The Darkest Passion / Page 41

Page 41


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“Enough!” Any more of this, and she was going to bang her head into the wall until she passed out. No more darkness, no matter how much she liked the results. “I’m not going to do it, even though I want to, so you can just hush.”


Aeron tossed up his arms, a man who’d said goodbye to the last of his patience. “Do what?”


“Never mind. Just, well, until you know more about Legion’s end of the bargain, I wouldn’t trust her. She could have shared secrets, promised to kill one of your friends.”


He shook his head, suddenly confident. “She wouldn’t do that. She loves me.”


His faith in a conniving demon was irritating. Why couldn’t he feel that way about Olivia, a former angel who never, ever lied? Why did he constantly try to push her away?


The bedroom door swung open, and Aeron stumbled backward. Legion caught him with a husky laugh. He quickly straightened and turned. She was wearing one of his T-shirts and a pair of his sweatpants and both bagged on her.


“Happy now?” she asked, twirling on her tiptoes. “This is…all I could find. But you know…what the funny thing is? I still…look good.” In her exuberance, the hesitant pauses returned to her speech.


He backed away from her and into Olivia. Olivia flattened her palms on his shoulder blades to keep him from running, her heart picking up speed. Contact.


“Olivia and I have to go into town. You’re going to stay here. And I mean it this time. Do not go anywhere. I need to talk to you when I return.”


Her siren’s smile quickly faded. “What! No. Hell, no. I’m going…with you.”


“You’re staying, and there’ll be no arguing about it.”


Expression petulant, she stomped her foot. “Why are you…taking the ugly angel then?”


I’m not ugly!


“I need her,” was all Aeron said, but there was steel in his voice. Boiling steel.


Breath hissed between Legion’s teeth as she leveled her gaze on Olivia, who was still peeking around Aeron’s side. There was more hate in those eyes than Olivia had ever seen. “Touch him, and I’ll…kill you. Under…stand?” The more intense her emotions, the more trouble she had speaking, it seemed.


“You will not harm her.” Without pivoting an inch, Aeron wrapped a hard arm around Olivia’s waist, his fingers digging into her lower back. “There’ll be no more threats. Do you understand? I won’t tolerate it.”


Legion pressed her lips together, and a moment passed in silence. Then she smiled. A forced, too-sweet smile. “Any…thing you say, Aeron. I love you and…only want you happy.”


A lie. Olivia heard it in the undercurrents of the demon’s voice. Not about the demon’s love for Aeron, but about her promise to leave Olivia alone. She would have to be on guard, for she’d seen demons at work and knew firsthand how insidious they were, how much destruction they could wreak.


“Try,” she said, and whether the challenge came from her or that tempting voice, she didn’t know. Didn’t care just then. “Because I plan to do a lot more than simply touch him.” Truth.


Aeron swung around, pinning her in place with his probing stare. His pupils were dilated, just as they’d been before he’d kissed her back at Gilly’s, his chest moving up and down as if he couldn’t quite catch his breath. “Not. Another. Word. From. Either. Of. You,” he gritted out.


Kiss him…


For once, she didn’t resist. Darkness be damned, she closed the distance between them, rose on her tiptoes and planted her lips against his. Legion needed to know Olivia was just as determined as she was to win this man. To have him in every way imaginable.


Her tongue pushed inside his mouth, but only briefly. Only long enough for a taste. He opened up, clearly wanting more, which surprised her and heightened her desire, but she forced herself to straighten and spin away.


“Come, Aeron,” she said. “We have things to do. Together.” Without a backward glance at either Aeron or the now-cursing Legion, she strolled away as if she didn’t dread facing the rest of the day.


CHAPTER SIXTEEN


“I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING,” Aeron whispered an hour later. “It’s too dark.” An unnatural darkness, at that. There wasn’t a speck of light, and the flashlight he’d brought with him highlighted nothing, merely disappearing into the yawning thickness of gloom.


“The night Lysander appeared to me, he told me I would remain an angel in all the ways that mattered until my time expired,” Olivia said. “I think I can—”“Shh. Inside voice.” He didn’t want her to become a target. In fact, the thought enraged him, but he only had himself to blame. He shouldn’t have brought her here, whether Nightmares was a threat or not. He just—he hadn’t wanted to leave her within striking distance of Legion. Or touching distance of Torin. And he had promised to show Olivia the harsh realities of his life.


I’m such a fool. A fool drowning in a storm of his own making. Desire for Olivia—check, that hadn’t lessened. Had only grown. A jealous, bloodthirsty pseudo-daughter determined to end his angel—check. A vow to convince said angel to return home—check, even though he now hated himself for that vow. Send her away, never knowing how she fared? Torture!


“She’s sleeping,” Olivia said, and that, too, was stated at top volume.


“She can awaken,” he gritted out. He’d never minded the dark, but as he inched down the steps and felt his way along the walls of Scarlet’s home, which just happened to be an underground crypt in the local cemetery, bumping into—furniture? coffins?—and having no idea what waited ahead, the possibility of leading Olivia into slaughter caused tendrils of fear to blend with his rage. How could he protect her like this?


“She won’t awaken, I promise. Anyway. As my time has not yet expired, maybe I can…”


As Olivia’s words trailed off, he stopped, pivoted. She knocked into him and humphed. Even though he’d felt her only briefly, he savored the contact. Soft, warm. Exhilarating. That’s all his body needed to ready itself. Again.


Mine, Wrath said.


I know. You’ve told me. Over and freaking over again. And Aeron had let him, had stopped caring. Because…No. Don’t go there.


A moment passed in silence, their breathing the only sound. The air was musty, thick with age, dust and death, but he would’ve been content to wait here forever. Here, she was safe. Here, they were together.


“Can what?” he finally prompted.


“This.” Pinpricks of light flickered.


He blinked, rubbed his eyes. Those pinpricks were actually sparking off her skin, he realized, blending together and growing in intensity. Growing so much she was soon chasing away the shadows and his eyes were tearing.


“How—”


Slowly she grinned, her beautiful face illuminated, shining like the purest star, those dark lashes framing those sky-blue eyes. He could have kissed the breath right out of her. Don’t you dare. But now that he knew her taste, now that he’d felt her rub against him, how was he supposed to resist?


Legion. Lysander. Freedom.


Oh, yeah. He could have cursed.


“Humans were sometimes trapped in darkness, and I had to show them the way out.” Olivia shifted from one foot to the other, and motioned behind him with a tilt of her chin. “Scarlet is just around the corner. I can sense her.”


“Thank you.” Motions stiff, Aeron forced himself to turn away. His eyes immediately mourned the loss of her.


Wrath, too, howled in protest.


Calm. We’re still with her. Aeron led his charge down the correct dirt path and soon found himself standing in a makeshift bedroom. Pikes sprung from several places in the floor, gleaming sharply and anchored firmly by concrete. Between them were trip wires, and at the far end of the room, guarded by the entire fun zone, was a coffin.


Why a coffin? Because she could close herself in for better protection? Smart woman, if so.


He palmed a blade and closed the distance, dodging those pikes. Olivia stayed close to his heels, every step measured.


“Careful,” he muttered. “Stay behind me.” He flipped open the lid, halfway expecting a fight.


Nope. As Olivia had promised, Scarlet slept peacefully, completely unaware of his intrusion. He studied her. Silky black hair framed her seemingly delicate face. She hadn’t looked delicate before, when she’d cornered him in that alley. Her lashes were longer than he’d realized, like feathered fans reaching for her cheekbones. She had a small nose, and her lips were redder than before.


She wore a T-shirt and jeans, both black, and weapons were strapped all over her body. She didn’t disarm, even to sleep. Interesting. Even he removed his blades before crawling into bed. He kept them nearby, of course, but not on him.


Relaxing, his gaze shifted. The walls were dirt, just like the floor, and there were blades peeking from several locations. Anyone who fell, either into the wall or onto the floor, would tumble straight to their death.


Nightmares could have placed traps at the doorway or even on the steps leading down here, but hadn’t. Why? Perhaps she’d known the unerring gloom would frighten most people—most innocents—away. But the ones who persisted, the ones who kept going, would clearly have more sinister intentions. Perhaps those were the only people she wanted to hurt.


If that were the case, that would mean she killed discriminately. That would mean there was a line she wouldn’t cross. Or perhaps she just liked the kills to be made nearby, so that the first thing she would see when she awoke was blood and death.


Either way, the woman was serious about protecting herself.


He almost hoped she would rouse and attack him. He needed a battle. His nerves were on edge and bloodshed would have calmed him. Too many things were happening, changing. Too many things were going wrong.


Baden’s demon finding a new host, thanks to Galen. Discovering Cronus and Rhea were possessed. Everything with Olivia, of course, and her naughty clothes and searing kisses, with her irresistible suggestions (just then, he almost missed the voice) and her attempted seduction of another man, all of which were like matches on the kindling of his arousal. And jealousy. And anger.


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