- The Darkest Secret
True. “So, any news? Gossip?”
“You want gossip, you’ve come to the right place, my man.”
Some of the tension drained from Torin’s features as wel , and he rubbed his hands together. “Ashlyn’s pregnant.”
He rol ed his eyes. “I know, moron.”
“Yeah, but did she know she’s carrying twins?”
“No shit. A boy and a girl. Fire and ice, Olivia said.” Olivia, the angel. She wasn’t like the assassins currently living here, but a joy-bringer. Aeron’s joy-bringer, in fact, and the girl did her job wel . The somber bastard had never been so…smiley, for lack of a better word. It was straight up weird. “Can you imagine twin demon hel ions running around this place?”
“No.” Strider had never spent any time with kids and wouldn’t even know how to hold one. Or what to say to one.
Or what to do when one vomited on his favorite sword. But damn if he didn’t get a kick out of imagining his friends struggling to cope.
“Oh, and get this. Gideon married Scarlet, the keeper of Nightmares.”
“You’re kidding.” Fickle Gideon? Married? Scarlet was gorgeous, yeah, and feisty as hel . Powerful, too. And Gideon had been a tad bit obsessed with her when she’d been locked in their dungeon. But marriage?
Everyone in the fortress had lost IQ points, it seemed.
“He couldn’t have waited until I got back to sign on for double occupancy?” Strider mumbled. “What a great friend.”
“No one was invited to the ceremony, if you catch my meaning.”
“Wel , the decision to get hitched is gonna give him nightmares.” Strider snickered. “Get it?
“Har, har. You’re a borderline fucktard, you know that?”
“Hey, I’m not going to apologize for being on my A game.
Why don’t you step up to the plate and join me, Junior League?”
Torin ignored him. “It’s weird, don’t you think? Two demons hooking up?”
Strider peered at him, blinked. “I can’t believe you just said that.”
“One word—Cameo. And you. Okay, so three words.”
Torin snapped his teeth at him. “Whatever. We were talking about Scarlet. Which brings me to more gossip. Turns out she’s the only daughter of…wait for it… Rhea.”
What? Rhea? And he hadn’t known? Strider had been way more self-involved than he’d realized. Rhea was queen of the gods, the estranged wife of Cronus, and the bitch helping Galen, keeper of the demon of Hope—and an al around asshole—leader of the Hunters. “How’d Gideon take the news?”
“Wel , he tried to kil his mother-in-law.”
“Sweet. But such romantic gestures aside, our boys have gotta start picking their significant others with more care.
Gwen is Galen’s only kid, Scarlet is Rhea’s. What’s next?”
A Hunter? A participant in Baden’s kil er?
Yes, he was a fucktard.
“I’l tel you what’s next,” Torin said. “Lucifer’s brother.”
“Did no one tel you? Wil iam is related to Lucifer. And Lucifer is the devil, in case you didn’t know.”
The corners of Torin’s lips quirked with amusement. “I know. Whacked out as hel , but kind of fitting.”
He wouldn’t ask again. He wouldn’t. “How?” Damn! The question escaped before he could stop it.
“Don’t know. Wil iam refused to spil . Needless to say, things have been pretty festive around here. So, anyway.
You’re back, and you’re kind of healthy, so I can ask the question I’ve been holding in for three days.
Where the hel is the Cloak of Invisibility? I looked through your stuff, your room, but couldn’t find it.”
Oh, shit. Now it was his turn to drop a news bomb. “About that…”
HAIDEE PROWLED THE CONFINES of her cel .
She had no idea how much time had passed since she’d been pushed inside. She was alone. Food and water had been brought to her only once. The fruits and nuts and crisp, clean water had somehow curbed her hunger completely, strengthening her in a way she couldn’t explain.
Oh, and the food had been delivered by an angel—a freaking angel living in a demon’s den. That stil had her reeling. But she now knew beyond a doubt she was in the Budapest fortress. As they’d dragged her down here, she’d spotted wear and tear from a recent bombing. A bombing she hadn’t been involved in, but one she’d heard al about.
Enough time had passed for Micah—“Amun,” Defeat had cal ed him—to have suffered countless fates.
Torture, relocation, even death. The thought of each had sent her into a near hysteric state. She’d clawed the wal s until she had no nails left. She’d beaten the bars until her knuckles had cracked and swel ed.
She’d screamed for answers until her voice had fractured.
Now, in the silence, al she could do was think, one sentence echoing over and over again. Defeat had cal ed him Amun. Was he Amun, a Lord? Or was he Micah, a Hunter?
He’d known her, shouted for her help. That had to mean he was Micah. But, on the flip side, he hadn’t known anything else about her. Not their history, not their purpose. That had to mean he was Amun.
Argh! The back-and-forth, was he or wasn’t he, was driving her as crazy as her confinement. Could he be a mix of both? Amun’s demon stuffed into Micah’s body? Because real y, two men couldn’t look that much alike. Could they?
No matter the answers, she wasn’t leaving without him.
Even though, deep down, a part of her suspected the worst.
That two men could easily look alike—especial y if powers beyond a human’s comprehension were involved. That he was Amun, that he’d always been Amun. That Micah was someone else completely, out there somewhere, stil searching for her, and she was simply trying to convince herself otherwise so she wouldn’t feel guilty.
That kiss…something else she couldn’t get out of her mind.
Micah had never kissed her like that. Fiery, consuming.
Despite the danger they had been in—were in—she would have al owed him to strip and penetrate her.
She would have met him thrust for wild thrust, taking, giving, claiming.
She would have clung to him, desperate for more, for everything.
Hel , she would have crawled inside him if she could have.
She’d wanted them fused, never able to part. How crazy was that? A kiss had never affected her like that. Never. A man had never affected her like that.
Always before, she had remained detached. From everyone. Maybe because she’d known the people around her would die, while she would continue on, eternal y brought back from the grave. Maybe because there was darkness inside her. So much darkness. A living entity, as real as the ice that flowed through her veins, a presence in the back of her mind, muted but always there, urging her to despise people, places, life, death. Anything, everything.
For the first time, she hadn’t had to fight to feel or garner affection. She had looked at Amun—
That’s how you think of him now? Amun?
Yes, she realized. Somehow he was Amun to her now.
Micah didn’t fit those ful er lips and wider shoulders. So, she had looked at Amun, and sensual awareness had sizzled inside her. Connecting them. She had heard his voice inside her head, and that sensual awareness had deepened.
And if he real y was Amun, not Micah, she should feel guilty about what had happened between them.
She should be horrified that she’d succumbed to her enemy. Should be devastated that she’d let him give her more than an explosive kiss; she’d let him lick between her legs, and she had loved it. Had been begging for more.
Guilt and horror were not what she felt, however. Wel , not completely. She felt them, but she was stil consumed by desire.
Forgetting the fact that Amun was the enemy, she wasn’t a cheater. And yet, had he walked through her cel , she felt pretty certain she would have thrown herself into his arms.
She scrubbed a shaky hand down her face. What was happening to her common sense? Her wel
-honed self-preservation instincts?
Micah was the first boyfriend she’d al owed herself in centuries, and only because she had dreamed of him first.
But she hadn’t needed him, hadn’t been lost without him.
She paused and peered down at her tattooed arm. At his name, branded so deeply into her flesh.
M-i-c-a-h. She traced the letters with a scabbed fingertip. There was no leap in her pulse, no hum of desire.
She thought the name Amun.
Goose bumps broke out over every inch of her skin. She licked her lips, her mouth suddenly flooded with moisture.
See? Reaction. Always. And that wasn’t good. Not good at al .
What if…what if she hadn’t dreamed of Micah? What if she’d dreamed of Amun? Did that mean Amun was a bad memory trying to surface? Or, like the visions he had showed her of her past, was he something good?
Neither made sense, real y. One, in the visions, she knew the man she saw was her key to happiness, to freedom.
Two, how could a demon-possessed immortal, responsible for the travesty that was her life—and her parents’ and sister’s deaths—be something good?
She kicked back into motion, her sure strides eating up the distance from one cel wal to the other. A better question: How could a demon-possessed warrior be the one thing she craved? The one thing she didn’t think she could live without?
Live. Without. The words echoed through her mind, and she stumbled to another halt. Her stomach twisted, sharp little knots forming, cutting. No. No, no, no. She purposely kept her home and belongings sparse, her friendships casual.
That way, she could pick up and leave without a moment’s notice or regret.
She could live without him. She could. He was a mystery right now. A mystery she needed to solve.