Call of the Siren ONLY
$4.99

a Demons of the Infernum novel by Rosalie Lario

A 2015 Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence Finalist in the Paranormal category
 
The half-siren half-demon bounty hunter Dagan Meyers swore he’d never settle down. His older brothers might’ve adjusted well to family life but tying himself to one woman is so not Dagan’s bag. Until he meets the gorgeous angel Lina, his brother Ronin’s long-lost adopted sister, and he can’t think of being with anybody but her. Too bad Ronin’s well aware of Dagan’s party-boy lifestyle and won’t let him anywhere near his angelic baby sister.

Lina is still getting over the abandonment issues that began when she was orphaned as a child and has devoted her life to taking down evil Otherworlders. The last thing she wants is to develop feelings for man she knows will eventually leave her, too. But as the battle against a growing darkness continues—a powerful fae who’s harnessed untold power—Dagan and Lina find that love may be their greatest weapon against the very thing that threatens to destroy them all.

 
 

Information:

Title: Call of the Siren
Series: Demons of the Infernum, #4
Author: Rosalie Lario
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 368 pages
Release Date: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62266-052-0
Imprint: Select Otherworld

 
 
Price listed is for the U.S. digital format. Please confirm pricing and availability with the retailer before downloading.
 

 
 
 
An Excerpt from
Call of the Siren
by Rosalie Lario

Copyright © 2014 by Rosalie Lario. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

 

Chapter One

Romania, April

Oftentimes the greatest of men, the biggest visionaries, were the most misunderstood. They were painted as villains, feared and reviled, when in fact they were heroes. It was this simple truth that forced Belpheg to push forward when his deteriorating body longed to quit. Nothing mattered but his mission. Once it was complete, the worlds as everyone knew them would be changed. And he would again be whole.

But first he had to put his plan into place. He needed to gather the men who would aid in his objective. Which meant breaking one of them out of the most secure prison in all the dimensions.

No small feat, but he had a secret weapon.

Belpheg would normally never attempt what he was about to do in the light of day, but it mattered little considering where they were: a narrow patch of land nestled deep in the forest off the Appalachian Trail. Even if a random hiker had stumbled into this area, they would never see the area where Belpheg stood, because it was hidden by a powerful glamour that only Otherworlders could see. All interdimensional portals were masked this way, and this one was no exception, despite the fact that it had been created in secret by a disgruntled Council employee. Rumors of such a portal abounded in New York City, but its location was a well-kept secret.

How lucky for him that one of his now-deceased lackeys, Leviathos, had discovered its location.

The hidden portal was how he’d made the move from his dimension to Earth just a few weeks ago. He missed his home dimension of Faelan, but this godforsaken world held the eleven men he’d collected for his centering ritual, along with the handful of other minions he’d hired. Besides, the beauty of the expansive Neo-Renaissance castle he’d purchased in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania did much to ease the pain of leaving behind his old, familiar world.

“Ready?” he asked the hubrin demon he’d brought on to assist him.

The demon nodded. “Yes.”

When Belpheg stepped into the portal, his legs gave an unexpected shake. Gritting his teeth, he rode out the temporary wave of weakness. His damn body was growing weaker by the moment, too feeble to contain his impressive powers. Which was why he needed to act now.

Steeling his breath, he waited for his assistant to enter the portal before speaking the coordinates for the Council headquarters, located between planes. Since the Council controlled all interdimensional travel, entry into its headquarters was only supposed to be accomplished by Council permission. Lucky for him he had an alternate method.

The only problem was that the Council was now aware of the portal’s existence, if not its location. Leviathos had used it several months ago to steal the Book of the Dead, an ancient book containing a spell to create a zombie army. Then the stupid idiot had gotten himself killed. The book had been destroyed, but ever since then, the Council kept a contingent of guards stationed in front of the portal leading into the headquarters…which made what he was about to do a little bit trickier.

Thank goodness he had a little help from the inside. Men were all too easy to bribe these days.

Belpheg pulled a golden orb about the size of a baseball out of one of the pockets of his robe and held it out to his assistant. “Remember to do as I instructed.”

“Yes, Belpheg.” His assistant’s arm shook as he clutched the orb loosely in his hand.

“Try not to get yourself killed.” The portal shimmered and the shift in pressure momentarily sucked the air from their lungs. Belpheg forced his traitorous body to stand firm. He could collapse once he’d accomplished his mission.

A second later, they landed at the entrance to the headquarters, a four-story stone fortress plunked onto a floating piece of reddish rock in an otherwise dark, landless world.

The guards posted in front of the portal snapped to attention with startled looks on their faces. Belpheg counted ten…no, twelve of them.

The guards lifted their weapons—high-powered rifles that shot ribbons of energy instead of bullets. Smart move on the Council’s part. Bullets wouldn’t necessarily kill an Otherworlder, but if the energy their weapons emitted hit him, it would block his abilities long enough for them to take him down.

“Stop right there,” one of the guards shouted. That was all the warning Belpheg got before the guards shot their weapons.

Belpheg lifted his hand, and an answering stream of power poured from his fingers. It collided with the energy from the weapons, neutralizing it.

“What the fuck?” one of the guards said. His brows furrowed, and he briefly lowered his weapon to examine it before lifting it for another round. Belpheg hit him with a second shot of energy, sending him tumbling off the floating piece of rock.

One down.

Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted one of the guards reaching for a communication device holstered at his side, but before he could stop him from using it, several of the other men discharged their weapons. He blocked the rays, but could do nothing to stop the sound of the alarm warning everyone inside the building of his attack.

But then, he’d expected nothing less.

“Get ready,” he snapped at his assistant. With a flick of his fingers, he shot lightning bolts toward two of the guards. They fell to the ground, their corpses twitching and smoking. Belpheg grinned and pointed his fingers at the remaining guards, but then his heart seized without warning. He lowered his hand to his chest with a gasp, cursing his weak, treacherous body.

“Belpheg?” His assistant shifted edgily beside him. “They’re about to shoot again.”

He must keep the end goal in mind. Once he was able to complete the circle, he would never again have to worry about his body giving out on him. But first, he needed to get inside. Now.

“Use it.”

His assistant nodded and pointed the orb in his hand toward the remaining guards. He squeezed, and a bright ray of light blanketed the space between them and the other men, freezing the guards in place.

The clenching of Belpheg’s heart subsided, and he straightened to admire his handiwork. He’d been slowly bleeding his energy into orbs for the past month. Unlike his body, the orbs wouldn’t unexpectedly give out. Unfortunately, their power was limited, and he’d only been able to create two of them in the time he’d had. They had ten minutes to get in and out.

“Hold them off.” Belpheg set the stopwatch strapped to his wrist.

He skirted around the paralyzing light and climbed the stone steps leading into the headquarters. The entrance had been barred with a force field that would have been deadly for anyone else. Once again, the Council had underestimated him. He slashed the air with his trembling hand, and the resultant energy tumbled the force field down. When he stepped inside the building, it was just in time to see another group of guards running toward him from the long corridor directly ahead.

“Freeze.” The lead guard stopped to point his weapon at Belpheg’s heart.

“No, you freeze.” Belpheg reached into his pocket and removed the second orb, squeezing to activate its power. Immediately, the ray of energy shot out toward the men, rendering them motionless.

According to his spy, the Council prison was located on the ground level, down the corridor to the left. Belpheg directed the orb’s beam toward the other side of the building, ensuring that no one would interrupt him, and lowered it to the ground. He glanced at his watch.

Less than eight minutes left.

He wasted no time in striding down the long corridor and came to a stop right before a thick, metal door at the end. Normally, the prison entrance was manned by several guards, but it seemed they’d abandoned their post to join the others who were now frozen in place at the front of the building.

Most excellent.

He slid the heavy bolt on the door. It opened to reveal another hallway, but this one was dark and dank—clearly setting the mood for the miserable souls locked inside. The thought that it might have once been him locked in here nearly made him shiver…but no, the Council had chosen to decimate his people rather than imprison them. That was much worse, wasn’t it?

Thick bars were set along either side of the corridor. Belpheg started forward.

A bone-thin hand crept through one set of bars. “Help me,” a weak voice said.

Belpheg peered inside the tiny cell, but it wasn’t the man he sought. Shrugging, he moved along. He passed five more cells before coming to one where a thin, wasted man sat on the only piece of furniture, a tiny cot. Less than a foot from his bed was a toilet with no lid.

He shuddered, about to move on, when he realized the man’s profile was familiar. He’d almost missed it from the hunched set of the man’s back and the fact that his gaze was directed toward the ground.

“Mammon.”

When the man’s gaze shot toward him, Belpheg realized with a start that he was right. By the gods, how Mammon had aged. Even though he’d been a grown man already when he’d saved Belpheg’s life, somehow Belpheg had never thought of him as being old. Avaritia demons aged slowly and gracefully. But the time in prison had clearly been hard on Mammon. He looked wrung-out and every bit the old man he was.

Mammon’s expression was wary, but then recognition lit his eyes. Mammon slowly stood and shuffled toward the bars. “Belpheg—is that you?”

“Yes.” Maybe he should simply leave the demon here. He didn’t look like he would be capable of handling the task Belpheg had in mind for him.

But then Mammon’s hands tightened on the bars, and his back straightened, displaying a glimmer of the pride he’d once shown.

Hmm…perhaps there was fire left in him still.

“What are you doing here?” Mammon asked.

The stopwatch beeped, reminding Belpheg that he had less than five minutes to get back to the portal, or risk being forced to take on the Council’s entire group of guards in his increasingly weakening form.

“You saved my life once.”

“Yes,” Mammon said, his voice cautiously hopeful.

Belpheg grinned. “I’m here to return the favor.”

 

 

Chapter Two

New York City, Early June

Of the few things that Dagan did exceptionally well, sex was on the top of the list, and it was by far his favorite. The heart-pumping excitement of being with a new woman; the adrenaline rush of uncovering those silky bits of flesh normally hidden by her clothes; the musky scent of their mutual arousal filling the air…nothing beat it. Whenever he was with a woman, the never-ending symphony of songs that filled his head quieted down. But sometimes his overwhelming need to get it on was downright inappropriate.

Like now.

He was supposed to be working. His eldest brother Keegan had sent him to Opiate in an effort to track down information on the dark fae the Elden Council searched for. The dark fae he and his brothers might have apprehended last month if they’d done what the Council had ordered them to. Instead, they had chosen to disregard its commands in order to save the woman his brother Ronin loved. In so doing, they’d pissed the Council off, big-time. In other words, they’d seriously screwed up—no matter how pure their intentions.

So now, their only option was to fix things by finding the dark fae before the Council got fed up and deported them back to their hellish home world of Infernum. That was what had led Dagan to Opiate tonight, but what had landed him in this section of the Otherworldly club was another thing entirely—his stupid dick.

You’re such a dumb shit.

“What?” the chick plastered to his body asked.

Had he said those words aloud?

“Nothing.”

The woman smiled and pushed him back against the wall. Her hair was styled into a spiked pixie cut that accentuated the slight point at the top of her ears. Even with her glamour that made her passable as human, it was obvious to him that she was Elven. When he’d wandered into Opiate, he’d immediately noticed her sitting alone at the bar. She’d been wearing a tiny black tank top and low-slung jeans that showed off a miniscule thong, practically an open invitation for male company. Somehow, he’d ended up joining her. And less than an hour later they’d wound up in the back—which was separated from the rest of the club by a filmy curtain—and she had her top bunched up around her armpits.

No mincing words: people came back here to fuck. Dagan had been here himself on more than one occasion. But he was supposed to be asking questions tonight. Rumor had it a few of the patrons who frequented this very club were now in the dark fae’s employment. Dagan’s mission was to find out what the hell he was planning to do with them.

So why are you back here?

“Everything okay, baby?” she murmured.

The woman—what the hell was her name again?—nuzzled his neck while her hand slid inside his unbuttoned jeans and closed around him.

No, everything wasn’t okay. He was doing it again, resorting to sex whenever he got stressed out about something in his life. Lately there’d only been more and more to worry over. But sex wasn’t the answer. They all needed to focus on repairing the strain with the Council. He couldn’t even begin to imagine how pissed his brothers would be if they saw what he was doing here instead.

So why are you screwing up again?

Something cold and angry slithered around in Dagan’s chest like a poisonous serpent poised to strike, and strains of a hard, bitter song pounded his head. Even though his body was on board at the thought of getting it on with this virtual stranger, as evidenced by the hard-on she caressed, he’d never felt so empty inside. Just more confirmation that he was seriously fucked in the head.

What good was sex if you couldn’t even enjoy it?

The woman pulled back to throw him a vaguely disgusted look. Her bare breasts glimmered in the dim blue lighting of the club, and his cock jumped at the jiggling her movement sparked. “Are you down or not? ’Cause I can’t tell.”

Neither could he, and that wasn’t fair to her. Dagan opened his mouth to tell her…what, that he’d changed his mind? He didn’t even know.

Before he could figure it out, hair spun the color of moonlight caught his eye from beyond the transparent veil separating this section from the rest of the club. He jerked his gaze across the room, and his stomach knotted at the confirmation that the hair belonged to who he thought it did.

Iolina—Lina to those who knew her.

He made a sound in his throat that the chick plastered to his front must have taken for assent, because she grinned and started moving her hand again. Barely paying her any mind, he kept his gaze locked on the woman beyond the veil.

Lina was the adopted sister of his older brother. She had been a part of Ronin’s life before Dagan had known him, back when Ronin had lived with his mother. After their sadistic father had kidnapped Ronin at the age of nine and brought him to live with Dagan and his other brothers, Taeg and Keegan, Ronin hadn’t seen Lina again. Until several months ago, that was, when they’d run into each other by a pure twist of fate.

That was when Dagan had met her.

When Lina pushed the filmy curtain aside and stepped into the back, his hands tensed on Elven-chick’s hips, but before he could push her away, Lina’s searching gaze landed on him. She kept going for a moment before realizing what she’d seen and, with a start, turned her eyes back to him. They narrowed into little slits, and who could blame her? Even though the woman’s back was to Lina, she couldn’t miss that the woman’s top was scrunched up to reveal her chest.

Aw, fuck.

Self-loathing settled in the pit of Dagan’s stomach like a harsh pill, accompanied by the lyrics of Green Day’s hate-filled Platypus song. He yanked Elven-chick’s top down over her breasts. Even though Lina couldn’t see it from her angle, he had a feeling she knew exactly where the woman’s hand was. He reached down to disengage it, but the woman fought him, protesting the whole while.

“You can’t seriously tell me you want to stop now.”

His gaze still locked on Ronin’s sister, Dagan read the exact moment the shock and disbelief in her eyes morphed into bitter revulsion. Her mouth puckered, and she turned away, dismissing the scene before her with clear disdain.

“Sorry.” Dagan disentangled himself from the woman, ignoring her continued protests, and buttoned himself back into his pants. He surprised himself with the ease of his movements, when deep inside, crippling regret and humiliation fought for dominion.

The worst part of Lina catching him back here wasn’t that she knew his brothers, or that she might tell them what she’d seen. No, it was that his feelings for her were anything but brotherly. Every time he saw her, his heartbeat tripled and curling ribbons of a sweet melody unfolded in his head.

Clearly it was wrong to feel that way about someone his brother considered family, but he couldn’t help himself.

Pull yourself together, dude.

He had to find Lina, and somehow repair the damage he’d caused with his careless actions. Even if the thought of facing her made him want to lay down in shame.

  1. Sexy demon hybrid, and sibling to the man Lina had once loved as a brother.

And he hadn’t been alone. A thin blonde had been plastered to his front, blocking a good portion of him from her view. Her tank top had been squished up underneath her armpits, baring the large tramp stamp decorating her lower back, and one hand had rested on his shoulder. The other was out of sight, but the movement of her arm was unmistakable.

When it had struck her that she was watching another woman jack Dagan off, her stomach had turned and a sour taste filled her mouth. She’d jerked her gaze back up to his face, and the chagrin in his eyes broke her out of her shocked daze.

Ew…gross!

She’d then schooled her features into a look of disgust and speared him with it before moving away. But the scene she’d just witnessed insisted on replaying itself in her head. There was no mistaking the intense clenching sensation deep inside her chest.

Envy, burning a vicious hole in her heart.

Stop it. You mean nothing to each other.

He was Ronin’s brother, that was all. But even though she knew that, Lina couldn’t help the way her body responded every time he was near. The shameful pulsing of her heart was eclipsed only by the dampness that covered her thighs. Only one other man had ever elicited such a response.

And look how well that ended.

That thought alone was enough to firm her resolve. There could never be anything between her and Dagan.

Feeling properly chastised, she stepped back out to the main part of the club. Gods, what the hell was she doing in this shithole?

After all the things Lina had seen and done in her twenty-five years of life, she wouldn’t have thought she could be talked into anything. Leave it to her pseudo-adopted brother Ronin to prove her wrong. When he’d asked her to speak with her fellow mercenaries in an effort to get information about the dark fae the Council was tracking, she hadn’t been able to say no. But then, the couple grand he’d offered had done a lot to persuade her.

Lina squashed her guilt at the memory of Ronin’s disappointment when he’d had to resort to offering money in exchange for her assistance. Truth was he had plenty of it, and she needed more. Ronin thought she was a money-grubber—that much was obvious from his expression. And he was right.

But he didn’t know why.

Or what she did with it.

Keeping her eyes firmly away from the section of the club where she’d seen Dagan, Lina continued her search for her contact, Sam.

As she neared the bar, a slimy-looking man in tattered jeans took stock of her outfit, from the dusty rose corset top underneath her black leather jacket to the jeans tucked into her calf-high boots, and made a beeline for her. “Hey sexy, can I buy you a—”

“Fuck off.”

He recoiled, anger transforming his face, but didn’t pursue her. Good for him. She knew just what to do with assholes who couldn’t take no for an answer.

Almost instinctively, her hand crept toward the stiletto knives she carried in a hidden interior pocket of her jacket. Weapons weren’t allowed inside Opiate, but she didn’t give a damn. As long as no one messed with her, they would stay sheathed.

She came to a stop in front of Crull, the gold elf who manned the bar. “Hey, Crull, I’m looking for Sam. Seen him?”

Crull snagged a mug and poured some lager into it. “Saw him around earlier. I’m sure he’s here somewhere.”

“Thanks.” She stalked through the club, searching for Sam’s distinctive black Mohawk. Sam was a lorne demon, as well as a kick-ass mercenary. She’d teamed up with him for a job or two in the past, and he’d been there a month and a half ago when she’d banned together with Ronin and his brothers to take down Asmodeus. The incubus creep had had it coming, of course. He’d enslaved Amara, the woman Ronin loved, along with a handful of other succubi, and had forced them to murder for him.

When Lina had called Sam yesterday, he told her he might know someone who’d done work for a powerful dark fae. They agreed on meeting here tonight, hopefully with his contact in tow.

“Lina!”

Aw, damn.

She groaned at the sound of Dagan’s voice. Couldn’t he just have pretended he hadn’t seen her? The last thing she wanted to do was rehash that little incident.

A moment later, a hand closed on her arm.

She took a breath, and turned.”It’s Iolina.”

Ronin and his brothers insisted on calling her by her childhood nickname even though she’d repeatedly asked them not to. Truth be told, Lina was the name she responded to the most, even if it did have so many bad memories attached to it.

When Dagan gave her a look that told her she was fighting a losing battle, she sighed and looked him over. He had rearranged his clothes into some semblance of respectability, and even though she knew what he’d just been doing in that darkened corner with another woman, she couldn’t help but notice how amazing he looked. His dark hair curled over his ears, its color perfectly matching the heavy brows framing his turquoise-glamoured eyes. A five o’clock shadow accentuated the powerful angles of his squared jaw. The black leather jacket that covered his fitted gray shirt and dark jeans was probably a tad too warm for the mild, late-spring weather, but who knew better than she how great jackets were for concealing weapons? Besides, demons and angels didn’t feel heat and cold in the same way humans did.

Damn it, why did he always have to look so good? That just made her even more pissed off.

Dagan took one glance at her face and released her arm. His hand clenched at his side. “Listen, I…uh…”

“Didn’t expect to see me here,” she finished for him.

His cheeks colored, and he edged closer, lowering his voice. “I came to see if I could find any more information about the dark fae. Keegan thinks he might be recruiting help out of here.”

“And yet, somehow, you ended up with some random bimbo’s hand stuck to your dick. Is that part of your cover? ’Cause if so, it’s a damn good one.”

She bit her lip as soon as the words escaped her mouth. Could she possibly sound any more like a jealous shrew? But he didn’t seem to notice. The color on his cheeks spread to his ears.

“I…”

A sheepish expression crept onto Dagan’s face, and he stuttered to a stop. That made her even more mad. The guy couldn’t even rustle up a weak excuse. Not that he owed her any sort of explanation for his actions, but still, the least he could do was refrain from chasing tail for a few hours while he worked.

Or maybe he couldn’t. Ronin seemed to think that was the case, and he often reminded her of it.

She smoothed an errant lock of her long, blond hair behind her ear. “Couldn’t resist fucking around on the job, huh? I’m sure your brothers would be so surprised.”

Hurt, then anger, flashed in his eyes, making him appear far more dangerous than a skirt-chasing player had any right to be. “Why do you care so mu—”

Something rammed into her from the side before he could finish his sentence. A rough pair of hands grabbed her arms and jerked them behind her, lifting her to her toes.

What the hell?

That was when she realized what she would’ve picked up on seconds earlier, had she not been so focused on Dagan and his insatiable wang.

They were under attack.

Lina twisted away from the hands trying to imprison her and whirled into a spin kick that tossed her attacker halfway across the crowded club. He took down a couple of other patrons as he flew back, like some sick, people-version of a bowling game. She stared only long enough to confirm she didn’t know the man. When she turned back to where Dagan had stood moments earlier, a small crowd of men surrounded him. And they were focused on pummeling him to the ground.

All of the patrons who stood nearby had eased away, staring at the men fighting.

What a roomful of gentlemen.

A shadow in the corner of her eye alerted her to the presence of another man. She turned just in time to avoid his fist. If it had been just the two of them, she could have used her calming ability to stop him, but that particular gift didn’t have the same effect in a crowd this size. Besides, she hadn’t used that gift in a long time…and fighting back was so much more fun, anyway.

Her knee shot up and caught him in the small of his back. He arched backward in pain, and she leaped into the air, striking her elbow into the left side of his neck. The man’s eyes rolled in his head as he crumpled to the ground.

“I told you to take her fast,” a familiar voice yelled. “She’s a good fighter.”

Shock reverberated through Lina’s bones like the heart-pumping bass of a drum. She sought out the source of the voice, and sure enough, he was one of the men trying to take Dagan down.

Sam? What the fuck are you doing?”

A glimmer of something that looked like regret shone in the lorne demon’s eyes before they flicked to the side. His nervous tick tipped her off to the fact that the first man who’d attacked her, a burly wrestler type who had to be at least six and a half feet tall, had recovered. He stalked toward her, purposeful intent glinting in his eyes.

Lina ducked, but not quickly enough to avoid his meaty fist. It bashed into her face, and something crunched in response. Biting back a yell of pain, she regrouped just in time to sidestep another blow. Thank goodness for her speed, because her physical strength would be no match for a beast of his size. She reached into her jacket and pulled out a knife. This was when she felt most empowered—when she had a weapon in her hand, preferably a sharp one. Getty had trained her well.

Her attacker took one look at her weapon and laughed. “Nice toothpick.”

He lunged for her, but she swung to the side and spun around, cleaving the knife over the main artery on his wrist. He grunted and stared down, dumbstruck, at the blood gushing out in a steady spray. Clearly he hadn’t expected it to be so sharp, or for her aim to be so accurate.

She took advantage of his distraction and leaped onto his back. Grabbing a hank of hair with her free hand, she sliced through his neck. He collapsed to the floor with a gurgle, and Lina hopped off, landing light on her feet. Once upon a time, the idea of taking another man’s life would have been unthinkable. But that had been the old Lina, the one who’d had something to lose. Now she had no compunction about taking someone down. Especially someone who’d attacked her.

And even if she did feel the tiniest bit of guilt, well she could easily ignore that.

Lina whirled around to where Dagan stood fighting off his attackers. Two men lay on the ground at his feet, which left him three more to deal with, including that bastard Sam. She dug in her jacket for a second stiletto and raced for Sam.

Take that, jackass.

He saw her knife and leaped to the side a split second before it could sever the artery at his elbow joint.

Damn. Close, but no dice.

“What is wrong with you?” she gasped as she lunged for him again.

He blocked her thrust with a hit that jarred her wrist. Using his free hand, he delivered a punch to her stomach that sent her flying back a few feet.

“Sorry, babe,” he panted. “You’ve made some big enemies.”

What the hell? Sam and she weren’t the best of buds or anything, but they’d been through some shit together. She’d trusted him. Why would he turn on her now?

Sudden realization stopped her in her tracks.

“The dark fae we’re searching for. You work for him.”

The flash of guilt in Sam’s eyes was all the response she needed.

“Why?” she asked.

Sam shrugged and, before she could move, rushed straight at her. Lina caught a flash of silver an instant before a searing-hot bolt of agony speared her in the side. She groaned at the pain and dropped one of her daggers, placing her freed hand on Sam’s chest for balance. Regret and some other sad emotion shimmered in his eyes as he jerked his dagger out of her side. When she yelled out in pain, he repeated, “Sorry,” and lifted the dagger to her neck.

Lina stared at Sam through watery eyes. She couldn’t believe she’d allowed him to best her. After all these years of learning how to fight, how to kick ass, she’d gone and fucked up big time. Her only defense was that his betrayal had surprised her. And now she would pay for that with her life.

Funny, after all these years of secretly wishing for death, for an end to the never-ending sorrow deep inside her heart, now that the moment was here, she found she wanted to live.

Wouldn’t you know?

Sam read the look in her eyes and shook his head. “I’m not here to kill you.”

“Then what—”

A loud roar cut off the rest of her sentence. A figure collided with Sam, knocking him to the side and his dagger safely away from Lina. Without the support of Sam’s body, she crumpled to the floor in a kneeling position.

She looked up to see Dagan shoving Sam to the ground and wresting the dagger from his hand. He held it to Sam’s neck.

“No,” Sam pleaded.

Dagan growled, his arm shaking with the effort of keeping the dagger at Sam’s throat without slicing it into him as he so clearly longed to do. A thin line of blood spread on Sam’s neck where the dagger pressed into his flesh.

“You okay, Lina?” Dagan asked without taking his eyes off Sam.

Lina surveyed her surroundings. The men Sam had used to attack them with all lay on the ground, blood flowing from their beaten bodies. When she realized she hadn’t been breathing, she took a big gasp of air, then whimpered at the agony it sparked in her side. Why the hell hadn’t she healed herself yet?

She placed her hand on the oozing wound and activated her healing ability. A warm rush of golden light spread from her core up to her chest, then flowed down her arm and into her fingertips. Her side tingled in residual pain as the wound repaired itself in a matter of seconds. Thank goodness for her angel heritage. Otherwise she might be in some deep shit right now.

“Lina?” Dagan said through gritted teeth.

“I’m good,” she said, just as Dagan glanced back at her.

Freed from Dagan’s piercing gaze, Sam dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out an electric blue, gelatinous orb about the size of a golf ball.

Lina scrambled to her feet. “Watch out!”

Dagan turned back to Sam, but not quickly enough to stop him from squishing the ball in his fist. A ray of blue energy filled the club, crackling the air and momentarily blinding Lina. Her hair raised on end.

“What the fuck?” Dagan gargled.

When Lina blinked, the world settled back into view. She sought out Dagan, and saw the reason for his muttered curse. The spot where Sam had just lain was now empty, and Dagan straddled nothing but air.

His confused gaze met hers. “Where did he go?”