A pang in his chest. If he told her the only way to ensure he would give the babies to their father was for her to crawl to him, she would find the strength to do so. She’d even kiss and lick his boots. She would do anything and everything he asked, no matter how vile.

Oh, yes, she loved her children. They were flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood, and they would love her in return.

Nothing and no one had ever belonged to him and only him—except Legion. Not that she would do anything necessary to save him, nor would he do anything necessary to save her. But. Yeah, there was always a but with him. He had been her first lover—and he wanted to be her last.

He wasn’t sure what had happened to her during her forced stay in hell. Didn’t know what she had welcomed, and what she hadn’t. But she would no longer be his alone, that much he knew. Something else to punish her—to punish all of them—for.

“The babes,” the female Unspoken said again. Was that…yearning he detected in her voice? Did she actually crave a chance at motherhood? “Give. Me.”

The males turned on her, scowling, tossing obscenities, arguing over what should be done versus foolish desires. Whatever happened to the mother, Galen decided in that moment, he would not allow the Unspoken Ones to have or hurt those children.

Finally, a decent act on his part. One of goodness, without guile or selfishness. Never let it be said he was all bad all the time.

“G-Galen. I am h-here, as requested.”

Every muscle in his body went taut, his blood instantly firing, blistering through him. A hallucination? He sniffed, taking in the earth, a hint of hellfire and the subtlest trace of sea salt. No hallucination.

Legion was here.

The wealth and variance of emotion he felt nearly overwhelmed him as he spun to search her out. And there she was, a few feet away. She stood at the edge of the temple grounds, trees stretched out behind her. She was lovely, though not exactly as he remembered. Tall, buxom, with a fall of pale hair and eyes of the smoothest brown. Her lips were chapped, as if she’d been chewing them, and she’d lost so much weight her T-shirt and sweatpants bagged on her.

The Lords hadn’t taken proper care of her. For that, they would suffer more than he’d originally planned. She was to be punished, yes, but by his hand and only his hand. Anger became the front-runner inside him.

“Are you armed?” he asked, not expecting the truth.

“I—” Her hand fluttered to her throat, and her gaze skittered past him, widened. “Ashlyn.” She raced forward, only to jolt backward when he stepped in her path, her desperation to avoid him palpable.

“You will stay where you are.”

“L-let her g-go.” The stutter told him more than her words. She was afraid of him. “You said y-you would.”

“Legion, gooooo!” Ashlyn screamed, speaking through a contraction. “Tell Maddox—”

“Silence!” Galen snarled. He would accept no interference in this matter.

Legion grabbed her stomach, her skin taking on a greenish tint. Her chin trembled.

This fear of hers scraped at his nerves. Before, she had been brave and full of the fire she had been raised in.

“The warriors are almost upon us,” one of the Unspoken said. “We will whisk them here the very moment we can. Now, give the females into our care, so that you may fight without distraction.”

That had been their plan, and one he’d pretended to agree with. Then and now, the thought of allowing anyone to touch his woman grated. And when he noticed Legion’s reaction to the idea—a cold wash of horror in eyes glassy with unshed tears—he was decided.

“Back away,” he told her. “Stand in the rubble at the edge of the trees. And if you so much as think about flashing away or running, I’ll hurt the human.”

The tears finally fell, but she did as commanded. He hated the increased distance between them, and blamed the Unspoken Ones.

“What are you doing?” one growled.

“Give them to us,” another shrieked.

They had only one weakness that he knew of. They could not take what they wanted; it had to be given to them. Usually they used trickery to ascertain free will, as they had done to obtain the Cloak of Invisibility from Strider. When trickery failed, they resorted to scaring their victims into submission.

They would learn. Galen feared nothing.

“Don’t move from that spot, no matter what happens,” he told Legion, peering at her until she nodded to acknowledge she had heard him.

Then she gulped, raised her chin. “But only if…only if you give Ashlyn and the babies back to Maddox. Alive.”

Of course, the Unspoken Ones reacted first.



“She will leave you the moment you comply!”

“Do not be a fool!”

Legion glanced behind him. The greenish tint returned to her skin, and damn if she didn’t look ready to scream.

“Eyes on me,” he snapped, and she immediately submitted. Such lovely eyes. Rich and dark and boundless, even with their cascade of tears. “Do not look away from me.”

A tremor in response.

He backed up until he stood beside Ashlyn, then twisted and bent, sliding his arms underneath her, picking her up. She was heavy, her muscles knotted from strain. Legion maintained the connection between them.

The Unspoken Ones demanded to know what he thought he was doing. He ignored them, carrying the girl to Legion’s side.

“We gave you the Cloak, Hope. You owe us the females.”

Had they meant to keep the humans as their due, then? He laughed with just a bit of humor. Probably. Something he would have done, as well, so he couldn’t really blame them.

Wait. Yes, he decided. He could.

“Should you betray us now, we will hunt you. We will destroy you in the old way.” The female let loose a cackling laugh. “Do you have any idea of the awfulness that entails?”

He ignored her, saying to Legion, “Vow to me here and now that you will not try to escape me, that you will go with me willingly and do everything I tell you, when I tell you to do it. A blood vow.” One she would not be able to break, even if she wanted to.

For immortals, keeping blood vows became a compulsion.

Another tremor shook her. Those liquid eyes with their spiky lashes roved over him, causing his cock to fill and harden. He would have her. Tonight. “I w-will, but only if you vow to give Ashlyn and the babies back to Maddox, without hurting her. Or them. Today. And without fighting the Lords.”

The girl had learned to bargain, to cover all the bases. A complication, but not anything that would stand in his way.

Galen placed the still panting, pregnant female on the ground as gently as he was able. She was in too much pain to notice or speak. As he straightened, he removed one of his daggers.

Legion shrank away.

That fear would have to be dealt with. He wanted his firecracker back. The one who had seduced him at the bar, screwed him in the bathroom. Bitten and poisoned him before he could finish.

Speaking of, she owed him an orgasm. And so many weeks had passed, she now owed him more than one. Interest was a bitch. But first, ensuring her cooperation. “In exchange for what I have asked you to promise, I vow to you here and now, this day, that I will give the female Ashlyn and her offspring back to her male Maddox, and I will hurt none of them. I will fight not with his friends, but give her and the babes over, unharmed by my hand or any other, and go on my way.” He pressed the tip of the blade into his palm and cut so deeply he hit bone.

Blood welled. He smeared crimson on both sides of the blade, making sure to saturate the tip. Then he offered the weapon to Legion, hilt first. Part of him expected her to take it and slash at him, but no. She knew she was beaten, merely watched him, undecided about her next move. Cooperation was her only option. Unlike Lucien, she did not have the power to flash others alongside her, so she couldn’t spirit Ashlyn to safety.

“Hurry.” Any moment now, the Lords would arrive and it would be too late to walk away with what he wanted. He couldn’t fight the Lords and watch Legion. And he couldn’t run with her, avoiding battle, because she could flash away from him any time she wished. He needed her vow. “Before I change my mind.” As if he would ever change his mind.

With a trembling hand, she accepted the blade. Nervously she licked her lips.

He waited, on edge.

Finally, he heard the words he craved. “In exchange for what you have already promised, I vow to you here and now, this day, to willingly accompany you to wherever you wish.” Those glitter-ripe tears continued to rain down her cheeks. “I will do w-whatever you ask. And stay as l-long as you demand my presence.”

She pressed the blade’s tip into her palm and cut. Not as deeply as he had, but enough to ensure a successful exchange. Her blood welled, mingling with the droplets he’d left behind. He liked that, liked knowing some part of him was now inside her.

He reached out, clasped her hand against his, her wound against his. At the moment of contact, he felt a pop inside him, a tear on his soul, and though he’d never done anything like this before, he knew the vow had just made a place for itself inside him. Judging by her grimace, hers had just done the same.

At last, she belonged to him.

Legion flinched.

Had he said the words aloud? Or perhaps she, too, had snapped back to reality as the Unspoken Ones hissed and cursed and threatened behind him. Galen cupped her cheek with his uninjured hand, his thumb caressing the rise of satin-covered bone. She trembled, but didn’t pull away.

He rattled off the coordinates to his home. “Leave now, make no other stops, talk to no one, and I will give the girl and her babies to her man as promised.” And the Unspoken Ones could not stop her as they could the Lords. Well, all the Lords save the ever-annoying Lucien. “Hurry, I am almost too late.”

She gulped, jerked from his clasp. He mourned the loss. Wanted to roar as she vanished before his eyes. She goes to your home. You will be with her again.

He had only to take care of two tasks. Ashlyn, and the Unspoken. They could lure anyone, him included, with their gazes, cast illusions and hypnotize. And they liked to do so; they also liked to play with their prey. Something they didn’t need a willing spirit to do.