- The Darkest Seduction
She had stiffened, he realized. At least she didn’t jump away, and she didn’t chastise him. Eventually, she even softened against him, as if she was exactly where she wanted to be. Well, hell. She must have feared he’d set her away from him, rebuffing her, and that’s why she’d gone board-rigid—and why she’d relaxed when he hadn’t. Talk about an ego boost. He wanted to beat his chest King Kong–style.
“Tell me what you know about them,” he said, barely stopping his hands from flattening on her stomach, burrowing under the waist of her pants and seeking the warm, wet heart of her.
“About who?” the immortal in front of him asked. “And who the hell are you?”
One question answered, at least. They didn’t know him, either. “Wasn’t talking to you,” he said.
The female splayed her arms. “Then who? You’re alone.”
“Like hell I’m—”
“They can’t see me,” Sienna interjected. “I’ve listened to some of their conversations, and that’s how I know who and what they are.” As she spoke, her stomach growled.
The sound gave him the excuse he needed. He moved his hands to her belly and rubbed. “Hungry?”
Then he would feed her. He would like that, he thought. Would like knowing he was fulfilling at least one of her needs. “What do you eat?” What could she eat?
“I don’t. And it’s only recently, within the last few weeks, that I’ve developed an appetite.” She covered his hands with her own, her skin growing clammy. “Cronus brings me a glass of something sweet once a week. He forgot this time.”
A glass of something sweet. Sweet. Sweet. The word echoed in his mind, an answer to one of his earlier questions sliding into place. His stomach bottomed out as he said, “Is it transparent, with tiny purple beads floating inside?”
“Yes.” Her neck craned, allowing her to look up at him, and he watched as her brow wrinkled. “How’d you know?”
That bastard! Paris kept the curse inside his head and his expression neutral. “Does it taste like coconut, this liquid?” he asked, ignoring her question.
“Yes. But again, how did you know? Do you know what it is? He’s never told me.”
Yeah, he knew what it was, and now understood why she smelled as delicious as ambrosia. Cronus had done more than enslave her. He had condemned her. And he would pay. Oh, would he pay.
For better or for worse, though, vengeance would have to wait. Cronus liked to visit Torin, keeper of Disease, and have the computer genius find things for him. Currently he wanted cell locations for the Hunters, and had given orders for the Lords not to attack. Torin was giving him the info, all right, but only a piece at a time, as per Paris’s request, keeping the king busy traveling back and forth between the heavens and earth as he stalked his prey and did whatever he did to them. That way, he had little time for Sienna. But “little” had been too much.
I should have gotten here sooner. There was no way to fix the damage that had been done to Sienna. There was no cure for what ailed her. Paris would have to tell her, have to prepare her for what would happen when she was out of here and on her own. Not now, though. She would be upset, and rightly so. More than that, he wanted to first taste her blood to be sure.
“Yo. Dude. Who the hell are you talking to?” the immortal demanded. “Don’t make me ask again.”
“Or you’ll what?” he snapped. “Flip me off? Call me names?”
Winter opened her mouth to respond, and judging by the fire in her eyes, the words would scorch, but then her gaze shifted to Paris’s right and her lips pursed in disapproval.
Oh, goodie. William had just decided to throw himself into the convo.
“You again,” she said, and she did not sound happy.
“I know,” the warrior replied with a heartfelt sigh. “You’re so lucky to see me twice in one day. You’re honored by my presence, yada, yada, heard it all before. Let’s just move on, shall we. I don’t handle fawning very well.”
She flashed a scowl full of fangs, and Paris did a double take. Fangs? She was a vampire? He knew such creatures existed, knew William liked to bed them, but he’d never met one himself.
“They’re not going anywhere, and Sienna’s hungry,” he said. “Let’s find the kitchen. I—”
Suddenly the immortal female stumbled backward, landed on her ass. Her skin leached of color, and as she crawled farther and farther from the doorway, her gaze began moving throughout her chamber. She was babbling about shadows and pain. The same babbles erupted from the other doorways.
Sienna dug her nails into Paris’s arm, a great shuddering wave moving through her. “No. No, no, no.”
“What?” The panic spread into him. He forced her to turn, to face him. “What’s going on?”
“They’re coming.” Her eyes filled with horror as she peered up at him.
“The shadows. The pain.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I think I do,” William said, all hint of teasing and self-praise gone. “And if I’m right, we’re in trouble, Paris.” Never had he sounded more solemn. “Hold on to your girl, because I’m not sure how many of us will be walking away from this.”
“WHERE’S MY WOMAN! My…woman…need…her…”
Viola watched as the hulking black-haired giant tore down the other half of the entertainment room. The TV, pool table and an odd assortment of other things had been destroyed already. So had everything in the room next door, and the room next to that one. She knew because Maddox had busted down the walls between them, giving her a clear view into the other side of the fortress. Only rubble remained.
The other warriors jumped on the giant, again, knocking and pinning him down. Still he fought, screaming viler curses than she’d ever heard, even from the prisoners locked in Tartarus. Last time, his friends had lost their hold on him. This time, they managed to keep him there. Still, she was kind of scared, a foreign emotion for her.
“Where is she? I have to find her!”
The last word left him, and he just sort of collapsed into the mess, sobbing so hard his ribs had to be cracking. Tears filled her own eyes, but she blinked them back. He wanted his wife back, the loss of her destroying him.
“We’ll find her,” someone said.
“She and the babies will be unharmed.”
“Be at ease, friend.”
The warriors spoke calmly, but even she heard the tension and doubt in their voices. Maddox cried harder.
Viola felt like a voyeur. She felt useless. There was too much emotion here, too much loss, and she’d never handled this kind of thing well.
“Stay calm, we all have to stay calm.”
“We’ll have answers soon, and we can head out.”
“Just a few minutes more.”
“He has her,” Maddox managed to say between shudders. “That bastard has her. I don’t know where to look. There’s no sign…nothing… Just the feather, just the feather.”
One by one the warriors released him, and inched backward. Maddox stayed down by choice, his hand moving over his face to shield his eyes from the too-bright light overhead. How deeply he must love his woman and their unborn babies. Viola had suspected when she’d watched them together earlier, but seeing this proved she hadn’t realized the limitless depths.
“We’ll go hunting,” Cameo said, speaking up for the first time since they’d heard Ashlyn scream and Maddox roar.
Viola wished the female warrior hadn’t spoken then, either, and had to rub her chest to ward off the ache Cameo’s shattering voice always left behind.
“Tonight,” the one named Reyes growled. There was a deep gouge in his neck, blood dripping from it. “No later.”
“We managed to get hold of Amun, and he’s on his way back to Buda.” Strider, the fiercest in the room, was actually trembling. His gaze kept returning to his wife, who stood a few feet away with her sister, as if he needed to reassure himself that she was here and well. “He’ll learn something. Point us in the right direction.”
“And if not him, Lucien will handle this,” Anya said, ever the proud girlfriend. Lucien had taken off to track Galen’s spiritual trail.
“Galen wouldn’t dare hurt Ashlyn or the babies.” Haidee, Amun’s girlfriend, paced back and forth, back and forth, too agitated to remain in one place.
“Gideon and Scarlet are coming home with Amun. Scarlet can tell you if the babies are still…still…” Aeron scrubbed a hand over his closely shaved scalp. He was supposed to be with the others, searching for Kane, but had remained behind for some reason no one would tell her.
Viola hadn’t been here long, but she’d memorized the warriors’ names, faces, demons and abilities. Scarlet was the keeper of Nightmares and by entering the dream world, she could search for a specific person’s mental doorway. A closed doorway meant they were asleep. An open doorway meant they were dreaming. No doorway at all meant they were dead. But Maddox and Ashlyn were bonded, one destined to die when the other died, so no one had to wonder about her. The babies, however… Don’t go there. Scarlet could also murder people while they dreamed, killing them in real life. Perhaps Galen would take his last breath tonight. Then again, perhaps not. If Scarlet could enter his dreams, she would have done so already, but Viola guessed that something blocked her.
I could take him.
Enough of that, she thought with a scowl. Once she hopped on the train to self-love, there was no turning back.
She concentrated. The warriors. Yes. They didn’t trust her, and she was a little surprised they hadn’t turned on her, blaming her for this catastrophe. She was the stranger, after all, and the kidnapping had happened soon after her arrival. But then Olivia, the angel who’d made them relax about her presence the first time around, had said Viola wasn’t responsible in any way, and they’d all believed her without question.