Sabin felt guilty for having asked his friend to fill his head with more chaos, more voices. He soothed himself only with the knowledge that Amun knew what he was doing and wanted to defeat the Hunters as much as Sabin did.When he left, he’d decided to sneak a peek at Gwen and see how she was doing. Had Anya fed her? Frightened her? Learned more about her? The questions had taken residence inside his head and refused to leave, somehow overshadowing his desire to force more information out of the prisoners.

Except Gwen hadn’t been in his room.

Furious, he’d begun to hunt. Thinking Paris, who had left the dungeon soon after Sabin appeared, had used Sabin’s distraction to his advantage and seduced her, Sabin had stomped to the warrior’s bedroom, violence brewing inside him. Sabin had claimed Gwen as his. His. No one else would touch her. Not because he was jealous or possessive of her, of course, but because, as he’d already assured himself, he planned to use her as a weapon. Wouldn’t do to have one of the warriors pissing her off. Yes, that’s the only reason his vision had burned bright red and his fists had clenched, his nails elongating into his claws, his muscles gearing for confrontation.

Paris hadn’t been in bed with her, however, which had saved his life. He’d been alone, drinking himself into oblivion, practically mainlining ambrosia—drug of choice for the gods.

Sabin was still shocked by the sight. Paris was the upbeat one, the optimistic, caring one. What the hell had happened to him?

The misuse of the heavenly substance would have to be dealt with, for an intoxicated warrior was a sloppy warrior. Again, Sabin had meant to act, to knock some sense into the warrior, then speak with Lucien about it. Then he’d heard laughing female voices and had followed the sound, helpless to do anything else, his curiosity simply too great. Yes, curiosity—not desperation to finally see Gwen’s lovely face lit with amusement rather than shadowed by fear and trepidation.

Now here he stood in the entrance to the entertainment room, gaze darting between her and William, seething with fury, his demon snarling in his head. Doubt might crave Gwen’s destruction, but it wanted to be the one, the only, to deliver it. Wanted to be the only male around her. Everyone else was an interloper and worthy of punishment.

Let me have the warrior, the demon snarled. He’ll regret his actions. He’ll beg for mercy.

Soon. Sabin had just killed a man, violently and cruelly, and should have abhorred the thought of adding another slaying to his ever-increasing list. Besides, Gwen wasn’t ready to witness another violent dispute.

Gone was her amusement—what had made her laugh?—and in its place was more of that hated trepidation. Was it directed at Sabin? Or William, who had just blatantly propositioned what belonged to Sabin? And to think Sabin had started to like the womanizing bastard, had admired his cheeky wit. Now, not so much.

“Sabin, my man,” the bastard in question said, popping to his feet with an irreverent smile. “We were just talking about you. Can’t say I’m happy to see you, though.”

“No, and very soon you won’t be saying much at all. Gwen, return to my room.”

Anya jumped in front of the man, acting as his shield. “Now, Sabin. He didn’t mean any harm. He’s borderline stupid. You know that.”

Rather than shove her behind him as was honorable, William offered Sabin a cocky, come-get-me-now wave from behind the goddess. “I kind of did mean harm. She’s pretty and it’s been a while for me. Like several hours.”

“Gwen, go. Now.” Narrowed gaze never leaving the warrior, Sabin withdrew the blade sheathed at the back of his waist and wiped any remaining blood on his pants. “Doesn’t matter who you hide behind. You’ve seen your last sunrise.”

Gwen gasped, snapping out of whatever frozen state the confrontation had inflicted. When Sabin stalked forward, she even held out an arm to stop him. He allowed the action, the feel of her arm against his stomach somehow more erotic than another woman’s mouth on his cock.

“Please,” she whispered. “Don’t.”

Indecision suddenly reigned. Gwen wasn’t going to leave. Too much determination wafted from her. How strongly must this timid little creature feel to stand her ground like this? But did she hope to protect William? Sabin’s desire to punish the warrior intensified exponentially.

“If you think about it,” William said in that same amused tone, hands on Anya’s shoulders as if to taunt him, “I didn’t do anything wrong. She’s not yours. Not really.”

Sabin’s nostrils flared, his muscles jerking in their frenzy to finally attack. Somehow he managed to remain in place. Perhaps because Gwen trembled against him, her fingers spreading over his chest, hot and insistent. “And why do you say that?” he found himself demanding.

“I’ve been around enough women to know when one has been claimed. Not that that ever stopped me from pursuing them, admittedly. But Gwen is fair game, my man. For me, for everyone.”

Gwen waved her hands in front of his face. “Nothing happened,” she told Sabin imploringly. “I don’t know why you’re upset. You and I aren’t even…we’re not…”

“You are mine,” he said, his gaze still on William. “Mine to protect.” He would mark her, he decided, put a brand on her so that William and the others understood beyond any doubt that she was now and forever off-limits. “Mine to claim.”

It would mean nothing. He wouldn’t let it. But it had to be done.

“Come.” He twined their fingers and turned, pulling her behind him. William laughed. Thankfully, Gwen didn’t protest. Had she, he would have thrown her over his shoulder and carried her fireman style—after stalking back to William and knocking a few teeth loose.

“Idiot,” he heard Anya growl. A smack sounded, as though she’d slammed her open palm into the back of William’s fat head. “Do you want to be kicked out? Who do you think Lucien will side with if it comes down to you or Sabin, huh?”

“Well, you,” the warrior said. “And you’ll side with me.”

“Okay, bad example. Don’t forget I’ve got your precious book. Every time you act like this, I’m going to rip out another page!”

A low growl. “One day I’m going to…”

Their voices faded, leaving the echo of Gwen’s shallow breathing and heavy footfalls.

“Where are we going?” she asked nervously.

“My room. Where you should have stayed to begin with.”

“I am not a prisoner, I’m a guest!” she said.

Up the stairs he climbed, slowing his gait so that she could keep up. Along the way they ran into Reyes and Danika, Maddox and Ashlyn, who were headed toward the kitchen. Both couples tried to stop and talk to him, the smiling females wanting an introduction to Gwen, but he kept moving without a word.

“Why are you so upset?” Gwen’s fingers tightened around his. “Why couldn’t I talk to them? I don’t understand what’s happening.”

He was proud of her. She recognized the danger he posed right now, but didn’t try to escape and didn’t seem in jeopardy of losing control of her Harpy. “I’m not upset.” I’m enraged!

“Do you normally threaten to kill men who don’t upset you?”

He ignored the question, one of his own springing to mind and refusing to leave. “Did he touch you?” The words were ruthless, his tone biting. Walking away from the impending fight had been acceptable because he’d thought William had merely used words to try and gain Gwen’s affections. Anything more, and he would turn around as he’d wanted before, grind the bastard into hamburger and feed him to the wild animals roaming the hills.

“No. He didn’t. Your nails, they’re hurting me.”

Instantly Sabin relaxed his grip, willing his nails to sink back into their beds. They snaked a corner, and his pace increased. Urgency rushed through him, as potent and strong as a flooded river.

“Did he scare you?” This time, the question was merely gruff.

“Again, no. And if he had, I—I could have handled him.”

His lips twitched in his first stirring of humor that evening. As if. When she was Gwen, the Harpy dormant, she was the most docile creature he’d ever encountered. It was, at times, endearing. His life was death and dishonor, cruelty and might, yet she was all that was serene and good.

“And how would you have done that?” He didn’t ask to taunt her but to force her to admit she needed a guardian. Him. Here, in this house, even out in the world, she needed him. The day she learned to control her Harpy, of course, that would change. And he was glad. Yep. Glad.

A little gasp of irritation escaped her and she tried to rip her hand from his. He held tight, strangely unwilling to end the physical connection. “I’m not a total washout, you know?”

“I wouldn’t care if you were as strong as Pandora once was. You are desirable, and some of the men here like to believe they are irresistible. I don’t want you dealing with them. Ever.”

“You find me…desirable?”

Had she not heard the warning in his voice? To stay away from the warriors, or else?

“Never mind,” she muttered, his hesitation clearly embarrassing her. “Let’s talk about something else. Like your home. Yes. Perfect. Your home is lovely.” She was panting now, the long walk likely more exercise than she’d gotten in her year of confinement.

He gave his surroundings a cursory glance. The stone floor was polished and veined with gold—like her eyes. The end tables were cherrywood—as glossy a red as her hair. The walls were smooth, inlaid with multihued marble and utter perfection—like her skin, even dirty as it was.

When had he begun to compare everything to her?

When they hit the landing of the second staircase, his bedroom door entered his line of vision and he breathed a sigh of relief. Almost there…How would she react to what he was about to do? Go Harpy?