He despised having two demons. Hope built him up only to tear him down, then Jealousy would rile him back up, whispering things like, That male has a female, yet we are far better. Why don’t we take her from him? Hope would then fill him with an urge to do just that, to take, the need becoming a living thing inside him, every ounce of his being certain he would succeed—but somehow always falling short of victory.

Well, today he would not fail.

Today he landed a stunning blow to his enemy.

He would steal away Legion, the devil-woman they’d once sent to kill him. The she-cat who had seduced him. The innocent virgin who’d been living inside a porn star’s skin. She’d screwed him within an inch of his immortal life before biting him with her poisoned fangs. While he had writhed in pain, she had left him to die, only to be carted into hell thanks to a deal with her maker gone bad.

Galen had hunted her, but the Lords had found her first. They’d brought her here, and Galen wanted her back. Wanted to have her again. Wanted to punish her. To kill her and cut the tether she seemed to hold him on.

He was sick of wondering about her, sick of thinking about her.

How many warriors had she given herself to since her return?

Yeah, like that. He was sick of imagining her with a thousand others, sick of the constant rage of jealousy concerning her.

He would discover the answer, though, and if any of the Lords had enjoyed her luscious body, they would pay a higher toll than their friends. Oh, each and every one of them would die, but some would scream for months before he took their heads.

Except…he searched the fortress from top to bottom, looked in every chamber, accounted for every warrior still in residence—and not even Torin, who monitored the place, noticed him—but there was no sign of the girl.

Very well. He’d go with Plan B. He would take a page from the Unspoken Ones’ book and “bargain” before he struck.

Despising the delay, he stalked to Maddox and Ashlyn’s bedroom and ghosted through the wood. He wasn’t just invisible, he was insubstantial. Maddox, keeper of Violence, was no longer inside. His very pregnant female reclined on their bed, reading a book to her unborn babe. A babe Maddox would be desperate to save.

Ashlyn was a pretty thing, with hair, skin and eyes the color of a honeycomb. Truly, she was as golden as the moon on the brightest of nights, and she was delicate and fragile as only a human could be. Her voice was soft, lilting, and filled with love.

No question, Maddox would move heaven and earth to get her back.

Galen padded to the side of the bed and pushed the Cloak from one shoulder. As he materialized, another grin quirked the corners of his mouth. Ashlyn noticed him and quieted, her entire body jolting with fright.

“Galen,” she gasped out.

“Scream for me, little Ashlyn,” he said, reaching for her. And she did.

WILLIAM KIND OF EXPECTED to be pulverized the moment Paris emerged from the bedroom. Fists hammering at his face, teeth ripping at his jugular, something menacing like that since he’d dared to interrupt the happy reunion. After all, madness and mayhem were a Paris Lord staple. What William hadn’t expected was a half grateful, half thunderous stare, but that’s exactly what he got.

“What did you want to show me?” the Lord of Sex snapped.

Paris had moved mountains to get here. Had done things that made a reprobate like William look like a choirboy, all to save the girl he currently had tucked into his side. And that he was holding her hand as if she were a life raft and the flood had come, rather than swinging at the man who had just cock-blocked him…well, that was just weird.

It could mean one of two things. Paris had already had sex with her, so there’d been nothing to block. Yet only an hour had passed since their parting. So that would mean Paris was quick on the climax trigger and, as many ladies as he’d nailed, William would bet the guy could go all night and then some.

Option two was slightly more likely, but still improbable. Paris hadn’t known what to do with the girl and had wanted to bail.

But why would he want to bail? For that matter, why, with every second that passed, did he appear more pissed than ever? Had Sienna turned him down flat?

Impossible, William thought next. She was clutching Paris’s hand as desperately as he clutched hers.

William raked his gaze over her. She was pale, her freckles stark in contrast, and she was a bit shaky on her feet. Hmm. Studying her like this, he wondered what Paris saw in her.

At first glance, and hell, maybe even at second, she appeared plain. He looked deeper, though, and that’s when the delicacy of her bone structure became evident. What’s more, those hazel eyes were large and unbelievably lovely, the perfect blend of emerald and copper. Her hair was a waterfall of mahogany, cascading around her. And her lips…yeah, he would have committed a few crimes himself to have those fit around his shaft.

She was on the slender side, small-breasted and even underweight, but damn if she didn’t call on every protective instinct a man possessed.

“Are you just going to stare at her?” Once again Paris snapped the words. This time, menace poured from him, the threat of attack very real.

Now William doubted his face would be the only thing rearranged. His favorite appendage would be on the receiving end of a nice little slice and dice. Sooo. The biggest he-slut ever created was possessive as hell over a woman who’d once wanted to kill him. Talk about comeuppance. But then, wasn’t that what Wrath specialized in?

Paris took a step toward him, the menace intensifying. “I asked you a question.”

William cut off a grin and held his hands up, palms out, questions rolling through his mind. How much did Paris really want the girl? Did he regret coming here? How much influence could she wield over his emotions? Was the plan still to get in, get out and get rid of her? Only one way to find out.

“Answer me,” Paris snapped.

“Nope,” William said. “I don’t just plan to stare.”

A growl erupted from the warrior. They both knew he’d just implied he meant to do more.

Good. Maybe William would survive what came next, maybe he wouldn’t. “I like your shirt,” he said, directing the compliment to Sienna. “I really like your pants.” She wore a plain white T-shirt, dirt-smudged and torn, and baggy cargo pants. Her tennis shoes were missing laces.

“I… Thanks?” Her brows knit with her confusion.

“May I make a wardrobe suggestion, though?”

Another growl sounded from Paris before she could reply, a hand darting out and wrapping around William’s windpipe. Pinpricks of red glowed inside those ocean-blues. No, Paris’s irises were no longer blue. They were black, no difference between pupils and the rest. “Are you now implying her clothes will look better on your bedroom floor?”

So. Much. Fun. “Who, me?” He couldn’t breathe, so the words squeaked out. No, Paris did not regret coming here.

“Paris,” Sienna said, utterly calm. “I know I have no right to ask this, but will you please not kill him? I’m not a fan of the rotting body scent.”

Tighter…tighter…then the pressure eased, fell away. “Show us what you found.”

Interesting. She wielded a lot of influence. He wondered if Paris realized how much—and exactly what the warrior thought of the development. But no matter what, William assumed the plan was still of the get-rid variety. No relationship lasted without trust, and these two had not a spark of it between them. Even as Paris eyed William like a slab of beef to carve for dinner, he kept Sienna in his crosshairs, as if afraid she’d bolt, or even do a little carving of her own.

“Come on, or you’ll be ticked I didn’t show you sooner.” William turned on his heel and marched down the hallway and up another flight of stairs to the third floor. He didn’t have to look back to know the couple followed him. Paris’s booted footfalls reminded him of stampeding buffalo.

He slowed his pace and Paris came up beside him. At some point, the warrior had picked Sienna up. She was cradled in his arms, her wings tucked around her, her head resting in the hollow of his neck. Even more interesting was the fact that she hadn’t uttered a complaint.

Her gaze met William’s, steady as a rock. She frowned. “Wrath goes silent around you. He doesn’t show me any of your perceived sins. Why is that?”

Oh, no. He wasn’t veering down that conversation path. Not with a former Hunter and a dead, though brought back to life, newly possessed whatever the hell she was. “You’ll have to ask him.”

“I did.”

He pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth. “And?”

“And he offered no response, so I decided it’s because you have to live with yourself, a punishment worse than anything Wrath could mete out.”

Miracle of miracles. The demon wasn’t tattling on him. “The answer will just have to remain a mystery, then. Oh, and a word of warning. Smart mouths really crank my chain. Keep talking dirty to me, baby.”

She rolled her eyes.

Paris inserted himself into the conversation with a hesitant, “Did he show you mine?” That he didn’t threaten William proved the depths of his uncertainty about what Wrath might have broadcast.

William had seen Paris aroused (not on purpose), playful, pissed off, blood-soaked, stubborn, drugged out, relaxed, stressed and everything in between. But he had never seen the warrior frightened. Just then, Paris was frightened, his expression haunted, his muscles knotted over bone.

“Yes,” she replied so quietly he had to strain to hear.

A taut beat of silence. “Do you want me to put you down?”

“No!” Color flooded her cheeks when she realized just how loudly she’d shouted the word. “No. I like where I am.”

From a mouse to a lioness. Adorable really, and William thought he might make a pass at her when Paris finished with her. Because, even as fierce as Paris was about her, he would let her go. Resolve had bled into the fear. Even though Paris had suspected she would not want to be touched by a man who had done the things he’d done, even though she had proven him wrong and that had to be a relief, he was determined to live without her.