- The Darkest Secret
Her grin remained in place, though the edges darkened with an emotion he couldn’t name. “Oh, real y?
Wel , I seem to recal you tel ing me I’m worse than a stomach virus, and I think it’s time I proved that.
I’m chal enging you to let me help you, Strider. I’m chal enging you to hurt the bastard more than I do, and I’m chal enging you to kil more of his men than I do.”
Fuck! he thought, even as his demon started jumping around again. Nervous, excited. Okay, mostly nervous.
Win, win, win. Please, win.
Suddenly hating Kaia with every fiber of his being, Strider gave her a stiff nod. Game on, then. “When this is over,” he said softly, “I wil make you pay.”
“I know,” she replied, and her tone was oddly subdued.
“Believe me, I know.”
THOUGH TWO DAYS OF WALKING and monotony had passed since they’d left their cave, and al Amun had been able to do was think and guard Haidee the few times he’d al owed her to stop and rest, he hadn’t come to grips with what he’d once done to her. Or what had driven her to hate him and his friends, hate that led her to aid in Baden’s destruction. No matter how good Amun’s intentions had been, he’d stil flung her right into an attacker’s blade.
Gods. The blood pouring from her…the agony in her expression…
His friends only remembered bits and pieces of their time in ancient Greece. They knew they’d burned, pil aged and destroyed, but not specifics. Like who and what. Amun, however, recal ed every detail. Or rather, Secrets wouldn’t al ow him to forget. Mysteries of that nature weren’t ever al owed to remain unsolved, even within himself.
Very clearly Amun remembered the rage he’d felt as he had fol owed the Hunters to the nobleman’s home. They’d had a particularly violent battle earlier that morning, before the Hunters had cut their losses and retreated. Having none of that, Amun and the others had fol owed them. The warriors had been sliced, diced and bleeding, and they’d been determined to annihilate those responsible.
What he hadn’t pieced together then—the information lost in the tangle of everything else—but what he determined now, was that they’d been herded, purposely led into that house. Not by the Hunters, but by the “he” who pul ed their strings. Not the robed being Haidee had seen, but the “he”
the Hunters had mentioned when they’d spotted the creature. “He” had known a demon would be there.
had wanted everyone inside that room to be slaughtered.
Even his own people.
Galen, even then? Or the man who had “rescued” little Haidee and taught her to blame the Lords for her parents’
deaths? The Bad Man? Amun might never know, and real y, just then, he didn’t care. No one’s actions had been as despicable as his own.
He didn’t deserve the woman behind him, the woman trudging without complaint through cavern after cavern simply to save him. He was responsible for the danger she now found herself in. He might be the cause of her next death.
A death she feared with every ounce of her being. Terror had fil ed those pearl-gray eyes when she’d spoken of her rebirths. Terror and residual pain, as if even speaking of the events had lanced her with an agony few in the world could even understand. She deserved peace and happiness, a family to cherish her.
Everything she’d ever loved had been taken from her. While his mind had been merged with hers, he’d sensed thousands of hidden memories—the memories she thought had been wiped. They were buried deep, secrets even from herself. His demon had reacted rapturously and now viewed her head as the Holy Grail. Secrets wanted back inside. Amun wanted back on top of her strong little body.
But he wouldn’t touch her again, wouldn’t deepen the already sizzling awareness between them.
damn it! He hated this line of thought, but he didn’t al ow himself to back away from it. This was part of his penance.
He wouldn’t touch her again because he was going to give her back to Micah.
Amun’s fingers tightened around the blade hilts he held in both hands, and red dots flickered through his vision.
Haidee wouldn’t come to hate herself for being with Micah, a Hunter. She wouldn’t wal ow in guilt she shouldn’t feel.
She wouldn’t lose the life she’d managed to build for herself.
With Amun, she would come to hate herself. How could she not? Giving herself to a Lord had to top her list of Things Never To Do. She would wal ow in guilt, berating herself for choosing the very evil she’d fought against for so long. And she would lose the life she’d built. No way she could be with him and not cut ties with his enemy.
She must have sensed, or heard, the direction of his thoughts because she sighed, her cool breath wafting down his back. He’d removed his shirt, the heat too much, sweat constantly trickling over his flesh. If Haidee hadn’t been with him, that wonderful y cool breeze wafting from her, enveloping him, he might have actual y burst into flames.
“Can we talk now?” she said. “About what happened?”
Amun was wil ing to do anything she wanted. Except that. If he told her of his guilt, his regret, she would do everything in her power to ease him. No matter what she did, she would only increase his guilt, because she would be acting against her nature. The woman could nurse a grudge as stubbornly as his friends. Except with Amun. Him, she wanted to forgive. Him, she wanted to absolve. Him, she wanted to…love. He’d sensed the need inside her.
Because of the blood bond they shared?
“So stubborn,” she said, tsking under her tongue. “Fine.
Let’s talk about something else, then.”
As strong as he was, he was helpless against that word.
Very wel . What do you wish to discuss?
“You know some of my secrets, but I don’t know any of yours. Wil you tel me something that no one else knows about you?”
Had his friends heard that question, they would have rol ed their eyes and snorted, certain Haidee was playing Bait, trying to learn everything she could about him to share with the Hunters. And they would have shaken Amun had they realized he planned to answer anyway. That he actual y trusted her.
Her, the only person in the world his demon couldn’t read automatical y. Her, the only person in the world who could read him.
Point me in the right direction. What type of secret would you like?
She inhaled sharply, as if she hadn’t expected him to respond. Then she expel ed the breath with a torturous slowness that caused the sweat on his back to freeze.
Rather than numb him, that ice reminded him of her touch, and his shaft twitched in anticipation.
Perhaps you should increase the distance between us, he said. He wouldn’t turn around, wouldn’t look at her to see how she took his request. Just in case you trip. You don’t want to slam into me, do you?
“If I trip, I need to be closer to you. You’d prevent a face-plant.”
Logical. Damn it. He increased his pace. So did she. A few minutes ticked by in silence. Sometimes he felt as if he was walking in circles, the cave widening, then narrowing, then widening again, leading up, then down, but never actual y taking him anywhere. But there was no other direction to take. This was it.
They snaked a corner, and stil Haidee remained silent.
Tension bloomed as he considered everything she could ask him. Details about his last lover. His plans for her, the future.
You have yet to point me in the right direction, Haidee.
“I’m thinking.” Speaking must have distracted her because she tripped, stumbling right into him, her breasts pressing into his back. She huffed. “See? Saved from a face-plant.”
The stinging arousal that next consumed him made a mockery of the twitching that had come before. He wanted her to reach around and wrap her fingers around his erection. Stroke him up and down. Perhaps step in front of him, drop to her knees and suck him deep.
Of course, she straightened, ending the contact but not the fantasy.
A moan nearly escaped him. Don’t think like that, he commanded himself.
“Like what?” she asked, confused.
Gods, he had to be more careful. Sorry. The command was for myself.
“Why? What were you thinking about?”
No way he’d tel her. No damn way. What secret would you like from me?
A moment passed before she said, “That. I want to know what you were thinking about.”
Should have expected that. He could have refused her, but he didn’t. She had requested, he had agreed, and he would do as promised. Stil . He couldn’t speak about what he’d been imagining without begging her to truly do it. I’l have to show you. If he could.
When he had lived in the heavens, a minor goddess had performed the act on him, once, only once, and he had loved every moment of it. Sadly, no one had ever done it since. Maybe because he’d never been able to ask for it, and when he’d tried to angle his few lovers into that position, they had resisted. He was big, so he’d understood their reservations and hadn’t pressed.
So, before Haidee, the time with the goddess had been the best sexual experience of his life. Just thinking about Haidee sucking his shaft, however, was even better than that.
“I’m waiting,” Haidee sang.
And she had cal ed him stubborn. Very wel , sweetheart.
Just remember, you asked for this. He pushed the vision out of his mind and into hers, praying it worked.
It worked. She gave another sharp intake of breath, this one shaky around the edges. “Amun,” she said on a moan.
A moan of need?
Even as they continued to march forward, her hands slid up his back, then around his sides…playing with his nipples…
Her breasts once again smashed into him, but this time her fingers traced a path down…down… Holy hel . She would do it, he thought, awed and guilty and so aroused his hunger and need were probably seeping from his skin. She would give him what he wanted, without any hesitation.