Wait. Stop. That was craziness. She wasn’t attracted to Sabin. He was handsome, yes, and she’d even imagined herself making love to him. But that stemmed from a sense of gratitude. He’d set her free and slain one of her enemy. And yeah, she was also baffled by him. He was all that was violent and hard, yet he hadn’t once hurt her. But admit to an attraction to the immortal warrior? Never.

When Gwen started dating again, she would pick a kind, considerate human who didn’t rouse her darker side in any way. A kind, considerate human who preferred board meetings over swordplay. A kind, considerate human who made her feel cherished and accepted, despite her faults. Someone who made her feel normal.

That’s all she’d ever wanted.

SABIN’S ATTENTION WAS zeroed on Gwen. Had been since they’d boarded the plane. Okay, fine. Since the moment he’d met her. He’d thought she refused to relax because he intimidated her, so he’d pretended to sleep. He must have been right because she’d let down her guard and opened up. To Strider.

A fact that irritated the hell out of him.He didn’t dare “wake up,” though. Not even when he’d heard Strider try to touch her, and Sabin had wanted to drive his fist into his friend’s nose, smashing cartilage into brain tissue. Their conversation fascinated him.

The girl—and that’s what she was, a girl, only twenty-seven fucking years old, which made him feel like Father fucking Time—considered herself a failure in every possible way, and her sisters paragons. Prettier? Not likely. Stronger? He shuddered. They wouldn’t have been captured? Anyone could be taken unaware. Himself included. Nothing scared them? Everyone had a deep, dark fear. Again, even Sabin. He feared failure as much as Gideon feared spiders.

Timid as Gwen was and as shocked as she’d been that day in the cavern, he’d known she had doubts about her own strength and her feral abilities, but he’d had no idea how deep they actually ran. The way she compared herself to her sisters proved she had doubts on top of doubts. Girl was riddled with them. And being around him would only make them worse.

All of his past lovers had been confident, self-reliant women. (Aged thirty-five and up, damn it.) He’d chosen them for that very reason, their confidence. But they’d quickly changed, his demon sinking sharp claws of uncertainty through them and cutting deep. A few, like Darla, had even committed suicide, unable to bear the constant scrutiny of their appearance, their wit, the people around them. After Darla, he’d given up on females and relationships once and for all.

Then he’d seen Gwen. He desired—oh, did he desire. He could maybe allow himself one night with her and be able to justify it in some way, he thought. But he doubted one night would be enough. Not with her. There were too many ways to take her, too many things he wanted to do to that curvy little body.

Her lush beauty fired his blood every time he glanced at her, made his mouth water and his body ache. Her insecurity roused his protective instincts as much as his demon’s destructive urges. Her sunshine scent, buried underneath the grime she’d yet to wash off, continually wafted to him, summoning him closer…closer still…

To give in was to destroy her. Don’t forget.

Perhaps I’ll be good. Perhaps I’ll leave her alone.

At the sweet cajoling, Sabin bit his tongue, drawing blood. The demon wanted him to doubt its malicious intent. I fell for that once. I won’t again.

“You do that a lot,” Strider said now to Gwendolyn, pulling Sabin from his musings.

“What?” Her voice was breathless, raspy. At first, Sabin had thought her fatigue responsible for such a timbre. But no, that hoarseness was all her. And pure sex.

“Watch Sabin. Are you interested in him?”

She gasped, obviously outraged. “Of course not!”

Sabin tried not to scowl. A little hesitation would have been nice.

Strider chuckled. “I think you are. And guess what? I’ve known him for thousands of years, so I’ve got dirt.”

“So,” she sputtered.

“So. I don’t mind spilling. I mean, I’d be acting as a friend to both of you if I changed your mind about him.”

Your friend undermines you, Doubt said, perhaps wants her for himself. Trusting him after this might not be wise.

Sabin experienced a moment of unease before he shook the feeling off. He warns her away for her own good. For my own good. Just as he claimed. Now shut it.

“I want nothing to do with him, I assure you.”

“Then you won’t care if I leave you without telling you what I know.” Through his narrowed eyes, Sabin watched Strider push to his feet.

Gwen grabbed his wrist and jerked him back down. “Wait.”

Sabin had to grip the arms of his seat to stop himself from leaping up and separating them.

“Tell me,” she said, and released the warrior of her own accord.

Slowly Strider eased back into his chair. He was grinning. Even as limited as Sabin’s line of sight was, he could see the bright gleam of Strider’s teeth. He suddenly wanted to grin himself. Gwen was curious about him.

Probably wants to learn the best way to kill you.

Shut up, damn it!

“Anything particular you’d like to know?” Strider asked her.

“Why is he so…distant?” She was still looking over at him, her gaze burning him, probing deep. “I mean, is he like that with everyone or am I just a lucky girl?”

“Don’t worry. It’s not you. He’s like that with all females. He has to be. See, his demon is—”

“Demon?” Gwen gasped out. Her back jerked ramrod-straight, and her face leeched of color. “Did you just say demon?”

“Oh, uh…did I say that?” Strider once again glanced around the plane helplessly. “No, no. I think I said seaman.”

“No, you said demons. Demons. Demons and Hunters and that butterfly tattoo. I should have guessed the moment I saw that tattoo, but you seemed so nice. I mean, you didn’t hurt me, and thousands of people have butterfly tattoos.” She, too, gazed around the plane, studying the warriors through new, wild eyes. On her feet a second later, she jumped away from Strider and backpedaled toward the bathroom. She extended her arms, as though the puny action could keep everyone at bay. “I—I get it now. You’re the Lords, aren’t you? Immortal warriors the gods banished to earth. M-my sisters told me bedtime stories about your evils and conquests.”

“Gwen,” Strider said. “Calm down. Please.”

“You killed Pandora. An innocent woman. You burned ancient Greece to the ground, filling the streets with blood and screams. You tortured men, removed their limbs while they still lived.”

Strider’s expression hardened. “Those men deserved it. They killed our friend. Tried to kill us.”

“If she screams, wonderful things are going to happen,” Gideon said, grim, easing to Strider’s side. “Don’t try and knock her out, and I won’t help, okay?”

“Wait. Before we do any manhandling and maybe lose our throats, let’s try something else. Paris!” Strider barked, his gaze never leaving Gwen. “You’re needed.”

A determined Paris approached just as Sabin gave up the pretense of sleeping and popped to his feet. “Gwen,” he said, hoping to cajole her to calm before Paris could work his wiles. But she was having trouble catching her breath, hysteria curtaining her features. “Let’s talk about—”

“Demons…all around me.” She opened her mouth and screamed. And screamed and screamed and screamed.


DEMONS. LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD. Once beloved soldiers of the gods, now reviled plagues of earth. Each man carried a demon inside his body, a demon so vile that even hell had been unable to contain it. Demons like Disease, Death, Misery, Pain and Violence. And I’m trapped inside a small aircraft with them, Gwen thought, her hysteria reaching new heights.

The plane, on the other hand, was shuddering and tilting, losing altitude at an alarming rate. That didn’t stop the Lords. They were closing in around her, encircling her, pinning her. Her heart drummed heavily in her chest, causing blood to surge through her veins and roar in her ears. If only that roar dulled the wild screech of the Harpy…No such luck. There was a tumultuous symphony inside her head, clanging, tolling, wiping away her sanity, tossing her down…down…into a black void where only death and destruction reigned.Brutal and powerful as these warriors were, she should have suspected they were possessed by demons. The red eyes the first time she’d seen Sabin…the jagged butterfly tattoo on his ribs…

I’m so stupid.

Though Gwen had been watching these men the past few days, she must have been too tired, too hungry, too relieved by her liberation to notice the tattoos on the others, wherever they were. That, or she’d been too caught up in Sabin’s appeal. Actually, now that she thought about it, the warriors had always been fully dressed in her presence, as if they’d sympathized with what she’d been through and hadn’t wanted to frighten her by showing too much skin. But now she knew the truth. They’d simply been hiding their marks.

What demon possessed Sabin? she wondered. What demon had she observed, fascinated by every word and action? What demon had she imagined herself kissing and touching, clawing and writhing against?

How could her sisters adore these princes of evil? Well, the idea of them, anyway. To her knowledge, they’d never met. Who would have survived if they had? They were men without mercy or remorse, capable of any dark deed, and they were engaged in a never-ending war that stretched from past to present, sea to sea, death to death.

Each time she’d been told about them, her fear of predators skulking in the night and fiends hiding in the sunlight had multiplied. That was when she’d begun to fear the predator inside herself, for that was why she’d been told those stories. So that she might emulate the warriors. Even as Gwen had recoiled at the thought, the Harpy had soaked up every word, ready to prove itself.