They seemed to fall forever. Geryon retained an iron-edged grip on the trembling Kadence, her hair whipping around them like angry silk ribbons. She didn't scream, something he'd expected, but she did wind her legs around him, something he had not.

It was his first taste of heaven.

"I've got you," he said. Her body fit perfectly against his, soft where he was hard, smooth where he was callused.

"When does it end?" she whispered, but still he caught the undercurrents of panic in her voice.

They were not twirling, were merely dropping, but he knew the sensation could be harrowing. Especially, he reflected, for one used to flashing ly from one place to another. "Soon." He'd fallen like this only once before, when Lucifer took him to the palace to explain his new duties. But he had never forgotten.

Like before, flames kindled all around them, pinpricks of gold in the shuddering darkness. Except before, those flames had flicked like snake tongues, licking at him. That they didn't now...did they fear him? Or the goddess?

She was more everything than Geryon had realized. More courageous. More determined. Every minute he spent with her, his desire for her intensified. She was the break of dawn in the bleakness that was his life. She was refreshing ice in smoldering heat.

She is not for you.

Ugly as he was, she would run fast and far if she knew the many fantasies his mind had begun to weave of them. Him, laying her on the ground, stripping her, dancing his tongue over every delicious inch of her. Her, moaning in pleasure as he tasted her core. Crying out in abandon as he filled her with his shaft.

"What's wrong?" she asked, her still-rising panic evident.

"Nothing's wrong," he lied. "Just a little farther and we'll hit. Landing will jar you, but I'll absorb most of the impact." He moved one of his hands up and onto the base of her neck. Offering comfort, he told himself. He'd tried not to touch her, had fought it, but there'd been no other way to protect her inside the pit.

What was the harm in adjusting a single hand?

"But you stiffened."

More so than she probably realized, he thought dryly. I must stop craving her. Her skin was soft, so soft, and he felt little bumps rise under his palm as he gently massaged.

To his delight, her muscles relaxed under his ministrations. "Tell me what's wrong," she said. "You're hiding something, I can tell. I know this pit is made for souls, not breathing, flesh and blood bodies. Are we going to - "

"No. I swear it. We will live." The conversation seemed to calm her, so he said, "Tell me about you. About your childhood."

"I - all right. But there's not much to tell. I was not allowed out of my home as a child. For the greater good," she added, as though the line had been fed to her many times before.

He hugged her tight, understanding. Because of her nature, she'd been as much an outcast as he was. "Goddess, I - " The air was thickening around them, the flames spraying what looked to be molten teardrops. He recognized the signs; the end was near. "Drop your legs from me, but do not let them touch the ground."

"All rig - "


Boom. They smacked into the ground and Geryon planted his feet as the impact vibrated through him. He tried to remain upright to keep the goddess from the ground, but his knees soon gave out and he collapsed backward.

Kadence remained in his arms, though she had unwound her legs as he'd asked, so his back took the brunt of the fall, breath knocking from his lungs. He lay there for a moment, panting.

They were well and truly inside hell.

There was no going back now.