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- Candy Houses
So you think you know fairy tales? Guess again.
Grimm’s Circle, Book 1
Greta didn’t get her happy ending her first time around. And now that she’s a Grimm—special kind of guardian angel and official ass-kicker in the paranormal world—romance is hard to find. Besides, there’s only ever been one man who made her heart race, and the fact that he did scared her right out of his arms. Now Rip is back. And just in time too, because Greta needs his help.
On a mission he knows is going to test all of his strengths and skills, the last person Rip expected to see is the one woman who broke his heart. Working together seems to be their only hope. But, when faced with a danger neither of them anticipated, the question is, how will they face the danger to their hearts—assuming they survive, of course.
It came at me, a silent rush of death. At the very last second, I spun out of the way and felt the blast of air as it swiped out at where I’d stood only a heartbeat earlier. The thing’s hands ended in claws that measured close to three inches long.
The skin along the back of my neck prickled as I once more started to circle away from the bocan, weaving around it in nonsensical patterns. It made another rush and this time, instead of moving aside, I went down and sliced upward. Black, bitter blood covered me as I managed to break skin. It shuddered, but I figured out very quickly that while I’d hurt the demon, I hadn’t slowed it down. It slashed out as I scrambled away. Those claws got closer that time.
And then again. This time it caught me. I bit my lip to keep from screaming as the claws managed to get me in the belly, slicing me open. Blood flowed.
A hand came out of nowhere and grabbed me, hauling me aside.
Dazed, I fell against the crumbled rock wall at my back and watched. I was in a state of shock, I think. I didn’t recognize the man at first…well, not consciously. My body probably would have, if I hadn’t been losing huge quantities of blood through the gashes in my belly. I whimpered and shrugged out of the blood-soaked jacket I wore and balled it up, pressing it to my wounded stomach.
The flesh was already knitting back together. I could literally feel it, deep, deep inside. It was a bad injury. If I was still wholly human, I’d be dead already. As it was, I was losing a lot of blood. Even us pseudo-immortals get weak when we lose too much blood.
Sinking to the ground, I watched as the man fought the bocan.
He was a lot more equipped to handle the thing than I was, that was for sure. The bocan tried to gut him with those lethal claws but the man moved away, quick as a wish. I saw one hand disappear inside the long coat he wore—something about that coat, the way it stretched over his shoulders, tickled a memory. I wouldn’t look at his face. Thinking about it now, I know why I wouldn’t look, because I knew in my heart who he was, and I needed to prepare myself a little bit more before I actually looked at him.
Instead, I focused on his hands…and on the very awesome weapon he’d drawn from inside that long, black coat. It was a black cylinder, maybe two, two and a half feet long. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t sound too flashy. It would do some serious damage to a human, probably even a number of manifested demons.
But a nine-foot-tall bocan?
Nope. Right up until he twisted it, I wasn’t impressed. But then he twisted it. I heard the whisper of metal as two edged blades appeared, one out either end of the metal cylinder.
Now it was five feet long, and bladed on both ends.
He used it like an artist. He moved like a dancer of death. The silver flashed through the air. His body barely seemed to touch the ground before he was moving off again. Eerie, deadly and oh so lovely to look at. In a rather morbid way, of course.
Black blood stained the metal as he sliced through the bocan’s scales.
The bocan hissed.
The man just laughed. That laugh. I knew that laugh.
Just before I passed out, I finally let myself look at him. I found myself staring at his familiar profile. An ache settled in my heart and it followed me as I went under.
Rip had problems.
He had all sorts of problems. He had one dead demon on his hands. He had one unconscious, young adult female on his hands. He had one unconscious, not-so-young adult female on his hands—and she was injured.
His body screamed at him as he crouched beside Greta. Along his left arm, he had a series of gashes, three of them, each one of them a good seven inches long and deep. Very deep, because they weren’t healing fast. The bocan had managed to tear into his muscle, and the muscles had to knit together before the skin could. So he was still bleeding.
But not as bad as Greta.
She was pale, even paler than normal. That milky, fair complexion was ghostly and even though he knew she couldn’t die from the injury she’d taken, his heart skipped a few beats and then took up residence in his throat. To reassure himself, he laid a hand on her neck, felt the warmth and the life of her.
It didn’t help much.
He was going to relive the night’s events a thousand times over in the years to come—the nightmare of seeing the bocan come this close to gutting her, and he had been too far away to do a damn thing.
What were you thinking?
She had faced down a bocan with pretty much her bare hands. She’d had a knife. A paltry blade in her right fist as she’d circled around the demon. Bocans were too fucking big, too fucking strong, and that hide of theirs was like armor. Knives just didn’t cut it.
He shot the dead creature a nasty look and wondered where in the hell it had come from. Bocans were uncommon in the world because they didn’t have the abilities a lot of other demons had—they couldn’t manifest, couldn’t possess. They just killed.
A bocan. The paraisei he’d faced earlier. Something weird was going on. Demonkind didn’t ever gather together in one place for long—it attracted too much attention, the sort of attention that ended up them being sent back to the netherplains.
What in the hell was going on?
Greta shifted under his hands. Under her breath, she whimpered quietly and Rip, without even thinking about it, bent over her and pressed his lips to her brow. “Hush, angel. You’re safe now…you’re safe. Sleep…heal.”
His heart broke a little as she burrowed close to him.
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