There were none of Gilly.

Obviously they’d written her out of their lives. No afterthought, no concern for what had befallen her once she’d left.

What he did see: a thirtysomething bleached blonde with silicone-enhanced breasts and an average-looking thirtysomething male.

Stomach clenching, William thumped the man’s face. The bastard was going to pay for every illicit touch, every ounce of shame inflicted. The mother would pay for allowing it to happen. The brothers would pay for failing to save her.

Her family had given her no option but to run away at the age of fifteen. Fifteen. On her own, surviving as best she could, for over a year before Danika had found her and brought her to Budapest. But because of what had been done to her, because of what she’d had to do merely to eat, she no longer valued herself. She saw herself as used, dirty, unworthy. She’d never said as much, but he knew. When she stayed at the Lords’ fortress, she slept in the bedroom next to his, and he’d heard the way she cried out at night. He knew nightmares plagued her.

Her family would pay for every single one of those dark dreams, too.

His ears suddenly twitched, picking up the sound of the garage door sliding open. He grinned. Oh, goodie. The first contestant of Hurt, Suffer and Die was home.

When he’d first arrived, he had dropped his bag of “toys” on the floor and now bent to pick it up. Oh, yes, he’d never loved his darkness more.

This was going to be fun.

KANE, KEEPER OF THE DEMON of Disaster, strode down the long, winding corridor inside the unfamiliar heavenly palace where he now found himself. The walls were straight up weird, comprised of thousands upon thousands of threads braided and strewn together. Thick and colorful threads with animated scenes playing across them, as if the people he saw were truly living and breathing right in front of him, and he had only to reach out to touch them. It was the most awe-inspiring sight he’d ever beheld—and was that Strider and Kaia crawling along a moonlit hill, females sneaking up on them, weapons trained on their skulls?

He stopped and narrowed his gaze on them, his hands fisting. A head-exploding ache tore through his temples. Only when he peered straight ahead and forced the image of what he’d seen out of his mind did the ache lessen.

In and out he breathed. His thoughts fogged, then cleared. Then he couldn’t recall what he’d been upset about in the first place. Oh, well. In, out. In, out. Clearer and clearer. The air carried the sweet scent of ambrosia, he realized. To keep visitors pliant?

If only that kind of thing worked on him. But the goddesses who lived here could have pumped gasoline through the vents, and it wouldn’t have affected him. His demon loved all things devious, clandestine and potentially life-threatening. And maybe, just maybe, that love would prevent the bastard from cracking the floor Kane stood upon or from unraveling the ceiling above him, the need for calamity sated for just a little while.

A guy could hope, anyway.

Kane jumped back into motion. He had a purpose, didn’t he? Oh, yeah. The Moirai had summoned him. Why the hell had they summoned him?

Whatever the reason, he’d smile like a good little boy. He did not want to piss off the Moirai, and in his current what-the-fuck-is-happening state of mind, he had to be extra careful. They were neither Greek nor Titan—he didn’t know what they were—and yet, neither godly race had ever raised a hand against the three females who lived here, and they never would. Because the Moirai were the weavers of Fate. They spun and they wove, and the scenes they created happened. Always.

No one approached them without a summons. Not even Cronus, the god king. And in all of Kane’s centuries, he had never met anyone who had received one. Until today. He, Disaster, was the lucky recipient.

He’d just returned from town, having spent the entire night searching for Hunters. Finding none—Strider must have killed them all before he left, the greedy bastard—he’d fallen straight into bed, still wearing his weapons, leather and boots. Before he could switch off his lamp, a glowing string had unfurled from his ceiling, a yellowed scroll hanging from the end.

He’d read the parchment, as confused then as he was now. A cross between a wedding invitation and a prescription medicine wrapper, the thing had been written in ancient Greek.

You are cordially invited to the Temple of the Fates. Failure to appear could result in decapitation or death.

Decapitation or death? Really? Then, an instant later, his surroundings had faded and he’d been standing inside this temple, those walls of thread all around him. He’d kicked into gear, thinking any hesitation on his part would result in that decapitation. Or death.

So while he knew where he was, what he didn’t know was why. Why him? Why now?

Guess he’d find out.

The wall tapestries seemed to go on forever, but finally—unfortunately?—he reached the end of the line and entered a…weaving room? Three women, hags really, sat on wooden stoops, hunched over, long white hair frizzing over their shoulders. All three wore white robes, pristine and unwrinkled.

The one with hands spotted by age—Klotho, he knew from the legends surrounding them—spun the threads. The one with gnarled fingers, Lachesis, wove the strands together, and the one with pupil-less eyes, Atropos, snipped the ends.

Kane pressed his lips together, silent. He waited to be acknowledged, respectful of a power far greater than his own. And perhaps that’s why they had picked him, he thought then. None of the other Lords would have treated them with the deference they deserved and punishment would have had to be issued.

If they only knew the truth. He might know how to dish the respect, but really, he was the group’s biggest screwup. The one who couldn’t do anything right. The one left behind because he had a tendency to cause more harm than good. He never dropped his smile, though. Not here, and not around his friends. He didn’t want them to know the truth. He didn’t want them to know that, inside, he was just one big, steaming pile of mess.

For the most part, he operated on autopilot. When his demon became too much for him—the need to let go, the desire to obliterate, forget, pretend, filling him up—he…did things. Destroyed things.

Sabin, keeper of Doubt and the warrior Kane would have followed straight into hell, knew. But Sabin was the only one who did, and, not surprisingly, Sabin approved of his violence, even helped him channel it. Before taking off with his wife, Sabin had left him a little present. Part of him was eager to go back, to do what needed doing. The other part of him was content to remain here, waiting. He’d ignored that present to head into town, after all, thinking to resist the temptation. He’d even planned to nap upon his return. Anything to save his soul from further damage. But how much longer would he have lasted?

He stood there, waiting to be acknowledged, for an hour, perhaps two. Usually inactivity provoked his demon to act, creating some disaster or another. Maybe it was the ambrosia as he’d hoped, or maybe the demon was as afraid of the hags as everyone else in the heavens, but Disaster behaved, not even humming in the back of Kane’s mind, though that sound rarely ever faded.

“Why are you here, boy?” Klotho finally asked, her voice a cackle of smoke. She never looked up from her task.

Uh, what now? “I received your summons. My lady,” he added. Gods, he was such an ass-kisser. But a guy had to do what a guy had to do. He was wearing his cup, yeah, but that didn’t mean he should hang a sign on his nuts, requesting someone kick him there.

“Summon you? Why, that was thousands of years ago,” Lachesis replied. “I’m sure of it.”

“Sure of it,” Atropos echoed. “Yet you never came.”

“And so your summons was revoked.”

“You may leave the way you came.”

He could only gape at them. They’d summoned him thousands of years ago? Why hadn’t they decapitated him, then, for his failure to appear? “I mean no disrespect, but I only just now received your kind invitation.”

“Not our fault.”

“You probably weren’t paying attention.”

“Perhaps you’ll learn to pay attention.”

“You may leave the way you came.”

Reverence was one thing. Not having his curiosity assuaged was quite another. Besides, if they’d brought him here to impart words of wisdom that could save him and his friends, or to issue words of warning, he damn well wanted to hear those words. Therefore, he wasn’t leaving without them.

“May I purchase the information from you?” he asked.

“What information?”

“Who said anything about information?”

“You’re a dotty one, aren’t you?”

“You may leave the way you came.”

He flicked his tongue against one of his incisors. “If you didn’t wish to inform me of something, all those thousands of years ago—” he was careful to keep his ire out of his tone “—then why did you summon me in the first place?” The same question, asked in a roundabout way. Come on, take the bait. Tell me.

“Klotho, do you recall the last time someone tried to talk circles around us?”

“Oh, yes, Lachesis. We wove her into the never-ending.”

The never-ending what?

“Perhaps she’s learned her lesson.”

“Perhaps she hasn’t yet learned her lesson.”

“She didn’t leave the way she came.”

“Who is ‘she’?” he asked, standing his ground. A stupid move, perhaps, but he couldn’t leave the way he’d come, so what choice did he have? Flashing himself from one location to another with only a thought wasn’t an ability he possessed.

“She? She is your girl, of course,” Atropos said.

He blinked. “My girl, what?”

“The one in the never-ending.”

“No, no,” Klotho said. “She’s not his. The other one is. Or is it the other way around?”

“Mayhap they both are his,” Lachesis countered.

“She’s mine? They’re mine?” he gasped out. His what? Lovers? If so, no thanks. Been there, destroyed too many because of that. His women suffered, always. His demon made sure of it. Kane was better off alone.