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Authors: Larissa Ione

Desire Unchained

BOOK: Desire Unchained
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Acknowledgments

Writing can be such a solitary process, but to make a book come together, so many

people are involved.

Thank you to the wonderful art department at Grand Central Publishing—you are truly

amazing.

And a huge thanks to my wonderful agent, Roberta Brown, for making this book

possible, and ditto to my brilliant editor, Amy Pierpont—your guidance has been invaluable. I’m

so lucky to have both of you.

I am also blessed with friends who will drop everything to give me a quick read or

critique, so I need to offer my deepest thanks to Lara Adrian and Stephanie Tyler. I owe you!

Glossary

The Aegis
—Society of human warriors dedicated to protecting the world from evil. See: Guardians, Regent, Sigil.

Carceris
—The jailers of the underworld. All demon species send representatives to

serve terms in the Carceris. Carceris members are responsible for apprehending demons accused

of violating demon law, and for acting as guards in the Carceris prisons.

Council
—All demon species and breeds are governed by a Council that makes laws and

metes out punishment for individual members of their species or breed.

Dresdiin
—The demon equivalent of angels.

Guardians
—Warriors for The Aegis, trained in combat techniques, weapons, magic.

Upon induction into The Aegis, all Guardians are presented with an enchanted piece of jewelry

bearing the Aegis shield, which, among other things, allows for night vision and the ability to see

through demon invisibility enchantment.

Harrowgate
—Vertical portals, invisible to humans, which demons use to travel between

locations on Earth and Sheoul.

Infadre
—A female of any demon species who has been impregnated by a Seminus

demon.

Maleconcieo
—Highest level of ruling demon boards, served by a representative from

each species Council. The U.N. of the demon world.

Orgesu
—A demon sex slave, often taken from breeds bred specifically for the purpose

of providing sex.

Regent
—Head(s) of local Aegis cells.

S’genesis
—Final maturation cycle for Seminus demons. Occurs at one hundred years of

age. A post
s’genesis
male is capable of procreation and possesses the ability to shapeshift into the male of any demon species.

Sheoul
—Demon realm. Located deep in the bowels of the Earth, accessible only by

Harrowgates.

Sheoulic
—Universal demon language spoken by all, though many species speak their

own language.

Sigil
—Board of twelve humans known as Elders, who serve as the supreme leaders of

The Aegis. Based in Berlin, they oversee all Aegis cells worldwide.

Ter’taceo
—Demons who can pass as human, either because their species is naturally

human in appearance or because they can shapeshift into human form.

Therionidryo
—Term a were-beast uses for a person he or she bit and turned into another were-beast.

Therionidrysi
—Any survivor of a were-beast attack. Term used to clarify the

relationship between the sire and his therionidryo.

Ufelskala
—A scoring system for demons, based on their degree of evil. All supernatural creatures and evil humans can be categorized into the five Tiers, with the Fifth Tier composed of

the worst of the wicked.

Classification of Demons, as listed by Baradoc, Umber demon, using the demon breed

Seminus as an example:

Kingdom: Animalia

Class: Demon

Family: Sexual Demon

Genus: Terrestrial

Species: Incubus

Breed: Seminus

Prologue

Three Years Ago …

“He’s gone. Let’s call it.”

Shade ignored his partner and crunched another series of compressions into the

shapeshifter’s chest. Beneath his palms, cracked ribs grated with each downward stroke.

One–one thousand,
crunch.
Two–one thousand,
crunch.
Shade’s own heart was

pounding, pumping enough blood per minute to fuel Underworld General’s lava-thermal

generator, but the patient’s heart didn’t so much as spark. Three–one thousand,
crunch.
Shade’s thigh muscles screamed with pain, cramping after Gods knew how long kneeling in blood next to

the patient. Four–one thousand,
crunch.
A tingle spread down the
dermoire
that encased his arm from his right shoulder to his hand as he used his specialized gift to force the patient’s heart to

beat.

“Shade. Stop.” Skulk, Shade’s half-sister and paramedic partner, put a dainty gray hand

on his arm. “We did all we could.”

Knowing Skulk was right didn’t make giving up any easier, and Shade didn’t have

enough breath left in his lungs to curse about it. Panting, he ceased CPR and sat back on his

heels on the filth-strewn floor of the abandoned brewery. His arms trembled from exertion, and

his stethoscope hung heavily around his neck.

He ground his teeth as he looked into the glassy eyes of his deceased patient. The vic was

just a kid. Fourteen, maybe. He’d probably only recently learned how to shift out of his human

form to whatever species his family belonged to. The telltale birthmark of a true shifter, a red,

star-shaped mole behind the left ear, had barely formed.

“This is bullshit,” Shade muttered, standing. Nearby, the two False Angels who had

called in the report to the hospital stood, their sweet, virginal appearances belied by the sinister

glint in their eyes.

“You didn’t see who dropped him here?” he asked.

One of the angel impostors shook her head, her golden hair swishing against her white

gown. “He was just lying there. Peaceful.”

“He looked peaceful with half his organs missing?”

The other False Angel smiled. “Touchy, touchy.” She trailed her fingers suggestively

along the low-cut neckline of the gown no true angel would wear. “How about we help you

relax, incubus?”

“Yes,” the other one purred. “I’ve always loved a man in uniform.”

The first False Angel nodded. “Veragoth does so enjoy haunting police stations.”

“Mmm …” The female called Veragoth twirled a strand of hair around a finger and swept

her hungry gaze from Shade’s face to his feet. “But I’m starting to think I should be hanging out

with paramedics.”

Yeah, his black, BDU-style medic uniform made all the females hot even when he wasn’t

casting off the fuck-me pheromones that came standard issue for Seminus demons. But for once,

Shade didn’t feel like getting naked with two beautiful females. He was exhausted, angry, and

damned sick of the newest rash of demon mutilations. Worse, no one gave a rat’s ass that someone was chopping up demons for their parts and selling them on the underworld black

market. It had been going on since time began, but few cared.

Shade did.

He was the asshole who got called to scenes where he rarely made a difference in

whether or not the vic died. Most were too far gone. Or dead.

Skulk holstered her radio and dug through the jump bag for a fresh pair of gloves. “Since

shifters don’t disintegrate aboveground, Doc E wants the body. Let’s scoop it up. We’re done

here.”

We’re done here.
Too many calls ended like that lately.

Cursing, Shade helped Skulk load the kid’s body onto a stretcher and wheel it to the rig.

The black ambulance, one of two servicing Underworld General Hospital, was protected by a

spell that rendered it unnoticeable to humans, but here, the cloak wasn’t needed. They were in a

quiet part of New York City, a formerly industrialized area that had been abandoned during

Prohibition and was only now starting to build up again as a residential neighborhood.

“Let’s roll,” Shade said, and slammed shut the rig’s rear doors.

It was Skulk’s turn to drive, so Shade climbed into the passenger seat, popped a stick of

gum into his mouth, and concentrated on filling out the run sheet.

Patient’s chief complaint?
Deadness due to organ removal.

Patient’s response to treatment?
Still fucking dead.

“Sonofabitch.” Shade pinged the pen at the dash. “This sucks—” He cut off, suddenly

shaken by a rumble deep inside him, an earthquake in his very soul. Pain rolled up from the

epicenter, spreading through his body until the tsunami of agony slammed him backward in his

seat.

“Shade? What is it?
Shade?
” Skulk shook his shoulder, but he barely noticed. He threw

open the door, thankful they hadn’t taken off yet, and fell from the vehicle.

His knees hit the pavement with a crack he heard through the roar of blood in his ears.

Doubled over, he wrapped his arms around his gut. Blackness engulfed his vision, his brain. One

of his brothers was dead. Who? Gods,
who?

He reached out with his mind to connect with Wraith, the brother who couldn’t be more

his opposite, but with whom Shade had a unique connection. Nothing. He couldn’t feel Wraith at

all. Struggling for each breath, he felt for the weaker connection with Eidolon, but again,

nothing. He couldn’t sense Roag, either.

In the background, he heard Skulk talking on her cell phone with Solice, the on-duty

triage nurse at the hospital. “Where are Shade’s brothers? I need to know. Now!”

“Skulk …” he gasped.

She knelt next to him. “Hold on.” She listened into the phone for a moment. “Okay,

Solice says Roag went to Brimstone. She’s all mad because he wouldn’t take her with him, but

she’s getting ready to head there now. She doesn’t know where E and Wraith are. They refused

to go with Roag.”

Not a shock. No Seminus in his right mind would step inside a demon pub where female

lust could hold you prisoner for days, or worse, send you to your death at the claw-end of a

jealous male. But then, Roag had never been in his right mind.

Shade groaned, swallowed sickly. Gradually, a pinpoint of light pierced the darkness.

Wraith. He could feel Wraith’s life force. Thank the gods. Relief made his shoulders sag, but

only for a second. He couldn’t sense Eidolon. Blindly, he reached out with his hand as though he

could touch his brother. Skulk caught his arm, twined her fingers through his.

“Breathe, Paleshadow,” she whispered, using the childhood nickname she’d given him

over eighty years ago. “We’ll get through this.”

Not if E was dead. Shit, he was the brother who kept them all level, who kept Roag in

line and Wraith alive.

Awareness sifted through him.
Eidolon.
He was safe.

The pain faded, but a gnawing, aching emptiness drilled one more hole into Shade’s soul.

Seminus demons were connected to all their brothers, and when one died, he took a chunk of his

surviving siblings with him. Thirty-seven deaths later, Shade felt like a colander.

“Who was it?” Skulk asked softly.

“Roag.” He drew in a deep, shuddering breath. “It was Roag.”

“I’m sorry.”

“So am I,” he said, but it was an automatic response. As much as he hated to admit it, the

world was now a better place.

One

When walking through the “valley of shadows,” remember, a shadow is cast by a

Light.

—Austin O’Malley

It had been at least two decades since Shade had awakened on a strange floor, hung over

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