“How’s she doing?” a female voice suddenly asked.

Again, he was blinking as he refocused. Damn, but his mind wandered a lot lately. Ashlyn and Danika had returned—he’d lost count of the number of times they’d visited—and now stood beside Kane.

“Holding steady.” Why wasn’t she healing, damn it? “How’d the meeting go?” Because of the attack, it had been put off until this morning.

Kane shrugged, and the action seemed to piss off the lamp in the far corner because the lightbulb sparked. Then exploded. The women yelped and jumped out of the way. Used to such things, Kane continued as if nothing had happened. “Everyone’s in agreement. There’s no way Baden can be alive. Each of us held his head in our hands before we burned it. Either someone’s impersonating him or they’re starting the rumor to distract us from our purpose.”

The latter made sense. How like the Hunters. Because they weren’t as strong as the warriors, their best weapon was trickery.

Danika strolled to Gwen and smoothed the hair from the sleeping beauty’s face. Ashlyn joined her and clutched Gwen’s hand, probably willing her strength into that frail little body. Their concern touched him. They didn’t know her, not really, yet they still cared. Because he cared.

“Galen knows that we know he’s leading the Hunters,” he told Kane. “Why hasn’t he attacked again?”

“He’s planning, probably. Gathering his forces. Spreading lies about Baden to confuse us, definitely.”

“Well, I’m going to kill him.”

“Maybe sooner than you think. I saw him last night in my dreams,” Danika said without looking up. “He was with a woman. The scene was so vivid I painted it when I woke up this morning. Do you want to see?”

Poor Danika. She was faced with grisly visions nearly every night. Demons torturing souls, gods battling other gods, loved ones dying. Delicate human that she was, the horrors she witnessed had to scare her, yet she endured them with a smile because they helped her man’s cause.

What would Gwen do if she had such visions? he found himself wondering. Would she tremble as she had that day in the pyramid? Or would she attack, teeth bared, like the Harpy she’d been born to be?

“Sabin?” Kane asked. “Your distraction is screwing with our egos.”

“Sorry. Yes, please. I want to see it.”

Danika made to stand, but Kane stopped her. “Stay there. I’ll get it.” He disappeared down the hall, only to return a few minutes later, holding a canvas that stretched the length of his arm. He held it up, light gleaming off the dark colors.

Looked to be some sort of cave, the jagged rocks splattered with scarlet and soot. A few bones were scattered across the twig- and dirt-laden ground. Human, most likely. And there, in the far corner, was Galen, feathered wings outstretched. His pale head faced the viewer, and he was holding a…Sabin had to squint to see. A piece of paper?

There was indeed a female beside him, though only a sliver of her profile could be seen. She was tall, thin, with black hair. Blood dripped from the corner of her mouth. She, too, was studying the sheet.

“I’ve never seen her before.”

“None of us have,” Kane said. “There’s something oddly familiar about her, though, don’t you think?”

He studied her more closely. None of her features were familiar, no. But the way she frowned…the crease at the corner of her eye…maybe.

“I wish I had gotten a better view of her,” Danika said.

“That you saw anything at all is a miracle,” Ashlyn assured her.

Kane nodded. “Torin’s gonna scan her face into his computer, work some of his magic to form a complete composite and try to figure out who she is. If she’s immortal, she probably won’t be in any human databases, but it’s worth a try.”

“Why are they in the portrait?” Sabin asked, pushing the female from his mind and concentrating on their surroundings.

“Not sure, but we’re looking into that, too.” Kane rested the painting on the tops of his boots. “Finding Galen has become Priority One. If we can kill him, we think we can put an end to the Hunters once and for all. Without his guidance about all things immortal, they should crumble.”

Gwen shifted against him, knee rubbing his thigh.

He froze, not even daring to breathe. He wanted her to awaken, but he didn’t want her in pain. But several minutes passed and she remained just as she was.

My guess is she’ll die.

Fuck you.

You’re the one to blame, not me.

That, he couldn’t refute. “What about our search for the box?” he asked Kane. “What about the training facility or boarding school or whatever it is for the halfling children? And I wanted to go back to the Temple of the Unspoken Ones, search it again.” The temple was in Rome and had only recently risen from the sea—a process that had begun when the Titans overthrew the Greeks to seize control of the heavens. Because of Anya, he knew those temples were intended to be used as a place of worship, a means of returning the world to what it once was: a playground for the gods.

“Those are priorities two, three and four,” Kane said, “though knowing Torin, he’s running several different searches on several different computers. A few more days, and we’ll probably be back in action.”

Would Gwen be recovered by then? “Any news on the third artifact?” Sometimes there weren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that needed doing. Fight Hunters, find ancient relics of the gods, stay alive. Heal one tiny female.

“Not yet. Maddox and Gideon are taking Ashlyn out and she’s going to listen.”

Hopefully the Hunters that had come for Gwen had been vocal about their plans. Like where they’d planned to take her. He’d blow the place up on principle alone.

“Keep me updated on any progress.”

Kane nodded again. “Consider it done.”


It was a rough, scratchy entreaty—and it had come from Gwen. His head swung in her direction. Her eyelids were flickering open as she tried to focus.

His heart sped up, his skin tightening, his blood heating.

“She’s waking up,” Danika said excitedly.

“Maybe we should—” Kane pressed his lips together as the bottom half of the painting careened to the floor. Scowling, he gathered the second piece. “I’m so sorry, Danika.”

“No worries.” She jumped up, closed the distance between them and gently took the pieces from him. “It can be taped.”

Ashlyn moved beside them, rubbing her growing belly along the way. “Come on. Let’s give these two some time alone.”

And then they were gone, the door closing behind him.

“Sabin?” A little stronger this time.

“I’m here.” He slid his fingers up and down Gwen’s arm, offering what comfort he could. His relief was palpable. “How are you?”

“Sore. Weak.” She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and gave herself a once-over. A black T-shirt covered her, and she sighed in relief. “How long have I been out?”

“A few days.”

She scrubbed a hand over her tired face, still too pale for his liking. “What? Really?”

Her surprise was genuine. “How long does it normally take for you to heal?”

“I don’t know.” Weak as she was, she was unable to hold up her arm for any length of time. It flopped to her side. “I’ve never been injured. Damn it, I can’t believe I fell asleep.”

Her claim baffled him. “That’s not possible. The never-being-injured thing.” Everyone, even immortals, scraped their knees, banged their heads, broke their bones at some point in their lives.

“With sisters like mine, protecting me at every turn, it is.”

So her sisters had done a better job of ensuring her safety than he had. That rankled.

Did you expect something different?

I hate you today, you know that, right? They had let her be captured, he reminded himself. He had saved her.

“I thought I told you to stay in the car,” he found himself growling.

Amber eyes landed on him, a little glazed with pain but mostly edged with anger. “You told me to stay in the car or help you. I chose to help you.” With every word, her voice became weaker. Her lashes were fluttering again, ready to close for another too-long slumber.

His anger drained. “Stay awake for me. Please.”

Her eyes opened at half-mast and her lips curled into a tired smile. “I like when you beg.”

Didn’t bode well that he was suddenly eager to beg for a few kisses. “Anything you need to help you stay awake?” Thanks to Anya, Danika and Ashlyn, he had everything a patient could desire on the bedside table. “Water? Pain meds? Food?”

She licked her lips and her stomach rumbled. “Yes, I—no.” There was longing in every word. “Nothing. I need nothing.”

Her fucking rules, he realized. Though he wasn’t hungry, he grabbed the turkey sandwich and bit into the edge. He lifted the glass of water to his lips and sipped. “This is mine, but the rest is for you,” he told her, motioning to the bowl of grapes that remained.

“Told you. Not hungry.”

Not once had her attention wavered from the food in his hand. “Fine then. We’ll eat later.” He set the sandwich and the glass back on the tray and grabbed his cell, as if he couldn’t wait to send an important text. “I’ll be just a moment.”

He rolled from the warmth of her body and sat up, typing, T, call when have new intel.

The reply was nearly instantaneous. Duh.

He lay back down. The sandwich was gone and the water drained. He’d never even seen her move. He pretended not to notice the missing food as he stuffed the phone in his pocket. “Sure you don’t need anything?”

She swallowed audibly, and he almost laughed. “I need a bathroom. And a shower.”