Sin flashed himself out of the shower and into clothes before he snatched open the door to find Kish standing in the hallway.


"Downstairs, boss, now. Gallu eating people."

It wasn't in Sin to follow anyone's orders, but for once he didn't question it. He did just what Kish said-he went straight downstairs.

As soon as he was in the casino, it was easy to find the gallu. Even though the gallu looked human, his true demon form was reflected in the mirrors around them. There was chaos everywhere. People were screaming and running for the doors. Stools were overturned and the human employees were joining the patrons while the Daimons and Apollites were trying to cover those who fled.

And that was why he used them in his casino. Unlike human help, they could be relied on to stay calm in a crisis and to assist in the event something "unnatural" happened. Credit had to be given to the Apollites and Daimons. They seldom panicked.

Sin turned away from the doors to the back corner.

It appeared Damien and his guards had the gallu trapped by one of the roulette wheels-although "trapped" might be more hopeful than true. Sin reached the demon just as he grabbed one of the guards and bit into him. Luckily he was a Daimon and not human-at least that was the thought until the Daimon turned instantly into a gallu.

Holy shit. Their metabolism sped up the change. Whereas a human took about a day to complete their conversion. Daimons were virtually instantaneous.

Oh, the things you learned when you ran a casino...

Now they had two gallu to fight.

Damien took his suit jacket off. "Cover their heads so they can't bite you, and beat the shit out of them."

"Screw you!" one of the Daimon guards shouted before he ran toward the door.

So much for not panicking...

Damien curled his lip at the fleeing coward. "Yeah, run home to Mama, little girl, and don't come back". He paused as he saw Sin.

Sin didn't speak. He kept walking toward his targets. He held his arms out to his sides as he manifested his weapons on his biceps and hips.

The gallu Daimon was the first to come at him. Sin flipped him over, onto his back, and held him in place with his knee. He jerked the knife from his belt and plunged it between the Daimon's eyes and then buried a second knife in his heart, just to be sure.

The Daimon didn't burst apart, which let Sin know that when a Daimon crossed with a gallu, they were serious shit.

But Sin would deal with this one later. The knives would keep him dead until they could burn him. Right now, Sin had the gallu to finish.

"Come to Papa", Sin said, rising slowly to his feet.

The demon did, but he was smarter than the gallu Daimon. He didn't run at Sin, he approached him slowly. And when the demon was within striking distance, he punched. Sin clocked the strike and delivered a fist of his own straight to the demon's solar plexus. It didn't even faze him. The demon moved forward to bite Sin, but he stepped right, out of range.

"Who taught you to fight? Your sister?" Sin struck the demon's back.

Spinning, the demon caught him with a solid punch so hard that it knocked him up, off his feet. He hit the ground flat on his back.

Sin flipped himself back to his feet, ready to battle. But before he could move, a steel spike appeared between the demon's eyes.

It was jerked free as the demon slid to the floor to show him Deimos.

"Nasty little bastards your family created. Now it's time to finish the fight we started earlier."

"Looking forward to it."

Deimos swung at him. Sin blocked and the next attack came so fast he barely had time to counter it. He jerked his head back just before Deimos would have hit him. His fist came so close, Sin could feel the windburn of its passing on his cheek. He swung at Deimos's chin, but the Dolophonos jerked his head to the side. Sin missed him by only scant millimeters.

In spite of that, Sin smiled. It'd been a long time since he faced someone he considered an equal.

Kat popped in just as Sin landed a staggering blow to Deimos's chest. The Dolophonos reeled back.

She paused beside Damien. "What did I miss?"

"Not much," he said dryly. "Killer Daimon that was eaten by a gallu. Sin killed the gallu Daimon on the floor over there. Then numb-nuts popped in, killed the gallu, and attacked Sin." He glanced askance at her. "Want to wager on the winner?"

She was appalled by his suggestion. "Damien!"

"What?" he asked, his face a mask of confused innocence. "I mange a casino. Gambling is my life. If I were smart, I'd start running odds and bets right now. Trust me, Sin would not only appreciate it, he'd approve."

The sad thing was, Damien was probably right about that.

"You are so amoral"

"No. I'm a Daimon. Morals don't become us."

Kat made a feigned sound of disgust at him before she turned her attention back toward the men who were fighting. She had to give Sin credit, unwounded, he was more than holding his own against Deimos. She truthfully couldn't say who would win.

At least not until Sin kicked Deimos back so hard, Deimos went flying into one of the mirrors, shattering it. She cringed in sympathetic pain as Deimos slammed to the floor.

Deimos paused as he saw Kat. A sinister smile curved his lips as he started for her.

Kat braced herself for his attack.

But he never reached her.

His face filled with the wrath of hell, Sin went for Deimos and pulled a barbed cord from around his wrist. Just as Kat moved to strike him, Sin wrapped the cord around Deimos's throat and snatched him back from her.

"That was you fatal mistake," Sin snarled in Deimos's ear as he tightened his grip.

Deimos's eyes bulged as he tried desperately to pull the cord from his throat. But Sin gave him no quarter.

"Don't kill him," she said.

Sin scowled at her. "Are you insane? He won't stop otherwise"

Maybe, but Deimos was still family, psycho though he was, and she didn't want to see him killed. "Deimos, swear you'll leave us alone."


Sin's biceps bulged as he tightened the cord even more. Deimos was dead. She knew it and it broke her heart.

Suddenly a woman's voice echoed from the open doorway. "Damien! A gallu just dragged off a young woman on the street. Her mother's screaming for help."

Sin's face went white as he heard those words. Kat saw the indecision in his eyes. He looked down at Deimos, cursed, then let go of the cord and ran for the door.

Deimos fell forward, onto his hands and knees, coughing and gagging as he unwound the cord from around his neck.

Kat cringed as she saw the blood from where the cord had cut into skin. No doubt Deimos would carry that scar for the rest of eternity. Shaking her head in pity, she ran after Sin, who was on the street now, chasing after the gallu.

The demon ran into a side street, dragging a young woman behind it.

All of a sudden, the demon stropped as if it'd ran into something invisible. Sin pulled the woman from the demon's arms and kicked it back. He handed the woman off to Kat, then turned to fight the demon as the woman collapsed against her.

Just as the demon reached Sin, it burst into flames.

Kat gasped.

Deimos stepped out from the shadows. "They are filthy bastards, aren't they?"

Sin tensed, waiting for Deimos to attack him. Honestly, he was getting a little sick of it. But to his utter consternation, the Dolophonos looked past him to the woman who was sobbing hysterically against Kat.

"Is she all right?" Deimos asked.

"Shaken, but she doesn't appear to have been hurt. I think Sin got to her in time."

Deimos stepped around Sin and placed his hand on the woman's head. She fell back, unconscious. He caught her against him, then gently laid her down on the sidewalk as her mother came running over them.


"She's fine," Deimos said quietly. He looked over at Sin. "He saved her."

Tears of gratitude were flowing down the mother's face as she looked at Sin. "Thank you. Thank you both. I don't know what he would have done to her had you not helped us."

Deimos nodded, then he placed his hand on her head to erase her memories of them. Like her daughter, she collapsed, and Deimos placed her carefully on the ground.

He looked at them over his shoulder. "We have exactly one minute before they come again. They'll think it was a mugger who left them and run."

Sin eyed him suspiciously. "We're not going to finish our fight?"

Deimos shook his head. "Contrary to public opinion, neither the Erinyes nor the Dolophoni are the lapdogs of the Greek pantheon. I don't follow orders unless I see a reason to. I was willing to kill you only because you desecrated human remains and didn't appear rational. Now I'm willing to spare you because you chose the welfare of an innocent human over your own..." He glanced to Kat before he spoke again. "And over that of someone you care for. In my book, that makes you worth forgiving."

Sin was still stunned by his turnaround. It didn't seem logical. "So you're bowing out of this?"

Deimos scoffed. " 'Bowing out' implies a chivalry I lack. Let's just say, lucky for you, I didn't find what I needed to. The Dolophoni only kill for a reason, and that reason has to be justified to Themis or we're executed." He wiped at the blood on his neck that was left by the cord Sin had used to choke him. "Killing you isn't worth my life. But you still have an enemy who wants you dead. Watch your back."

Kat smiled at him. "Thank you, Deimos."

"Don't thank me, Katra. I didn't do a favor here. I just did my job." He faded into the darkness.

Sin gave her an arch look as the mother and daughter began stirring.

Kat held her hand to her lips to silence him before she flashed them back to his casino where they'd left the gallu bodies.

Damien was there with a questioning look. "You're still alive. Good. Any chance you want to help clean up the mess?"

Sin gave him a wry glare. "That's why I pay you the big bucks, Damien."

"Thought so, boss. Just checking." Damien's smile faded as he turned away from them and started mumbling under his breath.

Kat had a feeling it wasn't complimentary to Sin. "I can't believe Deimos is off your tail. I have to say I've found a new respect for him. I really, truly thought you were dead when he appeared."

"As I recall, he was the one about to die. Maybe I scared him off."

She laughed. "There is that. Seriously, though, he doesn't scare that easily and I wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't allowed you to pin him as a test to see what you'd do. It's not like him to give up a death hunt."

"You think he was lying then?"

"No," she answered honestly. "He's the son of Alecto. She's the Erinys in charge of unceasing anger, and his mother's fury, pardon the pun, runs thick in his veins. But in addition to that, the Furies are also called the Eumenides-the kind ones. They are vindictive but fair. Like Deimos said, I think you proved yourself to him."

"Good," he breathed. "That's one noose off my neck. How many are left?"

She thought about that for a minute. "Counting your brother... couple of dozen. At least."

He looked less than amused. "Thanks for the reminder." But even though his response was sarcastic, she still had a feeling he wasn't as irritated as he pretended.


He rubbed at his eyes as if he were exhausted. At least for a couple of seconds. Then he suddenly paused. "Where are the demons?"

"I think you killed them all."

"Not mine. Yours. The Charontes. Where have they vanished?"

Oh, that was a good question. In all the chaos, she'd forgotten them. "Hopefully not eating someone."

Terrified, they both flashed up to the room where Simi and Xirena were staying. It took a second for Kat's eyes to adjust to the darkness.

When they did, Kat had to stifle a laugh as she saw the two of them lying asleep, looking like spontaneous crash victims. Simi's legs were propped up on the wall and her body twisted while her head and one arm were draped over the side of the bed, toward the floor. Xirena was facedown with the top of her head on the floor while her body was spread diagonally across the bed. Her wings covered her like a blanket.

Scowling, Sin angled his head as if trying to match their twisted positions. "How do they sleep upside down like that? Wouldn't all the blood rush to your head and hurt?"

"I have no idea," she whispered, pushing him back toward the door. "But let's let them sleep"

He walked through the door, literally, without opening it and pulled her through behind him. A shiver went over her at his actions. "That was eerie."

"Yeah, but you have to admit it's kind of fun. I used to do it on Halloween to scare kids."

Kat laughed at the devilish look on his handsome face. "You're awful."

"Never claimed to be otherwise." He opened the door to his penthouse and allowed her to enter first.

She could sense his exhaustion and his concern for his brother as Sin joined her inside and closed the door behind them. "He'll turn up."

"Yeah, but how?" I have a really bad feeling about this, Katra. Did I make a mistake by freeing him?"

She reached up to cup his face in her head so that she could soothe some of the guilt she felt from him. "Oh, Sin, you know better. There was no way you could have left him there, like that."

Those beautiful golden eyes were tormented. "I know. But..."

"Don't think about it," she whispered, giving him a light kiss on his whiskered cheek.

Sin nodded as she withdrew from him. He still felt terrible. A feeling that wasn't helped as he saw Kat put her hand to her head as if there was a sharp pain behind her left eye. "You all right?"

"Mmm, my head really hurts all of a sudden."

"You want some aspirin?"

With only her right eye open, she gave him a winsome smile. "Wish that would work. No. I think I just need to lie down for a sec."

Wondering what could be wrong with her, he took her to his bedroom and helped her into bed. "Is it any better?"

"No. I feel really sick."

He grabbed the plastic trash can from the floor and held it up for her.

Kat groaned as she saw it. "You know nothing says love like a man holding a bucket, waiting for you to hurl into it."

"No offense, you start hurling and I'm going to be needed immediately downstairs in the casino... I guarantee it."

She glared at him with only her one open eye. "That's not very romantic."

He scoffed at her aggravated tone. "Excuse me? Did I miss something? What has ever romantic about vomit?"

"A man standing by your side when you're sick. Holding your hair back from your face... that's romantic."

"In what alternate universe do you live? Here in a place I like to call reality, that's disgusting. Who in their right mind would find that romantic?"

She managed to open both eyes to pin him with a less than complimentary snarl. "So you'd just leave me here alone to be ill?"

"I didn't say that," he said, trying to defend himself. "I'd have Damien come check on you."

She curled her lip at him and pushed him away from her. "Just go. Get out of here."

Sin didn't budge from the bed. "I can stay. You're not regurgitating at the moment."

She dry heaved and he actually inched toward the door. "You're just messing with me, aren't you? That wasn't real."

She leaned back on the bed and closed her eyes again. "I can't believe what a baby you are."

"Me? Like you'd stand over me if I were hurling? Give me a break."

"I might."

He didn't believe that for an instant. "Yeah, uh-huh. Let me go get ripped and put that theory to the test."

She pulled a pillow to her stomach. "You're awful."

"I'm honest. Trust me, no one ever comes to check on someone when they're ill."

"It doesn't matter anyway. You're a Dark-Hunter. You can't get sick or drunk."

That wasn't true by a long shot, and he'd had the hangovers to prove it. "I'm an ex-god your father gave a job to. I can, and have, been both many times."

Kat opened her eyes again to frown at him. "You've been ill?

"Yes. Apparently, I lost whatever common cold and flu immunity I had when you mother sucked my powers out of me."

"And Damien or Kish didn't come help?"

"They'll bring food. That's about it."

Her heart ached for him. "I'm sorry, Sin. No one should be sick alone."

"Yeah, well, we all muddle through, don't we?"

Kat supposed. But it seemed terribly harsh and a wave of guilt went through her. No one should suffer without having someone to take care of them. It broke her heart to think of Sin in this bed with no one to bring him food and check his temperature.

She tried to reach for him, but suddenly the entire room spun and started to fall from the bed.

Sin caught her against him and cursed as he felt the heat coming off her body. She was on fire. "Kat?"

She didn't answer him. Instead, she made a strange gurgling noise.

"Kat? Are you all right? Speak to me!"

"She can't."

He looked to see Zakar in the doorway. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Out," he said with a hostile note in his voice.

"Out where?"

He shrugged nonchalantly. "You've got bigger things to worry over than my previous whereabouts."

"Such as?"

Zakar jerked his chin toward Kat. "Your girlfriend must have been bitten by one of the gallu. What she's doing right now is converting into one of them."

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