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Lucien massaged the back of his neck. “Kane texted me that something was going down in your room, and I flashed back to help since Torin and Cameo are the only other people left at the fortress.”

“Where aren’t the others?”

“We’ll get to that in a minute. I didn’t expect you to be here. Strider told me you’d left with Nightmares. And great going by the way, putting everyone at risk by letting the girl run wild.”

“She doesn’t have a name.” Why the irritated, offended voice? “And it’s not Scarlet.” He just…he wanted his friends to treat her right. To treat her with respect. Not like she was a nuisance or an enemy and he should watch his back whenever she was around.

“And ta-da.” Scarlet splayed her arms in a how-am-I-still-sane gesture. “After all that running wild, we’re back. Or he is. I’m about to take off.” She kicked her legs over the side of the bed, dislodging the sheet. In the next instant, both exquisite breasts were bared. Both nipples hard like frosted cherries. “Nice seeing you again, though.”

Two pairs of eyes widened before both men spun to give her their backs.

“Yeah, leaving’s gonna happen.” Where the hell did she think she was going?

Scowling, Gideon grabbed her by the nape and jerked her back down. Roughly, yeah, but she could take it, and he liked that about her. With his other hand, he drew up the sheet. Then he settled in beside her, his arms locking around her and holding her in place wrestler-style.

She was a warrior herself and could have fought him, but she didn’t. And it wasn’t because she cared about who saw her naked, he thought darkly. Obviously she wasn’t ashamed of her body. Not that she should be, but still. He was ready to sandpaper his friends’ corneas even though their weapons were put away. Now they knew what a perfect shade of red her nipples were.

“I have stuff to do,” she said stiffly, “and you have stuff to do. It’s time to say our goodbyes.”

“Sure. ’Cause we did not agree to take care of that stuff together.”

Like Lucien, she ran her tongue over her teeth. “I never agreed.”

Maybe she had, maybe she hadn’t. He still couldn’t tell with her. Which was odd, now that he thought about it. They hadn’t been married. Their pasts weren’t intertwined. Well, not as much as they’d assumed, anyway. And they now knew her memories were false. So why could his demon still not tell when she spoke true?

“Can we turn around now?” Kane asked, his amusement making another appearance.

“No,” Gideon said as Scarlet said, “Why would you want to? We’re decent.”

Both warriors pivoted on their heels. Lucien pulled at his collar and Kane clearly fought a grin.

“We need to talk,” Lucien said, then glanced pointedly at Scarlet. “A lot has gone down while you were away.”

“Say no more.” Immediately she tried to dislodge Gideon and stand, though she never outright tried to injure him. Which meant she didn’t want her freedom enough, he thought smugly. “I can take a hint,” she added. “I’ll give you guys some privacy.”

He held tight, keeping her in place. “Whatever you need to say to me can’t be said in front of her.”

She stilled, and that was both good and bad. Her skin had been rubbing against his, and well, the material draping his lap was getting taller by the second.

Cheeks flaming for the second time in the past five minutes, Gideon lifted her up and settled her in front of him so that her body covered his growing erection. Mistake. The thick length pressed into the crevice of her ass, and he had to stifle a groan.

She gasped as if he’d burned her, and tried to jump off him. “Gideon!”

His arms wrapped around her in a vise-grip, and he used his legs to frame hers. “Don’t get comfortable. You’re going somewhere.”

“Gideon.” Gritted this time.


“Fine, you stubborn jackass.” With a sigh that sounded both frustrated and relieved, she relaxed against him. Even rested her head on the curve of his shoulder.

Unable to resist, he kissed her temple. That’s my good girl.

“Well.” She gave an imperious wave of her hand in his friends’ direction. “What are you waiting for? Start talking. The sooner you start, the sooner this ends.”

Both Lucien and Kane were too busy gaping to speak.

What had Lucien meant? Kane, Cameo and Torin were the only ones left at the fortress? Why? And why had Lucien had to flash back here? Where had he been?

“Sure you don’t want to dress first?” Kane finally asked Scarlet, sounding as hopeful as he did regretful.

“Not sure,” Gideon answered for her. One, his curiosity was now too high to take the time needed to throw on a shirt and jeans. Two, he didn’t want either man getting another peek at Scarlet. And three, he didn’t want to release Scarlet.

Maybe he was being selfish, placing temptation right under Kane’s nose like this. The man hadn’t had a lover in years, too afraid his demon would somehow physically hurt his females. Which wasn’t an irrational fear. It had happened. Several times. Gideon remembered the screams. But just then, Gideon was really only concerned with Scarlet. If he let her go, she might run before they settled things between them.

“Don’t take her advice and explain,” he finished. “You can’t trust her, I swear.” After everything, Scarlet wouldn’t betray him. He knew that, at least.

Though he’d never shed his reluctance, Lucien nodded. “We’ll start with the basics. You might not know this, but Aeron, Amun and William journeyed into hell to retrieve Legion. No one’s heard from them since.”

Cronus had mentioned the boys were somewhere else, but not that the somewhere was actually hell. Freaking great. Gideon couldn’t leave until he’d spoken with Amun, and he wasn’t sure how long he could convince Scarlet to wait before slaughtering her despicable family.

Of course, she was supposed to stop him from contacting Amun, and he planned to let her do so, freeing her from her promise to Rhea, but she couldn’t stop him if he couldn’t find Amun. So again, he had to wait.

Unfortunately, he’d never been a patient man. He wanted this over and done. He wanted NeeMah at his mercy, aka the end of his sword. He wanted time to romance Scarlet. Time to prove to her that things could work between them. All of which had to be placed on hold.

“Ready for the rest?” Lucien asked, fighting a grin himself now. “You look distracted.”

He would not blush. Again. “Don’t go on,” he said with a wave just as commanding as Scarlet’s had been.

Lucien gave up and let the grin form full-force. “Hunters surrounded the fortress, apparently planning to steal our artifacts. We decided to split up. Anya and I took the Cage, Reyes took Danika and Strider took the Cloak. Paris decided to take a vacation.”

“Are we no longer surrounded?” he asked, glancing at his closet. He had a case of weapons in there. He could do some damage, blow off some steam.

“Strider killed most of them on his way out,” Kane said with pride.

Lucky. “Others?”

“Maddox didn’t want Ashlyn near a potential battleground, so he took her away,” Lucien said. “Sabin and Gwen took Gilly somewhere.”

Yep, that left only Kane, Torin and Cameo. Could they hold the fort if other Hunters showed up and attacked? Yeah, there were all kinds of traps leading up the mountain and any intruders would be forced to first battle explosions, trip wires, rigged gunshots and metal clamps around their ankles. But that wouldn’t stop hundreds. Survivors could make their way inside.

“Can I count on you to stay?” Kane asked.

Adding one more warrior to the mix wasn’t a miracle cure, but it would help.

Gideon’s head fell back and hit the tattered headboard. He closed his eyes. Damn it. If the fortress was attacked and he was injured before Amun returned, if that delayed his confrontation with NeeMah…he would just have to deal, he thought.

“No,” he said. “You can’t count on me.”

Scarlet didn’t react.

“Knew it,” Kane said. “Thanks.”

“Now. Stay here,” he told the warriors. Get lost. “I don’t need some alone time with her.”

“Have fun,” Lucien replied, still shooting off that sheepish grin.

“And try to control the…whatever we stumbled upon,” Kane added. “That was just flat-out weird.”

With that, both men turned and strode out of the room. One of them remained in the hall to try and refit the door in its hinges. When that failed, whoever it was propped the wood in the entrance so that most of the bedroom was blocked, only a long, thin crack of light visible.

Alone at last.

“Don’t stay here with me,” Gideon said to Scarlet, and once again he hated his demon. More than anything, he wanted Scarlet to stay with him and he was willing to beg to make that happen. Beg properly. Truthfully. But he couldn’t allow his body to weaken just then. His friends needed him at his strongest. “I don’t want to be with you. We can’t do this, I know we can’t.”

“Why would you want to be with me?” she asked, finally ripping from his hold, standing and whirling on him with shining black eyes. Gods, she was glorious in her nakedness. Skin still flushed and pink, nipples beaded from the cool air, lean legs braced, stomach flat and navel dipped. “Why would you want to try?”

Let her leave. A plea from Lies to keep her here.

Working on it. But why do you care? Not mine.

That’s right, he shot back, doing to his demon what Scarlet sometimes did to him. Even though he knew the demon lied, he responded as if the fiend had told the truth. She’s mine. And that wasn’t up for debate. “You didn’t promise your mother to stop me from helping Cronus,” he said. “You don’t have to—”