While out on assignment to collect a human’s soul, Lindemere catches the scent of his amina, his soul, the person meant to be his reward for a thousand years of service to his master, the Horseman of Death. Distracted, he ends up in a trap meant for a gargoyle. While Lindemere could have easily gotten away, he decides to play along in hopes of getting a chance to speak with and perhaps woo his human. Before he even has the opportunity to learn the sweet-smelling man’s name, Lindemere’s master comes for him. During the course of the fight, Lindemere’s amina is injured, so he takes him to the demon realm to heal…and also in the hopes of beginning their bond. When the human wakes, Iago reveals that he considers paranormals selfish and prideful, an elitist race, and they should share their secrets of healing and longevity with mankind. Can Lindemere discover the source of Iago’s suppositions and find a way to change his mind, or will Iago refuse his suit in protest of what he considers paranormals’ slight against humanity?
The human’s scream pierced the air, setting Lindemere’s nerves on edge.
“Easy, easy!” Lindemere tried his best to sound soothing, but as a demon under the Horseman of Death, it wasn’t something he’d had to attempt often. What the fuck do I know about soothing someone? Still, for his amina—the human who was his soul—Lindemere had to try. “Please, you are safe. Calm down.”
Perhaps it was hearing his voice, or maybe it was how the human’s gaze suddenly became riveted to Lindemere’s claws. Either way, the human snapped his mouth shut. With wide eyes accentuated by the gold frames he wore, he stared at Lindemere.
The scent of the human’s fear permeated the room, and Lindemere had to fight his natural instinct to pull the young man into his arms and hold him. Somehow, Lindemere figured the man wouldn’t find the action soothing. That realization saddened Lindemere, and he hoped to be able to change it soon.
“There ya go,” Lindemere murmured. “It’s all right.” Keeping half his attention on the human, he reached over and picked up a wooden mug sitting on the nightstand. With slow movements, Lindemere held it out to his amina. “Please. Drink. It will soothe your throat and ease the pain in your wrist.”
“Y-You drink it first.”
Surprised at the demand, Lindemere lifted one brow. “I am not the one injured. It would be wasted on me.”
The human’s tongue slid out, licking over his lower lip. He swallowed hard enough that Lindemere watched his Adam’s apple slide beneath the skin of his throat. In response, Lindemere’s own mouth watered with a desire to follow the path of the man’s tongue.
That move, along with the longing expression on his amina’s face and the slight hoarseness of the human’s voice, told Lindemere that he wanted the drink.
“Prove it’s not poisonous or, or drugged.”
“Ah, you wish me to taste it first because you do not trust me.” Lindemere felt disappointment stab through him, but he understood it, too. “Of course.”
Lindemere lifted the mug to his lips and took a small swallow. The thick fluid coated his tongue and throat. The rich broth caused his taste buds to hum pleasantly.
Holding it out again, Lindemere smiled. “Please. Now you.”
With a trembling left hand, the human reached out and wrapped his fingers around the cup. The tips of his fingers brushed the thick skin of Lindemere’s own digits, causing a tingle of awareness to shoot up his arm. The touch was so innocent, yet, Lindemere’s breath still caught in his throat.
As Lindemere began easing his hold on the mug, he saw that it began to waver. He tightened his grip once more, lending support. “Easy, now. You’re weak. You’ve been asleep for nearly a day.” As he spoke, Lindemere settled on the side of the mattress, using his hold to urge the human to lift the cup to his lips and drink.
Lindemere noticed the wary light filling his amina’s expressive blue eyes, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying the human’s nearness. The man was his soul, a gift from the gods after one thousand years of service to his master, the Horseman of Death. Everything about the man called to Lindemere on a visceral level he’d never before experienced.
Now, if only I can get him to trust me.
“Take your time,” Lindemere encouraged as he eased the mug away from his human’s lips. His blood heated in his veins as he watched the man once again lick his lips. Attempting to focus on something other than his swiftly filling dick, Lindemere again helped the human drink as he stated, “My name is Lindemere. Will you gift me with your name?”
After finishing the drink, his human pushed the mug back toward Lindemere before releasing it. “Tell me where I am, and I’ll tell you my name.” He glanced around, warily taking in his surroundings. “Where am I? Why was I out for a day?” He frowned at his right wrist, which was wrapped in a bandage. “What’s going on?” Scowling at Lindemere, he snapped, “How the hell do you expect me to believe anything a gargoyle has to say?”
It seemed that with the return of moisture to the human’s throat, so rose the man’s animosity.
Lindemere just kept from flinching at the derision in his amina’s tone when he uttered the word gargoyle. Since he’d originally scented the human in the thick woods of northern New York, then had stumbled into a trap meant for a gargoyle, his attitude shouldn’t have surprised Lindemere. Sadly, it did.
Perhaps he doesn’t remember me pulling Daren off of him during the fight.
The whole damn thing was a cock-up from the beginning. He shouldn’t have chosen to sit it out in the gargoyle cage, hoping for a few private words with the human. The smart play would have been to leave, then track his amina down while free.
Pheromones could make a paranormal do funny things, though.
Meeting the human’s gaze, Lindemere replayed his amina’s questions through his mind, then chose the best way to answer them. “First, you asked where you were in exchange for your name,” he began slowly. Holding the human’s defiant gaze, Lindemere revealed, “I am not a gargoyle. I am a demon. You’re in the demon realm, which is ruled by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
The more Lindemere had revealed, the wider his amina’s jaw had gaped. Now, he stared at him with wide, wide eyes, and his already too-pale complexion had lost most of what little color it had held.
“What?” The one word was whispered on a gasp, and the acrid scent of panic flooded the room. The human shook his head in denial. “No. That’s not possible.”