- The Darkest Whisper
“That sounds like a good thing.” What she wouldn’t give to have the Harpy sucked out of her. But it wasn’t another entity, much as she liked to pretend otherwise. It was her. The deepest part of her.
“Oh, no. Not good. It’ll kill their bodies. Those demons are like another heart. Without it, they can’t function.”
“Don’t sweat it, though. Threesomes are fun. I should know.” Anya’s smile was dreamy. “My man was ordered to kill me by Cronus himself, but Lucien just couldn’t do it. He fell in love with me instead. And oh, I love the way he loves me.”
No one, not even Tyson, had ever made Gwen smile like that. Which meant she had never loved or been loved like that. And though she’d already come to that conclusion in prison, the fresh reminder stung.
“Now, enough lying around like lazy bums,” Anya said. “C’mon, I’ll give you a tour of the fortress. I’ll even tell you everything I know about Sabin.”
Sabin. Her heart skipped a beat, just the mention of his name able to affect her. How was that possible? He was everything Tyson was not: fierce, dominating, vengeful, passionate. He was everything she’d never wanted. “But…Sabin told me to stay put.”
“Oh, please. Gwen—can I call you Gwen?—you’re a Harpy, and Harpies do not take orders from anyone, especially bossy demons.”
She bit her lip and eyed the door. You considered sneaking out once already. What’s a second time? “A tour does sound kind of wonderful. If you can guarantee the Lords will leave me alone.”
“I can, so come on.” Anya hopped to her feet, dragging Gwen up behind her. “I’ll give you ten minutes to shower and then we’ll—”
“Oh, I don’t need a shower.” Or rather, she wouldn’t take one. Not in this house.
“You sure? You’re all…icky.”
Yes, and she wanted to keep it that way. During her captivity, she’d made sure to dust herself with the sand off the ground every few days. Otherwise, everyone would have seen the true color and texture of her skin. Much as she was curious to see Sabin’s reaction, she didn’t want to deal with the aftereffects. And there were always aftereffects. “I’m sure.”
If she were home, either in Georgia or Alaska, she could shower and use her makeup to blend in. Since she wasn’t, she couldn’t. Dirt was her only buffer.
“Fine, then. Lucky for you I’m not a clean freak.” Anya linked their arms and kicked into a leisurely stroll.
For half an hour, they wandered the fortress, upstairs, downstairs, the wide, open kitchen—Gwen tried and failed to picture any of the Lords in there cooking—the library, an office, a covered garden of bright multicolored blooms, and into private bedrooms that didn’t belong to either of them. Nothing was sacred to the goddess. In two of them, couples had been sleeping, arms and legs tangled. Gwen’s cheeks had burned bright until the doors were shut, the nakedness blocked.
But not one secret of Sabin’s did Anya reveal.
By the time they reached the media room—“entertainment” room, as the goddess called it—she was ready to break down and ask. Instead, she forced herself to focus and look around, trying to learn more about Sabin and his friends through their possessions. There was a huge flat-screen TV, assorted video game systems, a pool table, a refrigerator, a karaoke machine, even a basketball hoop. Popcorn kernels littered the floor, scenting the air with their buttery goodness.
“This is amazing,” she said, spreading her arms and twirling. The men must not be the all day/all night war hounds she’d thought they were.
“Well, hello, ladies. I do believe this room isn’t the only thing that’s amazing.”
The deep voice filled the spacious chamber as the recliner in front of the TV swiveled. Then a gorgeous man with dark hair and blue eyes was peering over at her, assessing her every curve. Gwen panicked, automatically reaching for one of the stars she’d hidden in her pocket.
“Gwen, meet William. He’s an immortal, but not demon-possessed. Unless you count his sex addiction as his own personal demon. William, meet the woman who is going to bring Sabin to his knees.”
William’s sensuous lips dipped into a pout. “I wouldn’t mind being brought to my knees. So if you change your mind about being with the warrior…”
“I won’t,” she rushed out, even though she’d denied Anya’s claim earlier. Encouraging an admirer could lead to problems. Bloody, life and death problems.
“I’d take excellent care of you, I swear it.”
“For a day. Maybe a day and a half,” Anya retorted dryly. “He’s a love-’em-and-leave-’em kind of guy. And though he’s not a Lord, he does have a curse hanging over his head. I have the book to prove it.”
William growled low in his throat. “Anya! Must you share my secrets with everyone?” He flattened his palms on the arms of his chair. “Fine. If you can spill, I can, too. Anya’s the reason the Titanic sank. She was playing chicken with the icebergs.”
Scowling, Anya anchored her hands on her hips. “William had a bronze made of his penis and placed it on his mantel.”
Rather than embarrass the man, her words spurred him on. “Anya visited the Virgin Islands a few years ago and after that, all the natives started calling them the Islands.”
“William has a tattoo of his own face on his back. He says it’s ’cause he doesn’t want to deprive the people behind him of his beauty.”
“Wait!” Gwen said with a laugh. Their easy banter had chased away her nervousness. “I get the point. You’re both depraved. Now enough about you two. Someone tell me something about Sabin. You said you would, Anya.”
“Did she now?” William immediately gave her his full attention, blue eyes sparkling. “Allow me to help her out. Sabin once stabbed Aeron, the tattooed warrior with the buzz cut, in the back. Not in a playful gesture, either, but to kill him.”
“Did he?” she asked. William seemed outraged by that fact. Gwen thought perhaps she should be, as well, but Sabin was the kind of man who fought dirty—as both she and Anya had remarked—and that, well, impressed her. Her sisters were like that; sometimes, despite her instinctive fear of violence, she secretly wished she were like that, where nothing mattered but victory.
“Bor-ing,” Anya said. She rubbed her hands together, as if she was happy to have her turn.
“Wait. Tell me why Sabin stabbed him,” Gwen said.
“You’re digging William’s story, then? Fine.” Anya sighed. “I’ll finish it for him. The Lord/Hunter war had just erupted. In ancient Greece, in case you’re wanting a timeline, before those delicious gladiators. Anyway, Hunters, being human, were losing and so they began using women as Bait to draw, trap and slaughter the Lords. They managed to kill Sabin’s BFF, Baden.”
Gwen’s fingers fluttered over her throat. “He told me.” He must have been more devastated by the loss than she’d realized.
“He did?” One of Anya’s eyebrows winged up. “Wow. He’s usually so tight-lipped. But why do you look close to tears? You didn’t even know the man.”
“Something’s in my eye,” she rasped.
Lips twitching, Anya said, “Sure. Whatever you say. But back to my story. Sabin and the other warriors pounced on the Hunters responsible and destroyed them. Afterward, Sabin wanted to continue the killing spree. The others didn’t. Wait, that’s not true. Half agreed with Sabin, half craved peace. Aeron was going on and on about dropping things, starting a new life away from the Hunter war, blah, blah, blah, so Sabin, in his grief and fury, plunged his dagger into the man’s back.”
“Did Aeron retaliate?” Gwen pictured the warrior in her mind. Tall, muscled and heavily tattooed, as William had said. Hair cropped to his scalp, violet eyes stark and gloomy. He seemed cold but quiet. Almost unassuming. Yet she’d seen the way he’d viciously attacked those Hunters.
Who would win a fight between the two?
“Nope,” Anya said. “And it pissed Sabin off even more. He then went for Aeron’s throat.”
Was it bad that she was relieved? She didn’t like the thought of Sabin being hurt. Or assaulted.
“Still want to be his female?” William interjected, sounding almost hopeful. “My offer is still good. I can make all your naughty dreams come true.”
If she were Sabin’s, which she wasn’t, yeah, she’d still want to be with him. William was beautiful, didn’t intimidate her like the others, but he also didn’t tempt her in any way. Her eyes craved the sight of rugged, sometimes boyish Sabin. Her ears craved the sound of his hard voice. Her hands itched to touch that sun-kissed skin. Silly girl. He couldn’t have been any clearer about wanting to keep her at a distance.
What would she do if he changed his mind, though? He was everything she feared and there’d be no controlling him.
“Oh, and just so you know,” William added, grinning wickedly, “he’s possessed by the demon of Doubt. So anytime you find yourself battling insecurities, he’s the reason. I, however, will make you feel special and loved. Cherished.”
“No, you won’t,” the very voice she’d been dying to hear suddenly proclaimed from behind her. “You won’t be seeing another morning.”
SABIN KNEW he looked like a monster. Blood coated him like a second skin, his eyes gleamed wildly, feral—they always did after something like this went down—and he smelled like old pennies. He’d meant to shower before approaching Gwen, not wanting to frighten her further. First, though, he’d gone to check on Amun. The man had stopped writhing but had not stopped moaning, still bound to his bed and clutching his head. He must have stolen more secrets than usual. Darker secrets. Usually he’d recovered by now.