Kat supposed. But it seemed terribly harsh and a wave of guilt went through her. No one should suffer without having someone to take care of them. It broke her heart to think of Sin in this bed with no one to bring him food and check his temperature.
She tried to reach for him, but suddenly the entire room spun and started to fall from the bed.
Sin caught her against him and cursed as he felt the heat coming off her body. She was on fire. "Kat?"
She didn’t answer him. Instead, she made a strange gurgling noise.
"Kat? Are you all right? Speak to me!"
He looked to see Zakar in the doorway. "Where the hell have you been?"
"Out," he said with a hostile note in his voice.
He shrugged nonchalantly. "You’ve got bigger things to worry over than my previous whereabouts."
Zakar jerked his chin toward Kat. "Your girlfriend must have been bitten by one of the gallu. What she’s doing right now is converting into one of them."
Sin couldn’t breathe as his brother’s harsh words rang in his ears. He looked down at Kat on his bed, and while she might be burning with a fever, there was no sign of her changing over into a demon. "What do you mean, she’s converting? She wasn’t bitten."
Zakar indicated her with his hand. "Trust me. I know the symptoms. She’s becoming one of them."
Sin cradled her against his chest. Even though she was unconscious, her eyes were half-open. Her body was completely limp. Her features were as beautiful as ever. Calm. Serene.
She wasn’t becoming a demon. He refused to believe it. There was no sign of her teeth changing. Of her hands deforming. She looked as she always did.
His brother was wrong. "She’s just sick."
Zakar laughed at him. "An immortal goddess, sick? Have you lost your mind?"
"I get sick," he said defensively. "It’s possible she gets sick, too."
"Do you really believe that?"
No, but he wanted to, desperately. He honestly couldn’t cope with the thought of her becoming a demon he’d have to kill.
Sin tightened his grip on her, afraid Zakar might be right. "What can I do?"
There was no mercy in Zakar’s eyes as he watched Sin. "You know what I know. There’s no cure for this. There’s no way back. Once the conversion starts, it’s over for the victim. All you can do is put her out of her misery."
Still, he denied it. The thought of killing Kat…
He couldn’t bear it. In only a short time, she’d come to mean way too much to him. "You’re immune to the demon venom."
A cold chill went down Sin’s spine. "Zakar…"
Zakar laughed. "You were a fool to come for me, Nana." He leapt across the bed at him.
Releasing Kat to fall back on the mattress, Sin caught him, and they slammed into the wall. Zakar looked normal, except for the single set of fangs in his mouth. A tremor of anger went through Sin. "Who the hell are you?"
"I’m your brother."
"No, you’re not." He slugged his fist into Zakar’s jaw, knocking him to the floor. This wasn’t Zakar, this was something else entirely.
"Kytara!" Sin shouted. "If you can hear me, get your ass here now."
As Zakar stood up slowly and wiped the blood from his lips he tsked at Sin. "How pathetically weak you’ve grown that you now have to call for backup from a woman."
Sin raked his brother with a sneer. "She’s not my backup. She’s your babysitter." He blasted Zakar with a god-bolt.
And he didn’t let up.
Zakar tried to run, but he couldn’t. Every time he tried to stand, the blast would knock him back to the floor. With Zakar squirming in a corner, Sin kept him pinned until Kytara showed herself in the room.
She actually looked excited as she saw him frying his brother. "Good man. Kill the bastard."
But Sin didn’t kill him. He couldn’t do that to his own brother-he could only beat the shit out of him, and that only when Zakar deserved it.
As soon as Zakar was unconscious, Sin stopped pounding him with the bolts. He knelt by Zakar, who was slumped on the floor, and double-checked his pulse. It was strong and frantic against Sin’s fingertips.
Satisfied that his brother would live, Sin laid him down more comfortably on the floor and covered him with a blanket. Sin looked up at Kytara, who was standing next to his bed. "What do you know about gallu conversions?"
She shrugged. "Not much really. I’m the other pantheon, remember? Why?"
"Because I think Kat was bitten by them." He went back to her on the bed. She was shaking now so badly that her teeth were chattering. And she still didn’t wake or respond to him. "I need you to stay here while I get her help."
Kytara’s face paled as she realized what was wrong with Kat. "There’s no help for this. You know that."
He shook his head. There was no way in hell he was going to let Kat die. Not like this.
Or worse, kill her for it. There had to be something they could do. Anything, and he was willing to move the heavens and earth to save her. "I refuse to believe that." He picked Kat up from the bed and faced Kytara. "Watch Zakar for me. Don’t let him out of your sight, and whatever you do, don’t kill him."
She made an indignant squawk. "Are you kidding me? I’m not a babysitter."
He gave her the most hostile glare he could muster. "No, I’m not kidding. I don’t want my brother dead. You said he’s fractured. If that’s the case, then we can fix him. But first I have to save Kat."
"It’s impossible, Sin, and you know it. You’re insane and you’re wasting your time."
"We’ll see." He paused before he left. "And Kytara, if my brother isn’t still breathing when I return, the Oneroi are going to be the least of your concerns."
She gave him an indignant huff.
Ignoring her, Sin closed his eyes and flashed him and Kat to the last place he needed to visit…
And he naturally manifested right in front of a Charonte who eyeballed him as if he were a prime steak on a plate. But Sin wasn’t in the mood to deal with it. He ignored the beast.
"Apollymi!" Sin shouted as he walked down the long, narrow hallway with no idea where to go to find her. "I need you."
She appeared in front of him with her hands on her h*ps and her face flaming angry.
Until she saw Kat in his arms.
Apollymi’s countenance instantly changed to one of concern as she rushed forward to place her hand on Kat’s brow. "What happened?"
For some reason, that one single question coming from Kat’s grandmother hit a raw nerve in him and all the repressed emotions he’d been holding back came rushing forward. His throat tightened as fear for Kat overwhelmed him.
But there was more to it than that. The thought of her dead…
Sin hadn’t hurt like this in so long that it was all he could do to draw a breath. He couldn’t lose her. He couldn’t.
Swallowing against the lump in his throat, he spoke in a hushed tone. "I think she was bitten by a gallu demon and she’s becoming one of them. I need you to heal her… please."
Tears filled Apollymi’s eyes as she met his gaze, and he saw a hopelessness there that tore through him like fire. "I can’t heal something like this."
Anger singed him. "I saw you mend her when she was hurt. You can heal this. I know it."
She shook her head. "I can heal wounds, but this… this is in her blood. It’s spreading through her. I can’t fix this. It’s beyond me."
He felt as if someone had just sucker punched him. He shifted Kat in his arms so that he could press his lips against her feverish temple. Every laugh she’d ever given him… every touch burned through him now.
The thought of never hearing another sarcasm-laden quip…
It couldn’t be over. He couldn’t lose her over something so stupid as a bite they’d failed to cauterize. If not for helping him, she wouldn’t even be in this.
No, there had to be something else he could do.
He glared at Apollymi as he felt his own tears pricking his eyes. "I won’t let her die like this, Apollymi. Do you hear me? There has to be something. Anything. Don’t tell me that out of two pantheons we don’t have a solution."
She brushed a loving hand through Kat’s pale hair. "Maybe her father can do something. He understands demons a lot better than I do."
A chill went over Sin at her words-the last known address for Ash was Artemis’s bed. "What?"
Apollymi locked gazes with him. "You have to take her to Olympus. Apostolos is the only one I know who might have a solution or cure for this."
Personally, he’d rather have both eyes gouged out than ever step foot on Olympus again. The last time he’d ventured there, it’d cost him everything he had, including his dignity.
But one glance at Kat’s beautiful face and the obvious pain she was in and he knew he was willing to walk through the fires of hell to make her better.
"Where is he on Olympus?"
Of course he was. Where else would Acheron be when Sin needed him?
How unfair was this? But his past didn’t matter right now. Only Kat did.
"All right," he breathed, "but I can’t go there on my own. Artemis stripped that power from me to keep me from killing her."
"Oh, we can only hope." Apollymi touched him on the shoulder. "Do me proud," she whispered. Then, louder, she called out to her son, "Apostolos?"
Ash’s answer was almost instantaneous. "Yes, Matera?"
"I have Sin here with Katra. She’s ill and she needs you, but I can’t send them there without your help."
Sin barely had time to blink before he found himself on the balcony of Artemis’s temple.
The large doors to his left opened to show Acheron in a pair of black leather pants and a long, heavy silk Atlantean robelike formesta that billowed out around his boots as he walked. "What’s wrong?"
Sin met him halfway across the balcony. "A gallu bit her."
Ash’s face paled. "Where?"
"I don’t know and I’m really not sure. We went to a cavern to free my brother and several of them showed up and attacked us. It’s the only time I think it could have happened, but she didn’t tell me she’d been bitten." He looked down at her, wondering why she’d kept that secret from him. "She was fine until a short time ago. She told me she had a headache and then she started burning a fever. I thought she was sick until Zakar told me she was converting. "
Acheron took her from his arms and carried her inside to a white chaise where he laid her down. Sin’s heart sank at how pale she appeared. Her eyes were rolled completely back in her head, but at least her teeth were no longer chattering.
Then again, he wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing.
"Katra?" Ash asked, kneeling down by her side. When she didn’t respond, he laid his hand on her cheek.
She screamed the instant Ash touched her face, then tried to bite him.
Ash jumped back, out of her reach.
Sin cursed at the sight of her double set of fangs. She really was converting… Agony welled up inside of him at the thought of losing her. He was nauseated and wanted to kill Kessar for this.
"It’s too late, isn’t it?"
Ash looked up at the pain he heard in Sin’s voice. And in that one moment, he had a realization about their relationship that made his insides shrink. Why else would Sin have come here and not be after Artemis to kill her?
He could have just left Katra with Apollymi and returned home. Instead, he’d come here with her and now watched over her with fear in his eyes and agony in his voice.
There was only one conclusion to be drawn.
Sin was Katra’s lover.
Ash wanted to curse in anger, but it was too late for that. They’d already been together. He could feel it. Besides, he barely knew his daughter-who was he to parent her now and tell her that she shouldn’t have slept with Sin? She was a grown woman.
One who was in deep trouble.
And unfortunately, Ash couldn’t get her out of this alone. To cure her, he needed help. Standing up, he pinned Sin with a gimlet stare. Ash had to know the truth of what existed between them.
Katra’s life depended on it.
"What does Katra mean to you?"
A wall came up inside Sin over that question. Ash could almost hear it closing, but he couldn’t tell if it was motivated by suspicion, fear, or guilt.
"Why do you ask me that?"
Ash ground his teeth as he glanced back to his daughter, who was thrashing about on the chaise. There was only one way to save her, and it broke his heart. It was the last thing he wanted to do to anyone. But it was the only way to get the demon out of her.
"I have to bond her to someone."
Sin was confused by Ash’s strange behavior and his words. Ash was reticent about helping his daughter, and Sin couldn’t understand that. He would have brought down the heavens to protect his own. Why was Ash so upset now?
"Okay. What’s the problem with that?"
Ash seared him with that swirling silver gaze that seemed to be able to see straight to his soul. When Ash spoke, his voice was thick with emotion. "Listen to me, Sin. I’m going to have to summon the demon out of her… by draining her blood. If I know the demon within, it won’t let go of her until I’ve taken so much blood that she’s going to die from it. The only way to save her will be to bond her to someone else by using their blood. When I do this, she will need that person for the rest of her life to feed from. She’ll be a vampire."