Kat hung up and handed the phone back to Damien. "One really hungry Charonte coming our way."
Sin nodded, but his face was still dark as he looked down at the box in his palm.
Kat put her hand on him to comfort him. "We’ll find your brother, Sin."
His expression made her heart ache. "Yeah, but what exactly are we going to find?"
Her stomach shrank at the thought and she could feel the fury inside him growing. If not for her mother, Sin would have been able to protect his brother and keep him safe. He must be plotting new ways to torture Artemis even as they stood there, and Kat couldn’t blame him for it one little bit.
Damien cleared his throat. "It’s daylight right now, boss. But tonight we can help you search for him."
Sin shook his head. "You stay out of this. They’ll cut through you like butter."
The look on Damien’s face said he wasn’t a bit afraid.
"What about Savitar?" Kat asked, thinking of someone they might be able to sway to their cause. "Or any of the Chthonians, for that matter? Won’t they help?"
"They haven’t yet. Since their civil war, all they want to do is guard their own territories and ignore the rest." Sin set the cane down on the floor.
Kat cocked her head, remembering the way Kessar had reacted to it. It alone had given the demon pause. "What is that you’re holding? Demon kryptonite?"
"Sort of." He lifted the handle to show her a thin blade, which was exactly what she’d expected it to conceal. "It was created by Anu much like the Atlantean daggers that kill the Charonte. It’s how we kept the gallu in line."
Ooo, she liked the sound of that. "You got any more of them?"
"No," he said with a sigh. "After all these centuries, they’ve become brittle. This is the last one I have, and since Anu isn’t around to make any more…"
They were screwed. He didn’t have to say the words her mind said them for him. "Would an Atlantean dagger work on them?"
"I don’t know. You got one?"
"Not really. I was just thinking out loud. You weren’t supposed to call my bluff."
"Sorry to spoil your thinking." Sin turned to Kish, who’d been unbelievably quiet through everything. "Uncover the mirrors throughout the casino. Make sure that we have mirror coating on all the entrances."
Kat frowned. "To keep out the Dark-Hunters?"
"To keep out the gallu. Mirrors show them for what they are. They won’t go near one."
Damien snorted. "I like the idea of keeping the Dark-Hunters out better."
Kat gave him an arch look. "I’ll bet you do. I’m surprised none of them have been in here cleaning house, so to speak."
"I’m not real friendly to them," Sin said. "The ones here know I own this place and they give it space. After all, unlike true Dark-Hunters, I’m not banned from hitting or killing them, and they know it."
She gave him a sarcastic doe-eyed, worshipful stare. She even folded her hands under her chin and spoke with a fake southern drawl. "You’re just such a sweetie pie. I can’t imagine why the other Dark-Hunters won’t let you play their reindeer games. Shame on them all."
He ignored her except for a little eye rolling. "Damien, keep a watch out for any more gallu until Kish can get the mirrors in place."
"You got it."
Kish headed off toward the nearest wall.
Picking the cane up, Sin turned and headed back for the elevators so quickly that Kat had to practically run to catch up to him.
He didn’t speak as he held the door for her. She was rather stunned at his uncharacteristic chivalry.
He inclined his head before he stepped back and let out a long breath. She could sense that he wanted to say something, but at the same time he didn’t want to say it. He wouldn’t even look her in the eye. There was something so incredibly boyish about his actions. It wasn’t like him to be uncertain about anything, and she found it oddly endearing.
While the take-charge Sin was sex on a stick, this one was lovable. Adorable and sweet. A strange dichotomy for the man she was learning.
Alter a few seconds, he gave her a sheepish glance. "Do you have the powers to locate my brother?"
So that was what had bothered him. Sin had asked for her help. It was something she was sure he didn’t do often. Heck, from what she’d seen, this could very well be the first time in his life he’d done it. "I wish. Sorry."
"But…" she said, hoping to cheer him, "my grandmother has the sfora. It might be able to locate him."
Sin frowned. "Sfora?"
"It’s like a crystal ball. You ask it to show you things and it does. Usually."
There was no missing the relief in those gold eyes. "Would you try for me… please."
The way he added that word said that "please" might be a first for him, too. She had to admit, she liked this side of him. She could actually be friends with this man. "Yes."
Sin offered her a smile he didn’t feel. All he could think of was Zakar out there alone. Of him suffering the gods only knew what at the hands of his enemies.
Who knew how long they’d had him. The very thought made Sin’s stomach queasy.
How had his brother been captured?
Was Zakar even alive? But as soon as that thought went through Sin, he knew the answer. Of course Zakar was alive. The gallu lived for torture and bloodshed. To have an ancient god under their thumbs would be the bonus round of all time.
Damn them. Sin could barely breathe from the anger that thought ignited.
When Artemis had dumped him in the desert, Zakar had been the one to find him and restore his health. When no one else would come near, Zakar had nourished him back to health and taken him to safety.
And how had he repaid his brother?
He’d let the gallu take him.
Sin deserved to die for the betrayal. If only he could make it up to Zakar, but he knew better. Nothing could make up for torture and pain.
Disgusted with himself, he left the elevator as soon as the doors opened and returned to his penthouse. He leaned the cane against the bar and set the box down before he raked his hands through his hair. He wanted to scream out in frustration.
"Don’t worry, Sin. We’ll get them." Kat placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
He didn’t know how that one touch could soothe him, but somehow it did. More than that, it sent an electric charge through his body that heated him instantly.
And even though his body reacted hungrily to her presence, his intelligence wasn’t fooled. In spite of her kindness, there was only one reason for her to be with him right now. "Your mother sent you in to kill me last night, didn’t she?"
Kat was shocked by his unexpected question. How had he figured that out? "Excuse me?"
He turned to level a menacing stare at her. "Don’t lie to me, Kat. Artemis wants you to kill me. Admit it."
There was no need for dishonesty. Sin had been lied to enough and she wasn’t about to continue that trend. "Yeah. She did."
He gave a bitter laugh before he pulled a dagger out of its hidden sheath at his waist.
She held her breath, expecting him to come for her, but he didn’t. Instead, he handed it to her.
"If that’s your intent then. Go for it. I’m not going to sit around, waiting for your attack when my back is turned. Be a man about it and let’s get the fighting over with."
She didn’t know why, but she was strangely amused by his demand that she man up and face him. It still didn’t change the fact that she had no intention of killing him now.
Kat placed the dagger down on the bar. "I am not my mother, Sin. She doesn’t control me."
That seemed to pacify him. At least for a few seconds. "And when I go to kill her? Where will you stand? At my back or in my way?"
She offered him a slight smile. "I don’t think you will go after her."
His look was harsh and deadly. "You’re going to bet her life on it?"
"Yes. Because you know her death would rupture the fabric of the earth and, unlike her, you’re not that selfish." Any time a major god was killed, their powers were released back into the universe. If no one absorbed the powers, they could easily detonate like a nuclear bomb. Especially when the dying god was born of the sun or moon. Those gods had to be protected more than any other.
And since Artemis had absorbed Sin’s powers on top of her own, it made her destruction twice as dangerous as that of any other god.
Sin’s gaze narrowed. "Maybe I’ll absorb her powers and replace her as she did me."
Kat still wasn’t buying what he was trying to sell her. "If you knew how to do that, then you’d have done it before now."
Glancing away, he shook his head. "You trust way too easily."
"And you trust not at all."
His face grim, he moved away from her. "You’re damned right."
Okay, she’d learned a trigger for the ex-god. Don’t even tease about trust. He had issues there.
Wanting to restore the comradery they had almost found before it had veered off the road and careened down the hill where it exploded into flames, she sought to change the subject. "So are you going to show me how to fight those things so that the next time Kessar darkens your door I can make him limp and bleed?" Her words almost got a smile out of him.
"What about the sfora and finding my brother?"
"Hold that thought a second." Kat closed her eyes and let her thoughts drift. She saw her grandmother in her garden and though she wasn’t weeping, Kat could feel Apollymi’s sadness. Her grandmother wasn’t up to receiving visitors just yet and that meant even her alone. She was still angry over Sin’s last visit and aching over what had happened to Acheron.
Opening her eyes, Kat gave Sin a pointed stare. "Can we wait a bit? I don’t think Grandma wants to see you or me just yet. Give her a little more time… another hour or two, and hopefully this time when we go she won’t try to feed you to her demons. Is that okay?"
"Not really. But since I know better than to rush an angry goddess, I’ll strive for an ounce of patience."
This was true. "Besides," she added. "We have Simi coming and I think it best we be here when she arrives."
"Yeah," he said with a low laugh. "I definitely don’t want a hungry Charonte around my workers and clientele."
It was true. Simi could be a bit ferocious when left on her own. "So are we up for the training?"
He looked at her clothes. "We’ll need to get you something else to wear. I don’t think that’s going to work for training."
Well, it worked for fighting, but she wasn’t going to point that out and risk alienating him when she really needed to know how to kill those things that made her skin crawl.
Kat snapped her fingers and her jeans and shirt turned into black workout pants and a black tank top, complete with tennis shoes. "This work?"
"That’ll work." He duplicated her gesture of snapping his fingers and his own clothes changed to black sweatpants and a white tank top that only emphasized the dark, sculpted muscles of his body.
Oh yeah, baby… She had to stop herself from sucking her breath in as desire tore through her. Good grief, he was yummy when barely dressed. And it made her wonder how much more yummy he might be nak*d.
Not to mention, his actions proved that he was a lot more powerful than the average Dark-Hunter. He might not have all his god powers, but he had enough to make him extremely formidable.
Wondering what he was going to show her, she followed him down the hallway to a large exercise room.
Ash groaned in his sleep as his dreams twisted through a hazy mist. He truly hated dreaming. He always had. They never made sense and this one was no more helpful or lucid than any other.
There were two women tormenting him that he didn’t know. One was tall and blond. Strangely, she reminded him of Artemis. But it wasn’t her. This woman had compassion and gentle eyes. She stood over him with a sad look on her face.
"One day we will know each other…"
Then the other stepped forward, but her face was completely hidden by the mist. Even so, he knew she was angry at him. Furious even as her eyes glared at him through the shadows. "Who do you think you are? I hate you! Get out. I don’t ever want to see you again. I hope you get hit by a car in the parking lot. If I’m lucky, it’ll even back up over you. Now go!"
The venom of the tone tore through him. What had he done to her? Why would she hate him? All women loved him. They coveted his presence.
But not this one.
She wanted to cut his head off.
Ash woke up in a cold sweat. It took him a minute to realize he was in Artemis’s bed, safe from the scalding tongue of his tormentor. Wiping his brow, he sat up slowly, letting the white silk sheets pool around his waist.
Gods, how he hated to sleep. He’d never had a good dream in his entire existence. But at least these weren’t focused on his past. They were from somewhere else…
He scowled at Artemis’s shriek from the other room. It was followed by the sound of something breaking.
"I did my best."
Ash didn’t hear anything else, but he felt like someone had just slammed him against the floor. Every part of his body ached and he had to know why. Getting out of bed, he manifested his clothes on his body before he stalked across the floor and flung the large gold doors open with his thoughts.