Midnight's Master Page 8


"What?" The shock was from Todd. Understandable. Like Nathalia, he was a human. Still capable of being shocked, even though he was mated to a demon.


"Why the hell would someone take organs?" The disgust, that came from Colin. Colin was a damn fine detective. His shifter senses made him a state-of-the-art hunter, and few prey ever escaped him.


"Because we've got another sick freak on the streets," Danny growled, and knew it was the absolute truth. Hell, just great. Someone was slicing demons, stealing body parts, and a reporter was right in the middle of the whole stinking mess.


His luck was always fuck poor.


And this was the last story that he wanted to see headlining the evening news.


"Who knows this?" There were leaks in his department, leaks in every department. And Niol had too many contacts. His demons were everywhere, even in the Atlanta PD.


Those demons-they kept the peace, upheld the law, and kept Niol fully informed at all times.


"I came straight to you," Nathalia said softly.


His shoulders eased, just a bit. He lifted his hand and pointed at his detectives. "This won't stay quiet for long." Maybe a few days, if they were lucky. "When the media gets wind of this-"


"They'll have the whole city scared shitless," Colin finished.


Todd rose to his feet. "Not necessarily a bad thing. Not with some asshole out there slicing up his kills."


What the hell had happened to his city? In the last few years, the crimes had just become more violent. The killers more sadistic.


Maybe there were too many Other these days. Too many monsters with too much power.


Humans had forgotten to fear the creatures in the darkness and that was a mistake.


Because those monsters…they were in the mood to play and kill.


"Get Emily in on this," he ordered. Emily Drake, the psychologist with the power to touch the minds of Other . The only woman who could profile a paranormal killer.


Oh, yeah, they sure as shit needed Emily on this one.


"Get her in here, and find this bastard."


Before he killed again…and the story made the lead on the evening news.


Holly wasn't talking to him. She didn't speak during the ride back to her house. Didn't open her mouth when he walked her to the front door of her place.


Women and the silent treatment-what a deadly weapon.


Niol sighed and waited for her to unlock the door. The sun was up, getting ready to drift across the sky. He could see the shadows of the bruises on her flesh and anger hummed within him.


The door swung open and Holly glanced back at him. "Niol…"


Ah, finally. She spoke. He could tell by her expression that Holly was seconds away from telling him to get lost.


He'd do just that, after he had his turn to speak. He crowded against her, pretty much forcing Holly to either step back or get real close and intimate with him.


He wouldn't have minded the close and intimate part, not at all, but Holly moved back.


With a shove of his foot, he slammed the door. "We need to get some things settled between us."


Her eyes widened. "Us? I didn't think there was an 'us.' I thought there was just you telling me to stay the hell out of demon business."


The rules had changed.


He reached for her.


She flinched back.


Oh, hell, no. "I didn't kill those two men," he gritted. Those cops-they'd planted the fear in her mind. He'd have to remember to pay them back for that.


"Why were you-why were you at the scene of Carl's death?"


Because Carl had called him and asked him for a meeting. If he'd arrived earlier, he might have been able to save the kid.


Instead of finding all that blood.


"I've killed, Holly. You know that." And not just that psychotic incubus who'd attacked her in that alley. "I've never claimed to be one of the good guys." He wasn't like Gyth or Brooks, out keeping the peace and locking up the bad guys. Not his style of justice. "But I don't kill innocents."


Her lips twisted into a ghost of a smile. No dimple, dammit. "Oh, Niol, I know you're not good.


I've known that from the beginning."


But she'd walked into his lair anyway. Smelling of fear and sin. Tempting him.


"I don't trust you," she told him.


Good. "I wasn't on that street to hurt Carl," Niol said. Time for some truth. "I was there to help him."


"How?"


"Someone was after him. Carl wanted protection." He could still hear the kid's voice. H-he's following me, Niol. Hunting me.


"Wait! You knew Carl was in trouble? Did you tell Gyth? If someone was stalking him-"


"Two demons are dead." Flat, cold. "This isn't police business, it's my business."


"Because, what? You're judge, jury, and executioner for the demons in this city? Come on, you– "


"Yes, I am." His voice cut across the tumble of her words.


And seemed to stop her cold.


"Niol…" Holly shook her head. "Don't try to give me any warnings about stepping back from this case, okay? I get it-these are your pissing grounds, but they were my friends. They trusted me.


I'm not going to drop this case until I find out who killed them."


He knew that. He also knew that it was too late for Holly to back off. "You're the link, love." A link he'd use.


She swallowed, but didn't reply, and he knew she already understood.


Two dead sources.


One hit-and-run.


He would have needed to be blind not to have made the connection. "The killer's got you in his sights, Holly."


She didn't deny it.


"The question is… why ?" She wasn't a demon, but maybe, just maybe, she'd learned something about the demon world that should have remained secret.


"You're telling me one of the Other is hunting me now?" Her breath came too fast. "Great.


What? Do I have a vampire on my trail? A crazy-ass shifter? A-"


"Human."


Silence.


Then, "Run that by me again."


"Carl told me a human was dogging his steps." If only he'd gotten the bastard's name…but Carl had been sliced to pieces before he could give away that information. "This time, the killer is one of yours ."


"Hell."


Hmm…who said monsters were just demons and shifters? Humans had monsters living and breathing in their bodies. Sometimes, the humans were worse than the Other .


Much, much worse.


Holly turned away from him and began to pace the length of her den. He could almost hear the wheels turning in her head. Turning, turning – She spun around and pinned him with a fierce look.


And grinding to a halt.


"I don't want to be jerked around by you anymore." The hum of anger vibrated beneath the words. "You should have told me this from the beginning."


Maybe, but he wasn't big on trust, either. "I think the hit-and-run was a warning." Niol figured there was no other way to look at it. If the killer had wanted Holly to die yesterday, well, she would have been found carved up with Sam.


His hands fisted and a vase shattered to his left.


" What? Jesus, Niol, what are you doing?" Holly ran back to his side and bent to pick up the shards of glass. "Nice. This was a gift from-"


He grabbed her hands, heedless of the glass. Niol pulled her to her feet, kept her close. His nostrils flared as her scent teased him.


If Holly had been the one in that morgue…


"Niol?" Her gaze searched his.


He swallowed back the rage. "You still want to team up on this thing?" Because she couldn't hunt the killer on her own, not when she would be walking in both worlds.


Human and Other.


A grim nod. "You know I do. I don't have your contacts."


But she had some. For a human, she'd done a good job of slipping into the realm hidden by darkness.


Besides, if he was right, they didn't really need to explore too much in the demon realm.


"You want in my world. I want in yours."


"What are you proposing?"


Her skin felt so soft beneath his fingers. Delicate. He could hurt her, if he wasn't careful.


But he'd be careful with Holly Storm. Very, very careful. He'd gain her confidence, and in time he'd get…her.


She'd been a fire in his blood for too long. Time to get rid of the gnawing hunger and past time to stop a killer.


Luckily, he had the perfect plan for meeting both goals.


He lowered his head. Brought his mouth inches away from hers. "Tell me, Holly, are you in the mood for a new lover?"


Her breath hissed out.


"I'll take that as a yes. The cops already think we're together." They could keep thinking that. It would be the perfect cover. "You can talk to the demons this way, find out if any of them know anything about Sam or Carl." No demon in Atlanta would dare to touch her once he'd staked his claim.


"And what do you get from the arrangement?" Husky. Dammit. Sexy.


He got more fantasies. More hard-ons. And maybe, just maybe, the fuck he'd been dreaming of for all these long months.


If he played the game right, he'd also catch a killer. "I get enough." That was all he'd say, for now.


His eyes lingered on her mouth. She had a great mouth. He loved her bottom lip. Niol wanted to kiss her. To taste the lips so close to his.


And he was more than used to doing exactly as he wanted.


So he took her mouth.


A deep, long kiss. Lips and tongue. Craving. Hunger.


Her lips were warm and soft, and her response– fuck.


She kissed him with fury. With wild need.


Nothing tentative about her.


His cock, already semiaroused, swelled against the front of his jeans.


He wanted her naked. The bed was close. He could take her into the bedroom. Strip her, and make the fantasy he'd been suggesting into a reality.


It would be so easy.


Holly pushed against him, her nails biting into his chest.


Maybe not.


His head raised. He could still taste her sweetness on his tongue.


"What is it that you want from me, Niol?"


Everything.


"I want to stop the killer, same as you." He forced his hands to free her and he stepped back.


He'd been careful not to jar her. He didn't want to hurt her.


She must have felt his cock straining against her when they'd kissed. The woman knew she'd gotten him turned on and ready.


But he'd pulled back.


For now. "So what's it gonna be, love? Do you want to hunt with me?"


"Yes." Instant. "But we do this together, you got me, demon? No more secrets, no more lies.


Together. "


He wasn't going to make any promises. His life was all about secrets and lies.


"Then welcome to the wild side, Holly." She'd better get ready for one rough ride.


CHAPTER 5


Breaking and entering generally wasn't Holly's idea of a good time. Sure, when she'd been eighteen, she'd once had a boyfriend who'd been fresh out of juvie and he'd taught her some lock tricks, but she hadn't exactly planned on spending her grown-up nights breaking the law.


But it wasn't like she had much choice right then.


"Tell me again," Niol said softly, "just what the hell we're doing here."


Here was on the steps of a small brick house on the outskirts of Atlanta. A house Holly had visited once before, with Carl Bronx.


"Carl's parents owned this place." Her gaze swept the street. "They moved a few years back, left it to him. He had a place downtown, but he liked to stay here sometimes."


She'd thought of the house on Sycamore right before her evening news broadcast and realized that while the police had undoubtedly already searched Carl's studio apartment, they might not have had a chance to get into this place.


Or maybe they didn't even know about it yet.


Holly drew in a deep breath. She felt better, her muscles not as stiff and sore. Already, many of her bruises and scratches had healed. Her wrist didn't even hurt anymore. She was feeling pretty damn good.


Lucky for her, she'd always been a fast healer.


She'd slept most of the day away. Slept, and had nightmares about Sam. Yet every time she'd woken, a cry on her lips, the heavy weight of sleep had pulled her back into the dark world of blood and fear.


She couldn't escape the dead, not even in her sleep.


After her broadcast, she'd called Niol and told him that she needed his help. Because if she was about to go snooping into a dead man's house, well, with the crazy shit happening in this town, she wanted backup.


And what better backup could she get than her all-powerful demon?


He'd picked her up, followed her directions, and now stood with her on the stone steps of the house. Holly flipped up the welcome mat, hoping to find a spare key.


"Love, if you want inside, all you have to do is ask…" Soft.


She shivered. From the cold, had to be. The night air carried a definite chill.


Sure, it was the cold. And not because the guy's voice was sexy.


Her hands rose to her hips. "I'm asking, demon."


He glanced at the door. Narrowed his eyes. She felt that strange thickness in the air again. She'd felt it at the station and at the house, right before her mother's vase had shattered.


A soft click sounded and the door swung open.


"Nice." She said, and this time, meant it. Demons could be handy. Holly strode forward-


And Niol's grip on her shoulder had her jerking to a halt.


She glanced at him, brows lowered.

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