Mace paced the floors of the brownstone. Wrung his fingers. Pulled his hair. His whole body shuddered after he let Tai walk out the front door alone.
I can’t watch you destroy yourself.
Those had been his last words to her. But now those words were lying flat across his ears with such weight he expected his lobes to tear off in ragged pieces.
Metaphor was literal for demons like him.
Mace tried to stop pacing. Quiet his mind. He didn’t want to feel like this. He wasn’t supposed to care if Tai killed herself. Shit, he was supposed to encourage that. But the truth he’d buried was stubbornly needling its way back up to the surface of his soul.
He thought he’d quashed that raw emotion under all the shame and reason he could conjure.
Yet, he conceded that he hadn’t rid himself of his absurd fixation when he passed the kitchen sink for the twelfth time.
His feet ground to a halt.
I love Tai.
He gripped the edge of the countertop, his knuckles going ghostly white.
I fucking love Tai.
He’d hooked his wagon to her for two years. Explained away his attachment by saying he needed to reap the rewards of their barter. In exchange for skill and power, Mace took credit for each of Tai’s kills. She was a woman bent on destruction when he’d heard her prayers. He’d recognized her determination could guarantee him slaughters and move him up the demon ranks. He’d made similar exchanges thousand of times. No hiccups. Whenever his previous marks expended their value, he’d abandoned them to whatever hell his creator decided for them.
But Mace recognized now that he didn’t want things with Tai to be over. She was already haunting him. These brownstone walls were so full of her he could feel Tai’s cool skin, see her bronze hair bobbing past the windows. He heard her fluid laughter and quick-witted tongue.
Tai wanted to die in her final showdown with Simon Astor. Mace wanted to honor her wishes. He’d hung back to save himself the misery of her passing.
But if Tai was going to haunt him, let her do it on his terms.
Mace snapped his fingers. In a blaze of churning flame, he transported himself to the sidewalk of Simon Astor’s warehouse. His head snapped up at the sound of gunshots, his black eyes then spotting two figures lurching over the side of the building.
He spread his shadow wings, knowing that the moment he swept Tai into his arms, he’d commit the ultimate taboo of his race. But as he tore Tai from her plummeting fate, Mace grinned into the dark of the night.
Simon Astor’s crash into the street marked the end of Mace’s former life. The demon had gone rogue. A Romeo to his cursed Juliet.
He peered down at his wide-eyed Tai. “Be happy to see me. I’m not finished with you yet.”