In the Land of Nod... seven days later

Racked with agony, Cain sat naked at the edge of the sensation pool in his bedchamber, his legs dangling in the ether as he clutched silk sheets to his chest. Anything that would bring her to him, even if just her scent. He began slowly rocking back and forth, his hands trem�bling as he lowered his face to the fabric again with his eyes tightly shut, and then inhaled Damali's ripening essence. Her scent was set ablaze in his mind, fevered by the oil of Hathor she'd trailed. He winced and shuddered, the denial unbearable, the incarceration a suffering he'd never known.

Bitter tears rolled down his cheeks while decimating memories turned his saliva thick in his mouth.She was his universe, the potential bearer of his empire! Every breath he took felt as though his Neteru blade was piercing his heart. He could almost taste blood from the phantom wound she'd left.

Cain licked his chaffed, dry lips, remembering Damali's mouth upon his. A shiver almost arched his back. The desire to hold her had become a need, then an obsession, until it produced an incomparable ache. Just the memory of her touch, her sun-fired skin, her ecstasy-producing bite, her deep moans of pleasure, her incredible voice set to song... all of it was like a knife that carved at his groin and filled his sac with mind-numbing, unspent seed that could not be spilled in this sensationless realm.

But tasting her blood had made him feel it down to his marrow.

The peristaltic drive to release inside her without a way to ejaculate now tortured his mind to near madness.

"Devastation..." he murmured into the soft fabric that had been filled with her sweat. "How could you allow him to manipulate you this way?"

Feminine wetness that had overflowed from her valley entered his nose and clung to his palate, a razor of memory whittling his regal pride to sawdust. His apexing would last a month. Cain struggled to breathe as the reality wore on.

Days ago he'd abandoned the frenzied attempt to make love to her telepathically, to find relief in his desperate mounting against the bed�ding, his hands, the sheets,anything she'd touched, but to no avail. Her vibrations had ceased; his thrusts against inanimate objects futile, a teasing reminder that Damali was truly gone. All he had left to cling to was her delirium-producing scent and what remained of their last encounter in his mind. Even that was slowly vaporizing, as though she was being erased from his realm and his tortured psyche one memory cell at a time... leaving only the burn for her in its wake.

He couldn't conjure her in visions or connect to her astrally. The orgasm would crest and then die away, leaving him unfulfilled in a heat of raw desire. Everything in his chamber had soaked up the sound of his suffering-every lusty groan, every hot gasp, each time he'd wailed her name-and it now reverberated to taunt him with the knowledge that there would be endless days and nights until his solo apex finally ebbed.

"Damali..." A sob choked off his words as he nuzzled the sheets, remembering her voice, her caress, the way she'd reached for him and had arched under his hold, a plea in her eyes to love her hard. "I would have given you the world, and so much more..."

Seven brutal days of suffering had lacerated his soul. Her blood had been a sweet tonic that still burned inside his veins. "Do not banish me!" he bellowed, throwing his head back as his fangs ripped his gums. Seven long, hard days and endless nights...

It was to be twelve days of mourning peace with Damali in his arms during a war hiatus that had also been reserved for his oldest friend. Everything had been so perfectly orchestrated, the strategy sound. The cease-fire had been established to quell civil unrest in his empire, and yet he was more bereft over the loss of Damali than the death of Zehiradangra.

His pool now remained eerily silent; Damali's vibrations blocked to his communion. Her voice was as unreachable as a distant star, dead to him, the flicker of its light only a resonance from the past.

"I loved you so," he whispered against the tear-dampened linens. "Come back to me... I beg you with all that is within me. Do not forsake me, angel... queen of all that I know."

The sensation tank remained still as Cain's agonized wails echoed off the white marble lair walls. The gold-and-silver mortar and every conductive metal object radiated pain so acutely that he reached his hand out and touched the glasslike blue surface of the ether with his fingertips. His pride in ruins, broken, he would settle for knowing her whereabouts even through the vibrations of another man.

Carlos had befouled his lair, his pool. Cain closed his eyes. Just to know where Damali was, he would link to his Neteru brother who also shared his vampire lineage. He had to know. Seven days was more than he could bear. Her absence had become a viral infection that fevered his mind, drove him to obsession, and had made his body ache with a craving worse than blood hunger.

But the moment he honed his focus to Carlos, Cain drew his hand back as though he'd been burned. The sheets fell away from him as he backed away from the pool shaking his head, going temporarily insane from the knowledge.

"No," he whispered, disbelief robbing his lungs of air. He went to his hands and knees, splaying both palms against the pool's surface, tilting his head, watching, listening-he had to understand. Shecouldn't have done this.

On his feet in an instant, Cain's body transformed into a ripping battle bulk. A war cry filled his chest and he released it like sudden thunder. Lightning arched from each digit on his hands. His eyes went silver, gold, and then black.

"Transgressor! Betrayer! Befouler! Be damned!" he roared, imme�diately materializing armor to cover his nakedness and with his blade of Ausar in his fist.

Capillaries burst in his temples; blood was in his eyes. "Married? You blotted her from my world by a treacherous act of matrimony? In a church? In the Light?You -on hallowed ground? I will behead you and make her a widow!"

With one long lightning bolt that cracked and singed the air as it ejected from the tip of his blade, every marble bench along the edge of the Olympic-sized pool overturned and exploded into rubble. The four-poster, solid gold, king-sized bed flipped over and melted, start�ing a blaze behind him. Eight-foot marble vases hurled against the wall, shattering into shards of marble as though made of glass with a wave of Cain's massive arm. Pillars began to crumble. His guard sphinxes came alive at the front entrance and rushed in to assist him, only to be summarily beheaded, leaving confused, stricken expres�sions that their master had harmed them in their glassy eyes.

The high, vaulted ceiling began to give way, but Cain stood in the midst of the destruction, so enraged he would not even shield him�self from falling marble, boulders, and debris as he decimated his cliffside lair.

"You manipulated her to murder my father, Dante! You took my father's throne in Hell, stole his empire, and then threw it back in his face! You robbed me of my oldest friend after seducing her. You be�set the Neteru Council of Kings against me to seal me in Nod with their shields of Heru! You come to my lair and desecrate my home. You steal my music, my nightingale, after you kept her from compos�ing for one year-my Damali, the detriment of my soul! You break my mother's heart by causing me to cross into your world to seek the voice that I'd longed for."

Cain's eyes narrowed to enraged slits. "Because of you, my world is gone and my kingdom is under civil unrest! Then you betray my beloved's heart, take her body, and marry her away from me? Are you insane? Do you believe there will be no redress? I will have justice, Rivera!"

Pure fury roiled through Cain like a dark tornado, spiking adrena�line to rage in blackout proportions. In a sharp pivot with both hands on his broad sword, Cain sliced at a standing column, and then froze as the blade of Ausar shattered in his grip.

"Noooo... Imposter..." he whispered in utter disbelief, look�ing at the blade handle in his hand and then down at the broken steel at his feet. "Formillennia you have deceived me? My mother's people... those of the Light?" Cain threw his head back and roared. "What game is this, Adam? Did you also deceive Ausar? What con�spiracy is afoot amid the archons-I demand an answer! It is my due!"

Immediately Cain's eyes sought the horizon through the yawning hole in the destroyed lair roof, and his gaze tore around the multiple golden shields of Heru that still covered and sealed the thinning bar�rier between the Land of Nod and Earth.

"I believed..." Cain's voice quieted as he raked his fingers through his locks, incredulous. He stared at the blade on the floor that should have cut through stone, tears rising and then burning away with renewed anger.

The Neteru Council of Kings had betrayed him? Had given him a replica of the actual blade and had given the real mark of royalty to Carlos Rivera over him? Rivera-a man not made a Neteru by birthright through Eve, but rather through a late elevation? A man bitten and made a vampire, not sired from the original royal lineage of Dante and Lucifer? A common drug peddler made king over him? A man, who had also slain his sibling, lied, stolen, and God knew what else, was allowed to bed the millennium female Neteru, marry her in the Light, and sire? This transgressor, this interloper of dubious her�itage, had been incarcerated for only a few short years, yet with full conjugal access to Damali, while he'd been locked away in the Land of Nod, devoid of carnal sensationfor eons -when his only offense had been to execute his wearisome brother?This was the justice de�livered from On High?

"Never!" He spat on the floor in disgust. "Then my father's people shall have me where my rule will be revered."

Cain was pure motion, his footfalls gaining in velocity until he reached the edge of the ravine. Headlong, he tumbled, burning through the energy atmosphere like a flaming arrow to land in the central kingdom square. His furious landing was greeted by the stunned amazement of his subjects, but constituents from the side of Light and the Dark drew away from their monarch. Blue-black flames flickered at the edges of Cain's nostrils as he whirred around to gain his bearings. Battle-length fangs had filled his mouth, and the lack of a blade hadn't left him unarmed. More dangerous now than ever be�fore, he strode to the shadow wall zone. Patrons of the illicit sensations there scattered at his presence the moment he entered the dank alley.

Trembling with rage, Cain said nothing as he approached the rubbery surface of the wall of seekers. His footfalls thudded with lethal echoes as he stretched out his hands and dug into the flexible divide, plunging his fists into it up to the elbows. His massive hands grasped several faces, twisting and contorting them, causing the entire wall to wail.

"Warlocks, bring me Lilith," he said in a low, thundering tone. "Bring her to this wall that she might seduce modern men of science to run another barrier-shattering experiment. Tell her to open a hole and prepare my father's throne for me in Hell!"

Harpies genuflected. Level-Six vampire messengers cowered against stalagmites and stalactites and then fell to the floor, prostrate before Cain's passage. The Sea of Perpetual Agony ceased its cries and went silent. The molten, bubbling lava in the pit calmed as a slow glacier sealed over it and Cain stormed across the bridge toward the Vampire Council Chambers. Ice slicked the cavern floor behind him; the halt�ing breaths of the bats and messengers came out in strangled puffs of frigid air.

The huge black marble doors leading to the throne room creaked open on frozen hinges. Ice weighed the golden, fanged knockers as the doors struggled to respond to Cain's royal entry, but seemed inca�pable of doing so fast enough to avoid being kicked off their hinges, each door exploding at the assault. With every footfall that Cain landed on the black marble floor, the blood veins in it oozed to a halt beneath his furious steps, icy fingers choking off the flow of life within it and spreading out in a frosted glaze behind him.

Lilith stood up from the pentagram-shaped ruling table that had been running with fresh blood. In her peripheral vision she watched it ice over into a shining, ruby, still resin. Her fingers and palm stuck to the golden goblet she clutched in her hand as she watched Cain stand in the center of the floor breathing fire and ice, his golden armor turn�ing black at the edges until the hue of pure darkness overtook it all.

"Your throne awaits, Your Eminence," she said as chilly air made her words come out in visible white puffs. Going to one knee with her head lowered and respectfully motioning Cain toward his father's old throne, her tone was reverent. "Hell has frozen over, sire... it is your time to rule. Destiny."

Cain did not speak as he approached the old Chairman's throne, but he stopped to look at the last vampire's name that had been etched into the high, black marble back of it. "Imposter!" he bellowed, punching the top section of the throne away to rid it of Carlos Rivera's name before abruptly turning to claim his legacy. Then he saw Damali's name etched into the throne of every councilman she'd slain. A shudder of desire ran through him.

He sat quickly, his back straight, his jaw set hard, and closed his eyes. Tears of familiarity wet his lashes as satisfaction and knowing wafted through his cells. Dante's virile image was the first impression that careened through his mind, and just as quickly he saw his mother as a young, ripening virgin in Eden, and then watched his father un�coil in muscular fluidity to shape-shift from an enormous black ser�pent to take the first Neteru ever made.

"I will avenge you, Father," Cain murmured thickly as eons of vampiric information poured into his consciousness.

Profound pleasure began to burn away his skin as his vertebrae knotted and became welded to the throne. Huge bat wings with a twenty-foot span ripped through his shoulders, and his spine elon�gated, tearing flesh away from his back and permitting a razor-sharp, scaled, spaded tail to exit.

Cain simply steeled his jaw and gripped the armrests harder against the excruciating transition.This was power. He drew in a wincing breath and kept his eyes tightly shut.This was of his line. His father's people. He would not cry out as the metal armor he wore fused to his skin, becoming one with it and leaving him naked.

The transformation hurt so good it caused him to throw his head back as talons and twelve-inch fangs ripped through his nail beds and gums. He could feel his pupils dilate beneath his lids, and his inner vi�sion showed him the gold bar that they'd become, now set in black orbs. Perfection... he had his grandfather's eyes... his father's fangs... his mother's tolerance to daylight... and power within the dark realms unlimited. He was a fucking king! He would slay the pure Light male Neteru!

Every deviant carnal act that had ever been committed on the planet imploded within Cain's groin simultaneously with the power of every evil that existed. His body convulsed and shuddered. But still he would not cry out, even panting, sweat leaking from his pores like black rain. No. Years... millennia of abstinence, pain profound for his kind, had been endured. He was a birthright monarch and would not cry out at his dark coronation or dishonor his father by a show of weakness. Not in the throne that his father had ruled since the dawn of time! Not in the throne that had broken Rivera's spirit into two entities! He would crush that bastard's memory from the throne of royal vampire lineage!

The moment the top of the throne reconstructed and the smell of sulfuric scorch emblazoned Cain's name within it, Lilith mounted him, adding to the exquisite torture of it all.

He savagely bit into her shoulder, still refusing to cry out until his transformation was complete. Her pleasure shriek made him tear his mouth away from her flesh to gasp as her spaded tail twined with his, slashing at the newly scaled flesh. The sensation of wet, hot, writhing female sheathing him, combined with the heart-seizing ecstasy ema�nating from the throne, finally caused him to arch while she rode him hard. Lilith's siphon as she dug her nails into the thick ropes of mus�cles in his shoulders dredged a slow, rumbling groan up from his di�aphragm.

His wingspan instantly eclipsed hers as the leathery appendages beat in unison to each lunging thrust. Lifting her high into the vaulted ceiling in hovering flight above the throne, his talons tore at her ass, his mouth devouring her forked tongue until it bled black blood. Messenger bats swarmed around them, squealing in frenzied, airborne mating. Cain reached down, gripping Lilith's waist with one arm, his fingers craning as he pulled knowledge since the dawn of time up and out of the throne to him.

Torches blew out as he amassed power in a high-pitched, turbine whine of suction toward him. He lit the cavern with lunar eclipses from the first-world skies to better witness it all. Thunder and light�ning sent black prisms to rain rocks down to the marble floor fifty feet below. Sound, sent in shock waves from Babylon, reverberated off the stone walls and he caught each note in his fist while still pumping against Lilith's nearly limp body, forcing the vibrations into her verte�brae one note at a time before allowing them to explode her disks in falling dominoes of pleasure.

Her shrieks of ecstasy drew him to her throat; his black laser sight on her jugular summoned the dead vein to the surface of her skin as he wound her raven hair around his clawed fist, yanked her head back, snapped her neck, and fed amid her orgasmic wails. Descending in a vanishing-point spiral of pure black vapor, he crash-landed with her splayed in the center of the pentagram-shaped table.

He was convulsing so hard against her that he couldn't control his thrusts. It had been so long, vanishing point a fantasy denied so com�pletely that he was barely conscious when his body spewed every drop of agony his tortured scrotum held. Cumming in painful jags, he hollered until he was breathless. He grabbed the base of his shaft to try to slow the ejaculation, but was forced to yank his hand away when the throb along his entire length felt like it would split him.

Lilith's voice hit radar-destroying decibels that sent the bats in the crags in all directions, their disoriented flight patterns crashing them into the walls. Teeming vermin spilled over the ledges in search of a haven to avoid the sonar she'd released. Her damaged womb filled with thick, wriggling, maggoty life as Cain threw his head back and climaxed hard against her again.

"I'm not sterile like Dante," Cain said in a ragged whisper into her ear through his fangs, sending his Neteru apex scent into her nose and mouth with a punishing kiss. He broke away from her mouth, gulp�ing air. "Sire the day heir that it might walk at my side as my son!"

"I can't," Lilith wailed, another orgasm ripping a gasp from her throat.

Cain looked down at her, snarled, and slapped her backhanded, bloodying her nose. "I said sire for me! Treacherous liar! You used to give birth to one hundred original demons a day-"

"The female Neteru gored my womb with an Isis blade," Lilith wailed, her black, Bedouin eyes ablaze with both fear and raw lust. She licked Cain's Adam's apple and wrapped her legs tighter around his waist. "Neteru, second to none ever created, my dark sovereign... I will find you a vessel just as I wrested you from Nod," Lilith moaned, closing her eyes as her head dropped back. "Just V-point fuck me as you apex and we can discuss it later. Hit me again- harder."

Winded from the feed and frustrated by Lilith's dead womb, Cain stood with her spent body still clinging to his torso, her legs and tail wrapped around his waist. Lodged deep within her, he slammed her against the council table, splattering blood everywhere. Her strike was a blinding bolt of black current that made him cum again so hard that initially no sound exited his throat. The seizure Lilith's bite produced was like none he'd ever known, and yet he needed more.

Her body was almost a rag of fatigued limbs, but driven by impulse, he extracted himself from her wickedly delicious pelvic hold and flipped her over onto her stomach.

"Your womb is dead, therefore the orifice leading to it is no longer of use to me," Cain snarled close to her ear. He entered her hard, sodomizing her with rage, dripping black sweat against her bruised spine as she moaned and writhed beneath him.

"Tell me your every wish," she cried out between gasps of pleasure. "Your grandfather will be so proud-just ask it and I will deliver it!"

"Raise the master vampire I request from the Sea of Perpetual Agony," Cain yelled, his voice echoing when a seizure of pleasure overtook him.

His head dropped back, his long, dark locks sweeping his ass as his deep lunges against Lilith increased in force. He cried out, unable to conceal the years of unfed desire with her blood polluting his system. It felt so good he didn't even care that he might bleed her out and fuck her to death. But he needed her direct access to the Ultimate Dark Power of their realms in order to raise the exterminated. She was already midway between black mist and pure vapor. Her volup�tuous body was beginning to make him see double. The deal had to be finalized, but his cells had begun to deconstruct with hers again to the tonal frequency of the vibrating Babylonian chants in the cavern. Unable to scale back the velocity or stop moving, he sent hot-flash images of Sodom and Gomorrah into her skull, nearly fracturing it with a brutal mind thrust.

"Cain! Name your terms," she cried out, reaching backward and trying to hold on to his hips with her talons. Black tears streamed down her face and her breathing staggered as she tried to turn to score his jugular.

The need to release had also put tears in his eyes, and he held her heavy, pendulous breasts, vaporizing millisecond by millisecond as he spoke through his teeth. "The one not beheaded but felled by an Isis," Cain panted in Dananu, flattening Lilith against the table harder and pulling back from the edge of a V-point spiral. "My armies will slaughter Guardian teams worldwide with every setting sun. My hy�brids will terrorize their days with bloodshed and chaos that knows no bounds!I will create the darkest night!"

"Yes! Anything-your scent, your voice... oh, great Darkness... your body-Iam damned for you, lover!"Lilith shrieked near hysterics, sputtering black blood from her injuries, her talons digging deep grooves into the marble surface as her tail slashed at him wildly."Anything, when you have surpassed even Dante's carnal abilities like this!" She dropped her head back and offered her jugular, craning her neck. "Do it, now!"

He abruptly withdrew from her with a groan that was sliced by her sharp gasp. Frustration caused her to hiss at him when he spun her to face him, and the sound sent a shiver down his spine that closed his eyes to half-mast.

"Just because I've been in Nod for a very long time, did you think you could take advantage of my celibacy, Lilith?" Cain's hand went to her throat as her eyes widened. "Do you know how many entities there are from here to the surface that I could fuck before worrying about you, bitch?" He leaned into her with a dangerous warning in his low, rumbling tone. "After all the centuries devoid of sensation, do you think I would give a damn if it is a she-wolf on Level Five, or an Amanthra serpent from above that? A succubus, a poltergeist-I do not care as long as it brings pleasure! Do you not yet realize that I am Cain, son of Dante, grandson of Lucifer?"

His black gaze locked with hers as he slowly anchored his tail to her waist.

"Irun this council, Lilith, unlike Dante, who had to succumb to your rank as his father's Level-Seven wife-but you have been stripped of that military privilege," Cain whispered in a slow, even warning. "As a being impervious to the sun, not a dead, made-from-the-bite vampire-I was made all that I amfrom seed.I already have a waiting army and an empire and do not need to go through the labo�rious task of making vampires one by one, as in Dante's time. But be very sure that you understand that you do not even have a seat on this council yet. You are a familiar to do council bidding, just like you are for my grandfather... Attempt a coup, and even he will not be able to save you."

"You saw the betrayal in Dante's throne..." she whispered, mes�merized, her hand reverently tracing Cain's cheek. "In thefirst sitting you received something buried so deeply within Dante's shame that it should have takenyears to acquire?" Lilith's voice dropped to a low, quaking decibel. Her whisper was so gentle that the chamber went dead silent- "Fuck me again now, before I faint. I beg you."

Cain simply stared at her for a moment. There was no fraud in her eyes or her voice. Lilith's arousal spiked so radically beneath him in earnest that it was becoming increasingly difficult to negotiate with her. She was so twisted that the fear of his reprisal had sent a new slickness of desire between her thighs, making him tremble. Easing her backward against the ruling table, he kept a dark current protect�ing his throat to frustrate her strike.

"Do we have a deal on multiple levels?" His eyes slid shut as he brutally entered her and nipped her bottom hp.

"Yes," she whispered on a thick swallow and raked her nails down his stone-cut chest. "Take off the collar... please. Imust strike you."

"Do you want to spiral up through the levels or take your chances with a knock on your husband's chamber door?" Cain whispered in her ear, nipping it and holding her tighter with his tail.

"Please, spiral up," she said, looking frantic. "Lately-"

"He's been stomping your traitorous ass into a black puddle," Cain said, chuckling, and then placed both hands on the table at either side of her hips.

Instantly the Vampire Council table developed a fissure and split in two. Cain's wings opened; Lilith screamed and slapped his face hard enough to draw blood. He smiled, reared back, and severed the vein in her throat as he opened the Harpies' chasm in the floor, then dragged her over the precipice dissolving into a V-point mist spiral headed for Lucifer's door.

It was an act so brazen that even Harpies whirled past shuddering and tried to hide, knowing they'd be collateral damage in a rampage. The caverns cleared. Roaring flames from the bottomless pit hissed and spit at the molecular violation. Damned souls retreated in cower�ing waves, cringing at the speeding intrusion. The scorching heat forced him to move against her faster, each cell bonding and breaking into hers at the atomic pleasure level, becoming one with the dense plumes of sulfur. What a way to die!

Lilith's orgasmic wails and deep talon gouges in his back added to the increased velocity toward the bottom of the pit. He couldn't slow down. Adrenaline and insanity had him in its grip. Pleasure had made him both blind and deaf, but he was anything but mute. Her sex felt so good that his moan rent the scorching air. The low sonic boom res�onance of his voice began to implode the cavern in crumbling splin�ters that fell inward behind them. Two seconds short of an extinction wish, he pulled up, reversed polarity, and sent them both crashing through the backside of the council table to disturb the orgy of batsagain.

He came hard in a black torrent of ecstasy so perverse he could only close his eyes as the images roiled through his mind with hers. Panting, his movements against her abated slowly and he kept both hands at either side of her skull while in the air, daring her to move by telepathy until he'd normalized. If she had just been Damali, it would have been perfect. Cain opened his eyes, temporarily sated but dis�gusted. Just the thought of Rivera having his Neteru through an apex made him want blood.

"Bring me the one vampire, the one master of masters that will carve out Rivera's soul to see risen again," Cain said between thun�dering breaths singed with flames.

"Just tell me, Your Eminence. I shall immediately take up your pe�tition with my husband and convince him of your needs... just come to me like this again. Please. I beg you," she said, a sob catching the words spoken in Dananu in her throat.

"We have a truce. Avenge me, and what you did to Dante will be dismissed. I will see you often until my apex wanes. That is a prom�ise .. . perhaps more like a vow." Cain righted the table and lowered them to rest on it, his giant, leathery wings thudding against the now-still chamber air.

The sound of slow, strolling hooves made Cain jerk his attention toward the battered chamber doors. The echo of calm, steady ap�plause entered the Vampire Council throne room.

"Well done, grandson," a deep, melodic, baritone voice whispered in a murderous tone from the shadows beyond. "With a throne ascen�sion like that, there is no need to go through my wife as an interme�diary, although you can at your leisure, since she seems to amuse you."

Lilith cringed and buried her face against Cain's chest, her terrified grip tightening on his arms. "Don't provoke him," she whispered through her teeth when Cain lifted his chin. "I begged you to spiral us upward!"

"She'll do while I apex," Cain said, shrugging out of Lihth's hold and nonchalantly pulling out of her body. "Of greater impor�tance, Your Majesty... let us decide how we might best rule the world."

Lilith gasped and closed her eyes, making her body very small be�hind Cain's hulking form.

A long sigh filled with amusement echoed in response. Each eclipse that had lit the chamber with thin rims of blue moonlight went out, creating pure darkness.

"Tell me the name and I shall consider your request to raise him. We are royal family. Heirs of the world, so to speak. If you can handle the job, you can rule it."

A low, mellow chuckle filled with heat began to melt the ice-crusted floor. "But do notever freeze over Hell again without my per�mission... I will allow this one transgression, given your Neteru arrogance from your mother's side and the insanity induced by your apexing condition. We don't see that much down here. It does in�trigue me to witness it bloom on one of my thrones-even Dante never had that in him... and I must admit that I've never seen it turn so thoroughly, boldly dark as quickly as you have taken it. My com�pliments on the way you sire, as well." The sound of hooves began to retreat. "Well done. Yes... done outrageously enough to entertain me this evening. Therefore, tell me the name you seek from my pris�ons and we shall bargain."

Cain smiled, knowing the melodic, sinister voice had relented. He nodded and reinserted himself into Lilith's body with a shuddering wince. She covered her mouth to silence the pleasure gasp that threat�ened to bring her husband back into chambers less amused.

"Fallon Nuit," Cain called out in a tone of authority, moving against Lilith as he stared down into her stricken eyes.

"Nice move... very, very nice," a sinister voice thundered in the distance with another round of slow applause. "Done. Youdo take af�ter our side of the family, after all. Vengeance served-icecold. Great voice, too, kid. Excellent set of pipes and fantastic projection." Rum�bling laughter with a hint of implied danger in it made the bats seek shelter again. "Think about what you want to give me later."

Both male entities chuckled.

Cain closed his eyes, threw his head back, and groaned softly, inten�sifying his thrusts as Lilith arched with a shiver. "Done."
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