Midnight's Master Page 17

They'd laughed, but she'd seen something in his eyes, and for a moment, she'd been envious.

But Carl and his Julia wouldn't have a chance at love anymore. Dammit.

"Brooks thinks Niol is good for the killings…" Gyth spoke slowly.

"No," Niol said, "the bastard wishes I were good for them. There's nothing he'd like more than to throw my ass in jail."

No response.

"But he knows I didn't do it, and so do you." A car door slammed behind them. "This…isn't my style."

No, flames and fury-that was more his style.

Punishing the damned, not killing the innocent.

Niol wasn't perfect, she knew that, but there were some lines Holly knew he wouldn't cross.

Well, damn…looked like the trust had come through even when she hadn't expected it.

Now when had that happened?

During the night of wild sex?

Or when he'd ripped her world apart and told her the truth about herself?

A truth she still didn't understand.

"What the hell is he doing here?" Todd Brooks demanded as he stalked forward. "Coming to gloat over another of his kills?"

Holly turned to glare at the detective, more than ready to rip him a new one-

He slammed into the ground. Just seemed to freeze, then he fell facefirst into the hard earth.

"Fuck," Gyth muttered. "Not again, Niol."

Her breath caught and she looked at Niol from the corner of her eye. An almost smile teased his lips.

Brooks pushed himself up to his knees. Shot a look that could have melted steel at Niol. "I fucking hate you, man."

Niol did laugh at that.

Brooks rose to his feet and brushed off his hands, then his knees.

Jesus-did that count as assaulting an officer?

The human detective didn't speak again until he was toe-to-toe with Niol. "You like screwing around with humans, huh?"

"Cara obviously does," Niol murmured, and it took the words a moment to register for Holly.

Cara. The succubus. The guy's lover.

Brooks's fist lifted-

And Gyth stepped in front of Niol. "He's playing with you, Todd. You know that's the shit he likes."

The rage had the cop's face flushing. "He wants to play, then I'll damn well play."

Enough of this male crap. Holly cleared her throat. All three of the guys looked at her. "Niol, stop being a jackass."

He blinked.

Gyth's eyes narrowed.

Brooks slowly lowered his fist. "You're still with him?"

"Um." And planning to stay for a while, jackass or no. "Look, Detective Brooks, Niol isn't responsible for these kills. Gyth knows it and I think you do, too." The crimes just didn't fit Niol's MO.

"Now, we've got a serious problem on our hands," she continued. "Some freak is picking off demons." Yeah, and she was one, so that made her want to shake. "He's hiding in the shadows, getting off on slicing up his kills, and probably loving like hell that you think the chief suspect is a demon."

Gyth and Brooks shared a hard look. Ah, hit something there.

"These crimes are linked, and we all know it." Julia hadn't been her source like the others, but the dots were still connected. "This bastard is after me and Niol and I-"

"What?" The detectives roared at once.

Niol crossed his arms over his powerful chest and just watched.

"He's after us." Holly knew that with one hundred percent certainty. "The freak left a message for me at the station-a photo of me and Niol with the warning that that 'The impure will die.'"

"Why the hell didn't you tell us this sooner?" Gyth demanded, stepping back to glower at Niol.

"Where's the note? Where's-"

"Your captain has it," Niol inserted smoothly. "It was delivered to McNeal an hour ago."

Gyth's mouth snapped closed.

Even Holly hadn't seen that one coming.

"He's after you ?" Brooks shook his head. "What, does he have a death wish?"

"Perhaps." Niol didn't seem concerned. "If so, I'll do my best to make his wish come true."

"No wonder McNeal told me to shift my attention," Gyth muttered. "Didn't have time to explain, got the call about the body-"

And then he'd found her and Niol on the scene. "He's jonesing for another demon kill," Holly said. "The bastard sent a similar picture to Carl-and we know what happened to him." Don't think about it. Keep your chin up. Voice calm. Don't break down. Not now.

Niol pressed closer to her, seeming to surround her with his warmth.

How had he known?

"And where's that picture?" Brooks asked quietly. He sounded as if he didn't want to hear the answer.

"Your captain will have it…soon." Niol's voice was as slow and easy as a southern summer day.

A dead body. Furious cops. Could nothing shake the guy?

"I'm going live with this story," she told them all, aware that the words came tumbling out a bit too fast.

"The hell you-"

"There's no way-"

She raised her hand. "I'm going live."

Niol nodded. "Good idea."

"Hell, you would say that." Brooks shook his head. "The last thing we want is for the city to panic."

"People need to be warned." She was adamant on this. "They have a right to know what's happening-"

"You really think folks can handle this shit?" Gyth demanded. "Do you know what they'll do to– "

Holly exhaled. "I'm not going to broadcast any Other business, Detective Gyth." Her intent to tell the world about demons had died long ago. "Just let the city know that a predator is hunting so folks will be on guard-and so they'll watch things much, much more carefully." People on alert tended to notice things the unwary never would. And maybe, just maybe, they'd get lucky and catch the bastard.

"She doesn't need you, either of you," Niol all but purred, "to run her story."

No, I don't. "I got scene shots for tonight. The body bag." She didn't flinch when she said it, just sounded like a cold bitch. That was hard, but she did it. "And now I know what 'bits' you guys have been holding back from the press."

Gyth's shoulders stiffed. "You can't broadcast that-"

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Holly had no intention of airing those gory details. The freak would like that too much. No, she needed to air just enough to piss him off…and to make him nervous enough to screw up. "Give me an interview, on air, about this killer. You can lead me, tell me what you want the public to know, and I'll keep that information quiet for the time being." Deals-the way of the world.

Gyth's jaw worked, but it was Brooks who answered. "Five minutes?"

Ah, now he'd promised her an interview before…only to never deliver. "Five minutes– now ."

She wouldn't be put off again.

The shifter's lips curved. "Looks like you're goin' live, pretty boy."

Brooks muttered something back to him, something that sounded a lot like "fuck off."

Her heart began to drum in the fast, steady rhythm she always got right before a shoot. "Then, detective, looks like we are, indeed, going live."

It was the first time Niol had been close enough to watch her work. At the scene of Carl's death, he'd arrived right after the camera lowered, and he'd been too preoccupied with blood and death and vengeance to pay much attention to the news van.

A bright light shone onto Holly. She gripped a microphone in her right hand. The cameraman had his equipment hoisted onto his shoulder and the round lens zoomed in on Holly's tense face and the face of Todd Brooks.

She let the guy lead, as she'd promised, allowing him to make some general statements about the crimes and the connections between the victims.

"At this time, the Atlanta PD strongly suspects that the person who murdered Carl Bronx and the perpetrator who killed Sam Miters is, in fact, one and the same."

Brooks didn't mention Julia Powers. Niol had heard the cop and Holly talk about the woman a few moments before the camera went live. Holly had said she wouldn't air the other woman's story, not until family members were notified.

He'd been surprised by that. Holly wasn't like most reporters, and he'd sure seen his share of them over the years. She wasn't just after a story, not worrying about who she hurt or screwed to get the scoop.

No, she…cared.

Dangerous, that, because the lady might not realize it, but she was opening herself up to a whole world of pain.

Still, she had gotten herself an exclusive.

And now she may have also gotten the full attention of a killer, one who already seemed to have a hard-on for her.

"You really think this was smart?" The cop shifter's voice was whisper-soft and came from right beside him.

Niol didn't bother glancing his way. He liked his current view. Holly looked damn sexy under the bright light, her face pale perfection, her eyes so deep and green. That mouth…

"You're making her a target."

He knew that, but…"I'm the one the bastard wants." Demons didn't come much more "impure"

than he did.

"You're probably right on that."

Not the typical reassuring cop answer, but then, Gyth wasn't a typical cop.

He also wasn't a typical shifter.

The detective was a wolf shifter, a wild, dangerous breed. And one who, instead of hunting humans, had taken a job protecting them.

Talk about screwed up. Gyth was fighting his heritage tooth and claw.

"Is it easy throwing your lover to the beast at the gate?"

He did turn at that, because the cop, as much as he might have a very small grudging respect for the guy, was starting to piss him off. "Don't concern yourself with Holly." A warning.

But Gyth just firmed his lips, then after a moment said, "It's not as easy to protect a woman you care about, Niol."

A woman you care about.

Niol's body tightened.

"You're always touching her," Gyth spoke quietly. "Brushing her arm, holding her wrist– always touching her."

Because he liked the feel of her against him.

"Watch that you don't give away too much of yourself, demon. You never know who is watching."

Niol glanced away and let his eyes drift back to Holly. Interviewing the human cop. Talking about a sadistic killer.

And broadcasting for the whole city to see.

You never know who is watching.

Yes, that was why Holly had wanted to go on air.

He rubbed his chest, aware of a dull ache below his heart. What the hell was that?

No way, no damn way could it be…fear.

I'll keep her safe.

No matter who was watching.

Fucking bitch.

Her face filled the television screen. Lying green eyes all intent and sorrowful as she talked with the idiot cop about the murders.

And about the brutal killer who was loose on the streets.

Like he was the one doing something wrong.

No, no, all he was doing was taking out the trash. Putting down the monsters.

She knew that. But, oh, no, Holly Storm carried on like he'd murdered people, humans who mattered.

Not just spawns of the devil.

Demons didn't deserve to live. They were evil, down to the core.

Survival of the fittest-and as far as he was concerned, the fittest was the human race.

Now the bitch was asking for information, for any tips on the crimes, and he couldn't help but tense. He'd tried to be careful, but during that first kill-and Holly was at the damn scene right then, so he knew the cops had found the whore's body-he'd been surprised by the fury that swept through him.

That demon whore shouldn't have tried to fight me. He'd just wanted to get more information on her boyfriend. He hadn't even realized she was a demon, until she'd attacked him and her blue eyes had flashed black.

No choice then, he'd needed to put her down.

"Police are encouraging people in the city to be extra vigilant. Pay attention to your surroundings-and stay on guard."

Holly was such a fucking nuisance. Back in the early days, it had been different, but now…

Now she was a problem that had to be eliminated.

As soon as fucking possible.


When the camera turned off, he went to her. Niol took Holly's hand and pulled her away from the cops and into the shadows.

He wanted to kiss her so bad he ached, but the cop, the shifter jerk, had made him…worry.

"Come home with me tonight." Sure, he had guards on her, but having her in his house, in his bed, that was different.

He could protect her then.

Better than he'd protected Gillian.

She blinked. Dammit, he loved her eyes, glamour or no. Because in her eyes, he could see what she felt. Fear. Anger. Lust. "We tried that," she said quietly, licking her lips, "we barely made it through the door before-"

Niol's mouth crashed down on hers. He was starving for her taste. The day had been so long and he'd found himself thinking about her, wanting her, too much.

Her lips were so soft and when those lips parted, he couldn't control the groan that rose in his throat. His tongue swept inside her mouth, tangled with hers and tasted the sweetness that was…Holly.

He pushed her against the brick wall, caging her with his body, and she kissed him-kissed him with the same wild hunger he felt. Her hands wrapped around his neck, the tips of her nails stinging his flesh.

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