Legion’s tear ducts clearly hadn’t dried, because a new waterfall began. “I can’t leave Ashlyn with him, either.” She sniffled, gulped. “Ashlyn is so nice, and the babies, she let me feel them kick once. She’s due any day. She needs to be home. Maddox needs her to be home. What should I do?”

So badly Viola wanted to reach for her phone, Screech the question and follow the ensuing flood of advice, but much as she yearned to leave this room, she wanted to stay in the fortress.

For all their faults, the Lords hadn’t tried to take advantage of her. Hadn’t tricked her into looking into a mirror, and they utterly adored her. And okay, maybe that last one wasn’t the truth and merely came courtesy of her demon, but nothing was a lie if you believed it. Therefore, the Lords did, in fact, adore her.

“I think you should, uh, follow your heart?” Oh, ick. That sucked. Like, majorly. The girl didn’t know what her heart wanted, which was why she was asking for guidance.

“What would you do?” Legion asked.

She could weave a pretty speech about always being willing to help others, Viola supposed. The guys downstairs would probably prefer that. Only problem was, lying to anyone but herself created messes. Viola hated messes.

“I would save myself, no matter the cost to those around me. But then, I’ve only ever cared about myself, so…” She shrugged. “It’s up to you. Who do you love more? Yourself, or the ones who took you in?”


STRIPPED AND PINNED to a boulder, Kane gritted his teeth at the humiliation. Hadn���t taken the minions long to catch him after he’d bolted. His innocent little chosen had been the worst of the lot, ripping out his Achilles tendons, hobbling him.

Now everyone in the crowd took turns attempting to steal what he’d refused to give.

He wouldn’t give them what they wanted. He wouldn’t. But how much longer could he survive the torment? The pressure was building, so intense it was painful.

You’ve survived this kind of thing before. He could survive this. Breathe, just breathe. His lids were squeezed together, his blood molten in his veins. All the while, his demon laughed inside his head. Laughed. Enjoying the disaster as it happened.

Maybe surviving wasn’t the right path, he thought, the humiliation morphing into rage. Kane had never liked his demon, but now, now he hated the creature with every fiber of his being. He wanted to be free of it, and that meant dying. He wanted to punish Disaster for taking pleasure in his misery, regardless of the fate that would befall him.

And he would. Yeah. He would do some punishing. No matter what he had to do achieve the desired end, he would do.

PARIS CROWDED SIENNA into the wall, leaned down and got in her face. Her breath emerged choppily, her eyes were wild and her pupils dilated with panic. Sex enjoyed the contact, was already begging for more. Paris tuned him out and kept things as nonsexual as possible. Sienna was too upset for more.

“You have to hide,” she said, the words emerging brokenly. “I’ll try to draw them to me, away from everyone else. Okay? Yes? But you really, really have to hide.”

He cupped her jaw, forcing her to peer up at him rather than scanning her surroundings for a hiding place. As if he would ever hide from an enemy and leave a female to fight for him. “What’s coming? Talk to me, baby.” He knew she wasn’t too keen on endearments from him—at least, she hadn’t been before—but then, he’d never called another woman his baby. Only sweetheart and honey, meaningless words like that, and never with such a note of affection.

Those lush lips parted on a gasp, and she blinked in bafflement. “Baby,” she whispered, and he decided she liked it. There’d been a note of reverence in her tone. Calm suddenly smoothed out the panic. “The shadows. They dart through the walls, and they feed on us. All of us. Even the gargoyles hide. There are so many of them. They’ll cover you, they’ll be all you see, all you know, and they’ll eat at you.”

Corporal shadows with a hunger for flesh. He thought he’d traveled every corner of the heavens, but he’d never heard of such a creature.

William had, though, because he muttered, “Oh, shit on a brick. This is bad. Exactly what I feared.”

Paris met his troubled gaze. “What do I need to do?”

“Just stay where you are.” The grim-faced warrior reached up and unsheathed a knife from behind his shoulder blades, then sliced his arm open from elbow to palm. Instantly crimson flowed. He closed the distance, bent down to the floor, and smeared a bloody circle around Paris and Sienna. “Don’t step out of this, do you hear me? Both of you, stay there. Disobey me, and you’ll regret it.”

He didn’t wait for a reply, but sprinted to the entrance of the female immortal’s room and dashed his wound across the clear shield separating them. The female was too busy clawing at her walls to notice. Before William reached the second room, his wound closed and he had to make another incision. He painted a line of blood over that shield, as well.

He didn’t make it to the third room.

Just as Sienna had predicted, shadows burst through the walls. In a snap, it was lights-out, the black so thick oil could have been saturating the air.

The entire castle rattled and shook. Screams echoed, fervent songs of pain and anguish. The darkness inside Paris responded, practically purring with approval the way Sex always purred for physical contact, enjoying every terrible note. Wanting out, wanting loose. Wanting to cause everyone around him to hurt, too.

Paris was on the path to giving in, to stepping out of the circle William had drawn and fighting with the shadows, hell, fighting with William, when Sienna trembled against him. He pressed against her more firmly. Must protect, he thought. That’s why he was here. For her. To be with her. To ensure her safety.

She trembled again, this one worrisome in its intensity. He wasn’t sure what was happening behind him or around him or even how long this would last, but she knew, and it terrified her. And yet still she had thought to protect him, he realized. Still she had wanted to hide him. Him, not herself. His warrior core had been offended by that, true, but just then he could only thrill over her concern. She cared about his well-being.

I want her, Sex said. Of course, the purring started up again.

So do I. And he would have a taste of her. Finally, here and now, the circumstances be damned. She was too worried for sexual contact? Hardly. She needed a distraction, and there was nothing better than desire.

Paris felt his way to her jaw, cupping her to hold her steady while luxuriating in the silky warmth of her skin, the delicacy of her bones. “Concentrate on my voice, baby. Can you do that?”

A jerky nod.

He wished he could see her and discover whether or not color was returning to those delicate cheeks. At her ear, he whispered, “You’re so soft. I’ve never felt anything softer. And your scent intoxicates me. I can’t help but think you’ll be even sweeter between your legs.”

Her breath hitched, her hands finding his chest and flattening over his pectorals.

“When I drive my fingers deep inside you, you’ll be so wet for me, won’t you, baby? I’ll eat you up, drink down every drop of your honey, and you’ll scream for more.”

Yesss, Sex said on a moan. Pleassse.

“Paris,” Sienna breathed.

A needy plea for more? That’s what his demon heard in her tremulous tone. Paris found himself leaning down, the rest of the world forgotten, his nose in her hair as he sniffed the heavy waves. He scented the wildflowers and the coconut, now mixed with something rare, a bloom found only at night.

Oh, hell, yes. That was her arousal.

Sex liked it, too, tossing out his own special fragrance. The two combined, the most wondrous bouquet enveloping Paris. Wondrous—and torturous. Instantly he was revved up, more than primed, more than ready, desperate to sink inside this woman and thrust his way to orgasm. All he had to do was rip open both their pants and kick her legs apart. He’d drill her deep and sure. She would be hot, dripping and so tight around him.

Sharp little nails burrowed past his shirt and into his skin, as if to hold him in place. He could feel the heat of her, pulsing, seeping into him, blending with his own and lancing straight to his cock. He ached unbearably. Before he even registered that he’d moved, he’d edged her legs apart with his foot and arched into her, fitting his erection against her feminine core.

Hello, sweet damnation. Either he’d just made the biggest mistake of his life, or the best. They fit together like matching puzzle pieces. He rubbed against her, slowly at first, just enough to tease and tantalize them both. The pleasure built, right alongside the pressure. Yeah, he definitely should have taken her earlier. His demon was ready to burst free of his skin.

Paris couldn’t gauge Sienna’s reaction through sound because of the surrounding screams, so he moved one of his hands to her throat, keeping his touch gentle. Nothing could stop him from feeling her moans, and the vibrations were so damn gorgeous.

“Paris.” Her lips pressed against his ear. Definitely not a plea this time, but not a warning, either. “You can’t want me.”

He circled his hips, pressing, retreating, pressing. “What is this, then?”

“A treat for the only available woman in the room.”

The words were like a slap across the face, and his volatile inner darkness responded poorly, rampaging through him and demanding he hurt the one who’d harmed him. He bit back the urge and snapped, “So a guy like me can only want what’s available?”

“You didn’t want me before, in the room. So maybe this is punishment.” Anger threaded her tone.

Punishment? His hands clenched in reflex, his own anger becoming an echo of hers.

Sadly, she wasn’t done. “Believe me, I understand the concept far better than I ever did. Maybe you didn’t come here to save me, after all, but to wound me the same way I once wounded you.”

He hadn’t trusted her, couldn’t, no matter how badly he’d wanted to, and even told himself he did, and now he saw that she couldn’t, wouldn’t, trust him, either. Not really. He’d suspected this would happen. That hadn’t bothered him (much) before, but it bothered him now. He hated that there were so many barriers between them. Clothes, reservations, doubts and worries.