Apparently, she could push him pretty far. How had she thought him merely angry before? That was suppressed rage she was hearing in his voice…as well as deep thrums of arousal.

The latter was a sound she’d once known well and never thought to hear again.

Do not smile. “I like variety, what can I say? Maybe one day it’ll even be my mission to bag and tag each and every one of them.”

Steam practically curled from his nostrils. Yep, rage. He straightened, stepped forward, stopped himself, and retreated back into the doorway. “We aren’t done with that topic for now,” he snapped. He turned as if to leave.

“Wait.” She wasn’t ready to end the exchange. Not yet. “What about you?” she asked, shifting the focus off herself. Careful. “Any girlfriends I should know about? Or better yet, another wife? If so, I’ll have to have you incarcerated for polygamy.” There. No way he could guess at her desperation. At her clawing need to know.

Slowly he spun back around. “Yes,” he said through clenched teeth, the word barely scraping its way free. Meaning no, he had none. “I have a girlfriend, and I’m married to someone else.”

Scarlet released a searing breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. Gideon was single. A male whore who tapped any ass he could get his hands on, yes, but he was still unattached. She began shaking. Not in relief, she was sure, but in disappointment that she wouldn’t get to murder someone he loved right in front of him.

So…we’re done here.

She now had the info she’d wanted; she could ditch him. Except, she threw her legs over the side of the mattress and stood. Without knocking him down and running away. Idiot. “I’m taking a shower and you’re getting me food. Don’t even think about arguing or I swear to the gods I’ll fill your next dreams with countless spiders.” At least, she thought she would.

For some reason, Nightmares didn’t like to torment him. She’d had to beg to get the demon to do so the first and only time, and the stupid beast had protested and whined every single moment. That had never happened before. Her demon was an equal opportunity tormentor.

Why did Nightmares like him? Him, of all people. Her demon didn’t even know him, since she’d become possessed after Gideon had abandoned her. But her demon had endured her constant complaints about him, so she would have placed good money on Nightmares wishing Gideon was dead, just so Scarlet’s complaining would stop.

“Well?” she demanded. “Why are you just standing there? Get moving.”

Gideon’s lips did that adorable twitching thing again. Trying not to grin? Odd man. Anyone else would have stomped away in irritation. Or threatened to stab her for such a haughty, commanding tone.

“Whatever you desire, my sweet.”

Which meant he’d be doing nothing. She’d figured. He’d always been stubborn and had never taken orders well, and that was something she used to like about him. Still. She couldn’t leave him feeling satisfied with the conversation.

Satisfaction belonged only to her.

Which meant it was time to throw him for another loop.

As she strolled to the bathroom, stripping along the way, she said over her shoulder, “Oh, and, Gid. I’ve been lying to you all along. We were never married.”

DAMN IT, damn it, damn it! Gideon still couldn’t detect when Scarlet lied, and that was really starting to annoy him. For some reason, every word out of her lovely lips still caressed his ears, and worse, that audible stroke was spreading to his entire body. How?

Fact: truth usually made his demon hiss. Fact: lies usually made the demon purr. With Scarlet Pattinson—he nearly punched a hole in the wall of the hotel room as Strider had done at the fortress as his annoyance escalated—it picked up only on her raspy voice, too lost in pleasure to care about truth or lie.He was going to have to stop that. Otherwise, he might never get his answers.

Leave her, Lies demanded.

Go get her? Hardly. I like my balls where they are, thanks. The kind of woman who would punch you for trying to kiss her awake would knee your testicles into your throat for peeking at her naked curves while she washed.

Naked…curves… Hello, hard-on.

The bathroom door clicked shut, blocking every last inch of her from his sight. Bad, uh, good thing, too. She’d been down to her bra and panties. Black, both of them. With lace. The bra had clasped in the front, just asking to be separated. That testicle ascension might be worth it, he thought, already striding forward.

His mouth watered, a lick of flame dancing over his body, heating his blood to scalding. Somehow, he stopped himself before hitting the door. Show some restraint, for gods’ sake. It was just, holy hell, she was beautiful. Like a portrait come to life, all pale, rose-dusted skin and a fall of silky black hair. All dangerous curves and lean muscle, two things that didn’t normally go well together. On her, however, they did. And exquisitely so.

Exquisite. The perfect word for her back and its tattooed canvas. Around her waist were the words TO PART IS TO DIE, and around the words were flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. Flowers of every color, shape and type, and he wanted to trace each of them with his tongue. Below the blooms, on her thighs, was a butterfly tattoo laced with all the jewel tones of a rainbow, glitter-bright and caught midflight, as if heading into those flowers. Ex-qui-site.

That wasn’t what had caught the bulk of his attention, though. TO PART IS TO DIE. He’d had those very words and the flowers surrounding them tattooed around his own waist. Why had he done something so girly? That’s what all his friends had wanted to know after laughing their asses off at his expense. He’d told them he’d wanted to prove that nothing could lessen his appeal.

The truth was he’d done it because he’d seen those words and flowers in his mind, over and over again. They’d plagued him, and he’d known, known they meant something, but not what they meant. Now he knew he’d seen them on this woman. Which meant whether they were married or not, they had spent time together.

Why can’t I fucking remember it?

I know, Lies replied, as if he’d asked the demon.

Shut up. I like you better when you’re quiet.

The sound of water hitting porcelain suddenly reverberated through the hotel room. Scarlet was probably naked now, he thought. Probably soaked in that water and moaning as it slid down her luscious body.

He moaned, scrubbing a hand down his face and hoping to wipe away the naughty images flashing through his head. Didn’t help. He closed the rest of the distance, arm extending for the knob. Goodbye, testicles. We had a good run.

Just as before, he caught himself in time. He growled, backed away and planted his feet more firmly in place. No, no, and no.

At least he didn’t have to worry about her escaping. Not successfully. While she’d slept, he’d placed tiny sensors on all the doors and windows and wired them to his phone. He’d know the moment she tried to leave. And she would. Soon. She wouldn’t be able to help herself. Fighting was clearly part of her nature.

So was annoying him.

How was he supposed to handle a woman who picked her last name based on who she was currently lusting after? Which was fine when she was lusting after other females. Sexy, even. Something to be encouraged, too. But the males? Hells. No. Not if there was a chance they were hitched, and not until they had things settled between them.

Still. He knew how he wanted to handle her. Skin-to-skin. Every part of him longed to step into that shower, lick her all over, tasting her. Then, oh, yes, then, he’d sink deep inside her, feel her tug his hair and scratch his back. Feel her legs wrap around him and hold on tight. Hear her gasp his name and beg him for more.

Mini Me, his most beloved appendage, started weeping, and the twins begging, uncaring about potential loss.

Not gonna happen, men. Not yet, at least. She’d resisted him more intensely than he’d expected. Not that he’d tried very hard. Hard. Ha. But maybe that was a good thing. As Strider had reminded him, Hunters were in Budapest and out for blood. Now that they could kill the Lords and pair the demons with people of their choosing, now that the Lords were close to victory, the Hunters were more determined and vicious than ever. If Gideon seduced Scarlet, he would forget about guarding her.

He could have taken her to another city, he supposed, and seduced her there. That would have been safer. But, no. He couldn’t leave his friends like that. They needed him more than ever. Maddox was consumed with easing his pregnant wife; Lucien’s girlfriend was planning their wedding; Sabin’s wife was visiting her sister in the heavens, so the warlord was pretty much operating on a hair-trigger of emotion; and Reyes’s woman had enough shit to deal with. As the All-Seeing Eye, she could peer into heaven and hell, and the things she saw were often far worse than anything Scarlet could manufacture in her dream-world.

Not to mention, Aeron, until recently the keeper of Wrath, was still recovering from his interlude with death. For the first time in centuries, his mind was his own, his demon no longer a part of him. As expected, he hadn’t yet acclimated to the change.

Gideon wasn’t envious as some of the warriors were. He actually liked his other, darker half. Together, they were more powerful. Together, they were stronger, smarter, and no one but Scarlet could lie to him. Okay, fine. A few others could, but only when he let his emotions get the better of him. Which wasn’t often.

But speaking of being unable to tell truth from lies…I’ve been lying to you all along. We were never married, Scarlet had said.

Damn her and her seductive wiles. Were they or weren’t they? He had those flashes of her, yes, as if he had taken her to bed before. As if he had savored every inch of her and had already done all the things he now wanted to do. But those could very well be urges he’d had, mere fantasies, rather than reality.

Gideon sighed and strode to the bed where Scarlet had lain. He lifted the sheets and pressed the still-warm cotton to his cheek, the scent of midnight orchids wafting to his nose. Had he experienced this warmth skin-to-skin? Did he know that scent?