- The Darkest Seduction
The demon rolled to his back, kicked up his legs and shook as great tides of rapture swept over him.
“Let’s you and me chat later, all right?” Olivia said, arm dropping to her side. While Wrath pouted like a toddler, the angel added, “Aeron sent me to find you. He wanted to speak to you himself, but he can’t see you and conversing with the woman who has his Wrath through a third party would be a little too painful. Maybe one day. But I digress. He’s ready to leave this castle and hunt for Legion, but won’t because Paris is about to have an aneurism. At least, that’s what Aeron said, and he thinks you’re the only one who can calm his boy down.”
Paris. Worry instantly flooded her, her demon’s preoccupation with the angel overshadowed. “Where is he?”
“Just follow the trail Viola blazed.” Stepping to the side, Olivia motioned toward the ballroom.
Sienna darted into motion, flying through the open doorway and once again stopping dead in her tracks. A group of the warriors and their mates stood under a banner that said only INTERVENTION in big block letters. They each held a piece of paper. Viola had taken her place in the center, shifting eagerly, ready to say her piece.
Sienna’s gaze locked on the warrior named Aeron, the man who’d once hosted Wrath. He had closely cropped dark hair, beautiful violet eyes, and his body, which had once been covered in the tattooed images of the victims of his blood rages, was now slowly being covered with tattoos of his angel.
Seeing him, Wrath went crazy inside Sienna’s head, wanting to reach out, to touch the warrior. Friend. My friend.
I know, but now’s not the time to catch up with him. Honestly? She wasn’t sure any time would be right. The guy scared her. He looked like he ate kittens for breakfast and thumb tacks for lunch. His dinner wasn’t something she dared contemplate. Organs might be involved.
Wrath pouted. The demon had wanted back inside of Aeron as much as Sienna had wanted to get rid of him. But she had changed her mind, and she hoped Wrath had, too. He wasn’t begging to escape her. For all she knew, he was as addicted to Paris as she was.
Friend. Talk to friend.
Soon, she promised. Wrath whimpered, and she had to force herself to look away. Paris stood in front of the group, his back to Sienna. His sun-bronzed skin was bare from the waist up, and his muscles were knotted. At his sides, his hands were fisted.
Anya was reading her letter out loud. “—you’re okay, I guess. I mean, if Lucien says you’re good people, you’re good people. I think you’ve got a really hot body with a lot of delicious brawn and sinew, and even though I wouldn’t do you without having an emergency medical exam afterward, a lot of women with low self-esteem would totally hit that.”
“Anya,” Lucien said with a truckload of exasperation.
She glanced up at him, all innocence. “What? You said start the letter with praise before going into the root of the problem. Now zip it so I can finish. You already got to read yours.” She cleared her throat, glanced back down at the paper. “Making out with an invisible woman is a disease. And really creepy. If I see you with your hands squeezing air one more time, I’m going to sandpaper my corneas.”
“Enough,” Paris said with quiet menace.
“My turn,” Viola said.
Ignoring both of them, the lithe goddess of Anarchy continued. “Add in the fact that Inviso-babe is a Hunter, and you’ve got a recipe for oh, shit. Which isn’t good for your health. Or ours. Mainly ours. That is why we humbly request that you enter some sort of treatment program before that woman enters you in a death program with guns, knives and a rack. And by rack I don’t mean boobs.”
Wow, that hurt. It shouldn’t. Sienna had brought this on herself, deserved it one hundred percent, and had done nothing to earn their trust. Still. Ouch. Her lover’s friends had hosted an intervention to get Sienna out of his life.
One of Paris’s hands slid back, around his waist, his fingers curling around the hilt of a knife.
He was going to blow a fuse, she thought, and she didn’t want him at war with his friends because of her. Not now, not ever. So, yeah, she was leaving. Sooner rather than later.
Her chest constricted, heralding the sharp lances of pain from a breaking heart. Didn’t matter, though. She would take one more day with him. Just one. Then, bye-bye forever. “Paris,” she said, doing her best to mask her hurt.
He spun, those electric-blues she loved so much crackling with fury, the malicious shadows dancing through their depths.
Gently she said, “Come up to the roof with me,” and waved him over. “I need to practice my flying.” Truth, and the reason she wasn’t leaving the fortress right this second, was instead allowing herself this extra day with him. She had to be prepared for anything. And, yeah, she wanted to say goodbye properly—in bed. “No need to worry about the vines there. The gargoyles eat the walls clean, and William’s blood is on the outer rail, I checked, so the shadows won’t bother us, either.”
“My friends are… They need…” He was dragging oxygen through his nose so intensely his nostrils were flaring.
“No, they don’t. You are not going to be mad at them over this.” A command she had no power to enforce, but one she would see through.
“Yes, I am.”
Behind him, Viola relayed the conversation only she and Lucien could hear, clearly thrilled to be the center of attention. Sienna tuned her out. Only Paris mattered right now.
More forcefully, she said, “Paris, I’m not offended by this.” She was destroyed. “Now come here. I need a cheerleader, and I’m thinking you’ll look great in a skirt, holding poms.”
He didn’t crack a smile. That unholy, malevolent rage still held him in a tight grip. So, really, there was only one other thing do to.
“Catch me,” she said, sprinting to him. He would never forgive himself if he fought his loved ones.
“No, don’t come near me while I’m like…this. Humph.”
She’d launched herself at him. Those strong arms did indeed catch her, winding around her and clamping on like shackles. Tremors vibrated from him and into her.
Acting fast, she nipped at his ear. “If you hurt them, you’ll get blood on my castle walls—well, more blood, and I’ll be very upset.” Only once before had she ever tried to use feminine wiles, and that had been the first time they met. Now she lifted her head just enough for him to see her face, and batted her lashes. “Please come to the roof with me. Please.”
He peered at her for a long while, silent, before finally relaxing. He pressed a kiss straight into her mouth, daring the quickest of tastes, the tease, before striding out with her still clutched in his arms.
“My eyes,” Anya whined. “Oh, my eyes.”
“I think we just made a huge mistake,” Lucien said gravely.
Paris never looked back and neither did Sienna.
THE MOMENT PARIS STEPPED onto the roof, he sensed the evil waiting to attack. Thanks to William’s blood, the shadows couldn’t get inside the castle or pass the rail, just as Sienna had said, but what waited for him wasn’t exactly a shadow.
Wanting no part of the coming action, Sex retreated faster than ever.
Palming his crystal blades—nope, make that blade, he had just the one now—Paris maneuvered Sienna to her feet and behind him. The sky was a strip of black velvet with no pinprick of stars, the moon a crimson hook in the corner, just as before. Moisture clung to the air, hot in spots, cold in others.
Either Sienna sensed the menace, too, or she knew not to distract him. She remained quiet. His gaze arrowed over, lit on a darker patch of onyx, and shit, another dark patch, then another, gliding together, coalescing, elongating…until a man stood before him, shrouded by the black, the mist like a veil in front of him.
Sienna gasped. In fascination or horror, he wasn’t sure.
Guy was handsome, if you liked serial killers, with cold black eyes, more muscles than even Paris sported, and shoulders wide enough to take down the entire first line of defense in a game of touch football.
Paris crouched, a coiled snake ready to dart and bite. Dude had made a mistake, approaching now. Since Paris had walked into that intervention and realized his friends were still gunning for him to ditch Sienna, fury had been a seething tide inside him.
He understood their reasons. He did. And he couldn’t blame them. But doing what they’d done out in the open, just to hurt her, was taking things too far.
He commanded his crystal to become a weapon capable of killing such a creature, and the thing instantly morphed into—a klieg? Someone play whaa whaa whaa for Debbie Downer, because seriously. Kinda felt like he was going to a shootout with, well, a freaking klieg.
Shadow Man laughed, the sound all creepiness and no joy. “I know what you wonder. I can bypass the blood, yes. And I will if I must. My phantoms feed from the immortals, and that is payment rendered for their stay. Yet now you house the Lord of the Dark, their enemy, and keep my boys from their due. That is unacceptable.”
“Your phantoms aren’t feeding on my friends.” He recalled the warrior lying in a pool of his own blood, what was left of his insides spilled on the floor. The prisoner’s pain had been unbearable to witness, so Paris could just imagine what the guy had felt.
“Other arrangements must be made, or I will force you out of my realm. You will not like my methods, I assure you.”
There was a time for physical confrontation, and a time for bargaining. “What else would they like to eat?”
“Immortals.” Clipped, angry. “Only immortals.”
“Then we’ve got a problem.” He inched backward, edging Sienna to the door.
Shadow Man lurched forward, that dark mist stretching and gliding like wings. Paris swung the flashlight, his thumb flipping the on switch. White light cut through the darkness, but just before reaching his opponent, the man rolled through the air and out of the way.
When he stilled, they faced off. Paris twirled the thin flashlight in his palm. “That all you got? Huh?” A taunt meant to buy Sienna enough time to blast inside. He hoped she understood that, but he couldn’t hear footsteps, couldn’t hear the door slam.