Tucking his ruined arm against his chest, he kicked into super-speed, running as fast as his broken body would allow. It was difficult to do, every step jostling him, agonizing him, but he’d trained for every eventuality over the years, even something like this. No one would be able to get a lock on him.
He passed a busy shopping center—but not before he caught a glimpse of his reflection in one of the store windows. His hair was gone. Even his eyebrows were gone, and one of his eyes drooped onto his cheek. He had a patch of flesh on his left side, but that was it. Everything else was raw and red.
Whatever. He’d had worse injuries. He would heal. Would even grow a new hand.
There was Pagan’s house. A three-story restored brownstone he’d bought for her. How much longer could he stay on his feet? What little strength he possessed waned with . . . every . . . second. . . .
* * *
The laughter woke him.
Blue jolted upright, hissing as a stark, burning anguish claimed him. A black crust had formed over his exposed muscles, cracking with his movement. Each of his bones felt brittle, ready to shatter at any moment.
He looked around, taking stock. Dark red walls, a black sink and toilet. He’d made it inside Pagan’s home, he realized, but he must have passed out in the guest bathroom, thinking to clean up before confronting her. How much time had passed?
“In three months, I’m going to be Mrs. Corbin Blue,” Pagan crowed. “Can you believe it?”
“He’s so beautiful. All that silky white hair . . . those lavender eyes . . . and oh, those lips! So lush and red. I’d say they were better suited for a woman, but they look too good on him.”
Her sister’s voice.
“I know,” Pagan said with a giggle. “He’s absolutely perfect.”
“But aren’t you worried about his . . .” the sister continued somberly.
“His what?” Pagan prompted.
“Well, his infidelities.”
His fiancée scoffed, and his admiration for her tripled. “He and I have an open relationship. He tells me when he’s going to be with someone else, and I extend him the same courtesy.”
“What! You’ve been with other men?” the sister gasped out.
“He thinks so, yes.”
“But you actually haven’t?” the girl insisted.
“But . . . why would you want him to think so? Isn’t he jealous?”
“First, men want what other men want. Second, no, he isn’t.”
Was that bitterness in her tone?
“But what if he falls in love with one of his affairs?” the sister asked.
“Blue? Fall in love?” Pagan snorted. “No matter how much he smiles and teases, that man is emotionally shut off. But, okay, let’s say he does the impossible and falls in love. So what? I’ll be his wife and the mother of his children. He’ll never leave me.”
A crack in the door allowed him to peer into the living room where the girls sat, sipping wine. Pagan wore a skintight dress that stopped just below the line of her panties. If she was even wearing panties. Most nights she wasn’t. Her voluminous br**sts practically spilled from her halter top, just the way she knew he liked. Her skin was a perfect golden brown, bronzed by a reverent sun. Sexy. A chic crop of platinum hair framed a face most men would only ever see in their wet dreams.
She wasn’t under attack, as he’d feared. He should leave. If he revealed himself, she wouldn’t recognize him. Who would? He might be able to convince her of his identity, but she would insist on taking him to the hospital. He couldn’t risk it.
Right now, the person responsible for his condition might assume he was dead. It would be better for Blue—and Pagan—if that person continued to assume so.
Should have thought this through first.
Now, at least, he knew Pagan hadn’t been targeted.
Where could he go?
Who could he trust?
Who had tried to kill him? And why?
And where were his friends? Had they survived?
They must have. He wouldn’t believe anything else.
Darkness . . . weaving through his vision . . .
He had to get somewhere, and fast, before he once again lost consciousness. There was a good chance he wouldn’t be waking up anytime soon.
No one playing for the Invaders knew of his other job. Only Michael, John, and Solo did—no, that wasn’t true. Evie knew.
Would she help?
Would he harm her when she irritated him? Because she would definitely irritate him. If he lost control of his abilities . . .
No other choice.
Blue labored to his feet, moaning as the agony became too much.
He heard a startled gasp. “Who’s in there?” Pagan called, sounding worried.
Without a word, he climbed through the window into the daylight.
EVIE STOMPED INTO HER bedroom and threw her purse in the general direction of her closet. Key to the basement, that’s what she needed. But where had she put the bloody thing?
“Light on,” she said, the darkness instantly chased away by the overhead lamp. She—
Screamed, and reached for the blade she always tucked inside her pocket.
A hideous creature sprawled on her lovely king-size bed. Whatever it was, it was male, and big. Really big, both wide and long, its feet hanging past the edge of the mattress. Its skin was red and black—no . . . that wasn’t skin. That was blood and charred flesh. Its body was sliced to ribbons, and it was missing a hand. Several bones stuck out in the wrong places.
The scent of smoke wafted through the air, stinging her nostrils.
“Evie,” the creature said on a moan. “Blue.”
Shock slammed through her. He spoke with Blue’s voice, and even mentioned his name. And . . . and . . . he was peering at her with Blue’s eyes. That gorgeous lavender, usually framed by long black lashes that made him look as though he always wore eyeliner.
“Blue?” she gasped out. No way. Just no way.
“Didn’t know . . . where else . . . to go.”
Hesitant, she approached the side of the bed. He watched her every movement, reminding her of a predator getting ready to attack. What would he do when she was within reach? Because it was him, she decided. Same height, same body mass. Same crackle of power so unique to the football playboy. A crackle that had rendered her blind to anything but lust for a few seconds of their first meeting.
“I must say, Mr. Blue, you’ve looked better.”
He might have snorted. Hard to tell while he was gurgling blood.