"A Daimon who feeds from another Daimon," Phoebe explained. "I take my nourishment from Urian."
Wulf was stunned. "You can do that?"
Wulf moved back, away from the women, as he digested that. In his world there were only two kinds of Daimons. The regular ones who ran when they were chased and the Spathi who fought back. Since meeting Cassandra he’d learned of two more; the Agkelos, who only preyed on evil humans, and the Anaimikos, who preyed on other Daimons.
He wondered if any of the other Dark-Hunters knew of this and why no one had ever bothered to tell him about the different classifications.
"How did you meet Urian?" Cassandra asked as she put away some of the clothes Phoebe had brought for her in the large dresser by the door.
"Back when we lived in Switzerland, Urian was the one watching us. He was supposed to be gathering information to kill us, but he says that as soon as he saw me, he was in love." Her sister’s face practically glowed. Cassandra was happy to see Phoebe so in love. "One night we met by accident when I was escaping the house after that big fight with Mom about college. I stepped right on top of him in his hiding place."
Cassandra remembered that night well. It wasn’t often Phoebe and her mother fought, but that night had been a particularly nasty one. Phoebe had wanted to go off to take night classes in the semblance of being a normal teenager. Their mother had refused her request.
Phoebe sighed. "He was so beautiful. I knew he was a Daimon, but I wasn’t afraid. I stayed with him for hours that night. We started meeting every night after that."
"So that’s where you would sneak off to," Cassandra said, remembering the times she had covered for Phoebe’s midnight escapes.
Phoebe nodded. "I’d only known Urian for about six months when his father grew impatient and bombed the car. I wasn’t supposed to go that night. I was supposed to stay home with you, remember?"
Cassandra remembered that night well. Every detail of it was emblazoned on her memory with crystal clarity. She’d stayed at home that night only because she was sick and her mother had refused to let her out of bed.
"You wanted to go to the airport with Nia," Cassandra said, her throat tight. Their older sister had been going to take a charter flight to see their father in Paris. Nia had planned on staying a week there and then she and their father were supposed to fly back together to stay in Switzerland with the rest of them for a little holiday.
Phoebe nodded. "Urian pulled me out of the car and used his own blood to restore me."
Cassandra flinched at her sister’s words. "He made you a Daimon against your will?"
"It was my choice. I could have died, but I didn’t want to leave him."
Wulf cocked his head. "How did he make you a Daimon?"
Both of the women looked at him in disbelief.
"If an Apollite drinks the blood of a Daimon, it automatically converts them. Didn’t you know that?" Cassandra asked.
"No, I didn’t. I thought the only way to become a Daimon was to take a human soul."
"No," Phoebe said. "I’ve never killed a human. I doubt that I could."
Cassandra was glad to know that, but it was hard for a Daimon to live that way. Dangerous too. "What do you do if he’s gone too long?"
"One of the Apollites gets word to him to come to me. He’s so strong that I can go a long time between feedings and the infirmary keeps a pint of his blood in case of emergency. He always makes sure to replenish it with a new supply every time he visits."
"Does that work?" Cassandra asked. Unlike with Apollites, it wasn’t blood that sustained Daimons, it was the life force or strength in the blood that kept them living.
"It won’t last long, but it will tide me for an hour or two until he can get to me."
"So he kills for both of you?" Wulf asked.
She nodded, and took Cassandra’s hands into hers. "Don’t feel sorry for me, Cassandra. I have a man who loves me more than anything else on this earth. If he didn’t, you would be dead now. I just wish you could know the love I have with him."
Phoebe kissed Cassandra on the cheek. "You need to rest now. It’s been a long night. Would you like me to have someone bring you food?"
"No, thanks. I just need to sleep for a bit."
"Good day to you both." Phoebe left their bedroom.
Wulf locked the door behind her, then stripped his clothes off while Cassandra pulled on a dark green silk nightgown that Phoebe had brought to her. To her surprise, it fit perfectly, even over her slightly bulging belly.
Wulf climbed into bed and gathered her into his warm arms. "How are you doing for real, villkat?"
"I don’t know. It’s been an exciting, strange night." The events replayed through her mind. She’d learned a lot and had had one too many surprises. Now she was exhausted. "I’m very sorry about your house."
She felt him shrug. "Houses can be rebuilt. I’m just glad no one was hurt."
Wulf felt her relaxing as she closed her eyes and snuggled into him. He buried his face in her hair and inhaled the soft womanly scent of her. His mind whirled with everything that had happened tonight.
Most of all, it whirled with thoughts of the baby he had seen on the monitor. He laid his hand on Cassandra’s stomach and imagined the baby thriving in there. His baby.
A part of both of them. The child of a Dark-Hunter and an Apollite. Two beings who should never have united and yet here they were. No longer enemies, he wasn’t sure what to call her. She was his lover. His friend.
He froze as realization dawned on him. She really was his friend. The first one he had made in centuries. He had laughed with her often these last three weeks. Listened to her stories, her fears. Her hopes for the baby’s future.
And he was going to lose her.
Anger and pain swelled up inside him. Jealousy, too, as he thought of the other three Dark-Hunters who had been given a second chance.
He was glad Kyrian and Talon had found their wives. They were good men.
How he wished he could be granted such a blessing.
The pain of losing Cassandra would be excruciating, and he had to admit that he was selfish. He wanted Cassandra and his baby both.
Alive and healthy.
If only he knew of some way to make her live past her birthday.
There had to be something. The gods always made a loophole. This couldn’t be the end of their relationship. No matter what it took, he was going to find that loophole.
The alternative was unacceptable to him.
Cassandra didn’t wake up until almost six o’clock in the evening. She was completely alone in the room. Getting up, she dressed in a pair of black wool maternity pants and a large gray sweater Phoebe had given her.
She opened the door and found Chris, Wulf, and Kat eating on the floor in the living room. Her jaw went slack at the feast they were consuming.
"Hungry?" Chris asked as he saw her hesitating in the doorway. "Jump in. Wulf said he hasn’t seen anything like this since his days in a Norse mead hall."
Cassandra joined them at the coffee table that was set with dozens of dishes. She was amazed at the variety of foods the Apollites had provided for them. They had steak, fish, roasted chicken. Eggs, potatoes, bananas, apples, roasted and sliced. You name it.
Kat licked her fingers. "Shanus said they didn’t know what or how much humans ate so they went a little overboard."
"A little?" Cassandra asked with a short laugh. There was enough food there for an entire Dark-Hunter army.
"Yeah, I know," Kat said with a smile, "but it’s all really good."
Cassandra agreed as soon as she bit into a succulent leg of roasted lamb.
"Here’s the mint jelly," Kat said, passing it over. "Wait until you taste that."
Wulf reached over and wiped at Cassandra’s chin. "You have a bit of grease."
He nodded warmly.
As soon as Cassandra was finished and stuffed, she wanted to go for a walk to help combat her overconsumption of food. Wulf walked with her, not wanting her to go alone just in case something happened.
They left the apartment and headed back toward the merchant part of the underground city so that she could window-shop. But as they walked past the Apollite townspeople, the animosity they directed toward Wulf was tangible.
And it wasn’t like he could blend in among the tall, golden-blond race. There was no doubt Wulf didn’t belong to them.
She was looking in one window at baby clothes when a young man who appeared the human age of sixteen, but was probably only eleven or twelve by real Apollite years, passed by.
"Excuse me," Wulf said, stopping him.
The boy’s eyes were panicked.
"Don’t worry, kid, I’m not going to hurt you," Wulf said, his voice gentle. "I just wanted to ask you about that emblem on your sweatshirt."
Cassandra turned to see the interlocking circle pattern in the center of his shirt.
The boy swallowed nervously as if he were terrified Wulf was one step away from hurting him. "It’s the emblem for the Cult of Pollux."
Wulf’s eyes darkened dangerously. "So you do hide Daimons here."
"No," the boy said, his face even more panicked.
"Is there a problem?"
Cassandra looked past the boy to see a woman her age approaching. She was dressed in a cream uniform that denoted an off-duty Apollite police officer. Though the term "police" didn’t have quite the same meaning to them as it did to humans. Apollite police were only used to manage Daimons since Apollites rarely fought and never broke the laws of their people.
Phoebe had told her the Elysian police were paid to escort any Apollite about to go Daimon out of the city and to give them money and transportation for the human world.
"No problem," Cassandra said to the officer, who was eyeing Wulf coldly.
The boy ran off while the woman raked a sneer over Wulf. "I’m not a child to live in fear of you, Dark-Hunter. After tonight, there’s nothing you can do to me anyway."
"I die tomorrow."
Cassandra’s heart shrank at her words. "I’m sorry."
The woman ignored her. "So why were you scaring my son?"
Wulf’s face was impassive, but Cassandra knew him well enough to know he hurt for the woman as much as she did. She saw the sympathy in his dark eyes, heard it in the tone of his voice when he spoke. "I only wanted to know about the emblem on his shirt."
"It’s our emblem," she said, her lips still curled. "Every Apollite here takes an oath at their majority to uphold the Code of Pollux. Just like the ancient god, we are all bound to each other. We won’t ever betray our community or our brethren. Nor will we be cowards. Unlike other Apollites, we don’t practice ritual suicide the night before our birthdays. Apollo meant us to die painfully and so we don’t argue with his decree. My son, along with all my relatives, is wearing the badge to honor me and the fact that I refuse to run from my heritage."
There was a suspicious glint in Wulf’s eyes. "But I’ve seen that emblem outside of here. It was on a particularly vicious Daimon I killed about a year ago."
The officer’s sneer faded into remorse. She closed her eyes and winced as if the news pained her. "Jason." She whispered the name. "I always wondered what became of him. Did he go quickly?"
The officer sighed raggedly at that. "I’m glad. He was a good man, but the night before he was to die, he ran from here, scared. His family tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen. He said he refused to die when he had never even seen the surface world. My husband was the one who took him out and let him go. He must have been terrified up there alone."
Wulf scoffed. "He didn’t seem terrified to me. Rather, he burned that emblem on every human he killed."
The officer tapped her chin three times with her first two fingers-an Apollite holy gesture. "Gods grant him peace. He must have been preying on evil souls."
"What do you mean?" Wulf asked.
"He’s one of the Daimons who refuse to kill innocent humans," Cassandra explained, "And who prey on criminals instead. After all, criminal souls are full of power fueled by anger and hatred. The only problem is their souls are corrupted, and if the Daimon isn’t strong enough, their venom can overtake them and make the Daimon every bit as evil as they were."
The officer nodded. "It sounds like Jason fell victim to that. By the time you killed him, he was probably wanting to die. It’s sheer torture when the souls begin to possess and control you. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told." She sighed. "Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to spend as much time as possible with my family."
Cassandra wished her well.
With a nod, the officer left them and headed off after her son.
Wulf watched the woman leave, his eyes dark and sad. "So you weren’t kidding me about the Daimons."
"Of course not."
Wulf thought about that. There was so much about them that the Dark-Hunters didn’t know. It actually amazed him.
She’d been right. Since Dark-Hunters spent so much time annihilating the Daimons, they should have a better understanding of them.