Darkness Avenged (Guardians of Eternity) Page 0,1

the smell of blood was replaced by the rich aroma of plums.

His lips curled as the violence choking the air was abruptly replaced by a heated lust.

Understandable.

Tonya could make a man drool at a hundred paces.

Strikingly beautiful with pale skin and slanted emerald eyes, the imp could also claim perfect curves and a stunning mane of red hair. But Santiago hadn’t chosen her as his most trusted assistant because of her outrageous sex appeal.

Like all imps, she possessed a talent for business and the ability to create powerful illusions. She could also hex objects, although Santiago made sure that particular talent was only used on the humans who patronized the tea shop next door. Most demons were immune to fey magic, but Tonya had royal blood and her powers were far more addictive than most.

His loyal customers would never return if they suspected he allowed them to be enthralled by the beautiful imp.

Wearing a silver dress that was designed to tempt rather than cover, she came to a halt at his side, a smile curving her lush lips even as her shrewd gaze monitored the hosts and hostesses that strolled through the room offering their services.

“A nice crowd,” she murmured.

Santiago grimaced. Unlike his assistant, he was wearing plain black jeans and a dark T-shirt that clung to his wide chest. And, of course, he’d accessorized the casual attire with a massive sword strapped to his back and a handgun holstered at his hip.

Never let it be said he went to a party underdressed.

“‘Nice’ isn’t a word I’d associate with this mob.”

Tonya glanced toward the tribe of Sylvermysts who were reluctantly returning to their table. The warriors possessed the striking features of all fey with long hair in various shades of gold to chestnut. But their eyes blazed with a strange metallic sheen.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she purred. “There’s one or two I’d consider edible.”

“Your definition of edible is appallingly indiscriminate.”

She turned her head to study him with an all-too-knowing gaze. “Yeah well, at least I haven’t been neutered.”

Santiago curled his hands into tight fists, fury jolting through him. Oh no, she didn’t just go there. “Careful, Tonya.”

“When was the last time you got laid?”

The air temperature dropped by several degrees.

“We’re so not going to discuss this,” he snarled, his voice pitched low enough it wouldn’t carry. Despite the earsplitting music, there were demons present who could hear a freaking pin drop a mile away. “Especially not in front of an audience.”

Foolishly ignoring his don’t-fuck-with-me vibes, Tonya planted her hands on her full hips. “I’ve tried to discuss it in private, but you keep shutting me down.”

“Because it’s none of your damned business.”

“It is when your foul mood begins affecting the club.”

His fangs throbbed. “Don’t press me.”

“If I don’t, who will?” The female refused to back down, the words she had clearly longed to fling at him for days at last bursting past her lips. “You prowl through the halls snapping at everyone who is stupid enough to cross your path. I’ve had six waitresses and two bouncers quit in the past month.”

His jaw hardened with a stubborn refusal to admit she was right. If he did . . .

Well, that would mean he’d have to admit he had been neutered.

Not only sexually, although that was god-awful enough to admit. After all, he was a vampire. His appetite for sex was supposed to be insatiable.

But his general lust for life . . .

Suddenly his enjoyment of pursuing beautiful women and spending time with his clan brothers was replaced by a gnawing frustration. And his pride in running a club that was infamous throughout the demon world was replaced by an itch that he couldn’t scratch.

It was something he was trying to ignore under the theory that it was like a bad hangover—something you suffered through and forgot as soon as the next party came along.

“Hire more,” he growled.

Her eyes narrowed. “Easy for you to say.”

“Hey, you know where the door—”

“I’m not done,” she interrupted him.

His dark brows pulled together in a warning scowl. “Imp, you’re pissing on my last nerve.”

“And that’s my point.” She pointed a finger toward the belligerent crowd that continued to eyeball one another with the threat of violence. “This mood of yours is not only infecting the employees, but the patrons as well. Every night we’re a breath away from a riot.”

He snorted, folding his arms over his wide chest. “I run a demon club that caters to blood, sex, and violence. What do you expect? Line

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