Waking up in a stranger’s bed was nothing new to Thorne Lucifer. At age eighty and some change, sex was one of the few things he had to keep from dying of boredom most days. If someone asked him to count how many lovers he’d taken in the past year alone—hell, the past month—he couldn’t even give two names. They all came and went—pun intended.
On this occasion, however, he couldn’t recall a day in his life when he’d awakened chained to a stranger’s bed with a splitting headache and a bad case of nausea, having been stripped down to nothing more than his socks. With a grunt, he squinted his eyes open, sighing with relief when the only lights he could make out were from a handful of dim candles that had been placed on top of a wooden dresser. He didn’t think his hangover would be very kind to him if he’d been encased in full illumination. A faint orange glow shone from the open door across from him—a bathroom, most likely.
He soon became aware of his other senses. Something smelled like mildew, piss and the very ass of hell. There was the sound of shuffling and scraping, though it was very light. It was distant, perhaps coming from another room.
Something cold and wet soaked one side of his head, so he turned a bit to spot a clear zipped bag filled with water, though the outside was coated in condensation.
Aw, his lover had been considerate enough to give him an ice pack for his hangover. How sweet.
With a snort, he waited until his vision cleared further before taking in his surroundings—moldy walls with chipped paint that had lost color long ago, a busted bubble-back TV, a crooked painting of a bland flower and furniture covered in stains that came from only-the-gods-knew what. Even the bed he was on was lumpy and uncomfortable, resulting in a deep ache in his lower back. A pile of sharp rocks would have been preferable.
He crinkled his nose in disgust. While he wasn’t as particular about his sex partners as his uptight brothers were, he was damn sure not down with doing business in raggedy motel rooms. He was a classier dude than that. He’d screw his partner in a dark alley and send her on her way before bedding down in one of these shitholes.
He frowned, images of the previous night coming back in bits and pieces. He’d gone to one of his favorite bars on the east side of town after leaving work. It had been a slow Saturday, so he’d wanted to go out for some drinks to pass the time. He was a big drinker, so throwing back shot after shot hadn’t even given him a buzz. Instead, it’d put him in a horny mood, and he’d been scanning the crowd for the hottest woman to take home for a night of fun. If he were lucky, he would have found two of them.
It hadn’t taken long before he’d spotted a petite blonde sashaying toward him. She hadn’t been the only one interested, of course. Despite being a Lucifer, his devilishly handsome looks and easy smile always aided him in attracting the opposite sex. But that woman had been a nymph—his favorite. He’d sensed that right off the bat and wasted no time ordering a drink for her while they made small talk.
Everything went blurry from there. He vaguely recalled her leading him to the dance floor, grinding against his dick in tune with the music. Then they were outside and…everything went blank.
Frown deepening, he realized the wench must have slipped something into one of his drinks. He glanced down at his naked body, checking for any damage. Nothing. Not even a little nick from a needle drawing blood. He grunted, pushing himself up the musty pillows.
Well, damn. If she hadn’t cut him open in his sleep, what the hell had she drugged him for? He’d already planned on screwing her brains out, so if she’d thought to use him for sex, it was pointless.
“Yo, nympho. You there?” he called, his voice rough from waking up. “You can unchain me now.”
Of course, he didn’t receive an answer. However, there was another collection of shuffling and thumping from the other room. He tugged on the chains binding his wrists in a way that made him look like he was being fucking crucified. A quick glance around showed a key on the nightstand next to him, and he sighed.
An ice pack and the key to free himself. How freaking considerate of her.
As he unlocked his chains, he grumbled a series of expletives under his breath, all directed at the vixen who’d caused this. While he didn’t mind being used for sex, he’d be damned if he’d let it slide that someone had drugged him and left him in such a dank room. He didn’t even know where he was. The blondie better pray he didn’t find out her identity. He might be known as a pretty laid-back man, but he damn sure wasn’t one to be crossed.
Freed, he stood and bent his body this way and that to inspect his backside for any blemishes. It wouldn’t surprise him to find his back and ass ate up by bed bugs. He didn’t see any, but he wouldn’t hold his breath on that one. The longer he stood in the room, the grosser his skin felt.
He spotted his pants and shirt thrown over the back of an armchair and swiftly donned them, sneezing as a chill washed over him. Great. Not only were his surroundings filthy beyond repair, but there was also a draft. The top of his head felt cold as ice, despite the rest of the room feeling like a damn furnace. He pulled on his shoes and spotted his leather jacket tossed on top of the half-broken dining table. Next to it sat his cell phone and wallet, and a quick check showed that his battery had a little juice—and nothing was missing from his wallet, not even a single torq.
Before he could reach for his jacket, he paused at the sound of someone knocking—not at the front door but the one that connected his room to another.
Tensing in preparation to kick someone’s ass, he strolled over and unlocked the latch, then threw the off-white panel open. “You have two seconds to explain what—”
Thorne stumbled backward as someone crashed into him. “Fuck,” a female growled against his chest before shoving him away. Dressed only in a black bra and panties, she clutched the side of her head, her hand coming away with blood. “Fuck! I’m going to kill them. Ohhh, someone is going to fucking die tonight.”
He stiffened when she looked at him, her dark eyes mere slits of coal. She bared her teeth like a wild animal. “Did you have something to do with this?” She flashed him her palm.
He cocked one eyebrow and jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I just woke up tied to the bed, lady. Not sure what the hell’s going on.” He narrowed his eyes, taking her in. She wasn’t the nymph, that was for sure. That woman had been blonde with sparkling green eyes and alabaster skin. The one before him was the total opposite. “Did you have something to do with this?”
She grumbled a curse and rushed over to his bathroom, dismissing his presence. Despite the strangeness of the circumstances and the amount of blood and dirt covering her, Thorne couldn’t help the way his gaze dropped to her rear. Hey, he was a man, after all, and he’d always loved his women with bigger assets—special emphasis on the ‘ass’ portion.
The thong she wore was shaped against her like a custom fit, the lush globes jiggling with each step she took. Her lower back had two dimples, another thing he’d always liked on women. What bits of almond-colored skin he could see looked smooth to the touch, everything tight with lean muscles that spoke of a regular exercise routine. Her raven hair was parted down the middle and pulled into two thick braids that fell nearly to her waist.
His dick grew a bit hard while he followed from a safe distance as she entered the bathroom.
Snatching up a half-empty water bottle from the sink, she grabbed a washcloth and wet it, then began to dab at her wound with light touches. “Those motherfuckers,” she jeered, wincing in pain when she applied pressure.
Thorne leaned against the doorjamb of the bathroom. “Do you have even the slightest clue what’s going on here? I can’t remember shit from last night.”
She scoffed. “That’s because somebody drugged you.”
“No shit. I’m asking who did it—and why.”
She tossed the bloodied towel aside before turning to face him. He tried to keep from gaping at her full breasts, which were barely contained by her lacy bra. She pouted, then planted one fist on her hip with no shame whatsoever at her lack of clothing. “Do you see this?” She pointed to her bleeding temple.
Forcing his gaze away from the breasts, Thorne grimaced at the deep gash struggling to knit itself closed. It was a wonder she was even conscious, given how much blood soaked her. A wave of nausea rolled through him. “Yeah, that’s gross.”
She twisted her lips into a grim line. “Those bastards are dead when I get my hands on them. Do you hear me? D-E-A-D.” Before he could ask what she meant, she eyed him with caution. “You’d better get yourself checked. From what I know about devils, you guys can regenerate, but you can still catch an infection.”
He frowned, doing everything he could to keep himself from throwing up. The bleeding had slowed to a stop, but the raw pink tissue lying beneath was what sickened him. “What are you talking about? I’m fine.”
She lifted a brow, peering at the top of his head. “Sure, you are, Thorne.”
With that, she slid past him and made her way back to her room. Thorne frowned after her. “How do you know my name?” He didn’t bother trying to hide the suspicion in his voice. He’d be lying if he said she looked familiar. He’d come across so many women in his life that there was no telling who she was. Then again, there were few people who didn’t know him. He was a Lucifer, after all. Their name was known far and wide as they sat atop the pillar of the Big Four families in Sheol. “Have we met before?”
She snorted in derision. “If you have to ask that, then no.” She didn’t even hesitate as she stepped over the threshold.
Thorne meant to follow her to get more information, but he paused at the sight of himself in the broken mirror. All the color drained from his face as he blinked at his reflection.
There, on the top of his head, was the worst monstrosity he’d seen since…since…hell if he knew. He couldn’t even think of the proper words to compare it to, but it was disastrous.
His horns. His beautiful, six-inch, curved horns that held engraved patterns that were a proud sign of maturity and virility…
One was missing. Gone. Cut from his head, leaving him looking like a lopsided freak of nature. Like a fucking unicorn or something.
At the top of his lungs, he bellowed, “What the fuck!”
Chey would have fallen to the floor in a fit of laughter over Thorne’s angry outburst, but the biting pain in her head wouldn’t be forgiving if she did anything to further agitate it. Instead, she settled for a quiet chuckle.
She felt for the poor man. She truly did. Dismemberment was never a pretty sight, but damn if the bastard didn’t look goofy as hell. Despite the murderous rage threatening to break the surface of her composure, the devil in the other room had looked ridiculous with only one horn on top of his head. She’d had to bite her tongue to keep from calling him all sorts of fitting names. ‘Thorne the Unicorn’ was just one of many.
Her amusement was short-lived, however, as her anger returned. It was her own karma for trying to be a good Samaritan. She should have left Thorne to suffer his fate alone. Instead, the ever-annoying honorable side of her that he didn’t deserve had been persistent in warning him that the nymph from the bar had been up to no good.
The thought had her gritting her teeth in annoyance as she searched every inch of the disgusting motel room for her clothes. Like Thorne, she’d been drugged. Unlike him, however, whoever was responsible had figured that hitting her over the head would work much faster than waiting for the drug to work through her system. She’d awakened chained to the bed, though it was clear that of the two of them, her memory wasn’t fogged with confusion. Perhaps it was because he’d imbibed too much alcohol beforehand.
She sighed as she recalled the dumbfounded look on his face when she’d said his name. The douchebag didn’t even know who she was. Figures. Thorne Lucifer was the biggest bachelor in Sheol—and it showed. There wasn’t a day that went by when he wasn’t hooking up with some floozy, no doubt. She’d heard countless stories about the devil over the years, about how he left a string of broken hearts in his wake. Yet women still went after him like he was the rarest gem in the underworld.
How pathetic. Seriously, there probably wasn’t a single woman in all Elysium he hadn’t screwed.
Rolling her eyes, she scowled toward the front door. It was bolted shut, as were the windows in the room, so her only means of escape was through Thorne’s side. If his door was sealed shut as well, then she’d have to rely on his brute strength to break it down. She was helpless until the pain in her head cleared and she was able to move without nausea rolling through her.
While her captors had been generous enough to leave the key to her shackles on the nightstand, they’d taken her clothes, leaving her to travel around only in her bra and panties. And she sure as shit wasn’t about to wrap herself in the sheets that were covering the bed. She was positive that the itchy red bumps on her skin were from the insects inhabiting the dusty furniture.
Shuddering in disgust, she returned to the bathroom and picked up the bloody white towel. The mirror had been busted out, so she had to feel around with her fingertips for the opening of her wound.
Upon first waking up about two hours prior, she’d stumbled into the bathroom and taken note of the blood—her blood—staining the sink. There were even loose gauze pads littering the floor, as if someone had tried to patch her up before giving up the task. That’s when she’d noticed the deep gash at her temple and had nearly lost her shit.
She wasn’t a fan of letting people get the upper hand over her, and she sure as fuck didn’t appreciate someone possessing the balls to kidnap her and drag her to…wherever the hell she was.
Grunting, she wrung the excess water from the rag. She placed it against her head and made her way back to Thorne’s room. He was still in his bathroom, growling and talking under his breath as he poked and prodded the area around his missing horn.
She once again suppressed the urge to laugh before going for the front door. He caught sight of her in the mirror, then whirled around to face her. “Where are you going?”
She didn’t break stride. “I’m not staying here.”
He was standing before her in less than two seconds. Chey paused, taking a step back. Though she was pleased with her whopping five-feet-six frame, Thorne had a good eight or nine inches on her. And though she wasn’t some weakling who couldn’t take a punch, the man was stacked with bulging muscles that put her little ones to shame. Plus, he was a Lucifer, one of the most powerful demons in Elysium. He could probably flick her in the forehead and send her flying across the room.
“You can’t leave yet. We still need to figure out what’s going on.”
Chey scoffed. “It’s pretty obvious what’s going on, dude. We were drugged and kidnapped. Doesn’t take much thinking to figure that one out.”
She tried to step around him, but he blocked her path, anger flitting across his features. “I can do without the smart-ass comments,” he growled. “What I want to know is who did this and how I can find them.”
Chey gave a helpless lift of her hands. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
His nose twitched. “You’re lying.”
She jerked back, about to snap at him, only to realize it would be futile. She’d forgotten that his kind were able to sense everyone’s feelings, even down to the most subtle of emotions. They could even tell whenever someone was lying, which was something she never did.
Well, most of the time.
He bared his teeth at her, perhaps in an attempt to intimidate her. Ha, he’d have better luck picking a fight with a brick wall. Chey didn’t scare easily. Instead, she admitted if only to herself that the man had a nice set of molars on him—so straight and pristine that his smile could be used for a lighthouse beacon on a stormy night. The thought made her snort.
“What the hell is so funny?” he demanded. He pointed to the top of his head. “I have to walk around looking like this for weeks. I’m in no mood for your games, so tell me what the hell you know before I lose my shit.”
Chey didn’t bother looking up at his missing horn, because if she did, she was going to burst into a fit of giggles. Instead, she scrunched her face into a deep frown to hide her amusement. “I don’t know any specifics—or even who the people were.” She made a dismissive motion with her hands. “And in case it hasn’t occurred to you, this place reeks, I’m in an ass-load of pain and I’m about three seconds away from breaking off your other horn if you don’t get the hell out of my way.”
Of course, he didn’t move aside. Instead, he clamped his hand around her wrist, tugging her into him. He leaned until they were nose to nose. “You indicated that there was more than just that nymph who caused this. Tell me what you know, woman, because it’s a damn lot more than what I’m coming up with.”
Chey froze. It wasn’t fear that had her drawing in a sharp breath and desperate to put several paces between them. Being so close to him, to a male whose raw power and masculinity rolled off him in pulsating waves, caused her lower muscles to clench in response. Gods below. That was one of the few downsides of being a sex demon. The inevitable need to seek sexual release always came at the most inopportune times.
And being enclosed in a disgusting motel room with the one demon in the entire underworld who she despised with a passion most definitely counted as an inopportune time.
Thorne’s nostrils flared as if he were able to smell her abrupt arousal. The golden flecks circling his irises darkened in response to her desire. It was common. Unmated men were susceptible to the pheromones of her kind. Not even the most reserved of creatures could resist the call of a horny succubus.
Not that she’d asked to be turned on or anything.
Chey grunted and took another step back, tugging her wrist from him. Well, she tried to, but the brute held fast. “Let go of me,” she demanded. “I’ll tell you what I do know, but not in this…shithole. I feel like my skin’s crawling with every passing second.”
Thorne nodded, eyeing her with a guarded expression as he released her. It was like he was just as put off by his reaction as she was. “Fine. We’ll go to a clinic to get you patched up. We can talk on the— Why are you looking at me like that?”
Chey blinked, closing her gaping mouth. Damn, he’d caught her staring at his single horn, and by the thunderous look on his face, he was not pleased. “I can’t help it. It’s just…there.” She gave a sharp shake of her head, turning sideways to avoid looking at him. “I’m not going to a hospital. I can stitch this up myself. I just need to get home.”
Thorne grunted in annoyance. “Whatever, lady.” He crossed the room and picked up a light leather jacket. None-too-gently, he tossed it at her. “Cover yourself up.”
She scoffed but slid her arms inside the sleeves. The jacket didn’t conceal everything, but it hid her necessities, so she was pleased. Plus, it was warm and didn’t smell like sewage as the rest of the room did.
He waited until she had the garment zipped up before turning to the door. Like hers, it was bolted shut from the outside, but his superior strength had it opened after a few sharp tugs. When they stepped into the hallway, it didn’t take long for them both to realize that this wasn’t an ordinary run-down motel like they’d thought. The place was abandoned inside and out—dark, creepy and even more disgusting than the rooms.
“Stay close to me,” Thorne commanded, keeping his voice quiet. “There’s no telling who or what’s lingering around here. And for hell’s sake, if you get scared, at least wait until you give me my answers before running off into the dark and getting lost like those dumb broads in the movies.”
Walking through an invisible spiderweb, Chey grunted. “Just don’t do anything to piss me off until then. Otherwise, you’ll be of luck and stuck looking like a fucking unicorn with no answers.”