The next Grimm book is now out in print. Released in ebook last year. Like most of the Grimm books, this will work fine as a standalone.
Dying is hard enough. Coming back to life is brutal. Grimm’s Circle, Book 5 Vanya has been hunting and killing demons ever since one of them scarred her face and killed her sister. Correction-since she was forced to kill the demon possessing her sister. Then some sort of angel offers her a deal she can’t refuse-that if she becomes one of them, she gets to kill even more demons. Tonight, she’s made that choice. The death she smells on the air will be her own-and she welcomes it.
Silence feels a darkness is looming. Change-something he has every reason not to welcome. The deeply hidden memories that robbed him of his past, of his own name, render him unfit to teach anyone the ways of the Grimm. Yet here he is in the dankest sex club in town, waiting to assume his charge-after he stands by and watches her die. When Vanya awakes, their complicated, dangerous dance begins. And so does something else-a searing need that blisters along their unexpected mental connection. Silence shouldn’t be drawn to his student, but once they touch, he can’t think of a reason to stop. Even though acting out their darkest desires puts them in more danger than they realize. Warning: This book contains sex-starved demons, lonely angels, demon-angel sandwiches, blood, violence, death and a happy-ever-after.
(FYI, Silence is mute)
While she was studying the menu, she was vaguely aware of Silence rising from the bed, vaguely aware of him moving around the room—although he didn’t make a sound.
He was so damn quiet—Silence was an appropriate name for him, all right.
Wavering between the fettuccini alfredo and the lasagna, fighting the heavy weight of her tired body, she sighed. That voice—the one that had her convinced she was going out of her mind—was there in the back of her head again, murmuring, muttering…
“I push her too hard. She looks too tired. I should let her rest more.”
“I’m fine,” she said absently.
Then she stiffened and lifted her head, all too aware of his sudden, intent interest. Swallowing, she met his pale blue gaze.
His eyes narrowed.
Blood rushed to her cheeks.
“Um…nothing.” She looked back at the menu in her hands, tried to ignore the voice.
It was harder, though—because now his voice was louder.
And now, he was calling her by name.
“Do you hear me, Vanya?”
Pointedly, she ignored it. Lasagna, she thought. She really thought she could use some lasagna. It had been a while since she’d had a good dish of lasagna. And after all, he was buying, right? Bread too. Salad. Yeah. That sounded good.
“Vanya, look at me.”
She started to whistle as she reached over and grabbed a pen and a notepad from the bedside table.
“You’ll have to figure out what you want and then I’ll call it in,” she said, forcing more cheer than she actually felt into her voice.
“Just order me what you’re getting.”
Her hand tightened on the pen, and then she carefully laid it down before she looked over at him.
He was eyeing her closely, a narrow, appraising look on his face.
“You hear me,” he said pointedly.
“Ah…well, not all the time,” she hedged. Licking her lips, she looked at the menus and then laid them back down, sighing. “I just…hell, I thought I was going crazy or suffering some weird, post-death, come-back-to-life thing.”
That deep, rumbling laughter whispered through her mind, and a wide grin split his face.
“Exactly how often do you hear me?”
“Shit,” she muttered, shifting around on the bed. Sighing, she tucked her hair back behind an ear. From the corner of her eye, she saw the menus. Seizing on that distraction, she shoved one toward him. “Aren’t we going to eat? I’m hungry.”
He lifted a brow.
It was amazing how many things he could say with simply a look.
Still, she didn’t look away, didn’t lower the menu.
He signed, I already said, whatever you’re having. Order. Then we talk.
Naturally, it only took two minutes to place the order—nowhere near enough time for her to get her thoughts straight.
The past month had been hard, grueling—she didn’t even know it was possible for a person to be beaten into the dirt as often as he had. It didn’t necessarily help that come morning, her body felt completely refreshed, completely revitalized…meaning he came at her just as hard, just as fast.
She’d rather they start a fresh bout of training all over again than to have any sort of…talk.
Especially something remotely personal.
After she laid the phone back in the cradle, she looked back at Silence.
The two of them, they hadn’t done much talking, at least not of a personal nature. Lots of training. He’d done a lot of explaining about what sort of demons they’d face—succubae, incubae, orin…others. How they traveled from a place called the netherplains to their world—most of them had to take over a human body in order to do much of anything.
Basically, she played student to his teacher—if there was a theme song for her new life, maybe it could be “Hot for Teacher”.
He made her heart race just looking at him.
He also made her belly clench, made her palms go damp, her knees go weak.
He made her ache.
In the worst possible way, in the sweetest way.
And now he wanted to talk about her gifts.
Hell. This was too damn personal.
What if he was like her?
She’d gotten pretty damn good at hiding how she felt over the past few years, but if he was anything like her…
Vanya blushed even thinking about it. Blushed furiously as she sat there with her chest tight, her palms sweaty, her breath lodged in her throat.
“You’ve got gifts, don’t you?” she blurted out.
Silence narrowed his eyes. We’re supposed to be talking about your gifts, he signed. He added emphasis by jabbing a finger at her after he’d finished. Yours.
“I know. I just…well, this is weird. I haven’t talked to anybody about what I can do. It’s…”
The hard line of his mouth softened and the aggravated look in his blue eyes faded. Not easy to talk about, is it? he signed.
“No.” She hitched a shoulder up, wondered how she could explain that she barely even needed him to sign when he was talking to her because she often heard his voice—low and deep—in the back of her mind. And if he was thinking about her, she heard him too.
How did she tell him that?
He sat down next to her. She had to check the impulse to scoot away—the long, hard length of his thigh against hers made her uneasy—made her want to climb into his lap, see if she couldn’t crack the polite, friendly mask he wore around her.
He held out a hand. Startled, she looked at it—stared at his broad, scarred palm. His hands were a mess—ridged with scars that looked like knife cuts, burns, other old injuries she couldn’t even indentify. So at odds with his perfect, angelic face. Looking from that scarred hand into ice-blue eyes, she said, “What?”
He grinned. And again she heard his thoughts. “You want to know about my gifts. I’ll show you.”
Nervously, she laid her hand in his. “You’re not a psychic, are you?”
He shook his head, and then with his free hand, gestured to the room.
Vanya looked around. “I don’t know what I’m looking for…”
He took his hand away.
The room fell into darkness. Darkness so complete, she couldn’t even see him, although he sat right next to her. She couldn’t feel him, and she’d gotten pretty damn good at that.
Then his hand was in hers again, and the darkness was gone.
Once more he pulled his hand away.
The darkness returned.
This time, the darkness didn’t disappear. It gradually bled away, like the night bled into day. Her heart banged hard against her ribs as she looked at him.
“What in the hell was that?”
He smiled and signed. She didn’t recognize it, though.
When he spoke into her mind, she stiffened. “It’s illusion. I can make you think you see darkness when there is none.”
She blinked. “You mean, it wasn’t really dark?” Scowling, she remembered the night at the warehouse—the night she died. “That night. At the warehouse.”
Absently, she reached up and touched her throat. She couldn’t remember much of anything beyond that first pain, the shock of it. But she remembered everything right up to that point…the fear, the terror. The helplessness—knowing she’d been alone.
But she hadn’t been.
He’d been there.
Part of her wanted to rebel at the thought—wanted to demand to know why he hadn’t done something—even though she already knew the answer. He’d done exactly what he’d been sent to do.
She couldn’t very well become one of them if she hadn’t died, could she?
And just as she’d been promised, she hadn’t been alone.
“That night at the warehouse,” she said again. “There was so much darkness. But it wasn’t darkness, was it? It was you.”
He nodded. A grim look entered his eyes. “You know that I couldn’t have stopped what happened—not if you’re meant to be one of us. But I cannot blame you if you are angry.”
“I know that.” She sighed and looked away. Bracing her elbows on her knees, she covered her face and said it again. “I know that. It doesn’t mean it’s easy to think about, although…well, it helps knowing I wasn’t alone.”
She shot him a faint smile. “I was terrified, thinking I was alone.”
“You weren’t.” He touched the back of her hand. His mouth twisted as he studied her face. “It wasn’t easy to simply stand there, either. Even knowing what was to come.”
She blew out a breath. “Well, it’s over and done, right?” Self-preservation had her forcing some distance between them. Sitting there, so close, was wreaking havoc on her state of mind, not to mention was it doing to her body. “So, the darkness in there that night—that was all you?”
Silence nodded and made that unusual sign, the one she didn’t recognize. As he did it, he said in her mind, “Illusion. Just illusion. It’s one of my gifts.”
“That’s pretty cool,” she murmured, smiling.
He shrugged. Then he reached up, tapped her brow, waiting with a lifted brow.
She grimaced. Standing, she moved away from him, slicking her damp palms down the front of her pants. They were snug-fitting black yoga pants—something Silence had picked up for her. Along with several other changes of clothes—more yoga pants, close-fitting sport bras, the sort of clothes she could maneuver in while he pounded her into the floor.
“I’m psychic,” she said, keeping her back to him, staring out the window into the night. “It’s not exactly reliable, and usually I’ve never gotten anything more than the odd random thought here and there. It was strongest with my sister. After she died, it got more erratic—more like a radio station I couldn’t quite get to tune in. It was awful when I was in crowds—like I was hearing all these screaming voices and I couldn’t focus on any of them.”
The muscles at the base of her neck were tight. Reaching up, she cupped a hand over it, rolled her head first one way then the other, trying to ease the tension there, but it didn’t help.
She was still a mess of nerves.
A mess of need.
She didn’t hear him—
She felt him.
He was there, that big, powerful body heating hers through and through. His hand came up, lightly brushed hers. As if asking permission.
Get the hell away from him before you do something really, really stupid, Van, she told herself. Like throw yourself at him.
But when he gently nudged her hand out of the way, she couldn’t find the strength to do anything but stand there.
“And the gift is different now, isn’t it? Is more powerful? Other changes since you came back?”
She shivered at the low, velvety rumble of his voice echoing through her mind. Or maybe it was the way his roughened skin rasped over her neck as he dug his thumbs into her skin and started to massage away the tension there. Heat blossomed inside and she swallowed the moan before it could escape.
“Yeah,” she said, surprised at how steady, how calm her voice sounded. “It’s changed, although I don’t know if I can say it’s more powerful exactly. Most of the change seems to be related to you—I can hear your voice, and you sound clearer than anybody else ever did. The few times we’ve been around other people…well, there’s not much change there. Although that could be because I’m not around them much. There are times when I hear your voice as clearly as if you’re talking to me, and the more time that passes, the clearer it gets.”
His hands never stilled, and although she couldn’t pick apart the individual thoughts, they were in the back of her head, like the dull hum of a conversation she could barely hear.
Finally, he asked, “When does it seem to be the most clear?”
“When you’re thinking about me. Or like now—if you’re talking to me.” His thumb hit a particularly tight spot to the right of her neck, and despite herself, she groaned. Then, as he focused on that knot of tension, she let her head fall forward, all but sagging against the cool, glass window.
“But not all the time?”
“No. And I think if you try to keep me from hearing you, I wouldn’t hear you,” she said, frowning as she focused and tried to pick up the trail of his thoughts and discovered she couldn’t.
She could still hear that dull roar of his thoughts, but nothing she could pick apart and focus on.
“This is interesting. We should see who else it works on,” he said.
Absently, she murmured, “I told you, I don’t hear others this clearly.” But she was too focused on what else she was picking up from him…something warm, bright…an oddly shimmering thing. Emotion, she realized. One she could only describe as pleasure. Happiness, even.
Without understanding why, she somehow knew he was…happy. Pleased. Slipping away from his hands, she turned around and stared up at him, studying him. “You’re happy about this,” she said, frowning.
Something akin to surprise flashed through his eyes. Then he shut it down and that odd warmth she’d been feeling was abruptly cut off. He lifted a brow and signed, What makes you think that?
“The fact that I was feeling it from you?” she said, shrugging. “It doesn’t make much sense to me—if somebody told me they were hearing my thoughts, I think I’d be pissed.”
She went to edge around him, but he caught her arm.
“You haven’t been locked in silence for hundreds of years, Vanya. I have. Having somebody who can hear me at all, well, it’s not unpleasant. It isn’t as though I cannot block you out, as you’ve already pointed out. I imagine it’s somewhat discomfiting for you, however.”
His pale blue eyes held hers. There was something so raw in that look—so intimate, so unsettling.
Without realizing what she planned to do, she reached up and touched a hand to his throat, felt the warmth of his skin, the slow, steady beat of his pulse under her thumb.
“It’s not discomfiting,” she said quietly, stroking her thumb over his skin.
“This doesn’t bother you?”
His eyes…damn it, she was getting lost in his eyes…