- The Darkest Whisper
“I’m just curious.”
She blinked in surprise. One, he hadn’t sounded apologetic. Two, he hadn’t hesitated. “Yes, as in you would?”
“Yes. I would. If cheating meant gaining a victory, I would cheat.”
Double wow. His honesty…depressed her. He was a demon, but she’d somehow expected—wanted?—more from him. No way would she be able to date a man who might cheat. Not that she planned to date Sabin.
Gwen wanted to be the one and only. Always. Sharing had never been easy for her; it went against every instinct she and the others of her race possessed. That’s why she’d finally pushed past her fears and accepted a relationship with Tyson.
To her knowledge, he had been faithful to her. The sex had been good, if tame, because, while she might have convinced herself she could handle a relationship, she’d known losing herself to pleasure would be disastrous. He’d loved her, at least, and she thought she’d loved him. Now, thanks to all these months apart, she realized she’d only loved what he’d represented: normalcy. Plus, they were very similar. He worked for the IRS and was hated by his peers. She was a Harpy who despised confrontation and was pitied by her race. Similarity, though, was not a good enough reason to stay together. Not forever.
Gwen had a feeling she would be able to let go—somewhat at least—with Sabin. He hadn’t backed down from her Harpy either in the cavern or on the plane. And strong as he was, he could take more than a human. But even though he was both brave and immortal, she doubted he could take everything she dished. No one could.
Still, she found herself wondering what he’d be like in bed. Not tame, that much she could guess. He’d get down and dirty and insist on the same from his lover. How much could he take from her?
“So you don’t have a wife, but are you currently single?” she asked, the words a croak. She couldn’t imagine anyone being crazy enough to date him. Yeah, he was handsome. Yeah, his kisses alone would take a woman to the gates of heaven. But momentary pleasure with him would only result in heartbreak. Surely she wasn’t the only one to realize that.
“What’s with all the questions?”
“Just filling the silence.” A lie. It seemed she was full of them lately. She’d been—was still, despite everything—beyond curious about him, this warrior who had saved her.
“Nothing wrong with silence,” he grumbled, head nearly inside his bag.
“Are you single or not?”
“I liked you better when you were afraid of, well, everything,” he muttered.
She had been less timid around him than usual, she realized. Seeing the love his friends possessed for their women must have empowered her somehow. For the moment, at least. “Well? Single?”
He sighed, clearly giving up. “Yes, I’m single.”
“I can believe it,” she muttered. His last girlfriend had probably dumped him on his ass. “Well, that doesn’t mean we can bunk together. You’ll have to find somewhere else to sleep because I’m taking the bed.” Brave words. She just hoped he didn’t call her bluff.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be on the floor.” He threw several wrinkled shirts into the laundry basket beside the closet. A demonic warrior sorting laundry; now there was something you didn’t see every day.
“What if I don’t trust you to remain there?”
He laughed, and it was a cruel sound. “Too bad. I’m not leaving you alone all night.”
Not comforting. He hadn’t vowed to stay away from her, and he hadn’t claimed to want nothing to do with her sexually.
And did she want him to?
She studied his profile, gaze traveling the length of his nose. It was a little longer than what was considered average, but regal because of it. His cheekbones were sharp, his jaw square. Overall, a very rough-looking face, with no hint of the boyishness she’d sometimes imagined.
His eyes, though, were heavily, almost femininely, lashed. She hadn’t noticed that before, she realized, but those lashes were so thick his eyes appeared lined in soot.
Drawing her arms around her middle, she tore her gaze from that intriguing face and focused on his body. All those muscles…Again she found herself fascinated by them. Veins throbbed in his biceps as he lifted a shaving kit. The black leather and metal links of his man-bracelet hugged the thickness of his wrist. His long legs ate up the distance to the bathroom. Hopefully he’d take off his shirt and she’d get another peek at those ropes of muscle. Maybe see more of that butterfly tattoo that stretched along his ribs and disappeared into the waist of his pants.
“Now it’s my turn to question you,” he said from the bathroom doorway. He propped a shoulder against the frame. “Why haven’t you run? Or tried to, at least. I know you said you didn’t want to face the unknown out in that desert. That, on some level, I get. But then you discovered our dirty little demon secret and still you stayed. Even said you’d help me.”
Good question. She had considered bolting for the woods the moment the plane landed, then again when the SUV had stopped. Then those human females had raced from the fortress, throwing themselves at their men, clearly madly, deeply in love, and she’d paused. The demon warriors had been gentle with them, caring. Utterly reverent, as though they were prized.
That, more than anything, had made her reevaluate her perception of demons.
These men were the complete opposite of what she’d expected, honorable in their own right (so far) and almost kind. They seemed to want to protect her. Better, they didn’t gaze at her with disappointment, blatantly wishing she were stronger, braver, more violent.
It’s the angel in her, her mother would tsk every time Gwen refused to hurt an innocent. I knew better than to sleep with him. Her sisters would come to her defense, loving her as fiercely as they did, but she knew they, too, considered her feeble. The truth always shone brightly in their eyes.
Had he known her, her father would have been proud of her, she thought defensively. Surely he would have applauded such benevolence.
“Well?” Sabin prompted.
“I could answer you the way you’ve been answering me,” she said now, raising her chin. I’m strong. I can stand up for myself. “Why haven’t I run from you? Because. That’s why.” There. Take a little of your own medicine.
Sabin ran his tongue over his teeth. “I’m not amused.”
“Well, neither am I!” That’s it. That’s the way.
“Darling, talk to me.”
The way he said the endearment…like a caress, a fantasy and a curse all rolled into a chocolate éclair. Stolen, of course. “I feel safe with you,” she finally admitted. Why she had opted for the truth, she didn’t know. “Okay?”
He scoffed, surprising her. “That’s ridiculous. You don’t even know me. But if you really are that foolish, why did you want your own room? Why question me like this?”
Heat burned in her cheeks. She was foolish. “Why does it seem like you’re trying to talk me out of staying when I’m here at your request? Do you want me to run or something?”
A single, clipped shake of his head.
“Then can you at least pretend to be nice? Consistently?”
Again, he didn’t hesitate. That was really starting to annoy her. “Fine. But tell me why you’re nice one minute and cruel the next.”
A muscle ticked in his jaw, as if he was grinding his teeth together. “I’m no good for you. Trusting me will only bring you pain.”
And he didn’t want to bring her pain? “Why do you say that?”
“Because of your demon?” she persisted. “What demon do you carry?”
“Doesn’t matter,” he growled.
So again, no answer. There was no answer that would make sense, anyway. Except, perhaps, that he was lying and he really did want to bring her pain because he was a demon and that’s what demons did. Yet he couldn’t be truly evil. He genuinely loved his friends. That much was obvious every time he looked at them.
“Tell me again what you think I can do for you,” she said, just to remind him that he did indeed want something from her and she didn’t have to help him if she didn’t want to. “Tell me why you want to keep me around.”
For once he seemed happy to respond. “To kill my enemy, the Hunters.”
A laugh bubbled from her. “And you honestly believe I can do something like that? Purposely,” she added quickly, not needing another reminder of what she’d unintentionally done inside that cavern.
His dark gaze leveled on her, piercing with the sharpness of a blade. “Under the right conditions, I think you can do just about anything.”
Right conditions. Aka fearing for her life, aka pissed as hell. He’d do it, too. Place her in danger or anger her to the point of total loss of self. Anything to win his war. “What happened to teaching me control?”
“I said I’d try. Not that I’d succeed.”
Never had there been a better reason to try and escape him. He was far more dangerous than she’d thought. But she couldn’t leave now, when she’d only just realized that part of her did want to help him. Not to kill, she wanted no part of the actual fighting, but she didn’t like that there were men like Chris out there, perhaps preying on other immortal females. If she could play some small role in stopping them, wasn’t it her obligation to do so?
“You don’t fear for your life?” she asked. “If I give in to the Harpy, you might not live to gloat about the Hunters I’ve slain. Even immortals can be killed under the right conditions.”
“It’s a chance I’m willing to take. Like I told you, they killed my best friend, Baden, the keeper of Distrust. He was a great man, undeserving of the death they delivered.”
“What kind of death was that?” After what they’d done to her fellow captives, she could only imagine.