- The Darkest Seduction
“Who else?” she asked.
Ashlyn nibbled on her bottom lip. “There’s Cameo, but I’m pretty sure she likes men.”
Viola shook her head. “I could change her mind, no problem, but I’m so over that stage of my life. Who else?”
“There’s William the Ever Randy. He’s not a demon keeper, but he’s some kind of immortal.”
William the Naughty Boy Toy. Oh, yes, she knew him. Like Anya, Viola had met him in Tartarus. “He’s more than immortal, but whatever.” He was also arrogant, conceited and highly annoying. “I’ll put him in the maybe category.”
“More than immortal? What does that mean? He’s claimed to be some kind of god a few times, but I always assumed he was bragging, padding the truth. Which is—”
“Enough about him. We’re talking about me. Who else can I date?”
Annnd a return of the nibbling. “There’s Paris, but he’s kind of obsessed with another woman right now.”
“The dead one. Yeah. I know. I could still change his mind, but I don’t think I want to, because…” There was a reason, wasn’t there? As Viola pondered the answer, she clinked her teeth together.
Paris had asked her how to see the dead, and she had told him. Then he’d asked her something else, but Lucien arrived and ended their conversation. What had he asked? She tuned her mind’s radio in to their past conversation, and her eyes widened as the answer at last slammed into place.
Consequences. He’d wanted to know if there would be consequences for tattooing himself with Sienna’s ashes. Oops. She’d let him get away without telling him that yes, there would be.
Oh, well. It wasn’t her problem. It was his.
DAZED, SIENNA WALKED down a long hallway. Just as her past had played along the walls of the castle, Paris’s past played here, a concerto of colors, faces, voices…limbs. On both sides of her, above and below her, women writhed, so many women. At first, she saw them smiling, heard them laughing, each one eager for what he offered, quickly falling for his charming facade.
Why wouldn’t they? Whatever they wanted, he gave them. A touch, a kiss, a lick. A gentle ride. A rough pounding. He made love to all of them, knew exactly where to stroke and taste for maximum pleasure. He knew precisely the right amount of pressure to use as he kneaded their breasts, their thighs. Soft for some, firm for others.
He knew what position to place them in. On their backs, their hands and knees, right side up, upside down. Knew some wanted slow, and some wanted fast. They loved him for it, their pleasure unparalleled.
Then he left them and they cried with gut-wrenching sobs, their bodies heaving, their hearts breaking as the grief overcame them. Interspersed throughout the females were males. Paris had been with men, too, and he’d left them in the same condition as the women. They wanted him, and though they were not his preference, he took them so that he might survive. Afterward, they asked him to stay and he bailed.
One woman, Susan, was a beauty he’d truly cared for. He’d tried to make a relationship with her work, but Paris, being Paris, had hurt her in the worst way, choosing survival, as always, over her heart.
When Sienna caught an image of herself, she stopped, gasped. There, practically overshadowed by the other images, Paris was strapped to her boss’s table, naked, the lights dim, and she was on top of him. She didn’t need the vision to serve as a reminder. She would never forget.
She had been unable to see him, needing the darkness to relax, and he had alternated between snapping at her, hating her, hating himself, and aiding her, moving his hips to increase her pleasure. Now, however, she saw into his mind. Part of him had hoped to punish her afterward. Part of him—the deepest, most secret part—had wanted to hold on to her and never let go. To him, she had been a balm unlike any other.
Nausea rose, threatening to erupt. He had thought such beautiful things about her, and still she had condemned him.
Wrath slammed into her frontal lobe, urging her forward. To see more, to see all. She stumbled along, her feet as heavy as boulders.
Other scenes bled into the image of her and Paris, and someone must have cranked the volume control because suddenly she heard grunts, groans, moans and screams. Screams of pleasure, of pain and even of fury. Accusations were hurled, followed by pleas.
The pleas were followed by curses.
Sometimes, when Paris could find no one willing to be with him, his strength would wane, his will to live would wither and his demon would pull free of his reins. A dark, rich scent would seep from Paris’s pores, intoxicating everyone nearby, luring them closer. These people would flock to him, regardless of their previous reservations about him or their disgust for casual sex. They would take him, or allow him to take them.
When this happened, Paris always battled intense guilt, because he knew the dastardly thing he was doing—but he took whatever was offered anyway.
These bedmates did not cry when he left. They watched him through narrowed eyes, detesting him, shamed by what they’d done with and to him, horrified by what they would soon lose. A loved one’s respect.
He had broken up marriages, had committed adultery and performed sexual acts that left him cold and shaken. He then allowed those same sexual acts to be performed on him. A self-imposed punishment of sorts, she thought. All of that she could have guessed. But what astonished her? He detested himself far more powerfully than any of the humans ever had or could.
Oh, Paris, she thought. He was heaven and hell, just as Wrath had said, wrapped in the same luscious package.
Sienna wanted to cover her eyes to block the sights. She wanted to scream and scream and scream to block the sounds. Everyone in the crowd was crying now. Even Paris. Their tears poured from the ceiling, raining down, battering at her. But her hands remained at her sides and her mouth remained shut, her feet moving automatically. Her body was no longer connected to her brain.
Wrath wanted her to know, and so she would know.
The volume cranked up another notch, a shriek resounding at her left, spine-chilling, nauseating. All of the tears ceased. Another shriek sounded, then battle scene after battle scene came to life. Blood, a canvas of scarlet. Blades glinting with menace. Guns firing one after the other. Bombs exploding. Limbs separating from bodies, guts spilling. Death, so much death. Each delivered by Paris.
Paris, the FedEx deliveryman of Pleasure and Fatality.
There was no guilt here, however. No shame. Only cold, hard logic. Kill or be killed. No room for emotions or regrets. No hope for something better. This was it; this was the card he must constantly play. Fight for what he wanted or curl up and die.
He would not curl up and die.
Even though Sienna’s own demon seemed to like Paris on some level, Wrath, being Wrath, still hoped to castigate him for all the wrongs he’d committed. The demon urged her to sleep with Paris and leave him. To break his heart. To make him sob and beg for another chance with her. Then, of course, would come the stabbing, hurting him as he had hurt so many others.
No! No, no, no. She jerked free of whatever leash the demon had used to bind her to his will and flattened her hands against her stomach, as if the puny action could settle the sickness still churning there.
“I will not punish him,” she shouted, proud of her strength and conviction. Paris had done all those things, yes. And no, there was no excusing him. Though he’d been influenced by the evil creature inside him, he was responsible for his own decisions. He could have found another way.
But who was she to condemn anyone? Had she yet found another way? No.
Wrath offered no argument, and she frowned. That was unlike him. Usually he threw fits until she caved. But then, perhaps Aeron, Wrath’s former keeper, had already fought and won this particular crusade. After all, Aeron and Paris had lived together for centuries, plenty of time for the demon to have either gotten a taste of what he desired or to have been berated into submission.
If ever she met Aeron—and if he could actually see her and didn’t try to kill her—she would ask. She would do anything to return Wrath to him, too, despite the fact that such an action would kill her.
“Sienna.” Warmth drifted over her cheek, sliding along the line of her jaw.
Her nerve endings perked up, firing back to life, making her skin tingle.
“Wake up for me. Come on, that’s it, that’s the way.”
Yes. That voice…sexual and primal, blatant in its masculinity…a summoning finger she must follow. Where the voice originated, pleasure awaited her. So much pleasure.
She blinked open her eyes. Things were hazy at first, but the more she blinked, the better she could see. She was inside one of the second-floor bedrooms of the castle. The air was musty and yet chocolaty and—Paris loomed above her, peering down at her.
Breath snagged in her throat. He was just so beautiful, his face flawlessly chiseled. He could seduce anyone, anywhere. His hair was the richest shade of black, the purest shade of brown, with lighter strands woven throughout like ribbons of gold. His eyes were a wanton crystal, his lashes so thick and black they weighed down his lids, keeping them at half-mast, forever come-to-bed tempting. His lips were lush and red, and perhaps the most decadent part of an already decadent man. His skin was like crushed diamonds mixed with honey and cream. Pale, yet kissed with shimmers of the sun.
He bore a few scratches and had shadows under his eyes, but neither acted as an imperfection. They simply enhanced his appeal, adding depth. Lover, warrior…protector of those of his choosing. And he was here. With her.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, the words scratchy now, as if there were glass shards stuck in his throat.
Was that a note of concern she detected? If so, this must be a hallucination. Paris wouldn’t care for her well-being. Not after everything that had happened between them. With a shaky hand, she reached up and pressed her fingertips into the rose tinting his cheeks. Solid, warm. Real.
She gasped out a startled, “You really are here.”
“Yes. I… Yes.” His pupils expanded, concealing all the blue with a spiderweb of black, before snapping back into place. “How are you feeling?”