Abigail kept her hands under Khait’s shoulders, carrying him by his armpits while Bridget got his legs. Together they lifted him onto her bed and laid him down. “Alright.” Bridget took a few deep breaths. “Alright.” She swallowed. “Alright.”
“Is it?” Abigail stared down at Khait.
“He’s breathing, so…” Bridget put her hand on his forehead as if to check his temperature. “Maybe we should call an ambulance.”
“And tell them…” Abigail sat down on the side of the bed. “What would we tell them? We don’t even…” She hung her head. “He got food poisoning from bad Italians?”
Bridget barked a laugh, then put her hands over her mouth. “Abby.”
“Yeah?” Abigail took Khait’s hand.
“I’m not sure, but uh…” She exhaled. “I think I strangled a man.”
“Either that or you beat him to death, because he didn’t move a hell of a lot while I was cutting off…” Abigail trailed off. “Bridget I cut off a man’s finger.” Her eyes widened. “Oh, god, Bridget, your hand.”
“Yeah it’s…” Bridget looked down at the blisters on her hand. “Okay, adrenaline is starting to wear off and I think I might need some ice and some vodka and some dilaudid and some prozac.” She swallowed. “Maybe not in that order.”
“I have ice and vodka.” Abigail stood.
“Okay. Let’s start with those.” Bridget started toward the kitchen.
She got halfway down the hall when a horrible thought struck her. “Bridget, do any of those guys know where you live?”
“Well they…” Bridget gave her a horrified look. “They knew who I was and tracked me down in…” Her voice became small and hopeful. “In Rome, and we aren’t in Rome right now so maybe they can’t find us here?”
“We will have some time at…” Abigail made a growling sound, then went back to her closet.
“Abbey, what are you doing?” Bridget followed.
“I am…” Abigail yanked the box off the top shelf and typed in the combination. Then she picked up the handgun and started looking it over. She caught Bridget staring, and raised an eyebrow. “Come on, sugar. You aren’t the only one whose daddy was a soldier.”
“I’ve got a 45 and a shotgun.” Bridget nodded. Then she tilted her head. “Maybe we should skip the vodka.”
“But not the ice.” Abigail gave the hand a pointed look.
“No.” Bridget turned for the kitchen again. “Definitely not the ice.”
Bridget let the ice numb the damage to her fingers. It wasn’t bad. She’d given herself worse while cooking. Abigail was sitting next to Khait again, clinging to his hand. “Abbey…” She hesitated. “Abbey did something happen between you two?”
“We went on a date.” Abigail rubbed his arm, then turned to look at her. “Bridget, you heard him scream when…” A tear fell from her eye. “Disobeying that order hurt him and he fought those men for us anyway. I mean…” She gave a small shake of her head. “He literally put his fist through a werewolf’s skull for us, Bridget. And we can’t even take him to a hospital or…” She swallowed. “I just want him to be okay.”
“Yeah.” Bridget stood. “Did you see his eyes? When he told Pascal no?” She frowned a little. “They started glowing gold instead of red.” She hesitated. Time to focus. Time to look at this scientifically. “Okay, what do we know about Khait?”
“He’s not human.” She started pacing. “He’s bound to the ring, and he’s immortal. Damage done to the ring hurts him, so maybe fixing the ring could…” She shook her head. “No. Jewelers tools involved welding and stuff, that might create trauma that would leave him worse. Bad idea. Okay. He’s not human. He’s bound to the ring, and he’s immortal. He’s not dead yet and the ring is still here, which means he’s not going to die.” She gestured as she walked back and forth across the room. “Teleporting me back and forth from Rome and fighting took a lot out of him the first time, and he had to recharge before he could take me back to Rome. He teleported you and himself there…” She started nodding.
“Yeah, he —”
“Then he teleported all three of us back, and in between that he fought off being tortured and killed like a dozen people and…” She caught herself. “Oh god, he like full on vampired them.”
“Bridget.” Abigail narrowed her eyes.
“But vampires gain energy from that, which obviously Khait didn’t cause…” She nodded. “Okay. I have a plan.”
“Okay.” Abigail gave her an expectant look.
“He is an Incubus, he gets his power from sexual energy.”
“Right.” Abigail nodded. Then she raised an eyebrow at Bridget before her eyes widened. “Bridget…”
“I need to make some phone calls.” She turned and headed back to the kitchen. “Can I borrow your cell?”
She stumbled for the door when she heard the bell ring, and opened it. It took her approximately half a second to sober back up. “Professor Kravitz.” Abigail stared in horror at the man on the other side of the entrance. Immediately, she folded her arms over her bare chest. “What are you doing here?”
He stared at her for about three seconds, his face growing steadily more pale before his eyes managed to look past her. Then he turned bright red. “I…” He closed his eyes, reopened them, then squeezed them shut again before holding a book out. “I sent you a text message saying you’d left this in my office.”
“I…” She took her book from him. “And you —” She glanced over her shoulder.
“You responded with a text saying to come over right away.” He turned around to face away from the house.
“Who is it —” Bridget walked over, then her face went pale. “Professor.” She squeaked.
“That text wasn’t for you.” Abigail started shaking her head. “It wasn’t for you.”
“Oh thank god.” He exhaled. Then he cringed. “I didn’t mean it like that except I did and oh my dear god I am just going to pretend Bridget aren’t you supposed to be in Rome what the hell is even going on here?”
“We are just…” Bridget gave Abigail a pleading look.
Abigail winced. “Um, we can explain and…” She cringed. “We are really sorry and can we just pretend this didn’t happen?”
“Yes.” Professor Kravitz nodded, still not facing her. “Well, you have a lovely breasts and oh god I’m going to leave now.” He took two steps before he broke into a run.
“Sorry.” Bridget called after him.
“Oh god.” Abigail slammed the door. “Oh my god. I can’t believe you invited the professor to an orgy.”
“I invited —” Bridget’s eyes went wide. “No. No I did not do something like that.”
“He texted that he had my book and you texted him to come over.” Abigail glared at her.
“Oh god.” Bridget put her hands over her mouth. “Oh god. I am never going to be able to look him in the eye ever…” She stared back at the house. “Okay. When Khait wakes up, remind me to have him make the professor forget about this evening.”
“Don’t worry.” Abigail glanced down. “He saw my boobs, Bridget.”
“Well, okay…” Bridget grinned before leering at her. “I can’t exactly take away a memory that good can —” She caught sight of Abigail’s face. “Right. I’ll ask Khait to make him forget the entire evening.”
Waking hurt. He started to sit up, then realized there were weights on either side of him. He opened his eyes to find Abigail curled up on one side, and Bridget curled up on the other. And both women were stark naked. He stared in horror. “What did I miss?” He frantically started shaking his head. “You filmed it, right? Will you do it…”
Bridget reached up and put a hand over his mouth. “I think he’s okay.”
Abigail crawled up a bit, then kissed his cheek. “What do you remember, Khait?”
“Uh, we were…” Memories flooded back into him and that time he did manage to sit up, displacing them both. “The ring.”
“Got it.” Bridget held up her hand.
“How did…” He turned to look at Abigail. “You cut his finger off.” She nodded. He turned to Bridget. “You punched him. A lot.” She nodded. He spread his arms and pulled them both too him for a hug. “Thank you.”
“Hey, you totally caved a werewolf’s skull in for us.” Abigail giggled.
“Which I will be having nightmares about for the foreseeable future.” Bridget exhaled. “Along with all the other horrifying things that happened.” She growled. “Get your hand off my boob, Khait.”
“Sorry.” He gave her a grin that was anything but apologetic. Then it faded to a real smile. “Thank you, Bridget. I mean it.”
“You’re my friend, Khait.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Nobody gets to boss my friends around.”
“Except for her.”
“Well, yeah.” Bridget chuckled.
“How long was I out?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Just a day.” Bridget stood up and grabbed a robe.
“Just a…” He started shaking his head. “No, no that’s not possible.” With the amount of energy he’d used, he should have been out for a week, if not dead. “How…”
“Well, you’re an incubus, and you feed of sexual energy, so we uh…” Bridget turned red. “Held an orgy.” She sat back down on the edge of the bed.
“You…” Khait started staring at her. “What?”
“I may have fucked three guys on the bed next to you.” Abigail sat up, her legs crossed. When he stared at her, she pointed. “And Bridget fucked two girls.”
“Abbey…” Bridget gave her a horrified look.
“That…” He looked from one girl to the other, and felt tears start to well up in his eyes. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.” He reached out and pulled them both into a hug again.
“You saved our…” Bridget made a growling sound. “Hands.”
“Sorry.” He grinned.
Abigail found Khait sitting in front of the computer. She frowned. It wasn’t on. Khait was just sitting quietly, by himself, staring off into nothing. That was so very… Not Khait. She walked in and sat down across from him. “Khait?”
He smiled at her. “Would you like to have dinner with me?” He reached out and put his hand atop hers. “Perhaps take in a movie?”
“Are you…” She turned her hand over to intertwine her fingers with his. “Asking me out?” She raised an eyebrow. “On a date?”
“Yes.” He nodded. Then he narrowed his eyes. “And I do not put out on the second date.”
“Liar.” She squeezed his hand. “Yes. I’d love to go out with you, Khait.” She looked at him again. “Your eyes went gold.”
Khait drew his hand away, and seemed to withdraw into himself a little. “I would prefer not to speak of it.”
“Friends talk to each other.” She sighed, then gestured for him to sit next to her. When he moved to do so, she put an arm around him, then pulled him so his head was resting on her breast. “You fought the commands of the ring. I thought you couldn’t do that.”
“I…” He trailed off, silent for a moment. “I can’t.”
“But you did. Your eyes went gold, and you did.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “It hurt you. I suspect it nearly killed you.” She kissed his head. “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay. But if you do, I’m here. And I care about you, Khait.”
His hand took hers, holding tightly. He covered her hand with his other one, then brought it to his lips and kissed her fingers. “I care about you as well, Abigail. More than I have anyone in…” He swallowed. “More than I ever have before.”
Her heart thudded in her chest as though it were trying to escape. “Khait.”
“Dragon magic is strong. It is the source of human magic. But it is…” He exhaled. “Of this world. And there are other powers.”
“You said once you aren’t human or draconic.”
“There are being in this world that call themselves demons. Monsters in the dark. Ghosts, ghoulies, goblins, and beasties. They have their origin in the human world. Many take the name demon for themselves simply because they do not know better. Myth and magic grow and become confused as legends are lost.” He took a deep breath. “Then, there are the true demons.”
“And you…” She slowly nodded. “You are a true demon.”
“Yes.” His voice was soft.
“And somehow that gave you the power to resist.”
“When…” He was quiet again.
She rubbed his shoulder with her free hand. Then she felt a bit of wetness on the hand he still had pressed to his lips. It took her a moment to realize it was because he was crying. “Khait.” She tucked his head under her chin, and held him. “You don’t have —”
“I am a true demon. Which means there is something I can draw on, if…” He swallowed. “If the cause is good enough. And in that moment…” He slowly nodded. “It seems it was. That allowed me enough strength to resist the ring.”
“But not without cost. It hurt you to do it.”
“That power never comes without a cost. Not for the likes of me. That is…” He shook a little. “But it was good, I think, to know that after all these years, I can still touch it.”
“Khait…” She took a deep breath. “What does it mean to be a true demon?”
“It means…” He sat up then, and turned to look at her. “I had another name, once. Before, back when…” He smiled at her, then brushed her hair from her face. “There are few true demons. Most of us hate it when other beasts call themselves by that name. They don’t understand the curse, they don’t…” He took a deep breath. “The difference between those demons and a true demon is simple.” His eyes met hers. “Those creatures used to be human. They are of this world. And I and my kind…” She found herself caught by his eyes, of just how ancient they seemed in that moment. “Once were angels.”
“You…” It took her a moment to realize what he’d just said. “You were an angel.”
He flinched. Then he nodded. “Yes.” He looked away. “I was Usariel, once.”
“Don’t.” He cringed away. “Please.” He took a deep breath. “I am Khait.” He turned back toward her, and smiled though it did not reach his eyes. “And most of the time, that is enough.”
“For what it’s worth…” She leaned forward and kissed him softly. “I like Khait.”
Bridget walked into the room and frowned. “Uh…” She looked up at Abigail, then back down at the automatic rifle laying half under the couch, then back up at Abigail. “Something…”
“Oh, did we miss one?” Abigail walked over and looked. “Shit.” She looked over her shoulder. “Khait?”
“What…” He walked in. “Ah, I thought my count was off.” The gun vanished. He smiled. “Bridget. How was your job interview?”
“Suspiciously good.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “You didn’t…”
“You told me not to.” He put his hand over his heart and gave her a wounded look.
“I also told you not to eat the raspberry cheesecake gelato…” She rolled her eyes. “What happened?”
“Oh, five of those Cabal guys showed up.” Abigail shrugged. “Khait dealt with them.”
“You teleport them to the arctic circle?” Bridget snickered as she went to the refrigerator.
“No.” Khait shook his head. “Abigail bet me fifty bucks I couldn’t get them all into a geo-synchronous orbit.” He sent a glare at Abigail. “Then refused to pay up.”
“Until they are picked up by —”
“You tossed them into space?” Bridget closed the refrigerator.
“Yes.” Khait folded his arms. “Though someone doubt my integrity on the matter.”
“I ain’t paying until you can prove you pulled it off.”
“You don’t think I can get five men into space?” He narrowed his eyes at her.
“No, I don’t think you can get them into a stable orbit.” Abigail opened a beer and took a drink. “You suck at math.”
“She has a point there.” Bridget opened the refrigerator and took one of the beers for herself.
“I…” Khait opened his mouth. Then he closed it again. Then he tilted his head as if considering something. “Shit.”
“How many burned up in atmosphere?” Abigail raised an eyebrow.
“Nobody likes a smug girlfriend.” He took the beer out of her hand and took a drink.
“Except you.” She grinned before grabbing his shirt and pulling him forward for a kiss. Then she started dragging him toward the bedroom.
“Uh…” Bridget blinked. “Where are you going?”
“My boyfriend fought off a home invasion and disposed of the bodies in a way that can’t possibly be traced back to us.” Abigail looked over her shoulder and grinned. “I’m gonna chain him to the bed and ride him until he can’t see straight.” She opened the door to her room and dragged a smiling Khait through it. “Don’t wait up.”
“I…” Bridget chuckled. “I’m going to have more beer.”