Geryon shoved Kadence behind him. Another touch - warmth, satin skin, perfection - and he yearned to revel in it. He didn't, couldn't. He'd agreed to come with her to save the human realm, yes, but also to keep her safe. Not because she was a goddess and not because she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever beheld, but because, in this single day, she had made him feel like a man. Not a beast.
"Remember that I swore to let no harm befall you," he told her. A minute, perhaps two, and the creature would reach them. Fast as it was, there was still a great distance to cover, the streets of hell stretching endlessly. "I will keep my word."
"Geryon. Perhaps I can - "
"No." He didn't want her involved in this fight. Already she was trembling in fear. She was so scared, in fact, she had yet to realize her hands were resting on his back, twin conductors of inexorable pleasure. Had she known, surely she would have jerked away. "I will fight it." Should she try, it would feed off her fear, becoming more crazed.
As did most minions, the creature coming at them possessed a skeletal face and a muscled body covered in green scales, its forked tongue flicking out as if blood already coated the air. Glowing red eyes glared at them, a thousand sins resting where pupils should have.
Warrior instincts demanded Geryon stride forward and meet the bastard in the middle. Fight there, like true soldiers. Yet his every male instinct demanded he stay where he was. To put any distance between himself and Kadence was to place her in further danger. Another demon could be hiding nearby, waiting for the chance to pounce on her.
"This is my fault," she said. "No matter that I had begun to relax, my fear of this place is bone-deep. And that fear is like a beacon to them, isn't it?"
He chose not to answer that, too afraid of scaring her further by acknowledging the truth of her words. "When he reaches us, I want you to run backward. Press against the wall and scream for me if you see any hint of another demon."
"No, I want to help you. I - "
"Will do as I said. Otherwise, I will defeat him and leave this place." His tone was uncompromising. Already he regretted bringing her here, whether the wall needed defending or not.
She stiffened against him, but didn't offer another protest.
A cry of, "Mine, mine, mine," rent the air.
The creature closed in, faster...almost...there. Claws raked at Geryon as he grabbed his opponent by the neck. Multiple stings erupted on his face, followed by the trickle of warm blood. Flailing arms, kicking legs. Only when the temptation of Kadence's hands fell away did Geryon truly begin to battle. He tossed the creature to the ground and leapt upon it, knees pinning its shoulders. One punch, two, three.
It bucked, wild and feral. Saliva gleamed on its fangs as curses sprang from its bony mouth. Another punch. Still another. But the pounding failed to subdue it in any way.
"Where is Violence? Death? Doubt?" he gritted out.
The struggling continued, intensified, terror leaping to life in those red eyes. Not fear for what Geryon would do, he knew, but terror for what its brothers-in-evil would do if they learned of any betrayal.
Though Geryon hated for Kadence to see him kill - again - it could not be helped. That's what they had come here for, after all. He raised his hand, spread his elongating, dripping nails and struck. The poison that coated his nails was a "gift" from Lucifer to aid in his duties and acted swiftly, without mercy, spreading through the creature's body and rotting it from the inside out.
It screamed and screeched in agony, its struggling soon becoming writhing. Then the scales began to burn away, smoking, sizzling, leaving only more of that ugly bone. But the bones, too, disintegrated. Ash coated the air, blowing in every direction.
Geryon stood to shaky legs. He kept his back to Kadence for several minutes, waiting, hoping - dreading - that she would say something. What did she think of him now? Would there be any more of her tending? Finally curiosity got the better of him and he pivoted on his heels.
She stood exactly as he'd commanded, her back pressed against the rocky wall. Those glorious ringlets cascaded around her. Her eyes were wide and filled with...admiration? Surely not.
"Come to me," she said.