Sabin’s stomach clenched. “I tried to summon him, but he ignored me.”

“Lucky you.”

“What’d he say?”

“You know the drill. ‘Do as I command or I’ll torture everyone you love,’” Torin said in a superior, arrogant tone.

The impersonation was dead-on. “Yeah, but what’d he order you to do? Find people, you said?”

“I’ll get to that. You know he wants Galen dead as much as we do, right, since Danika predicted Galen will be the one to kill him? Well, the scrolls he gave me provide a list of names. Names of the other demon-possessed immortals. You won’t believe how many there are. There are blank lines, though, as if several names were erased. Weird, huh? Think that means they somehow died?”

“Maybe.” Only recently—through Danika—had he and the others learned that they weren’t the only demon-possessed immortals running around. Seemed there had been more demons in Pandora’s box than warriors in need of punishment, and so the remaining spirits had been placed inside the prisoners of Tartarus. Prisoners who were now missing.

“Anyway, Cronus thinks we can find our brethren and use them to contain Galen once and for all. They can help us lock him up, stop him from causing trouble.”

Sabin shook his head. “They were prisoners, which means even the gods couldn’t control them. We can’t trust them enough to use them. Besides, much as we want Galen dead, we all know how dangerous it would be to unleash his demon on the world. But what’s to stop these strangers from doing just that?”

“Point taken. And yeah, we’re merciful enough to allow him to keep his head for now, but Galen might not reciprocate in kind. These men are exactly the kind of creatures he would want for his army, which means we still need to find them before he does.”

Sabin knew they also needed to make Cronus happy. Bad things happened when the god king didn’t get his way. “We also have to find the remaining artifacts, and they seem a little more important at the moment.”

“We can’t find them if we’re overrun by immortal kids determined to destroy us,” Torin said. “So, first and foremost, we have to find that school and neutralize the threat. You staying or going?”

“I’m—” Sabin’s gaze locked on Gwen, who fell to her ass to dodge her sister’s poorly—and purposely, he was sure—aimed sword thrust. His hands curled into fists. Hurt her and die, he projected at the Harpy, though he knew the woman was caging the brunt of her strength. More than that, he knew he was a hypocrite for even thinking such a thing when he’d vowed not to go easy on Gwen himself.

If he went to Chicago, he would have to leave Gwen behind. She just wasn’t ready for battle yet. He could take her sisters with him, using them to safely gather the kids. Kids who would most assuredly fight him and the other Lords, since they had probably been raised to hate them. Or he could leave the Harpies behind to guard her. Neither option satisfied him. He didn’t like the thought of Gwen alone. Well, not alone, but without him. And he didn’t like the thought of unnecessarily scaring those kids.

Clang. Click.

The clash of metal against metal pulled him from his musings. Gideon and Taliyah were sparring, their expressions dark, serious. So far, it was a draw. Strider and Bianka were throwing punches at each other, and Bianka was laughing. At first, Strider resisted a full-out clash with her; he held back, pulled his punches even though losing to her would mean a few days in bed, writhing in pain and crying for a mommy he’d never had. Then Bianka broke his nose and kicked his balls into his throat. The fight was suddenly on.

Amun was finally up; he sat off to the side, polishing an ax and watching…someone. Sabin wasn’t sure who. Yet. He suspected it was one of the Harpies.

“Who do you have lined up so far?” Sabin asked Torin.

“You’re the first person I’ve asked.”

Before he could talk himself out of it, he said, “I’ll go.” War came first. “Get me five other warriors. I’ll try to get us a Harpy.” That would leave two sisters here to protect Gwen, while giving him a small advantage.

Torin nodded and was off.

Decision made, Sabin strode forward. “You’re babying her,” he snapped at Kaia. Not exactly the correct way to get on the woman’s good side, but he didn’t care. Gwen’s future well-being was too important for niceties. Sabin was only glad he wasn’t thanking the Harpy for her gentleness.

The redheaded Harpy swung around, tossing a dagger at his heart. “The hell I am! I’ve thrown her six times.”

Yes, and all six of those times he’d wanted to throw Kaia. Scowling, he caught the hilt of the blade just before contact. “You relax your elbow just before striking. You’re not teaching her the proper technique or even allowing her to learn your strengths and counteract. Hell, you’re showing her that fighting unfairly and winning at any cost is wrong. Just…go find someone else to play with,” he told her. “I’m taking over Gwen’s lesson. You’ve done enough damage. And if you dare interfere, you’ll regret it. I don’t care what you see, what you disagree with or don’t like, you stay back. This is for her own good.”

Kaia’s mouth hung open, as if she couldn’t believe someone had spoken to her like that. Then she was stalking to him, murder in her gaze, nails bared, sharp teeth gleaming in the sunlight. “I’m going to snap your neck like a twig, demon.”

“Bring it,” he said, waving his fingers at her in a mocking salute.

An earsplitting squawk suddenly erupted from sweet little Gwen.

Both he and Kaia froze. Even Taliyah and Bianka stopped their sparring to face Gwen as she crouched, sights locked on her redheaded sister. The whites of her eyes had already turned black.

“Are you freaking kidding me?” Kaia gasped out. “I think she’s going to attack me. What’d I do?”

“Threatened her man,” Taliyah said coldly. “You knew better. I hope she claws her way to your spine.”

Her man. Just the words had him rock hard, and it was freaking embarrassing. He couldn’t allow her to hurt her sister. She’d never forgive herself. Sabin walked to Gwen, each step slow, measured. “Gwen, you will calm down. Understand?”

She snapped her teeth at him and almost nailed his chin. Only his quick reflexes saved him a severe biting. “Gwendolyn. That wasn’t very nice. Shall I bite you?”


Okay, now he was harder than a rock. “Well, I won’t have anything left to bite if you don’t calm down.”

Somehow, that reached her. She licked her lips, eyes fading to normal, body straightening. A tremor moved through her, and she swayed on her feet. He didn’t touch her, not yet. He wouldn’t want to stop and they had witnesses.

A deep breath shuddered through her nose. “I’m sorry,” she said brokenly, reminding him of the incident in the pyramid. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…I shouldn’t have…did I hurt anyone?” Watery eyes lifted to him, the gold like the sun yet the gray like storm clouds.


“I’ll—I’ll go back to our room. I’ll—”

“You’re going to stay here and fight me.”

“What?” Expression shocked, she stumbled backward. “What are you talking about? I thought you wanted me calm.”

“I do. For now.” He gripped his shirt and tugged it over his head, then dropped the material at his feet. Automatically her gaze lowered to his ribs, where the points of his tattoo stretched. “We’re going to fight. You’re not allowed to hurt anyone but me.”

“I’d rather study your tattoo,” she said huskily. “I didn’t get a chance to trace it in the shower, and I’ve been dreaming of tracing it.”

Dear Lord. Talk about the ultimate come-on. Rather than pounce on her as he wanted, he forced himself to kick out a leg, slamming her ankles together and sending her hurtling to the ground. “First lesson. Distraction will get you killed.”

Air shot from her parted lips, and she gazed up at him with disbelief. Even…betrayal?

Gods. Had he really done that? Harden your heart, asshole. Treat her like Cameo. Like her sisters. Like any other female.

She’ll hate you. She’ll—

Not another word.



“You tripped me,” she said.

“Yes.” And he’d do much, much more before they were finished. Had to be this way. He couldn’t show her any mercy. Otherwise, she’d never learn. Would never be safe.

Thankfully her sisters maintained their distance and didn’t try to stop him.

“Up.” He held out a hand, and she grasped it. But he didn’t help her to her feet. He jerked her into his body, rattling her brain and pinning her arms at her sides. “Second lesson. An opponent will never aid you. He might act like he wants to, but never, ever believe him.”

“Fine. Now let go.” She struggled, and he released her, letting her fall back to the ground. Immediately she popped to her feet, eyes shooting fire at him. “You’re going to kill me!”

“So dramatic. Toughen up. You aren’t human. Everything I dish, you can take. You know that deep down.”

“I guess we’ll see,” she grumbled.

For the next hour, he worked her over. Hand to hand combat, daggers. To her credit, she didn’t complain, didn’t beg to stop. She did wince several times, yelp once and twice he thought she verged on tears. His chest had constricted painfully at that, and he’d found himself pulling back, not using all of his strength.

Just as Kaia had done.

Pussy. That’s what he was. A disgrace to himself and his men. He was ready to quit, something he’d never done before. Something he’d be teased about for the rest of his endless life.

All of the Lords, all of the Harpies, William, Ashlyn, Anya and Danika were now watching avidly. Some were throwing popcorn at them. Some were placing bets on who would win. William was hitting on Gwen’s sisters—not literally. Gwen was shaking, her every strike tentative. She wouldn’t last five minutes in a real battle.