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As if in answer, she trembled and watched with dark eyes as he circled her nipple with his tongue and drew the peak deep. Her hips rocked back against the door; her gaze never left his as he released her nipple and trailed kisses over her belly. "I love your navel, the little dip and shadow," he said, and flicked his tongue inside. The smooth muscles of her stomach quivered.

He reached lower, found the edge of her torn clothing, ripped it all the way to the hem. Tilting her hips forward, he dragged his tongue down her sex and held her up when her knees would have given out. "I love the taste of you, hot, drenched, the way you watch me unashamed." He grasped her behind her knees, lifted, and stood.

She reached between them and guided him to her. The head of his cock slid along her damp folds, notched against her entrance. "I love the way your muscles clasp around me as you take me inside, as if you want to keep me out but can't bear to." Her back arched, and she pressed down hard, tilling herself when he would have gone slowly.

His throat closed as her warm sheath completely surrounded him. "Emily," he said, his voice rough with tension. "I can't keep telling you. I am coming undone."

Her thighs clenched as she lifted herself and then slipped back down over him. "Let me help you," she said. Her arms slid around his neck, and she rose and fell again. "You love it when I ride you, like this." A swivel of her hips stole his voice and his control, and he pushed her against the door and thrust hard. The sweet cling and drag of her inner muscles made him shake. He held her up with one forearm and slid his other hand between them.

"You love that I am tight—oh God, Anthony." He strummed her clit and felt the taut bud slick under his fingers. His hand moved lower, felt the stretch of her around his shaft, fisted himself, and pressed against her in sharp rhythm.

Her breath came in pants. "You love it when I spend," she said, "when I come apart in your arms." Her back bowed, and her nails raked along his back. Unclenching his hand, he allowed himself to sink deep, deep. The tremors that quaked through her small frame echoed the clasp and pull along the length of his cock, the vibrations of the door behind them as he stroked hard, as he took a few last greedy gulps of her before he buried himself completely.

She whispered the words against his lips as he came, gave back to him what he'd given to her. "You were never unsuitable, Anthony. I was." And silenced his protest with a kiss.

She rocked him to climax again as the base of the sun flattened against the horizon. He helped her as she dressed, his fingers lingering over skin soon covered. Together, they chained Colin for what she prayed would be the last time.

Her dinner of cold meat, cheese, and bread felt heavy in her stomach, and the wait for Hugh's return interminable. Anthony paced at the library window as twilight faded, watching as darkness fell.

She could not bear to look into it.

"Do you think something has gone wrong?"

Anthony raked his hand through his hair. "I don't know." His voice filled with frustration. "Why did Michael send me? I know nothing of demons or nosferatu, or protecting those I love."

"Stop," she said mildly, though anxiety coiled tighter inside her.

He glanced at her and grinned crookedly. "Thank you."

Rising from the sofa, she walked over to stand next to him at the window. He dropped a quick kiss to her lips and held her against his chest as he peered out into the night. "There they are," he said finally.

Emily turned, but she could only see her wavering reflection in the glass. "Where?"

Anthony stiffened against her, leaning forward as if to confirm something he was seeing. "He's carrying Lilith," he said. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her out into the hallway and ran with her to the front door.

Her heart pounded in her chest as he paused. When she looked at him, he said, "Appearances are almost always deceiving—I'm not opening this door until I'm certain it is them."

"Why do they need a door?" Emily said breathlessly.

He blinked, and a moment later a crash came from the front parlor. "Perhaps the rules are forfeit," he said with a grim smile, and they ran to the parlor.

Hugh and Lilith lay in a shatter of glass; a cold breeze fluttered in through the smashed window. Hugh raised feral eyes to Anthony.

"Heal her," he commanded and leapt to his feet.

Anthony didn't hesitate, kneeling beside the demon. Emily moved to his side, gasping when she saw the hole torn in Lilith's neck, the blood spreading across the peach and green rug.

"What happened? Did the nosferatu do this?" Anthony said. He pressed his hands to her throat, and his body wrenched as he began the healing.

Hugh met Emily's wide-eyed gaze. "He has your nephew."

"Robert?" Her lips trembled, and a sick, numbing pain swept through her. Anthony's hands jerked away from Lilith's body, and he caught Emily when she would have slipped to her knees on the shards of glass. He carried her to the sofa.

"Heal Lilith first," Hugh said, his voice almost gentle. "We may need her to fight."

Emily nodded slightly, and Anthony returned to the supine demon.

"Is he alive?" she asked dully.

"Unharmed, when I last saw him—the nosferatu will likely use him to bargain for the sword. He knows he could never defeat all three of us."

Emily closed her eyes in relief, in dread. "But it is not so difficult to defeat the heart of an aunt?"

"No." Hugh's gaze was sympathetic. "I will not resist should you decide to make the trade."

"If he takes the sword, he will kill us all," Lilith said, her voice raspy. Anthony pulled the demon to her feet and then dropped her hand. "Better one die than five. Six, including your brother."

"Quiet, Lilith," Hugh said sharply. "You do not truly believe that."

Lilith shrugged carelessly.

Emily bent forward, covered her ears with her hands, and fought the urge to scream. She felt Anthony's fingers against her shoulder, gentle and reassuring, and wanted to push them away. She wanted to hold her grief close and alone.

She slid her palm into his and felt her numbness ease. When she finally looked up again, her anger was hot and bright. "Where is he?"

As if in morbid answer, Robert's voice rang weakly through the room. "Aunt Emily!" The words were laced with sobs and pain, and she started to her feet with a cry.

Anthony steadied her with a hand on her forearm and shook his head. "That's not him," he said. "He's trying to draw you out."

"Are you certain?"

His eyes never left her face. "Yes."

She noted that his sword was in his hand now—Hugh and Lilith had armed themselves as well and stood shoulder to shoulder facing the hallway.

Her heart slowed to a deep, rolling beat within her as she heard the swing of the front door, and then the bump and slide of a body dragged across the parquet in the entrance hall.

The nosferatu hulked in the doorway, but she could only stare at the slim, lanky form of the boy who lay on the floor, his eyes closed. Robert's small hand and wrist were enclosed by the creature's huge fist, and the nosferatu pulled the boy farther into the room, coming to a halt fifteen feet from the small group by the sofa.

"I can hear his heartbeat," Anthony whispered. "It is strong."

The nosferatu smiled, his lips thick cuts of liver against his pale skin. "Unless I tear his arm off—which I will do if the human does not give the sword to me."

It did not require a decision; there was no choice to make. She turned to Hugh and nodded—with a sigh, he reached inside his robe and brought forth her father's sword. Lilith hissed with displeasure but made no move to stop him. Hugh flipped the blade around, offering her the hilt. "My lady," he said respectfully.