Face Your Demon

April 10, 2024 – Night Watch Paranormal Romance – Night Watch, Book 3

Can you stand the heat? Because they can…

Hybrid demon Zane Wynter plays with fire each day—and night—of his life. As a bounty hunter with Night Watch, it’s his job to hunt down the dangerous predators of the supernatural variety. Usually the job is a piece of cake for someone as powerful as Zane, but then she walks—or, rather, burns—her way into his life.

It’s never hot enough for her.

Jana Carter looks innocent, delicate, weak…but appearances were made to deceive. She’s spent her whole life playing with fire. After all, Ignitors are born to fan the flames. But she is not the horrible villainess that Zane suspects. In fact, Jana is being set up for a series of crimes. The problem is that she has to find a way to convince the dangerous, determined, and smoking-hot demon that she’s innocent.

Zane isn’t the only one hot on her trail.

Desire flames between the demon and Ignitor—two hunters who should be enemies but become so much more. Yet the closer Zane gets to Jana, the deeper the danger grows. Zane isn’t the only hunter on her trail, and if the dark group known as Project Perseus gets their hands on Jana, Zane may lose the only woman who could ever truly match his fire.

FACE YOUR DEMON was first published by Kensington in December of 2010—and at that time, it was released under the title of ETERNAL FLAME. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to bring this “classic” paranormal romance back to readers.

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Chapter One

It was a damn sorry night to die, but then, Zane Wynter didn’t plan on dying. Killing, yeah, that was a possibility, but not dying.

Fire exploded in the night. A white-hot mountain of flames burned right through the roof of the three-story antebellum house on Francis Street and shot toward the sky, its greedy claws a bright orange in the darkness.

Sonofabitch.” The breath of the flames scorched Zane’s skin. This was supposed to have been an easy collar. Go in, knock out the demon waiting inside, claim his bounty. A simple night’s work for a Night Watch hunter. After the collar, he’d planned to get a beer and maybe a fuck.

He took off his jacket and tossed it onto the ground. No sense getting ash on it.

A scream burst from inside the house. He stilled at the sound because that—that was a woman’s scream. And his prey was male.

Victim inside. Not just the killer he wanted, but maybe an innocent trapped in that inferno, too.

Shit. It really was a piss-poor night. He took a breath, squared his shoulders, and knew that he had to go into that damn house. Sometimes, it just sucked to be him.

Zane raced forward even as the windows of the antebellum exploded, sending glass raining down on him. One kick and he knocked down the front door. Smoke rose, a thick gray fog. The flames crackled, and the house fell around him.

Jacobson!” Zane yelled the bastard’s name. Henry Jacobson. A demon who’d been hunting and killing for the vampires in Baton Rouge. A vamp’s bitch. Seriously, what was worse? “Jacobson, where are you?” The smoke stung his nose and made his eyes water as he thundered through the rooms, searching through the smoke and flames.

Another scream. He ran for the stairs, a long, curving staircase that ended in fire and fury. Someone was on the steps. He saw a shadow in the smoke, someone hunched over, holding tight to the railing.

Too small to be his prey.

Victim. Had Jacobson been getting ready for another kill?

Zane took the stairs three at a time. Chunks of the ceiling fell, hitting close to him, and the heat scorched his skin. He coughed and choked on the smoke that thickened the air.

Zane reached out and grabbed⁠—

Help me!” Desperate blue eyes met his. Wide and dark. So dark. A deep, dark blue. They reflected the flames and her fear.

The woman—small, curvy, shaking—threw her body against his and held on with all her strength. “K-kill…m-me…he was…g-gonna…” She broke off, coughing, choking, just like him.

The roof groaned above them. A long, low rumble that couldn’t be a good sign. He glanced up and saw the cracks and rolling fire in what was left of the ceiling. Fuck.

“H-help…m-me…” She shuddered again, her body rubbing against his.

The devil could take Jacobson. Zane grabbed the woman, lifting her high into his arms. He held her close against his chest and ran back down the stairs. The flames were everywhere. The fire was so damn hot that for an instant, he thought about death.

Nah, not fucking tonight.

He concentrated, calling up the power that lurked inside of him, the darkness that was never far away, and those flames didn’t touch him. Couldn’t.

The woman’s lips pressed against the base of his throat. Soft lips. A delicate touch in hell.

For an instant, one reckless instant, his concentration wavered and those flames surged forward.

Cursing, he dove for the door. They flew into the night, and he turned his body, protecting hers, as they slammed onto the porch. Sirens wailed. The cavalry was coming. Always a bit late in this town.

Her fingers fluttered on his face. “Are you”—a cough—“okay?” A light voice, Southern and soft. Husky. She’d raised her body up, and now she peered at his face with worry in those big, bedroom eyes.

He didn’t answer at first. Just stared at her. The woman was something else. Her skin was a pale ivory, but her high cheekbones and her straight, sharp nose were currently stained with soot. Her lips—damn—were full, sexy. The kind of lips a man fantasized about. A lot. And she had a thick, tumbling mass of black hair. Hair that made her skin look even paler.

“You saved me.” She shook her head and sent those long locks swaying. “Th-thank you.”

A crash shook the house. “Baby, I haven’t saved our asses yet,” he said. Then Zane grabbed her and hauled her to her feet. This was no place for a pit stop. They shot down the curving porch steps, running fast from those flames.


He pushed her behind the gate at the edge of the drive. He coughed again, hard and long, as he cleared the smoke from his lungs. A fire truck roared up the street, finally getting close now. He held her arms. Stared into those fuck-me eyes. “Was someone else inside? Did you see⁠—”

“I-I think he wanted…to kill…me.” Whispered. Her gaze fell to his throat. “H-he tried to bite me…”

And he noticed her throat then. The red marks. The teeth marks. As far as Zane knew, Jacobson wasn’t a vamp, not yet anyway. Zane didn’t see the telltale bloodsucker puncture wounds on the woman’s neck. No vamp bite. But something was going on with the guy. Maybe Jacobson had been stealing some vamp blood, and he’d started to become addicted.

Vamp’s bitch.

“What happened to him?” Zane asked.

The fire truck slammed to a halt in front of the house.

She shook her head as her gaze slowly rose to once again meet his. “I-I don’t know. I shoved him back, we fought…then-then everything just exploded.” Her voice dropped when she said, “He’s still up there.”

Firefighters ran past them, pulling hoses with them. Zane’s jaw clenched as he turned away from her. He should go⁠—

“How…how can I thank you?”

Now that voice of hers was pure sex. His head turned back to hers, very slowly.

She licked her lips. A fast swipe of a small pink tongue. “I would have died without you.” She pressed closer to him. “You came into that fire.” She shook her head. “I’ve never seen anything—you were like an angel.”

Oh, the sexy woman was so confused. “Not quite, baby.” More like the devil. His gaze lingered on her full lips. Definitely not an angel.

“Hey!” A hard masculine bark.

Sighing, Zane glanced over his shoulder and saw one of the firefighters lumbering toward him. “Is anyone still inside?” the man demanded.

“Up-upstairs…” the woman responded, and they all looked at the flames.

The house seemed to collapse. Groans and shrieks filled the air, and the rest of the roof tumbled down, smashing right through the upper floors.

Firefighters scrambled back.

“Not fucking alive now,” the firefighter muttered as he turned away. “Dammit!”

If the man inside was human, no, he’d definitely be dead.

But the firefighters weren’t just dealing with a human. If only. And they’d need Zane if they were going to get that fire settled down. Lucky for them, he had a way with flames.

Like most demons, he could control the elements, and fire was his bitch.

But first…

There was the little matter of a thank-you.

Zane wrapped an arm around the woman’s waist. He tipped back her chin with his left hand. Her lips parted in surprise and she said, “What⁠—”

He kissed her. Caught her with her mouth open and drove his tongue inside that sweet heat. And, oh, but she was sweet. His tongue tasted her, stroked her, and he held her tightly against his body, loving the feel of those soft curves crushed against him. A moan rose in her throat, and her hands tightened around his shoulders.

His little victim didn’t push him away. No, she tried to pull him closer.

My kind of woman.

And if those flames weren’t waiting, he’d show her just how she could truly thank him. No time now. But maybe later.

One last lick. One last stroke of his tongue. Then Zane forced his head to lift. Her eyes were closed, and her expression a bit dazed. Her lips were red now, heated from his mouth.

He released her and stepped back.

Her eyelashes lifted, and she blinked. Once. Twice.

“Told you I wasn’t an angel, baby.” He let a grin curve his lips. “But if you want to show me how much you appreciate my help just stick around a while.”

Her jaw dropped. He almost laughed. Almost, but his cock was shoving hard against his jeans, and the firefighters were losing their battle with the flames. They needed him.

So he turned away from her and didn’t look back.

* * *

“Miss? Miss, are you okay?”

Jana Carter hunched her shoulders at the voice. More vehicles had arrived. Cops. An ambulance. She glanced to the right and found a fresh-faced EMT staring at her.

“Were you burned?” he asked her quietly, compassion flowing with the words.

She let her lips tremble. “N-no.” Her “hero” had disappeared. Had tall, dark, and dangerous really gone back inside the house? To save a killer?

Stupid move. His funeral.

Two cops began to approach her. Time to leave. Jana pressed her lips together and realized she still tasted the man on her mouth. Zane Wynter. Bounty hunter extraordinaire. Yes, she knew who he was. Zane’s mistake was not knowing her identity. He should have been better prepared.

Weren’t the Night Watch hunters always supposed to be prepared? Like freaking Boy Scouts? Night Watch—the multi-state bounty hunting agency had a reputation for always getting the job done. Whether the agents were chasing the worst human criminals out there—or stalking the Other who’d crossed the line—they brought down their prey.

Most humans didn’t know about the Other in the world. They didn’t know about the vampires, the demons, the shifters, and the hundreds of other monsters out there on the streets. They didn’t know because they were blind.

Jana wasn’t blind. She knew the real score in this world. And she knew that her “hero” hadn’t been an average hunter, either. No, a man hadn’t hauled her out of the flames. A demon had.

Angel, my ass. She’d almost choked when she told him that one.

“Miss, I need you to get in the ambulance. I want to check you out.”

Ah, now that sounded promising. The ride in the ambulance would let her get away from the cops. Because those boys in blue were already eyeing her with too much curiosity, and she really didn’t want to get into an explanation of just why she’d been in the house on Francis Street.

Jana’s knees buckled. The EMT grabbed her, and she let her lashes sag. “So…weak.” Though she’d rarely been weak in her life. Appearances could be so deceptive, but the EMT didn’t realize that.

“It’s okay!” He scooped her up and yelled for help. Seconds later, he was loading her into the back of the ambulance. The doors slammed shut behind them, and the cops were left out in the cold.

Well, with the cold—and with the flames.

The ambulance’s siren screamed on and when the vehicle lurched forward, Jana smiled.

Too easy.

Or maybe she was just too good because Jana had just taken out her prey, destroyed the evidence, and even been given a getaway car. A chauffeured ride away from the scene of her attack.

Not bad for a night’s work.

Poor Zane. The guy obviously thought he was the big, tough demon badass. He’d be realizing soon enough that there was a new sheriff in town.

* * *

“I didn’t get the demon.” Zane rubbed the back of his neck, felt every ache and pain in his body, and met the stare of his boss, Jason Pak, head-on. “When I got to the house on Francis Street, the place was a damn inferno.” The flames had spread so quickly that the firefighters thought accelerants must have been used to soak the place.

Everything just exploded. The woman’s voice whispered through his head. Yeah, the house had exploded all right. With a little help.

He exhaled and dropped his hand. “The bastard had a victim with him. He was still hunting.” Not just hunting, but acting like a vamp. Trying to bite prey. No longer slicing them with claws and knives, but biting, vamp style. What the hell? “She was lucky to get out alive.”

Pak’s leather chair creaked as the owner of Night Watch leaned forward and flattened his palms on the desk. “Was she?”

Zane’s shoulders straightened a bit. “I pulled her out of the flames.” That good deed had to be worth something, right? No matter what most folks thought, he didn’t spend his whole life telling the world to screw off.

“Where is she?” Pak’s fingers drummed on the desktop. There was a skeletal staff in the Night Watch office then. Most of the bounty hunters were out on cases. Dragging in prey.

Pity. This time, Zane wouldn’t have any prey to bring in. “The EMTs took her to the hospital,” he told Pak. “She’d sucked in a lot of smoke, and that jerk-off Jacobson bit her.”

“Any other injuries?” Pak’s dark gaze was steady.

“Uh, no. None that I saw.” He hadn’t smelled blood on her, but the smoke had been clogging his nose. He didn’t think the woman had been hurt. But she’d trembled against him.

Desire? Fear? Or pain?

“What did she look like?”

Zane blinked at that. “Ah…pretty. About five-foot-four, curvy, black hair, blue eyes⁠—”

“Could have changed her appearance,” Pak murmured and his fingers stopped tapping.

And Zane got a really bad feeling in his gut. “Uh, excuse me?”

Pak’s black brows shot up. “Did I ever tell you I thought you handled yourself damn well when all that shit went down with Dee?”

Dee. Dee Daniels was another bounty hunter in the office. She’d watched his ass—and he’d watched hers—for years. He’d trusted the woman with his life more times than he could count. Then she’d become a vampire.

“I do my job,” Zane said quietly. Just like he’d done his job when Dee changed. He’d protected her and made sure the freaks after her were taken down. “No matter what happens, I do my job.

Pak rose and walked around the edge of the desk. A ghost of a smile curved his thin lips. “Good. You know the job has to come first.”

What the hell? The job always came first for him. Zane sucked in a sharp breath. “Jacobson’s body wasn’t recovered on the scene. The fire department was still there when I left, digging through the rubble, but⁠—”

“But you don’t think they’ll find a body? Or what’s left of one?”

“Jacobson was a demon.” Demons and fire always mixed. “The guy was low level, but he should have been strong enough to knock the flames back, at least for a few moments.” A few moments would have been all the guy needed for an escape.

“You want to keep searching for him.”

Hell, yeah. “He’s my collar.”

Pak didn’t blink. That dark stare just weighed Zane.

“Uh, boss?” Pak didn’t usually get all quiet and focused like this unless he was out in the swamps, talking to the gators. The guy was a charmer, a being born with the ability to speak to animals. On the weekends, Pak would spend hours with the twelve- to fourteen-foot gators that loved to snap and feast in those muddy waters.

“I’m going to give Jude the Jacobson case,” Pak said.

“The hell you⁠—”

“Jude can go back to Francis Street. If Jacobson got away, he’ll catch the guy’s scent.”

Jude Donovan was good at catching scents. But then, Jude was a white tiger shifter, so he’d fucking better be good at sniffing.

Zane locked his muscles. “Jude’s good at tracking, but so am I, and you know I don’t stop until I’ve got my prey.” Especially not if the prey was a demon. He always brought the demons down. Or put them down, depending on the case.

“Jude’s got Jacobson,” Pak said, staring up at him.

Fuck. Every muscle in Zane’s body tightened and his hands clenched.

“Because I need you on something more important,” Pak told him.


Pak shook his head. “You can take the fire. Jude can’t. That means he can’t take her.


“I don’t think an accelerant was used on Francis Street,” Pak said, “Just like no accelerant was used three nights ago at the fire on Biltmore that took out two vampires, or at the three other fires in New Orleans that occurred over the last few months. Fires all aimed at supernaturals.”

Okay, Pak sure had Zane’s attention. Someone was targeting supernaturals?

“They were aimed at the Other, but it looks like humans were caught in the crossfire. Two human scientists died.”


“Of course, the arson investigators think an accelerant was used because those fires burned so fast and so hot.” Pak reached behind him and scooped a manila file off the top of the desk. “A woman was spotted at the crime scenes. Average height. About one-hundred-thirty pounds.”

Zane’s gut clenched.

“Witnesses saw a blonde, with curly hair, running from the other fires.”

Blonde. Maybe she changed her appearance. Now he knew what Pak meant. “The woman tonight was a victim.

Pak stared back at him, that dark stare unblinking. “You sure about that?”

Too much doubt was in Pak’s voice, and Zane realized that no, he wasn’t sure. In this world, you couldn’t be sure of anything or anyone. Damn. He might have been played. Jaw clenched, Zane demanded, “Just what am I dealing with here?”

“If I’m right, the woman you’re looking for is a human with a very special gift. A gift of fire.”

Shit. An Ignitor. A human who could create fire from nothing, who could let it burn fiery hot and so very fast. A human who could destroy too much.

“You’ve had experience dealing with Ignitors,” Pak added.

Zane’s head jerked in agreement. Not the best experience.

“I want you to find this one. Find her, and bring her in.” The briefest of hesitations. “If the woman from tonight isn’t the one we need, clear her, and move on. But I expect to have the Ignitor who is making these fires contained within the next forty-eight hours.”

Well, it would be easy enough to find the dark-haired beauty with the bedroom eyes. The EMTs had taken her in. She’d still be at the hospital now.

Unless she ran. Unless she wasn’t the victim. Unless she screwed me.

Zane forced his hands to unclench. “Sometimes Ignitors can be hard to contain.” He paused, because the question had to be asked. “Is this a kill mission?” With Ignitors, there wasn’t always a choice. If the fire raged too hot…

Kill or be killed.

“We want her alive,” Pak told him. Then the cagey bastard added, “For now.”

* * *

How long did it take to bandage a bite mark? Jeez, it wasn’t like the demon had even broken the skin. After two hours—two freaking hours—Jana managed to slip away from the nurses and the docs in their garish green uniforms. She snuck out of the hospital’s exit, making sure she stayed in the shadows, and she hurried down the street as quickly as she could.

It took her about two minutes to realize that she was being trailed. Bad, bad mistake. She should have realized that fact in about thirty seconds.

Must be slipping.

Jana rolled her shoulders, trying to keep her body loose. In this town, she knew she had to be ready for anything. Sure, the majority of women would probably worry about muggers waiting in the night. Muggers weren’t Jana’s concern. She knew she was more likely to be attacked by a hungry vamp or a pissed-off demon.

No, Jacobson’s dead. No way did he get out.

She hoped.

Okay. There were two ways to play this. She could attack with guns blazing or…

Jana stepped out of the shadows. “I-I…is someone there?” She let her voice tremble. Playing weak came so naturally to her. She looked weak. Small. Fragile. All the better to lie.

No one answered her. Her eyes narrowed. Time to hit the main street and get off this quiet lane. She could hail a cab and be back at her place in half an hour.

The wind blew against her face, a cold, icy wind, and for an instant, she caught the smell of…ash.

Her body stiffened. Oh, hell, no. That job was finished. She inched back, her gaze darting around the area. She couldn’t risk being taken down.

Jana started heading for the main street. A cab would come along, it had to. And if it didn’t…

A hand snaked out and grabbed her wrist. She screamed because that was what she should do.

“Relax, baby. It’s just me.” Zane gave her a shark’s smile, one with lots of sharp, white teeth. “Your knight in shining armor.”

Only he didn’t look particularly knight-like then. The guy was a big, strong menace in the darkness. She knew just how dangerous he was.

“Were you following me?” she whispered and stepped closer to him. Damn, but the guy had some broad shoulders. And a wide, muscled chest.

He was handsome, in a rough, wild kind of way. Dark hair and eyebrows, long, slightly twisted nose, lips a little thin, jaw perfectly square and strong. His eyes were dark shadows now, but she knew his piercing gaze was green. She’d seen his picture long before she met him at the fire. She always studied pictures of her targets. After all, a woman had to make sure she was going after the right mark.

“Following you?” His voice was deep, rumbling, and a shiver worked over her body. From the cold because she didn’t do so well with the cold, and not because she found that rumble sexy.

She glanced back over her shoulder. “I thought I heard…” Jana shook her head and forced her own smile as she looked back at him. “Nothing.”

But she knew he was watching her. Weighing her. Trying to see past her skin.

“Let me take you home,” he said.

If you want to show me how much you appreciate my help just stick around a while.

Her chin rose. Was sex on the demon’s mind? Or was it something more?

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Jana.” The name was safe enough. “Jana Carter.” She paused and shivered again. Damn.

“I’m Zane Wynter.”

Right. Zane Wynter, super hunter. Demon badass. Check. “You did follow me, didn’t you?”

“No, baby, I just got here. I saw you walking…” He shrugged. “I was checking up on you. I wanted to see if you were okay.”

Oh. Sweet. Also a lie.

She put her hands on his chest. “I’m okay.” Good thing she knew how to play the game.

“No, bitch, you’re not.”

Hell, she knew that voice. Jana’s head whipped around, and she locked eyes on Henry Jacobson. Crap—the jerk had made it out of the fire.

Well, mostly, anyway. He stepped under a flickering streetlight, and she saw that deep, red blisters covered the right half of his face. Blisters that stretched and twisted down his neck. His shirt had melted, merging with the skin on his chest and the stench of burned flesh filled her nose.

Knew I smelled ash.

She gasped dramatically and shoved her body against Zane’s. The big hero would save her, right?

“Jacobson.” Fury vibrated in Zane’s voice.

Jacobson, no, Henry—because, yeah, he’d asked her to call him by his first name when he’d picked her up at that low-class bar—snarled. His eyes were pitch black, the perfect black of a demon’s true gaze. Most demons used the magic of glamour to hide their real eye color so the humans wouldn’t run screaming all the time. Henry wasn’t trying to pretend right then, not trying to lull her like he’d done before.

The man wanted blood—hers. Too bad for him. She was rather fond of living.

“Give me the bitch,” Henry growled. “And just walk the fuck away.”

Oh, um, no, that wouldn’t work so much as a plan.

Zane grabbed her hands, held tight, then shoved her at Jacobson. She staggered to a quick halt a few feet in front of Zane.

What the hell? Zane was supposed to be the damn good guy.

She blinked and shook her head. Not part of the plan.

“You want her?” Zane drawled. “Then come and get her.”

What? Asshole. Was he using her as some kind of freaking bait? She was not good bait.

Jacobson launched right at her, running hard and fast with his hands out, with death in his eyes, and she knew if he touched her, he’d rip her apart.

Dammit. She didn’t plan on dying. Not then, and certainly not by some low-budget demon jerk’s hand.

Jana yanked out the scalpel she’d stolen from the hospital and screamed as Jacobson’s foul stench choked her.

Not. Dying. Tonight.