- The Darkest Seduction
“I—I—” Had no answer. He’s lying! The scream of desperation echoed through her mind—her own, not her demon’s. She had to stay strong. Had to insist he present at least a modicum of proof before she reacted.
“Think about all I have told you, my darling Sienna. I will return soon and we will discuss any new duties you might wish to take on.” With that, he disappeared, there one moment, gone the next.
Sienna sank to her knees, her strength leaving with the king. Her eyes burned, her chin trembled. Her wings pulled and folded in ways they shouldn’t, and a sharp cry escaped her. Every damned day was a new lesson in horror for her.
Tears trickled down her cheeks, scalding her skin. How much more could she take? How much longer until she broke?
For Skye, she’d do just about anything, and Cronus knew that. Skye was all she had left, having somehow become both sister and daughter in her mind. Made sense, though. She’d only known her sister as a little girl, and the baby she’d lost, a girl as well, had never gotten the chance to grow out of infancy. And the possibility of a niece or nephew? Yeah, she’d do anything.
Cronus knew that. No wonder he’d reined in his temper. He didn’t have to hurt her physically to get what he wanted. No wonder he’d chosen Sienna for his games. She was still a puppet, the strings she thought she’d cut anchored to another master’s hand.
Worse, there was no way to fight this one.
PARIS SPRAWLED IN an unfamiliar bed, one hand at his side and gripping a crystal blade, the other draped over his forehead, shielding his eyes. After a few days of traveling, closer than ever to his goal, he was in another motel in Titania, with Zacharel…somewhere, and William snoozing peacefully on the bed beside his.
In quiet moments like this, Paris’s mind always hopped the Memory Train, taking him back to when he’d first met Sienna, and tonight was no different. He remembered walking the streets of Rome, in desperate need of a lover, every woman he encountered shooing him away as if he were repugnant. Then someone had rammed into him from behind, and weak as he’d been from the lack of sex, he’d nearly fallen flat on his face before he’d managed to right himself.
“I’m so sorry,” he’d heard her say, the sensual rasp of her voice thrilling him on every level.
He turned slowly, afraid that if he moved too quickly he would frighten her and she would run away like the others. Papers were scattered around her feet, and she crouched, trying to gather them. First thing to register was dark hair curtaining a face hidden by shadows.
“That’ll teach me to read and walk at the same time,” she muttered.
“I’m glad you were reading,” he said, bending down to help her. “I’m glad we ran into each other.” More than she would ever know.
Her heavily lashed lids lifted, and her gaze met his. She gasped. He reeled. She was on the plain side, with eyes and lips too big for her face and skin dotted with uncountable freckles, but she possessed a grace and presence so few mortals could ever hope to attain.
“Your name doesn’t start with an A, does it?” he asked her, suddenly suspicious of fate and master plans. Maddox had recently become a sap for a woman named Ashlyn. Lucien had abandoned his manhood for Anya. Paris refused to do the same for anyone.
Her brow puckered in confusion, and she shook her head, that fall of dark hair waving around her delicate shoulders. “No. My name is Sienna. Not that you care and not that you really asked. Sorry. I didn’t mean to just blurt it out.”
“I care,” he replied huskily, thinking he would have the best time stripping her. One, her clothes bagged on her, hiding the secrets of her femininity. Two, she was skittish, her babbling charming, and he expected a similar reaction in bed. “You’re…American?”
“Yes. Vacationing here to work on my manuscript. Again, not that you asked. I can’t place your accent, though.”
“Hungarian,” he said, giving her the simplest answer. The Lords had been living in Budapest for a while, and there was no way to explain—without sounding crazy— that he spoke languages she’d never even heard of. “So you are a writer?”
“Yes. Well, I hope to be. Wait, that’s not right, either. I am a writer, but I’m not published yet.”
Now, of course, he knew the truth. She wasn’t a writer. The pages of her romance novel had merely served as a launch pad for their sensual conversation, nothing more.
When she’d next asked him to grab a coffee with her, he’d said yes, already throbbing with need for her. They’d talked and laughed the entire time, and he’d enjoyed every moment of it. He’d relaxed with her, something he hadn’t been able to do with very many others. But she had a contagious smile, a keen wit, and that grace of motion that matched her demeanor.
Meanwhile, his demon shot out wafts of his pheromones, so there’d been no great difficulty in convincing her to rent a hotel room with him. Or so he’d thought at the time. Along the way, she had pretended to change her mind. Or hell, maybe she had changed her mind. Maybe she’d fallen in like with him, too, and had decided not to hand him over to her Hunter brethren. But sex fiend that Paris was, he’d pressed her for more, dragging her into an abandoned alley and kissing the breath out of her.
That’s when she drugged him, using a needle hidden in one of her rings. He’d woken up strapped to a gurney, naked and groggy. She had crouched in front of him, and he’d assumed the Hunters had taken her prisoner, too. Until she’d said four little words that changed the nature of their relationship.
“I locked you up.”
His brilliant reply? “Why would you do something like that?” He still hadn’t wanted to believe this woman he so craved had something to do with his current circumstances.
“Can’t you guess?” she asked. She angled his head to the side, and, studying his neck, traced a fingertip over a sore spot. Puncture wound, he’d realized, the answer to her question slipping into place, taking root.
“You’re my enemy.”
“Yes.” Then she’d added with a frown, “The wound isn’t healing. I didn’t mean to jab you with the needle quite so forcefully. For that, I’m sorry.”
His eyes narrowed on her, feelings of betrayal and disbelief whisking through him. “You tricked me. Played me like a piano.”
“Why? And don’t tell me you’re Bait. You’re not pretty enough.” He’d said it to be cruel, but now, remembering, he cringed. No wonder she had later done what she’d done, said what she’d said.
A blush stained her cheeks. “No, I’m not Bait. Or rather, I wouldn’t have been to any warrior but you. But then, you don’t care who you screw, do you, Promiscuity?” Every word had dripped with disgust, his charming, babbling romance writer long gone. But the grace…oh, that she couldn’t banish.
“Obviously not.” When her blush deepened, he added silkily, just to taunt her further, “Aren’t you afraid I’ll hurt you?”
“No. You haven’t the strength. I made sure of that.”
Her newfound resistance to him, no matter how poorly he acted, irked. Females adored him, always. Well, almost always. “You enjoyed yourself while you were in my arms. Admit it. I know women, and I know passion. You were on fire for me.”
“Shut up,” she snapped.
Good. He was getting to her. “Want to give me a go before your friends show up?”
After that particular jab, she had stomped away from him, but she hadn’t left the room. Remaining a safe distance away, she admitted her status—Hunter—and detailed exactly what her friends planned to do to him.
“We’re going to experiment on you. Observe you. Use you as Bait to capture more demons. And then, when we find Pandora’s box, we’re going to draw out your demon, killing you and trapping the monster inside.”
Warrior that he was, and as many battles as he’d fought, he’d known to show her only indifference. “That it?”
“You might as well kill me then, sweetheart. My friends won’t surrender themselves to save little old me.”
“We’ll see about that, won’t we?”
When he realized antagonizing her wasn’t helping his cause, he switched to seduction, his default setting. He projected sexual images into her head, something he hated to do. Didn’t do anymore. He couldn’t live with himself afterward. And as she had pictured what he wanted her to picture—the two of them together, naked and straining toward climax—her breathing became choppy, her nipples hard underneath her shirt. A white shirt that did nothing to hide the lace of her bra, proving she had a secret sensual side.
He’d almost had her, but in the end, she’d wised up. He’d made the mistake of continuing to call her sweetheart, an endearment he’d used on countless others, and she’d known it. After that, it hadn’t taken her long to figure out he used the term because he couldn’t remember her name—or anyone else’s.
Finally she’d left him for real, only returning a few days later when he was a few breaths away from death. That’s when she at last stripped for him, at last pleasured him.
That’s when he killed her.
THE NEXT MORNING, Paris stood at the highest edge of a cliff overlooking the Realm of Blood and Shadows, his body poised for war. Finally, he’d found his destination, hidden in a far corner of Titania, its portal invisible to everyone but William. What do you know? The guy had his uses.
Now Paris would find Sienna.
His blood boiled with the fury he’d suppressed for far too long. His muscles burned with startling ferocity, and his bones vibrated with the need to act, to hurt someone. Multiple someones.
Sharp gusts of wind blustered, doing nothing to scatter the shroud of thick, black mist surrounding him, seeping inside of him. The scent of aged copper filled the air, leaving a moist film in his nose. Muted shrieks echoed from every direction, so many shrieks of pain. Above, the moon formed a sallow hook, its ends frayed, hemorrhaging into an endless expanse of unforgiving night. Below, an ocean of crimson tears frothed and hissed, creating a second symphony of anguish.