“That’s so not enough from you,” he sniped.

“Wow. Already begging for more.” Once, she’d thought him special. But he’d proven himself exactly like the others. Her mother, her king, her supposed friends. They should have cared about her, but they had betrayed her, each and every one of them.

They’d been criminals, sure, but even criminals could love. Right? Right. So why couldn’t they love me?

She’d spent her entire life locked inside Tartarus because her mother, Rhea, wife to Cronus, had had an affair with a mortal just before the queen’s imprisonment and had eventually given birth to Scarlet inside her cell. A cell she’d shared with several other gods and goddesses.

Scarlet had been raised among them, and at first, they’d liked her. As she’d aged, however, jealousy had sprouted in some. Lust in others.

Captivity, hatred and bitterness had soon become her only trusted companions.

Until Gideon.

He’d once been an elite guard to Zeus and every time he’d brought in a new prisoner, their gazes had met. She’d waited for those moments, desperate for them. He’d enjoyed them, too, because he’d begun to visit Tartarus regularly. Not to lock up another criminal but simply to see her, to talk to her.

Don’t think about your time with him. You’ll soften toward him. And you can’t soften, you idiot.

After gaining her freedom, she should have stayed in Olympus, which was now renamed Titania, thanks to Cronus, and found a nice god to settle down with. But nooo. She’d had to see Gideon one last time. Then, having seen him, she’d had to remain near him. Then, having decided to remain, she’d just had to convince herself to warn the Lords away from her, since she’d heard that they were tracking every immortal paired with a demon from Pandora’s box, with the intention of recruiting them…or killing them.

Bastard, she thought about Gideon again. Excellent. That’s more like it. He’s a filthy liar, a cold-blooded killer, and you hate him. He still planned to kill her after he got his answers; she knew he did. Because she would never aid him, and that made her a liability.

“This silence is awesome,” he remarked.

“Glad you like it,” she replied. Annoyance bloomed over his expression, and she had to fight another grin. “’Cause I’m willing to give you a lot more of it.” Another growl.

“Oh, and for your peace of mind, you should know that I’m not going to run.” Yet. She wanted to talk, too, though not to satisfy his curiosity.

For too long, she’d wondered if he’d found someone new. Someone permanent. And it was past time she knew. Of course, if he had, Scarlet would have to kill the bitch. Not because she still cared about Gideon—she didn’t, she reminded herself—but because he didn’t deserve such happiness.

That wasn’t vengeful of her. As his scorned ex, that was simply her right.

“No thanks for staying put,” he said with a relieved sigh.

Thanks, he was saying. “You’re not welcome.” Fuck you, she was saying.

Eyes narrowing, and making him look as if he wanted to stomp his foot in vexation like a child, he traced his tongue over his teeth. Score one for Scarlet. “How is it possible that we didn’t marry, yet my friends know everything about it?”

How had they married without anyone knowing? Easy. “We married in secret, dumbass.”

This time, he didn’t react to her taunt. “Was I not ashamed of you?”

Oh, she could slap him for that. Of course he thought he’d been ashamed of her rather than the other way around. She’d been the prisoner, after all, and he the free man. Not that he remembered even that slight detail, but clearly he still thought very highly of himself.

Bastard was too kind a word for him.

“You weren’t ashamed of me, but you would have been killed if you’d been caught associating with me,” she gritted out.

He nodded, as if he now understood she was a Titan who had been locked in Tartarus by the Greeks, rather than an actual criminal. As if he now understood that those Greeks, the very ones who had created him, would have punished him in the worst possible way for “dating” one of their reviled enemies.

“So. If we haven’t been married all this time, what name have you not been using?”

Uh, what? He’d already forgotten her damned name when she’d told him the first time he’d visited her in the dungeon? Only a few weeks had passed since then. “My name is Scarlet.” You ass! “But I already told you that.” Ass, ass, ass. Her hands fisted the cotton beneath her.

He waved in dismissal. “Didn’t know that already. What I don’t want to know now is your last name.”

That failed to calm her. Her grip tightened, and her eyes narrowed to tiny slits. Clearly, this was part of his excavation for information, not intimate curiosity, and he considered her dumb enough to fall for it.

He wasn’t sure if she was a god or one of their servants. As a god, she wouldn’t have a last name. As a servant, she would, for last names lowered status, as if you couldn’t be distinguished by your first name alone. Like a human. Gideon was doing the process of elimination thing. Not that it would do him any good, for she was neither god nor servant. Nor human, for that matter. She was something in between them all.

“My last name changes pretty much every time I watch a movie and find new man candy,” she said in a sugar-sweet tone that matched her earlier grin.

Now he popped his jaw, lip ring glistening in the lavender light. Irritated by that, was he? Didn’t like the thought of his supposed wife eating up other men with her eyes, huh?

“Man candy? Like something you’d buy from a bakery?” His tone was sneering, intent on shaming her.

“Hell, no.” And he clearly didn’t think so, either, because he hadn’t passed out from his words. He was irritated, then. Good. Finally. True satisfaction. Score two. “You know. Man candy. Men to lust after, men you want to lick, men you want to suck on and take a bite out of. Well, not you, but me.” No way did she want Gideon thinking she’d pined for him all these years. That she’d lain awake, wishing for him, desperate for him.

No matter how true that was.

Those eyes narrowed farther, his lashes fusing together and obscuring the bright blue of his irises. “You’re not a Lord. Not like me. You shouldn’t call yourself Scarlet Lord.”

“You call yourself Gideon Lord?” she asked. She hadn’t known that. “No.”

Yes. “Well, then, I will never call myself Scarlet Lord.” She wouldn’t travel down that road with him again. She would not proclaim to this world and the heavens that she belonged to him.

If she shared anything with this man, it would be the tip of her dagger. Right through his black, forgetting, abandoning heart.

He bared his pearly whites in a fearsome scowl. “I’m not warning you to tread carefully. I’m not dangerous when I’m riled.”

“Hey, stop me if you’ve heard this one. But…wait for it…go fuck yourself.”

For some reason, the anger drained right out of him and his lips quirked into the semblance of a smile. “No spirit. I can’t see why I would have chosen you.”

Do. Not. Soften.

“I don’t want to know who you’ve named yourself after.” He straightened from the door frame, though his arms remained crossed over his chest. “Please don’t tell me. Please.”

Casually asked, with that hint of amusement, yet there was now a sharp gleam in his eyes, as if he would close the distance between them, if necessary, and shake the answer out of her.

If he touched her, if those strong fingers closed around her arms… No, no, no. She couldn’t allow it.

She shrugged as if the information didn’t matter. “Well, I’ve been calling myself Scarlet Pattinson for several weeks. Have you seen Robert Pattinson? Hottest. Man. Ever. And no, I don’t care if that makes me a cougar. He sings with the voice of an angel. Gods, I love when a man sings to me. You never did because your voice is terrible.” She shuddered in distaste. “I swear, it’s like a demon running its claws over brimstone.”

His fingers were digging into his biceps so savagely, bruises were already branching from under them. “And now you’re not going to tell me who you were before that.”

He’d dropped the “please.” Excellent. She was getting to him again. But how far could she push him on this point? How much could his stupid male pride take before he did stomp over to her? Before he did shake her? And not for answers, but for an apology.

Once, she’d known the answer to those questions. He would never touch her in anger. But he wasn’t the same tender man she’d fallen in love with. A man who had shown her that first taste of kindness. He couldn’t be. She and all the other prisoners had heard stories about the Lords of the Underworld and their exploits. The innocents they’d killed, the cities they’d destroyed.

Besides, she knew what her own demon had done to her upon their pairing. The darkness, the terror, the absolute loss of control. She’d been consumed, no longer human in any way. And that had lasted for centuries, she’d been told, though there were gaps in her memory, the time seeming to have passed in a matter of days. Still. She was no longer the same person, either.

“I was Pitt for a while,” she said. “Then Gosling. Then Jackman. Then Reynolds. I always go back to Reynolds. He’s my fave. That blond hair, those muscles…” She shivered. “Let’s see, who else? Oh. I’ve been Bana, Pine, Efron and DiCaprio, as well. DiCaprio is another fave. And another blond, for that matter. Maybe I have a thing for blonds.”

Hopefully the barb cut its mark. Gideon had black hair underneath all that blue.

“Oh, and I’m not into girls,” she continued, “but Jessica Biel could change my mind. Have you seen her lips? So yes, I’ve even been Scarlet Biel.”

Gideon did that jaw-popping thing again. And if she wasn’t mistaken, the anger had returned full force, burning away the last vestiges of amusement. “So very few pieces of candy,” he remarked.