Lucien fought off her octopus-like arms, scowled at Paris, and vanished with Viola jabbering about her majorly awesome awesomeness. Paris didn’t bother staying where he was. Death could follow the spiritual trail he left behind, easy, and meet him somewhere else.

Time to do a little tattooing.

The mortal and immortal worlds were scarily alike. Titania was a thriving metropolis of shopping centers and restaurants, brimming with entertainment of any and every kind. Didn’t take Paris long to gather the necessary tattooing equipment and a spare set of clothes, and settle into one of the motels he’d been amused to discover existed here. Apparently even immortals liked to have secret assignations.

As he waited for Lucien, he ate because it was de rigueur. A sandwich, and he had no idea what was strapped between the bread. He got himself off because that was necessary for his demon. He hadn’t had sex today, and the orgasm was like an injection of strength. Strength that wouldn’t last, not like the adrenaline rush that accompanied intercourse, but whatever. He’d take what he could get.

He showered, cleaned off the blood and the wealth of other things clinging to his skin. A lot of humans had died under his blade today. Hunters, his enemy. Mostly males. More and more, they were recruiting females. Paris wondered what would have happened if he’d met Sienna on the battlefield, or if he’d ever attempted to interrogate her.

If she’d lived long enough, that’s what he had planned to do to her. After he’d bedded her again. Would he have hurt her? He liked to think no, but…damn. He couldn’t be sure. She’d known things she shouldn’t. Where he was, why he was there. How to distract him, what to use to drug him, an immortal unaffected by human toxins. Now he knew she’d gotten her info from Rhea, Cronus’s wife and the true leader of the Hunters. Not directly, he didn’t think, but filtered down through the ranks. But even if he hadn’t known, he wouldn’t have concerned himself with questioning her this time around. He just wanted her.

Safe, right? You just want her safe? A sneer from Sex.

Whatever. Paris toweled off and looked himself over in the steam-fogged mirror. He’d lost a little weight, had bruises under his eyes, a few scratches on his cheeks and neck. His hair wasn’t exactly even. He’d trimmed the strands himself, just kind of chopping anytime a piece fell into his eyes. What would Sienna think of him now? Despite everything, she’d been attracted to him before. Would she still be attracted to him? Right now, he might be a little too feral for any woman. Very mountain-man meets post-traumatic stress survivor.

But what if the impossible happened and she did, in fact, want him again? For real, with no hidden agenda. What if she simply craved his body inside of hers? After all, she’d fought her way free of Cronus’s prison and come looking for him.

Lowering his guard would be stupid. He couldn’t trust her. Not really. He could take her, yeah, that was still on the menu. If he could still get hard for her while he was around her. Only time would tell. And if he could—and he thought he could, considering he was hard merely from thinking about her—maybe he could even stay with her a few days. If so, would his hunger for her finally wane? Or would it continue to intensify? Would he be able to let her go when the time came?

What if she wanted to stay with him?

He yearned for that. So damn badly he yearned for that. But like Zacharel had said, Paris would ruin her if he kept her. Not for the reasons the angel had given, but because if he and Sienna were ever separated and he couldn’t get to her, he would cheat on her. He would have to. His other choice would be death, and on the scales of life-versus-death, cheating—surviving—won every time.

He knew that firsthand, had once tried to sustain a relationship with a woman. Susan. He’d had her, knew he couldn’t have her again, but had craved something more and had pleased her in other ways. He’d genuinely liked her, had enjoyed her company—but had ultimately cheated on her, hurting her worse than anyone else ever had.

And here was another slap of truth: if he cheated on Sienna, he would destroy everything they had managed to build, as well as her heart, her sense of trust and any hint of innocence. He would be worthy of every dark deed she then committed against him—yet still he wanted her.

The situation was so messed up.

Scowling, he slammed his fist into the mirror. Jagged pieces of glass fell, shattering further when they hit the floor, surrounding his discarded weapons and glistening like diamonds in a sea of destruction. Blood dripped from his knuckles as he palmed and sheathed the blades at his wrists and ankles and holstered the guns under his arms. At this rate, he’d soon be carving himself up like Reyes, the keeper of Pain. Anything for release, for a moment when he didn’t have to wonder or worry about anything but his injuries.

Whatever. He’d gotten used to wondering and worrying. They were his constant companions now, and without them, he’d be utterly alone. Paris dressed in the new clothes he’d bought, a black shirt and black pants. Where he was going, night reigned no matter the time of day. He needed to blend.

Not long ago, he’d snuck into Cronus’s secret harem and seduced one of the concubines, trading sex for information. Paris now knew Sienna was being held in the Realm of Blood and Shadows, part of Titania but…not. The realm was a kingdom within this heavenly kingdom, invisible to most and protected by evil. To enter was to die, blah, blah, blah.

Paris could find the realm on his own, no problem. He’d gotten very good at bribing his way through the heavens, even the hidden areas. Finger-combing his wet hair, he padded to the desk in the living-room-slash-bedroom. He sat down and spread out his new tattoo equipment. Part of him wished he was out there, killing Hunters or already making his way into the Realm of Blood and Shadows. These delays sucked.

To his immense relief, Lucien found him a short while later, appearing in the center of the room. “I felt bad for stiffing you with Willy, so I brought you a prize.”

Death shoved the drenched, protesting William in Paris’s direction, then motioned to Zacharel, who stood at his other side. The “prize,” as though he was something out of a Cracker Jack box.

“Actually,” Zacharel said in that cold voice of his. “I brought myself. Lucien was hunting you, and I saved him the time and trouble.”

Paris popped his jaw. “Thanks tons,” he said to Lucien, ignoring the angel. “Mean that.”

William, my sweet William! I want him, Sex said, practically spraying drool through Paris’s mind. Sex always wanted a piece of the guy. Not that Paris had ever admitted that aloud. Not that he ever would.

“So sad I can’t remain,” Lucien said with mock pity. “By the way, Viola’s pet, Princess Fluffycakes or whatever, is a Tasmanian devil and a vampire. You’re lucky I’m leaving without slitting your throat.” Once again, the warrior vanished.

As tiny snowflakes swirled around him, Zacharel eyed the room with distaste. “What are you doing here?”

“Seriously man, it’s a dump,” William added. “When I’m in the heavens, I only ever stay at the West Godlywood. Can we at least request a suite?”

No, they wouldn’t be playing either man’s version of the Q-and-A game. They would be playing Paris’s. “Why is it always snowing around you lately?” he demanded of Zach.

“There is a reason.”

So not helpful on any level. “Will you share it?”


“Are you following me?”


At least he didn’t try to deny it. Not that he could have. Angels spoke the truth, and only ever the truth, which made Zacharel’s earlier threat to kill him all the more real. “Why?”

“You are not yet ready to hear the answer.”

Paris loved that kind of cryptic crap, he really did. “If you’re going to stick around, make yourself useful and tattoo the rest of me.” For the lines around his eyes, he needed a steady hand. “Then you can help me kick ass and not bother with names.”

Zacharel leveled him with a frown as fierce as the flurry of snowflakes storming from the ends of his wings. “I have never tattooed anyone before. I’m likely to mar you.”

And yet, he would still do a better job than William, no question. “The worst you can do is poke out my eyes, but that’s hardly a concern since they’ll grow back. Eventually.”

That frown deepened, minutes ticking by. “Very well. I will do this for you.”

“Yes, you make yourself useful, angel boy. Meanwhile, I’ll be in the bathroom.” William’s jet-black hair was dripping wet and plastered to his face. There was a fluffy white towel wrapped around his waist, displaying muscles that rivaled Paris’s own, and a tattooed treasure map that led to his man junk. Looking at him, you could see the makings of a temper so savage anyone who miraculously survived an encounter with him would end up needing therapy. And diapers. “I’ve got to finish deep conditioning my hair.”

Or maybe not so savage.

No matter. Paris had never been closer to finding and saving Sienna. With these two warriors at his side, he’d succeed. Guaranteed.


SIENNA BLACKSTONE, newly crowned Queen of the Beasts, Princess of Blood and Shadows, and Duchess of Horror, stood with her back pressed into the crumbling stone wall of the castle she unwillingly called home. Her wings were heavy, constantly pulling at recently formed tendons and bones, making her ache, cringe and, humiliatingly enough, sometimes cry.

The wings arched over her shoulders and draped down her sides in a cascade of midnight, their spiky tips now reaching the floor. She remembered seeing these very wings on Aeron, the previous host for the demon of Wrath. On his muscled, grimly tattooed body, they had appeared soft, gossamer, as weightless and beautiful as storm clouds. On her slight frame, they overpowered and overwhelmed and she had trouble finding her balance.

Sadly, that wasn’t the worst of her problems. Cronus, god of gods (according to him) and all around asshat (according to her), paced in front of her, ranting and raving. Saying he was “upset” would be the equivalent of saying the Atlantic was a rain puddle.