- The Darkest Lie
No tattoos, no Scarlet. No fucking tattoos, no fucking Scarlet. Still. His body continued to react, unable to help itself. To his cock, this was his woman, soon to be his wife. He hoped. And his cock hungered for her desperately, had been without her for too long.
Not Scarlet, not Scarlet, not Scarlet, he told the traitor frantically, willing the blood to leave his growing erection.
Lies loved it, though. Loved knowing Rhea was living a lie. The demon had never been so excited, in fact.
You begged me to force Scarlet to stay. Now you’re willing to betray her?
Scarlet. Love Scarlet.
A lie. But…but… You said she was yours.
She is. Isn’t.
What the hell? Damn you. We’re on Team Scarlet. Do you understand?
Sure, sure, was the reply.
Which meant, Lies was not on Team Scarlet.
What the hell? he wondered again. Was everyone conspiring against him?
“Told you.” Rhea treated him to another grin, but there was an evil twinkle in those dark eyes, something Scarlet had never directed at him. “Let’s stop playing games, and start on the pleasure.”
She regally waved her hand through the air, a prelude he was coming to dread, and Gideon suddenly found himself lying on the bed, stretched out, again pinned in place and unable to move. He was like a rag doll, being tossed wherever the queen desired him, and he was sick of it.
“Listen, sweetheart, you—umph.”
Rhea had whisked herself on top of him, her knees straddling his waist. Once again, she looked like herself and his body, as well as his demon, deflated. Thank the gods.
So you’re on Team Scarlet again? he asked Lies.
I don’t understand you.
“Oh, Gideon. This is going to be fun.” Rhea’s smile didn’t fade. In fact, she grinned all the wider. “Look,” she said, and motioned to the right.
Dread thrummed through him as he turned his head. He saw…nothing and frowned. Why had she— No, wait. Tiny white lights were flashing just in front of the mattress, growing, linking together, and then Scarlet was there. The real Scarlet.
She was dressed completely in black. Black T-shirt, black leather pants, black boots. Even black leather bracelets. Her hair was anchored in a low ponytail, revealing the graceful length of her neck. A neck that didn’t sport a butterfly necklace.
She spotted Gideon with a grinning Rhea on top of him and gasped in shock, in horror.
“Devil,” he shouted, but she disappeared in the next instant, gone as if she’d never been there. “Bitch,” he then shouted at Rhea, and Lies roared inside his head. Pain exploded through him, followed quickly by that hated weakness. He grimaced, shook, hated, hated…hurt.
But he couldn’t help himself. He was filled with so much hate, so much regret, so much rage, he couldn’t stop the words from flowing from him. “I will kill you. I planned to anyway, but now you’ll suffer at my hand. You’ll regret all the ways you’ve harmed your daughter.” More pain, more weakness.
Finally, Rhea’s smile fell away. Her skin even leached of color. She inched down his body until she hit the end of the mattress and had to stand. Her knees must have been shaking because she swayed.
“Y-you are lying again. I know you are.”
Before Gideon could reply, another voice rang out. “We have much to discuss, woman.”
As the still-naked Rhea whipped around in dismay, Gideon’s gaze—which was narrowing and darkening with every second that passed—moved to the center of the room. Cronus had appeared, and he had brought a…female? Yes, definitely a female. Her skin was charred to black and her hair had been burned away, but the delicacy of her bones was evident. A little too evident.
Perhaps Gideon moaned. Perhaps the god king merely sensed him. Either way, Cronus’s focus swung to him, and the king sucked in an astonished breath. His eyes narrowed to tiny slits of fury.
“So. We have more to discuss than I realized. You think to use one of my warriors.” Hard, yet devoid of any emotion. “After we agreed not to travel that road.”
Rhea raised her chin, a white cloak appearing out of nowhere and wrapping around her. “He loved every minute of it, I assure you.”
“That’s why he looks ready to vomit.” Cronus, too, raised his chin.
“You have no right to admonish me for my actions when my sister, your mistress, stands beside you.” Her gaze brushed over the trembling female. “Why did you burn her?” She sounded surprisingly upset at the sight, despite the fact that her sister was sleeping with her husband. “Did she fall out of favor?”
Her sister. That soot-covered skeleton was the goddess of Memory, Scarlet’s aunt, then. The shit-infested day was suddenly looking up.
Gideon threw himself from the bed. He didn’t have the strength to stand, could only scoot his way toward the woman, planning to grab her and hold on until he could find a way home.
“I didn’t burn her,” Cronus snapped. “Your daughter did. But this should be a private conversation. Gideon, I trust you’ll guard Mnemosyne until such time as I can retrieve her. After all,” he added with a pointed glance at Rhea, “I doubt she’s in any condition to follow in her sister’s footsteps and seduce you.”
Rhea screeched an unholy sound, and as Gideon reached up to cover his already hurting ears, he found himself lying on his bed in his bedroom. NeeMah was on his floor, his to do with as he pleased, apparently, since a slave collar now circled her neck.
“Thank you,” he shouted, praying Cronus would hear and that the king would stab his queen through her rotted, black heart.
With this latest truth, his demon roared and his pain tripled, burning through him like fire. Darkness winked over his vision, but he threw himself to the ground and crawled to NeeMah.
She whimpered and tried to scramble away.
“No reason to want to escape, darling. You’re in for a treat.” Maintaining a grip under her arms, he stood to shaky legs and began dragging her to the dungeon.
THAT BITCH! was the first thought to hit Scarlet as she awoke. Fuming, she bolted upright. Rhea had finally whisked her out of Budapest and into the heavens. Where she’d seen her naked mother straddling her naked boyfriend. Then Rhea had tossed her somewhere sunny. Where, Scarlet didn’t know. All she’d known was that the abrupt switch from dark to light had utterly confused her demon. Unlike the ambrosia field, time did exist between the two locations.
She’d gotten the barest glimpse of speeding cars and towering buildings before her eyes had shut of their own accord and her mind had sunk into a deep, undisturbed sleep.Now she was in a freaking hospital, she realized as her gaze circled her surroundings. She must have passed out on a busy sidewalk, no one had been able to revive her, and so they’d taken her in for medical care. Shit!
A heart monitor beeped beside her. Electrodes were attached to her chest, and an IV protruded from her arm. The medical staff had replaced her clothes with a paper-thin gown and removed her weapons. Local police would most likely come around to talk to her about that, too, and damn it, she didn’t need that right now.
Damn it, she thought again. Motions clipped, she jerked out the needle, blood seeping from inside her elbow, and ripped away the cords. The monitor went crazy, shouting loud and long as she threw her legs over the side of the gurney.
Footsteps pounded, and then a short, plump female was rounding the corner and flying into Scarlet’s room. When she spotted Scarlet sitting up, about to stand, the tension left her features, but she extended her arms to push Scarlet back down.
“Ma’am, ma’am, you need to be careful.” She spoke in English, no hint of an accent. I’m in the States, Scarlet realized. “We don’t yet know what was wrong with you and—”
“I’m fine, and I’m leaving.” Determined, she brushed the woman aside and stood. Her knees were weak and almost buckled, but she pressed her weight into her heels and steadied herself, even as a wave of dizziness hit her.
What the hell had they been pumping into her vein?
Strong hands settled on her shoulders and applied pressure. Having none of that, Scarlet again knocked the woman’s arms aside. “Where are my clothes?” Her butterfly necklace was in the pocket of her pants, and she wanted it back.
The human clearly wasn’t used to being challenged; she paled as she backed away, palms raised and out. “Your clothes are with your arsenal.”
Yep. Those weapons had gotten her into trouble. “And where’s my arsenal?”
Eyes of light brown narrowed. “With the police.” Hard, firm tone. “There’s an officer here who’s been waiting to talk with you, so I suggest you lie back down. You shouldn’t be up and around. We’re still running tests, trying to figure out what’s wrong with you.”
Shit, she thought again. If her clothes were locked away in some police station, getting them back would take a lot of time and effort. Time and effort she didn’t have. “Look, nothing’s wrong with me except my clothes and belongings have been stolen. Now where the hell am I?”
“No. What city?”
The nurse blinked at her. “Chicago.”
Why the hell had her mother sent her here?
“I’m just going to get your doctor and let her know you’re ready to be discharged,” the nurse said. Of course, Scarlet knew she was lying. Thanks to Gideon, she considered herself a living lie detector now. The nurse was going to summon the officer.
Scarlet allowed the woman to leave the room without protest. The moment she was alone, she kicked the shadows out of her head. They wrapped around her, cuddling her close, enveloping her with impenetrable darkness. Well, impenetrable for everyone else. No one would be able to see her, but she could absolutely see everyone and everything.
Rather than leave, however, she pressed against the wall, right by the doorway. Just in time, too. The officer, who was in his early twenties, physically fit and determined, came barreling down the hall, coffee in hand. He haphazardly slapped that coffee on the counter of the nurses’ station without slowing his step, his other hand remaining on his gun handle.