- The Darkest Passion
“Too late, I’m afraid.” Torin leaned one shoulder against the banister, the picture of domesticated male. Except for the wicked gleam in his eyes. “Everyone’s left.”
“You’re not the only one with big news. Lucien flashed to Rome after Sabin and the others learned that Galen succeeded in binding Distrust to one of his soldiers. A female.”
Aeron plowed a hand over his razored hair. Distrust, Baden’s Distrust, was now inside a Hunter? He’d known Galen hoped to do such a thing, but still the knowledge stunned him. Unacceptable!
Punish, Wrath agreed.
No images flashed in his mind, but Aeron wasn’t surprised. He was becoming used to his demon’s more vocal presence. “Something will have to be done about that, but we’ll have to tread carefully. Today I learned that Rhea, Cronus’s wife, is aiding the Hunters.”
Torin absorbed the words and paled. “You’re kidding, right?”
Olivia clasped Aeron’s hand, twining their fingers. Wrath’s anger drained, leaving Aeron with a cuddly kitten. He favored the rage. “If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know,” she said. “I won’t even make you pay for it.”
Her attempt to comfort him was…comforting. Damn it! Now he was like Wrath. Cuddly. And he didn’t like it. But he liked her. More than he should have. He was used to bottling up his emotions, ignoring them so he could focus on what needed to be done, but she refused to accept anything but his complete capitulation.
Maybe that was why—realization hit him hard. Shit. It was. That’s why he’d always preferred gentle women. Well, not preferred, but feared the other, stronger females. Gentle women didn’t threaten to break the bottle that contained all those churning emotions. Stronger women could smash that bottle to pieces, forcing him to feel.
“What?” Torin asked, head tilting to the side.
“Nothing,” he lied. No way he’d admit to such a weakness. “So look. Back to the Hunters. Rhea is hiding them from us while they’re in town.”
Torin’s lips pulled back from his teeth. “First we learn Galen’s leading the Hunters, and now a Titan is helping them, too. If there are more surprises, I don’t want to know.”
“Just visited me,” Torin interjected, “but he conveniently didn’t mention any of this. He just commanded us to get our asses in gear and find Scarlet, which is where the others are. Looking for her. He threatened us with the usual death and destruction if we failed to find her. Today.”
The god king was certainly making the rounds, first visiting Aeron, then Torin. But why would finding Scarlet be so important to him? To ensure Rhea didn’t get to her first?
Olivia’s fingers squeezed his as she focused on Torin. “Looks like I can help, after all. Aeron wants me to show you where she’s staying, and I agreed to do so.”
Torin studied her closely. “Yeah, Cameo mentioned something about you knowing the girl.”
When he’d said Cameo’s name, his expression had softened. Interesting. Was it true, as some of the warriors suspected, that those two were involved? They couldn’t touch one another, so, if they were lovers, they would’ve had to find other ways to please each other.
Aeron couldn’t imagine being unable to touch and taste Olivia. He couldn’t—focus, clearly.
“Tell him,” he said to Olivia, forcing himself back on track.
She squared her shoulders and spouted off the location. That quick, that easy. If only.
“I’ll text everyone,” Torin said, relief dripping from the words. He didn’t ask how Olivia knew, nor did he accuse her of trying to trick him. Even without that ring of truth in her voice, he would have trusted Aeron’s judgment.
“No. Don’t tell them where she is,” Aeron said. He flicked a glance to the nearest window. The curtains were drawn, but there was a tiny sliver of open space between the two panels, allowing the barest hint of sunlight to seep inside. Darkness wouldn’t fall for hours yet, which meant Scarlet was sleeping. “Tell them to come home. Olivia and I will take care of Nightmares. With Hunters in Buda and in possession of an artifact, I want as many warriors as possible here at all times.”
“Done. Any way I can convince you to take a warrior or two with you, though? Backup’s a great thing to have.”
“Won’t need any. She’ll be sleeping until nightfall and no trouble. Right, Olivia?”
The angel nodded reluctantly. She clearly didn’t like sharing information with anyone but him, but was doing so. For Aeron. Perhaps he could forgive her for her earlier fickleness.
Wrath went silent, for once not objecting to the thought of forgiveness—a concept that usually confused the demon.
“Oh, and I know you didn’t want any more surprises tossed your way, but there’s one more thing I’ve got to tell you about your buddy Cronus,” Aeron said. “Turns out we have more in common than our mutual dislike of Galen.”
Torin frowned. “I don’t understand.”
Only merciful way to do this was to say it quick. “He’s possessed by the demon of Greed.”
First, Torin’s mouth fell open. Then his eyes widened. Then he stumbled back, hit the bottom step and nearly fell. “The god king is demon-possessed? How can you—”
“Lysander paid me a visit.” Like him, Torin now knew angels couldn’t lie. “Cronus was locked in Tartarus at the time we opened the box, so it makes sense.”
“Wow. Just wow.”
“Throw in an oh, shit and you’ve got my initial reaction.”
“When did Lysander visit you?” Olivia asked. “What else did he say? Did he mention me? I know he mentioned me.” Before Aeron could respond, she added, “And do you want to have sex before we leave?” She shook her head, as if she couldn’t be sure she’d heard herself correctly. “Did I just ask you if you wanted to have sex with me?”
She had, and his body had reacted accordingly. He nodded because he didn’t trust himself to speak.
The horror he’d heard in her voice a little while ago now flooded her features. “But I didn’t say it. I mean, I did say it, and I want to do it, but that wasn’t me. The voice…”
Torin’s grin was all cat and cream. “So are you talking to Aeron or to me?”
“To me,” Aeron barked, even as she said, “To you, of course.”
“What?” Aeron and Wrath shouted in unison.
Torin laughed, the bastard. “Wish I could, angel, but I really would kill you with my pleasure.”
Her cheeks flushed, giving her skin a luminous glow.
Aeron’s teeth did that grinding thing again. “You better tell that voice of yours to shut the hell up.” Was someone speaking through her? Lysander certainly had the power to do so, but the warrior angel wouldn’t say those kinds of things. Sabin, too, could do it, but he wasn’t here.
Who did that leave? Cronus? Rhea? But why would it be either of them?
Olivia’s shoulders straightened, her chin lifting in a way he now knew meant her stubborn streak had kicked in, and she glared up at him. “Maybe it wasn’t the voice that time. Maybe it was me. You’re not as fun as I thought you’d be. You don’t even know how to give me a proper orgasm.”
Torin barked out another laugh, and it was Aeron’s turn to flush. “I could have given you one if I’d wanted.”
“Yeah, well,” she huffed. “Prove it.”
A growl sprang from deep in his throat and he stepped closer to her, leaned down and put them nose to nose. Give her an orgasm? There was nothing he wanted more. “If you aren’t careful, you’re going to—”
“Aeron, Aeron,” a familiar voice called.
Aeron jerked upright as if he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t. Actually, he had. Legion was here. How could he have forgotten about her? About her safety? He should have been out there looking for her instead of responding to Olivia’s taunts.
“I’m going to my room to summon Cronus again before the mud-wrestling starts,” Torin said. “Maybe he’ll show, maybe he won’t. If he does, I’ll ask him why he’s not listed on the scrolls and if he can block us from Hunters. I’ll let you know how it goes. See you guys later. Oh, and, Olivia. Good luck with that voice.” With a wink in her direction, he turned on his heel and popped back up the stairs.
Touch what’s mine and pay with—
Will you stop warning him away? Aeron snapped at his demon. He can’t hear you. But don’t stop staking that claim, he almost added. Such a fool.
A second later, Legion plowed around the far corner, red eyes wild. She halted when she spied Aeron, hissed when she saw Olivia, then tripped forward until she was standing in front of them. She was panting, sweating.
Instinctively, he moved in front of Olivia. “What’s wrong?” he asked, guilt consuming him. If she’d gotten hurt because of him…
“Everything will…be…better sssoon…” The moment the last word left her mouth, her knees collapsed and she tumbled to the floor.
Aeron reached out, catching her before she hit and easing her down. She was so tiny, her weight barely registered.
“Aeron,” she said on a sigh of relief—just before curling into herself with a pained grunt.
“Legion,” he said, panic sprouting. “Tell me what’s—”
Another grunt. Every muscle she possessed began knotting and relaxing, knotting and relaxing. Her body seemed to be…growing? Not possible. Or shouldn’t have been. As he watched, her arms, legs and torso lengthened. Her scales even began to fall away like dew drops, leaving beautiful, golden skin in their wake.
Soon, though, the grunts became never-ending screams. And with her mouth open so wide, he could see that her teeth were shrinking, her forked tongue weaving together. Next, blond hair sprouted from her scalp and large breasts plumped from her chest.