I’ll protect her from further abuse, he thought next. She was his. For just a little while, she was his.

Sex jumped up and down. Take her, take her, take her.

Instinct demanded he obey. Still he resisted. Not like this. Not while she’s out.

A sigh of frustration, maybe even a muttered you’re no fun as Paris looked her over, shielding her from William’s gaze as he moved her clothing out of the way to check for injuries. Every newly revealed inch of skin acted as a lick of flame to Sex, causing the demon to hiss and shake. Or maybe you are fun.

Though Paris admired the body beneath him just as fervently as his dark companion, he hissed and shook for a different reason. Another rise of darkness, another increase of boiling rage. Beneath fading bruises, his woman was as fang-and-claw-mark-ridden as he was, blood oozing from her in tiny rivers of pain.

His next mission crystallized. Finding out how to hurt the gargoyles and then making them pay for every mark.

Really making them pay, he decided when he spied a deep, angry gouge in her side. He sucked in a breath to try and calm himself down, but he inhaled so sharply his lungs felt like mini-vacuums, drawing the air in with commando force. His muscles tensed, his head fogged all over again and his mouth watered. He could actually taste the ambrosia in the air. Frowning, he bent down and sniffed along the line of her neck. The closer he was to her, the stronger the scent became.

“Kinky,” William said.

“Can you be serious?”

“I was being serious. I always figured you for the in and out type. Kinda stealthy, leaving the girl wondering whether you’d even been there or not. But I didn’t know you were quite this stealthy.”

“Nice to know you’ve considered my sex life,” he grumbled.

“Hasn’t everyone?”

“Screw you.”

“Again, hasn’t everyone?”

“This is pointless.” Another sniff. The fog thickened, Paris’s brain practically swimming through it. Could the fragrance originate in Sienna’s blood? Yet another sniff, another infusion of that ever-thickening fog. Yeah, it was definitely in her blood—and a lot of it. More than even an addict could handle. Her scent was as strong as if she were actually growing in an ambrosia field.

Which should be impossible. Right? Ambrosia was harvested in special meadows elsewhere in the heavens, as far from this dark realm as the moon was from the earth. Lavender petals were plucked from the foliage, the clear, intoxicating liquid squeezed out before those petals were dried and turned into powder. No one could handle the liquid, not even immortals, and humans certainly couldn’t handle even the powder.

But Sienna wasn’t human anymore, was she.

He was ashamed to admit he was tempted to bite her, to drink her down and savor every drop. He’d walked the path of addiction, sprinted it, really, but he had somehow managed to skirt the edge of need during his journey here, knowing his wits were required to succeed. If only that would lessen the sweet, tantalizing lure of her right now…but no.

“As interesting as this is, and honestly, I don’t mean to interrupt your seductive process,” William said, air-quoting the last two words, “but are you gonna get to the good stuff or what?”

“I thought I told you to shut it.”

“No, you told me to screw you, and that was five minutes ago. A lot’s changed since then. Like, I’m currently bored.”

Biting his tongue until he tasted copper, Paris finished his search for injuries. And shit, there was another shot of desire—his own rather than his demon’s. He shouldn’t notice those lovely pink nipples, shouldn’t notice the soft dip of her belly or the trim length of her legs. Shouldn’t be counting her freckles, already planning his tongue’s attack. (He would start with the darker ones on her stomach, and work his way to the lighter ones on her thighs.) He was a bastard. He was sick, disgusting. He should be whipped.

When she woke up, she’d take care of that for him, he would bet.

Hate myself. “She’s already dead,” he gritted out. He noticed her right wrist no longer bore the tattoo of infinity, a symbol the Hunters used. “Why is she bleeding? Shouldn’t she heal as quickly as we do?”

“Oh, now you want to talk to me?” the warrior quipped.

“Just answer the question before I cut out your tongue and nail it to the wall.”

“You’ve really lost your sense of humor, you know that? But okay. Fine. I’ll play along. She’s dead, yes, but she’s also possessed by a demon that is very much alive. His heart beats for her. His blood fills her veins. I shouldn’t have to explain demon physiology to you. And what the hell is that smell? It’s mouthwatering. A real party for my—”

“Stop breathing!” Paris didn’t want anyone else breathing her in.

“O-kay. Possessive much?”

“Let’s get back to the subject that won’t get you maimed. She’s possessed by a demon, yes, but she’s also a dead human spirit. So…”

“So, you’re still able to touch her.”

To borrow the bastard’s phrasing: Obvious much? “What I’m asking is, will she heal?”

“Yeah, because her demon will heal. And here’s a little tip for the next person held captive by your stunning conversation. You should have started with that and saved us time and trouble.”

Okay. Okay, then. Good. She would heal. Paris scooped her up in his arms—pissed all over again with the gargoyles. What they’d left on him…was now on his woman.

Sex adored the contact and purred his approval.

“I’m taking her upstairs, looking for a bedroom.” Paris would clean and bandage her. If she didn’t wake up and demand he leave her the hell alone first. “You’re not invited.”

As much as he wanted her awake, looking at him, talking to him, he hoped she slept through the cleaning. He was desperate to get his hands on her, really on her. Yeah, he was a sick, sick bastard. But that wasn’t the main reason, he told himself. He didn’t want her to feel any pain while he doctored her.

He studied the chains for a split second, thinking it might be a good idea to tie Sienna to a bed while he had the chance. That way, she couldn’t run until after they’d discussed a few things. But he hadn’t come all this way, done all those things, only to enslave her himself. His goal was, and had always been, her freedom.

And shit. She might not run from him. Earlier she had ignored him, had watched as he’d passed her, but a few minutes later, she had rushed to his rescue. Whatever the reason for the change, she hadn’t sought to get rid of him.

He rubbed his cheek against the top of her head, luxuriating in the feel of her silky hair before carrying her out of the cell. The gargoyles hadn’t bothered shutting the iron bars that would have kept him and William inside. At least until they’d picked the lock, that is.

“You’re such a wuss,” William said, pacing beside him. “I hope you know that.”

“Really? I’m not the one carrying conditioner around.”

“Maybe that’s why your hair has so many split ends.”

“Tell me about your hair one more time. You’ll wake up bald.”

“That’s a ridiculous thing to say. We both know I’d have your guts spilled before you ever got the razor near me.” William raised his chin. “By the way, only a real man can accept his feminine side.”

“I don’t know who fed you that line of garbage, but I can promise she’s laughing at you right now.”

“Surprise! It was your mom—after I boned her.”

A mom joke. How original.

The gargoyles were no longer in the ballroom. Paris hadn’t noticed the interior before; he’d been a little too busy getting his ass kicked. Now he had a look around. It was dark, crumbling like the rest of the place, with blood dried on the walls and bones tossed about haphazardly.

Up the stairs they climbed, the carpet threadbare in multiple places. On the new rise were statues, a lot of damn statues. Male, female, old, young. Only thing they had in common were their expressions of horror.

“I take it you’re gonna be busy for a few hours, since I suspect that’s how long she’ll be out and you can do your thing.” William brushed his fingers over a large pair of alabaster breasts. “I mean, that’s the reason I’m not invited to join you, right?”

“You better shut your mouth while you still have a head.” Even as irritated as he was with William’s suggestion, pulses of desire shot through Paris at the thought of being alone with Sienna and touching her as easily as William had touched the statue—little flames he wasn’t sure whether to douse or welcome.

“Shout if you need me. Like, if she’s too much for you.”

“That day will never come.” Paris veered left as the warrior veered right. “By the way, if you knock on my door, you better be dying. ’Cause if you’re not, you soon will be.” He shouldered his way into the first room he came across. His luck was holding, because it was a furnished bedroom. All he had to do was remove the thick layers of dust and the tarp draping everything.

Or maybe he should leave the tarp. Because when Sienna woke up, this might become a war zone.


KANE, KEEPER OF THE DEMON of Disaster, could not believe his luck. Usually his life took the express train to hell, whether he’d purchased a ticket or not, with rocks falling on his head, lightbulbs shorting out and holes opening up at his feet. Stuff like that could really mess with a guy’s mind, so over the years he’d developed a philosophy that had saved his life: bad shit happened, but whatever, he would deal and move on.

Now he was actually in hell, but he wasn’t being tortured. He wasn’t being questioned, and catastrophes weren’t occurring. He was being worshipped. By demon minions, sure, but worship was worship, right? Their scaled, clawed hands caressed him, their horned heads rubbed against him gently, and the rest of their bodies…he wouldn’t think about.