By Sin’s face as he tried to keep his brother from hitting him, she could tell he felt the same way.
"Can we eat him?" Xirena asked.
"No," Simi said quickly. "Eating people is wrong…" She made a face. "The Simi sounds like akri now. But akri’s right. Besides, it would make akra Kitty-Kat mad."
Suddenly bright light filled the cavern. Sin and Kat froze as they realized they were no longer alone with Zakar.
"Well, well, looks like more food has arrived."
Kat turned at the growling tone that was similar to Kessar’s voice. The demon looked a lot like him, but his hair was darker and his eyes were coal black. If that weren’t enough to warm her day, there were six more demons behind him. Five men and one female.
"How cute," the female said as she came around the men to stand in the front. "The blood slave has friends."
Before Kat could even blink, the demons vanished only to reappear directly in front of each of them.
Except for Sin. The leader and two of the male demons surrounded him.
She tried to watch Simi and Xirena as their wings came out of their backs and they attacked the demons in front of them, but her vision was blocked by the female in front of her. Gah, in demon form, the gallu were really an unattractive race. The female’s eyes were sharp and beady, and her lower jaw was distorted by the double row of fangs. Curling up with one of the gallu would be like getting close to Stephen Sommers’s Mummy after only two kills.
The female tilted her head and smiled, showing off her fangs. "How wonderful. An Atlantean to eat."
Kat snorted. "How wonderful. A bitch to declaw."
The female ran at Kat, who quickly sidestepped, grabbed her arm, and slammed her into the cavern wall. That really had to hurt. Good. It was almost enough to make Kat smile.
Shrieking, the female gallu turned back to face her. Kat kicked her back and slugged her hard. She then stabbed the gallu straight in the heart and waited for her to explode.
"Between the eyes," Sin snarled at her. "You can’t take them out like a Daimon."
Duh, how could she have forgotten that so soon? So much for her training.
The demon lunged at the same time Kat recovered her dagger and shoved it straight between the demon’s eyes. The demon let out a piercing sound before she exploded all over Kat.
Ugh, gross… Give her a Daimon any day over one of these. At least Daimons didn’t smell when they exploded.
Disgusted, Kat shook it off and turned to see Simi and Xirena "eating" their gallu demons. Oh yeah, she’d never order pizza again after seeing that.
Note to self. In the future tell Simi to bring a bib along with the barbecue sauce.
Trying not to watch them as they feasted on body parts she could no longer even identify, Kat went to help Zakar, who was blindly stabbing at the demon who was tormenting him like a cat with a stray ball. Sin had two of his attackers dead at his feet and was working on the third as she ran across the room.
Zakar narrowly missed her with his slash.
The demon laughed. "That’s right, slave. Kill your rescuer." The demon came at her, but she twisted in his arms and lifted him up. Instead of her crashing into Zakar as the demon intended, it was the demon who did. Zakar slashed the demon’s throat. He screamed out.
Kat caught Zakar’s wrist and pulled the knife from his hand before she used it to finish off the demon. She’d just killed him when Zakar grabbed her from behind and sank his teeth into her shoulder. Yelping, she barely caught herself before she struck him.
Suddenly Sin was there, pulling him away. Zakar fought like a man possessed by unreasoning fury. He grabbed handfuls of Sin’s hair and pulled with all his strength.
"Stop it!" Sin shouted in his ear. "It’s your brother."
"Fuck you, gallu, f**k you!"
Realizing there was nothing else to do, Kat held her hands out and blasted Zakar with a kind, but no less stunning, god-bolt. He instantly collapsed into Sin’s arms.
Her and Sin’s gazes met and she saw the gratitude in his eyes as he swung his brother up into his arms. "Let’s get out of here before more of them come."
She nodded in agreement. "Simi? Fry all the other demons and let’s get out of here."
Simi pouted. "But I’m still hungry."
"We’ll order Diamonique as soon as we get back."
Simi’s bloody face lit up immediately. "Ooo, that’s so much better than gallu." She and Xirena quickly set fire to the demons before Kat and Sin flashed them back to his penthouse.
Kat used her powers to conjure a large bag of Diamonique, which she handed over to Simi and Xirena once they joined them. Squealing, the demons ran to their hotel room to gobble up the stones and left Kat alone with Sin and his brother.
Thank the gods for Diamonique. That should keep the demons occupied for a little while.
His face sad and bitter, Sin carried his brother toward the sofa, which unfolded itself to make a queen-sized bed. The covers pulled back an instant before he laid Zakar on top of the white sheets.
"Is he going to be okay?"
Sin couldn’t speak as he looked at the vicious scars on his brother’s body. What had they done to him? He looked as if they’d been feeding from him for centuries.
Sin wanted blood for this. Kessar’s… the gallu’s.
But most of all, Sin wanted Artemis. If not for her, he’d have been there to stop this. He’d have had the power to protect Zakar from their brutality.
No, he took that back. It wasn’t Artemis’s fault. It was his own and he knew it. If only he hadn’t wanted acceptance. Wanted companionship. None of this would have happened. It was his own weakness that had wounded his brother. There was no one else to blame but him.
His stomach shrank from the weight of pain and guilt that gnawed at him.
He felt Kat gently pulling him back. He started to snap at her, but the intent look on her face kept him silent. Rubbing her hands together, she neared Zakar. She placed the palms of her hands against his eyes as she whispered in Atlantean.
A translucent yellow glow spread out from her hands to cover his body. As the glow moved over Zakar, it knitted his wounds closed and healed the deep scars that marred his skin… even his missing finger was repaired.
Relief and gratitude poured through Sin’s body as he watched her heal Zakar.
That she would do this without Sin’s asking… it meant the world to him.
When she pulled back, he saw that Zakar’s eyes were no longer seared closed. His eyelids and lashes lay against his cheeks in perfect repose. With the exception of the long, gnarled hair, this was the brother Sin remembered.
"Thank you," he breathed, grateful for what she’d done.
She inclined her head before she moved away from the bed. "They’d punctured his eardrums. I think that’s why he didn’t respond when you told him who you were. He was deaf."
Sin cursed as more rage filled him. "I want them dead. All of them."
Her face said she agreed completely. "I hate to say this, but I give Stryker credit. At least he has a code of ethics, screwy though it is at times, that he follows. I can’t imagine him doing something like this."
"It’s why we can’t let the gallu loose on humanity. They are completely without compassion, mercy, or decency."
"I agree. But I’m not sure Zakar will be able to help us now. He looks pretty battered, and there’s no telling what’s been done to him mentally that I can’t fix with a simple healing spell."
Sin hated to admit it, but she might be right. The man on the bed wasn’t in any kind of fighting shape. He looked gaunt and weak. They’d be lucky if Zakar could even stand without help. "I wonder how long they’ve had him."
"I don’t know. But by the looks of it, it’s been a while." Kat brushed at Sin’s hair before she rubbed the small of his back. "Are you all right?"
He glanced down at her, his heart heavy. "If he were your brother, how would you answer?"
She didn’t hesitate with her answer. "I’d be out for blood."
"Then you understand me."
She nodded before she gave a comforting squeeze to his arm. "And I’ll be right here, helping you collect it."
Emotions and tenderness for her choked him at her words. At the fact that she’d been by his side through all this. That she’d healed Zakar…
In a weird way, it’d been like a dream.
Unable to cope with it, Sin pulled her against him and kissed her with everything he had.
Kat sighed at the taste of Sin. She could feel his turmoil even while he held her like she was the most important thing in the world to him, and she wished she could ease it. He’d had a rotten day. But even so, he tasted of heaven and man. How she wished things had turned out better for him and Zakar. They still had the gallu to deal with and Deimos. None of whom would rest until Sin was dead.
It felt as if the whole world was against them. But right now, in his arms, she felt strong enough to take them all on.
Sin growled as he pulled away from her lips to bury his face against her neck. He loved the scent of her skin and breath, the feel of her body against his. For once he didn’t have to practically double over to kiss a woman. She was a perfect height for him, and her strength amazed him.
"I think I’m becoming addicted to you."
She laughed. "You barely know me."
"Yes," he said with a wicked grin, "but I know parts of you better than anyone ever has."
She blushed at that. "You’re incorrigible."
"Not true, I’m highly encourageable. I take very little prodding most days."
She kissed his cheek before she moved away. "I can’t believe you’re this playful considering what’s going on."
He let out a tired breath before he raked his hands through his dark hair. "I’m trying to distract myself from the utter misery of guilt and doubt that’s plaguing me. There, for a second, it was actually working."
Kat went immediately to his side to put one hand on his hard stomach and the other on his back. She looked at him with a pained expression. "Oh, hon, I’m sorry. Should we get nak*d now?"
He rolled his eyes at her sarcasm. "Forget it. Too much of a cock-kill."
She stepped back, laughing. "Cock-kill, huh? What an interesting expression you’ve developed." She gave him a devilish smile. "Perhaps a little mouth-to-mouth resuscitation could bring it back?"
He took his earlier comment back; she was her mother’s daughter. She could torment a man with the best of them. "You are evil taunting me like this."
"I know. I’d apologize, but the agonized look on your face makes it all worth it."
He lifted his hand to touch her hair. It was like silk on his skin. Rubbing it between his forefinger and thumb, he remembered the feel of her on top of him. "I still don’t understand you. Why you’re here with me. Helping me. It doesn’t make sense."
"Maybe it’s your compelling personality that draws me to you like a moth to a flame."
Sin snorted. "Repellent, you mean."
She arched a brow as if surprised by his words. "Is that self-deprecation from a god?"
"Even so, it’s not something one usually finds in your breed."
He rubbed her cheek with the backs of his fingers, savoring the soft texture of her skin. "Neither is a heart or a soul. Yet you seem to have both.’"
Kat shivered at the lender look on his face. Warmth spread through her at the sensation of his hand on her flesh. He was delectable. "I keep telling you I’m not a god."
"Yeah… but you would have been had your mother not been afraid of the other gods finding out she was sleeping with your father."
Perhaps, but Kat wasn’t into titles or power trips. Pantheon politics had worn her down eons ago. She truly wanted no part on that. She just wanted…
Honestly she didn’t know. She’d spent most of her life serving her mother’s whims. Kat hadn’t been born to a world when dreams or ambitions turned out well. Usually those two things resulted in someone’s ultimate humiliation or a grand disembowelment.
It’d been her life’s ambition to save herself the pain of both. Truly, she’d never even dreamt of knowing a man at all. It seemed inconceivable to her now. But she had been living her life blindly, with no thoughts of a future. The world, her world, just was. Sin had changed that.
For the first time she did want something, and that actually scared her, because she knew he would never share himself with her that way. It wasn’t in him to settle down and have a family. He was a warrior who wanted nothing to do with her mother’s pantheon, and though Kat wasn’t a goddess in it, she was still a part of it.
Trying to force the issue would only lead to her humiliation. She was sure of it.
"So what were you like as a god?" she asked, trying to imagine him all those centuries ago. He didn’t seem like he’d be any better at their politics than she was.
He shrugged. "Like all the others, I suppose."
She couldn’t believe that. "No. I don’t think you were ever like them. I know from my glimpse into your life that you never cheated on your wife even though she cheated on you. Why is that?"
A veil fell over his face, obscuring his thoughts and emotions from her. She felt nothing but emptiness.