- The Darkest Passion
She expected someone to speak up and agree with her, but no one seemed to care that a heavenly assassin would be coming to snuff out their friend. Everyone at the table, including Aeron, probably assumed the Lord was invincible.
So of course, he remained stubborn. “I don’t care.”
She slapped the apple plate back where she’d found it, rattling the dishes far more than Kaia had. “I can also help you defeat the Hunters.” Truth.
“Olivia,” he said, and she didn’t have to see him to know he was gazing up at the ceiling and praying for patience. Except, if she wasn’t mistaken, the prayer she actually heard him mutter was for strength. “We are demons, and demons and angels do not mix. Besides, Legion can’t return until you’re gone.”
The one argument she couldn’t refute absolutely. “But…but…I’m willing to try to get along with her.” If he heard her panic, he gave no indication. “And I’ll be nice to all your other friends, too. How could I not? I gave up everything to save you.”
“I know.” The words were snarled.
“The least you can do is—”
“I didn’t ask you to give up anything,” he snapped. “So, no. There is no least I can do. You’re healed. We’re even. I owe you nothing.”
Cameo ignored him, propped her elbows on the table and leaned forward, closer to Olivia. “Forget about him. He just hasn’t had enough caffeine yet. Let’s backtrack a bit. How can you help us with the Hunters?”
Finally. Interest, even if Cameo’s tone was more morose than encouraging. Olivia raised her chin another notch. “For one thing, I know where other demon-possessed immortals are located.” Thankfully, lightning didn’t strike her at the confession, and angels didn’t appear with fiery swords raised. “You said you were looking for them, I believe.”
A moment passed in shocked silence, all eyes hitting—and staying on—her.
“Aeron,” Cameo said.
“No. It doesn’t matter,” his hard voice proclaimed. “We have the scrolls for that.”
“Yes, but they give names, not locations.” The female Lord’s stare became penetrating. “Sabin will want to talk with her when he returns.”
“If that dickwad Sabin wants to talk to her, that means Gwennie will want to, as well.” Kaia drummed her nails against the tabletop. “And as you know, puppy, I ensure that my sister gets what she wants. Besides, I’m about to die of boredom since no one has attacked the fortress as promised.”
“Harpy,” Aeron snapped. “Don’t try my patience. You will obey me in this and let the angel go.”
“Warriors are so adorable when they think they’re all tough and commanding.” Kaia’s arm shot out, again rattling dishes, and she snatched up a handful of eggs. A handful she then launched at Aeron.
Olivia quickly dodged, and the eggs slapped Aeron in the face. His lips curled in a grimace as he wiped away the yellow mess. Rather than touch her again, however, he flattened his palms on the arms of the chair.
Kaia giggled like a schoolgirl. “Don’t act surprised by our insistence that she remain here. Paris told me what you said to Cronus the other night on that rooftop. ‘Send me a woman who will deny me,’” she mocked.
“Oh, really? When did you and Paris have time for a heart-to-heart?” William asked as he buttered a blueberry muffin.
Kaia shrugged, her focus remaining on Aeron. “A couple nights ago, I was looking for a little fun, and he was looking a little weak.” Another shrug. “He was feeling chatty afterward.”
Paris merely nodded in confirmation. Every time Olivia had seen the keeper of Promiscuity, he’d appeared sad. Just then, he looked almost…happy, if a little tired. That must have been some chat.
“But I offered you a place in my bed,” William whined to the Harpy.
Bed? Oh. Oh. Kaia and Paris had apparently accomplished more than talking during that heart-to-heart.
“You suck at ‘Guitar Hero,’ so I figure you’re bad with your hands. Besides, someone else we all know and love has staked prior claim on you.”
“Who?” Olivia asked before she could stop herself.
Kaia ignored her, continuing on. “Therefore, I picked Paris to keep me warm the other night. And I can’t wait to give Bianka the down-and-dirty details.”
“Oh, no. No, no, no. You can’t kiss and tell,” Paris sputtered.
The Harpy smiled lazily, evilly. “Just watch me. Any-hoodles. You want your little demon to return, Aeron-bo-barren, you’ll have to go into town and play with her there. The angel stays.”
The heat of Aeron’s breath was like fire on the back of Olivia’s neck. “This. Is. My. Home.”
Kaia and William had spoken in unison. They shared a smile, though William still looked sulky over Kaia’s choice of bedmates.
“Yeah,” Olivia said, chin lifting yet another notch. “Not anymore.” She wanted Aeron here with her, yes, but he apparently needed time away to reflect on how lucky he actually was to have her.
That wasn’t egotistical of her, she told herself. Truth was never egotistical. Besides, it shouldn’t take him more than a few hours to realize just how much he needed her and wanted to be with her. He was smart. For the most part.
Please, let him want to be with me.
Once more Aeron’s hands settled on her waist. This time, he squeezed hard enough to make her gasp. “Do you know where Pandora’s box is, Olivia?”
Of course he’d ask the one question she didn’t have an answer for. “Well…uh…no.”
“Do you know where the Cloak of Invisibility and the Paring Rod are being held?”
Okay. Two questions. “No,” she admitted softly. What she did know was that the Lords had found two of Cronus’s artifacts: the Cage of Compulsion and the All-Seeing Eye. What they lacked, as Aeron had mentioned, was the Cloak of Invisibility and the Paring Rod. As the One True Deity had no use for such relics, her kind had never searched for them.
Aeron lifted her to her feet and released her. Olivia had to grip the table to keep from toppling over. She also had to press her lips together to keep from moaning in disappointment. Touch me.
“Still want her here?” he asked the others, emotionless. “Her, rather than me?”
One by one, they nodded. Unrepentant.
“Fine.” He ran his tongue over his teeth. “She’s yours. Get what information you can from her. As suggested, I’ll be in town. Someone text me when she’s gone. Only then will I return.”
THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY to drive him mad, Aeron thought darkly.
First, his friends had kicked him out. Second, his demon had screamed at him to stay. To stay. With Olivia. A being Wrath should despise. A being Aeron should despise. Instead, he understood his demon’s dilemma.She was enchanting.
This morning, when he’d woken up and realized she was fully healed, the desire he’d denied only a few days ago had sparked to life. Ever since, it had refused to fade. She’d fallen to the floor, robe bunched at her waist, and her panties—shit, her panties. Too white, too pure. Made a man want to rip them apart with his teeth and dirty the wearer up a bit. He’d wanted to tear her robe away, too, and devour her.
Somehow, some way, he’d managed to stop himself.
Maybe because he’d realized—and reminded himself, over and over again—that Lysander had been the voice he’d heard the day before. That Lysander had been the one to heal Olivia, the one who wanted her happy and whole.
“Unsoiled,” he muttered.
And Lysander would be a terrible enemy to have.
The Lords could fight Hunters, yes. But Hunters and an angelic army? Hardly.
So Aeron had finally gotten himself under enough control to leave the bed without falling on top of Olivia in a desperate rush to touch and taste her. He’d finally convinced himself to get rid of her. He’d finally, blessedly forgotten there was a throbbing erection between his legs while she wiggled on his lap and made love to her food.
Only to have Wrath insist on “more.”
“I liked you better when you were merely a presence. An urge,” he told the demon now.
A snort was the only reply. At least there was no more of the demon’s pleading. Wrath had only quieted a few minutes ago, when realizing what Aeron planned.
Aeron scrubbed his face so hard his calluses scratched his cheeks. He was in Gilly’s apartment in town. A spacious three-bedroom on the wealthier side. Gilly was a young friend of Danika’s who now lived in Budapest. Torin, their first line of defense at the fortress, had loaded her apartment with state-of-the-art security, just in case Hunters ever discovered her connection to the Lords. Even though she was fully human and as innocent as a person could be—a miracle in and of itself, given what Danika had told the Lords about Gilly’s troubled childhood—those bastards wouldn’t hesitate to hurt her.
She was currently at school—high school, that is—and undoubtedly happy for the distance between them. She still wasn’t comfortable around him. Understandable. Though Gilly was only seventeen, she’d seen the dark side of man and had been on her own for years. They’d offered her a room at the fortress, but she’d desired a place of her own. Good thing, too. Now Aeron wouldn’t have to roam aimlessly until dark; he could summon Legion at last.
He stood in the center of the living room, the couches and chairs pushed back to make space for the circle of salt and sugar he’d sprinkled just in front of him. He was going to summon her in a way she couldn’t ignore.
He splayed his arms and said, “Legion, Quinientos Dieciséis of the Croisé Sombres of Neid and Notpehocil,” just as Legion had taught him. It was her name, number, and title in a mix of different languages. Legion, Number Five Hundred and Sixteen of the Dark Crusaders of Envy and Need. If he didn’t say it all, he could accidentally summon someone else. “I command you to appear before me. Now.”