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How much time passed until she next became aware, she didn’t know.

“Devil! Can’t you hear me?” A rumbling male voice called to her from a long, dark tunnel. “Can’t you see me?”

Gideon. Gideon was near. She blinked open her stinging eyes, excitement pounding through her as his face came into blurry focus. Blurry, because screaming shadows were seeping from her and dancing around him.

A surge of disappointment and rage destroyed her excitement. This was another trick, she thought. Gideon was nothing more than a mirage, a way to torment her.

“Devil. Don’t talk to me. Please.”

Can’t be real. “Go away,” she rasped, and gods, her throat still hurt. She tried to roll away. “Leave me alone.”

“Always.” Strong fingers cupped her jaw, a blanket of warmth in the middle of a winter storm, and angled her head, forcing her to maintain eye contact. Slowly, he grinned. “You’re not going to be okay. I wasn’t so afraid… Didn’t pray to Cronus, didn’t beg him to help you. Didn’t inform him he owed me for ignoring me about Aeron. He didn’t tell me he’d brought you here. Didn’t give you a vial of his blood.”

He was babbling, and even knowing this was another nightmare, she drank him in, her gaze cutting through the darkness. Shaggy blue hair, electric eyes. Pierced eyebrow, muscled body. Her heartbeat sped up, was suddenly stronger, steadier.

“I’m not sorry you were injured. I’m not sorry I didn’t take care of your aunt while I had the chance.”

She frowned. Why would this dream Gideon apologize to her? That was a pleasure, not a frightening terror. Not that he had any reason to apologize; he’d done nothing wrong. But still, this wasn’t something her demon would do. Joy wasn’t his favorite thing.

That could only mean…Gideon really was here. He was close to her, talking to her. Touching her.

She could only stare up at him in wonder. “I’m awake. I’m alive. I don’t understand.”

“Didn’t give you my blood, Cronus’s blood.” Those callused hands slid up and he traced his fingers along her temples. “You’re not going to survive, right? Right?”

He’d given her his blood? That must have been the shot of strength she’d experienced, of peace. And that he’d approached Cronus on her behalf, the very being who’d asked her aunt to strike at her… Why Cronus had agreed, she didn’t know. She only knew there was no better man than Gideon.

This warrior really did love her, she thought, awed. He’d been hurting from telling the truth, yet he’d somehow found the strength to give her what she needed.

You’re melting again. He’ll get hurt if you stay with him.

I was already melting. In fact, there was no ice left around her swelling heart.

“Yes. Yes, I’ll survive,” she told him. And would kill Mnemosyne at last. “Because of you, I feel stronger already.” Especially now that he was here with her.

“Bad, so bad. My demon wanted—” His words halted as the shadows and the screams swirled around him more intently.

They now had another target. And for once Nightmares didn’t seem to notice or care that the new target was Gideon. The hunger was simply too great, she supposed.

In the next instant, thousands of tiny spiders appeared on his body, crawling all over him.

“Not a lie, not a lie, not a lie,” he chanted, unable to hide his alarm. He was trying to remind himself that the images were an illusion, she knew.

“What about your demon?” she asked to distract him. She wound her arms around him, elbows catching under his arms, and cupped the back of his neck. He was so hard, so hot. “Tell me. Please.”

“Didn’t want…a go…at yours.” He was tense, clearly fighting the urge to slap at the little creatures. But to slap at them would have been to believe they were there. He would have lost the battle against his mind.

“Then let him have a go at mine,” she said. Hopefully, a tangle with Lies would distract Nightmares.

“Sure. It’s not dangerous at all.”

“Do it and I’ll let you kiss me.” If he still wanted to do so, that is. After everything she’d—


He still wanted to kiss her; her relief was palpable. “How will I kiss you? By pressing my lips to yours, thrusting my tongue into your mouth and savoring your delicious flavor.”

His mouth twitched at the corners. “You don’t know what I mean.”

Good. He was properly distracted. And he wanted to know how he could let his demon have a go at hers. “I honestly don’t know. I thought you did. My best suggestion is maybe…give up control? When I lose control of myself, Nightmares leaves me, like now, even though he remains tied to me.”

Gideon ran his tongue over his teeth. “Lies didn’t take over earlier today or yesterday, or whenever. He wasn’t overcome with anger and didn’t force himself out of me. So maybe you’re wrong. Maybe I can’t make it easier for him. But if he caresses you…”

If he hurt her. “He won’t.” Maybe. “It’s worth a shot.” Please work, please work, please work. “Please.”

A nod. Gideon closed his eyes, expression tightening with concentration. Several moments passed, but nothing happened. He was a warrior, and relinquishing control would be difficult, so Scarlet planted little kisses along his jaw, reminding him of what awaited him should he succeed.

“It’s…it’s…not working.” Slowly, so slowly, a dark mist began to seep from his skin. An eternity seemed to eke by before that mist finally pulled free of him entirely, taking the shape of a tall, scaled creature with horns that protruded from its head, its shoulders. Hell, from every inch of it.

At last Nightmares stilled, the screams quieting, leaving only a deafening silence. Then, with a groan, her demon took shape, as well, growing into an even taller scaled creature, with fangs that cut a path to its chin and muscles that put every Lord of the Underworld to shame.

The two creatures rushed forward, meeting in the middle and throwing their gnarled arms around each other. Their lips were the next to meet, and then those scaled bodies were falling to the ground, writhing together, Nightmares grinding a huge erection against the smaller Lies, whose legs were open.

“My demon’s a girl?” Gideon said, astonished.

Truth. He’d just spoken the truth, but he wasn’t suffering. Did he realize? “You didn’t know? I’ve always known mine was male.”

“Clearly you’re the smarter of us.”

Their eyes met, and they shared a husky laugh.

Gideon’s expression softened, and he gifted her with the sweetest little nip to her chin. “Gods, I adore your laugh.”

Her eyes misted, and she quickly returned their conversation to the demons. Before she cried like a baby in front of him. “I think they like each other.”

“I think they love each other.” He sobered, frowned. “I’m speaking the truth,” he said, “yet I’m not in any pain.”

No, he wasn’t. “Are you…happy about that? That you can speak truthfully, I mean.”

“Hell, yes.”

Thank the gods. She would’ve hated herself if she’d beseeched him to do this and he ended up regretting it.

Grinning, Gideon peered down at her with adoration in his eyes. “I have so much I want to tell you, and I was so afraid I’d lose you before I had the chance. I love you. You’re so beautiful.”

Hearing him speak his mind was odd, and at first, she found herself trying to decipher his meaning.

“I admire your strength and courage and want to spend my life with you. I want you to marry me for real this time. I want to have babies with you.”

“Like Steel,” she couldn’t help but whisper.

“Like our darling Steel,” he said, and they shared a tender look. And yet, his grin faded and his expression tensed. “How do you feel about me, Scarlet? I have to know.”

And she could deny him nothing. “I shouldn’t tell you. I just… You’re my weakness. You can be used against me, and have, time and time again, and you’ve been hurt for it.”

“I’m your weakness?” His grin returned, a leisurely lifting of his lips.

Her pulsed fluttered as she nodded. She was treading on thin ice—with cleats. “Yes, and as long as we’re together, you’re in danger. Which makes me a selfish bitch for wanting to be with you anyway, but…”

“You can’t help yourself.”

Another nod. “I want you to know that I—I like…I—”

He pressed a finger against her mouth, silencing her. “All that matters right now is that we want each other. We’ll figure everything else out later. Right now, my darling girl, I’m going to romance the hell out of you like I’ve been craving.”


GIDEON PRESSED his lips against Scarlet’s and savored her sudden intake of breath, as if she was breathing him in, savoring him as he was doing to her. Some part of him—his cock—wanted to rush, to get inside her as quickly as he could so that they would be joined, one being. And damn, it felt like forever had passed since he’d last enjoyed her. But he was determined to take his time. To make this sensual assault last. To do everything he hadn’t done last time.

Like lick every single one of her tattoos. Like watch her lick every single one of his. Besides, he needed to prove he had some skills in this arena. Last time, he’d come from a single thrust; his manhood was at stake now. He could last, damn it, and he would.After their tongues rolled and thrust for minutes, hours, after he had no more air in his lungs, he lifted his head and peered down at this woman he so loved. “Can you not— Sorry.” He had to get used to telling the truth. “I mean, can you take us somewhere else? A daydream?” Away from the moaning, writhing demons beside them.