The demon is a prince of the air and can transform himself into several shapes, delude our senses for a time; but his power is determined, he may terrify us but not hurt.
– Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy
Available from Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books), a sexy, dark paranormal series set in an underworld hospital.
Humans go to hospitals. Animals go to veterinarians. But where do injured, ill, and decapitated demons go? It isn't as if every supernatural being possesses the ability to grow a new limb to replace one that's been hacked off by a demon slayer scumbag. Fear not, fellow vamps, werewolves, and demons, for help has arrived. Three brothers, incubus demons by birth, human in appearance (mostly), have pulled together to make the most of the healing skills common to their species. Welcome to Underworld General Hospital, where sexy demons are doctors, HMOs are non-existent, and the blood bank sometimes doubles as the cafeteria. And you don't even want to know what goes on in the supply closets…
DELETED SCENES FROM PLEASURE UNBOUND
Scene #1: This scene, and the third scene were both removed because I didn’t want Jagger and Lori’s relationship to be revealed yet, and remember, when she mentions “Wraith,” it isn’t really him. This scene between Jagger and Lori takes place right after the scene where Tayla goes to Aegis HQ to tell Kynan and Lori about being taken to the demon hospital. Tayla has left to release Eidolon from being chained to her bed, and Kynan is out looking for Janet’s remains. Be warned…this scene is VERY graphic…
When Lori thought about it, and she often did, she could still feel the man inside her.
He’d come to her in Central Park, where she’d been hunting a Nebulous demon that had sucked the soul out of a cabbie a few blocks away. The man had merely looked at her and she’d experienced a rush of desire so strong her knees had trembled.
He’d worn an Aegis ring, had, in his deep Irish lilt, claimed to be an Elder, a member of the Sigil who oversaw all Aegis cells worldwide. Since few were aware of the identities of the Elders, she couldn’t very well ask for proof. But he had known a lot about the Aegis, and a lot about her.
Such as how she liked to be touched. How she liked to be licked. And he’d shown her new things to like when she met him at a hotel the next day.
She’d never cheated on her husband, not once in their eight-year marriage. But for some reason she hadn’t been able to resist the man, who she knew only by the name Wraith.
He’d brought a money-making proposal to the table, and she’d agreed, but then, she’d have agreed to anything if he’d only give her one more orgasm.
Of course, sex with him meant orgasms for an hour after she left his bed.
"I know what you’re thinking."
Startled, she opened her eyes. Jagger stood in front of her, in the hall outside her bedroom, his dark eyes hooded. "What am I thinking?"
He reached out, trailed a finger down her arm. "You’re thinking about sex. With me."
Snorting, she reached for the laundry basket at her feet. "Arrogant ass."
Suddenly, she found herself in his arms, his body pressed to hers. "You love it."
"Knock it off. Someone will catch us."
She pushed against him, but he didn’t budge, and his wicked grin shot straight to the juncture of her thighs. Sex with Wraith seemed to have triggered some sort of addictive response, and after their second encounter, she’d come home, her body pulsing, her skin hyper-sensitive. Any pressure at all made her womb spasm, and the tiniest vibration made her orgasm where she stood. She’d come three times on the cab ride home.
Jagger had flirted with her yet again, and in her heightened state she’d responded, had let him take her on the library floor while Kynan had been out hunting.
Guilt plagued her; she loved Kynan. But her body no longer felt like hers, was a slave to her hormones, and although she craved Wraith’s touch, she couldn’t have it as often as she’d like. Hell, she’d been with him only three times since he first came to her a year ago. Kynan could keep up with her sex drive, but he wasn’t always around.
Jagger was there when Kynan wasn’t.
He took her hand, dragged her into her bedroom closet.
"Jagger, no," she whispered harshly, as he pushed her back into the hanging clothes.
His mouth came down on hers, and for a moment she resisted, but then the hard ridge of his cock rubbed against her mound through their layers of clothing, and all that mattered was taking him inside her.
He dropped his hand to her hip and drew slow circles with his index finger, mimicking how he liked to caress her most sensitive flesh.
"Stop teasing me," she moaned. "We don’t have time."
His grin against her mouth infuriated her, but he unbuttoned her shorts. Hooking his thumbs in the waistband, he pushed them down. She kicked out of them and groaned when his fingers slipped between her legs.
"You’re too wet," he growled. "You just banged Kynan."
She smiled at the memory of how Ky’d found her in the library, curled up with a book, and had taken her without a word, with only the raw force of his hunger as foreplay. "He is my husband."
Jagger kicked her legs apart and dropped to his knees. "And you lie to him." He nuzzled her, and her breath hitched. "Or have you told him about our secret hunting?"
"He wouldn’t understand."
"He wouldn’t understand making a shitload of money?"
No, not Ky. He had no qualms about destroying the enemy, but his military background gave him a code of battle honor that didn’t include killing for profit. And frankly, she’d been surprised at his reaction to the demon hospital revelation, given that the military rules of engagement forbid the destruction of medical personnel and facilities.
"We’re not doing it for ourselves," she reminded Jagger. "We’re doing it for The Aegis."
Sensation screamed through every cell as Jagger spread her wide and blew a hot breath across her aching button. "Right. All for the good of the world."
He slipped a finger inside her, and she rocked into his palm, unsure of his intentions. She still dripped with Kynan’s seed, surely Jagger wouldn’t—
His tongue swept her valley, and she gasped.
"What’s the matter, baby? Did you think another man’s jiz would bother me?" He worked her hard with his finger, and then he smoothed the moisture back along the crack of her ass. "You think I haven’t polished a knob or two in my time?"
His thick tongue plunged inside her core. She arched her back, the intrusion intimate and exquisite. When he fastened his lips firmly to her tender flesh and sucked, she had to bite her lip to hold back the scream as her first orgasm hit her.
Waves of pleasure crashed over her, and he didn’t ease up. He devoured her, fucked her with his tongue, did wicked things that kept her coming.
Her thighs quivered with the effort of holding herself upright. Before she collapsed, she grasped the hanger rod for purchase and lifted one leg over his shoulder. His soft grunt of satisfaction drifted up to her, along with the heady scent of sex, and God, she could smell herself, Jagger…and Kynan.
What should have disgusted her turned her on, and she heard herself begging Jagger, but for what, she didn’t know. "Please, Jagger, oh, yes, please…"
Panting, he surged up, entered her hard. "I want my come inside you," he breathed against her cheek. "Not his."
Guilt ripped through her desire, but as Jagger ground his hips, she let her thoughts go, the ones that told her Kynan loved her, that told her he was better in bed than Jagger, that told her he’d kill them both if he caught them.
What she was doing was for the good of their entire cell.
Jagger hissed, released silently inside her, and she came once more, riding his sharp, deep thrusts. When she could breathe again, she lowered her trembling legs and stood on her own.
"A new order came in this morning," she rasped.
He tucked himself inside his jeans and grinned. "That was fast. I just delivered a vampire."
"Vamps are common. They’re like golden fricking retrievers." She pulled on her shorts and wiped her damp brow with her forearm. "This is a rare beast, one that’ll bring us five figures."
"I’ll get the team on it."
She nodded. Of the twenty-three Guardians in the New York City cell, only seven knew about the operation that began at the Aegis level and ended with auctions to sell parts harvested from the demons her Guardians captured.
"I’m outta here." Jagger reached behind her head, grasped a fistful of hair, and brought her mouth roughly to his. "Now you’ll think about me when you screw Kynan tonight."
He sauntered out of the closet, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Jagger was growing bolder, a young wolf testing the pack boundaries, and with every passing day, she worried that he would soon challenge the alpha, and she would lose everything.
Scene #2: This scene is Yuri’s, just before he is captured. He's speaking with his daughter, Vladlena, who appears in her own story in the Supernatural anthology.
Yuri Paskelkov should have been a lawyer. But no, his family was full of lawyers, and his mother wanted a doctor in the family. So instead of making himself rich by getting human scum out of legal trouble, he was slaving — for decent wages, but not decent enough — to save demon lives that, outside the hospital, he’d normally take.
As ter'taceo, he could work for similar pay at a human hospital, but the scent of human blood got him a little too worked up. The last thing he needed would be to spontaneously shift into a hungry, grizzly bear-sized hyena in the middle of an operation.
So here he was, sewing a slayer-severed wing onto an bone-devil’s bony back.
"Dad? Can I borrow your car for a few days?"
He paused in mid-suture to look at his twenty year old daughter, who stood in the doorway, long blonde hair falling to her waist, which was bare, thanks to a too-short top and too-low jeans. For all that, she looked innocent, too innocent to be a hyena, and once again, he wondered how she’d survived to adulthood. As the weakest of the litter of four, her own mother had wanted to kill her, and two of her brothers had nearly succeeded several times.
"Shop. Engine fell out, and I have a full week of exams. Eidolon says he’ll hire me if I pass."
Yuri nodded. Vladlena was determined to work at UG once she earned her nursing degree, and nothing he could say would sway her. She’d be much better off working at a human hospital, where her freakish gentle nature wouldn’t put her at risk from demons.
Or the incubus brothers.
He didn’t trust any of them around his daughter, but especially not Wraith. If that sonofabitch laid one finger on Lena…
Funny how he couldn’t give a hellrat’s ass about his sons, but he’d gone overprotective with Lena, which went against his character — his species’ character. Hyena shapeshifters preyed on the weak, even within their own kind. He should have allowed his mate to kill Lena, but instead, he’d chained his mate in his dungeon and brought the cubs to her to nurse. Once they were weaned, he’d kept the children, chased off his mate and had never taken another.
"You can have the ‘vette," he said, turning back to the demon that had begun to huff with impatience on the table. "I’ll drive the van for a few days."
"It's okay, I can take the van."
He shook his head. "It’s on its last legs. I don’t want it breaking down on you." Clearing his throat, he gave her his sternest dad look. "But you’d better ace your exam."
Lena grinned and thanked him before darting out into the hall and nearly colliding with a human orderly. He sighed and shook his head. She’d better be good at nursing, because her lack of coordination, ruthlessness, and hunting skills left her exposed and unable to care for herself in the underworld.
"Your daughter smells sweet…she would bleed well…" The bone-devil’s black lips peeled back to reveal three rows of shark-like teeth, and Yuri snarled.
"Another word and I’ll rip off your wing and sew it upside down on your ass."
The bone-devil grunted and settled back down, his elongated, bony limps draped over the sides of the table, knuckles dragging the floor.
Christ. The idea that Lena would soon be working with this kind of creature made him want to string something up in his dungeon and work it over until he was spent, emotionally, physically, and sexually.
He grinned, the delicious visions stirring is body already. A release was coming for him. Tonight. Too bad Eidolon had slipped away with the little slayer whore, because the release he’d have found with her would have been something to scream about.
She’d have definitely had something to scream about.
Scene #3: This scene takes place right after Tayla witnessed what her fellow Guardians, Lori and Jagger, did to Yuri…
"Do you think we’re doing the right thing?" Lori asked, as Jagger strode into the chamber five minutes after taking Tayla to Scott. She’d started the messy process of cleanup, but Jagger would have to remove the carcass.
Jagger dragged the toe of his boot through the thin line of drying blood that stretched from the demon’s body to the drain. "Hell, yeah."
"Maybe what he said wasn’t true." Lori shot the dead creature a worried glance. "Demons lie."
"Not when they have hot pokers up their asses." Jagger pressed his palm into the blood and then moved toward her slowly, his gait predatory. "Tay is part demon. Even if she doesn’t know it yet, it makes her a risk."
God, if that hadn’t been a shock. She swallowed dryly and Jagger cupped her cheek, smearing blood along her jaw, and down her throat.
"Don’t," she breathed, but didn’t move away. "Kynan could walk in."
"He won’t. Torturing demons is wrong." Jagger licked his lips and drew his finger lower, to the collar of her spattered T-shirt. "He’s such a pussy. He’d never agree to putting Tayla down, not without evidence that she’s gone bad."
She backed away, unable to believe how easily he talked about killing a fellow Guardian, one he’d known for years, but he moved with her. "I’m still not sure…"
"It’s for the best. This way, only our small team will know what she is. To all other Guardians, she’ll die a martyr." He cupped her cheek. "Someday, when we are running the cell, I want to fuck you in the blood of our kill." He looked at the dead demon, his eyes dilating. Sweet Goddess, he was actually turned on by the thought of rolling around in the wet remains.
"We need to focus, Jagger. We have another order to fill. The buyers came unglued when we lost the were." She still didn’t know why that specific male werewolf had been targeted, but it wasn’t her place to ask.
But as horrible as the buyers’ rage had been, Kynan’s had been worse. The loss of three Guardians had sent shockwaves all the way to the Sigil, who now questioned the New York cell’s training and hunting methods. Their reaction had made her wonder how many were aware of the side-missions, the taking of demons to sell on the black market.
In any case, Jagger and Lori were now left to recruit more Guardians from the cell to join the secret hunting, something that could be risky.
Rolling his eyes, Jagger broke away from her. "I’m getting tired of taking orders from someone we’ve never seen. Aren’t you?"
She was, but the money made it worthwhile. Still, it was creepy to have orders text-messaged to her, and creepier still to deliver their catches to an abandoned zoo, where they shoved the creatures into cages and waited for the wire transfer of money to a secret account. What was really strange was that often, the demons they’d left would still be in the pens when they delivered more. Some seemed to be permanent residents, kept for Goddess-only-knew-what.
Then again, if her orders came directly from the Elders, it wasn’t her place to question procedure. She just wished she could see the male who called himself Wraith again, and maybe this time, he’d give her more answers than orgasms.
Not that the orgasms were anything to complain about.
DELETED SCENES FROM PASSION UNLEASHED
Scene #1: This scene took place after Wraith was poisoned and met with E and Shade at E’s place. In the book, Wraith decides to go after Serena while still in Eidolon’s office, but originally, he freaked out took off. This scene is what followed…
With his feet practically on fire, Wraith escaped E's building, zipped through the nearest Harrowgate, and found himself at blood gallery beneath the streets of Moscow.
He didn't even remember getting there. Didn't remember touching the Harrowgate glyphs that would take him there, didn't remember walking into the dark, cryptlike cavern. What he did remember was the smell, the sounds, the atmosphere that dripped both misery and pleasure. He hadn't been in one of these hellpits in decades, not once since he started working with his brothers at UG.
As he peered through the veil of smoky air at the mass of writhing bodies, the decor that consisted mainly of demon and human skeletons hanging from chains, and the passed-out individuals who had been dragged to the shallow pit designed to hold them while draining away their puke and other wastes, he realized he hadn't missed much. But hey, this blood gallery was high class — the death pool, where humans who overdosed were taken until they could be disposed of, seemed to be off-property, since the stench of death was faint.
A male Nightlash peeled himself away from the two male and female humans he had been tangled with on the dirt floor to approach Wraith. "Limit yourself to humans and vamps, Sem. No touching the female demons."
Wraith almost laughed. Normally any kind of club was a dangerous place for a Seminus, because if even one aroused female was present, he would be compelled to seek her out. He couldn't leave until every female was satisfied, which meant that in a 24-hour club, the danger of fucking one's self to death was very real. Not to mention the fact that jealous males had a tendency to kill post s'genesis Seminus demons on sight.
But Wraith's libido had taken a serious hit, thanks to the stupid poison, so although lust practically vibrated the air and bounced off his skin, he didn't feel the uncontrollable need to screw everything in sight. He did, however, feel the need to smart off to the Nightlash.
That the demon stood a full foot taller and had a mouthful of sharklike teeth didn't matter. The male's nudity was more disturbing than anything. Nightlash pecking order was determined by the size of their genitals, and clearly, this one would have to look up to see the bottom rung of the social ladder.
Which was probably why he had to take his pleasure wherever he could get it, even a shithole like this.
"The only rule in a blood gallery is that you can't kill or torture the humans," Wraith said. "So if I want to plant my seed in every female here, you can't say dick about it. Maybe I'll find your mate and take her while you're banging that guy you were sucking on." He gave a pointed look at the other demon's cock. "I'm sure she'll appreciate the, ah, sizable difference between me and you."
The Nightlash gnashed his teeth and closed the distance between them. "Cocky maggot."
Wraith clenched his fists and got right up in the male's face. "You ready to bleed?"
Violence was prohibited in the blood gallery, but aggression permeated the air, ramping up Wraith's need to let off some steam with a good fight. Or, he thought, as he eyed a glassy-eyed male human leaning against a wall in the back, with some drugged-out blotto. Though he'd definitely make the guy put on some pants, because while Wraith fed on male humans, they did nothing for him sexually. Hell, even if they did, he couldn't get off with one. Seminus demons could only climax with a female.
The Nightlash snarled. "Watch your back, Sem." He'd said "Sem," like he'd been spitting out something nasty. And judging by the humans he'd been wrapped up with, he probably was used to spitting out nastiness.
Wraith flipped the other demon the finger. Growling, the Nightlash strutted off, heading for a human male with an orange collar around his neck and a crack pipe between his lips. All humans wore color-coded collars that corresponded to whatever drug or drugs they favored. Red for heroin. Blue for powdered cocaine. Yellow for alcohol. Pink for Ecstasy. Here, in a blood gallery, humans traded sex and their blood for all the free drugs they could handle. And since many species of underworld creatures, including vampires, could only get high by ingesting the blood of a human who had recently smoked, injected, ingested, or snorted drugs, blood galleries had become increasingly popular.
Something tugged at the hem of his jeans, and he looked down to see a scrawny, red-haired woman at his feet. She was naked, like pretty much every human in the place, her body covered in bite marks, her pink and yellow bands standing out starkly against her pale skin.
"Want some?" she murmured in Russian.
He closed his eyes. He didn't feed on human females. He didn't fuck human females. But that's what E and Shade were asking him to do.
"I can't," he rasped.
"That is what you are here for, yes?" The woman's hand slid up his thigh, and he came back into focus with a jolt.
His eyes flew open. He'd avoided human females since he escaped the hellhole his mother had raised him in, but now his reasons seemed stupid. He'd not wanted to hurt them, he'd not wanted to deal with the memories. But these females didn't care about being hurt. Hell, they might even like it. As for the memories…those could be dimmed by taking in enough medicated blood.
Something wiggled in his jacket, and Mickey popped his head out of the pocket.
Wraith sighed. "What the hell are you doing here, buddy?"
The redhead giggled and slurred, "Is that a weasel in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"
A vampire approached, a big male who kept a wary eye on Wraith as he went to his knees and hooked a large palm around the redhead's thigh to drag her against him. Never taking his gaze off Wraith, he fisted her hair to yank her, back to his chest, and sank his teeth into her throat as he began to fuck her. The woman moaned and melted against him, her pleasure creating a pink flush in her too-pale skin.
Mickey nudged Wraith's hand, and nausea swirled in his gut. What had he been about to do? Lose himself as thoroughly as that human? As that vampire? He hated vampires, hated himself for being one. If he could stake that bastard right now he would.
But if he stayed here and let himself sink into oblivion, he'd be letting his mother win. She'd wanted him dead from the moment he was born. He'd fought to live, and though he'd done some incredibly stupid things to get himself killed, something deep inside always kept fighting.
Besides, who knew what would happen to the little weasel if Wraith gave into this insane weakness?
So fuck it. He was going to live. He was going to find Serena, take what he needed, and rock on.
And once he was nicely charmed, he was going to start taking out vampires. Starting with the Vamp Council, which had been torturing Eidolon for years.
Oh, yeah. Let the good times roll.
Scene #2: This scene takes place on the train back to Alexandria…
Wraith left Serena in her room — at her insistence. He'd wanted to stay with her, watch over her, keep her safe. But she'd begged him for some time alone, and he got that. Besides, his room was next to hers, with a door between them so their compartments connected.
They could have shared one, but with his illness getting worse, he wanted privacy when he needed it, like a few minutes ago, when he texted the demoness again. He still hadn't heard back from her, and he was getting antsy.
Then there was the issue with his brothers. Shade had called, said Wraith should get Serena to The Aegis as soon as possible if he couldn't take the charm. Basically, Wraith had until they got back to the States to make his move, and if he failed, Serena must be protected.
For the fate of the world.
Problem was, he didn't trust The Aegis, not when Byzamoth knew every move she made. And worse, he didn't know if he'd even make it back to the States. He needed to tell her the truth — about his illness, anyway. She needed to be prepared to take care of herself.
Now changed into jeans and a long-sleeved Hard Rock Cafe Cairo T-shirt, he mustered what felt like the last of his strength and headed to the dining car, where Serena said she'd be.
The train had been shooting down the tracks for an hour now, and he wanted to do a walk-through of all the cars before he sat down with Serena. He didn't sense any dark presences on the train, but that didn't guarantee something malevolent hadn't boarded with them. Fallen angels were first-rate evil with an arsenal of mysterious tricks up their sleeves.
He did a sweep of the train, his facial dermoire earning lots of dirty looks, but ultimately, he sensed nothing out of the ordinary. Well, nothing too out of the ordinary. He was pretty sure one of the coach passengers, a Japanese tourist traveling with a dozen others, was ter'taceo, some species of demon like Wraith, that appeared human. Most were harmless, and this one had only blipped on Wraith's radar because he'd been actively feeling for demonic presences. Whether or not the demon sensed Wraith didn't concern him. Demon etiquette usually meant that no one acknowledged the other in a human setting.
It wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on the guy, but when it came right down to it, Wraith had sensed a lot more evil radiating from pure humans on the train. At least one of them was a Dark Soul, a killer of his own kind.
Handy how his vampire senses told him more about humans than his Seminus instincts ever would have. Still, he'd give them up in a heartbeat if it meant ridding himself of everything that made him a vampire, from his fangs to his driving need for blood. He didn't mind the drinking — hell, he liked the taste of blood. What he didn't like was how it reminded him of what he was. And he hated having to put his mouth on any human.
Any human but Serena.
His mouth watered at the memory of how she'd tasted last night. Her kisses were always sweet, her skin always flavored with vanilla spice, but when he'd been between her legs…he'd been as close to heaven as he'd ever get. The feel of her on his lips and tongue, her essence sliding down his throat like mulled wine…gods, he could do that all night long.
Better if he could bite her right there on her inner thigh. That way he could drink his fill of her completely, and her pleasure would be magnified by about a million times. At least, that's what he'd heard. Under the right circumstances, a vampire's bite could be a sensual treat, but done in such close proximity to sexual organs, orgasms were more intense, longer, and, some claimed, a full-body experience.
Man, he'd love to give her that, to watch her as she came apart under his touch, his tongue. His body hardened and his canines throbbed as though preparing for exactly that. His nostrils flared, seeking her scent, which he caught as a faint draft of vanilla from ahead. Baring his teeth, he honed in on her scent, until the shocked gasp from the old lady who'd looked up as he walked past her seat.
Cursing to himself, he spun around, avoiding eye contact with the woman who had witnessed his elongated vamp chompers, and dropped his phone. He crouched down, letting his fingers brush her feet. His long-sleeves hid the glow of his dermoire as he channeled his gift into her, giving her a brief nightmare full of people with vampire fangs. When he finished, she'd think his teeth had been part of that dream, or, at least, a figment of her imagination.
Palming his phone, he stood, tucked it into his jeans, and then reversed course once more, heading for the dining car. A cramp in his stomach made him weave drunkenly before catching himself on the back of a seat, reminding him that he was running out of time.