The Demon's Forbidden Passion

BOOK: The Demon's Forbidden Passion
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A battle rages within Ethan Phillips. By day, he’s a sexy
firefighter saving lives in his community. At night, he’s a half-demon
enraptured by carnal desire. And on this night, after a harrowing rescue dredges
up memories of his tragic past, Ethan’s hunger is stronger than ever.

After turning to Tina Driscoll for one night of passionate
release, he tries to keep his distance. He knows the curse that followed him
into adulthood will mean dire consequences for the gentle, compassionate nurse.
But each time he tries to tear himself away, the flames erupting between them
only intensify....

The Demon’s Forbidden Passion

Zoey Williams

Prologue

Gripping the steering wheel so tight his tendons bulged, Ethan Phillips winced at the sight of every car quickly dodging out of his way, their tires screeching. The siren wailed louder and louder overhead as Ethan eyed the speedometer, its pin inching closer and closer to ninety miles per hour. He had
definitely
never driven the truck that fast before. But he had never responded to a call at 52 Crawford Place before either, an address within a gated community that he had been trying to forget for a decade.

As he hit the brake to turn the corner, he wished he could press the pedal just a bit farther, delay the inevitable, make time morph into slow motion. His stomach clenched, dread settling into his body. He pulled up to the scene, where five other fire trucks were already parked, their crews surrounding the house and attempting to fight the monstrous flames. He sat motionless, his seat belt still buckled. Adrenaline pumped through his veins and he could feel it begin: his body temperature rising above the flames in front of him, the crystal blue of his eyes transforming into yellow slits. His forehead ached, his horns desperately wanting to break through his skin—the skin that, although his uniform obscured it, he knew was turning from a deep tan to a blistering red. His teeth sharpened into points and he ran his tongue over them in a desperate attempt to suppress the transformation.

Regain your control
, he reminded himself.
Don’t get angry.

Another wicked clap of thunder vibrated through the sky, just as he had been hearing all night, and still no rain had come. It was a tease—one of those hot, stuffy summer evening thunderstorms that didn’t hold the promise of rain. And what Ethan would do right now for rain. The house, a gigantic three-story mansion, was fully engulfed in flames so tall he couldn’t tell where the angry bursts of fire ended and the deep vermilion sunset began.

Ethan exited the truck and bolted toward the house with incredible swiftness despite his heavy uniform and equipment. As he clomped toward the front steps, the gravel driveway crunching beneath him, he could feel the air vibrating with the spray of the immense hoses that were on full blast all around him, a slight coolness emanating from them, before he surged into the blazing heat ahead.

“Hey!” one of the men called out to him. “We haven’t secured an entrance yet—” But Ethan had already slipped into the residence, his pace never slowing. It was as if his body simply turned to smoke and the house had breathed him in.

Once inside, Ethan maneuvered around the smoldering surroundings, trying to ignore the wave of crackling and popping that flooded his ears. He needed to focus, to find whoever lived here before it was too late. He did a sweep through the first floor, but found no one. Through the thick, dark smoke, his heightened vision helped him find his way to the staircase.

At the top, a beam—white-hot with flames—crashed down from the ceiling, hitting Ethan’s right shoulder with a powerful smack. He grunted, but pressed on.

The first door he approached was off one of its hinges, and leaned precariously in the door frame. The door easily gave way when Ethan knocked it down with a powerful kick from his heavy boots. It revealed a massive library—shelves stretching from floor to ceiling, the pages of its thousands of books flapping in the blaze like frantic birds.

“Saunville Fire Department. Anyone in here?” he called out. The room seemed to crackle louder in response. “Speak to me if you can!” he shouted, his eyes desperately searching for any sign of movement, any sign of life.

He wasn’t sure if he was imagining things, but after hearing no response for a few seconds, an unmistakable sound finally reached his ears: a cough. It was coming from under a mahogany desk, flames licking one of its panels.

In one fluid motion, he lifted the massive desk and tossed it aside, feeding it to the inferno around him. It revealed a young boy, lying in the fetal position, one tiny hand pressed hard into the crook of his opposite forearm. Ignoring the sharp pain in his shoulder, Ethan picked the boy up and hugged him close. The boy cowered.

“I’m going to get you out of here, buddy,” Ethan said. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

“M-my eyes,” the boy stuttered, his voice thick with trepidation.

“I know they sting from the smoke, keep ’em closed for me, okay?” They needed to get out of there now. Valuable time was ticking.

“No, it’s not that,” the boy replied. “My eyes...they just...my eyes do the same thing. And I can’t control when they do it, either.”

The words sliced through Ethan like a knife, stopping him dead in his tracks. Ethan forced himself to look down at the boy cradled in his arms. The same golden color of his eyes reflected back at him. Just for a flash, and then they went back to the same crystal blue as Ethan’s.

The boy wasn’t a regular demon. He was a Half Blood, just like him. An anomaly. Ethan had thought he was the only one sentenced to such a fate.

The last fire to happen on demon territory was in this very estate, to the only mixed couple—and their Half Blood son—on the block. A sense of horror still seized Ethan’s body. Because now he knew the scene was an
exact
replica of a terrible event that drove him away ten years ago. And he had joined the fire department
specifically
for this night, if it would ever come. And now, it
had
.

Chapter One

Tina Driscoll could barely keep her eyes open as she shuffled to lot
D
, the parking lot on the farthest end of the hospital where she worked. Her legs were stiff from standing on them for twelve hours straight and felt heavy, like they had lead weights tied to both feet. When she finally found her car, she leaned on the side of it, digging into the pocket of her sweat-stained scrubs for her keys. But a different sensation met her palm. A buzzing. It was her phone vibrating...and the last name she wanted to see at this very moment was flashing on its screen.


Noooooooo
,” she groaned, drawing out the word until it turned into a whine. “Not tonight,” she said, her eyes cast heavenward. As much as she wanted to shirk her responsibility, pretend she never felt her phone in her pocket and head straight home, she knew she couldn’t ignore the call. It was the kind of thing that was simply part of the job.

“Gus, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Ah, you’re still here! Fantastic,” Gus exclaimed on the other end. The voice was hoarse and gravelly. Despite being Tina’s boss and head nurse, Gus still hadn’t given up smoking. Or baking decadent desserts for the entire staff. A smoking nurse with an atrocious sugar and fat-laden diet: the ultimate irony. He continued on before she had the chance to protest. “I know, I know,
I
know
. Let me explain.”

“Now you told me I was absolutely, one-hundred-percent
off
the schedule tonight. You promised me that Kendra had it
covered
.” Tina tried her best to sound annoyed, but it was hard to be annoyed at goofy, lovable Gus. The one guy who took a chance on a wrong-side-of-the-tracks kid with no family and a degree from a less than reputable community college. But it was because she was good. And he noticed her potential right away.

Gus coughed throatily into the receiver. “I’m so sorry, hon. Kendra called in sick not even a minute ago and something big just came up. Real big. I promise that you will be absolutely, one-hundred-percent off the schedule
next
Saturday night.”

Tina tried her best tough-guy voice. “She better be
really
sick, Gus.”

“Incredibly sick,” Gus confirmed.

“Like projectile-vomiting-pea-soup-while-pus-drips-out-of-her-eyes kind of sick?”

“Yes, I swear. Now you know I’d never bother you unless it was an absolute emergency and I need your expertise tonight. You’re the—”

Tina smirked. “I know, Gus.
You’re the bee’s knees
,
the cream-of-the-crop
,
the best nurse on my staff
,” she said, repeating all of Gus’s usual lines. This wasn’t the first time he’d called her back in after giving her the night off. But his words did have some merit to them. Tina had never lost a single patient—even the ones with the grisliest injuries. She had managed to help heal them all—everything from stage-three pancreatic cancer to a drowning victim who’d been pronounced dead for seven full minutes. And Gus knew this.

He barked a short laugh. “Damn right you are. Now get your butt over to 52 Crawford Place in Saunville,” he instructed. “The Mezza Estates.”

Demon territory, Tina realized. She bit her lip. “A residence?” she asked, her voice quavering slightly. “But Gus, you never have me go directly to the scene.”

“I know, but tonight we can’t waste any time. This one’s bad, honey. Real bad. I need you to get there as soon as you can.”

“What happened?”

“Another fire,” Gus replied. Tina heard a flick and the crackling incineration of the end of a fresh cigarette.

“But that’s the like—what? Sixth one this week?” Tina asked incredulously.

“It’s summertime in Los Angeles, doll. The trees and grass are dry and all it takes is one little incident—a flash of lightning, even—and
poof
. And these estates also happen to border on a national park that caught fire ten times within the last year alone.”

Tina considered for a moment. “Throw in a box of your famous éclairs and you don’t have to start a chain of unwelcomed phone calls tonight.”

“Done,” Gus laughed throatily. “I’ll even raise you a butter tart for your trouble.”

Tina removed her opposite hand from her pocket and opened her fist. She looked at the car keys she had been gripping so tightly that they had left little indentations in her palm—she had been
so close
to having the night off. She placed the keys on the roof of her car and sighed. Pinching the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger, she said, “I’m heading over there now.”

Chapter Two

When Tina eyed her dashboard and saw the green line on the screen of her GPS get shorter and shorter as the blue dot of her car approached her destination, a tightness started to grow in her chest. She stopped at a red light and glanced at her hands, which were now trembling fiercely as they rested on the steering wheel.
What is going on with me
, she thought. Nothing about tonight was out of the ordinary, aside from Gus requesting that she go directly to the scene. She’d seen fires—and their resulting burn victims—dozens of times and never lost her cool, calm demeanor. Sure, there were always the nerves that riddled her before pulling back the curtain of an exam room, the buzz of anticipation of what she’d have to do for her next patient. But this time it was as if her body was trying to tell her something. To warn her.

Though she was still a few miles away, Tina could see the black mass come into view through a thick patch of evergreen trees, the smoke pluming upward and outward across the now darkened sky. “Wow” was all she could manage to say. It had to be one hell of a fire to create such an incredible amount of swirling smoke, the black clouds so large they looked like an entity. A living, breathing monster. Unsurprisingly, when she finally arrived on the scene, there were dozens of firefighters. They were still armed with hoses, eliminating what were presumably the remaining hot spots in the ash, while three ambulances sat parked across the street, out of harm’s way. There must have been only a few residents in the house, Tina thought with a sigh of relief. She searched the ambulances for any kind of flurry of activity, but the first two appeared to be empty. The third held a small, vague outline of a patient sitting on its gurney. Tina threw her car into Park and jogged over to it.

The child inside the only occupied ambulance looked to be about five, Tina guessed. The shirt of his cowboy pajamas, its edges charred and sooty, was unbuttoned to accommodate the panels of a heart rate monitor that beeped like a metronome in the corner of the ambulance. His short black hair was mussed and his crystal blue eyes—which peered from above an oxygen mask that slightly concealed the rest of his face—looked bright with wonder. Tina thought of the resilience of kids until she saw that his left hand was pressing down into his right forearm; the gauze under his fingertips was stained deep red with blood.

Tina stole a glance over her shoulder at what was once this boy’s home and shook her head, astonished that he made it out alive, that only his arm was injured.

She recognized the EMT taking the boy’s vitals. “Hey, Nikki.”

Nikki’s short gray curls bounced when she glanced up from the stethoscope pressed to the patient’s back once she had finished listening to his breathing. Her silver-framed glasses sat low on her nose, making her look like Mrs. Claus, which was quite fitting, Tina thought, as Nikki was just as cheerful. “Hey, Tina! Surprised to see you here, girl. But happy none the less.” She smiled.

“Gus said you’d be needing back up,” Tina explained.

“And Gus would’ve been right.” Nikki nodded to the crumbling house. “With these giant mansions, you can never tell if there’s one person inside or fifty. But luckily there were only three people, including my friend here.”

Tina turned to the boy. “And who’s this fine, young patient?”

He smiled up at her, beaming at the compliment.

“Name’s Danny,” Nikki answered. “Vitals are stable. Third-degree burn on his arm. Pretty bad—the bleeding hasn’t stopped yet. I don’t hear signs of any serious smoke inhalation, but I’m giving him a little oxygen to be on the safe side. We’re definitely going to keep him overnight for observation.”

“Gotcha. It’s nice to meet you, Danny. I’m Tina. I’m going to be your nurse when we get back to the hospital.”

“My cowboy PJs are ruined,” Danny said mournfully, sticking out his bottom lip.

Tina gestured to her frizzed hair and the grungy pair of sneakers she now noticed had a spot of baby spit-up on the toe. “Well, I’m not looking so fancy tonight myself.”

The boy laughed softly.

“I’m looking a little ugly tonight, huh, Danny?” Tina teased.

“No,” Danny giggled as his face blushed, cheeks burning. “You’re not ugly.” He looked down.

“Thanks, bud. Do you mind if I take a look at your arm?” Tina asked.

Danny, still bashful and smiling at the ground, stuck out his arm.

Tina carefully removed the gauze, revealing a patch of bubbling skin slick with blood. She could see Danny’s eyes well up when he turned to look at his injury; she knew it must hurt so badly. After slipping on a pair of gloves, she removed the bloodied gauze from his arm and replaced it with a fresh piece.

“You’re being such a brave boy. Now are you sure you’re not feeling any pain besides your arm?”

He shook his head. “Nope.”

“So the only casualty is the cowboy pajamas. We can work with that. I’ll see if your parents can get you another....” Tina bit her lip, stopping herself.

“It’s okay,” Nikki said. “His parents were taken to the hospital about an hour ago. Critical but stable condition. They’re going to be okay.”

“The fireman saved them!” Danny interjected, his eyes lighting up. “He saved them right after he saved me.”

“He must be a really awesome fireman then,” said Tina.

“He is!” Danny agreed. “And Nikki said he’s a hunk!”

“Nikki!” Tina laughed in surprise. “What about Bill? You know, your husband of thirty years? Does the name ring any bells?”

She put her hands out in front of her in mock surrender. “Hey, I can look!”

“But not touch,” Tina playfully admonished.

Nikki waved a hand. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

She tugged on Tina’s sleeve and leaned in. “But seriously though, I’ve seen him at the scene of a couple of other accidents and
girl
, he is fine,” she stage whispered.

Tina rolled her eyes and put a hand on Danny’s shoulder. “Which one is he, sweetie?”

“He’s over there!” Danny pointed emphatically to a group of fifteen firemen.

“The tall one with the black hair,” Nikki added. “I think his name is Ethan.”

Tina followed Nikki and Danny’s gazes and gaped despite her best efforts. Like Nikki said, the man was
fine
. Strike that, Tina thought, the man was
gorgeous
. Though he was standing far away, Tina could tell he had the same striking blue eyes as Danny, which was curious. Ethan stood with arms crossed, his eyes pinned on the ambulance he knew held the boy he rescued. His face had sharp features; his nose was straight and narrow, his cheekbones were high and strong, and his jaw line could cut glass. With his olive complexion and raven hair, he was the definition of tall, dark and handsome.

He had the impressive muscular build that most firefighters had. Although his uniform obscured most of it, Tina could tell that underneath, Ethan’s body must’ve been nothing more than one hundred and seventy-five pounds of pure muscle. And, oh, that uniform, she thought. Though she adored a man in uniform, she found herself wondering how much fun it would be to remove all doubt of what lay underneath the thick, yellow-brown garb. To feel the strength of all the perfect body parts that allowed him to save the world night after night. A tight, rippled abdomen, biceps so beefy she wouldn’t be able to wrap both her hands completely around them, two sharp hipbones, that thin trail of hair between them—her favorite part of a man—that would direct her gaze downward, teasing at what it led to... Tina shuddered with naughty thoughts.

But she was jolted from her fantasy when she realized that Ethan’s eyes were now fixed upon hers. She quickly averted her gaze, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment. Just before turning her back to him and burying her chin to her chest, she noticed a smirk lingering on Ethan’s face.

“What did I tell you?” Nikki laughed. “Rumor has it he’s a real ladies’ man, too.” She leaned in closer to get out of Danny’s earshot. “Word at the station is even though he’s a demon, he doesn’t act like one. Takes a different woman home every night.”

Tina didn’t know how to feel about that. Demons were renowned for their monogamy and their tendency to want to date within their own race. That’s why they tended to live in gated communities. But regardless of his heritage, a different woman every night? Half of her felt like rolling her eyes...but, judging by his looks, the other half of her felt like she wouldn’t mind becoming another notch in his bedpost.

“Know anything else about him?” Tina asked quietly.

“Not really. Only interacted with the guy once. I remember trying to convince him to go to the hospital last year when he got caught in a collapsed porch. Twisted his ankle pretty bad, but said he was fine. Wasn’t sure if it was just him being macho, but it didn’t feel like it. It seemed like he had something against hospitals. No matter what I said, I just couldn’t convince him.”

Tina shrugged. Everyone had their phobias, and she knew full well that plenty of people were scared of hospitals, but she couldn’t help wondering why such a strong, powerful man—especially a firefighter who stared down death every day—would be so averse as well. Her mind started to fill with all the ways that she could comfort him. Coax him the next time he needed to go. Maybe she’d volunteer to go to the scenes of fires more often....

“Hey!” Nikki exclaimed, interrupting her thoughts. For a split second, Tina worried that she had voiced her fantasies aloud. But instead she pointed to Danny’s gauze, which was as white as a piece of paper. “Would you look at that. Your bleeding completely stopped, kiddo. Nice job, Tina.”

“Ready to go?” she asked, turning to Danny.

But the boy didn’t hear her. His gaze was fixated on Tina as he regarded her with a mixture of awe and wonderment. “You fixed my boo-boo like my mommy does.”

“She sure did, honey,” Nikki said. “Now say good-night to Miss Tina while I go tell the ambulance driver it’s okay to take us to the hospital now.”

Danny’s gaze refused to leave Tina. “Okay...” he said softly. “You’re a lot like my mommy, Miss Tina. Except for your hair,” he blurted pointedly, as only a five-year-old could.

Nikki chuckled, shaking her head as she walked to the front of the vehicle.

Tina laughed. “Is mine messier than hers? I’m sure it is.”

“No, it’s the color,” he said solemnly. “Just the color.”

Tina twirled a chestnut strand in her fingers as Nikki returned to the back of the ambulance. She switched places with her as Tina stepped off onto the grass, which was now wet with dew.

“You’re not coming with us?” Danny demanded.

“No, sweetie. It’s time for me to go to bed. But I’ll be there first thing tomorrow morning. Bright and early.”

“Can you bring the fireman with you?” he asked hopefully.

Tina turned back to where Ethan was standing, but he was gone.

“I don’t think so, kiddo, but if I see him, I promise I’ll ask.”

“I just never got to say thank you for saving me and my parents, that’s all,” he said softly.

His kindness, after all of the events of the evening, touched her deeply. Whatever his parents were doing, they were doing it right. “Oh, honey,” Tina said. “It’s his job to save people. Even if you don’t get to say it to him, I’m sure he knows you’re grateful.”

“I know. But still ask him if you see him, okay?”

“Okay,” Tina answered.

“Promise?”

“Promise.” Tina reached out and lightly ruffled Danny’s hair before saying good-night. Nikki gave a small wave before closing the doors toward her with a metal
click
.

Tina stood with her hands on her hips as she watched the ambulance pull away from the scene, lights flashing, but lacking the deep whine of the siren. She gave a quick phone call to Gus, letting him know that the last victim of the fire was on his way and that she’d see him in the morning for the early shift. After hanging up, Tina took a deep breath, the charred air tickling the back of her throat. When she turned around, she was nose to chest with Ethan.

BOOK: The Demon's Forbidden Passion
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