- The Darkest Whisper
“They sent a female to seduce him, and in the middle of the act they ambushed him and cut off his head. But if you want a more recent reason, the Hunters blame me and my brethren for every disease contracted, every loved one’s death, every lie uttered, every violent act committed. They have tortured humans I was stupid enough to care for and they will do anything to bury me. Anything. Destroy anyone or thing, all while calling me evil.”
“Oh,” was all she could think to say.
“Yeah. Oh. Still think you won’t be able to help me?”
SABIN WAS UTTERLY RIVETED by the lovely girl in front of him. All that strawberry hair tumbling down her arms, spilling into her lap. Those golden eyes flecked with shimmery silver and shining brightly. That rosy color burning in those round cheeks.
More than her appearance, he liked this newfound spirit. Despite his earlier grumblings to the contrary. Strength was damn sexy. Especially strength that didn’t come naturally. Though she was timid by nature, afraid of him, this house, even her own shadow, she was sitting calmly on his bed, questioning him, head high, refusing to back down. She was truly a remarkable creature.If she’s not the world’s greatest actress, that is. Doubt.
Sabin growled. Gwen wasn’t an actress. She’d been imprisoned and tortured by Hunters; she wasn’t helping them. You’re irritating me with your suspicions.
Maybe I’m keeping you and your friends alive. Better to be on guard than dead. After all, Danika came here under the guise of rescue while she was, in fact, feeding the Hunters information.
Let me at the Harpy! I’ll break her and get the truth.
He pictured Reyes and Danika as they were now. Happy, in love. Proof that bad intentions could morph into good. You’ll zip it. That’s what you’ll do. As for him…
He glanced at Gwen, knowing—beyond a doubt—that he wasn’t destined to have a fairy-tale ending like Reyes. Watching a man cut himself, a woman could get over. Losing all sense of self-respect, she could not. Gwen was already too close to that point.
What else had shaped her into the girl she was? Or rather, woman. She was older than both Ashlyn and Danika, after all.
He was curious about her, every little detail of her life. Family, friends, lovers. And she was curious about him, too, a discovery he liked more than he should have. Way more than he should have, actually. He’d wanted to answer all her questions, tell her everything, but knew the dangers of that. His self-directed irritation had made him snappier than usual. Snappier, but not any less aroused.
Just standing here, he felt desire heat him up from inside out. He wanted that hair tangled in his fingers, that lush body shivering beneath him, on top of him, her cries of bliss in his ears.
To stop himself from reaching out, he folded his arms over his chest, his shirt straining. Her gaze fell, locking on his left bicep. Damn. If she wanted him the way he wanted her, they were going to be in trouble. Lots and lots of pleasurable, oh, so wrong trouble.
Again his demon began pulling at its reins, desperate to get to her, to invade her mind and fill it with doubts. In fact, the whispers had already started: You’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough. It took every ounce of his strength to keep them inside his own head. If they reached hers…
He knew how to battle the demon and quash the doubts; she didn’t. She would crumble, just as the demon wanted.
Why couldn’t she calm his torments as Ashlyn had for Maddox? Why couldn’t she charm his dark side as Anya had for Lucien? Why couldn’t she curb the cravings for evil as Danika had for Reyes? Instead, Gwen roused the beast inside him to a fever pitch.
“I honestly don’t know if I can help you the way you want, but I do know I’m sorry for your loss,” she said, and there was genuine sorrow in her voice.
“Thank you.” How…sweet. He frowned. She needed to better protect her heart and her emotions. Hurting for him could do her no good. He paused. Now he was thinking like a boyfriend. Speaking of…“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Used to. Before.”
Before her captivity, he guessed. How had the relationship worked? Had the poor man had to watch his every word and action so he wouldn’t rouse her beast? “Do you miss him?” There’d been a trace of sadness in her tone.
“I did, yes.”
Okay, that…aggravated him. “Did he cheat on you? That why you asked all those silly questions?”
“Silly?” The pink tip of her tongue swiped angrily at her lips, and his cock jerked in response, imagining it elsewhere. On him. Say, midway down his body. “No, he didn’t cheat on me. He was honest.”
For some reason, the comparison caused his aggravation to spike. “I’m honest. I told you before, I didn’t lie about what I will and will not do. I can’t.”
One of her brows arched. “What do you mean, you can’t?”
“Not going there,” he gritted out. Gwen might need to further protect her heart, but he needed to better guard his words.
“Telling the truth about your willingness to cheat doesn’t make you a better person than my human. Under no circumstances would Tyson have strayed. He loved me.”
Her human? Her human! “His name is Tyson? I hate to break it to you, but you dated a brand of chicken. And I wouldn’t be so sure about his sense of honor. I bet he was nailing tail the moment your back was turned. And if he loved you so much, why didn’t he try and find you?” Sabin inwardly cursed and pressed his lips together. The terrible words had not been his, but his demon’s. Since he had the bastard on a tight leash, not allowing it to seep into her head, it had decided to escape another way.
Gwen blanched. “H-he probably tried.”
Guilt and shame overshadowed any lingering hints of his annoyance. For all her bravado, she was still fragile. But really, this just proved his suspicions. A few measly doubts and she’d looked ready to crumble. He had to stay away from her.
Could he, though? He was drawn to her. He’d already arranged for her to sleep in his room. With him. Alone. Stupid! But it was the only way to guard her—from the others, from herself. And foolishly, he liked the thought of being near her. He enjoyed her. More than her beauty, she was witty—when she wasn’t scared and silent, anyway—and endearingly sweet.
He had to wonder if all Harpies were as tempting and distracting as Gwen. Guess he’d find out, since he’d promised to bring her sisters here. A promise he hadn’t wanted to make. At first. More Harpies meant more danger. More hassle. But then he’d realized that more Harpies also meant more weapons against the Hunters. Somehow, some way, he’d convince her sisters to help him destroy the men who had hurt their beloved sibling.
If they love her, Doubt said. Did they even search for her when she was taken?
Damn. He hadn’t thought of that. Gwen had been inside that cell for a year. They hadn’t found her, hadn’t saved her. Neither had that bastard Tyson.
His hands fisted at his sides. If the sisters didn’t want to help him, fine. He had Gwen. He knew firsthand what she was capable of.
“Look, I’m sorry for what I said,” he forced out—apologizing sucked—and moved toward the door. “You want the room to yourself, fine. I can give you a few hours. Don’t you dare leave this chamber, though. I’ll have food sent up.”
She moaned in obvious pleasure, in want, but said, “Don’t bother sending anything up. I won’t eat it.”
He stopped, keeping his back to her. The more he looked at her, the quicker he softened toward her. “You’re going to start eating, Gwen. Do you understand? I don’t want you to think I’m like your captors, deliberately starving you.”
“I don’t think that,” she said stubbornly. “But I won’t eat. And you’re just leaving me here, where the demons can get to me? Where are you going?”
“I’m a demon,” he said, ignoring her other question. He was getting good at that.
“I know.” Her voice was hesitant, barely audible.
His stomach clenched. She knew, but it didn’t matter? More potent words had never been spoken. “I’ll be close by if you need me. Just call. Actually, I have a better idea. I’ll send Anya to sit with you. She and Lucien have had hours to…reunite. She’ll keep you safe.” And trick Gwen into eating if necessary. If anyone could convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do, it was the mischievous Anya. “Stay put.”
Only as he shut the door behind him, barricading Gwen inside lest she decide to risk bumping into one of his friends to explore, spy or even search for a phone to call the Hunters—she’s not working for them, damn it!—did he realize he was about to knowingly pair a Harpy with the goddess of Anarchy. Great. He’d be lucky if his head was still attached in the morning.
SABIN STALKED THROUGH THE FORTRESS, pained moans rising from the dungeons below and echoing off the walls. Someone was interrogating the prisoners. He should be down there, helping, but had to speak with Anya first.
Yes, he realized he was placing a woman before his duty, but this was a tiny thing, ensuring Gwen’s comfort, and it shouldn’t take too long. Never again, though, he assured himself. Next time there was some torturing to be done, he’d be the first one in line, Gwen be damned.Still. Strangely, leaving Gwen felt…wrong. Part of him, a big part—fuck it, a very big part—thought he should be with her, easing her fears, assuring her that everything would be all right.
I can’t assure a female of anything but misery, he thought darkly. Especially a female he was desperate to kiss again.
That kiss on the plane had nearly slayed him. Nothing had ever been sweeter—or held the potential to be so amazingly explosive. But allowing himself to participate would have meant loosening his iron hold on Doubt, and had he done so, the demon would have drawn mental blood; it was the one outcome he didn’t have to doubt. Already she’d been in a fragile state, frightened of who and what he was. Another kiss would be the epitome of stupid.