Had Lucifer told the demons of her bond to the wall? Kadence wondered, pain slicing through her. Rather than come here to fight, they had gone there. Knowing she would weaken, die? Or, perhaps they had hoped to draw Geryon to them, leaving her here, alone and seemingly vulnerable to ambush. Or did they want her to come to them? So many alternatives.
The prince probably found the entire situation vastly amusing. He probably - a thought took root in her mind, nearly paralyzing her. If she were killed, he could have more than the agreed upon year on the earth, bartering for souls, causing untold havoc. He could have forever, if he so desired, and he could bring his demons with him, ruling his minions and humans.
He was a god, a brother to the sovereign. There was no guarantee he would be captured and sent back.
Of course, his betrayal of her hinged on whether or not he thought he could force his demons to obey him out in the open. Unless...was she the payment for their cooperation? If they didn't know she was bound to the wall, Lucifer could "kill" her when it fell to prevent her from chasing them. They'd be grateful to him, might in turn pledge their continued allegiance to him.
Oh, gods. The possibility sickened her, for if it was true she had unwittingly helped him every step of the way.
He desired the wall's protection, she reminded herself. At first, common sense piped up. That doesn't mean he desires it now.
For reasons that had nothing to do with her internal pain, she couldn't quite catch her breath. What kind of fool am I? She was so ashamed. So foolish.
"Kadence, speak to me. Tell me what's wrong," Geryon insisted. He popped to his knees and swung around, kneeling between her legs. One of his claws gently, tenderly brushed away the damp hair clinging to her brow.
Her gaze lifted to his. Seeing him with so much concern in his beautiful brown eyes, she could not regret the choices she'd made. No matter what happened, he would be free. This proud, strong man would finally be free.
"I...am...fine," she managed to gasp out. Gods, she felt shredded inside, as though her organs were being ripped to ribbons.
"No, you're not. But you will be." He scooped her into his arms and carried her to the back. To a room the owner must have used. He laid her on a thin pallet. "May I?" he asked, lifting the amethyst that housed his soul.
She had planned to present it to him once their mission was completed, a gift for his aid, but she nodded. Right now, there was a good chance she would not complete anything.
Slowly, carefully, he worked the stone from around her neck and placed it over his heart. His eyes closed. He was probably unsure what would happen. And at first, nothing did. Then, in gradual degrees, the jewel began to glow. A frown pulled at Geryon's lips, and he grunted. "Burns."
"I'll hold it for y - "
The glow exploded into a thousand pinpricks of light, and he roared, loud and long.
After the last echo sounded, everything quieted. The lights faded. Only the chain that had held the jewel remained in his hand.
His frown was lifting into a smile as his eyes opened. But when he studied his arms and then his body, the frown returned, deeper, more intense. "I should have...I did not...I had hoped to return to my former visage."
"Why?" She loved him, just as he was. Horns, fangs, claws and all. Wait - loved? Oh, yes. She loved him. She had considered it before, but had discarded the idea. Now, there could be no discarding. The emotion was there, undeniable as Death stared her in the face.
No man had ever been more perfectly suited for her. He was not disgusted by her nature, he reveled in it. He did not fear what she could do, but found pride in it. He delighted her, amused her, tempted her.
"It is my hope that...that..." He gulped. "If you bond with something else, something besides the wall, perhaps your ties to it will lessen and your strength will return. Perhaps the pain will ease."
Something else? "You?" she asked, suddenly breathless for reasons that had nothing to do with pain.