“I’m sorry. I am. And afterward, when I was dying, I blamed you, but it wasn’t your fault. I told you I hated you, and I’m so very sorry for that, too. You didn’t deserve any of it.”

Another pause. His hands began to move down her back, caressing now, before sliding back up again, soothing her. “You didn’t rape me,” he said, and there was a surprising tinge of amusement in his tone. “I wanted you. I wanted you so damn badly, even though I didn’t want to want you.” Or maybe she’d imagined the amusement. His timbre was now an abrasive rasp.

“I slept with you because I was told to, because I wanted to destroy you,” she said.

“I slept with you to strengthen myself.”

“But I still wanted you,” she added in a soft whisper.

His fingertips pressed into the muscles just under the rise of her wings, but the pressure eased all too soon. “And I still wanted you. That’s one of the reasons I took you with me when I got free, because I wanted to be with you again.”

Another sob left her. “I thought you used me as a shield, and I…I…” Well, crap. The sobs became so great her voice box finally closed up.

He pressed a kiss into her temple. “I didn’t use you as a shield. Not intentionally, at least. I’m sorry for how things ended, so very, very sorry. If it helps, I’ve punished myself a thousand times, will probably punish myself a thousand more. Had I known what would happen, I would have left you there…and come back for you later.”

The last was offered hesitantly, as if he feared her reaction to such a truth. “I’m glad.”

An eternity passed just like that, the two of them clutching at each other, the silence no longer prickly but calming. And, okay. Maybe she was the only one doing the clutching, but he didn’t seem to mind. He continued to caress her.

She hadn’t realized how much she’d craved contact with another body until just that moment. That the body belonged to Paris, well, that made it even better. He was so strong, and smelled so sweet, and if she wasn’t careful, she would soon be rubbing her cheek against his chest, burying her nose in the hollow of his neck and twining herself around him like a vine.

When at last she quieted, exhaustion set in and she just kind of sagged against him, her head resting on his shoulder. Her eyes were swollen, heavy, her nose stuffed up, and her throat raw from her tears.

“Better?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you. I…I… Paris.” Her lips parted, and she inhaled through her mouth. “Despite everything, you came here to help me. You put yourself in danger.”

“Danger is nothing to me.” His voice had become gruff, as if he disliked the direction the conversation had gone in.

Danger might be nothing to him, but she’d seen him with his friends. They were everything to him, and still he’d left them to save her. A surreal—and even more shaming—realization.

What did his unwillingness to let her suffer mean? Did he, dare she hope, have feelings for her? Crave something more with her? Though she wasn’t ready to release him, she did just that, pulling back, taking another deep breath and drawing in the dark-chocolate scent of him. If the movement hadn’t disrupted the angle of her wings, lancing a sharp pain through her, she would have sat there, savoring him, drowning in a sudden burst of arousal, for hours.

Frowning, Paris maneuvered the gossamer extensions of her wings into a more comfortable position. He was infinitely careful, his every motion checked. When he finished, he eyed her warily. “Better?” he asked again.

He had to have feelings for her. Impossible, and yet, possible all the same. “Yes, thank you.” She looked down at her hands. They were wringing her shirt, twisting and wrinkling the material, yet she hadn’t realized she’d moved them. She should ask him about his feelings. She should—

“Why did you walk away from me when you first saw me?” he asked, his tone curious rather than accusatory. “When the gargoyles had me.”

“I thought you were a hallucination. A memory. They’re like film reels, playing around me in a never-ending stream.”

His frown deepened, pulling those lush lips tight over perfect white teeth. “Even now?”

Her gaze darted around the room, and she could only gape. She saw crumbling stone, portraits draped by sheets, but no memories. “No. It’s just you and me.” Probably because they couldn’t steal her attention away from Paris. “Paris, I want to tell you things. About the Hunters. Things that could help you and your friends. I—”

“No,” he said, cutting her off.


He gave an abrupt shake of his head. “No,” he reiterated.

“I don’t understand.”

“I don’t want you to tell me anything about them.”

“But…why?” Even when she had been poised over his helpless body, moving on him, even when he had rightly blamed her for his condition, he had not peered at her with such harsh resolve. Red flickered through his eyes, those shadows once again dancing through his irises.

She didn’t have to consider the problem long before the answer slithered into place, a boa ready to suffocate its prey. He thought she would mislead him, send him straight into a trap, and there would be nothing she could say to convince him otherwise. That hurt, but then she deserved that and more.

Not knowing what else to do, she shied away from the topic. “How can you see me, hear me? Touch me? You couldn’t before.”

The red faded, the shadows stilled. His pupils did that expanding, contracting thing, taut rubber bands ready to snap.

“I learned a few tricks about the dead,” he said. “That’s all.”

And he wouldn’t share those tricks or anything else with her; his tone made that clear. An ache ignited in her heart, dropped into her stomach and guillotined every bit of happiness his presence here had wrought.

“Did you also learn how to break a curse and bust someone out of a castle they can’t leave?” she asked. Good. Back to business. Without another breakdown.

A terrible stillness came over him. “I knew you were trapped here, but I’m still not sure how.”

“Do you know where here is?” She could guess, but the answers that came to her made her sick.

“A hidden kingdom in the Titans’ section of the heavens.”

Her eyes widened. “Heavens? Really? I would have bet somewhere in hell.”

“What happens when you try to leave?”

“There’s some kind of invisible block. I approach a door or a window and I hurt, and if I remain in front of the portal for too long, I pass out. But sometimes…sometimes Wrath takes over and the blocks fall away. I end up outside the castle’s walls, not too far from here, I don’t think. And I do things. Terrible things,” she whispered. “Then I come back here, I can’t stop myself. I step inside and the blocks immediately go back up.”

He reached out as if he meant to cup her cheek, to offer comfort. Then he growled, low and guttural, and his arm dropped to his side. That made her want to erupt into a fresh round of sobbing, but she didn’t allow herself the luxury. Not even when he jerked to a stand, stalked to the window and tossed the curtains aside, the distance a great chasm between them—symbolic.

Dust wafted around him. A few tugs, and he had the pane lifted. Hot, pungent air drifted inside, stinging her nostrils. He palmed a blade, extended his arm into the darkness—and met no resistance.

Others could leave, she realized. Only she was trapped.

He slid the glass into place and spun to face her. He didn’t return to her side, but leaned back, propping himself against the wall. The bulge of his muscles stretched the black material of his T-shirt. His pants hugged his thighs—and an impressive erection.

Could he possibly…want her? The way she wanted him?

Who are you trying to fool? He’s the Lord of Sex. He probably has that reaction with everyone.

“Can you let Wrath take over your body without taking over your mind?” he asked, a catch in his voice.

She forced herself to meet his eyes as heat flashed in her cheeks. “I, uh… He takes over both, but I’ve never just let him. I don’t always win, but I always fight him.”

“Stop fighting him. Let him take over your body, but try to maintain some kind of tether to your mind.”

Her mouth fell open, snapped closed. Just like that, he wanted her to allow the being that thrived on punishing everyone to consume her, to drive her every action? “You don’t understand what would happen if I did that.”

He gave a bitter laugh that did nothing to mar his masculine perfection, and everything to enhance it. Maybe because with the unveiling of his bitterness came a need to kiss him better. “Oh, but I do.”

Yes, she supposed he must. “Wrath hurts people. I hurt people. And what if I hurt you?”

Melted steel in his eyes, bubbling from his voice. “I can take care of myself, and I want to get you out of here.”

“I want that, too.” Just not enough to risk hurting him. And really, her demon wasn’t the only—or even the worst—worry. Her eyes widened. How could she have forgotten, even for a moment? “Cronus,” she gasped out. “If you help me, Cronus will come after you. I’m surprised he hasn’t already.”

“Way I hear it, he’s been too busy to concern himself with me.” Paris grinned, slow and wicked. Eager. “But he and I are due a reckoning, and we’ll soon have it.”

Her hand fluttered to her throat. “Not on my account. I don’t want you—”

“Do you have any family?” he asked, interrupting her. “Anyone I can take you to once I get you out of the heavens?”

She blinked. He’d saved her, still felt desire for her if his erection was any indication, but he didn’t intend to keep her, or even be with her. He wanted to foist her off as quickly as possible. Of course. Stupid, stupid Sienna for ever hoping otherwise.