Scowling, he dropped the sheet as his cock wept a little more. Get out of here before you forget your good intentions and storm into that bathroom.

His demon liked the thought of storming. Don’t enter the bathroom. Don’t enter the bathroom right now!

Seriously. Shut it. Even though Gideon had told Scarlet in his roundabout, deceitful way that he wouldn’t be fetching her any food, which he’d meant at the time, he left and locked the room, rode the elevator downstairs, wrote out what food he wanted, then handed the receptionist the note.

Lies prowled angrily through his head the entire time, hating the distance from Scarlet. Completely surreal.

The receptionist smiled and began typing. “Give us an hour, Mr. Lord.” He almost corrected her and said Pattinson. Anything to connect him to Scarlet. Instead he nodded and returned to the room. Scarlet was hungry. Therefore he would feed her. Wife or not. Because bottom line, he still had questions for her and she still had answers.

How he proceeded after this, as caveman or seducer, would be up to her.


HAD SHE EVER felt this fantastically clean? Scarlet marveled as she brushed her hair.

Gods, this was nice. Not a speck of dirt marred her. She now smelled of the same apples-and-vanilla fragrance that coated the air, along with the usual floral scent that coated her skin. Courtesy of her father? She’d always wondered.Her sore muscles felt revived, her spirits restored. Well, kind of. Why was she still here? Why wasn’t she running, as she’d promised Gideon she would?

Nightmares didn’t reply, the water having lulled the demon into a peaceful sleep.

Didn’t matter. She already knew the answer. Gideon still intrigued her.

How many times do you need to be told? You can’t let yourself develop feelings for him again.

Easy to think. Hard to actually prevent. Gideon had seen to everything. He’d placed a toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush on the sink. Oh, yeah. And a freaking blue bow for her hair. Clean clothes had rested on the toilet lid, though they weren’t what she would have chosen for herself. He’d picked a flowing, barely there blue dress rather than pants and a T-shirt. High heels rather than boots. He hadn’t given her a bra. Just blue panties.

Clearly, he had a fascination with blue. Why?

She should know, and hated that she didn’t. Was this a recent development?

Wasn’t like it mattered, she told herself next. His thoughts and reasoning weren’t her concern.

“I’m so happy waiting for you,” he called through the door.

The sound of that rumbling voice caused goose bumps to break out over her entire body. She imagined him pacing back and forth in front of the door, and she wanted to grin. Patience had never been his thing. She’d always liked that, mostly because he’d been so eager to be with her.

He used to rush to her cell after every mission, kiss her face, hands roving, desperate to relearn her curves.

“I missed you so much,” he’d said. Every damn time.

“Don’t leave me again.” Always her reply.

“I’d stay in this cell with you if I could.” A fleeting, sad smile, offered the very last time they’d had this exchange. “Maybe one day I will.”

“No.” She hadn’t wanted that for him, no matter how much she craved being with him. “Just…make me forget you were ever gone.”

And he had. Oh, had he.

If he could have removed the collar that had been permanently anchored around her neck, he’d always said, he would have done so and run away with her. But he hadn’t possessed the ability. Only a few of Zeus’s chosen had. So the golden collar had remained, seemingly glued to her skin and keeping her weakened, her demon’s powers muted.

Besides, only a select group of immortals were able to flash—to travel from one location to another with only a thought—in and out of Tartarus, and Gideon hadn’t been one of them. He would have had to sneak her through the entire realm, past the guards and to the gate. One, on its own, would have been difficult; together, they were impossible, even without the collar. But he’d still wanted to try.

With the thought, she felt herself softening. Damn it! Fight it. You can’t survive another heartbreak, and that’s all he has to offer. Heartbreak.

She dropped the brush on the sink and as it clattered ominously, tugged the dress over her head. The soft material stroked her skin, and she moaned. She’d never dressed herself this way, but maybe she should have. So decadent… The panties were equally soft, which elicited another moan. The heels, she left alone, donning her old boots instead. Better to beat a heartless man into submission with.

Finished, she turned, shoulders squaring, determination rising. One last encounter with Gideon, and then she was ditching him. But that was it, the end. She’d finally have closure. For surely that’s what she needed, what she lacked. Once she had it, she would return to the life she’d begun building for herself. A life as a human mercenary. Or rather, a jack of all wicked trades.

Do it. Get it over with.

“Are you kidding me with this?” she said as she stomped from the bathroom and held out the bow. A cloud of sweetly scented steam followed her.

Immediately his electric gaze raked her, lingering on his once-favorite places. Something dark entered his eyes, and he gulped. “What?” The word was a croak. “I thought it was ugly.” Meaning he thought it was pretty.

And he wanted her to have pretty things. How…sweet.

Damn him!

He stood in front of a wheeled square table that hadn’t been there before, arms once again crossed over his chest. To keep from throttling her?

“So you like women who dress like schoolgirls.” She ignored the thundering of her heart and the heat spreading through her veins. “I didn’t realize you had such innocent fantasies,” she said, then wanted to curse. She’d sounded breathless. Maybe because her statement had raised a very naughty question. What did he fantasize about nowadays?

How did he like his sex? As gentle and consuming as he once had?

How did he like his women? As sweet as she’d once been? Most likely.

He’d shown only a few signs of attraction to her since discovering her inside his dungeon, and she was as hard as stone.

She had to be. Her life didn’t allow for dresses like this one. She had to be prepared to fight, always. She was a child of Rhea, the god queen, and she would make an excellent hostage to ransom. Not that her mother would pay it. More than that, she had many enemies, for killing her would remove her half-mortal self from the line of succession.

The scent of fresh baked bread, chicken and rice suddenly hit her nose and her mouth watered. Forget the bow. Forget closure. Her hand fell to her side. “You brought me food,” she said, dazed.

Another sweet gesture, the jerk.

“Nope. It’s all for me.” He eased into the chair behind him. Steaming plate after steaming plate littered the surface of the table, that steam wafting around him and creating a dream haze. “That color looks terrible on you, by the way.”

She licked her lips. Over the food, she told herself. Not because he liked the way she looked. Which was good. “Payback is a bitch, you know. And you can count on the fact that I’ll put you in this dress sometime soon.”

He shrugged, drawing attention to the wide girth of his shoulders, then held out one of the plates. The one with chicken, rice and veggies. She was walking to him, hands outstretched, before she realized what she was doing. After she claimed the plate, she plopped into the seat across from him and dug in.

So. Good.

“So…why don’t you sleep during the day?” he asked. “When the people here aren’t awake.”

That, she didn’t mind sharing. Even though she could guess his plan. Start her off with something light. Get her talking while she was distracted with food. “Somewhere in the world, people are asleep when I am, and the demon finds them. Besides that, every day I fall asleep a single second later. And every night I awaken a single second later. The time always varies ever so slightly, ensuring we’re able to target everyone at some point.” In other words, fear us.

“Not good to know.” A pause, then, “I don’t want to know why you got the tattoos. I don’t want to know who gave you those tattoos. And I most definitely don’t want to know how things ended between us.”

Yep. She’d been right. “I told you we weren’t really married.” She chased a deliciously flavored bite of buttered carrots with a glass of red wine. Even. Better.

“And I believed you.”

She shrugged, mimicking his nonchalance. “I’ve answered enough of your questions tonight. And I know that’s why you brought me here. To relax me, lower my guard and find out everything you’re dying to know so you can lock me back up.” And worse.

“You’re wrong,” he said, reaching out and cupping her hand with his own. He brought it to his lips and pressed a soft kiss into her suddenly burning flesh. “I just wanted to spend time with you, to get to know you, the world around us forgotten.”

Softening…again… They were words she’d longed to hear so badly she’d often ached physically. Hearing them now…

And realizing they were a lie…

The softening instantly ceased. Suddenly she wanted to remove the invisible knife he’d left in her back and stab him with it. Since he wasn’t crumpling into a heap of pain, as she’d heard he did when he spoke the truth, she knew he’d just told a whopper.

He was playing her, and she’d almost let him. Harden up. You’re a bitch. Act like it.

“That’s easy for you, isn’t it? Forgetting the world around you, I mean.” Bitterness crept through her tone, and there was nothing she could do to defuse it. “Your poor, sad memory.”

He frowned, and his hand fell away.

She wanted to shout. With frustration. With a demand that he touch her again. With fury that she wanted him to touch her again. Instead, she remained quiet and finished her meal, consuming every last crumb, every drop of wine, and leaving nothing for the man across from her.