She gave him an amused grin. "Because I once kicked his butt so well that he remembers it to this day." She approached him with a determined stride. "You need someone at your back."
His look was cold and frightening. "No offense, but the last time I was dumb enough to let someone stand there, they stabbed me in it. I like to think I learn from my lessons."
"Not everyone is treacherous."
"My experience says otherwise, and given your genetic link to someone who did me seriously wrong, I think you’ll forgive me if I don’t put you on the list of trusted friends."
He was right about that, but she was nothing like her mother. "I’m my father’s daughter, too."
"Yeah, and by your own admission you’ve had a lot less contact with him than with your mother. So I think you’ll understand if I side with caution on this one."
She couldn’t blame him for his suspicion. How could she when she didn’t trust her mother, either?
His look sharpened. "I need to get out of here, Kat. I can’t do my job while I’m stuck in a nether realm".
"And I can’t let you out of here until I know what your plans are."
He let out a disgusted breath. "To stop the annihilation of mankind and the earth. It’s a simple plan really, but an important one. Can I go now?"
Part of her was amused, but the other part wanted to choke him for his obstinacy and secrecy. "Why do you need the Tablet of Destiny?"
He closed the distance between them so that he could stare down at her with those golden eyes snapping fire at her. "Let me out of here, Katra. Now."
"Then I hope you can live with the death of humanity on your conscience." He indicated her sofa with his thumb. "I just sit myself over here until it’s over. You got any good DVDs I can watch? It’ll help drown out the screams for mercy. Especially from the kids. Those are always the hardest to ignore."
His words cut her on the most fundamental level of her humanity. The last thing she could stand was the thought of a child suffering. He was hitting below the belt and it hurt. "Damn you."
His features turned to stone. "You’re too late. Your mother already did that."
Kat looked away as she struggled with what she should do. She couldn’t keep him if what he said was true, but then how long could he last with Demon on his tail? He didn’t have his god powers and Demon was a fierce SOB.
"Do you understand what you’re up against?"
He gave her a duh-stare. "If something as pathetic as a Greek Dolophonos can take me down in a fight, I deserve to die."
"What will happen to mankind then?"
"Guess they’re screwed, huh?"
How could he be so cocky and lackadaisical? He knew what he was up against. Did he really think he could win without someone fighting beside him?
She couldn’t stand the thought of him going down in a fight without someone else there who knew how to combat the gallu. Mankind needed more than a single defender. "Teach me to fight the Dimme."
Sin couldn’t have been more stunned had she stripped her clothes off and jumped him. "Sorry? I know I didn’t hear what I think I did."
She didn’t back down. "Teach me to fight them and the gallu."
He laughed at the mere thought of her going up against them and their cruelty. Yes, she was tall and not too thin, but she was no match for the strength of the gallu, never mind the Dimme. They’d eat her alive. Literally. "You don’t have any Sumerian blood in you."
"There are ways to get around that."
He took a step back from her as one of them flashed in his mind. "Does bloodsucking run in your family?"
"No, but if we take a blood bond, I would have your strength and Sumerian blood."
That wasn’t all it would give her, and he knew it. "And it would give you power over me. So screw you."
She took a step toward him, her green eyes pleading. "Sin…"
"Katra…" he mocked. "I will not allow you or anyone else to deplete me any more than what’s already been done. Ever."
"Then let me train by your side. Show me-"
"All my best moves so that you can kill me?" What? Was she insane? "Fuck you."
She growled at him, "Do you not trust anyone?"
"Did we not already cover this? Hell no. Never. Why should I?"
"Because no one can stand alone all the time."
Sin scoffed. She actually looked like she believed the crap she was spewing, but he was anything but green and gullible. "And there you’re wrong. I’ve been alone my whole life and I like it that way."
Still she wouldn’t relent. She pursued him even across the room as he sought to put space between them. "Trust me, Sin. I only want to help."
"You want me to trust you?" He stopped so suddenly that she actually ran into him. The softness of her body made him flinch, but he wasn’t about to let his libido interfere with his logic. He set her back on her feet, away from him, and gave her a hard stare. He knew one way to put a stop to her bullshit. "Fine. I’ll trust you on one condition only. Tell me how to kill you."
Her eyes widened in confusion. "Excuse me?"
Sin smiled, knowing he had her now. She’d never give him the source of her powers. "All gods have a secret that can render them powerless and subject them to execution. What’s yours?"
Now he saw the suspicion in her eyes. Good, she wasn’t a trusting fool. "How do I know you won’t kill me?"
"Yeah," he said, his voice thick, "it’s not so easy to trust, is it?"
Still, she didn’t back completely down. He had to admire her for that. "You have the Tablet of Destiny. That can render me powerless."
"But that doesn’t show your trust, does it? Tell me how to kill you without it."
Kat stopped dead as she seriously considered the consequences of answering him. Given his hatred of her mother, it would be all kinds of stupid to give him that kind of power. He could kill her, any time, any place.
She remembered all the things that had been posted on the Dark-Hunter boards about him. He was without compassion or even sanity. But then a man such as that wouldn’t be scarred from battling demons to help mankind.
Such a man wouldn’t have come to her rescue. No, he wasn’t the monster other people had painted him. But he wasn’t a saint, either.
Trusting him could cost her her life. Not trusting him could destroy the world.
Was there really a choice here?
Don’t do it…
It was terrifying even to contemplate, but she really had no other option. One of them was going to have to open up, and it dang sure wasn’t him.
"I tell you the answer and you’ll train me?" she asked point-blank.
"Yeah, what the hell?"
She took a deep breath for courage before she spoke again. "Very well. My powers are derived from the sun and the moon. The longer I go without one or the other, the weaker I become. It’s why I can’t stay here with my grandmother for too long or I’ll be sick. If I were confined here without exposure to the sky, it would kill me."
Sin stared at her incredulously. He couldn’t believe she’d told him that. Was she insane? "Do you know what you’ve just done?"
"Yes. I trusted you."
Yeah… She was nuts. No doubt about it. What kind of fool let loose something this important? "You know how much I hate your mother."
"And I know what you think of my father."
"Who doesn’t even know you live."
"There is that," she conceded. "But I want to help you do the right thing, and if that means giving you power over me, then I’ll do it."
She really was insane. He couldn’t get past that. What kind of being would be so damn stupid and trusting? And for what? To help a race that didn’t even know she existed? "I can destroy you now."
"Yes," she said, her eyes burning with intensity. "You can. But I’m trusting that you won’t."
Sin shook his head in disbelief. No one had ever trusted him like this… not even his wife. Gods just didn’t relinquish that kind of control to anyone under any circumstance. "You’re not right, are you?"
"Could be. Other people have definitely thought so, and right now my inner monologue is going wild with worse insults than that."
He lifted his hand to touch her cheek. Her skin was as soft as silk against his fingertips. She was so delicate and yet he sensed within her a core made of steel. "Do you understand the danger you’re going to face?"
"Seeing how my arm was broken earlier by one of them and your body is pretty torn up, I have a real good idea. But I’ve never been one to back down from anything. You need help and I intend to give it whether you want it or not."
Someone by his side. To fight. What a novel concept. No one had ever made such an offer before and he still wasn’t sure if he should accept. But he had given her his word and he wasn’t the kind of person to break an oath.
Still he was doubtful of her. "How do I know you won’t take what I teach you and use it against me?"
She made a rude sound at him. "Hello? You have the knowledge to kill me. I think in this I’m the one who’s most likely to get screwed."
He nodded in agreement before he dropped his hand from her face. "All right then. I need to get out of here. Back to my place so that we can prepare."
In a blink of an eye, they were back in his penthouse in Las Vegas. He looked around for Artemis, but she, along with her Dolophonos, was gone. Kish was still standing by the sofa as a life-sized statue.
Kat arched a brow as she saw Kish’s frozen form for the first time. "Friend or foe?"
"Depends on the time and day." He snapped his fingers and Kish returned to his normal self.
Shaking his head, Kish frowned. "Did you freeze me again?"
Sin shrugged. "You were annoying me."
"I hate it when you do that." Kish did a double take as he realized Kat was standing beside him, watching him with a curious glimmer in her eye. Confusion marked his brow before he turned back to Sin. "You and Artemis made up? Damn, how long was I frozen?"
Kat laughed. "I’m not Artemis."
"I made a mistake," Sin said, not wanting to go into it.
"And you admit it?" Kish held his hands up. "Don’t blast me, boss. I’m going to check on the casino. None of this is my business. None of it. Kish wants to live, so he’s leaving. ‘Bye." He barely opened the door before he rushed through it, out of their sight.
Kat gave Sin an amused smirk. "Interesting help. Is he your Squire?"
Sin shook his head before he picked his coat up and draped it over the back of a bar stool. "I’m not a Dark-Hunter. I don’t do Squires."
"Interesting choice of words."
He gave her a droll stare. "Ha ha."
She moved to stand beside him so that she had him trapped between her and the bar. "So why are you considered a Dark-Hunter then?"
"Acheron’s idea. He thought adding me to the payroll was the least he could do given what Artemis had done to me."
"But you don’t hunt Daimons."
"No. Acheron knew from the beginning that the gallu were out there. So the two of us have been keeping them under control."
Kat frowned at that. "Ash helps?"
"Why are you surprised?"
"I thought you said no one outside your pantheon could kill them."
"Yeah, well, your father’s a little different from others. I’m sure you know that."
Kat couldn’t agree more. There was a lot about her dad that was odd, to say the least. "Then what makes you think I can’t do it?"
"You’re not a Chthonian. If you were, you wouldn’t have a weakness."
Kat arched a brow. The Chthonians were god-killers. Rather like a check and balance system provided by nature. They alone had the power to destroy anything indestructible. The only problem was no one knew how to destroy them. The only person who could kill a Chthonian was another Chthonian. "Is that their secret?"
"Not really. Most ancient gods know that one. It’s why they’re so afraid of Chthonian justice."
True. They alone made the ancient gods sit up and listen. Unfortunately for Sin at the time her mother’s pantheon was attacking his, the Chthonians were turning on one another and there had been no one there to protect his pantheon.
Kat glanced out the tall windows to her left where she had a spectacular view of the Vegas strip. "So why are you out here in the desert anyway?"
"Logistical management. My father put the Dimme and gallu out here because at the time the population in America was scarce and he thought it would be a good way to control them. Unfortunately, he lacked the vision to see nuclear development in the twentieth century. With Nevada’s testing, it began to shake out the gallu and free them dozens at a time. As they go free, I hunt them and their victims."
Kat took his hand in hers so that she could study all the scars that marred its beauty. She remembered when she was a young woman and her mother had summoned her to her bedroom.
"Help me, Katra. We have to take his powers from him or he’ll kill me."