Davana's back arched of its own volition, her muscles no longer under her control. The suddenness and intensity of it made her breath catch. Her knees buckled, but she managed to prop herself against the side of the building before she collapsed. She couldn't afford the luxury of reflecting on the cause of her ailment and instead scanned her surroundings for those who sought her harm.
If they caught just one whiff of a sign of weakness…
The thought made her shudder.
No one rushed at her with weapons, nor could she find anything amiss in the alleyway. She turned her focus to the heat cascading over her back. It didn't burn exactly. More like soothing warmth. Pleasurable, in fact.
Her eyelids fluttered closed as her breathing slowed. Very pleasurable.
She snapped her eyes open again.
The air next to her shimmered. She pressed her lips together, pushed away from the wall and stood ready. Curled hands hung at her sides, ready to whip her blade from its sheath at a moment's notice.
Draven appeared and she released a slow breath. His jet-black hair gleamed in the daylight. Equally dark clothing hugged him tightly, leaving little space for even the wind to sneak through. Any movement he made highlighted the cut of muscles that came naturally to the males of their kind. His crimson-tinged eyes scanned their surroundings before his gaze fixed on her.
"Any sign of them?" she asked.
Damn. "Then get back out there and find them. They can't have gone far."
"Commander." He dipped his head, and then dematerialized.
She stretched, trying to shake the ripple snaking down her back, but it held strong. She had a vague sensation that she should know this feeling. That it meant something. But whatever the meaning, it hovered just out of reach of her recollection. At least the intensity had diminished. Now she could at least walk and breathe at the same time.
No matter. She had more important issues to deal with. If the two juveniles weren't found soon, the Others might get their hands on them and tip the scales in their favor. It was bad enough that demons fought against witches and werewolves on a daily basis, but they also had their own internal problems.
Others, Ha'fings, Purebreds … the list went on and on. No one faction liked the other. None of the factions were willing to join forces. The fact two young Purebreds didn't possess the innate abilities of their kind and were subsequently cast out, made them tempting to everyone else. Not to mention the knowledge of Purebred-kind they could reveal, whether voluntarily or through coercion. Those gems of knowledge would be a coup for whoever caught the juveniles first.
She hated when her job forced her on assignments like this. How idiotic of them to take refuge among humans. Once they reached maturity in a few weeks time, all hell would break loose. Let's see … their tails, their horns, their fucking Day-Glo red skin would clue even the densest Terran that they didn't belong. They were Purebreds! Even the Ha'fings of her squadron had a hard time blending in. She was grateful that their latest sources indicated the juveniles were relatively close. Somewhere in a two-mile radius.
She didn't like it in this realm, and hated that she led a group here. She had a hard time understanding why humans even existed. Based on what she'd heard about them, most weren't worth the flesh they lived in. True, a few had come in handy in the war between demons, but the rest of them could be sucked into the void of space for all she cared.
It didn't matter. Find the juveniles. Get out. That's all she had to do.
As if on cue, a flash of red appeared in her peripheral field. Her hand dropped away from her weapon when she looked up. Another streak of red flew by as automobile traffic began to pick up at the intersection. Yet another reason she despised this place. All this technology. It wasn't natural.
She strode with purpose toward the main road, steeling herself to face crowds of humans and their metal carriages. Her long stride carried her a few steps before the heat flared down her back again. Her entire body tensed, her senses heightened. She searched the street and surrounding buildings, trying to determine the source of the waves crashing against her.
Why couldn't she see it? Was this some new form of defense one of the other factions had developed? Except, she wasn't hurting. It felt almost sexual. Like…
She knew. But it didn't make sense. It didn't.
She was a Commander. A warrior who'd earned every accolade. One who demanded the respect of those she led. She'd killed. Maimed. Tortured.
It made no sense.
And what about the fact it happened here in this realm? She had to be wrong. Because it just made no sense.
She shook loose the impossible thoughts, shrugged away the lingering doubts. The juveniles had to be the center of her attention right now. Everything else remained of distant secondary importance and could be dealt with later. Even what would happen to them after she handed them over was of no consequence.
Her leather boots made very little sound as she strode down the sidewalk, trying like hell to blend in with the locals. If she'd planned ahead, she would have worn blue jeans instead of black. Might have traded in the black corset for a T-shirt that proclaimed her a Labrador lover. Definitely would have ditched the leather trench coat for something a little trendier. Next time—Darkness forbid there be a next time—maybe.
As she approached a crowd waiting at the crosswalk, a clamor of heat scrambled up her back. Gritting her teeth, she gulped down the moan which threatened to erupt and lowered her head.
Please. Not now.
She forced herself to look up, to search the crowd for another like her hidden amongst them. Perhaps another Ha'fing found its way into this realm. Not likely, but not impossible. No one stood out though. As far as she could tell, she was surrounded by humans.
Her mind was a jumble of thoughts, flooded with questions she didn't know how to answer. Perhaps that's why when the crowd started moving as one, she allowed herself to be carried away on the sea of bodies. She walked with them, fighting for a stronghold on her emotions. With each step she took though, infuriating warmth pulsed through her limbs.
If anyone saw … if any of the other Ha'fings found out…
She couldn't focus. Her eyelids fluttered closed to counter the sensation. Biting down on her lip was another attempt at smothering the rippling tides of pain and pleasure. It was a flare of ecstasy so true, it existed for no other reason than for those of her kind, no matter how much she wanted to deny it. Her mate—the man she was destined to spend the rest of her life with—was near.
When she opened her eyes, she looked directly into the face of the man who sent her emotions through a whirlwind. He stood at the intersection, his gaze locked onto her. His handsome face was knotted into a mask of worry and recognition. As if he knew her.
Her body certainly knew him.
He was tall and lean. Intelligent eyes drew her attention from the smooth lines of his face. From this distance, she couldn't distinguish to which classification of demon he might belong; what she could tell from afar was that he was damned good-looking. Something about the way the shadows played with his features made him seem at once both stubborn and playful. His lips were firm, sensual. At the same time, there were touches of humor around his mouth and they danced just outside of his eyes. Dark, curling hair had been cut short, reminding her too much of the warriors in whose company she spent most of her days.
All in all, he wasn't bad at all.
That's when a cross between a gasp and a scream escaped her lips because the longer she scrutinized him, she recognized something else. He wasn't Ha'fing. Not from any of the other leading factions, either. Yet another example that the Darkness had a wicked sense of humor. There could be no mistaking the man for anything other than his true form.
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