Jaime Rush

Angel Seduced

Angel Seduced

The Hidden, Book 3
Grand Central Publishing (February 25, 2014)
ISBN-13: 9781455523238 ♦ ISBN-10: 1455523232

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My name is Kye Rivers. I am a Deuce Crescent, which means I have magick running through my veins. Even though my family is Deuce, too, I have always felt like an outcast. Why? Because my particular gift revolves night owltoppick2around sensuality, which makes my family uncomfortable. I get my validation and satisfaction from helping people with their sexual pathos. The price for my magick is that falling in love interferes with my abilities. Losing my abilities, and my career, isn’t worth getting involved with some guy who will probably break my heart anyway.

When I met the new bartender, a rare Caido who works at the nightclub that serves as my office and second home, I felt an electric draw like never before. Even scarier, Kasabian isn’t like other angel/human Crescents, who are cool and asexual. Kasabian craves emotions…and he craves me. I fear that what’s different in him is dangerous for both of us.

Connected Books: The Hidden

Miami, a city of decadence, sunshine, and Dragons, Angels, and Sorcerers. As humans who hold the essence of ancient gods, Crescents walk the knife's edge between the mundane and the Hidden, a world of dark magick, deadly power, and hot passion.

Dragon Mine
Novella 1
Dragon Rising
Novella 2
Dragon Awakened
Book 1
Magic Possessed
Book 2

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Angel Seduced

Chapter One

Kye Rivers bypassed the velvet rope that corralled the line of people waiting to get into the Witch’s Brew. Too bad the handful of Mundane humans didn’t know that this exclusive Miami nightclub only allowed in Deuces like her. Of course, they knew nothing at all about Crescents, humans who carried the DNA of a fallen angel, Dragon or sorcerer god.

Kye traded a greeting with the bouncer and went into the jam-packed cave of a building. There was plenty of magick in the air, too. One guy was clearly using a little sex magick to get the girl across the table into a nearly orgasmic state. A woman was casting an attraction spell on the guy she was talking to. Kye snapped her finger as she passed them and broke it. Get him to like you on your own terms, chickie.

Sarai raced over, her serving tray tucked under her arm. “Kye, wait ’til you see the new bartender! His name is Kasabian. He’s totally hot. And”—she gave her the wait for it grin—”he’s Caido.”

“No way. Maybe it’s a Deuce illusion, like his gimmick.”

“He couldn’t hold it for two whole shifts. Plus, he’s healed a couple of people.”

All three classes of Crescents traced their ancestry to a mysterious island in the Bermuda Triangle, where humans had procreated with gods, but none intermingled much. Caidos, half fallen angels, were downright reclusive.

Sarai snapped her gum. “There was quite a stir at first, as you can imagine. The women were all gaga and the guys were all ‘why’s the pretty boy Caido working here?’ But people are starting to warm to him. He’s nice. Not snotty like Tad or slutty like Donnie was.”

Kye’s gaze went right to the new face behind the bar. The gorgeous new face. Red lights within the thick glass counter cast a glow over the angles of his cheeks and the gloss of his dark-blond hair. Kasabian might be new to the Brew, but he was clearly not new to tending. He flipped bottles, poured, and returned them to their places with the speed and grace of a juggler. By the relaxed smile on his face, he was enjoying it. So were the people watching him in rapt awe. Of course, that could be the Thrall, the way Caidos could hypnotize with their preternatural beauty. Because of what Kye did for a living, she’d learned to shut out that allure.

But damn, fascination stirred deep in her chest.

Whoa, cut that shit out.

Kye shrugged. “Just another gorgeous Caido.” She pushed her long blond hair back over her shoulder. “Think I’ll order a drink now.”

“I totally know you’re checking him out—” Sarai’s teasing smile disappeared. She gripped her arm, the mist in her eyes stirring like storm-tossed clouds. “Don’t do it!”

“You’re freaking over me ordering a drink from the guy?”

Sarai shook her head. “I’m feeling a lot more than a drink. First, I sensed that there could be something good and hot and sexy between the two of you. Then I got a really bad feeling.”

Angel Seduced

Kye splayed her hand on her chest. “Uh, remember who you’re talking to. The girl you’re always giving a hard time because I never date.”

“Remember who’s doing the talking. I had a feeling about that guy Katie was dating, and he ended up being a drug dealer. I warned Rhea that her brakes were going to give out, and the mechanic said they wouldn’t have lasted another day.”

“I don’t doubt your forecasts. Maybe something good and bad would come from getting involved, but I’d never get romantic with a Brew employee anyway.” She patted Sarai’s hand. “I need to meet him. He’s in my world, after all.” The Brew was her second home, the employees a sort of family.

Kasabian looked up, zoning right in on her as she approached. His green eyes held the Caido glitter, like sun on early-morning frost. Each of the three types of Crescents held their unique magick in their eyes, visible only to other Crescents.

He watched her, even as he shoved limes into two Coronas and pushed them across the counter to the men waiting for them. “What can I get you, love?” he asked when she reached him. ‘Love’? What kind of Caido was this guy?

The smooth edge of the counter pressed into her palms as she leaned forward. “Know how to make the Whis-Kye?” she called out over the pounding beat of Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.”

His mouth curved into a heart-stopping smile as his gaze lingered on the patch on her black leather jacket that read NO DOES NOT MEAN CONVINCE ME. “You must be Kye. Before he left, Donnie filled me in on the special customers. From what I’ve heard, you’re quite special.” He held out his hand. “I’m Kasabian.”

A strange twist of anticipation and fear overtook her, but she slid her hand into his—and instantly knew why. A jolt like a low-level electrical surge went through her. She pulled her hand back, heat flushing over her. He was watching her as though he expected her to react, so she did her best not to.

He turned and pulled down the bottle of Jack Daniels Blue Label whiskey with one hand, a highball glass in another. There were no available stools, but the couple beside her shifted so she could settle in more comfortably. Which she shouldn’t do. Which she did.

Kasabian mixed the drink Mike, the club’s owner, had concocted for her years ago. Whiskey, Mountain Dew, and a splash of orange juice, just enough liquor for a tiny buzz. He snuggled a wedge of orange on the rim and slid the glass in front of her. Someone farther down the bar flagged Kasabian down.

“Don’t go,” he said, moving away to take an order. He made three different drinks and pulled one draft. His tight yellow shirt showed off a physique he got doing more than tossing bottles. Not bodybuilder thick but lean well defined. He returned to her. “Mike told me you’re a Zensu Deuce, that you pick up people’s sensual pathos and fix them. He thinks you’re a goddess.”

Embarrassment stung her cheeks but warmed her heart. That was a lot more appreciation than she’d ever gotten from her own family over her gift. She couldn’t go into how she’d helped Mike with his sexual dysfunction, discovering it stemmed from an impotency spell cast by an ex.

“I’m a certified sex therapist,” she felt compelled to say. “With a doctorate in clinical sexology.”

“Plus a dash of magick.”

“To be honest, it’s mostly the magick.”

Angel Seduced

Kasabian regarded her with a curious expression. “You pick up people’s feelings?”

“It can work that way, if someone asks me to open the door. I don’t make a habit of eavesdropping. In fact, I keep the psychic door closed most of the time.”

He gestured for her to lean closer, then did the same. She had the bizarre notion that he was going to kiss her. Even more bizarre, she involuntarily licked her lips in anticipation. His mouth moved close to her ear, brushing the shell of it ever so slightly as he said, “So, what do you get from me?”

She tried to stifle her shiver at his touch. He leaned back, and she saw that his question was a challenge, maybe a test. She opened the door and … holy Zensu, a wave of desire, pain, and heat washed over her. Desire for her. He’s Caido. This can’t be right. It spiraled inside her like a vine, a dark hunger twining through her until she slammed the door shut.

She worked to mask her surprise, along with the flush on her face. She had to lean close to him now. “Caidos don’t have sexual pathos … or sexual anything. You’re all shut down.” She grabbed her drink.

Kasabian’s raised eyebrow and smile said, I don’t believe you. He gave her a wink and tipped his chin toward the dance floor. “Go dance, give me something to watch.”

Was he serious? His playful smile could go both ways.

A woman tugged her sleeve. “Are you Kye? I was told you could help me with … a problem.”

“Yes, yes, I can.” Kye gratefully led her to her usual table, a RESERVED sign sitting on the shiny black top. Mike let her conduct business in the club, and she insisted on giving him a cut. Some people felt more comfortable talking about their sexual issues in loud, smoky surroundings. The club had become her second office.

It was damn annoying how Kye’s attention kept straying to Kasabian through the night, how her mind kept replaying their conversation. Women gawked and flirted, but he didn’t flirt back. She was glad to see him leave while she finished up with a client session after closing time.

Her relief evaporated when she stepped into the well-lit parking lot and spotted him leaning against a deep yellow sports car. As though he were waiting for her. The thought fluttered in her chest. Not helping, the Lotus’s license plate read NOANGEL, and black angel wings spread across the hood. She told herself it was enough to enjoy the view. Men who took care of their bodies, working out enough to build muscle without looking too jacked up, were eye candy. No calories in looking.

The thick black heels of her short boots clunked on the asphalt. She felt such an odd pull toward him that she forced herself to give him a brief smile and bypass him.

“Aren’t you hot in that?” he asked, gesturing as though he were wearing a jacket.

She slowed to a stop in front of him. “Only when I dance.” No matter how warm she got, she never took off the black leather jacket with her patches and studs.

“And you didn’t dance.” He tilted his head, giving her an oh-my-gods-stop-my-heart pout. “Pity.”

Angel Seduced

“Are you flirting with me?”

“You make it sound like a crime.”

“What you’re hearing is surprise. I know it’s painful for Caidos to feel desire, punishment you unfairly suffer because your angel forefathers fell to human temptation. Don’t worry. As a therapist, I’m sworn to secrecy,” she added. “Caido clients tell me it’s easier to shut down their desire. Yet you do … feel desire.”

“Ah, so you did sense it.”

“You threw me off back at the bar. First that you were flirting, then that you asked me outright to feel you. I mean, to sense your feelings. You’re different.”

“Very. I don’t usually flirt.” He let his gaze drift down over her black leather skirt and fishnet stockings. His eyes met hers again, jumpstarting her heart. “You have a strange effect on me.”

Ditto, buddy. Which made her all too aware that they were outside alone together.

His chuckle rolled across her skin. “Don’t worry, I’m not waiting out here to pounce on you.”

She’d forgotten how Caidos could pick up others’ emotions. “But you are waiting for me.”

“Yes, I am.”

“You’re not going to ask me out or anything, are you? Because I don’t date.” He didn’t say anything, which made for a really awkward few seconds. “It’s a general rule, nothing personal. If … that’s what you were going to ask.” She would have thwapped herself on the forehead if it wouldn’t look stupid.

And, of course, as a Caido, he picked up everything she was feeling, which put a damned incredibly sexy smile on his face. “As much as I’d love to hook up with you, it’s not feasible. Or wise.”

He’d love to hook up with her. She tried to staunch her reaction to those words.

He gave her a sympathetic smile. “The love guru doesn’t date? That seems sad.”

She debated being obtuse but decided it was better that he knew she wasn’t just playing hard to get. “Being involved with someone interferes with my abilities. The drama and distraction, even if things are going well, takes over my mind. All I get is noise when I read someone.”

Angel Seduced

“And that terrifies you. Why?”

She really hated that he could read her. “Helping people is important to me.”

“Which leads beautifully to the reason I’m waiting for you. The Caido/Deuce couple who came in and greeted you like you were their best friend, who danced together, and kissed … you helped them, didn’t you?”

Kye had watched them snuggling together on the dance floor with just a tiny bit of longing. “Sorry, client confidentiality.”

He rubbed his chin. “So you did help them. The only way they could be together is by doing the Essex. I assume you know about the exchange of essences that balances the Caido so he’s not as sensitive to her emotions. Because it only temporarily ease his pain, a long-term relationship would mean that her essence would eventually be depleted. No self-respecting Caido would do that to someone he cares about. So how is it that they’re together?”

She could only give him a general answer. “I’ve come up with a way to make the Essex permanent.”

He pushed away from the car, interest crackling off him as he came closer. “Tell me more.”

She fought the instinct to back up a step. “I’ve had a few mixed-Caido couples approach me about circumventing the pain. They hadn’t meant to fall in love, but now they wanted to be together. I tried several different spells and magick devices, but nothing worked.”

He crossed his arms in front of him and rocked back on his heels. “And you take it very hard when you can’t fix someone.”

“You get that from me too?”

“I suppose we both bear a similar burden in picking up feelings we have no business sensing. How does it work?”

She laid one of her hands on top of the other and let her fingers barely settle between each other. “With the Essex, you’re limited to how much essence you can exchange, kind of the way my fingers can’t slide together. That’s why it’s temporary. The Cobra, which I named for the tantric position, allows both essences to reach fully toward each other, like this.” She laced her hands together, fingers straight so that they formed an X. “This starts the bonding process. The last step is when both parties actually pull each other’s essence into their souls, permanently locking them together.” Her fingers wrapped over her hands as though in prayer. “At least, I think it’s permanent. The first couple did it four months ago and it’s still holding strong.”

“Why haven’t I heard about this magick of yours? The Caido community should be buzzing.”

“There are some side effects I’m still working out. The Caido is bombarded by every emotion he’s ever repressed. It can be intense. One Caido even experienced a resurgence of buried memories.”

Kasabian’s eyes shimmered. “Buried memories?”

Angel Seduced

“It apparently caused some big problems, but he couldn’t give me any details beyond that. He just wanted me to know that it happened.”

He went silent for a few moments, rubbing his fingers across his mouth. “Can you do it so a Caido can simply experience desire?”

“Only if you have a committed partner who wants to be permanently bonded to you. Because that’s what it does.”

“That would not be a good thing. For any woman.”

“Why?” The mystery of him pulled at her, the dark desire she’d sensed.

“Oh, love, there you go, needing to help even though you know you should run the other way.” He lowered his chin, the street light reflecting off his razor-sharp jawline. “And you should. I’m forty ways fucked up.”

She swallowed. No one had ever made her this off-balanced. “I do want to help. Too many messed up people are not only suffering but inflicting their misery on others.”

“I assure you that I’m not inflicting my anything on anyone.” He reached out with the back of his hand and brushed it down her cheek. “As much as I’d like to.”

She stumbled back, his touch curling throughout her body. “I should go.”

Hunger flashed in his eyes. “Yes, you should.”

Go, run, and never look back.

Chapter Two

“One more game, Mr. Grey?” one of the Youth Haven kids called out as he ran the basketball down the court.

Kasabian dropped down on the bleachers, catching his breath. “I’m done.”

“Getting old, Kasabian?” one of the older kids chided.

Angel Seduced

“Yeah, thirty-two and over the hill.” Of course, that was to these kids. They couldn’t yet comprehend how long Crescents lived, how those years would drag on. “Five hours straight, and I can’t take a break without getting harassed?” Had he been this relentless when he lived here at Youth Haven? Yeah, probably, in his eagerness for a grown up’s attention.

Most of the Haven kids were Caidos, but some were Dragon or Deuce orphans.

“I’m done, too.” Daniel Portofino, another volunteer, flopped down beside him, panting. “Man, I can’t believe you do this and then work until three in the morning.”

“Helping out here is recreation for me.” He liked giving back to the place that had taken him in after his mother’s murder when he was twelve. “Actually, so is bartending.”

“I don’t know how you do that either. All those emotions, people getting hot for each other, jealousy … that’s got to kill you.”

Even joy felt like a thousand razor blades across their souls. “I’d rather suffer than shut myself off from humanity.” Kasabian wasn’t about to tell anyone he craved emotions. He leaned back on the bleacher behind him. “Ever been in love, Daniel?” At his surprised look, Kasabian added, “Not seriously in love but crushing on someone even though you knew it wouldn’t work? Because we’re Caido.”

Daniel stared at him for a long second, some odd emotion flashing behind his dark blue eyes. “Once. Long time ago. You?”

Kasabian chuckled, shaking his head. “There’s this Deuce chick who hangs out at the Witch’s Brew, and she’s freakin’ amazing.”

“A Deuce?”

Caidos couldn’t pick up each other’s emotions, but Kasabian didn’t need supernatural ability to see that the idea annoyed Daniel. Who cared? It felt good to talk about her. “Long blond hair, the creamiest skin I’ve ever seen, dresses all biker-chick in black leather and fishnets. Last night she danced for me, within sight of my bar. She kept checking to see if I was watching.” And he was, every spare second. It had been a long time since he’d desired a woman, and then only fleetingly. With Kye, he couldn’t seem to stop.

“Sounds painful. You going to act on it?”

“I have to do the Essex twice a night to dull the pain. But wanting her is as far as it’s going to go.” The only thing he and Kye could ever do was exchange furtive glances.

“Smart. That kind of thing never works.”

“Actually, it could.” For normal Caidos, anyway. “She’s a Zensu Deuce, and she’s come up with a permanent Essex so the Caido is immune to his lover’s emotions.”

“Caidos should stick with their own.”

Angel Seduced

It was easier for Caidos to get together. Desire still hurt, but with their dampened emotions, it wasn’t as painful. “Yeah, and if there were plenty of Caido females, it wouldn’t be a problem.” Part of the curse their forbearers passed on was a lack of females in their Crescent class. At least that was the theory.

Daniel’s mouth tightened, like he was preparing some kind of lecture, but his sulk turned into a speculative look. “I know a couple who might be interested in her services. What’s her name?”

“Kye Rivers.” Damn but he liked the way her name rolled off his tongue.

“Kasabian!”

Both men turned to Hayden Masters, approaching from the end of the bleachers. He acknowledged Daniel with a nod but focused on Kasabian. “Can I talk to you for a sec?”

Kasabian pushed up, excusing himself. He bumped knuckles with the big Caido, and they headed out of the gym.

Hayden lowered his voice. “Something came up at work that you need to know about. Even though you’re not supposed to know about it.”

“Gotcha.”

Hayden was a Vega in the Guard, the Crescent’s police force. He’d shared some of his cases, mostly hunting down Crescents who broke the laws of the Hidden. Rule Number One was to never reveal the magick of the Hidden to Mundanes. Other rules focused on not using fangs, orbs, or other magick weapons on either Mundanes or Crescents. Not that everyone obeyed.

They stepped out into the humid air, the afternoon sun cooking them until they stepped beneath a tree by the tennis courts. Two Haven residents were batting a ball half-heartedly back and forth.

Hayden braced his hand against the trunk of the tree. “A five-year-old Caido boy was picked up this morning, just wandering the streets. The kid was weak, disoriented, and mute. Whatever he’d gone through traumatized him pretty bad. And he had this.” He yanked up his shirt to reveal a faint gray starburst over his diaphragm.

Kasabian felt a squeeze where his own scar was. “Hell. Whoever kidnapped us over twenty years ago is still doing it.”

Kasabian remembered the group of kids who’d escaped with him, none with any memory of their captivity. Once sexual abuse had been eliminated, all they had were questions. Four years of his life, all of his captivity, was shut away in some part of his brain that no magick could touch.

Kye’s voice echoed in his mind: $One Caido experienced a resurgence of buried memories.

Buried or locked?

Angel Seduced

“Did you talk to the kid?” Kasabian asked.

“Yeah, for about three minutes. My sergeant called me in because he knows about our ordeal and recognized the scar. He thought if I showed the kid my scar, maybe he’d open up. And I think he would have, only my sergeant pulled me out of the room. He said the Concilium was taking over the investigation. Sensitive matters and some such bullshit.” Hayden smacked the tree, making leaves float down. “Within minutes, the kid’s gone, lost in the system.”

“Who gave the order?”

“My boss didn’t say a name, but I could tell he wasn’t happy about it. You know how it is with the Guard. There’s a lot of stuff we aren’t privy to. We don’t always know the Guard’s motives, and the Concilium is even murkier.”

“Hell, we don’t even know who’s on the Concilium, and they’re supposed to be representing us.” The United Nations of magick beings was headed by old Crescents, meeting in covert locations and more concerned about keeping the Hidden secret than anything else.

“My guess is that someone knows what these marks mean. Wouldn’t be the first time something was covered up to protect society,” Hayden added with finger quotes.

“Five years old. So damned young for being used like … well, however the hell they were using us.” Kasabian shook his head in disgust. “Younger than when we were taken.” Kasabian spotted Daniel coming outside and turned away, making it obvious that he and Hayden were in the middle of a private discussion. The guy was always following him around.

“If it’s like last time, the bastards are taking kids from hookers or drugged-out mothers who either are taking a pay-off or are too scared to report their kid missing.” A shadow passed over Hayden’s features.

When they were able to track down the mothers, they got a story about how some government official had offered to send the boy to a camp and get him away from the situation while the mother cleaned her life up. Pressure had a way of cracking people with magick. Crescents worried about being incinerated by Dragons, stalked by demons, hurt by spells.

Living in solitude often got to Caidos, and some lost their way, falling to the lure of a drug called Abyss. It was a highly addictive mix of heroine and magick that blocked the pain of emotions. Like addicts in the Mundane world, they’d do anything for another hit, including selling their bodies. And their babies. Kasabian and Hayden spent a lot of their free time getting those kids into Haven.

Hayden pushed away from the tree. “I’m going to see if the sketch artist can draw the boy, then I’ll see if anyone knows him. I’ll let you know what I find.”

“I’ll check around, too.” Kasabian bypassed the courts to avoid Daniel and get inside.

Cory, one of the guys who ran Haven, was going over some details for the middle school kids’ overnight trip to the Everglades. Cory looked up. “I keep expecting the headmaster of the Deuce Academy, who’s coordinating things on their end, to postpone the trip, what with all the talk of the solar storm effects hitting as early as Thursday. Even the Mundane news is reporting on possible GPS distortion and electronic outages. We’ll feel it in deeper ways. Some of the younger Caidos are already experiencing headaches and ‘bad feelings.'”

“We’ve weathered them in the past. We’ll get through this one.” The solar storm was the least of Kasabian’s concerns. “Have you heard about kids going missing recently?”

“I hear things here and there, but nothing definitive. Rumors. You know Lyle?”

Angel Seduced

“Skinny Caido with the choppy hair? Came here, what, a year ago? Keeps to himself.”

Cory nodded. “He’s barely hanging onto his required grades. I’ve suspected him of running drugs, maybe Abyss. I hate to even think it, a twelve-year-old doing that. Caught him sneaking out a few times, though I couldn’t find anything on him but a bunch of pictures of the same kid. His missing brother, he said. I wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth or using it as a cover.”

Kasabian found Lyle at a computer in the library. The kid quickly closed the browser screen, a suspicious move. Kasabian decided not to call him on it, turning a chair at the next computer around and sitting down backward. Despite that it was obvious that Kasabian was there to talk to him, Lyle opened a new screen and pulled up one of the curriculum programs, studiously ignoring him. His eyes were bloodshot, face gaunt.

“You came from the Vale, didn’t you?” Kasabian asked, finally getting the kid’s attention. The Vale was a run-down area populated by all the addicts.

“Yeah.” Lyle kept his gaze on the computer screen, but he was working really hard to do it.

“I’m investigating some disappearances. Have you heard anything about kids going missing from there?”

Lyle turned to him, his mouth working. He pulled back whatever words he was going to say and affected a nonchalant shrug. “Kids disappeared, yeah. Went to some kind of camp but never came back. Not that it mattered, because the mothers moved.”

That surprised Kasabian. “The mothers left the area?”

“It was some kind of government assistance thing. Crescent government. We were told that the kids went to their family’s new residence.”

Kasabian rubbed his mouth and considered what angle to use. “But they lied.” Not a question. “How do you know?”

The kid was clearly in a war with himself: tell the nosy guy the truth or distrust him as he did everyone else.

Kasabian knew how he felt. Sharing didn’t come easy for him either, but he needed to if he was going to get anywhere. “I was kidnapped when I was eight. I was lucky. I escaped. The people who took me, I think they’re still taking kids. I want to stop them.”

Lyle’s expression slowly revealed his pain. “My brother went to a camp a year ago. They said I was too old to go with him.”

“How old was your brother?”

“Four.”

Angel Seduced

“And you never saw him again.”

Lyle chewed his lip, his eyes staring at nothing. Finally he shook his head. “We moved to the Bend soon after.”

The Bend. Kasabian had heard about the gated community that housed middle and low income Crescent families, especially single mothers. It was touted as being safe and claimed to educate those mothers so they could support their families. And get off drugs.

“They never returned your brother,” Kasabian said gently.

“They said three months. Then it was six months. I told Mom we shouldn’t have left the Vale. What if they brought him back there? She said they knew where we were. She didn’t even … ”

“Seem concerned?” Kasabian finished, guessing.

His mouth tightened as he held back the outrage and grief. He merely shook his head.

Because she knew the kid wasn’t coming back.

“She kept talking about how nice our apartment, our life, was,” Lyle whispered. “Finally she admitted that Jonathan had been adopted by another family.” Lyle met Kasabian’s gaze with a fierce expression. “I accused her of selling him, and I could tell I was right. I ran away and came here.”

The pieces were coming together. “You sneak out to the Vale to search for him.”

Lyle searched Kasabian’s face, sensing whether he could trust him. Finally he nodded.

“Can I help you?”

“No. But thanks. I can do it on my own.”

Just like Kasabian, not wanting to involve anyone else. The poor kid had been dealing with this alone, driving himself to exhaustion.

“I understand. No one cares about your situation like you do. But sometimes you need help, even when you don’t want it. Or trust it. Sometimes what you’re after is more important than doing it on your own. I’m going to look into this. If I run across your brother, it would be helpful if I had a picture of him.”

Angel Seduced

Lyle pulled out his worn nylon wallet and extracted one of many color copies. On the back was the boy’s name, age, height and weight, along with the date he’d gone missing. The boys looked nothing alike, Jonathan with brown, straight hair while Lyle’s was dark blond. Lye’s face was lean and sharp, Jonathan’s round, his eyes soulful.

Kasabian ran his thumb along the edge of the photographic copy paper. “Thanks.”

“I should be thanking you.”

“Don’t thank me yet.”

Kasabian left Lyle in the library, feeling the unease his sympathy caused in his body. He let it come as he gathered information from both the kids and the counselors. Nothing conclusive, just tidbits here and there that added up. One kid was thought to have drowned in a canal. No body was ever recovered. One kid wandered off and was never seen again.

Kasabian found Cory on the worn-out chair in front of his desk. “Lyle’s not running drugs. He’s trying to find his little brother. Give him space, okay?”

“I can do that, as long as he doesn’t break the rules.”

“I don’t think he will.” Kasabian headed home to get changed for work. He had promised himself he was going to stay away from Kye. But now he was going to have to ask her to do the Cobra with him.

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Praise & Reviews

“A must read series!” – Night Owl Reviews

“The banter and chemistry between [Kye and Kasabian] make them terrific leads.” – Publishers Weekly

“This fabulous third outing in the Hidden series provides additional complexity and depth to Rush’s unique world. Packed with ominous treachery and dark magic, this is edge-of-your-seat entertainment!” – Jill Smith, RT Book Reviews

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