- The Darkest Secret
Yes. Yes. She.
Had. Died. Hunters had used her as Bait—dressed her up like a pretty, helpless dol , sent her knocking on Baden’s door, begging for help. She had lured him straight into slaughter. The rest of the Lords had arrived just before he’d lost his head; they’d attacked. But even if they had arrived a few minutes sooner, they would have been too late. Al the pieces of the game had been set.
Amun remembered the blood, the screams. Remembered Strider victoriously lifting Haidee’s head when the battle had final y ended, and like Baden, she’d been without a body. Not even an immortal could recover from that.
Otherwise Baden, more alive than anyone he’d ever known, would have risen from the grave long ago.
Instead, the man’s soul was trapped somewhere in the heavens.
The horror intensified to a shattering level. Amun couldn’t bear to remember. Not this. Because the longer he wal owed in the past, the more likely he was to lose his tether on the other deep, dark emotion buried inside him.
Rage. He would destroy the fortress in a way Maddox, keeper of Violence, never had, ruining their home stone by precious stone.
His hands fel away from Haidee and flopped to his sides.
Her past faded, as did his own, and he could only stare at her, this present version, hate blending with his horror—
then completely overshadowing it. Yet even with that earth-shattering hatred flooding him, the lust remained undiminished.
His body simply didn’t care what she’d done.
The pink tip of her tongue swiped over her mouth, leaving a sheen of moisture. Dust motes sparkled around her, and with the pink streaks in her hair and the haze of his vision, she looked like an X-rated fairy-tale fantasy come to dazzling life. Her shirt hugged her breasts, and her nipples were pearled into decadent peaks. “What was that?” she breathed, unaware of the change in him.
What do you mean? The question snapped like a whip, lashing out before he could reason what to do, how to proceed.
“The…memories. Of me as a child, then as me as an adult, on the veranda.”
She’d seen what he’d seen, then. That had never happened before, either. And yet, she made no mention of Baden—
but then, Amun hadn’t truly pictured his friend, had he? No, not true. He had. There’d been a split-second glimpse. She just hadn’t noticed, then, the other memories holding her attention captive.
Therefore, she would have no warning, no way to prepare herself for his retaliation. And he would.
Retaliate. He needed to punish her, needed to hurt her. So very badly.
Stil she didn’t seem to notice the darkness of his emotions.
Gray eyes wide, she shook her head. “I’ve never remembered the good parts of my lives. Those memories are always taken from me.”
Lives. As in, more than one. Had she been reborn more than once? Was she here to finish the job she’d started al those centuries ago? To cause the destruction of everyone he loved?
How had she gotten here? Why hadn’t she tried to kil him already? Why did she treat him with such affection? He’d never had to wonder about someone’s motivation before.
He knew the truth, always. Knew what those around him most wanted to hide. This uncertainty was maddening, increasing the depths of his rage.
Answers first, he decided. Except, he had no idea how to urge her in that direction.
“Whatever you did…however you did it…” Wonder consumed her expression, lighting her up. “Thank you.”
With a shaky hand, she brushed a budding tear from the corner of her eye. “Thank you. I knew I’d once had a sister, but I hadn’t known what she looked like.”
And the other vision? Could he trust a single word out of her deceitful mouth?
“I have an idea, but I’m not sure.” Slowly she smiled, a vibrant smile of white teeth and untamed joy.
maybe when we’re safe we can do this again? I can find out if I’m right.”
The smile he’d seen before, that barest hint of delight, should have warned him of the devastating impact a ful -on smile would cause. It hadn’t. He sucked in a breath, lost in her—and never wanting to be found.
The gray of her eyes lightened so much he could see tiny flecks of blue. The rose in her cheeks deepened, his fingers itching to discover if the color warmed her flesh, or if those cheeks were as deliciously chil ed as the rest of her.
He couldn’t soften, he reminded himself darkly. Couldn’t crave her in any way.
“What?” she asked, suddenly unsure. She’d final y noticed the change in him. “You’ve never looked at me like that before.”
How am I looking at you? Like he wanted to stab her? He would. Soon. For Baden. For the others who stil mourned the loss of their friend.
“Like I’m…edible.” She leaned down, her breasts rubbing his chest, her breath fanning over his ear. “I like it,” she whispered.
He could only sit there, wanting desperately to grab her, hold her there—to choke her, he assured himself—but unable to make his useless body cooperate. Then, as if she hadn’t just sent a thousand bolts of white-hot need—to choke her—through him, she straightened, returning them to the business at hand.
“Okay. So. We can’t leave yet, which means we have to prepare. Maybe…maybe we can blockade ourselves in here. That might buy us some time.”
Leave? She meant to leave with him? Without the artifacts she’d mentioned? Without trying to pry information out of him? That made no sense. Unless…
Prepare for what? His execution?
“The Lords.” She popped to her feet and slowly spun. “I’l have to shut the door between the rooms.”
As she spoke, she rushed to the wal . She hooked her fingers around the edge of the “door,” and pul ed.
Gradual y, the hole closed. Haidee then shoved the dresser against the exit he hadn’t known about, preventing anyone from opening it from the other side. Wel , anyone of normal strength. She did the same to the front door, using his vanity.
Amun watched her, no closer to answers now than he’d been before traipsing through her head.
Perhaps even further away. She was serious about protecting him.
Despite who and what he was.
“If you continue to heal so rapidly, and they continue to stay away, we might be able to fight them when they final y bust inside. We can escape. And I know, I know. Our motto is
‘die if you must, but take as many Lords as you can with you.’ And I was total y prepared to do that when I thought you couldn’t be moved. But sometimes it’s better to get out and come back later, you know?”
You hate the Lords? he asked, just to discover what she’d say.
“Hate is a mild word, don’t you think?” She never ceased her efforts to blockade them.
She had told the truth. Shocking. Why?
“I have my reasons, and you have yours.” She attempted to wrench the mirror from the vanity. Hoping to shatter the glass and use the shards as blades? “We don’t talk about them, remember?”
No. I don’t remember. Now, what would she say to that?
Final y she paused, her sharp gaze whipping to him. “You don’t remember our past?”
She thought they had a past. No. Should I? Careful y, he had to tread careful y.
Her eyelids slitted, evidence of the predator that lurked inside. “I swear to God, baby. I’l make them pay for every injury they inflicted on you.”
Baby again. And she meant to seek revenge on his behalf?
He stil couldn’t, wouldn’t, soften, but something was wrong here. The knowledge changed the direction of his rage.
She wasn’t pretending to like him; she actual y liked him.
And when Amun looked past his own emotions, he realized Secrets sensed no malice in her. Not directed at him, at least. And even as unreliable as the demon had been since Amun had woken up, he found he couldn’t refute that.
Haidee’s fingers curled over the mirror’s frame so tightly her knuckles leached of color. After a few seconds of deep breathing, she released the wood and straightened.
What are you doing? he asked.
“We need weapons.” Her gaze circled the room—she did that a lot, he realized, and thought it was a defensive instinct—before landing on his closet.
She strode forward, disappeared inside. He had multiple weapons stashed inside, but he knew she wouldn’t find them. No one could hide things quite like Amun. What he wanted to remain unseen, remained unseen. Soon she exited with one of his shirts wrapped around her fist, and that was al . Stil , satisfaction radiated from her. Barely a second passed before she reached the mirror and punched, punched again, a hard jab, jab.
“They have a whole wardrobe in there,” she said. “This room must belong to one of them.” The glass shattered against that second thrust, and she released the material from her grip, letting it float to the floor.
One of them, she’d said. As he’d suspected, she hefted several shards, tested their weight, turned them in the light.
With a nod, she sheathed several in her pockets.
She jolted as if startled. “I’m sorry. Yes?”
“You don’t know your name, either?” A frown darkened her expression. “Your name is Micah. We’ve been dating for about seven months.”
Micah, like the tattoo on her arm. Micah, her “baby.” That’s who she thought he was? And I’m a Hunter?
“Yes.” So easily admitted, without a care. Unless she was a grade A actress capable of fooling a demon, she truly believed what she said, that he was Micah, a Hunter.
Knots formed in Amun’s stomach, then sharpened into daggers, cutting at him. So there it was. Proof, by her own admission, that she was his enemy. He needed to kil her before she discovered the truth about him. Before she thought to fight him, to hurt him when he couldn’t real y defend himself.
And as she’d just locked them inside this room, effectively trapping herself in his presence, al he had to do was summon her over, wrap his hands around her pretty neck, choke as he’d already wanted, and twist. He might be weak, the action might pain him, but he wouldn’t back down. He couldn’t.