- The Darkest Seduction
He knew, because he’d fed them some of his own men. The ones he’d disliked, the ones who hurt the innocent. Ironic, yes, considering all the things he himself had done, but also another of his very good deeds. He did them upon occasion, if for no other reason than to amuse himself.
Soon the Lords would be too close for him to divert. As promised, he couldn’t, wouldn’t, fight them, but the Unspoken Ones could. If he allowed that to happen, the Unspoken would forgive him for his unwillingness to share the females. Except, Ashlyn could be hurt during the battle, which meant Galen could not allow it. Soooo, he couldn’t take care of the Lords or the Unspoken this day. Both would have to be dealt with later.
Keeping his gaze trained on the ground, he approached the pillars. Heard chains rattle. Stealthily he dug the Cloak from his back pocket and unfolded the material. The creatures tracked him, even as they hissed at him; he felt the heat of their gazes.
Acting quickly, he flared his wings and the Cloak at the same time. His feet lifted off the ground, and he spun…spun…letting invisibility overtake him as the razor-sharp edges of his wings sliced into the Unspoken closest to him while the Cloak extended like a tentacle and wrapped around the neck of the farthest, crushing his windpipe.
The first lost his insides, and hunched over with a howl of pain. The second couldn’t breathe and collapsed, unconscious.
Galen was on the next two a split second later, a tsunami of movement, twisting, diving, cutting and doing a little more of that crushing. They couldn’t see him, couldn’t fight him, and oh, he had fun.
Less than a minute after his initial attack, all five were on the ground. The Cloak sagged in Galen’s grip as he planted his feet on the ground, his body coming back into view.
“Shouldn’t have taught me how to use the Cloak properly,” he tsked.
He bent down and scooped Ashlyn into his arms. Sweat soaked her, her cheeks were puffed from the strain, and she clutched her stomach as she wheezed. Without the Cloak, he couldn’t flash her, and with it, her man would not sense her. That left Galen with only one option. He stalked away from the temple without any explanation. Tree branches reached out, slapping at him. Twigs snapped under his boots.
“You. Will. Die,” he heard one of the injured choke.
“That is our vow to you,” another panted.
“Your screams will echo into eternity.”
Ignoring them, again, he picked up his pace. After this, they might opt to aid the Lords. No matter, though. They were stuck here, so what could they really do to him, even with immortal help?
“Cry out for your man, Ashlyn.”
That fall of honey hair remained plastered to her scalp as she shook her head wildly. A moment passed. She cringed and covered her ears with her hands, an action he understood. Wherever she stood, she could hear every conversation that had taken place there.
Using the arm wrapped under her shoulders, he angled his wrist to tug one of her hands away. “You heard my vow to Legion. I cannot hurt you or your man today. Call for him. Bring him to you.”
Perhaps she meant to deny him a second time, but she opened her mouth and a scream of pain was unleashed. Birds flew from the tops of trees. Insects ceased midsong. Animals of the four-legged variety raced for cover.
He could have set her down and left her there, but he didn’t. Whatever the Lords had planned to do to him, they changed their minds when they heard that scream and came running. He heard the thunder of their footsteps and ground to a halt, waiting. A few seconds later, they ruptured the thick green foliage, becoming a half circle of menace around him.
They were closer than I realized, he thought. Interesting. They might have won this round, after all.
Maddox cared not for his own safety. “Give her to me.” He sprinted the rest of the distance, and with a tenderness belying his savage expression, he took his woman into his arms. “Oh, my love. I am so sorry. So sorry.”
Another pang ripped through Galen’s chest.
She moaned. “Hurts.”
“I know, darling, I know. Lucien,” the warrior growled as his narrowed gaze landed on Galen. “Flash her out of here. Now. She’s in labor.”
“Maddox,” she panted. “Don’t want…to leave…you.”
“Shh, love. Shh. We’ll get you help. Let Lucien take you. Then he’ll come back for me. He can’t take the two of us at once, but I’ll only be moments behind you.”
“If something happens and I can’t get back to you—” Lucien began.
“What?” Ashlyn screeched. “Why wouldn’t you be able to get back?”
Maddox gave the scarred warrior a hard look.
“Remember what Danika said to us.” Lucien gently took the still protesting Ashlyn from Maddox’s arms. “We won’t be at the fortress.”
Maddox maintained contact for as long as possible. When the keeper of Death and the pregnant female disappeared, he straightened to his full height and once again met Galen’s stare.
Galen wasn’t sure why he stayed, even then. Each warrior had weapons, and all of those weapons were trained on him. Guns, blades, a crossbow. His own daughter, Gwen, was the holder of the bow, an arrow notched and at the ready.
Ah, now he knew why he’d stayed. Deep down he’d known she would come, and he’d wanted her to see what he’d done. See one of his rare good deeds. And maybe…maybe even decide to like him.
“Why did you give her back?” Maddox demanded. Despite the fact that his woman had been returned healthy and whole, he reeked of rage.
“Why else? I now have what I wanted from you.”
The warrior’s brows lowered, surprise a slash of crimson in his eyes. “You have Legion?”
So. They hadn’t brought her. She had come to him on her own. Another interesting tidbit—and enough to ripen every thread of possessiveness inside him. “She is mine, yes.”
He grinned slowly with glee. “How do you think?”
A flash of bone and scales under Maddox’s face, his demon rising to the surface. “There’s something you should know about Legion.”
“And that is?” He knew what would happen next, knew exactly what the warriors planned to do. Knew it would hurt like a son of a bitch. He could have covered himself with the Cloak, could have flashed away. Instead, he stood there, his grin widening.
“You’re not going back to her.” Maddox raised a Glock, as Galen had known he would, and fired, nailing Galen in the chest.
On the heels of the bullet, blades sliced into his stomach, an arrow right into his heart. He met his daughter’s gaze as he fell to his knees, reached back and at last grabbed the Cloak. “Now we’re even,” he told her, voice faint as he shielded himself from view.
WILLIAM WATCHED AS PARIS was carted closer and closer to him by those horny, humping gargoyle fiends, amused as ever-loving hell. In fact, he nearly busted a gut laughing. Yeah, he knew taunting the new and improved Paris 2.0 was borderline idiotic, and that the warrior would come gunning for him in the next few minutes, but like William could really pretend to be sad about this, so, bring it.
“Dude,” he said. “You’ve already got several money shots wetting your chest. Classic!”
Sex didn’t say a word. Just gave William the finger and held steady, emotion seething in his eyes. Emotion in the form of badass shadows, yeah, but that failed to lessen William’s amusement.
Paris was clearly planning to murder someone other than William before the day finished ticking out, because, also clearly, more was going on here than simple humiliation. And William suspected that someone would be…the suspiciously missing Sienna? Nah. She was already dead. Zacharel? Had that pisser come back for more? William really hoped so. Hoped Paris gave it to the winger but good.
William didn’t have a good history with the sky-bound, and though they didn’t seem to recognize his too lovely mask of a face, they’d jump him like a pack of rabid dogs if he revealed his true form.
Not that he ever would. Anyways. It was best not to go there, even mentally. Mind readers abounded in this realm.
Just as Paris disappeared around the corner, a grave and desperate Lucien materialized right in front of William, a screaming, panting Ashlyn clutched in his arms.
The words exiting her bleeding lips were things only back-alley whores and junkies in need of a fix would say. And maybe Lucifer, the self-proclaimed king of the underworld.
“Bad day?” Never had William heard the gentle beauty utter such filthy, vile things. And really, she’d never looked prettier to him. Rock on.
“Danika told us she needed to have the babies wherever you were shacking up,” the keeper of Death said without preamble. Lines of tension branched from his eyes like little rivers of poison. “Following your spirit trail was not easy or fun, especially since my warriors have need of me. Show me to a bed now.”
“Are you sure she said where I am?” William thumped his chest just to be sure.
“Now!” Ashlyn yelled. “They’re coming now. Please, please. Or I’m going to tell Maddox you tried to feel me up!”
“So cruel. He vowed to remove the best part of my anatomy if I so much as breathed in your direction.” Despite his cavalier tone, William moved quickly as he led the pair up the stairs, down the hall and into the bedroom he’d cleaned for himself, intending to free the trapped female immortal and spend a few days getting to know her body in every twisted position he favored. So far, no luck.
Lucien laid Ashlyn down, careful, so careful. “I’ll get Maddox now.”
“Thank you. Ohhhhhhh, Gooooood.” She squeezed Lucien’s hand, and William heard the bones crack. When she came down from the pain an eternity later, she released the now-pale warrior. “Maddox. Now. Or I’m going to rip your face off and…and… Ohhhhhh!” The last was an evil screech better suited to a banshee from hell’s darkest corridors.