Best. Day. Ever. “Paris, I’d like you to meet Lysander, the angel who abducted me and has been holding me prisoner up here in heaven.”

Instantly Paris morphed from confusion to fury. “Return my weapons and I’ll kill him for you.”

“You are such a sweetie,” she said, flattening a hand over her heart. “Why is it we haven’t slept together yet?”

Lysander snarled low in his throat.

“What?” she asked him, all innocence. “He wants to save me. You want to subjugate me for the rest of my long life. But anyway, let me finish the introductions. Lysander, I’d like you to meet—”

“I know who he is. Promiscuity.” Disgust layered Lysander’s voice. “He must bed a new woman every day or he weakens.”

Another grin lifted the corners of her lips, this one smug. “Actually, he can bed men, too. His demon’s not picky. I do hope you’ll keep that in mind while you guys are rubbing up against each other.”

Lysander took a menacing step toward her.

“What’s going on?” Paris demanded again, glowering now. Bianka knew he was picky even if his demon wasn’t.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you? Lysander gave me control of his home, so now I get whatever I want and I want you guys to wrestle. And when you’re done, you’ll find Kaia and tell her what’s happened, that I’m trapped with a stubborn angel and can’t leave. Well, I can’t leave until he gets so sick of me he allows the cloud to release me.”

“Or until I kill you,” he snapped.

She laughed. “Or until Paris kills you. But I hope you guys will play nice for a little while, at least. Do you have any idea how sexy you both are right now? And if you want to kiss or something while rolling around, don’t let me stop you.”

“Uh, Bianka,” Paris began, beginning to look uncomfortable. “Kaia’s in Budapest. She’s helping Gwen with the wedding, and thinks you’re hiding to get out of your maid of honor duties.”

“I am not maid of honor, damn it!” But at least Kaia wasn’t worried. The bitch, she thought with affection.

“That’s not what she says. Anyway, I don’t mind fighting another dude to amuse you, but seriously, he’s an angel. I need to return to—”

“No need to thank me.” She held out her hands. “A bowl of Lysander’s popcorn, please.” The bowl appeared, the scent of butter wafting to her nose. “Now then. Let’s get this party started. Ding, ding,” she said, and settled down to watch the battle.


LYSANDER COULD NOT BELIEVE what he was being forced to do. He was angry, horrified and, yes, contrite. Hadn’t he done something similar to Bianka? Granted, he hadn’t stripped her down. Hadn’t pitted her against another female.

There was the tightening in his groin again.What was wrong with him?

“I will set you free,” he told Bianka. And sweet Holy Deity, she looked beautiful. More tempting than when she’d worn that little bit of nothing. Now she wore a green and black tank that bared her golden arms. Were those arms as soft as they appeared? Don’t think like that. Her shirt stopped just above her navel, making his mouth water, his tongue yearn to dip inside. What did I just say? Don’t think like that. Her pants were the same dark shades and hung low on her hips.

He’d come here to fight her, to finally force her hand, and judging by that outfit, she’d been ready for combat. That…excited him. Not because their bodies would have been in close proximity—really—and not because he could have finally gotten his hands on her—again, really—but because, if she injured him, he would have the right to end her life. Finally.

But he’d come here and she’d taught him a quick yet unforgettable lesson instead. He’d been wrong to whisk her to his home and hold her captive. Temptation or not. She might be his enemy in ways she didn’t understand, but he never should have put his will above hers. He should have allowed her to live her life as she saw fit.

That’s why he existed in the first place. To protect free will.

When this wrestling match ended, he would free her as he’d promised. He would watch her, though. Closely. And when she made a mistake, he would strike her down. And she would. Make a mistake, that is. As a Harpy, she wouldn’t be able to help herself. He wished it hadn’t come to that. He wished she could have been happy here with him, learning his ways.

The thought of losing her did not sadden him. He would not miss her. She’d placed him in a vat of oil to wrestle with another man, for Lord’s sake.

There was suddenly a bitter taste in his mouth.

“Bianka,” he prompted. “Have you no response?”

“Yes, you will set me free,” she finally said with a radiant grin. She twirled a strand of that dark-as-night hair around her finger. “After. Now, I do believe I rang the starting bell.”

Her words were slightly slurred from the wine she’d consumed. A drunken menace, that’s what she was. And he would not miss her, he told himself again.

The bitterness intensified.

A hard weight slammed into him and sent him propelling to his back. His wings caught on the sides of the pool as oil washed over him from head to toe, weighing him down. He grunted, and some of the stuff—cherry-flavored—seeped into his mouth.

“Don’t forget to use tongue if you kiss,” Bianka called helpfully.

“You don’t lock women away,” Paris growled down at him, a flash of scales suddenly visible under his skin. Eyes red and bright. Demon eyes. “No matter how irritating they are.”

“Your friends did something similar to their women, did they not? Besides, the girl isn’t your concern.” Lysander shoved, sending the warrior hurtling to his back. He attempted to use his wings to lift himself, but their movements were slow and sluggish so all he could do was stand.

Oil dripped down his face, momentarily shielding his vision. Paris shot to his feet, as well, hands fisted, body glistening.

“So. Much. Fun,” Bianka sang happily.

“Enough,” Lysander told her. “This is unnecessary. You have made your point. I’m willing to set you free.”

“You’re right,” she said. “It’s unnecessary to fight without music!” Once again she tapped her chin with a nail, expression thoughtful. “I know! We need some Lady Gaga in this crib.”

A song Lysander had never heard before was playing through the cloud a second later. Like a siren rising from the sea, Bianka began swaying her hips seductively.

Lysander’s jaw clenched so painfully the bones would probably snap out of place at any moment. Clearly there would be no reasoning with Bianka. That meant he had to reason with Paris. But who would ever have thought he’d have to bargain with a demon?

“Paris,” he began—just as a fist connected with his face.

His head whipped back. His feet slipped on the slick floor and he tumbled to his side. More of the cherry flavor filled his mouth.

Paris straddled his shoulders, punched him again. Lysander’s lip split. Before a single drop of blood could form, however, the wound healed.

He frowned. He now had the right to slay the man, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He did not blame Paris for this battle; he blamed Bianka. She had forced them into this situation.

Another punch. “Are you the one who’s been watching Aeron?” Paris demanded.

“Hey, now,” Bianka called. No longer did she sound so carefree. “Paris, you are not to use your fists. That’s boxing, not wrestling.”

Lysander remained silent, not understanding the difference. A fight was a fight.

Another punch. “Are you?” Paris growled.

“Paris! Did you hear me?” Now she sounded angry. “Use your fists like that again and I’ll cut off your head.”

She’d do it, too, Lysander thought, and wondered why she was so upset. Could she, perhaps, care for his health? His eyes widened. Was that why she preferred the less intensive wrestling to the more violent boxing? Would she want to do the same to him if he were to punch the Lord? And what would it mean if she did?

How would he feel about that?

“Are you?” Paris repeated.

“No,” he finally said. “I’m not.” He worked his legs up, planted his feet on Paris’s chest and pressed. But rather than send the warrior flying, his foot slipped and connected with Paris’s jaw, then ear, knocking the man’s head back.

“Use your hands, angel,” Bianka suggested. “Choke him! He deserves it for breaking my rules.”

“Bianka,” Paris snapped. He lost his footing and tumbled to his butt. “I thought you wanted me to destroy him, not the other way around.”

She blinked over at them, brow furrowed. “I do. I just don’t want you to hurt him. That’s my job.”

Paris tangled a hand through his soaked hair. “Sorry, darling, but if this continues, I’m going to unleash a world of hurt on your frienemy. Nothing you say will be able to stop me. Clearly, he doesn’t have your best interests at heart.”

Darling? Had the demon-possessed immortal just called Bianka darling? Something dark and dangerous flooded Lysander—mine echoed through his head—and before he realized what he was doing, he was on top of the warrior, a sword of fire in his hand, raised, descending…about to meet flesh.

A firm hand around his wrist stopped him. Warm, smooth skin. His wild gaze whipped to the side. There was Bianka, inside the tub, oil glistening off her. How fast she’d moved.

“You can’t kill him,” she said determinedly.

“Because you want him, too,” he snarled. A statement, not a question. Rage, so much rage. He didn’t know where it was coming from or how to stop the flow.

She blinked again, as if the thought had never entered her mind, and that, miraculously, cooled his temper. “No. Because then you would be like me and therefore perfect,” she said. “That wouldn’t be fair to the world.”