Midnight's Master Page 32


Oh, damn, but when had she ever been this glad to see a demon?


The guy-Burns something-hurried toward her. " You're hurt-"


A door slammed. Had to be the back door. The linebacker was giving chase. Good.


"I'm okay-no, stop, I'm all right!" He was trying to pull her hand away, but she didn't want to look at the wound then. Holly wrestled out of his hold and ran toward the end of the house.


I'm running, can't be hurt too bad.


The demon reached the door before her. She took a deep breath, but could only smell her own blood. "Ben?"


Her guard went in first. Holly tailed right after him.


Ben was pushing himself up from the floor. An old board, looked like a two-by-four that had fallen from the ceiling, lay beside him. He blinked up at her. "Hol? Wh-what's goin' on?"


She could have kissed him then. "Take it easy, Ben."


He lifted his hand and touched the back of his head. "What the hell hit me?" His baseball cap lay on the stained floor beside him.


They already knew the what . Now they had to figure out who.


The thud of footsteps. Holly glanced over her shoulder, aware of a faint prickling in her face.


The linebacker shook his head. "Long gone."


Hell.


"Did we…stumble onto the v-vandals?" Ben's voice drew her gaze back to him. He was on his feet now, swaying just a bit.


"I don't…think so." No, not vandals. There was no spray paint around. The guy who'd come after her had been sporting a knife. He'd meant some serious business.


He'd been waiting for them. Hiding in the house and waiting for them to come inside.


How had he known they'd be there? Only Mac knew.


Mac.


"We are in such fucking trouble." The linebacker's eyes were on her fingers-her bloody fingers.


"Hol?" Ben paled. "We've got to get you to a hospital, we've got-"


On perfect cue, the wail of a siren cut through the air.


Holly hoped, really hoped, that the dispatch lady had sent an ambulance because the world around her was starting to dim.


When Holly opened her eyes, a bright light shone right in her face. She winced and tried to turn away.


"Coming back, are you?" A woman's voice. Dry.


Holly blinked and attempted to focus past the light.


"Hi, there." A face appeared before her. A woman with faint laugh lines around her eyes and a green hospital cap over her hair. A white mask was pulled low, dangling from her throat. "You're all stitched up, hon. Should be good as new."


Stitched up? What was she-


The house.


The psycho with the knife.


Holly shot up, nearly slamming her head into the doctor.


"Easy…"


"Did you put me out?"


A quick smile. "No, hon, you were out when the EMTs brought you here." She pushed an instrument tray away. Holly glanced at that tray and tried not to think about Kim.


Failed.


"You needed eleven stitches. You were really lucky-"


Wasn't that the truth.


"The blade dug across your skin, but you managed to deflect the brunt of the hit."


Her shirt was gone. She wore a hospital gown, one gaping open in the front. Perfect. Holly jerked it closed and winced when she felt the pull of the stitches.


"You've got a crowd outside." One blond brow rose. "Lot of folks must care about you."


" I want to see her-now. " The roar penetrated right through the walls.


"Yep, sure must care."


That familiar roar-Niol's voice.


"Think you can walk out under your own steam?"


Fifty-fifty shot of that.


"Usually, we're supposed to keep folks in for observation, but…" A delicate pause and the cheerful gray eyes suddenly darkened to black. "You're not most folks, are you?"


Her breath caught. "How did you-"


A wink. "I knew your grandmother." She handed Holly her shirt. "Take care, little demon." Then the doctor turned around and walked away.


At the first opportunity, Niol was going to nail demon ass to the walls of his bar. Niol glared at the two ex-guards, his body vibrating with fury. "Where the hell were you two while Holly was getting attacked?"


They looked at each other.


Niol's back teeth locked. He'd thought she was safe-


Like Gillian.


– and she'd nearly been killed.


On his watch.


That bitter taste in his throat, he knew it was fear. Not a damn thing he could do about it.


The air in the waiting room was thick and hot. From him. The rage inside screamed for release.


His control held only by the thinnest thread.


Need to see Holly. Have to touch her.


"Ease up, Niol."


That jackass human detective again. Niol tightened his fingers into fists. It would be so easy to send him through the window. He'd tell Cara it had been an accident. No big deal.


"It was just a flesh wound. I saw her myself-she's fine."


She'd better be.


Too many times. Holly had nearly been killed again.


What the fuck?


Niol had thought, after the attack at the club, that the hunter was coming for him.


But he'd been wrong and Holly had paid for his mistake.


The impure will die.


The message had been loud and clear, but the picture had been of him and Holly.


The bastard knew her secret, knew even when she hadn't, and his lady was on the hunter's list.


Time to kill the asshole and incinerate his soul.


"Get on the streets," he ordered the demons. "Find him." They knew damn sure who he was talking about. "I don't care who you have to bribe or who you have to hurt-"


"Ah, Niol-" Brooks's eyes widened.


"Find him."


They nodded.


He stabbed a finger toward Brooks even as he heard the crack of glass behind him. There go the windows. Can't stop it. "Tell your partner we're hunting again, and this time, I'll find the prey before he does."


The shifter would know exactly what he was talking about. Gyth had beaten him to the last kill they'd competed for, but not this time.


This time, he'd be the one to send the sick bastard to hell.


No one touched Holly. No one made her bleed.


No fucking one.


"Niol, calm down."


He spun at the female voice. Quiet and soothing.


Cara.


The succubus stood just inside the doorway, her blond hair a halo around her. Absolute perfection-from the top of her perfect hair to the tips of her dainty, fire-engine-red-painted toenails-


and she didn't do a thing for him.


Not with her powers, not with her body.


Because he was a demon long gone.


Shit. Shit.


"He's trying to kill her."


He heard a gasp from the right. Holly's mother. She'd arrived a few minutes ago, her nervous hands fluttering as she eyed the ER doors. She hadn't spoken to him, and he hadn't been sure of what to say to her.


Probably not the best thing to say in front of Holly's mother, but-


He was scared.


Time was running out, he could feel it.


I won't lose her.


Cara stepped forward. "Brooks isn't going to let that happen."


"No, I'm not," Niol snapped. Cara knew better, she knew what he had done in the past. He wasn't one to stand by and let another-


"Niol, don't go down this path again." She was right in front of him, her voice was soft, and he knew she didn't want the others to hear.


He didn't really care about them.


But he sucked in a breath and fought for calm.


"Let the police take care of this," she whispered, and her hand caught his arm. "I don't want-


Niol, you have to be careful."


She knew what he'd done, and Niol also knew that Cara had kept his secret. When Nina had been murdered, he'd gone after her killer. It hadn't been pretty and the death hadn't been easy.


Vengeance never was.


"You lose a bit of yourself every time you cross the line." Her gaze held his. "If you keep going this way, one day, there won't be anything left."


Niol shook his head. "He went after her." No choice. He couldn't risk another attack. Hell, how many more attacks could Holly survive? "He's killing demons in my city, doing things you don't want to know about." He'd bet the cop hadn't told her about the hunter's organ-snatching. "He has to be stopped."


But first, he had to be found.


The faint scent of lavender.


Niol's head jerked up. Holly, pale, with wide eyes, stood in the doorway. The same spot Cara had held moments before, but-


So different.


Not built for temptation like the succubus. Her hair was a wild curtain of fire around her face.


Her lips were still, all color gone from them. Borrowed scrubs covered her, and her slim hands twisted in front of her.


The most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.


Niol went to her. Pulled her tight against him, felt the thud of her heart and the fragile strength of her bones.


He wanted her then. Wanted to kiss her and take her and make sure she was all right .


And he wanted to just…hold her. To keep feeling the soft vibration of her heart. To know that she was safe.


"You've got to stop doing this to me," he grated, and pressed a kiss to her forehead.


"I'll try," was her response, so quiet and calm, just like Holly. Just like his Holly.


His lips tried to curve.


Lost . So very lost in her.


He caught her chin. Lifted her head. And kissed her.


It should have been an easy kiss. Gentle. Delicate. She deserved that now.


But he wasn't a gentle man and he needed to taste her too much.


Wild and hard-it was his way.


And hers-because she kissed him right back with the same fierce need.


The silence in the room behind them thickened.


His hold tightened on her and she made a soft sound in the back of her throat. A moan, a sigh and he wanted her even more.


When he lifted his head, Niol had no idea how much time had passed. Didn't really care. Color was back in Holly's face, staining her cheeks, and her eyes sparkled with life again.


Better. So much better.


A cough behind him.


Niol turned but kept Holly in his arms.


"Baby, are you all right?" Her mother asked.


"Yeah, Mom, I'm fine." Her smile didn't look too convincing.


Kelly's gaze turned to him. "You'll stop him?" There was knowledge there, and Niol realized that Holly and her mother must have had one big revelations night.


"I will."


"The police will-" Brooks began.


But Niol cut him off. "Find him first," he challenged.


Kelly gave a nod. "Good. Good." Then she pushed Niol's arms aside and hugged her daughter.


"So she's why." Cara. Soft and almost sad. "Be careful, Niol. You know your weakness."


His weakness stood right beside him. Yes, he knew.


The succubus turned to her lover with a shrug. "You'd better find him first."


"Damn."


And Niol knew the cop had brought Cara in to calm him down. Pity he wasn't in the calming mood.


But he was in the killing mood.


Let the games begin.


Niol took Holly home. He wanted her by his side, where he could be certain that she was safe.


But he also needed to be on the streets. Because no one could put the fear of the devil into the lowlifes he needed to talk to quite like, well, he could.


But being with Holly-that came first.


He took her to his house and up to his bed. He stripped her, being careful not to touch her wound.


She watched him with her emerald eyes. So quiet and close, but seeming so far away.


"You…never slept with Cara, did you?"


Not the question he'd expected.


Holly rubbed a hand over her face. "Ugh! I can't believe I just asked that! Don't tell me, it doesn't matter, I-"


"No. I never did." It mattered or she wouldn't have asked. "I was involved with her sister, but I think you know that."


And she knew the way that story ended.


A hard exhale. "I do, I know. But when I came in there and saw the two of you…"


"What?"


Her head fell back against the pillows. "I was jealous, okay?"


More than okay with him. "Good."


"What? No, not 'good.' Good isn't wanting to yank another woman's hair out right after you've had a doctor shoving stitches in your side."


The woman could make him smile.


"Hell of a day." She covered her eyes with the side of her arm. "And it's only gonna get worse from here on out, isn't it?"


Yes, it was.


"I have to…go out." He couldn't delay any longer. She'd be completely safe in his house. He'd doubled her guards, but in the house, she wouldn't need them. No one could get past his security.


Her arm slowly lowered. "What are you going to do?"


So far, he'd played this game by human rules. For her. He'd tried to be good, tried to rein in the monster inside.


And all he'd gotten for his trouble was her pain.


"Whatever I have to do." If he had to rip into minds-human or Other –to find the bastard out there, he would.


This shit ended tonight.


"Niol…"


He put his fingers to her lips. Such soft lips. "I don't have a choice anymore. He's come too close." To you .


He wouldn't tell her any more. She didn't need his plans on her conscience.

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