Lorik plunked down at an empty table and waved to the innkeeper. A hearty bowl of stew and cold ale appeared. Lorik grunted his thanks, handed a few coins to the innkeeper, and dug into the food.
He polished off the first bowl, and a second slid in front of him. Lorik dropped another coin on the table and ate. Slower this time, actually tasting the rich stew.
“Hungry?” a voice purred as an all too familiar pointed tail traced the inside of his thigh.
Lorik kept eating. “What do you want, Sy?”
“To play.” Her tail slid higher.
“Not on that team anymore.”
“You’re still on the team, even if your new master has you sitting out.”
Lorik stiffened. “She’s not my master. And she’s not into those kinds of games.”
“Too bad.” Sy’s tail brushed him. “We always had such fun.”
Lorik grabbed her tail. “Enough.”
Sy glanced at the stairs and then towards the inn door. “Where is she?”
“Hoping she’ll see us together.”
“She’s not the jealous type.”
“All women are the jealous type.”
Looking up from his stew, Lorik knew what he’d see, and he looked anyway.
With the low-cut black leather corset and matching panties, you barely noticed Sy’s leathery wings or hoofed feet. Her ruddy skin radiated heat, making you want to touch it, to feel it beneath your fingers as you-
Lorik licked his lips, but he didn’t look away. “Who sent you?”
“If I said I came myself?”
“I wouldn’t believe you.”
“The sex with you is good.”
Lorik snorted. “Sex is always good for you.”
“Better with you. You can take more punishment.” Hellfire lit her eyes. “I could let you be the master tonight.”
“Then punish me for it in the morning.”
“You know you’d like that.”
Lorik swallowed hard. Yeah, he would, but he knew what it would cost him with Elysia. Cost him more than a night with Sy was worth. Besides, he’d worked too damn hard to free himself.
He pushed away the stew and downed the rest of his ale. “Not gonna happen, Sy.”
She smiled, a dark sultry expression that made it painful to stand in armor.
Her smile faded as she leaned forward. “Lord Thaaxune is giving you a chance to come back. He won’t make the offer again.”
“Way I figure it, he’s making the offer because he’s afraid of Elysia. Which means she has a real chance of ending him.”
“Lord Thaaxune is not afraid of some upstart paladin.”
Lorik shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. But she’s the best chance I’ve got to be truly free of him.”
“There is no freedom. Just another form of servitude. You like servitude.”
Lorik swallowed back the lump in his throat as he looked at her leather clad curves and the whip she wore at her waist. A whip he knew wasn’t just for show. He drank in the view, sucked in a breath, and turned toward the stairs.
“You’ll regret it,” Sy whispered.
“Already do,” Lorik mumbled.
He half stumbled to the room he shared with Elysia. Closing the door behind himself, he bolted it and slid his shield under the handle. He’d know if anyone tried to break in. Not Sy’s style, but if Thaaxune was desperate, he might have more than Sy coming after him.
The room glowed with candlelight as Elysia knelt beside the bed, her hands clasped and head bowed in prayer. She’d shed her armor for a diaphanous white gown, and her silver hair flowed down her back and over her full fluffy white wings.
“How was your dinner?” she asked as she looked up at him with her hypnotic violet eyes.
Lorik grunted. “I swear you survive on rainbows and unicorn farts.”
“I ate at the temple,” she said as she stood.
With the candlelight behind her, he could just make out a snip of lace underneath the gown. He looked away from the purity of her silver and white beauty. She deserved better than him. Way better.
“You don’t smell of brimstone.”
He paused. “You knew Sy was waiting for me?”
“It is impossible for me not to sense her kind.”
“Why in the Seven Hells didn’t you say something!”
“You know why.”
Lorik glowered at her as he stomped to his bed. “Still shitty on your part.”
“I’m sorry, but I had to know. I’m trusting you to take me to Thaaxune. If she could have derailed you-”
“She can’t, okay?”
“Now I know. And so do you.”
“Yeah, I guess I needed to know that.” Lorik started taking off his armor.
Elysia came over and stood beside him, her slender fingers helping him unhook and unclasp it before lifting it off of him.
By the Seven Hells, she smelled good. Soft. Ephemeral.
Must be all the unicorn farts and rainbows.
Lorik balled his fists and tried not to respond to her touch. It was easier to ignore how soft and feminine she was when he wasn’t already aroused. Sy was good at her job.
“You’re tense,” Elysia said. “I hadn’t expected your meeting with Sy to be so trying.”
“You don’t understand men.”
“I’ve witnessed that sometimes your heart and your body are not aligned.” She knelt on the bed behind him and teased her fingers over the wide expanse of his back and up along his broad shoulders. She then began to rub, easing out the knots and chasing away the tension.
Lorik eased back into her skilled hands and closed his eyes. “That’s an understatement.”
“This disconnect, does it happen just with demons like Sy?”
“Happens all the time. Part of my mortal failing, I guess.”
“All the time?” Elysia echoed and her hands stopped rubbing. “Like when?”
He cracked an eye. “You know you’re a constant temptation, right?”
“I’m not Sy.”
“Sy was made to twist and warp men. You do it without realizing it. Might be worse.”
“I never intended harm.”
“Definitely worse.” Lorik pushed away from her.
He grabbed his sword and shield, stomped back down to the common room and ordered a whiskey neat. After downing it and two more like it, he felt Sy’s tail wrap around his leg.
“In spades.” Lorik glanced over at her. The whip and leather had done it for him once, but that’s not what he wanted. Not now. Maybe never again. “Can you look like her?”
“What?” Sy asked.
Lorik leaned over and gave her his demonic half smile. “You make yourself look like her, and I will tie you to the bed and give you the ride of the century.”
“Want her that bad?”
Lorik raised his brows as he sat back in his seat and folded his arms over his chest. “Can you or can’t you?”
Before Sy could answer, the thud of heavy armor on the stairs had Sy on her feet. “Looks like your little paladin is coming for you.”
Lorik’s grin deepened. “She’ll smite you if she catches you. What happens to your kind when a paladin, even an upstart one, hits you with holy light?”
Sy took three steps back and disappeared in a puff of red smoke.
Elysia appeared at the bottom of the stairs, her silver armor gleaming and her sword pulsing with holy energy.
“She heard you coming,” Lorik said.
Elysia studied him for a long moment, nodded, and turned back towards the stairs.
“Don’t wait up,” Lorik said as he raised his whiskey glass.
She climbed a step and looked back as Lorik stared into the bottom of the glass.