He was sitting with Otto across his desk. "You look awful chipper, Sue. What’s up?"
Walking in and shutting the door, Susan handed him her article and watched his face as he read it, then laughed nervously.
"What is this?"
She smiled at him. "I have learned Ibsen. I now know how to embrace the absurd. "
Otto arched a brow at her. "I think she’s learned to embrace the bong."
Susan slapped at his shoulder playfully. As she pulled her hand back, Otto grabbed her wrist. "What’s this?" he asked, turning it over to see her mark.
A pall went over the room.
Susan balled her hand up, but it was too late for that.
"You can’t mate with him," Otto growled. "It’s against the rules. You’re a Squire."
Susan’s heart pounded as she tried to think up a lie.
"Actually," Leo said, leaning back in his chair. "That’s not true."
Otto released her. "What do you mean?"
Leo squirmed a bit before he answered. "I kind of forgot to swear her in. She’s still technically a civilian."
Otto was aghast. "Leo…"
"Hey, we had a tough week, you know? I was going to get around to it, but things came up."
To her amazement, Otto visibly relaxed. "Damn. Another good Dark-Hunter lost. And I really liked the leopard, too."
Susan went cold at his words. Were they going to kill Ravyn for mating with her? "What do you mean, you’re going to lose him?"
Leo gave her an agitated glare. "You haven’t read all the manual yet, have you?"
"Well, no. The thing’s something like five thousand pages long."
Leo tsked at her. "You should read chapter fifty-six."
It was Otto who answered. "That’s the chapter that tells you how you can free your Dark-Hunter and marry him."
Susan gaped at that. Ravyn hadn’t said anything about that to her. "Are you serious?"
"Always. I don’t have a sense of humor… well, Roman general and Tabitha not withstanding. "
She had no idea what he was talking about and honestly she didn’t care.
"You know," Leo said, distracting her. "I like this article, Sue. What say we make it front-page?"
Her head still spinning from her latest discovery, she nodded at him. "That’d be great. I’ll… um… I’ll see you guys later."
She left them alone and headed back to her car as quickly as she could. Could she really be able to get Ravyn out of his service to Artemis?
The thought thrilled her.
At least until she got home and brought it up to Ravyn, who didn’t seemed pleased by the prospect at all.
"No," he said firmly.
She couldn’t believe his automatic answer. "What do you mean, no?"
He crossed his arms over his chest as he faced her in the hallway.
"What I said. No. I’m not getting my soul back from Artemis."
"I don’t want to be mortal."
That didn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t he want to be free? For someone who hated cages, he seemed awfully happy to live in bondage to a Greek goddess.
"But you can leave-"
"No, Susan. I can die." He shook his head. "I don’t want to die and I damned sure don’t want you to die on me, either. I want us to bond when you’re ready and I want us to be together forever." He gestured at the window that looked out onto the city. "I have a job to do here in Seattle. A really important one. I go back to being a Were-Hunter and then I go from this to being a Sentinel again and that’s the last thing I want to do."
She frowned at the unfamiliar word. "What’s a Sentinel?"
"Essentially, it’s the Arcadian equivalent to a Dark-Hunter. Only instead of chasing Daimons, I chase down other Were-Hunters. And I lose all immortality. But wait, it gets better. The minute I return to being mortal again, the Katagaria have a clear shot at you because you’re my mate."
"Oh…" Suddenly the idea of him getting his soul back wasn’t so appealing to her, either. "They’d really do that?"
"Yes. We are at war and they’ll stop at nothing to hurt us." He cupped her cheek in his hand as his black eyes and the sincere adoration there warmed her. "But if you really want that for us, then I’ll call Ash and we can ask for the test to restore my soul. I leave it up to you."
Susan bit her lip as she considered that. "What if Ash won’t let us be together if you continue being a Dark-Hunter?"
"He let Cael have Amaranda. Do you really think he’ll stop us?"
He had a point. "I don’t know. I mean, after all, you only think you love me…"
Ravyn laughed at that and rolled his eyes. "There’s no thinking to this, Susan. I do love you. Why else would I volunteer to spend eternity with you? Have you any idea how long that is?"
"No," she said, giving him a devilish grin before she kissed him. "But I’m going to find out."
Spent from sex, Nick lay nak*d on the floor, panting beside Satara who was laughing as she stroked his chest. His entire body burned and he now heard voices in his head that echoed and screamed.
What have I done?
When Satara had come to him and told him about her connections to the Daimons and gods, he should have turned her away, but her offer to strike back at Ash had been too good to pass up. He knew that as a Dark-Hunter he’d never have the ability on his own to kill Ash. But with his life force tied to a god’s…
He could do it.
And he felt that power now seeping through him. It hummed and sang with an unimagined beauty. He wasn’t human. He wasn’t Dark-Hunter.
Nick frowned as he saw his reflection in a silver globe that was on the bottom shelf of the Daimon’s bookcase. Rolling toward it, he pulled it closer to him until he could see his eyes.
His breath caught sharply in his throat as he stared at his distorted face.
It couldn’t be.
The door to the room opened to show him the demigod Daimon who’d allowed him to share his powers. No longer wearing sunglasses, he looked at Nick with the same swirling silver eyes that Ash had.
The same eyes that Nick now had, too.
"Who are you?" Nick breathed.
"I would be the one man on your list, after Acheron, who you want to kill, and you’re now my minion, Nick. Welcome to my hell."