Wulf had been seeking someone to soothe the pain he felt at his brother’s death. A tender body he could sink himself into and forget for just a moment that he had led Erik into battle far away from their homeland.
Morginne had seemed the perfect answer. She’d been as eager for him as he had been for her.
But the morning after his one night with the Dark-Huntress, everything had changed. Somehow either during their sexual encounter or right after it, she had traded souls with him. Mortal no longer, he had found himself born into a new life.
And viciously cursed by Morginne so that no mortal could remember him. Meanwhile she had escaped Artemis’s service so that she could spend eternity with the Norse god Loki.
Her parting curse had been the crudest blow of all and it was one he didn’t understand to this day.
Not even his nephew Bironulf had known him afterward.
Wulf would be completely lost now had Acheron Parthenopaeus not taken pity on his situation. Acheron, the leader of the Dark-Hunters, had told him that no one could undo Morginne’s trickery, but that Acheron could modify it. Taking a drop of Bironulf’s blood, Acheron had made it so that all who carried his blood would remember Wulf. Furthermore, the Atlantean had given Wulf psychic powers and explained to Wulf how he had become immortal and what his limitations were, such as his sensitivity to sunlight.
So long as Artemis held Wulf’s "new" soul, he had no choice except to serve her.
Artemis had no intention of ever letting him go. Not that he really minded. Immortality had its benefits.
The woman under him was definitely one of them. He ran his hand down her thigh and listened to her breathing. She tasted of salt and woman. Smelled of powder and roses.
Her scent and taste stirred him to a level he’d never known before. For the first time in centuries, he felt possessive toward a woman.
He wanted to keep this one. The Viking in him roared to life. In his human time, he would have carried her off and slain any who dared try to keep him from her.
Even after all these centuries, he was no closer to being civilized. He took what he wanted. Always.
Cassandra yelped the moment Wulf took her into his mouth. Her body sizzled with desire for him. She arched her back and watched him in the mirror above the bed.
She’d never seen anything more erotic than the sight of Wulf teasing her while the muscles of his back flexed. She could see every inch of his tawny, nak*d body while he pleased her. And he had an incredible body.
One she wanted to touch.
Moving her legs under his body, she used her feet to gently caress the hard length of his cock.
He growled in response. "You have very talented feet, villkatt."
"All the better to stroke you with," she said, her voice light as she thought about the fact that she felt like Little Red Riding Hood being eaten by the Big Bad Wulf.
His laughter joined hers. She buried her hands in the soft waves of his hair and let him have his way with her. His tongue was the most incredible thing she’d ever known as he swirled it around her. Licking, teasing, tasting.
Just when she didn’t think she could feel any better, he slid two fingers deep inside her.
Cassandra came immediately.
Still he continued caressing her until she was on fire and weak from the bliss.
"Mmm," he breathed, pulling away from her. "I think my kitten is hungry."
"Famished," she said, pulling him up her body so that she could feast on his skin the way he had feasted on hers.
She buried her lips against his neck and nibbled with every part of her that was desperately hungry for him. What was it about this man that drove her wild with desire? He was magnificent. Hot. Sexy. She’d never wanted anyone like this.
Wulf couldn’t stand the way she grabbed at him. It made him insane for her. It heightened his need until he was practically dizzy.
Unable to tolerate any more, he rolled her onto her side and entered her.
Cassandra cried out at the unexpected pleasure that filled her. Lying completely on her side, she’d never had a man inside her in this position. Wulf was so deep that she swore she could feel him all the way to her womb.
She watched him in the mirrored wall as he thrust into her over and over, deeper and deeper, until she wanted to scream with pleasure.
The power and strength of him was unlike anything she’d ever known. Every forceful stroke made her weak, breathless.
She came again an instant before he did.
Wulf pulled back from her and lay down beside her.
His heart was pounding from the fury of their passion. But still he wasn’t sated. Reaching for her, he pulled her across his chest so that he could feel her with every inch of his body.
"You are spectacular, villkat."
She nuzzled his chest with her face. "You’re not too bad either, villwulf."
He laughed at her made-up endearment. He really liked this woman and her wit.
Cassandra lay in the peace of Wulf’s arms. For the first time in her life, she felt completely safe. As if nothing or no one could touch her. She’d never felt this way. Not even as a child. She’d grown up always afraid whenever someone unknown had knocked on the door.
Every stranger was under suspicion. At night, it could easily be a Daimon or Apollite out to see her dead. During the day, it could be a Doulos after her.
But something told her that Wulf wouldn’t let them threaten her at all.
She frowned at the sound of a woman’s voice intruding into her dream.
Against her will, she was pulled out of her dream only to find herself asleep in her own bed.
The knocking continued.
"Cass? Are you all right?"
She recognized Michelle’s voice. It was a struggle to awaken enough so that she could sit up in bed.
She was nak*d once more.
Frowning, Cassandra saw her clothes in a crumpled heap. What the hell was this? Had she been sleepwalking or something?
"I’m here, Chel," she said as she got up and pulled on her red bathrobe. She opened the door to find her friend and Kat on the other side.
"Are you okay?" Michelle asked.
Yawning, Cassandra rubbed her eyes. "I’m fine. Just taking a nap."
But she didn’t really feel fine. She felt much more like some sort of narcoleptic.
"What time is it?"
"It’s eight-thirty, hon," Kat supplied.
Michelle looked back and forth between them. "You said you guys would go back to the Inferno with me, but if you don’t feel like it…"
Cassandra caught the disappointment in Michelle’s voice. "No, no, it’s okay. Let me get dressed and we’ll go."
Kat looked at her suspiciously. "Are you sure you feel up to it?"
"I’m fine, really. I didn’t sleep well last night and I just needed a nap."
Kat made a rude noise. "It’s all that Beowulf you and Chris were reading. It sucked all the energy right out of you. Beowulf… incubus… same thing."
Now that was just a little too close to home for Cassandra’s comfort.
She laughed nervously. "Yeah. I’ll be out in a few minutes."
Cassandra shut the door and turned back toward her crumpled clothes.
What was going on here?
Was Beowulf really an incubus?
Brushing the ridiculous thought aside, she picked up her clothes and added them to the laundry hamper, then dressed herself in a pair of jeans and a dark blue sweater.
As she prepared to leave, a strange tingle ran through her. Something was going to happen tonight. She knew it. She didn’t have her mother’s psychic powers, but she did get strong feelings whenever something good or bad was going to happen.
Unfortunately, she just couldn’t tell which one it would be until it was too late.
But something was definitely up tonight.
"Welcome to kolasi," Stryker said under his breath, speaking the Atlantean word for hell as he surveyed the leaders of his Daimon army that was ever ready to attack at his command.
For eleven thousand years, he, as the son of the Atlantean Destroyer, had led them.
Handpicked by the Destroyer herself and trained by Stryker, these Daimons were all elite killers. Their own brethren referred to them as Spathi Daimons. A term that had been bastardized by both the Apollites and Dark-Hunters who didn’t understand what a true Spathi was.
Instead they applied the term to any Daimon who fought them. But that wasn’t right. The true Spathi were something else entirely.
They weren’t the children of Apollo. They were Apollo’s enemies, just as they were the enemies of the Dark-Hunters and humans. The Spathis had long ago forsaken whatever Greek or Apollite heritage they might have had.
They were the last of the Atlanteans and were proud of it.
Unbeknownst to the Dark-Hunters and humans, there were thousands of them. Thousands. All far older than any pathetic human, Apollite, or Dark-Hunter dared dream. While the weaker Daimons lived in hiding on earth, the Spathis used laminas or bolt-holes to travel from this realm to the human one.
Their homes existed in another dimension. In Kalosis, where the Destroyer herself resided under imprisonment and where the lethal light of Apollo never shone. They were her soldiers.
Her sons and daughters.
Only a very select few of them could summon the laminas on their own-it was a gift the Destroyer didn’t bequeath often. As her son, Stryker could come and go at will, but he chose to stay near his mother’s side.
As he had for the last eleven thousand years…
All this time, they had planned well for this night. After his father Apollo had cursed them and left Stryker and his children to die horribly, Stryker had embraced his mother willingly.
It was Apollymi who had shown him the way. She who had taught them to take the souls of humans into their bodies so that they could survive even though his father had damned them all to die at twenty-seven.
"You are my chosen ones," she had told him. "Fight with me and the world shall belong to the Atlantean gods once more."
Since that day, they had recruited their army with care. The three dozen generals who lounged around him in the "banquet" hall were the best fighters among them. They all waited for word from their spy as to when the missing heiress would reappear.
She’d been out of their reach all day. But now that the sun had set, she was within reach once more.
Any moment now and they would be free to ran the night and rip her heart out of her.
It was a precious thought Stryker cherished.
The doors to the hall opened and from the darkness outside came Stryker’s last surviving son, Urian. Dressed all in black like his father, Urian had long blond hair that he wore in a queue secured by a black leather cord.
His son was more handsome than any other, but then all of their race were beautiful.
Urian’s deep blue eyes flashed as he walked with the pride and grace of a lethal predator. When Stryker had first brought his eldest son over, it had been strange to play father to a man who was physically the same age as him, but that aside, they were father and son.
More than that, they were allies.
And Stryker would kill anyone who threatened his child.
"Any word?" he asked his son.
"Not yet. The Were-Hunter said he has lost her scent, but that he will pick her up again."
Stryker nodded. It had been their Were-Hunter spy who had brought the news to them last night of the fight where a group of Daimons had died in the bar.
Normally such a fight would be meaningless to them, but the Were-Hunter had told them that the Daimons had called their victim "the heiress."
Stryker had been searching the earth for her. Five years ago, in Belgium, they had almost killed her, but her bodyguard had sacrificed himself to them and allowed her to escape.
Since then, there had been no sightings of her. No telltale encounters with any of their people. The heiress had proved herself to be every bit as crafty as her mother.
So they had played the game.
Tonight, that game would end. Between the patrols Stryker had out in St. Paul and the Were-Hunter who served him, he was sure she would be found tonight.
He clapped his son on the back. "I want at least twenty of us standing by. There’s no way she’ll escape us all."
"I’ll summon the Illuminati."
Stryker inclined his head in approval. The Illuminati comprised him and his son, as well as thirty others who were the bodyguards of the Destroyer. Each of them had taken a blood oath to his mother to see to it that she would be free of her netherworld so that she could rule the earth once again.
When that day came, they would be the princes of the world. Answerable only to her.
That day was finally upon them.
Wulf didn’t know why he was headed for the Inferno tonight, other than he felt a compulsion inside him that wouldn’t listen to reason.
He suspected it was from his insane need to feel closer to the woman who haunted his dreams. Even now he could see the beauty of her smile, feel her body welcoming his.
Or better yet, taste her.
Thoughts of her tormented him. They opened up feelings and needs that he had cast aside centuries ago without ever looking back.
Who needed it? Yet there wasn’t anything he wanted more than to see her again.
It didn’t make sense.
The chances of her being in the same place tonight were next to impossible.
Still, he went. He couldn’t help it. It was as if he had no control over himself, but was being driven by some unseen force.