Let's give Cassie and Pritkin a little more love, people! By the way, though I do worship and adore them, the characters from the Cassandra Palmer novels belong to Karen Chance. I willingly receive no monetary income for this story. Just, you know, your love and adoration. (Kidding!)

Slight spoilers for up to Curse the Dawn. Enjoy!

Update 6/26/09- Thank you to a very helpful reviewer who pointed out that a Succubus is the female version, and an Incubus the male version. I didn't have my books for reference for this story. All fixed!

It was my own fault, really. I had insisted that if he only practiced, he would be able to master his power. Most powers were a matter of concentration, after all. Like any learned art, the mastering of a supernatual power came with an extraordinary amount of patience and hard work, and ignoring the unpleasantness of the task was a complete waste of energy, and he had been wasting a good deal of energy over the years.

It had taken me a while to convince the mage that his powers really came in handy during a fight, because if we were in deep enough shit that he was injured badly, there was a pretty lousy chance of me getting both of us out alive-- and he already knew that I was unwilling to leave him behind.

However, it hadn't really occurred to me that he would choose to practice with someone else!

"Who is she?" I asked, and I couldn't keep the anger out of my voice.

Pritkin spared me an annoyed glance before returning to studying his book. "Who's who?"

I huffed, crossing my arms across my chest and tapping my foot impatiently, "The woman you're... practicing on?"

"I assure you, Miss Palmer, I haven't a clue as to what you're saying," he turned a page, his gaze quickly devouring the strange words even as he continued to speak, "Perhaps you could elaborate?"

I sat up a little straighter in my chair and smoothed my knee-length skirt self-consciously. We were sitting in one of the calmer parts of Dante's. The small coffee shop served good coffee and decent pastries, and the only indication of the casino's theme were the little devil horns that the baristas wore as a part of their uniform. Most of the employees there knew me by now, and all of them were friendly and willing to go out of their way for me. I also enjoyed it because it was empty a good deal of the time-- tourists came to Dante's to throw their panties at Elvis' zombie and be served by goatmen, not to drink a good cup of coffee.

Pritkin had joined me today, insisting that he'd rather me have a bodyguard at all times, and that he would enjoy a relatively quiet spot to read, as well. I had brought my own book with me, but after several minutes of simply staring at the mage in irritation, I hadn't been able to keep my mouth shut any longer.

"Casanova told me," I whispered, heat already rushing to my face.

Pritkin heaved an exasperated sigh, taking a moment to sip his coffee before answering me. "Told you what, Miss Palmer?"

"That you've been, you know, practicing..."

"We've established that. Now what, exactly, have I been practicing?" his eyebrow was beginning to twitch with his temper, and I knew I had to get it out quickly or else suffer bodily harm.

"Your powers!" I hissed, "As an Incubus!"

Pritkin went utterly still, his expression completely blank. Tension sang through his entire body, and I watched with terrible fascination as he turned all that hard muscle toward me, turning his chair as well and leaning toward me. "Excuse me?"

"You know," I rushed to explain, "I heard that you finally took my advice and decided to start harnessing your healing abilities as a Succubus. I mean, I think it's a great idea," I knew I was rambling, but I couldn't seem to stop, "And it's going to be really useful for any battles, you know. I mean, the kind when we can find a private place and you know... except Casanova told me that you were practicing on a girl that worked at the casino and that's fine and all but..." I stopped a moment to take a breath, but I found myself unable to continue when I found myself staring into deep, angry green eyes.

"You..." Pritkin took a steadying breath, "You thought I was fucking some random girl in order to hone my ability as an Incubus? You thought that I would endanger the life of an innocent stranger in order to possibly gain an ability that I've loathed for centuries?" For a moment, Pritkin's eyes shone with hurt. "For some reason, I had thought you knew me better than that, Miss Palmer."

"Pritkin, I..." I began.

"What concern would it be of your's?" the mage suddenly demanded, "What business is it of your's who I, as you say, practice on?"

"What?" I sputtered, indignant, "Of course it's my business!"


"Because," I hesitated, searching for an answer that would satisfy both of us, "Because you're my bodyguard, and it really wouldn't do me a whole lot of good to have you die of blood loss when I could have helped you heal."

Pritkin's anger slowly leaked out of his face, and I watched the muscles in his shoulders relax. One of the things I loved about the mage was the fact that he wore all his emotions clearly-- his expressions and the way he held his body would never, could never lie to me. I valued honesty a good deal, having been lied to my entire childhood. I could trust Pritkin completely, which was no small thing, especially in my eyes.

"Perhaps," a rare smile quirked Pritkin's lips, "Perhaps I should further embrace that half of me. After all, as you have pointed out to me on numerous occasions, I am of very little use to you severely injured."

"Um, yeah," I hesitated at the grin on his face, "That's what I'm saying."

Pritkin leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs. "I suppose, then," his voice was somehow deeper, more intimate-- a bedroom voice, I realized, "I should find someone I trust with whom I can experiment and practice with. Don't you agree?"

It took me a moment before I could say, "Oh, yes." I realized that I was leaning forward, as well, unconsciously drawn to the man in front of me. My breath was coming just a little bit faster and my palms were moist. "What," I licked my suddenly dry lips, "What are you doing, Pritkin?"

The mage smiled, "Practicing."

"What..." I wasn't able to finish the question, however, before the man in front of me grabbed my hand and pulled me hastily to my feet. He scooped up both of our books in his other hand and quickly navigated us through the casino to the bank of elevators that led to the guest rooms.

The hotel had been renovated since its last encounter with Apollo, and Mircea had explicitly ordered Casanova to remodel the top two floors in order to include several luxurious suites. One suite on the top floor belonged to Mircea, the other to me. Pritkin occupied a suite on the lower floor, and another was empty for visiting guests or Senate members. Pritkin chose his own floor once we entered the elevator, inserting his key card.

The silence in the elevator was a heavy, tangible thing. Pritkin was still holding my hand in his, and I was very aware of every inch of skin. I glanced at the mage out of the corner of my eye, but he was steadfastly staring straight ahead.

I knew that the mage was aware of his surroundings and every movement I made, but I couldn't help myself from studying his profile. Stubble so blond it was barely visible, the lines of his jaw, the soft, full lips that I had not tasted in so long. His shoulders swelled beneath the shirt he wore, and I shuddered from the memory of his strong arms holding me against him. I found myself leaning into him, plastering our sides together, my head resting against his strong, strong shoulder.

"Cassie?" his voice was concerned, and I couldn't understand why. The mage muttered something, and the elevator suddenly jerked to a stop, throwing me into his arms. I gasped at the contact.

"What did you do?" I asked, breathless.

Pritkin's voice was still deep, the sound resonating deep within me, "I stopped the elevator and disabled the security cameras."

Before I could ask him why, my back was suddenly thrust against the elevator wall, Pritkin's lips devouring my own. I felt myself responding to the kiss, threading my arms around his neck and opening myself to him. He explored me with lips, tongue, and teeth, and I reciprocated with equal fervor, running my hands through the softness of his hair down to the hard muscles of his back.

Pritkin kissed a slow trail from my lips to the juncture between my neck and shoulder, sucking the skin into his mouth and nibbling along my collarbone. My breath came out in a long sigh as he moved his hands upward, caressing my breasts through the material of my blouse and bra. I wanted his hands on my skin, I wanted to lick the perspiration that was slowly gliding down his forehead, and I wanted more than anything to not be wearing any clothes.

I pulled away from him, and his features instantly morphed into rejection, the pain on his face clear before he could hide it. I only smiled gently, reaching down and pulling my shirt over my head before his hurt could turn to anger. When my shirt lay on the floor there was heat in his eyes, and it wasn't from rage.

He devoured me, tasting every inch of my skin while I could do no more than hold him and cry out. I dug my nails into his skin, pressing my face against his shoulder and breathing deep of his scent. Pritkin smelled like England should-- the trees of a forest, with the richness of soil and the clean scent of rain.

The rest of our clothes soon followed, and Pritkin began to ease a finger into me.

"Please," my voice was hoarse to my own ears, "I'm so wet, Pritkin, please, don't wait, please..."

He growled, rubbing himself against my leg at my words. "I may hurt you," he whispered.

"You won't, I promise," I said, "Please, do it now."

Pritkin surprised me with a gentle kiss, a soft touch of lips and tongue, before stealing my breath away as he plunged inside of me.

I clawed at his back, the pleasure overwhelming. Pritkin breathed heavily into my ear, my name escaping his lips every so often. The floor shuddered beneath us, the elevator suspended between floors not completely stable.

I tried to think of what had led to this, how we had gone from hating each other on sight to loving each other unconditionally, but a sudden change in angle had me throwing my head back, my back bowed in pleasure. I screamed as that indescribable warmth filled me, and the heat of Pritkin's body fell against my own. I basked in the pleasant feeling of skin on skin, and shivered when he stood and reached for our clothing.

To my questioning glance he responded, "They will need the use of the elevators, Cassie. It would be best if we retired to my room." After we had dressed Pritkin muttered a few words, and the elevator continued its ascension.

We spent the rest of the elevator ride and the short walk to his suite in silence. As I walked behind him through the door, I couldn't help but admire the way his khakis clung to his ass just right.

"Cassie, I'm sorry," he began, which surprised me out of any musings on the rest of his physique.

I sat on his couch and crossed my legs, beckoning for him to join me. "Why?" I asked, a hint of anger in my tone, "I'm not."

"But I clouded your mind," Pritkin insisted, thrusting his hands into his already mussed hair in irritation, "I influenced you-- used my powers to seduce you. Aren't you angry that you had no choice?"

His face was so serious, so self-deprecating that I couldn't help but laugh. His glare darkened while I giggled. "I'm sorry," I managed, "It's just... man, Pritkin, I know that your dad is like, the almighty Incubus and everything, but I've resisted a good many in my days. I did grow up at Tony's court, and there were a lot of creatures besides vampires that served there."

I don't think he understood, because his expression only darkened, "That does not diminish the fact that I took you without your permission. I raped you, Cassie."

It was my turn to glare, and I grabbed his hand in mine before he could shrink away from me. "Don't you dare accuse yourself of that," I hissed, and realized in the back of my mind that a woman long ago must have done that exact thing, "I wanted you, Pritkin, and I damn well made sure you knew that. There were no power struggles, no mind games, because I already wanted you before you did a damn thing."

I think that, throughout our relationship, Pritkin had come to discover that I very rarely lie. I was delighted to see he took me at my word now, his face morphing into one of his rare, genuine smiles.

"Thank you, Cassie," he said, and brought my hand to his lips.

I only smiled, and stretched myself along the couch, resting my head in Pritkin's lap. "Now that we have an understanding," I looked up into his face contentedly, "What do we do now?"

His smile was suddenly filled with heat, and it made my heart pound in my chest and my breath come just a little faster. "I don't know," he leaned down, his lips hovering just over mine, "I think I may need a little more practice."

Author's Notes:

This was, in every sense of the word, a quickie. Unbeta'ed and unedited. Take me as I am, baby.