Kadence had been unable to hold back her entreaty. Geryon stood several feet away, panting shallowly, his cheeks cut and bleeding, his hands dripping with his opponent's lifeblood.

His dark eyes were more haunted than she'd ever seen them.

"Come to me," she said again. She motioned him over with a wave of her fingers.

The first time, he'd given no reaction. As though he hadn't believed he'd heard her correctly. This time, he blinked. Shook his head. "You wish to...punish me for my actions?"

Silly man. Punish him? When he'd saved her? Yes, part of her was angry that he'd kept her from the fight, that he'd threatened - vowed - to leave without doing what they'd come here to do. But part of her was relieved. I am not a coward. Not anymore. Next time, I will act. No matter his wishes, no matter mine.

"Kadence," Geryon said, and she realized she had been staring at him, silent.

"I would never punish you for aiding me."

Again he blinked. "But...I killed. I hurt another creature."

"And you were injured in the process. Come, let me attend to your wounds."

Still he resisted. "But you would have to put your hands on me."

He said it as though the thought should be loathsome to her. "Yes, I know."

One hesitant step, two. At that pace, he would never reach her. Sighing, she closed the rest of the distance herself, twined their fingers - experienced a powerful jolt, gasped - and led him to the rocks. "Sit. Please."

As he obeyed, he tugged his hand from her and rubbed where they'd been connected. Had the same jolt pierced him? She hoped it had, for she did not want to be alone in this...attraction. Yes, attraction, she realized. Physical, erotic. The kind that prompted a woman to leave her inhibitions and invite a man into her bed.

Whether that invitation was accepted or not was a different story.

Reluctant as Geryon was, she was positive he would turn her down. And perhaps that was for the best. Her lovemaking tended to scare men away. Because when the pleasure hit her, she could not control her nature. The chains she'd erected broke, unleashing her will with a vengeance.

Physically, her lovers became her slaves. Mentally, they cursed her, knowing she had stolen their freedom of choice, unwitting though it had been. She had never bedded the same man twice, and, after three tries, had stopped altogether. One she had considered bad luck. Two, a coincidence. Three, undeniably her fault.

How would Geryon respond? Would he hate her? Probably. Already he knew the horrors of being bound to someone else's will. She would not doubt if freedom was the most precious commodity in his life.

Sighing, she tore several strips of cloth from the bottom of her robe and knelt in front of him, between his legs. His shaft was hidden by a short skirt of leather and metal filigree. A warrior's cloth. Perhaps it was wanton of her, but she wanted to see him there. She licked her lips, thinking maybe, perhaps, what if she¨C

As if he could read her mind, he sucked in a breath. "Don't," he said.

"I'm sorry. I - "

"Don't stop."