me to leave, tell me now,” he whispered, stroking my hair with his hand.
I answered without thinking, but it was an honest reply. “I want you to stay.”
He smiled, a fierce expression that was wholly male. “Good.”
His mouth took mine forcefully, all hesitation gone, and I returned his force, pushing all of the emotions that assailed me into the kiss. He tasted of peppermint and alcohol, and it intermingled with the scent of him to overwhelm me.
Warm hands pushed me into the couch. The cushions were soft against my back, contrasting against the hardness of his body on my front. As he licked and nibbled his way down my neck, pausing to suck softly on my collarbone, my skin tingled. He moved back and I cried out in protest, but he silenced me with a grin and a kiss before tugging my shirt over my head.
“Here?” I gasped, giving the living room a quick glance as he cupped my breast, running his finger over the lace at the top of my bra.
“Here,” he growled in agreement, and he grasped my knees, pulling me closer to the edge of the couch. Then he slipped between my legs and took my breast in his mouth.
I couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but feel him sucking and biting at my nipple through the thin fabric. Hot and wet, I could scarcely believe how my body reacted to him. Since he’d shown up I’d had only a tenuous hold on my self-control. When was the last time I’d felt like this?
I hadn’t, I realized, and the thought hit me like a splash of cold water.
Aidan raised his eyes, as if sensing the change in me. He took one look at my face and shook his head. “No thinking,” he said, tipping my chin, and then he took my mouth with his again.
He kissed me until I forgot my fear, his hands straying to stroke my sides, and then back to my breasts. The lacy bra unlatched in the front, and he made short work of it. As he pulled back to take my bare chest in with his eyes, I reached for his shirt, tugging it free of his pants.
He revealed muscular shoulders and a smooth chest when he pulled the shirt over his head. Somehow he looked bigger without the T-shirt hiding him, and suddenly I felt very small.
When he helped me to my feet, he seemed to tower over me. Then he knelt in front of me and pulled my pants down over my hips, bringing my thong with them. When I was free of my clothing, he settled back on his heels and raked his eyes over my body. I couldn’t feel embarrassed, not with those hungry eyes all over me, wanting me.
“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, and then he pushed up to his feet and wrapped his arms around me. His body was hard against mine, the soft skin of his chest held me, but his jeans were rough. I ached for that roughness, and couldn’t help rubbing my body against his erection.
He cursed and yanked off his jeans. Then he stopped for a moment, only a couple of feet in front of me. As he watched me take in his body, a smile touched his lips. A smug look of a man who knew he was being admired.
Heat touched my cheeks and I tore my gaze from him and looked at the floor. He chuckled, and moved to me. Fingertips touched under my chin, and I raised my eyes to meet his. I glared at him, and his smile widened.
“You never have to be embarrassed with me.”
I raised an eyebrow, and he pulled me back into his arms so fast I squeaked. His tongue met mine and then I felt his arm under my knees. In one quick motion, he picked me up then laid me on the carpet.
My objections were forgotten when he turned his attention to my breasts again, plucking and pinching and sucking them until they were taut and red. The gentleness had disappeared, and there was no amusement in his expression. I reached for him, wrapping my hand around his erection, squeezing the base before running my fingertips lightly to the moist tip.
I wanted—needed—to forget all the bad. Just for a while.
His hand moved to palm between my legs and I cried out at the small touch. When was the last time I’d felt this enflamed, this out of control? Had I ever?
Moving from my grip, he lowered his head and nipped at me. He licked my most sensitive spot with quick, confident touches of his tongue. But the touch was too light, and I was close—so close—to release.
“Please,” I gasped.
“Please what?” he whispered, looking up at me from between my knees. The expression on his face was almost bestial, like he wanted nothing more than to shove me down and drive into me until I begged him to stop. Just the thought almost pushed me over the edge.
“Fuck me,” I demanded, desperation making my voice hoarse.
He growled and then he was on top of me, pushing my legs farther apart with his hips, taking my mouth with his. I’d never been more grateful in my life for OWs’ immunity to human disease—or for my consistent use of birth control despite my lack of a sex life.
I turned my face from him, gasping for breath as he pushed his cock into me, gentle for a few, agonizing seconds, and then as his fingers dug into the carpet, he thrust himself into my tightness, forcing my body to take him fully.
“Aidan!” I cried, and he moved his hands to grip my shoulders, holding me in place as I raised my hips to meet him. His chest rubbed against my sensitive breasts, pushing me to the brink. And when he slipped a hand between us to touch me, I exploded. He stiffened above me, and then drove himself into me, his body spasming.