AFTER a long night of hunting evildoers, Tor was more than happy to call it quits with the coming dawn. Las Vegas wasn’t called Sin City for nothing. Most nights he found more than enough prey to keep him on his toes. There were so many tourists around. Evil liked to stalk them, to try to steal from or harm those who were weak or unaware of the danger that lurked around.
Tor now called Las Vegas his home, but that hadn’t always been so. He’d been born in ancient Egypt. He was also the very first warrior of Anubis. He’d given his vow to the god of the underworld when mortally wounded during a military expedition to Sinai Peninsula in Egypt while serving his pharaoh, Djoser. Tor had been a soldier during his pharaoh’s reign in the third dynasty in the Old Kingdom. He’d stayed in the land of his birth for thousands of years before moving on to the New World.
Tor spotted his sports car ahead and his steps lengthened. The vehicle was a flashy red, and a recent purchase of his. Since the invention of motorized transportation, he’d always had an automobile. Every couple of years he’d see a newer model and would have to have it.
Tor got into the car and then the engine roared to life with push of a button. He pulled away from the curb before he headed for the center of the city. It was stupid of him, but from time to time he liked to take a drive by the Luxor hotel to look at the pyramid-shaped building and the Sphinx outside it. The hotel was the closest thing to remind him of Egypt and the time he’d been born into.
As he drove closer to the Luxor, Tor felt the familiar pull of evil. He had to see where it led. Once felt, he couldn’t ignore it, had to follow it to the evildoer and ultimately determine if he had to send the mortal to Anubis in the underworld to be judged. It was his duty, what he’d vowed to uphold to the Egyptian god, to protect mortals from those who would harm them.
Tor followed it to the hotel’s parking lot. He parked his car and then exited, the pull of evil growing stronger. He headed for the darkest shadows, spotting the figures of two people—a man and a woman. The man said, “Give me all your money, bitch,” as he threatened her with a knife. When she didn’t hand over her purse, his prey tried to snatch it from her, breaking the strap, but the woman didn’t let it go.
The change tore through him. He shifted into his half-human and half-jackal form. The pain of it washed over him, but Tor didn’t even break stride, he was so used to it by now. Even after going through it for thousands of years, it still felt as if someone took a shredder to his skin and a knife to his insides—the sound of his bones shifting and realigning loud in his ears.
Reaching the pair, with a furred hand, Tor grabbed the man by the shoulder and yanked him away from the woman. He threw him against a nearby wall, stunning his prey. He barely glanced at the woman as he grabbed the man again and pulled him to his feet. At seven feet tall in that form, he towered over the evildoer. Tor forced the mortal to look into his eyes. He pushed into the man’s mind, not caring if he caused him pain.
The man yelled, “My head, God, stop. Let me the fuck go!” He tried to throw a punch at Tor, but Tor easily deflected it with a brush of his arm.
Tor took hold of his prey by the throat, the scent of evil that only he could smell wafted around him as he finally succeeded in getting into the man’s mind. All the crimes and assaults his prey had ever perpetrated flashed through Tor’s head. The screams of the man’s victims echoed inside it. Tor lived each one as if he’d been the one on the receiving end. He felt their pain, their terror.
“Guilty,” Tor said in a voice that was much deeper and gruffer than his normal one. “Time for you to face your judgment.”
He held up his free hand and willed a hardened gold dagger into it. The blade had hieroglyphs carved on it—the spell Anubis had infused to send evildoers to the underworld. All it took was one cut to do its job. Tor didn’t hesitate. He sliced it across his prey’s chest, cutting through to the skin.
The man gasped before he let out a scream. His body slowly lost solidity before he disappeared completely. He’d been sent on his way to face the god of the underworld. There, Anubis would weigh the man’s heart on the Scales of Justice. If he was evil, it would be fed to Ammit to be consumed.
That done, Tor turned in the direction of the woman. He willed the dagger away as her gaze seem to land on it, her eyes widening. The sound of her rapid heartbeat was loud in his ears. She slowly backed up, as if she thought she could get away from him.
Tor caught her by the arm and took his first real look at her. He found her beautiful, and was instantly attracted to her, his cock going hard under the snow-white Egyptian-styled kilt he wore. He couldn’t remember the last time a woman had stirred his body so quickly. Her hair was long and blonde and fell over her shoulders in a river of silk. Blue-green eyes stared at him with fear clearly showing in their depths. She was a small thing, only standing around five-feet-four. Dressed in a blue, short-sleeved blouse—matching the color of her eyes—and black dress pants, her figure was slim and curvy.
The sound of a soft whimper brought Tor’s gaze back up to her face. Her fear was thick between them. By how fast she breathed, he could tell she was on the verge of hyperventilating. If he’d been in his human form, he would have calmed her down by kissing her senseless. He could almost feel her soft, pouty lips under his, the taste of her on his tongue, but he couldn’t. He wouldn’t shift again until he’d finished the job at hand—wiping himself from her memory and everything she’d seen associated with the evildoer.
Tor gently took hold of her chin and forced her to look him in the eyes. “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. Let me in.”
He carefully pushed into her mind. Her name was Kenna and she worked at the Luxor at the reception desk. She’d just gotten off her shift when the evildoer had accosted her at her car before pulling her into the shadows. She was scared out of her wits of him.
For the first time in the long time since he’d been one of Anubis’ warriors, Tor didn’t want to wipe his memory from a mortal’s mind. He wanted Kenna to remember him. Not necessarily in the form he was in now, since she was terrified, but some part of him, but it had to be done. Anubis didn’t allow his warriors to let a mortal retain the knowledge of what they were.
Tor ran his fingers from her chin, then across her cheek in a caressing stroke. He sighed deeply. Reluctantly, he set to work wiping Kenna’s mind. Once he finished, she stared off into space, deep in the daze he’d put her in. She’d stay that way until he left the parking lot.
Backing away, Tor hissed in a breath between clenched teeth as the change overtook him. Now back in his human form, he stopped his backward movement. His gaze remained riveted on Kenna. Why the hell did he find it so hard to walk away?
Tor shook his head and mentally kicked himself as he closed the distance between them once again. He cupped Kenna’s face in his hands and placed a soft kiss on her lips. He groaned as that simple touch had his cock jerking.
He released her to back away again. He turned on his heel after giving her one last look, memorizing Kenna’s face. Tor climbed into his car and then drove out of the parking lot before he did something stupid like bring her out of her daze and make her remember everything he’d erased from her mind.
* * * *
Kenna blinked and looked around. She found herself standing in the shadowed corner of the Luxor’s parking lot. Hadn’t she been at her car not a second ago? She had no memory of walking to where she now stood. She shook her head as she headed back to her silver sedan. She must be a lot sleepier than she’d thought. By the end of her shift, she’d caught herself falling asleep on her feet a few times. She guessed that was what she got for trading shifts with someone who worked nights. And the worst part of it all was she had to come into work in the morning, back on her regular hours. Never again.
At her car, Kenna climbed in and then started the engine. She yawned as she pulled out of the lot and headed in the direction of her apartment. Her bed was calling her. Once at her place, she parked in the underground parking garage before she took the elevator up to her floor.
With her purse clutched in her hand, she used her other to fish inside it for her keys. It was then she noticed the strap was broken. How had that happened? Kenna knew for a fact it had been in one piece when she’d left the hotel. She distinctly remembered putting it on over her shoulder. She really must be exhausted. First sleepwalking in the Luxor’s parking lot and now not remembering how she wrecked her purse.
Kenna opened the door, then stepped inside before she locked it behind her. She threw her purse onto the coffee table, deciding she’d deal with it in the morning. Now that she was home, her tiredness seemed to weigh heavier on her.
She went through the routine of changing out of her work clothes and getting ready for bed. Kenna let out a contented sigh as she climbed under the sheets and then pulled them over her. The next time her coworker asked her to trade shifts, she was going to tell him to get lost. There was a reason she preferred days. A night person she was not.
Kenna closed her eyes. She was just on the verge of falling into a deep sleep when an image of a man with black hair appeared in her mind. He bent to kiss her softly on the lips. She shivered as their mouths met. She couldn’t see his face, but she felt drawn to him, wanted him to kiss her deeper, but he pulled away and then disappeared. Readjusting her pillow, she hoped she’d dream of the faceless man. For some reason, she didn’t want to let go of his image.
* * * *
“You look about ready to fall over.”
Kenna turned toward the counter of the reception desk and looked at her male friend, Nick, who worked as a blackjack dealer at the Luxor casino. Most people thought he was gay, since he came across as a bit on the effeminate side, but that was the furthest thing from the truth. He went after anything female. He loved women, and usually ended up getting laid more often than not.
“Thanks,” she said with sarcasm. “Tell me something I don’t already know.”
“Wish you hadn’t decided to trade shifts?”
“Big time. I didn’t get enough sleep before I had to come back in here.”
“Well, this should be a lesson learned. You want to go do something tonight?”
Kenna shook her head. “Naw. I wouldn’t want to cramp your style. Plus, I’d probably end up falling asleep on you. I think my night will be spent taking a long soak in the tub, maybe watching a movie, then early to bed.”
Nick gave her a look that said he found her plans boring. “That sounds like a perfect night. Not.”
“Maybe I’m just getting old.”
He snorted. “Yeah, right. You’re just an old granny at age twenty-six. You just need to get laid.”
Kenna laughed. “And you’re the man to do it?”
“Hell no. We’re better as friends than lovers. You know that. Besides, I’m not your type.”
“Oh, really. And what exactly is mine then?”
“Tall, dark, handsome, and built like a brick shithouse. I’m none of those things.”
Nick had her pegged. She did find herself attracted to men who had all those characteristics. Like the man she’d dreamed about last night. Even though she didn’t know what he looked like, she bet he was handsome as sin. He was her dream man, after all. Her friend, on the other hand, was five-feet-eight, had a slim build, and spent more time on his dark blond hair to get it just right than she did on her own. After they’d first met, it hadn’t taken them very long to decide they’d only be friends.
“Okay,” she said. “You know what I like. And maybe it has been a while since I’ve gotten laid, but, unlike you, I don’t sleep with anything that moves.”
Nick put a hand on his chest and gasped dramatically. “Did you just refer to me as a slut?”
“Man whore, slut, all the same.”
He chuckled. “And I wouldn’t want it any other way. At least I don’t have to go home night after night to an empty bed if I don’t want to.”
“Only because you never take any of your conquests to your place. You always manage to talk them into inviting you to stay the night at theirs.”
“I prefer it that way. Then I can leave when I want. It would be much harder to convince them to leave my apartment. I wouldn’t want to be rude after they gave me a night of pleasure.”
That was Nick. He might whore around, but he respected all the women he slept with. “You’re just a nice guy.”
He smiled. “I know I am.”
“And conceited too.”
With a roll of his eyes, he asked, “Are you ready to go? I’m done with my shift and so are you.”
Kenna nodded. “Just let me grab my purse.” She reached under the counter and retrieved it before she walked out to stand next to Nick.
Her friend gave her a quizzical look. “Is that a new purse? I thought you’d just bought one the other week.”
“This is an old one. And I did. Somehow I managed to break the strap on the new purse last night after my shift.”
“You don’t remember how you did it?”
“No. I guess I was pretty tired and wasn’t paying much attention. I didn’t realize until I got home that I’d damaged it.”
“No more night shifts for you,” Nick said as he shook his head and got them walking toward the hotel’s exit.
“My thoughts exactly. Do you have your car back yet?” Nick’s was a beater, and he seemed to have it in the shop a lot for repairs.
“No. I should get it tomorrow. Do you mind giving me a ride home?”
“I can give you a lift. I was going to ask you, anyway.”
“I appreciate it. I hate having to take the bus. It takes three times longer to get anywhere.”
“You know it would probably be cheaper just to get a newer car rather than having to pay for all these repairs.”
“True, but I’d only be able to afford another beater again. I’m going to hold on to this one for a little longer.”
They reached the parking lot, and Kenna slowed her steps as a feeling of anxiousness washed over her. Her heart raced as a shiver of fear ran down her spine. She had no idea what was wrong with her. She’d never had that feeling before. And she didn’t think she had it this morning when she’d arrived at the hotel. But then she’d been rushing since she’d dragged her ass getting to work.
Nick slowed and turned his head to look at her. “Kenna? Are you all right? Your face has gone white.”
She nodded before she cleared her throat. “Yeah. I sort of feel a bit…weird.”
“I hope you’re not coming down with something. Working that night shift must have really hit you hard.”
“I guess so.”
“A night in is probably the best thing for you. Especially a soak in the tub. Just make sure you have some wine or something to kill all the germs.”
Pushing back the nervousness, Kenna laughed as she picked up her pace again. “I don’t think having something alcoholic will do much to prevent me from getting a cold.”
“Maybe not, but it’ll help you relax.”
“All right, doctor. I’ll have some wine, as you prescribed.”
After unlocking the passenger door for Nick, Kenna came around to the driver’s side. She got into the car, then started the engine. She had to resist the urge to gun it and peel out of the parking lot. He didn’t seem to notice her agitation, which she was sure had to show on her face. She’d suddenly broken out in a cold sweat. Her gaze shifted to the corner of the lot where she’d found herself the night before as she put the car into reverse. She had to bite her bottom lip to hold back a whimper that threatened to bubble out of her. It took everything in her to pull out of the space at a proper speed, then merge into traffic. That particular spot scared her for some unknown reason.
Once she was away from the parking lot, all the anxiety disappeared. It didn’t make any sense. She wasn’t the type of woman who was frightened easily. So this unfounded fear wasn’t her norm. Maybe she was coming down with something. That could be the only explanation. And she’d do as Nick suggested and have some wine. Maybe a glass, or two, or three.
She dropped Nick off at the front of his apartment building, telling him she’d see him at work the next day. Kenna drove to her place, deciding she’d definitely have to call it an early night. Hopefully getting a full night’s sleep would have her feeling more like herself.