- The Darkest Seduction
“Viola, sweetness. Talk to me. Tell me what I wish to know.” His tone was a sensual caress, blissful and sure, and yet, even with the pheromones affecting Paris, he wanted only one woman and Viola wasn’t her.
“I meant to thank you for my demon,” she went on, as if he’d never spoken. As if he did not currently smell like pleasure walking. “He’s the best! But then halfway to Budapest to track down your fortress, I forgot all about you. I’m sure you understand.” She fluffed her hair, looking away from him as she waved to someone at her right. “So, anyway, now that you’re here, thanks. Feel free to relay that to the others. Now you’ll have to— Argh! Who put a mirror there?” she ended in a screech.
Undiluted rage blazed from her expression for a single heartbeat, followed by rapturous ecstasy as she studied her reflection.
“Look at me.” She angled one way, posed, then angled another and posed again. “I’m gorgeous.”
“Viola.” Seconds passed, but she never stopped admiring herself. She even blew herself a kiss. Fine. They’d do this the other way. “I can make you beg for my touch, Viola. In front of everyone. And believe me, you will beg. You will cry, but relief will never be yours. I’ll make sure of it. But do you know what else? That’s not even the worst of what I’ll do to you.”
Several seconds ticked by, but she never offered a reply.
Darkness…rising… He wanted to strike, to hurt, to kill.
He inhaled, held, held…smelled an infusion of roses…released the breath. Okay. Good. This time he was able to allow both emotion bombs to fizzle before detonation, calming him.
Perhaps Viola couldn’t help herself, he realized suddenly. As he knew very well, all of Pandora’s demons came with a major flaw. This could be hers. She was Narcissism, after all, a lover of self.
Testing his theory, he stepped in front of her, blocking her view of the mirror. Her entire body stiffened. Her gaze darted left and right, as if searching for interlopers who might have tried to harm her while she’d been incapacitated. No one had approached, and the tension drained from her. She breathed easier.
“I will gut the culprit!” she whispered fiercely.
Bingo. Her flaw, and one she clearly reviled.
“Concentrate on me, Viola.” He gripped her by the shoulders, squeezing harder than he’d intended and shaking her until those cinnamon eyes rose to meet his. “Tell me what I want to know and you’ll walk away from this unscathed.”
Still not the least bit intimidated, she shrugged off his hold. “So impatient. I should be used to it by now, but alas. Men falling all over me…still a burden.”
“Fine. Let’s see what my worshippers have to say sooner rather than later, shall we?” She lifted her phone and read the screen. “Four hundred and eighty-five votes for Help him by giving him my number. Two hundred and seven votes for Are you stupid, climb him like a mountain, and one hundred and twenty-three votes for He’s mine, bitch, walk away.” She looked up at him, another smile taking root. “The little people have spoken. Yes, I will tell you about the souls.”
Urgency overrode his relief. “Tell me, then. Now.”
“Hey, you. Demon scum.” The harsh voice rang out from behind him.
Annnd one of the guys Paris had bumped into earlier was finally acting out. Paris ground his molars. His hands returned to the female’s shoulders. “Viola. Tell me.” She would tell him, and he would leave, finally beginning his search in truth.
“Get your hands off my female!”
Or not. Unleashed aggression dripped from the male’s tone, and the need for violence quickly resurfaced inside Paris.
Restrain yourself, common sense counseled. Victory is within reach. “A friend of yours?”
“I have no friends.” Graceful fingers reached up and hooked several tendrils of hair behind her ear. “Only admirers.”
“I’m talking to you, demon.” The male again.
Need rising…higher and higher…a thick black cloud that would not dissipate until blood ran in rivers at his feet. “If you want this admirer to survive, flash us out of here.” Popping from one location to another with only a thought always made him sick, but sick was better than distracted.
“I don’t,” she said. “Want him to survive, that is.”
“Are you listening to me, demon?” The tone was harsher, and far more determined. “Move away from her and face me. Or are you a coward?”
The cloud enveloped his mind, a single thought suddenly consuming him. The male was an obstacle in his path, blocking him from Sienna, and obstacles were to be eliminated. Always.
Another small voice of reason whispered through him, a beacon of gold amid an endless stretch of midnight. Zacharel… Current path… Destruction…
“Look at yourself in the mirror, goddess,” the male commanded. “I don’t want you to see what I do to the demon.”
Even as a curse tore from her mouth, Viola obeyed, angling around Paris as if she couldn’t help herself and hated herself for it. Just like that, she was once again enraptured by her own image, pinkie-waving and blowing kisses.
The golden whisper was destroyed. Death became inevitable. Paris pivoted on his heels to glare at his opponent.
Soon, blood would flow.
PARIS HAD GOTTEN ONE FACT wrong. He didn’t have an opponent. He had opponents. The knowledge caused a heady rush of eagerness to flood him. The day just kept getting better. Earlier he’d slain a handful of Hunters, and this hour’s selection—aka dessert—was a trio of fallen angels, each one bigger than the last. They were without shirts—the new fashion?—their scarred backs visible in the mirror at the top of the wall.
The frothing trio formed a solid wall of muscle on the other side of the bar, their arms crossed over their chests, their legs braced apart to evenly distribute their weight. A classic I’m-about-to-hurt-someone stance.
I want them, Sex said, as if that were some big surprise.
“You will not walk away,” he warned the men. Lately, he couldn’t afford to leave survivors. They had a nasty habit of returning for revenge.
“I’ve seen you around,” the one on the left said. “You smile and women fall at your feet, but I’m gonna change that when I rip your spine out of your mouth. Then I’m gonna tell your enemies where you are. Yeah, I know who you are, Lord of Sex. I also know the Hunters want the privilege of killing you.”
The one on the right flashed a grin, total I’ve-lost-my wings-and-I’m-glad evil. “Yeah. I like that idea. Maybe I’ll sign up with them, just to watch what they do to you when we’re finished, you dirty—”
The one in the middle, the biggest one, placed a hand on Rightie’s shoulder, silencing him. He had a bright white halo tattooed around his neck. That could mean he was only recently fallen, that he still had ties with the angels or that he liked to reminisce. Whatever. He would experience the same fate as his friends. “Less words, more pain.”
“Yes, more pain,” Paris agreed. He unsheathed his two favorite daggers, the clear, crystal blades glinting like rainbows in the light.
“Hey, no arsenals allowed inside,” the bartender bellowed. “Only fists.”
The entire bar stopped and quieted, clearly intent on watching.
“Feel free to try and pry mine from my grip.” That would mean more opponents, more bloodshed. More satisfaction.
“Unfair advantage,” someone else called.
Exactly. If you weren’t cheating, you weren’t trying. But, all right. Even lost to the decadent taste of violence as he was, Paris knew how to pretend to play nice. He commanded the blades to vanish from view while still remaining in his hands. Magical as they were, they obeyed.
“I don’t care what weapons you use,” Halo said.
“You shouldn’t have come here.” Leftie unfolded his arms. “This is our territory, and we’re taking it back.”
“Now, we’ll make sure you never return.” Rightie fisted his hands, cracking his knuckles. “This is gonna be fun.”
“Fun. Yes. For me.” Paris approached.
The trio approached.
All four met in the middle. The moment Paris was within reach, he kicked Leftie while punching Rightie. Leftie hunched over, gasping for breath. Rightie died. Paris had punched with his invisible blade, sinking hilt-deep into the bastard’s carotid.
One down. Two to go.
Halo swung a meaty fist, but the low, straight line Paris had made with his body caused the former winger to encounter only air, the momentum spinning him around. By the time Paris jerked upright, Leftie had regained his stamina and jumped on him, attempting to rip out his trachea with claws that hadn’t been there a moment ago. Through dumb luck or talent, Leftie managed to angle his wrist when he realized Paris was shifting position, hitting the tendon that ran from neck to shoulder instead. There was a brutal rending before Paris shoved him off, the bastard taking hunks of skin and muscle with him.
Paris didn’t release him, though. He held on tight, even as Halo got back in the game and hammered at his face. He stabbed Leftie with a quick jab, jab. Kidneys first, to shock and disable. Heart second, to kill. Leftie died just like his friend.
Two down. One to go.
Paris released the now-lifeless body, heard the thump as it landed. Grinned. All the while, Halo continued to whale on him. Crack, crack. Pain in his eye, pain in his lip. Blood cascaded down his chin, stars winked through his vision, and Sex retreated to a hidden corner in his mind. Each new point of contact threw him backward into tables, knocking down glasses, chairs and people.
Finally he managed to dodge one of those fists. He regained his balance and spun low, intending to slash Halo in the back of the knee and hobble him. But the once heavenly being was used to dirty demon tricks and spun as well, darting out of the way just before contact.