“Zucco speaking.”

“Dante? Damien.”

“Beth gone?” Dante’s official tone of voice relaxed, turned warm. The man had been lucky the second time around. Beth was a keeper, unlike his ex-wife.

“About fifteen minutes ago. Also, Larry has been escorted off the property.”

“Want to file a report on him?”

“No, not yet. If he comes around, or I suspect he’s gotten inside the building or accessed the servers, I’ll file.”

“I’d do it now, so there’s something on record.”

Dante had a point, but he didn’t have anything more than a money chain. “You want to investigate this? You’re homicide, right?”

Dante sighed. “There’s someone on the cybercrimes unit who can take care of this.”

Damien drummed his fingers on the desk. “Do it.” Fuck it. If Brock Romero tried to sue him for slander or defamation, he’d countersue. They’d paid someone in his company to hand over his prototype, one he’d patented. He’d be damned if they got away with a slap on the fucking wrist. Besides, it might be one more step in getting Sam’s heart to belong to him. “Include Brock Romero in the investigation.”

Dante whistled. “Damn, Damien. Is that who paid Palmer to steal from you?”

“Yup.” Damien opened his top drawer and lifted the false bottom. Inside was his altered .357. “He’s lucky I don’t waste ammo or he’d be a cheese grater.”

Dante chuckled. “Not sure how well that would sell. Speaking of ammo, though, we’re on tonight. I’ll need to let Beth know.”

“Anything happening?” They’d been looking for two people and could find neither. Rafe, one of their cell brothers, was missing, and a Shem Angelus had been haunting them for weeks. Angelus were winged Nephilim (or Shemyaza) who made excellent scouts for both sides. Angelus had the powers of flight and invisibility. Seth, one of his partners, was a Neph Angelus with wings made of turquoise light.

Shem Angelus, like the one they were hunting, had lost their light, their wings becoming nothing more than mere shadows of their former glory. Those dark wings embraced their prey, feeding off their life force in an agonizing death that left the victim twisted and broken.

Damien would be happy finding either one, but he’d prefer to find Rafe. He was still alive somewhere. The archangel could feel each and every one of them and knew when they’d passed. It was the only hope they had of finding Rafe before he turned Shem. Enough torture could turn any of them, even someone as strong as Rafael.

“No.” Dante’s abrupt answer echoed Damien’s increasing anger over Rafe’s disappearance. When he found the Shem holding Rafe he was going to fire a bullet straight up the Shem’s ass.

“Where are we meeting tonight?” He started pulling on his coat and grabbed his gun, slipping it into the special holster he had at his back. He kept it in the drawer at work, but outside, it was on him at all times. If not that gun, then the 9mm he kept in a special ankle strap Dante had helped him pick out. It was one a lot of law enforcement officers preferred when they carried a back-up gun. He made his own bullets, dousing them in holy water, making them particularly effective against Shemyaza.

“My place.” They were careful at work not to mention anything to do with either the Shem or the Neph, always using euphemisms or speaking around the subject. Normal people could not be told that the angel-born existed, except those they trusted the most. Seth had chosen to tell Abby, his new wife, and Dante had chosen Beth. Not all spouses were made aware of their Nephilim partner’s activities. For instance, Damien had considered telling Salvatore, but had decided against it for now.

Damien wished he had someone he could share both parts of his life with. Maybe Sam was that person. She was fiercely loyal to Beth, willing to stand up to Damien despite her discomfort in his presence.

With Sam, I could have so much more.

He ignored that tiny little voice, a voice that had been getting louder and louder every day. He’d have to figure out how to get her to forgive him and soon if he had any hope at all of being with Sam. “I’ll be there in time for dinner.”

“Stronzo,” Dante muttered, cursing him in Italian.

“Make that ziti I like, okay?” Damien hung up before Dante could object any further. He’d get chewed out over some of the best Italian food he’d ever eaten later. Dante could cook but hated being told what to make, so Damien made sure to do so every chance he got. Besides, Dante’s ziti rocked.

Right now, he needed to head to Romanov Enterprises. He needed to check up on some things with his Russian brother.

The fact that Sam now worked for Piotr had nothing to do with it. He wanted to check in on Piotr, maybe update him on Larry’s departure. He’d have to make sure Piotr was aware that Sam was innocent of the theft Damien had accused her of.

He opened the door to his office and ignored the way Salvatore was snickering. “I’m heading out for lunch.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Wyatt.” Salvatore picked up the phone. “Should I inform Ms. Brody that you’re on your way?”

Damien gave him the finger as he rounded the corner to the elevators. He was not going to stop and see Sam, no matter how tempting it might be. He had a job to do, lunch to eat, and Shem to hunt.

And that was it. No cute little blondes for now. No matter how much he might wish otherwise, because damn, she was beyond cute. With her shoulder-length blonde hair and baby blue eyes, she held his attention like no one else ever had.

But his job as a Nephilim and a Malachi were a huge deterrent to bringing the petite, delicate female into his life. The thought of Sam, her blue eyes filled with tears of pain, nearly had him growling. He scowled at the people wanting to get onto the elevator at the next floor, ignoring their return grumbles. No matter how hard he fought it, he couldn’t imagine giving her up. Maybe it was time to stop, time to accept what his heart was telling him. Sam was meant to be his, but there was no way it would happen overnight. He had a job to do before he could begin wooing her.

He would protect the city of Wilmington with his brothers tonight, and leave the rest for later. One step at a time, he’d make Sam his. It would take more than words, more than flowers and candy, but any attempt to reconcile with Sam was better than none.

He just hoped she’d accept his overtures, because he had no idea what he’d do if she didn’t.

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Dana Marie Bell.

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