- The Darkest Seduction
So, yeah, Paris was partly responsible for Viola’s dark side. She’d been one of those unlucky prisoners. He wasn’t entirely responsible, though, considering the girl was a criminal once considered dangerous enough to be forcibly kept away from the very gods and goddesses who were often praised in mythology books for their most vicious deeds.
What crime Viola had committed, he didn’t know and didn’t care. She could slash him to ribbons, as long as she gave up the information he craved. The final puzzle piece needed to at last save Sienna.
According to the Hunters he’d slain just this morning, Viola came here every Friday night to hustle immortals at pool and rave about her awesomeness over a few beers. Apparently, said Hunters had been watching her, intent on nabbing her and “persuading” her to join their ranks. So, in a way, she kinda owed him.
Where the hell is she? he wondered again, searching for the telltale long blond hair, eyes the color of cinnamon and a killer body that could—
Appear in a puff of white smoke.
There, in front of the bar’s only entrance, stood a luscious woman with long blond hair and eyes the color of cinnamon. Paris straightened, his nerve endings zinging with anticipation. Just like that. Prey located. Target acquired.
I WANT HER, SEX SAID as Paris studied Viola.
Of course you do, he replied dryly.
The tendrils of smoke that had marked Viola’s appearance now curled away from her, thinning out to reveal a slinky black dress. The thick straps on her shoulders veed to frame heavy cleavage before dipping past her pierced navel. The micromini skirt stopped just below the hem of her panties.
Was she even wearing panties?
Paris yawned. He’d been with gorgeous women, ugly women, and everything in between. One lesson he’d quickly learned: beauty could hide a beast, and a beast could hide a beauty.
Sienna belonged to the beauty-hiding-a-beast category—at least to him. While he’d been crazed with desire for her, she’d been plotting his downfall. And maybe he was as bad as his demon because part of him found even that side of her sexy. A reed-thin female had bested a battle-hardened warrior, and he thought that was hot as hell.
And okay, yeah, she considered herself plain and maybe once he would have agreed, but from the beginning, there’d been something tantalizing about her. Something that drew him, held him captive. Now, anytime he pictured her, he saw a flawless gem with no equal.
Concentrate. A command from the demon, who still wanted the minor goddess, and a reprimand from himself.
Viola flipped the length of her silky hair over one sun-kissed shoulder and scouted her surroundings. Men openly gaped. Women tried to hide their jealousy with (unconvincing) blank masks. She paused on Paris, looked him up and down, her lids narrowing, and then, shockingly, she dismissed him and continued her visual sweep.
The last time his demon had failed to attract a potential bedmate, he’d met Sienna shortly thereafter. Could that mean…what if… His anticipation intensified until his bones vibrated. He would get his answers—tonight—no matter what was required of him.
He closed in on Viola, schooling his features to reveal only admiration as he went over his plan. Charm first, if he could actually remember how to be charming. Force second, and yeah, he definitely remembered how to go that route.
Ignoring his approach, Viola bent down and slid a glittery pink phone from inside her black leather boot. Moans of approval erupted behind her, and men high-fived each other, as if they’d just received a glimpse of heaven. Even immortals could be childish. Never me. Unaware or unconcerned, she danced her nimble fingers over the phone’s tiny keyboard.
Paris frowned. “What are you doing?”
As an opener, the question totally blew, as did his accusing tone. But if she thought to summon help, someone to fight him, or even a Hunter to kill him, she’d soon find herself his hostage, as well as his informant.
“I’m Screeching. That’s the immortal version of twittering or tweeting or whatever you lower beings want to call it,” she said without glancing up. “I’ve got over seven bazillion followers.”
O-kay. Not what he’d expected. He’d spent a lot of time with humans, and knew they enjoyed sharing their every inane thought with the world. But a Titan who did so—that was new.
“What are you telling them?” Was Cronus among the seven bazillion? Was Galen, the head honcho of the Hunters? And how many was a bazillion?
“I maybe might be kinda sorta telling them all about you.” A grin lifted the corners of her plump red lips as she continued type, type, typing. “‘Lord of Sex is filthy and looking to score. I’m not interested, but should I help him rack up points with someone else?’ Send.” She focused those haunting auburn eyes on him. “I’ll let you know when the results come in. Until then, is there anything else you want to know about me before I walk away and ignore you?”
Lord of Sex, she’d said. Sooo. She knew who he was, what he was, but she wasn’t running from him, wasn’t tossing insults at him and wasn’t screaming for his execution. A great start. “Yes, there is, and it’s a private matter very important to me.” Subtext: don’t you dare Screech about it!
“Ohhh. I love private, important matters that I’m not supposed to talk about but do, because I’m such a giver. I’m listening.”
Despite her convoluted confession that she meant to tattle, there was no more typing. Good. He proceeded. “I want to see the dead. How do I make that happen?” Sienna was a soul without a body—a soul he couldn’t sense in any way. Only those who communed with the dead could see, hear and touch her. But rumor was, Viola knew a trick that rendered the ability unnecessary.
She blinked, and he noticed that her lashes were painted a glittery pink to match her phone. “Let me tell you what I just heard. Talk, talk, talk, I. Talk, talk, talk, I. Well, what about me?”
His jaw clenched. There was being charming, and there was being a sucker. He wasn’t a sucker. Well, not all the time. “I’ll tell you about you. You can see the dead. Now you’re going to teach me how to see them.” An order she would do well to heed.
Her nose wrinkled. “Why do you care about seeing souls? If they’re still here, they’re causing trouble and—oh, oh, wait.” Clap, clap, jump, jump, twirl. “I’ve already figured this little mystery out because I’m highly intelligent. You want to see your slain human lover.”
Instantly his fury flashed to the surface, hot enough to blister. He didn’t like anyone speaking of Sienna in any fashion. Not Zacharel, and certainly not this strange minor goddess with a penchant for gossiping. Sienna was his to protect, even in that capacity. “I—”
“Tsk, tsk. No need to confirm my genius assumption.” Viola patted his cheek, all syrupy sweetness for his mental handicap. “Especially since I can’t help you.”
She tried to walk away.
He caught her wrist. “Can’t or won’t?” There was a big difference. The first he could do nothing about. The second he could change, and if she pushed him, she would discover the lengths he was willing to go to, to do just that.
“Won’t. See ya.” Oblivious to the rage she threatened to unleash, she jerked from his hold and practically skipped to the back of the bar, her perfect ass swaying, the heels of her boots clicking.
Incensed, he followed her, shoving aside anyone who got in his way. Grunts, groans and growls abounded, the predators in the crowd taking exception to his brute-force tactics. No one attempted to stop him, however. They sensed a far greater predator in their midst.
“How do you know who I am?” he demanded the moment he reached Viola. They’d start there and work their way to the mind changing, just in case one was dependent on the other.
She performed another twirl, making a production of it, as if she were a model at the end of a runway. He was a tall man used to towering over women, but Viola was a tiny fluff of five feet nothing and he dwarfed her.
Sienna, on the other hand, was just the right height. Standing, or on his knees, or lying down, he’d reach all the best parts of her, no problem.
“I know everything there is to know about the Lords of the Underworld,” Viola said. “I made the entire horde of you my business when I escaped Tartarus and learned you were responsible for my condition.”
She did blame him for the demon she’d been stuck with, then. And she smelled of roses, he realized with a jolt, the gentle scent suddenly clinging to his sinuses, very nearly drowning him in a warm sense of peace.
Lucien, the keeper of the demon of Death, could do the same thing to his enemies, calming them just before he struck a life-ending blow.
Paris’s fury and frustration quickly chased that peacefulness away. “Stop that.”
“Wow, that’s a dark scowl. And not a very good look for you, I must say,” she added, then caught a glimpse of her coral-painted fingernails and studied them in the light. “So pretty.”
He tuned out his demon and decided he’d give the charm/sucker thing one more shot. Because, honestly? He had yet to intimidate this female in any way. If this next attempt failed, he would let loose his beast in full force—and he wasn’t talking about Sex. There was darkness inside him now, so much darkness, and that darkness would drive him to do what was necessary, no matter how vile.
He had no one but himself to blame, for he’d opened himself up to it. Just a fraction at first, like a crack in a window. But the funny thing was, once you welcomed in a breeze, there was no stopping what came next. A wind, a storm, thunder and lightning, until you could no longer reach the window to close it—and didn’t really want to anyway. That’s what this new darkness was. Evil in its purest form, an entity very much like Sex, urging him on.
Lie, cheat, betray, Paris thought. Here, now, like all the other times before.
He leaned down, softening his expression, forcing his demon’s desires to seep through his pores. Forcing his blood to heat and the musky scent of arousal to drift from him, as sultry as champagne, as heady as chocolate. If Sex wouldn’t use those pheromones, Paris would. He hated doing this, because, like everyone else, both he and Sex became mindless, flesh-hungry beings at the first whiff. Worse, the memories of what he forced people to do…to crave…