“How are you projecting that voice? That’s Darla’s voice. How, damn you?” Stefano barked. There was no answer, only more of Darla’s secrets. Gideon had no idea how the warrior had learned them. “Shut him up. Shut him up right now!”

The little boy jumped, startled, before rushing forward. When Lucien and Reyes grabbed at him, their arms misted through him, and both warriors screamed in agony, the sounds of their pain blending with Gideon’s, with Amun’s. Then both men dropped like weights in an ocean, their bodies twitching as if they’d just received the shock of a lifetime. Anya crouched behind them, ready to spring forward if the boy tried to touch them again.

Can’t let the kid hurt Amun like that, Gideon thought, forcing himself to stand. He was unsteady, dizzy, hurting so badly there were tears in his eyes. He had to hunch over and grip his stomach to keep from vomiting. With his free hand, he grabbed his dagger and held it out in warning. But really, how was he going to stop someone he couldn’t grab?

Anya stretched one arm toward the boy, who now crouched beside Amun, about to reach inside his throat. And do what? She stopped herself just before contact.

“Don’t touch him,” she shouted. Tiny golden flames branched from her fingers, but they were muted, mere outlines. “I have power in this realm and the other. Touch him, and you’ll burn. Trust me. I won’t hesitate. I’ve done worse.”

Puppy dog brown eyes implored her to understand, to allow him to act as he’d been commanded. Poor kid. His arm was shaking and remorse pulsed from him in powerful waves.

“There are two liars in the room, I see,” Stefano said. “I don’t care what powers you have. That boy is the son of a necromancer, able to live and walk among the dead. He can enter each world at will and nothing and no one can touch him while he’s in the other.”

“I sleep with a necromancer, you idiot. Lucien can walk among the dead himself.” Anya raised her chin, blue eyes tearing and flashing at the same time. “Plus, I’m Anarchy and I have no mercy. Your pet comes any closer and you’ll get to see me in action.”

Knowing her as he did, Gideon knew when she was faking. The woman was operating on pure bravado. She would never be able to harm a child. At home, she constantly rubbed Ashlyn’s belly and cooed to the baby. Auntie Anya is gonna teach you to steal everything your little heart desires, she was fond of saying.

Gideon reached out, unsteady, vision glazed, and circled his fingers around her hand. “I would find no joy in taking care of this,” he managed to squeeze past the lump in his throat.

“I—I—yes.” Slowly the flames died, and Anya nodded. There was relief in her eyes. She bent and grabbed Lucien by the shoulders, dragging him away from the boy. Amun was still babbling, Stefano still demanding the kid somehow shut him up.

As he wobbled on his feet, Gideon met the boy’s grim, determined stare. “I won’t make the warrior be quiet.”

Though he spoke a lie, the boy seemed to understand what he meant and nodded. Fighting the weakness and pain beating through him, Gideon leaned down, placing his lips at Amun’s ear. And for the first time in centuries, he was able to offer reassurance without having to resort to the truth. “You’re all right. This is going to be fine. We’re all going to get out of this alive. Shh, shh now. Everything’s going to be all right.”

Gradually the boom of Amun’s voice faded until he was merely muttering under his breath. He still clutched his head, his eyes closed, his body curled into a fetal ball. Back and forth he rocked.

An arm wrapped around Gideon’s waist, and he turned. The swift action caused his stomach to roll and his vision to momentarily blacken before he saw who’d touched him. Anya. How much longer could he stay upright? How much longer could he act as though he was racer ready?

Her strawberry scent wafted to his nose as she tugged him upright, and he nearly toppled. “I’ve been thinking. I’ll willingly go with the brat,” she said quietly. To keep Lucien from overhearing?

“Yes,” Gideon said, even as he shook his head no. He experienced another stomach cramp, spots once again winking in his line of sight.

She cupped his face, drew him to her as if she meant to kiss him, did kiss him lightly, then moved her lips to his ear, purring, “Out of this room, my strength might fully return. I could finally take Stefano out.”

If Lucien awoke and discovered Anya missing…No, Gideon couldn’t allow his friend to suffer that kind of agony.

When it came to Lucien, Gideon hadn’t quite shaken his guilt. From the onset of their possession, Lucien had been like a brother to him, taking him under his wing, talking Gideon down when he became too wild. Yet when the time had come to choose between Lucien and Sabin, Gideon had chosen Sabin because he’d believed, with all his heart, that the Hunters deserved to die for what they’d done to Baden, keeper of Distrust. Yet Lucien had desired peace. Gideon still believed that, but he also knew Lucien had deserved better from him.

“Time for you to leave your man,” Stefano announced. “Don’t worry, after I’m done with you I’ll let you return and tell him all about it.”

“Come,” the boy said, standing. He motioned Anya over with a wave of his hand. “I will force you if I must.”

Gideon had to stop her. But how? His strength was still draining, replaced by more and more pain. Soon he would be completely incapacitated, unable to rise on his own for hours, perhaps days.

Too, the others couldn’t take much more. Would Stefano send in the troops, subduing the warriors by sheer force and separating them? Or did he have to leave the warriors in here to prevent their powers from returning, as Anya suspected? Didn’t matter, he supposed. There was only one way to buy time and figure out how to escape.

“I don’t want you to take me instead. Don’t want you to question me,” Gideon said. “Stefano, tell the boy to take Anya and leave me.”

There was a pause as his lie was interpreted.

“No,” Anya gasped. Then, as if the denial wasn’t enough for her, she grabbed Gideon’s arms and shoved him to the ground. One kick, two, right in his stomach. Unable to stop himself, he vomited, over and over again, until there was nothing left. “See? He’s in no condition to talk. You’ll take me,” she said firmly, “or no one.”

“Bring them both,” Stefano said, glee in his tone, as if that’s what he’d wanted all along.

After a slight hesitation, the boy stepped into Anya’s body, disappearing from view. Maybe he had possessed her, because she walked from the room without complaint. Holy shit.

When the boy returned a short while later, Gideon held up his hand. “Don’t want to do it on my own.”

That earned him a relieved nod.

Gideon lumbered to his feet and, with a last backward glance, abandoned his friends.


GWEN WAS SURPRISED to see her sisters in the media room—grrr, the entertainment room, but same thing, really—when she stepped inside. She was equally surprised that they didn’t spring from the couch and stab her.

Her gaze shifted to take in the rest of the attendees. Who would support her, and who wouldn’t? Ashlyn, Danika and Cameo were seated at the far table, two heads bent over scrolls, the yellow paper crackling, while one typed on a laptop. Ashlyn’s pretty face was scrunched in concentration. Danika was pale and sickly-looking. Cameo was scowling.William, Kane and Maddox were missing, and she suspected they were in town, searching for any lingering Hunters. Across from the women, Aeron and Paris were playing pool while talking strategy, their bruises mostly faded. Well, Paris’s were mostly faded. It was hard to tell with Aeron, since his entire body was covered in tattoos.

“I’m telling you, I saw her,” Paris said.

“Wishful thinking or ambrosia-induced hallucinations,” Aeron replied. “When we fell, you were conscious. Did you see her again?”

“No. She probably hid.”

Aeron was merciless. “I’ve been gentle with you to this point, Paris, and that seems to have done no good. You have to let go of your grief. This morning we interrogated a few of the newest Hunters. They knew nothing about her. Afterward you summoned Cronus, asked him if she’d been sent back. And what did he say?”

Paling, Paris slammed his cue into one of the balls. “Without a body, her soul withered. Died.”

A tiny, scaled…thing was sliding around Aeron’s shoulders, stopping to pet the top of his head and kiss his cheek. Aeron reached up and gently scratched the fiend’s neck as though it was a treasured pet, as though touching it was natural, welcome. Not once did he falter in his conversation. “Would the god king lie to you?”


“Why? He wants our help.”

“I don’t know,” Paris snarled.

“What is that thing?” Gwen asked, gaze still riveted on the creature winding itself around Aeron.

Sabin, who stood beside her in the doorway, burning her exposed skin with his presence, tempting her to forgive and forget and focus on the future, a future with him, smiled. “That’s Legion. She’s a demon—and a friend. Aeron would rather die than see her hurt, so please don’t try and take her out.”

That…thing was a girl? Doesn’t matter. You’ve got things to do. Gwen’s eyes were wide as she finished her study of the chamber’s occupants. Torin leaned a shoulder against the wall, as far away from everyone as he could get. He clutched a handheld monitor in his gloved hands, his attention riveted on the small screen.

He’d support her, she knew it. One thing she’d noticed about him, he placed his friends above his own welfare.

“Gonna pretend we’re not here?” Kaia stretched her arms over her head, preening like a kitten without a care.

Yes. No. “Hey.” Finally meeting her sisters’ gazes, she offered them a half smile and a wave. She’d spent the last hour thinking about what to say to them—if they were interested in listening to her. Nothing had come to her. An apology wouldn’t work because she wasn’t exactly sorry for what she’d done.