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He could have sifted through their minds to gain the answers, of course, but hadn’t. He didn’t need any more secrets, thank you very much.

He did know that whenever William acted like a “good boy,” Anya returned a few pages to him. So when Anya challenged William to a game of “Guitar Hero,” along with Gilly, a teen who now lived at the fortress, William had accepted. The three were positioned around the TV, where Anya had stated they would remain until Amun had said his piece. Or signed, as the case was.

We need your help rescuing Legion, Amun began.

“Sorry, but I have plans elsewhere,” William said darkly. “I’m leaving tomorrow morning, and I’ll be gone for a few weeks.”

“What plans?” Gilly demanded, fingering the butterfly necklace Lucien had given her earlier. A necklace exactly like the one Amun, Anya and William also wore. They had been told to wear them always, to block their actions from the prying eyes of the gods. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going somewhere?”

Whoa. What was that? Pure possessiveness had layered her words.

You’re mine, he suddenly heard Gilly think. We belong together, not apart.

O-kay. Amun massaged the back of his neck. He hadn’t needed to know that.

Expression tight, William tossed his drumsticks in the air, caught them and twirled them. “Doesn’t matter why I kept you in the dark. I’m going and that’s final.”

And wow. William usually joked about everything. He took nothing seriously. That he was in this temper…

I’ve got to stop this, William thought. This can’t go on.

Good. That was good.

“This trip is final, you said?” Anya arched a brow at her friend, her lips curling in challenge. She was engaged to Lucien, keeper of Death, and was one of the most beautiful females Amun had ever seen. Not surprisingly, Lucien indulged her every whim. “You didn’t yet clear this trip with me, either.”

“You can’t go without me,” Gilly said.

“I can and I will. And don’t threaten me, Anya. This is one thing I will see through no matter what you do to my book.”

Her expression a storm cloud of fury, Gilly tossed her bass guitar on the floor. The plastic cracked. Exactly as she imagined her heart was doing. “You promised to protect me always. How can you protect me if you’re gone?”

She had straight brown hair and big, beautiful brown eyes. She was average height, but had more curves than any seventeen-year-old girl should have. And William was clearly doing his best not to look at her.

He was failing. Must…stop. Why can’t I make it stop?

As though a book of his own opened up in Amun’s mind, with everyone’s secrets filling the pages, Amun suddenly knew exactly what was going on. Gilly thought she was in love with William. William was attracted to the girl and horrified because of it. She was too young for him.

But while William could do nothing about his desire for Gilly, he could do something about his thirst for justice. Gilly had been terribly abused as a child, and William had tracked down her family with every intention of killing them in the slowest, most painful of ways. That’s where he was going. To Nebraska to have his revenge. Wouldn’t be difficult, either. The mother was a housewife and the stepfather a doctor.

“I didn’t lie to you. I will always protect you,” William told her gently. He stood, reached for her, but realized what he was doing and dropped his arms to his sides. “You have to trust me on this.”

Amun clapped his hands for their attention. Help me help Aeron and then I’ll help you with the girl’s family.

William’s attention had already wandered. He hadn’t watched Amun’s hands and had no idea what Amun had said. As Anya realized what Amun was implying, her blue eyes widened. Rather than voice the words for him in English or Hungarian, allowing Gilly to understand, she spoke to William in the language of the gods. The rough sounds were music to Amun’s ears, reminding him of the carefree years he’d spend in the heavens.

“I don’t need help,” William growled in the same language. Stiff, he tangled a hand through hair the color of the darkest night. “Actually, I want to do this alone. And besides that, Legion annoyed me. I’m glad she’s gone. I think it’s safe to say I wouldn’t rescue my own mother from hell. If I had one. I wouldn’t even rescue Anya.”

“Thanks,” the goddess said with a roll of her eyes. “But listen. Aeron isn’t glad she’s gone.” Her voice was gentler than Amun had ever heard it. “Which means Lucien isn’t glad. Which means I’m not glad.”

William remained unmoving. “Don’t care.”

“Lucifer is afraid of you, Willy. In hell, you’ll be able to do things and go places Aeron and Amun can’t.”

For a moment, William’s mind opened, gearing up to recall exactly why Lucifer feared him. But then he shut down the memory, which meant that Amun couldn’t read it, not without digging, and that still wasn’t something Amun wanted to do.

“Again,” William said with a shrug. “Don’t care.”

Just as stubborn, Anya persisted. “William, think about what you’re turning down. When you’re with Gilly’s family, you won’t know what they’re thinking, what they fear, what other terrible things they’ve done. But Amun will. He can tell you. And you can do more than hurt and kill them. You can terrorize them.”

Gilly tossed her hands in the air. “Will someone please speak in English and tell me what’s going on? Someone? Please?”

“No,” Anya and William said in unison.

“God! You guys are so lame. You want to act like I’m not here? Fine. I’ll do you one better. I’ll leave. I don’t know why I hang around you, anyway.” With that, Gilly flounced out of the room.

Scowling, William jabbed one of his sticks through his drums. “Fine. Count me in, Amun. I’ll go to hell with you and Aeron. Afterward, you’ll help me deliver hell to my humans. Got it?”

For better or worse, Amun nodded.


WHEN SCARLET sat up and opened her eyes to a brand-new evening, she had no idea what to expect. After her “we had a son” bombshell, Gideon had basically gone into shock. He’d been silent, withdrawn, and she hadn’t forced a confrontation because she’d wanted him to have time to absorb the astonishing news.

Before he could do so, however, the sun had risen and she’d fallen asleep, lost to her demon. She’d been too distracted to participate in their usual terror games and didn’t even know who they’d targeted.“Were you lying? Don’t tell me!”

The words whipped at her, and she quickly focused. Gideon hadn’t moved her from the forest. Trees still surrounded her, birds and insects still sang. The spring still bubbled, and mist still wafted. There was no waning sunlight, no violet sky, only a thick blanket of dark, heavy clouds. A storm was brewing.

In more ways than one.

Gideon was bathed in shadows. Shadows her gaze had no trouble penetrating. His blue locks were wet and plastered to his brow, his cheeks, yet were still a gorgeous frame for the upsetting lines of tension that spread from his temples to his mouth. His eyes were like lasers, boring past the mental shields she surrounded herself with. His expression was tight, fierce, his lips pulled back from his teeth in a scowl.

He stood in front of her, a dagger in each hand.

Breath suddenly trapped in her throat, she swept her gaze over her body. There were no cuts on her arms or legs, and her dress was in one piece. There wasn’t a single spot of blood to indicate he’d injured her.

Okay. So. He hadn’t attacked her in fury. Did that mean he could get away without saying, “Who aren’t you today?” Did that mean he could get away with not kissing her awake?

Gods, his kiss. She reached up and traced her fingertips over her mouth. A mouth that still tingled. His tongue had plundered and taken and given. Taken so much passion. Given so much pleasure. His hands had been everywhere, touching her, learning her. And his body, so hard and hot against hers, had transported her back to the heavens. Locked up, helpless still, but uncaring because she had her man. A man who loved her.

It had been so long since she’d given in to the demands of her body. So long since she’d lost control. Gideon hadn’t seemed to mind that loss. No, he’d seemed to enjoy it. He’d come on her belly and marked her as if they still belonged together.

Afterward, she’d wanted to cuddle up to his side. She’d wanted to kiss his neck and breathe in his musky scent. She’d wanted to spill every secret, talk about everything they’d once shared.

But she knew him, knew this man who had no clue about what she’d once meant to him. And she’d known beyond any doubt that that’s what he had planned. He’d taken her from prison into paradise, simply for answers. Answers he would attempt to unearth through fair means or foul.

He’d always been that way. When determination set in, Gideon was more stubborn than she was. It was as annoying as it was wonderful. For once he’d decided that she was to be his bride, he’d moved heaven and earth to make it happen. Despite the odds against them.

She wouldn’t be used in that way, however. She wouldn’t let him think he could fuck her—or almost fuck her—and get his way.

“Scar. You’re not pissing me the hell off. Don’t pay attention to me.” He tossed one of the daggers with a lethal flick of his wrist. “Don’t tell me what I don’t want to know.”

Scarlet whipped around, following the movement of the blade. The tip was now embedded in the tree trunk, vibrating. And there were hundreds of grooves in the bark. He’d been tossing that thing all day, it seemed.

“No,” she said softly, facing him again. “I wasn’t lying.” Steel was not something she would lie about. Ever. For any reason. He had been—was still—the most important person in her life.

A ragged breath left Gideon. “You didn’t say was. His name was. That means he’s…he’s…”