- The Darkest Passion
Blood froze in her veins. She had to convince Galen to take her back. “I’m not sure what you hope to accomplish, but I assure you, you won’t get your wish. Aeron doesn’t care about me.” Not the way she dreamed, hoped. “He’s letting me go.”
“I highly doubt that, but you weren’t the reason I was in the fortress. You were simply a last resort.”
“And what did you hope to accomplish?”
His arms tightened around her. “Do you really think I’ll spill all my secrets?”
“Are you going to hurt me? Tell me that, at least.”
“And spoil the surprise?” He chuckled. “No. I’d rather show you.” His wings snapped closed, and they began to fall….
AERON CAME AWAKE with a jolt. One moment he’d been lost to the burning pain working its way through him, flaming his organs to ashes, and the next a cool rain had swept through him. A cool rain he’d instantly recognized. The River of Life. Olivia was here, and she had healed him once again.
Except, when he focused, he saw that it was Legion who loomed over him, and he fought a wave of disappointment.“It worked.” She smiled, all pearly whites and happiness. “It really worked.”
Though he badly wanted to ask about his fallen angel, he couldn’t. Not without causing all kinds of problems. “The others?” His voice was rougher than usual, and not because of damage from the smoke inhalation. The water had healed him. But thoughts of Olivia always filled him with need.
“Who cares? You know,” Legion added, tracing a finger down the line of his breastbone. Her lashes dipped to half-mast, though he could still see her eyes. They weren’t glazed with desire. No, it was determination that swirled in their depths. “Now that you’re healed, we have some unfinished business to attend to.”
He grabbed her wrist and held her hand at bay. “The others, Legion? How are they?”
With a sigh, she waved away his concern. “They’re still sick. Okay? All right? But they’ll get better on their own. I’m sure of it.”
Not with those bullets spurting poison into their systems. “You’re telling me they haven’t been given the River of Life?” Perhaps that’s where Olivia was now, seeing to his friends’ well-being. How like her. Caring, helpful.
“No, they weren’t.” There was a growing rigidity to Legion’s features. “Now, about that unfinished business…”
Damn her. She was going to make him ask. “Does Olivia have the vial?”
Finally giving up her attempts at seduction, Legion looked away from him. At least she hadn’t erupted into a rage because he’d mentioned that—beautiful, perfect—name. “No,” she said. “Because we ran out. Sorry.”
Hardly. Last time he’d used it, there’d been enough to save an entire army. Aeron sat up and scrubbed a hand down his face. So. If Olivia didn’t have the water, that meant Legion did, since it had just been given to him and she was the only one here.
But why would Legion— The answer slid into place, and he scowled. Of course. She was saving the rest for him.
“Why don’t I change into something more comfortable,” she suggested.
Not done with the seduction, after all. He shuddered. “Give me the water, Legion, and stop trying to sleep with me. I know we have to, just not now.”
Wrath stirred inside his head, stretching and yawning.
“Legion. I’m giving up my life to save yours. The least you can do is give me the water.”
Frowning, she crossed her arms over her ample chest. “You make it sound like I’m…I don’t know, ruining you.”
He cocked a brow, his silence answer enough, and her anger increased. Any life without Olivia would indeed be a ruined one. Legion’s your bratty kid. “Baby girl” no longer seemed appropriate. You can’t hate her. Fine. “Give me the water or I’ll finally give you the spanking you deserve.”
Now Wrath purred.
The demon liked the idea of punishing her? He never had before.
“Fine,” she grumbled, and tugged the vial from between her breasts. “They only get one drop each. No more.”
Because no more than a drop would be needed, he said, “I promise,” and grabbed the glowing blue vial, the glass so cold it seemed refrigerated. He pushed to a stand and gazed down at himself. He was still blood-soaked and soot-covered from head to foot. His jeans were ripped and he wasn’t wearing a shirt. Good enough.
“Stay here.” With every step toward the door, his blood flowed faster and his strength intensified.
“If you’re going to look for the angel,” Legion called tightly, “you should know that she left.”
The purring faded.
Aeron stopped and turned. “Left? As in went to another room?”
“Nope. She left the fortress.”
No. No. She wouldn’t have done that. She’d promised to stay until he returned and they’d spoken.
Wrath remained deadly quiet.
“You don’t believe me, I see.” Legion sighed and flopped back against the mattress. “She jumped from the balcony and flew away. She didn’t even tell me to tell you goodbye. Which is rude, if you ask me, but I doubt you will,” she added with a grumble.
His own protest echoed the demon’s. He pounded out of the room and down the hall. Legion must have followed him, because she was suddenly beside him, her hand resting in his, trying to drag him to a halt.
His steps never slowed. “Olivia!” he called.
“I told you. She left. She’s gone forever.”
He jerked free from her hold and his hand curled into fists. Olivia wasn’t a liar. Despite the fact that her voice no longer possessed that ring of truth, she wouldn’t have lied to him. It wasn’t in her nature. He knew that. He knew her. Something must have happened. What, he didn’t know, but he would find out.
We’ll find her. He stopped the first warrior he found—Strider—and tossed the vial of water into his hands, tossing instructions, too, but not slowing in his quest to find his angel.
“Aeron,” Legion said, a desperate quality to the word. “Please. You were going to lose her anyway. And you better give me back that bottle the moment you’re done, Strider, or I will ensure you never have children!”
Aeron stormed back into his room and weighed himself down with weapons. “Doesn’t matter if I’m losing her or not.” Olivia, the one woman he realized he would always chase after, pride and circumstances be damned, was out there. “She’s mine. Ours,” he added before Wrath could protest. “And we won’t rest until she’s returned.”
SLAP. Her lip split.
Punch. Air abandoned her lungs.Crack. A hard fist slammed into her lower arm, shattering bone.
Olivia remained mute through it all, enduring, but she couldn’t help the tears that swam in her eyes. The torture had begun an hour ago. An eternity. Her wrists were tied to the arms of a small, wooden chair; she was bruised, bleeding and broken.
Her hair was soaked from the many times the man called Dean Stefano had held her head underwater, preventing her from breathing, forcing her to suck in mouthful after mouthful of liquid. Now those ice-cold droplets covered her, keeping her awake, ensuring she felt every bit of pain.
Not as bad as hell, she told herself. You’ll survive. You have to survive.
“Galen left me in charge of your care,” Stefano said, his face streaked with soot and patches of his skin blistered, “specifically asking that I interrogate you. And I will. I promise you. Your friends did this to me, you see. They burned me and what had become my home. I barely escaped, and owe them one. Or two.”
She looked away from his wild eyes. She was in a warehouse of some sort. A warehouse with a concrete floor and metal walls. The room she now occupied was small. There was a table piled high with knives she fully expected the bastard to begin using any moment now. There was a basin of water deep enough to drown her in, which she’d already gotten up close and personal with more times than she could count, and the chair she sat upon.
“Ready to talk now, angel?” How calm he suddenly sounded. Not at all like the cruel man he was.
If only she’d tell him what he wanted to know, she would be saving the Lords the agony of losing a war, she thought, then bit her tongue. No. No! Galen must be nearby. His demon, Hope, must be playing with her, for that thought had not belonged to her.
“All you have to do is tell me where the Lords have hidden the Cage and this stops.” Stefano offered her a kind smile. “Surely you want that.”
Did she want it to stop? Yes. Who wouldn’t? But once she told him what he wanted to know, he would kill her. Don’t forget that fact. She pressed her lips into a mulish line.
He plucked a feather that had fallen to the floor when Galen dumped her here and caressed the tip along her jaw. “The Cage. Where is it? Tell me. Please. I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”
You know what you have to do, a voice suddenly growled through her head. Not Lucifer, not Galen. The third that day. This time, she fought back a sob of relief. Lysander. He was here. She couldn’t see him, couldn’t sense him, but she knew he was there.
She wasn’t alone in this any longer.
“Angel,” Stefano snapped. Directly in front of her, he curled his hand into a fist, preparing to hit her already-shattered arm. The feather had floated to the floor and now mocked her with its softness. “Talk.”
“I don’t…I don’t know where it is,” she rasped. A lie. She’d never thought she would be grateful for the ability to tell them, but she was now. Of course, that meant the human could choose not to believe her.
Olivia. Say the words, and I’ll take you home.
Oh, she knew she could leave. Knew she could return to the heavens as planned and escape this. All of it. The pain, the humiliation. But she’d made a promise to Aeron, and it was a promise she intended to keep. She had to tell him goodbye. She would tell him goodbye.