"I went to Artemis, intending to cheat."
Kat looked away as she summoned what she’d felt while in his past. He was lying. "No, you didn’t."
"How do you know?"
Not wanting him to know what she was doing, she met his gaze. "I don’t believe you’d be faithful all that time and then toss it to the wind on a whim. There was another reason you went to Artemis."
Anger darkened his brow, before he moved away.
There was no mistaking the wrath in his gaze as he looked at her. "What?"
An intelligent person wanting to live would have dropped the subject, but Kat was more suicidal than most. "Why were you on Olympus?"
His eyes were hollow. "Do you really want the truth?"
"I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t."
He left her then and went to the bar to pour himself a double shot of whisky-it appeared that was always his answer when something truly disturbed him.
He tossed the drink back and grimaced before he glared at her and answered, "I was lonely." The pain on his face actually stole her breath. "I didn’t sleep around for one simple reason. I was tainted. Half human, half god, I didn’t fit in anywhere, and believe me, the Sumerian gods were quick to point that out. Ningal, my wife, had abandoned our bed centuries before. She only married me because I was exotic and different. But once the others started in on her for being with a mongrel, she banned me from her bed. After all, what kind of children would she breed with someone who wasn’t a full- blooded god?"
He clenched his teeth as if the pain were more than he could bear before he spoke again. "I thought something had to be wrong with me. Whoever heard of a fertility god not sleeping around? A fertility god whose wife was never in his bed? But I wasn’t about to become my father and prey on a human woman who wouldn’t be able to resist me. It’s wrong to use people that way, and I knew how much pain my father’s lust had caused my mother. Then Artemis appeared one day while I was out riding in Ur. She was surrounded by deer, looking peaceful and, don’t laugh, sweet. I’d never seen a more beautiful woman, so I stopped to chat with her, and then next thing I knew, we were laughing. And in no time, we were friends."
It made sense to Kat. They were both gods of the moon. They probably had a lot in common. "What made you go to her that night on Olympus? Really?"
He looked away. "Anger. Ningal had humiliated me and I was tired of being laughed at. I was a powerful god, but not the most powerful of my pantheon. I knew there was no way I could confront them and win. They would have united against me. So I went to Artemis, wanting her to help me weaken my own pantheon. I thought that if she really loved me as she claimed, we could join forces against them."
He laughed bitterly. "Be careful what you wish for you, you just might get it. I wanted all of them destroyed for what they’d done to me, and they were. I just didn’t see my own downfall as part of that plan."
Guilt tore through her at the agony she heard in his voice, the self-loathing she saw in his gaze. She’d never meant to hurt him or anyone else. "Artemis is incapable of giving what you sought."
He scoffed. "Thanks, but I’ll let you in on a secret. I learned that three thousand years ago when she bound me up and sucked me dry."
Wanting to soothe him, Kat crossed the room to take his hand before he poured himself another shot. "You do realize what you’ve just done, don’t you?"
"Insulted your intellect?"
"No." She took his hand into hers. "You’ve opened yourself up to me. Trusted me."
Sin grew silent as he realized she was right. He’d told her things he’d never told anyone else. But it was so easy to talk to her. Unlike others, she didn’t seem to judge him for his past or his mistakes.
She made him forget to be guarded.
"I guess you and your mother will have a good laugh at me then when you talk later."
Her expression changed instantly to one of indignation. "I would never tell someone what you’ve told me here. Ever. What kind of person do you think I am?"
He didn’t answer. "Perhaps we should go back to insulting each other. I think that was easier."
She shook her head at him. "Not easier. Just safer."
Damn, she was intelligent. Sometimes more so than was good for his peace of mind. "I like safety."
Kat laughed out loud. "This from a man who fights demons single-handedly? Are you really that afraid of me?"
"Unlike you, demons are easy." They didn’t make him want to hold them.
"They only take your life."
She arched a single brow. "And me?"
You could easily take my heart. The truth of that seared him right where he stood. He hadn’t felt like this in thousands of years.
Then again, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever felt this way about a woman. He could barely remember courting his wife. If he’d ever had any feelings for her, they had been killed by her callousness.
She was honest and caring. Two things his wife had never been. When Kat touched him, his body reacted viciously. A single smile from her could make his entire being burn. One touch from her hand and he was undone. It was terrifying to think of how much power this one person had over him. How one single gesture from her could affect him so profoundly.
Still, she held that playful look on her beautiful face. "You didn’t answer me, Sin."
He stepped away from her. "Answer you about what?"
"Why you’re afraid of me?"
Could she be more relentless? Unwilling to confess his feelings, he gave her a flippant response. "You command two demons with barbecue sauce. Who in their right mind wouldn’t be afraid of you?"
She tsked at him. "Why are you hiding?"
"Who says I’m hiding?"
"That nervous look you keep casting to the door like you’re wanting someone to come through it and rescue you." She made bock-bock animal noises at him as she bent her arms and flapped them like wings.
Sin was aghast by her actions. "You’re not seriously calling me chicken?"
The playful look on her face was extremely attractive. "If the beak fits…"
He should be angry, but a foreign part of him was amused by her audacity. "You live to taunt me, don’t you?"
"We have to live for something, and I have to say it’s quite amusing to watch the confusion in those gorgeous eyes of yours. They just sparkle whenever I nettle you."
He was stunned by her unexpected compliment. "My eyes are gorgeous?"
"Yes. Very striking."
That should have no effect on him whatsoever and yet her words set him on fire. He didn’t know why the thought of her finding him attractive should even register. Millions of women, literally, had found him attractive all throughout history. They used to worship him by the thousands.
But her words made his heart speed up. Made his palms sweat. Made him so hard that he could barely stand being around her.
She took his hand in hers.
"C’mon." She tugged him toward the bedroom.
"What are you doing?"
"You need to rest. It’s been a long day and I intend to tuck you into bed."
A smile quirked up the right side of his mouth as he hardened even more. "Really? Can I tuck myself into you?"
"If you play your cards right and stop with the cheesy lines it might be possible."
Kessar blinked twice at Nabium, who’d interrupted his feeding. He raised up from the dead showgirl on the floor and wiped the blood from his lips with a linen napkin. "What do you mean the Hayar Bedr is missing?"
The demon who was tall and dark haired gulped audibly as he noted the fury in Kessar’s tone. "The god Nana went to the cavern and-"
"Ex-god," he corrected Nabium.
Nabium cleared his throat. "Ex-god, and he took him."
Kessar cursed at the timing. It pissed him off that Sin had found some way into their hole and found one of his favorite toys. Not that it mattered. They could still free the Dimme, but owning the Moon had made their succession as the dominant life force on the planet a little easier.
"Where’s my brother?"
Nabium grew quiet.
Kessar let out a sound of disgust at his younger brother and his libido. He had never learned a sense of timing. "Tell him to get off whatever female he’s found and come here. Now."
"I-I can’t, my lord."
Nabium took a step away from him before he gulped again, and then spoke. "They killed him."
Kessar couldn’t breathe as that news registered. It couldn’t be. "What?"
"He died fighting them, my lord. I am so sorry."
Kessar felt his fangs come out as rage filled him. He wanted blood for this.
As he walked toward the closet, Nabium practically bolted in fear. Not that Kessar would ever hurt his second in command. No, Kessar needed someone weak to torture.
Opening the closet, he pulled the college student out he’d captured earlier after they’d left Sin’s casino. She was short, with long mousy brown hair and beady blue eyes that were rimmed with small, round glasses. Her mouth was taped so that she couldn’t scream, and her hands and feet were tied. She was dressed in a pair of faded jeans, black boots, and a black Boondock Saints T-shirt that showed off her beefy upper arms.
But what he found fascinating, and the main reason he’d captured her, was that she had a small bow and arrow tattoo on her wrist. Before he’d taken her, she’d told him the bow and arrow was to protect her from nightmares. Strange, really, since it was also the mark of Artemis and as such made the student a prime target for them.
Using his powers, he muffled the room so that no one in the hotel could hear her scream. Then he ripped the tape from her mouth.
She cried out. He shoved her into Nabium’s arms. "Hold her still."
"P-p-please," she begged as her gaze fell to the body of the other woman. "I’m pregnant."
"Like we care?" Kessar felt his face shifting over to that of his real demon form.
She screamed even louder, exciting him even more.
Kessar picked her up and latched onto her neck, tearing through the flesh so that her blood would fill his mouth. As soon as she stopped fighting, Nabium joined him by tearing into the other side.
When she was dead and drained, they threw her to the ground. Kessar frowned as he saw a small leather bracelet on her right arm. Jerking it off, he read her name.
Scoffing, he tossed it on top of her body and wiped his mouth.
His good humor restored, he pulled his shirt off over his head and tossed it over her body before he manifested another one.
Nabium duplicated the gesture before he returned to their previous topic. "At least the good news is we have negated Zakar. He will be worthless to them now."
Possibly, but Kessar wasn’t the kind of demon who counted on things going as planned. "Never underestimate Nana. He travels with an Atlantean."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. How else would he be able to destroy my brother?" Kessar’s grief was gone now. The kill had placated him. If his brother was stupid enough to die at the hands of them, then he deserved it.
"What do we do now?" Nabium asked.
"We have to find some way to negate Sin’s powers."
"He’s already stripped of them."
"Not enough. He is the only thing standing in the way of the Kerir. We must get Zakar back and get that Atlantean bitch and convert her."
Kessar smiled. "The same way we captured Zakar. We infect her. Then we’ll have both Zakar and Nana, and there will be no one to stand in our way."
Nabium laughed until he realized the humans were starting to stir. "Speaking of infection…"
Kessar looked at the women. "They’re too ugly to keep, especially the short bitch. Cut their heads off and throw them in a ditch somewhere."
He watched as Nabium covered the women with a jacket to disguise the blood on their clothes before he led them out of the room and to wherever he’d finish them off.
Humans. They disgusted him.
Soon, though, they would all be under the thumb of their masters. But first, he had to get Sin and Zakar…
Kat sighed in contentment as Sin’s body relaxed behind hers, letting her know he’d finally gone to sleep. She was actually surprised that she’d won the argument for him to go to sleep and not get frisky with her.
But even though she wanted to be with him, she still needed a little space. Their relationship was going way too fast for her. She’d just met him, literally, and though they’d shared so much already, she still needed time to breathe. To think. To adjust.
So he’d given her a playful pout, then wrapped his arms around her and settled down to sleep. In some ways this was even more intimate than hav**g s*x with him. It at least took more trust, since it required his having to close his eyes and relax around her. She could do anything to him right now and he’d be powerless to stop her.
She could shave his head, paint his fingernails pink… put makeup on his face.
Biting her lip, she had to stifle a laugh at the thought of him in such a girlie way.