They couldn’t make anything work between them, anyway. She knew more about his demon now and knew Paris couldn’t sleep with her again, despite…that. Right? He was a one-time only joyride. Right?
“Sienna,” he snapped. “Eyes on my face. Please.”
The heat in her cheeks rose to scalding as she jerked her gaze away from his man business a second time. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel like a piece of meat. I was just lost in thought.”
“About my di—uh, junk?”
His jaw dropped with the force of his astonishment, and she had to wonder why the god of sex would find such a revelation so unbelievable.
Anyway. What had he asked her before? Oh, yeah. Her family. “No. There’s no one who could take me in, no one who could even see me.” As she spoke, she looked the rest of him over. He was still cut from the Gargl, the wounds now scabbed. He had healed, but only slightly. And his skin had lost a bit of its glittery sheen. Was he weakening from lack of sex? That’s what had happened in the Hunters’ prison.
“When was the last time you had a woman?” she asked, trying to act nonchalant about a very sore subject between them.
The frost she’d seen earlier fell over his entire body. His eyelids narrowed, the gleam in those ocean-pretty irises flint hard.
“I don’t remember,” he gritted out.
The confession relieved and thrilled her, she was ashamed to admit. He was clearly hurting. “Well, I’m…uh, I’m, you know…available. For you. If you can, I mean. And if you, you know, want me and can use…that on me.” How pathetic she sounded, but she wanted to touch him again, to be with him one last time. Even if she had to reduce the act to a simple clinical procedure. “I owe you.” Or a favor between pseudo-friends.
The ice thickened, cracked, thickened again, as if a battle raged inside him. The ice won. “Really? You’re available to me? You owe me?” He popped his jaw. “Thank you for that generous offer. How could a guy like me ever refuse?”
A guy like him? “I didn’t mean—”
“Just so you know, I didn’t come all this way to enjoy your availability or to collect on a debt. So, while I can, in fact, screw you again, I hope you’ll understand when I do the unthinkable and pass. But don’t worry, I’ll still help you. Screwing me isn’t a requirement.”
She chewed on her bottom lip to stop herself from responding. Deserved, deserved, deserved, she told herself again. And maybe his refusal was a good thing. He still resented her. And as he’d already proven, he didn’t trust her. Being with him, and watching him walk away afterward, would slice her into pieces so jagged she’d never be able to fit herself back together.
More than that, she had to go after Galen. The thought hit with so much force her entire body shook. She had toyed with the idea, but hadn’t decided officially. Now, she saw the truth. She’d told Paris she had no family, but what if she did? And what if only she could save them? If there were the slightest possibility that Galen was torturing her sister and her child, Sienna had to act, which meant she might have to…do things with him. Necessary things. Things she wouldn’t be able to bring herself to do if she forged any kind of bond with Paris. A white-hot toxin flooded her veins, stinging.
“You look disgusted and scared,” Paris said, his voice as sharp as any dagger. “Why?”
“Neither emotion is for you,” she said quietly. Never for him. Not anymore.
A hard knock sounded at the door, followed by the homely guy’s rough timbre. “Paris. This isn’t exactly life and death, my man, but things are quiet in there so I figure you haven’t quite learned how to undo her bra strap. Give it a rest and come out here. You have to see this.”
Paris looked like he’d just been granted a reprieve from a firing squad. He straightened. “On my way,” he called. He stood there for a moment, grinding his molars, thinking about something unpleasant, judging by the expression on his face. Then he stalked to the bed and held out his hand, helping her lumber to her feet.
His calluses abraded her palm in the most delicious way, and she shivered. “Thank you.”
“Whatever.” He didn’t lead her out, but leveled her with a fierce frown. “Don’t try to leave my side. Understand?”
Was he afraid she’d run from him? Afraid she’d tell someone where he was so they could kill him?
Deserved, she reminded herself. What really sucked about the whole situation was that she couldn’t ask for a second chance with him, or even an opportunity to redeem herself. As she’d just realized, they were already doomed, her path already decided.
Another realization struck. That same path could give him what he wanted more than anything. Victory against the Hunters. Not that he would ever know the part she’d played. If Cronus had his way, Paris would assume she was Galen’s mistress. His sexual toy. And…and she would be, at least until she learned the truth about Skye. Then she would kill him, as she wanted, no matter the consequences to herself.
“Sienna,” Paris snapped, drawing her back to the present.
She peered up at him. No matter how things shook out, she was going to lose him, and that was a hard fact given that she’d only just found him again. But for today, she was with him. That would have to be enough. “I won’t leave your side.”
GALEN, KEEPER OF HOPE, leader of the Hunters, leisurely explored the rooms inside his enemy’s fortress. He’d only recently healed from battle wounds he’d received courtesy of the Lords of the Underworld. Now it was time for payback.
The blade he held was new and had never seen a single moment of action. Today, that would change.
“—shut that damn thing up,” Cameo, keeper of Misery, was saying as she snaked around the corner and stomped past him. Draped as he was by the Cloak of Invisibility, she failed to spot him.
He studied her as she passed. In all the centuries since their creation, she hadn’t changed. She had long, dark hair made for fisting, and the slim body of a dancer made for screwing. Her eyes were liquid silver—and made for dangling from his necklace. “If you don’t, I will stab both of you. And let me tell you, one-point-eight people die every second. I never mind adding to the tally.”
Maybe she had changed. The low, raspy resonance of her voice carried the heavy burden of a world’s worth of sorrows. Enough to spring an ache in his chest, one that promptly seeped outward, invading more and more of him. In the heavens, her voice had brought only pleasure.
Scowling, Galen tucked the length of his wings into his sides and pressed against the wall. The action caused a white feather to loosen and drift to the floor, no longer hidden by the Cloak. He bent to pick it up, stopped.
A short, curvy blonde clutching a black dog…thing darted after Cameo. “All’s I’m saying is that with a little makeup you could look like my country cousin rather than my undernourished uncle. Maybe no one’s told you this, but bags are meant to be carried in your hands, not under your eyes.”
The—mutant dog’s?—head twisted, twisted, its beady eyes locked on Galen. A lethal growl rent the air, fangs spearing its lower lip. Evidently the Cloak’s magic did not work on all creatures. (What was that thing?) He flipped it off, and it yipped.
“Hush, princess. Mama’s teaching Beauty 101 to the clueless. Besides, we don’t want the silly Lords upset with you again, do we?”
Galen didn’t recognize the blonde or her ugly “princess.” What he did know? The Lords welcomed only a select few into their exalted midst. That meant she was either a new addition to the Lords’ army or a warrior’s girlfriend. Pitiful how many of the once-stalwart men had fallen in lurrrve recently.
Whatever or whoever she was, she would die like the others.
The duo and their not-quite-canine companion stormed into one of the bedrooms. A door slammed. No alarm was sounded.
His scowl melted into a grin. They couldn’t see him, but they could have sensed him. That they hadn’t meant this would be easier than he’d thought.
Strider, the idiot, had given the Cloak of Invisibility to the Unspoken Ones, beings so vicious, so evil, even Hercules would have trembled in fear at the slightest mention of them. Cronus had enslaved them before his own imprisonment, had once thought to control them. In turn, they wanted him dead. Now they were trapped on their private island in Rome and reduced to bargaining.
A point in Galen’s favor. They knew he was destined to remove the Titan king’s head, and so when he visited their island, they sought his support. Their first gesture, giving him the Cloak. Their second, teaching him exactly how to use it. He’d assumed it was a shield against prying eyes, but he’d assumed wrong. The Cloak was also a weapon. A very effective one at that.
He needed every advantage he could get, even if that meant aligning himself with the worst creatures ever to roam this earth. His men were disappearing right off the streets, never to be heard from again. His queen had disappeared, as well. He’d had no contact with her for weeks.
She knew him well enough to know he looked out for Number One. He would betray anyone to get what he wanted, and if she’d decided to walk away, to betray him as he’d betrayed so many others, that was her problem. He would go after her the same way he continued to go after her husband. With everything he had.
Galen planned to rule the heavens. And I’ll succeed this time. He knew it, but then, he always “knew” his plans would work. His demon could convince anyone to do anything—and Galen was included in that number. Hope built up everyone’s dreams, then laughed when those dreams came crashing down.
But it wasn’t Hope driving him this day. It was Jealousy. His other demon.
Oh, yes. His former friends might not have been bright enough to figure this out yet, but Galen was possessed by two of Pandora’s demons.
Because he had convinced his fellow warriors to steal her box, because he’d then betrayed them, thinking to become leader of the Elite Guard himself, taking Lucien’s place, he’d committed two crimes. Therefore, he deserved two punishments. Or so Zeus had said when he’d set about pairing each Lord with their demon and restoring order to the heavens.