Suddenly Paris understood his man Amun in a way he never had before. Amun’s woman was a former Hunter, too, and once upon a time she had helped murder their bestie Baden. Because of that, every single Lord of the Underworld had despised her and had wanted to see her guts spilled all over their fortress, Paris included, but Amun had stood his ground and defended what was his, and everyone eventually—reluctantly—climbed on board the welcome train.

Maybe, after he’d taken care of Cronus, he would do the same for Sienna—take her home and play house. Things would be difficult at first, sure. She hadn’t killed anyone, but the Lords still didn’t and wouldn’t like her. They’d seen his cut and bruised body after her comrades had finished torturing him. They’d watched him suffer over her loss—and heard him curse himself for caring about her when she had never felt the same for him.

Until now. She’d changed her mind about him, and he’d changed his mind about her. He wasn’t sure what had done the changing on his end, though he suspected it had more to do with simply wanting to believe in her, as he’d claimed. He wasn’t even sure when the change had happened. All he knew was that she wasn’t out to get him.

Accepting that once again drove home the point that his earlier fears, planted by Zacharel, were foolish.

Paris knew women, and he knew sex, and he thought he was pretty good at reading the former’s emotion while engaged in the latter. More than that, he’d been with Sienna before. She might have wanted him back then, but that want had nothing on what she felt for him now. Total, all-encompassing and real.

He wasn’t sure what had changed her mind, either, but he was glad that something had. He loved being with her. She eased him. In so many ways, she eased him. So what the hell was he supposed to do without her, while he hunted Cronus?

Who would he take to bed when the first wave of weakness hit him?

Oh…damn. The thought of being with someone else made him sick. Like, vomit blood sick. He wanted Sienna and only Sienna, and when they parted, and they would because he couldn’t take her with him to hunt Cronus—too dangerous for her, considering the ambrosia in her system—he would have to take someone.

If he continued on this thought path, he would break down.

Maybe she sensed his turmoil. She twined her fingers with his, brought his hand to her mouth, and kissed the pulse hammering in his wrist. The world came back into focus with a whoosh.

“—did you do with that other guy, the fallen you called him?” she was saying to Zacharel. “Did he, uh, survive?”

“He lives, yes,” the angel said, but offered no more.

“He’ll come back for me.” That kind of blame and hatred wouldn’t fade. But by the time the fallen healed, Paris and Sienna would have already parted. She would be safe.

“Yes,” Zacharel said. “He will.”

A spike of fear added a layer of spice to the sweetness of Sienna’s scent. Paris traced his thumb over her knuckles, reveling in the softness of her skin as much as in her worry for him. “He won’t get the drop on me.”

Suddenly a shadow at his left surged into motion, darting at Sienna with the speed of an arrow. The only color in the six-foot slash of darkness was the flash of bloodstained fangs inside its mouth.

Without missing a beat, Paris stepped in front of her, whipping out of Sienna’s clasp to grasp the creature by the neck. He was surprised by the solid feel of flesh and heat. He commanded his crystal dagger to become whatever was needed to destroy a living shadow and stabbed, going deep into that mouth and feeling those fangs cut into his skin.

The dagger began to pulse with the light of the sun, bright enough to cause his eyes to tear. There was a howl of pain, a gurgle, before the writhing mass exploded into particles of mist and scattered on the breeze.

“Thank you,” Sienna said on a wispy catch of breath. The roses had faded from her cheeks, making her freckles stark.

“We don’t thank each other for this kind of thing, remember?” Protecting her would never be about the accolades.

Those exquisitely plump lips curled into a radiant smile he would see in his fantasies for the rest of eternity. Desire for her spun to new life.

She reached up, perhaps planning to trace a fingertip along the seam of his now aching mouth. Then Zacharel said, “May the Deity save me from such nonsense,” and she dropped her arm to her side.

“I don’t think your deity will have to worry about saving you,” Paris snapped. “I’m pretty sure females will recognize the fact that you’re not worth the effort from glance one.”

The angel seemed pleased by that.

Polar opposites, Paris thought; that’s what he and the angel were. Zacharel had never experienced a spark of arousal, so he had no idea what he was missing. Paris pitied the poor girl who finally gained his notice. She’d have to have balls of steel. Zach would fight her every step of the way to the bedroom, and probably even blame her for his introduction to passion.

Now that might be fun to watch.

If the circumstances had been any different, Paris might have unleashed Sex’s special scent upon the angel. More than likely even Zach would fall prey to the lush, candlelight-and-silk-sheets imagery that always consumed everyone else, and his horror at wanting Paris would amuse for centuries to come.

Sienna stiffened. As attuned to her every nuance as he was, Paris’s attention whipped to her. The roses had returned to her cheeks, but they were too bright, as if she were suffering with a fever. Her eyes, now more emerald than gold, were glued ahead—on the castle that had just crested into view.

Her bond to the structure must be growing stronger, he thought.

Paris wrapped his arm around her and tugged her as close as he could get her, remaining careful of her wings. She didn’t protest. In fact, she nuzzled her cheek against his neck, warm and soft and his.

He kissed her temple. “Don’t worry. I won’t let you go.”

A sigh of relief and unmistakable gratitude. “Than— I mean, whatever.”

“Good girl,” he said with a grin.

Zacharel frowned at them. “Do you still mean to part?”

Paris lost his good humor, and shot the angel an I-hope-you-die-painfully glare. Now was so not the time to get into that.

“Yes,” Sienna said in a tone as cold and biting as the wind buffeting against Zacharel. Then, contradicting the harsh affirmation, she rubbed a fist against her chest as though a hot poker burned there. “We’re still going to part.”

Indignation rose up, but Paris swallowed it back. That was the way it had to be. He knew it, had agreed to it. Shit, he’d even been the one to suggest it.

“This is good.” The angel nodded his approval, the action allowing several snowflakes to catch in the satin of his hair.

“Why do you care?” Paris demanded. He still hadn’t figured out the reason for Zacharel’s continued presence.

A shrug of one strong shoulder. “I would not say I care. I simply know that the two of you cannot successfully sustain a relationship.”

With that note of truth in his voice, it was clear the angel wholeheartedly believed what he’d said. “Our relationship isn’t your business, so your opinions aren’t welcome.”

“Actually, the two of you were made my business.”

Paris saw red. Demon-red. A volatile reaction when one was not needed, but he was helpless against it. Sheer will alone kept his hands at his sides rather than hammering into Zacharel’s face. “By who?”

Wings of white and gold spread, the angel beside him one moment, then in front of him the next. Zacharel’s feet floated above the ground, those wings flapping slowly, holding him steady. Paris had to grind to an abrupt stop to avoid slamming into him. Around them, snowflakes tumbled and swirled only to land and melt.

In case things got ugly, he shoved Sienna behind him. “What happened to being too weak to fly?”

“I have regained my strength.”


“The answer will not change what is about to happen.”

He arched a brow, weapon at the ready. “Are you sure you want to go this route?”

“Some part of you hopes to keep her. Otherwise, you would not have reacted so violently to my observation.” Before Paris could respond, he added, “Do you recall when I told you that if you continued on your current path, you would lose everything you’d come to love?”

He popped his jaw. Only the gentle caress of Sienna’s hands on his back prevented him from hurling obscenities.

“I did not lie, demon. I never do. And now I think it’s time I proved just how terrible an enemy I can be.”

Paris blinked. Suddenly he hovered in the air, high above the castle’s drawbridge, Zacharel cradling him against a hard chest honed on the battlefield. His heart pounded an unsteady beat.

“How the hell did you do that?” And where the hell was Sienna?

“With powers you cannot begin to imagine. But this is not what I wished to show you.” One finger at a time, the angel loosened his grip. “I hope that you will soon learn I can help you…or destroy you.”

“You better not do what I think you’re going to do, you dirty piece of—”

His anchor vanished, and Paris free-fell toward the dilapidated slats of wood. He landed on the creaking boards with a hard slam and good loss of oxygen. Behind him, he heard the gargoyles screaming out their war cries, the flap of their wings, the scrape of their claws.

Zacharel had. He really had. “Son of a bitch!”


“COME. I WILL ESCORT YOU to the exit.”

Sienna gaped at Zacharel, who had just appeared in front of her. Paris and the angel had been standing in front of her, bucking up against each other, ready to throw down as testosterone charged the air, only to disappear without warning. The angel had returned the very next second. Without Paris.

“Where is he?” she demanded, though she wasn’t too worried about the answer. Paris and Zacharel were friends despite their differences, and Wrath had yet to make a peep.