Forever Immortal (Immortals Warriors, Book 4)
Science and reason ruled Gideon Bennett's life until the death of an Immortal triggered a physical transformation, forcing him out of the laboratory and into a world of violence. Eight years later, he’s become a powerful Immortal warrior, but continues to be haunted by the face of the woman who died because he hadn’t been strong enough or fast enough to save her.
Lyssa James wasn't looking for trouble when she set out to enjoy a night on the town away from her dead-end job and obnoxious ex-boyfriend. Instead she got a first-class ticket to a demon hell dimension where she has been trapped for eight long years. Now she's finally escaped...only to run into the very man who sent her there in the first place.
Neither of them are the same people they were eight years ago, but getting reacquainted is the least of their worries. One of the nastiest demons from the Abyss is on the loose, and it threatens not only their lives...but the future of humanity.
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Lyssa Elora James had been stood up. After an hour perched on the most uncomfortable barstool known to man, cooling her heels and nursing a watered-down gin and tonic, she couldn’t ignore the truth any longer.
Pulling her cell phone from her slim black purse, she glanced down at the softly glowing screen. She knew exactly what time it was but still felt a compulsive need to verify—for the third time—that she wasn’t early, Paul was unquestionably late. Again.
“That’s it,” she grumbled under her breath, stuffing the phone back in her bag. “That was your last chance, buddy.”
Swiveling her stool around to face the bar, Lyssa set down her empty glass with a clink. She slid a ten across the bar and smiled at the server. “Thanks for keeping me company tonight, Ben.”
“A distinct pleasure, my dear. You just let me know where to find that loser boyfriend of yours, and the deed is done.” He winked.
Lyssa smiled and shook her head. “No need. As of right this minute I have no boyfriend. I’m going to forget he even exists and move on.” She sensed the door of the club opening behind her and looked up into the mirror over the back counter of the bar.
“Whoa…Speaking of moving on, who is that?”
She turned around and searched the front entrance for the dark-haired hunk she’d glimpsed in the reflection, wondering if maybe she’d hallucinated him. The front doors were being guarded by a burly bouncer who stood next to a much shorter, curvy hostess holding a clipboard and snapping bubblegum.
Lyssa turned her gaze away from the cozy pair to the lurid mob of men and women crammed into the tiny place.
“He must have been on his way out,” she muttered. For a minute, she’d had this insane idea of salvaging her evening with a little harmless flirting, but those hopes went up in smoke before they’d even fully formed. The only man she’d seen—or thought she’d seen—that even remotely interested her didn’t belong in a place like this anyway, which was likely exactly why he’d drawn her attention. He’d been hot—like holy-sweet-sex-on-a-cracker hot—which in itself wasn’t so extraordinary in LA, but in contrast to everyone else in the club, his look had seemed uncontrived, dare she even say natural, with a focus and intensity that had come across immediately, even through the mirror for a split-second.
Letting out a soft sigh, Lyssa decided to go home, but her gaze suddenly found him again. He was leaning against a doorframe at the other end of the crowded room. She pursed her lips and swallowed hard, crossing her legs as heat immediately bloomed between her thighs.
While his attention was focused elsewhere, she stole the opportunity to look her fill. Definitely a hunk, but not a pretty one. Dressed in casual, worn jeans and a black leather jacket, he was a huge raven among a gaggle of clacking geese. The biker jacket minimized the breadth of his shoulders, but it broke open in front to show off a white tee stretched wide across drool-worthy pecs. Natural or chemically induced? She imagined peeling the shirt off him and touching every inch of those muscles. Would it really matter when he’s naked, holding himself above me?
She groaned at the naughty turn of her thoughts, but still didn’t look away. The easy style of his dark hair accentuated the angular lines of his face and showed off his odd, piercing crystal eyes—a strange color that was distinctive even from across the room. Must be a trick of the overhead lights.
Her gaze continued to wander over his hard body, absorbing everything she could see and wondering about the rest. She wasn’t the only woman looking her fill, although surprisingly he seemed mostly oblivious as he scanned the crowd. He looked a little tense as he braced his shoulder against the doorframe, like he expected to leave at a moment’s notice.
Suddenly he turned, his gaze unerringly finding hers across the crowded bar as if he had known all along that she’d been watching him. Lyssa felt a telling warmth spread across her cheeks.
He nodded, a very slight inclination of his head but enough that she knew without a doubt that it was for her. He had definitely noticed her noticing him. Then she experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end as he boldly returned the same appraising perusal. A slow, sexy tug at the corner of his mouth and those eyes glinted like liquid silver. The way they moved over her made Lyssa feel naked and hot.
Her pulse galloped. She wondered if her evening might get a better ending after all.
Sending him a small smile, she did a half-swivel on her barstool. “Ben, get me another drink. I think I’m going to stay a little while longer.”
The bartender chuckled and glanced over at her stranger. “I figured as much. Do you want some water? You might need it with the way the two of you are setting the room on fire.”
“It is suddenly hot in here, isn’t it?” She grinned and turned back around. Would he approach her? After the day she’d had, did she even want him to?
He hesitated for a moment, looking away from her and back over the crowd, searching for something, or maybe someone?
Damn. Oh well, it had been a nice thought—very nice—but reality intruded. The last thing Lyssa wanted was to encourage a flirtation with some guy whose girlfriend was due to descend at any moment, no matter how hot he looked.
She told herself she was relieved that he still hadn’t come over…until his gaze returned to her again, and he started to advance. She swallowed hard. Those long legs ate up the space between them as if the room were completely empty, and he made a beeline for her like nothing could stop him. Although the bar was packed with people, he didn’t have to weave his way around the clusters and cliques loitering on the floor or push anyone aside to get by. Incredibly, a path appeared before him, the throng of bodies parting as if compelled by the strength of his will.
Having been so entranced by her stranger, Lyssa jumped guiltily in her seat when a smooth, masculine voice beside her said, “Hello there, sweetness.”
No! Not now! She turned with an impatient groan, and smiled as politely as possible at the stranger who had sidled up to her left shoulder. She had to bite her tongue to keep from asking him to leave quickly before he scared off the guy she really wanted to come and sit down beside her.
He leaned in too close, ostensibly to make himself heard over the loud music. Lyssa was treated to a generous whiff of stale cigarette smoke combined with the whiskey that sat heavily on his breath. He put a hand over the glass Ben had just set down in front of her and leveled an appraising look into the deep V of her neckline. “Why don’t I get that drink for you?”
Taking in the slicked-back hair and the metallic shimmer of his open-throated, disco-reject club shirt, Lyssa tried not to let the shudder of horror show on her face. “That’s nice, but I can get my own drink,” she answered shortly, then felt ashamed of her curt response. “Look, I’m sorry, but I’m waiting for someone. I’m not looking for any extracurricular entertainment tonight.”
Liar. As if he heard her, his smile widened. “Baby, don’t be so hasty.” His voice was slippery and suggestive. “I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you are. You have great bone structure and a killer figure. I just thought that if you were looking to get into the business, I could help you out. I have some important connections, and maybe we could, you know…do each other a few favors.”
Had he really just suggested what she thought he had? Lyssa stared at him, open-mouthed with shock. Tried desperately to keep a tight rein on her temper. “Listen, don’t do me any favors.” Her voice had reverted to sharp and rude, but she didn’t care anymore.
“No, really.” The guy seemed undaunted by Lyssa’s lack of interest. “I watched you for a while. Whoever you’re waiting for isn’t worth it. You’d better believe I would never have left a hot piece like you alone for five minutes in a joint like this.”
Geez, didn’t she attract the charmers? Lyssa gritted her teeth, her patience reaching the snapping point.
Urgh. She just could not catch a break today. This slime-ball was going to continue to play dense and pretend she wasn’t ten seconds away from clocking him. Meanwhile, her stranger would get scared off, thinking she was with the guy.
“Really, I’m not—”
“What’s your name, by the way? I was thinking we could get out of here and—”
Gideon smiled as the redhead started in surprise. A direct look into her wide, stunning green eyes practically took his breath away, and there was a sharp buzz of electricity arcing between them. Stronger now, but he’d felt it even all the way across the room. He’d been telling himself to ignore it because he was here to do a job, not pick up women. It hadn’t worked, probably because he’d been alone for months and didn’t want to ignore it. Not tonight.
He put himself between her and the smarmy loser who’d sidled up before he could reach her. “Sorry I’m late.” He winked and leaned forward, pressing his mouth against the leaping pulse in her throat. Her eyes fluttered closed and he felt her shiver. Knowing he was crossing a line, he opened his lips against her throat anyway, touching the tip of his tongue to her skin just to hear her soft gasp.
A world of sensation concentrated into one touch, everything else forgotten for a brief moment, including the music blaring around them, the room full of people, and one oily lounge lizard.
“Uh, hi.” Her voice hitched breathlessly.
Gideon hesitated a second longer before pulling back and forcing his attention to their gaping audience. He curled an arm behind her. Her body was warm beneath the thin silk of her dress as he splayed his fingers over her back, fighting the urge to step in closer still.
“So who’s this?” He narrowed his eyes at the lounge lizard. “A friend of yours?”
“This, um…gentleman offered to wait with me until you arrived.”
“Well I hope you’re not trying to pick up my girl.” Gideon noted with pleasure that the dude’s overconfident smile had finally started to falter.
Apparently deciding not to waste any more time when he obviously wasn’t going to score, slick made his apologies to them both for intruding on their evening and slithered away. The beauty breathed a sigh and turned to him with a smile. “Thanks. That was just about to get ugly.”
“It was no problem.”
“I’m Lyssa James.” She reached out. Closing his hand over hers, he rubbed his thumb gently across the slim curve of her wrist.
“Lyssa.” He said her name slowly, liking the way it rolled off his tongue. “Nice to meet you, Lyssa. I’m Gideon Bennett.”
“It’s nice to meet you too. You don’t come here often, do you?”
She pulled in the edge of her bottom lip, bit down, and Gideon couldn’t for the life of him remember what had brought him here to begin with. “No. Do you?”
Great conversation skills you’ve got there, Gid. What are you going to do next, ask her about the weather?
“A few times, but not regularly, no.” She winced and shook her head. “Geez, I’m sorry. Did I really just give you the “come here often” line? You must think I’m duller than dirt.”
Lyssa smiled as she uncrossed and recrossed her legs. Gideon followed her movement, taking in the delicate curve of her foot wrapped in strappy sandals with thin heels, and the line of leg that disappeared beneath the hem of her dress just above the knee.
“Dull is not the word I would use.” His gaze roved up from her slim waist to her hands, wrapped around a sweaty glass. When he got to her face, he locked on to her lips, fighting the urge to lean in and lick them. Yeah, he really shouldn’t do that.
“Well, that was a definite ogle.” Lyssa lifted her eyebrow and her drink, taking a long gulp. “I think I should probably be insulted.” Thankfully, she didn’t look insulted. She smiled and put her half-empty glass down on the bar. She swallowed hard and he liked the way the light in her eyes deepened.
Gideon grinned back at her. “You should definitely be insulted. That was a dead-obvious ogle even by our new slimy friend’s standards, and I think my intentions are less than honorable, if you want to know the truth.”
“Hmm. In that case, would you like to have a drink with me?” Lyssa returned his smile with a sultry one of her own. Gideon knew an invitation when he saw one, and his cock jumped to attention. “Or better yet, let’s skip the drink altogether and get a cab.”
As much as he’d enjoyed their banter, he caught movement from the corner of his eye that didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the crowd. Frowning, he half-turned and scanned the room. “I can’t, actually,” he said with a sigh of regret. “I’m kind of working.”
“Working?” She looked him over and Gideon held back a wince. He shouldn’t have said anything. “You’re definitely not in show business.”
“No, definitely not,” he agreed with a laugh.
“Yeah, you don’t look the type.”
He glanced down at his jeans and jacket and shrugged. “I suppose not, but there must be some average guys that come in here, right?”
Her eyes sparkled. “Sure, but you sure aren’t average, either.” She bit her lip and gave him another of those sexy once-overs. He could see her brain turning over the possibilities and then she snapped her fingers. “Are you a cop?”
“Something like that.”
She tilted her head, a decidedly curious gesture that he found endearing. “Hmm, so you’re undercover then? Is there something illegal going on in here? Is it drugs? It’s probably drugs, isn’t it? With this crowd I wouldn’t be surprised. Who’s the—”
“Whoa.” He stopped her, chuckling. “Take it easy, sweetness. If I were undercover, you’d have blown the whole deal for me right there.”
“Oh, you’re right. I’m sorry.” She put a hand to her mouth in dismay, then dropped it back to her lap and narrowed her eyes. “Wait a minute, if you’re not undercover then what kind of work are you doing?”
“I’m just looking for someone. I got a tip he’d be here tonight, but so far I haven’t seen him.”
“Good. I mean…not good that you haven’t found him, but that you’re not…that I didn’t, you know…blow your cover or anything.” She sounded so beautifully awkward. It was a refreshing change in this city.
“You didn’t,” he assured her.
She smiled and let out a long breath. “Well, this place is pretty busy tonight. It would be hard to spot anyone in the crowd.”
He finally gave in to the urge and leaned closer as he murmured against the curve of her neck. “I spotted you.” Just like that, the heat in the room jacked up to a thousand degrees. He pushed his hip against her outer thigh.
“Um.” She turned her head and her lips grazed his earlobe as she spoke. “And I spotted you.”
Lyssa boldly put her hand under the heavy leather of his jacket and let it rest lightly on his waist. Her body shook and he could see the pulse pounding frantically under her chin, so he was surprised when she twisted, took his ear between her teeth and gently bit down, then soothed the spot with her tongue. Gideon held in his groan—just barely.
He leaned back enough to gaze into those brilliant green eyes. “So why are you here alone?”
She grumbled in response. “I was supposed to meet a friend but it doesn’t look like he’s going to make it.”
“Of course.” She grinned. “However, his loss…”
“Is my gain.”
“Could be.” Lyssa nodded. “Before you showed up, I was just about to throw in the towel and make my way home, but I might be persuaded to stick around.”
“Not by yourself. You shouldn’t be out alone in a cesspool like this place.”
Lyssa cocked her eyebrow. “Oh, and why is that? Maybe I’ll get hit on by complete strangers who will kiss my neck?”
Gideon chuckled and raised a palm in defense. “Okay, that was appallingly chauvinistic, I admit it. But still true. You should be wary of strangers. There are dangers in this world that you couldn’t possibly defend yourself against.”
Lyssa looked at him as if he’d spoken a different language, which he supposed was true. It was an odd thing to say. Too bad he knew the warning was all too necessary.
Lyssa’s ringing cell phone jerked Gideon back to his senses, making him belatedly aware of the chilling shift of energy in the air.
“Sorry, this is the friend I was supposed to be meeting. I should give him hell.” Lyssa sent him an apologetic smile before turning her back for a semblance of privacy.
Gideon became irritated with himself for succumbing to distraction. While he’d been fooling around, evil had walked through the door. He felt it now, his Immortal senses picking up on Damien’s presence.
He’d sworn to himself that this demon would not get a chance to harm any more women and now he cursed his carelessness. Reluctantly, he slipped away before Lyssa got off the phone. It was rude, and guaranteed he’d just blown his chance with her, but duty had to come first.
Lyssa pressed one hand to her ear trying to block out the background noise as she answered her phone. “Paul, where are you?” She had to yell into the receiver.
“Sorry, sweetie. A client called with an emergency and I had to come back to the office.”
Bastard. “Right. Whatever.” Let him and his perky assistant screw each other’s brains out. She’d suspected for months, but suddenly couldn’t bring herself to care anymore. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve made other plans for the evening.”
Hanging up on her now ex-boyfriend, Lyssa turned her phone off, shook her head, then swiveled her stool back around to face Gideon.
But he was gone.