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“How can you be sure? You are—”

Scowling, Scarlet grabbed her aunt by the neck and twisted with one brutal slash. The woman’s spine was instantly broken, her body flopping lifeless to the ground. But she could recover from that, and Scarlet had to know.

Gideon opened his mouth to tell her she would have to find a way to remove the head from the body, but she beat him to it. She found a way. With her bare hands.

That’s my girl.

“That won’t kill her for good, will it?” he asked Cronus, just wanting assurance. Worked for immortals, but he’d never delivered the deathblow to a straight-up god or goddess.

“Time will tell,” Cronus replied cryptically.

Gideon would just go ahead and take that as “bitch was wasted forever.”

Panting all the harder by the time she finished, Scarlet straightened. He jumped to his feet and ran to her, the air shield gone, but just before he reached her, Cronus swept the two of them back to Gideon’s bedroom. So when he collided with her, they tumbled backward into his bed. A bed he never wanted to leave again.

“I did it,” she said, peering up at him through swollen eyes, split lips curled into a grin. “I really killed her.”

Gideon planted little kisses all over her face, careful of her injuries. “Not proud of you.”

“Thank you.” Shaky arms wound around him. “When she tried to get inside my head, I felt her this time. I knew it was her, and knew that what she was trying to convince me of was false. Because my real memories were so strong. And cherished.”

“Not glad, not glad.” He hugged her tight. “Gods, I hate you so much.”

Finally, she kissed him back. “I love you, too.”

This was even better than hearing her repeat his lie. She loved him. He seriously couldn’t ask for more than that. Oh, wait. He could. “And you’ll leave me, right?”

“I’ll stay,” she said without hesitation. “After all, it’ll piss off Mommy Dearest and as much as I hate to admit I have something in common with Cronus, I’m starting to enjoy messing with her. Or at least I’m not scared to cross her anymore. Look what I did to her sister. I’ll do the same to her if she comes near you. And who knows. Maybe I can help you find Pandora’s box and we can lock my mother inside. Now wouldn’t that be fun?”

Now this was the confident, vengeful Scarlet he so adored. They were going to be so happy together.

There was a bang at his door, and Torin called, “Stop playing around, you two. Amun, Aeron and William just returned home with Legion. And you’ll never believe who came with them.”

“How doesn’t he always know where we are and what we’re in the middle of doing?” Reluctantly Gideon disengaged from his woman. If he’d hadn’t missed his friends so much, if he hadn’t needed to see for himself that they were all right, he would have ignored Torin’s summons.

Scarlet stood beside him, a little wobbly on her feet, and linked their fingers. “Come on. Let’s check on them. Plus, you need to officially introduce me so they’ll stop trying to capture and kill me.”

Such a darling girl, and so understanding. “No deal.”

They strode out of the bedroom, down the hall, down the stairs and into the foyer, only to stop short at the sight that awaited them. A contingent of angels stood in a circle, murmuring to each other. Bright lights glowed around each of them, and they were so physically perfect it actually hurt to gaze upon them. Most were males, but there were a few females. No matter their gender, they all possessed white wings threaded with gold, stretching and invading every inch of space.

Determined, Gideon pushed his way through them. Where were— He spotted his friends in the center of that circle. They were lying on their backs, barely breathing. They were more ragged and injured than he’d ever seen them before. And shit, he’d seen Amun fucked up pretty badly. They were covered in soot and countless bruises and abrasions and reeked of sulfur.

Olivia, Aeron’s female, had the warrior’s head in her lap and she was smoothing the hair from his brow. William was moaning, calling for Gilly, one of his arms nearly detached from his body. Legion wasn’t moving at all, just lying in a pool of her own blood.

Amun, though…Amun was the worst. He was clutching his ears and biting his lower lip, clearly lost in an agony even Gideon couldn’t comprehend.

“Do not look him in the eyes,” Lysander, leader of all the warrior angels, said. “His mind is infected.”

“With what?” Scarlet asked, suddenly beside Gideon and wrapping a comforting arm around his waist. She squeezed him, offering support.

“Demon,” Lysander replied.

Gideon just blinked over at him.

“We know that,” Scarlet said for him. “We’re all infected by a demon.”

“No,” Lysander insisted. “He is fully demon. You are merely bonded with one, but his mind is evil, no goodness is left inside it. If he looks at you, he will see into your soul and poison it with darkness.”

Oh, shit, Gideon thought. He drew Scarlet deeper into his side. He loved Amun, but he wouldn’t risk his woman. “What can’t we do to help him?”

“He means, what can we do to help him?” Scarlet interpreted.

He squeezed her this time.

“Kill him,” Lysander said matter-of-factly.

“Yes!” Gideon shouted. No!

“No, that’s not gonna work for us,” Scarlet said.

The angel sighed. “We wanted to imprison him in the heavens, but Olivia convinced us to bring him here.”

“We’ll take care of him,” Scarlet assured him, as well as the other angels. “We’ll help him. Without killing him,” she added.

“Bianka wouldn’t want you to give us time,” Gideon said.

“Meaning she would,” Scarlet clarified.

A muscle ticked below Lysander’s eye. Bianka was his mate, or wife, or whatever the angels called their significant other, and Lysander lived to please her. And as Bianka was sort of related to Amun, in a roundabout way, she truly wouldn’t be happy if Amun was killed.

“Very well. You can try to save him,” the angel said stiffly.

“Thank you,” Scarlet said for Gideon.

“But I cannot give you long. A week, perhaps two. And do not think to run with him.” Every word hardened into iron. “We would only find you. And we would be…angry.”

“So noted,” Scarlet said.

After that, the angels began disappearing, one by one. Gideon helped cart the three men and Legion to their beds. Amun, he noticed, never tried to look at them, but kept his eyes closed. As if some part of him knew what had happened to him, and still thought to protect them.

When everyone was situated, Gideon and Scarlet stood at the side of Amun’s bed. Olivia was caring for Aeron and Legion, and Gilly for William.

“He needs a doctor trained to tend immortals,” Scarlet said. “I know you guys don’t have one, but don’t worry. We’ll find one. Your friend will heal.”

Truth or lie, Gideon didn’t know. He faced her, took her hands. “I hate you,” he told her again. He’d tell her a thousand times a day.

“I’m glad. And just so you know, if I ever hear you tell me you love me, I will kill you.”

His lips twitched. He had learned how to ease her from her dark moods, and she had clearly done the same for him. “So I’m not stuck with you?”

“Oh, you’re stuck with me. Forever.”

“Shit,” he said, and she laughed. They shared a soft kiss. “I’m not sorry the honeymoon doesn’t have to wait.”

“I know. But just being with you is a honeymoon.”

He kissed the back of her hand now. He owed her more than this, and he would one day give her more, but her support meant so much to him. Especially since she couldn’t be fond of his friends. But because she loved him, she was willing to forget how they’d treated her.

More than ever, he knew he didn’t deserve her. But would he give her up? No. She’d chosen him, and his Scarlet got what she wanted. Or else.

Of all the tasks he’d ever undertaken, ensuring she was happy was the most important to him.

“We’re going to get through this,” she said. “Successfully. And so is he.” She motioned to Amun with a wave of her chin. “I promise. He’s infected by hundreds of demons, but so what. We’ll find a way. We always do.”

Yes. They would find a way. Before the angels returned. Nothing was impossible; he knew that now. Otherwise, he never would have won Scarlet—goddess slayer, warrior tamer…future queen of the gods, if the vision Cronus had spoken of was to be believed.

“Gideon? Do you believe me?”

“No. You’re wrong, devil. We’ll fail.” No pain, no weakness. Lies.

She rested her head on his shoulder, snuggling close. “Good. Because it’s time Team Gidlet kicked some ass.”

Team Gidlet? Despite the direness of the situation, he found himself once again fighting a grin. “I’ll love you for a single day, devil,” he said, as close to a declaration of eternal devotion as he could get.

“I’ll love you for a single day, too. And then all the ones that follow.”

For them, to part really was to die. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.