Gwen was pretending to pull back a crossbow, aiming for his heart, and Kaia was shaking her head no and pointing to the man’s groin.

Sex started in with his purring. Out of habit, maybe, because a few seconds later, those purrs faded. Best part? Paris never got hard.

A wary sigh echoed inside his head. If we do this relationship thing, I’ll need her often.

The demon was willing to try. Paris couldn’t help himself. He gave a fist pump toward the ceiling. Believe me, I know. And we’ll have her a lot more than just “often.”

What an amazing damn day this was turning out to be. A megawatt smile bloomed. Yeah, he had a whole lot of shit to do. Talk to Cronus, spank the guy’s wife, kill Galen while he was at his weakest and find Kane, but first, he wanted to catch up with his friends and visit the newest additions to the family.

Down on the next floor, there was a table piled high with snacks. Without slowing, he snagged an apple and a box of Strider’s Red Hots. A bite of apple followed by a few of the cinnamon candies, and you had a mouthful of delicious.

A lot of his boys were congregated in the hallway outside of Ashlyn’s room, eating, talking, laughing and more relaxed than he’d seen them in a long time. This was what their lives should always be like, he mused.

William was in the corner, a dark-haired girl tucked into his side, the pair of them locked in earnest conversation. Gilly was a teenager on the cusp of womanhood who’d suffered unimaginable abuse as a child. Danika had taken her in, and the girl had been leery around everyone but William. For some reason she’d adored the bastard from day one.

Maybe because she didn’t yet know that William had recently slaughtered her entire family. Paris wondered how she’d react when the truth came out. And it would; it always did.

Gilly had hated her mother, stepfather and brothers, but deep down she’d probably loved them, too, and it was hard to forget that kind of feeling. Most likely scenario: she would leave, and William would follow her, protect her. He wouldn’t be able to help himself. The need to protect ingrained itself in a man’s very soul, and once he felt it, it was hard to forget, too.

Now that William had shed blood for her, that need would be even stronger, as Paris well knew. Every time he’d taken a life, his desperation to reach Sienna had increased. But he had her now. They were together, and he wasn’t letting her go.

When Paris reached the pair, he tapped the girl on the shoulder to gain her attention. She yelped in surprise, slapped him out of reflex and sank deeper into William’s side. Not wanting her to assume he was angry or that he would retaliate, he kept his gaze on the warrior. “What’s the word on the three immortals?”

He could have stopped by their rooms, they were just down the hall, but he’d rather find out through the gossip train that was William’s mouth and save time.

Willy frowned at him. “For frick’s sake. Apologize.”

Frick? “She doesn’t need to apologize to me.” He gave her a reassuring grin. “I was recently informed that I have a very slappable face.”

“I wasn’t talking to her, I was talking to you. Apologize for startling her.”

Oh. “Sorry, Gilly.”

She offered him a soft smile in return. She was a pretty little thing, with dark hair and dark eyes, a sun-kissed complexion and the kind of curves no father ever wanted his daughter to have. “No worries. My bad. I lost track of my surroundings.”

“Well, I can see why you’d want to tune things out rather than pay attention to Willy’s ugly mug.”

She chuckled and Paris faced William, saying, “So, the immortals?”

William shrugged. “No change. I’ve tried everything I can think of, and believe me, it was very impressive sh—uh, crap, but a no-go all the same. They’re locked tight in those bedrooms.”

“Any word on Kane?”

“Uh, yeah, about that.” With his free hand, William massaged the back of his neck. “He’s alive and he’s in hell, but he’s out of enemy hands. You guys want him back, though, you’ll have to go down there and get him.”

Something was off in the guy’s tone. “How do you know this?” Not even Amun had been able to get to the truth.

“Just do. Group’s leaving tomorrow, and by the way, you weren’t invited. My guess is they think you’re a crazy psycho who makes out with himself, but that’s just a guess.”

Whatever. “Who’s going?”

“Amun, Haidee, Cameo, Strider and Kaia.”

Mostly girls. Were their taskforces changing or what? “You’re not going down there with ’em?”

“As if. I mean, sure, the captors kind of made it a condition to Kane’s release, but…nah. I don’t think I will. Got stuff to do, you know. Me and my Aussie have an intimate evening planned.”

Intimate with his conditioner. Figured. “Who are the captors? And why are they insisting you go?” He didn’t bother touching on William’s refusal, because honestly? That didn’t mean shit. If his appearance was a condition for obtaining Kane’s freedom, he’d make an appearance. End of story.

William looked down at Gilly, his expression all gentleness and reverence, and gave her a little push. “Be a darling and find me some gummy bears.”

Her eyelids, usually at half-mast and always halfway to the bedroom when she gazed at the warrior, narrowed. “So patronizing.” Still, she stomped away, just as he’d wanted, affording them a bit of privacy.

“Be sure to watch your mouth while you’re searching for my sweets,” William called after her. That’s when Paris caught sight of his T-shirt. It read, Save a Virgin, Do Me Instead. “Talking back isn’t attractive.”

“You’re right. I should respect my elders.” She didn’t turn back, but she did extend a hand and flip him off.

Paris chuckled. “What are you teaching that girl?”

Suddenly serious, William gritted, “How to survive. Now, returning to our convo. Kane’s captors happen to be some serious badasses I used to know down there.”

Badasses tripped a memory. “You’re talking about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, right? Because yeah, Amun might have mentioned you’re their baby daddy.”

“That damned Amun.” Electric eyes gleamed with the promise of retribution. “What a sissy gossip!”

Back to cussing were they, all the darns and fricks out of the equation?

“Oh, and speaking of gossip,” William continued, his expression now anticipatory. “Have you seen Blood and Gore yet?”


“Pistol and Shank. I rename them every hour or so. Keeps things fresh.”

Yeah, but what were their real names? “That’s why I’m here. I want to meet them.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so?” William threw an arm around his shoulders and ushered him through the sea of familiar bodies. “Out of the way, mutants. My boy P is going in next.”

“But it’s my turn,” Cameo said, and damn if that wasn’t a whine in her voice, mixing with all the world’s misery. She stepped in front of them to block their path to the door, her arms crossed over her chest. “Did you know that seven thousand babies die every year of—”

“That’s why you’re getting skipped.” William offered her a sugar-sweet smile. “Besides, I delivered those hellions and almost had to take an eternal dirt nap because of it. I pick the order, and I say Paris is next.”

Cameo frowned. She was one of the most beautiful women Paris had ever seen. More beautiful, even, than Viola, with long black hair and liquid silver eyes. Lips as plump and dewy as a rose.

“Did you know that about one percent of all births are stillborn?” she asked. The whine was gone, leaving only the misery.

She was also a major downer.

Stab me in the heart already, Paris thought. Because she played hostess to the demon of Misery, the sound of her voice was always enough to tear a guy up. Throw in her death statistics, which she’d been offering unsolicited more and more, and watch a party deflate like a balloon.

“Someone get this girl a lollipop and shove it deep in her mouth, stat,” William shouted, urging Paris past her to the door. He didn’t knock, but barreled inside. “All right, ladies. Our turn.”

Reyes was sitting beside the bed, dark and menacing, with Strider the blond giant at his left. Both warriors were cooing at the thickly blanketed bundle of joy Reyes held.

Ashlyn was propped up on the bed, pale, shaky and clearly weak. Maddox sat beside her, holding the other bundle.

“Out,” William added. “Paris wants to see Smith and Wesson.”

“Don’t call them that,” Maddox said. Paris had never heard the keeper of Violence use such a gentle tone. It was more startling than being punched in the face.

“What do you want me to call them? Shits and Giggles? Fists and Kneecap? Nah, I don’t like that one. Hammer and Nails? Dude, these kids are hard-core gangster. They need kick-A names, not that blah, blah sh—crap you gave them.”

Slowly Reyes stood, waited for William to close the distance and gently placed the bundle in his arms. The dark warrior patted Paris on the shoulder as he left, and Strider did the same. Only, he stopped and said, “Meet me in the gym when you’re done,” before leaving.

Battling a wave of foreboding, Paris nodded. Then the two were gone, the door closed behind them, and he pushed the upcoming chat from his mind. He made his way to William, who seemed perfectly at ease holding such a fragile being. Only in secret had Paris ever allowed himself to contemplate having a family, because no way had he wanted to father a kid with a one-night stand. Now, with Sienna, who had been denied the chance to be a mother…

He wanted to give her this.

At William’s side, he peered down at the first demon-human hybrid infant to join their crew—and what he saw nearly shocked the piss out of him.

“Gorgeous little fiend, isn’t she?” William said, beaming down. He tickled her belly. “Oh, yes, she is. Yes, she really is.”