CHAPTER 42

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"Dodge the cameras or go in the front door flexing our muscle?" I asked, as Tom and I led the team through the open desert toward the mansion.

"They know we'll come. I'm sure Smith has alerted whoever he has left for demons."

The gravel crunched beneath my stiff boots. I ducked to avoid the thorn-rich branches of a short Palo Verde tree. "We killed quite a few back there at the hill. He can't have that many left, can he?"

"You wouldn't think so, would you? But, who could have ever imagined Smith was in league with a dark demon. I hate the name Shadow Man, but it's pretty accurate. His face is a blur in everyone's mind."

I glanced at him and snatched up his hand with mine. Vibes of energy radiated off him. I swore I could almost see them ripple the air. Like a magnet, I felt so drawn to him. I scanned what I could see of his arm and followed the black ink to his hand. Thin lines wove around his flesh all meeting at his ring finger.

He glanced at me and raised an eyebrow.

"No demons could show you Shadow Man either?" I asked.

"No. He's a blurred face in everyone's mind that I could read."

"Shadow Man?" Briana asked from behind me.

"That's what we're calling him. He's responsible for Smith's powers and the raids around the area snatching up kids," I said.

"They are held for sacrifice to the Shadow Man. From what I pulled out of some of the demons' minds is that they are hidden in crates in a basement. I'm assuming at this mansion."

"What's the plan?" Jordan asked.

"Syler. Can you speed around and knock out the cameras?" I asked.

"Sure, no prob."

"Jordan, we'll need you to camouflage to get the gate open. It'll happen fast. They're expecting us, but the more last minute we can get it, the better," I said. "Jordan will open the fence gate, Syler will zip in, knock out the cameras, then we'll storm in."

"Got it." Jordan nodded, then the rest of the group fell back behind us.

"Sean may be there," Tom said.

"I know." I leaned into him.

His warm skin calmed my nerves that had begun to vibrate. I wasn't quite sure if they were vibrating because I was scared or because I was so close to Tom. His dark hair fluttered in the breeze, and his sweat-mixed-with-spice smell wafted over me like he'd sprayed the smells at my face.

I looked up. He watched me with wide eyes. His nostrils flared as well. It literally took a lot of my will power to not stop him and yank him into my arms and kiss him. What was wrong with me? We were marching through the steaming desert to face an unknown demon with extraordinarily strong powers and to rescue a bunch of kids taken before they were slaughtered in sacrifice to this monster.

How could I be thinking about things such as kissing and sex?

It's the bond.

"Sorry?"

Tom glanced behind him, then back to me. I feel it, too. Your smell is intoxicating. I can hardly contain myself.

Heat steamed my cheeks. He must have been listening to my thoughts that little stinker.

We have yet to consummate our final bond. These feelings are only natural.

"Pretty intense," I whispered.

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