Waiting was difficult, though. He’d tried to talk the Harpies into going to Chicago, had promised them a fortune, but they’d shut their door in his face. He knew they didn’t want money. They wanted him to send Gwen packing. That, however, he couldn’t do.

He loved her. More than before, even.

More than his war, more than his hatred for the Hunters, he loved her. She was Galen’s daughter—so what. Sabin carried the demon of Doubt inside him, so like he really had room to judge. Gwen wouldn’t aid her father. She wouldn’t. Sabin knew that soul-deep. And yeah, he also knew that Gwen would be giving up a chance at a relationship with her dad to be with him, which was why he needed to prove to Gwen that he was now her family.

She was number one in his life. He shouldn’t have locked her away. He should have trusted her, should have allowed her to fight. Hell, he would have lost without her—and he would rather lose than be without her ever again.

The pressure of her mouth eased, and then she was pulling away from him. He was seated on a recliner he’d dragged to his bedroom—more than taking from his neck, Gwen had refused to drink from him on the bed. She was seated across from him in the other recliner he’d confiscated because she’d also refused to sit on his lap.

Her lips were bright red and puffy, as though she’d been kissed. “Thanks,” she muttered.

Thanks—her first word since waking from her injuries this morning. He closed his eyes, smiling as her beautiful voice drifted through his head. “My pleasure.”

“I can tell,” she said dryly.

Slowly his eyelids cracked open. She hadn’t flounced to the bed as she had earlier but remained in the chair, her back ramrod straight, peering just over his shoulder, determination pulsing off her. Dread coursed through him. What, exactly, was she determined to do? Leave him still?

“How are Aeron and Paris?” she asked.

Needed to work up to it, did she? “Healing like the rest of us. Thanks to you.”

“Thanks to William. I’d pushed myself too far and wouldn’t have been able—”

“Because of you,” he interjected. “You did more, fought harder, than anyone I’ve ever seen. And you had no reason to do it and every reason not to. Yet still you saved us all. I’ll never be able to thank you enough for that.”

“I don’t want your thanks,” she said, cheeks heating. Not in embarrassment, nor in desire. But…anger? Why would she be angry at his gratitude? She released a shuddering breath, which seemed to calm her. “I’m healed, my strength almost completely returned.”


“Which means…I’m leaving.” Her voice cracked there at the end.

And there it was. He’d suspected that was coming, but was still devastated by the words. You can’t leave, he wanted to shout. You’re mine. Now and always. But he, more than anyone, knew the consequences of trying to control such a fierce soldier. “Why?” was all he managed to get out.

Jerkily she hooked a lock of hair behind her ear. “You know why.”

“Spell it out for me.”

Finally her eyes slid to him. Fire sizzled in their depths. “You want to hear it? Fine. You used my weakness against me, my secrets. You hurt my sisters, forced me to hurt them and lock them away to save you. You didn’t trust me and you almost died for it.” She jumped to her feet, hands fisted. “You almost died!”

Okay, the thought of his death upset her most. She’d mentioned it twice. Hope flared inside him, and Sabin was out of his chair and tossing her on the bed before she had time to blink. As she bounced from the impact, he pinned her with his weight.

Rather than struggle against him, she glared up at him. “I could snap your neck.”

“I know.” Actually, this position left her vulnerable. Left her wings immobile, which drained her strength. Her weakness, the one he’d used against her before. There’d be no more of that. He flipped to his back, placing her atop him. “I thought I was doing it for your own good. I didn’t want you fighting. Didn’t want you hurt. Didn’t want you pitted against your own father.”

“That wasn’t your choice.”

“I know,” he repeated. “To be honest, I did it for me. I needed to know you were safe. That was stupid of me. Stupid and wrong. I won’t be leaving you behind again. You’re a better soldier than I’ve ever been.”

Her legs straddled his waist, placing the heat of her directly above his throbbing erection. He groaned, gripped her hips to keep her still.

“I can’t trust you anymore,” she said.

“You can. You can trust me. You, more than anyone.”

“Liar!” She slapped him, hard enough to crack bone. His cheek exploded in pain, but he didn’t make a sound, didn’t retaliate or release her. Just slowly faced her, ready for anything else she wanted to dish. He deserved it. He’d let her flay the skin from his body if it meant working this out between them. “I question everything you say now, something I didn’t do even when your demon was drifting through my head at every possible opportunity. More than that, I will never truly believe you trust me. After everything you’ve done—”

“I have weaknesses, too.” The words left him in a desperate rush, quieting her. “You gave me your secrets. Now let me give you mine. To prove that I trust you, that I’ll never leave you behind again.” He didn’t give her a chance to respond. “While guarding the king of gods, I lost an eye. Zeus had to give me another. I can’t see great distances like the other warriors.”

As he spoke, her shoulders relaxed a little. Her fingers curled in his shirt, bunching the material and lifting it from his stomach. His hope intensified. “You could be lying.”

“I told you. I can’t lie. I pass out if I try. That’s part of my curse—and another weakness.”

“You said you wouldn’t use my secrets against me. That was a lie, but you didn’t pass out.”

“I meant it at the time.”

She remained silent.

“I hold two daggers while fighting because I have a tendency to grab my opponent if a hand is free. I’ve lost fingers that way more times than I can count. If you can disarm me of a single blade, you can more easily defeat me.” He’d never told anyone these things. Even his men, though they’d probably noticed over the years. Still, he was surprised by how easily—and willingly—he shared with her.

“I—I think I noticed that.” Her tone was softer, gentler. “During practice.”

Encouraged, he continued. “Everyone is sensitive in some place, some way. It’s a weakness, an Achilles heel. Mine is my left knee. The slightest pressure can send me to the ground. That’s why I fight with my body half-turned.”

She blinked, as if she were reliving their practice sessions in her mind, trying to judge the truth of his claim for herself. A few minutes ticked by in silence. Sabin concentrated on breathing deep and even, drawing her scent into his nose.

“To be honest, though, there is one weakness that slays me more than any other. Right now, always, that’s you.” His voice dropped, husky, intent. “If you still want to leave, leave. But know that I’ll be leaving with you. Try to lose me, and I’ll just hunt you down. Where you go, I go. If you decide to stay and wish me to stop fighting, I’ll never again fight the Hunters. You are more important. I’d rather die than live without you, Gwendolyn.”

She was shaking her head, disbelief warring with hope in her expression. “My father—”

“Doesn’t matter.”


“I love you, Gwen.” More than he’d ever loved another. More than he loved even himself. And he loved himself a great deal—most of the time. “I never thought I’d find myself grateful to Galen for anything, but I am. I could almost forgive him for every wrong he’s committed because he brought you into the world.”

She licked her lips, still hesitant to accept his claim. “But other women—”

“Don’t even tempt me. I am your consort. Not for any reason, even to win a battle, would I turn to someone else. Ever. I’d rather lose the battle than lose you. You are it for me. The only one. Hurting you destroys me. I know that now.”

“I want to believe you. I do.” Her gaze fell to his chest, to where her fingers rested. Those fingers relaxed their grip, even traced squiggly lines. “I’m afraid.”

“Give me time. Let me prove it. Please. I don’t deserve a second chance, but I’m willing to beg for one. Anything you desire, anything you—”

“What I desire is you.” Her eyes met his, pupils consuming the irises. “You’re here, and you’re alive, and that’s all I can seem to make matter at the moment. Let me have you.” She ripped his shirt in half and dove down, mouth suddenly sucking one of his nipples. “I don’t know about the future, but I know that I need you. Show me what you want me to believe. Show me you love me.”

Sabin’s hands tangled in her hair, and he rolled them over. Joy burst through him. Joy and shock, love and white-hot desire. She hadn’t offered the everlasting declaration he’d hoped for, but this would do. For now.

He tugged at her clothing, his own. Soon they were both naked, hot skin pressed against hot skin. He sucked in a breath at the bliss. She moaned, her nails spearing deep in his shoulders.

Sabin kissed his way to her chest, laved his tongue over each of her nipples, kneaded her breasts, and then continued his trail of kisses. His tongue swooped into her navel, and she quivered, writhing against him.

“Grab the headboard,” he commanded.


“Headboard. Hold it. Don’t let go.”

She was blinking up at him in confusion, the scent of desire wafting from her. She was lost in the pleasure, drowning in it, but finally she obeyed. Her back arched, her breasts now high in the air, nipples hard as little pearls.