He locked gazes with Xypher. "So, yeah, I have a better understanding of your situation than you do. Been there, done it, and it still aches deep inside me that I never once told Julie how much I loved her. Three seconds was all it would have taken. Three seconds I wish to God I had back. Think about it." He vanished from the room.
Xypher sat in silence as he realized that for a kid, Jesse had a lot more sense than he’d given him credit for. But the problem was, it wasn’t that simple. What good would it do to tell Simone he loved her when he couldn’t stay? It would only hurt her more and that was the last thing he wanted to do.
No. It was best to keep his love to himself. Locked inside him, it would hurt only one person-him. He preferred it that way.
Pushing himself up from the bed, he went to join her in the shower.
"You didn’t dream again last night, did you?"
Xypher paused in his shaving to look at Simone in the mirror. "How did you know?"
"I was thinking of it while I was in the shower, I’m not sure why, but I had a thought. Did you dream while you were in Tartarus?"
"No. Hades took that from me so that I couldn’t use it as a way to escape my torture."
"Do you think that’s why you haven’t dreamt here?"
He rinsed His razor in the sink. "Jaden returned all my powers to me. I should be able to dream without a problem."
She paused by his side. "Did you try to dream?"
How could he explain to her that he was living the best dream of all just by being here with her? "Not really."
"Maybe that’s it then. Maybe you just need to try."
How he wished it were that simple. There was something more to the fact he wasn’t dreaming, but he didn’t want to think about it right now.
All he wanted to focus on was her. Kissing her hand, he returned to shaving.
Even though they were no longer joined by the cuffs, Xypher spent the rest of the day with Simone. He told himself that he’d go after Satara tomorrow. He just wanted one more day with the woman who made him laugh.
A woman who thought he was wonderful. . .
Even Jesse and Gloria came out after the classes to hang with them while they walked around the French Quarter and had dinner at the Alpine Restaurant.
"Have you lived here your entire life?" he asked as they walked along the shops on Royal Street, back toward her condo.
She smiled. "I have. Except for the time I spent in the children’s home after my father died."
"You don’t speak much about your foster parents."
She hooked her arm in his as they walked. "Carole and Dave. They were wonderful people. They’d wanted their own kids, but Carole had been unable to have any. Originally, they wanted to adopt a baby, but finally they gave up and decided to take in older children. I was the youngest of four they adopted."
"So you have siblings?"
"Not really. My adopted siblings were out of the house by the time I came along. We exchange Christmas cards, but honestly we’re barely more than strangers. The only thing we had in common was the O’Learys. And I do miss them a lot. Any time I was ever sad, Carole used to take me down to Fifi Mahoney’s to try on wigs and to play with their makeup. She had a smile that could light up an entire room."
She paused to look up at him. "You think so?"
Simone was warmed all the way through by his compliment. They walked on, arm in arm, joking and teasing until they reached her condo.
"So what happened to your foster parents?"
She took a deep breath at the sadness that question conjured. "They died in a car wreck my first year of college."
"I’m really sorry."
"It’s okay. It was a long time ago, but it left me scarred for years. I kept thinking that I was cursed to lose everyone I ever cared about." She shook her head. "There for a time, I’d even get up in the middle of the night just to make sure Jesse was still with me."
Xypher drew a sharp intake of breath. And now he was going to have to leave her, too . . .
No, he could never tell her he loved her. It would be cruel.
Simone opened the gate to her condo, then paused as she saw Someone slumped over at the end of the small walkway. Rushing toward the person, she was stunned to find Kyle Peltier there. He had a vicious wound in his stomach. Blood was steadily pouring out of him.
Trembling, he reached up and grabbed Xypher’s shirt. "The gallu are attacking Kerryna in her condo. Help her. Please!"
Xypher shot to his feet. "Get him to Sanctuary." Simone swallowed. "What about you?"
"I have a fight to join. Jesse, go with Simone and make sure nothing happens to her. If she needs me, get me immediately."
Xypher went running toward Kerryna’s condo. From the outside, it was identical to Simone’s, except it had a small mirror that dangled from the knocker-a mirror that was designed to keep the gallu out.
If only it’d worked.
He ran to the door and died the knob.
Opening the door, ready for battle, he was surprised to find the place completely empty. He entered the house slowly, expecting an ambush. With nothing but silence humming in his ears, he went room to room looking for the Dimme.
Or her body.
There were no heartbeats in the place. But everywhere he looked were the remnants of battle. Furniture was busted, shelves were on the floor. It was obvious Kerryna and Kyle had put up a tremendous fight.
But the question was, why had she been here without Xedrix?
"Damn it," he breathed. They must have taken her with them when they left.
Xypher went rushing back to find Simone struggling to get an unconscious Kyle into her car. He took the whelp from her and swung himup in his aims before he flashed them to Sanctuary.
Carson came to his feet with a stem scowl as he saw Kyle’s bleeding body. "What happened?"
"He was attacked." Xypher took Kyle into the room where Carson had tended him when he’d been wounded.
"Thanks for getting him here."
"Anytime. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some bad news to deliver."
Xypher turned to Simone. "What bad news?" she asked. "I think they took Kerryna."
Her face pale, Simone staggered back from the shock. "The gallu? Why?"
"To use her, I’m sure."
"Does Xedrix know?"
Xypher glanced back to Kyle’s bleeding body. "I’m going to take a wild guess that he doesn’t. I think Kyle must have been on watch duty. We need to get to their bar again and tell Xedrix what’s happened."
She couldn’t agree more. "All right. Flashy thing coming up … no nausea this time. We hope."
"Hang on." He looked at Jesse. "You, too. Gloria, hold on to him so we don’t get separated."
The next thing Simone knew, they were at the club, winch was hopping with college students and locals. They were all standing behind the stage where Xedrix had brought them in originally.
A band was playing loud, dark wave music.
Xypher took her hand and led her toward the dance floor. In the crowd, it was impossible to distinguish the Charonte from the humans. The only way she could tell the difference was her demon sense that picked up on them whenever they drew near one.
"Where’s Xedrix?" Xypher asked a tall, dark-haired demon who was serving drinks.
"He’s at the bar."
Xypher made his way over to the area that was marked with neon tubing and a hand-painted sign on the mirror with the club’s logo of vampire teeth with three drops of blood falling from the lips.
Xedrix sat on one of the stools, watching the crowd and drinking absinthe. He tensed the moment he saw them approaching. "What’s up?"
Simone decided she’d take the heat for being the harbinger as Xypher had noted earlier, since she was female Xedrix was less likely to hurt her. "It’s Kerryna. We found Kyle Peltier wounded. He said the gallu had taken her."
The glass in Xedrix’s hand shattered as his eyes glowed a terrifying red. "What do you mean she was taken?" He grabbed one of the demons who was walking past and threw him onto the bar.
The humans around them quickly took their drinks and moved away. "Where is Kerryna?" Xedrix demanded.
The Charonte paled. "Last I saw she said she wasn’t feeling well. She was headed upstairs to the office to lie down. She said not to tell you. She didn’t want you to worry. Said she’d be back before you missed her."
Actual smoke came out of Xedrix’s nostrils in a frightening display of anger. "Why did you leave her alone?"
"She was sick so she went with the bear upstairs. I only did what your Katika told me to do."
Xypher frowned. "How can she get sick?"
Xedrix turned on him with a ferocious growl. "She’s not sick. She’s pregnant with my simi."
Simone gaped. This was bad.
Xedrix shot off the stool, but before he could do anything, Xypher grabbed his arm.
"Take me with you to Kalosis."
Xedrix scowled at him. "Are you insane? Have you any idea what Stryker would do to you if you showed up there?"
"I don’t care."
Xedrix cocked his head in a questioning manner. "Your vengeance means that much to you?"
Xypher locked gazes with Simone before he answered. "My vengeance means nothing to me anymore. Send me in there and I’ll get Kerryna out for you."
Xedrix stepped back. "What are you saying?"
Xypher paused as he thought carefully about how much he wanted to tell them. This wasn’t only about getting Kerryna back-this was about protecting Simone. She meant more to him than anything.
Even his vengeance.
"I understand why you won’t stay with Kerryna in Kalosis. You protect Simone and I’ll get Kerryna out of there for you. I swear it."
The demon curled his lip. "Stryker will never allow it. He’ll kill you the minute you show. The gallu want to use her, they won’t give her up without a war."
"Stryker is half human and half god. His powers won’t stand against mine."
Xedrix’s mocking laughter rang out. "You’re half Greek god . . . Have you any idea what Apollymi would do to you the minute that scent crosses her nostrils? You won’t make it a foot before she skewers you. I’m the only one who stands a chance there. By the gods, I’m going to take it."
Simone tinned to glance at him and he pointed over Xedrix’s shoulder. There in the shadows, leaning against the wall, was Kerryna and she looked terrible.
They rushed to her side.
Xedrix picked her up in his arms and cradled her close. "Are you all right, me arita?"
Kerryna gasped as if she were fighting a wave of severe nausea. She clung to Xedrix while tears brimmed in her eyes. "They’ve given me Aperia."
Xedrix’s face paled.
"What’s that?" Simone asked.
Xypher cursed. "It’s a slow-acting poison that’s deadly to demons."
"I have twelve hours," Kerryna said, her voice breaking. "If I kill Xypher and the Destroyer, Satara will give me the antidote."
Xedrix looked up at Xypher. "You’re one dead son of a bitch."
"No!" Kerryna snapped, clipping his face and making him look at her. "We can’t do this."
An angry muscle twitched in Xedrix’s neck. "I’m not going to let you die. I don’t care who I have to kill to save you. I will."
Simone cleared her throat to get their attention. "Can’t we get the antidote?"
Kerryna shook her head. "Satara has it all and she’s guarded by a thousand Spathi Daimons and gallu demons. It’s hopeless. She wants Xypher dead. His life is the only thing she’ll trade the antidote for."
Simone refused to believe that. "There has to be another way."
Xypher turned to her as he remembered someone who not only was connected to Apollymi and Satara, but one who also owed him a favor. "I have an idea. Give me your phone."
He opened it and dialed Acheron who answered on the first ring. "I need a favor."
Acheron laughed. "Really?"
"But not from you. I need to talk to Katra."
"Why?" There was no missing the ice in Acheron’s tone. Not that Xypher blamed him. Katra was Acheron’s daughter and he was sure the Atlantean would do anything to protect her.
But right now, they had a much more pressing problem. "I need someone who can walk into Kalosis, kick Satarars ass, and save the life of an innocent. . . Dimme."
Acheron cursed. "You’re not asking much, are you?"
Xypher ground his teeth before he uttered the word that galled him. "Please, Acheron. This isn’t about me. It’s about saving a mother and her unborn baby." He seriously hoped that would work on Acheron’s conscience.
"Where are you?"
"Club Vampyre in the Warehouse District. Do you know the place?"
"No, but I’ll be there shortly."
He hung up and looked at Xedrix. "I’ll have the cavalry coming. Trust me."
Shifting Kerryna to one side, Xedrix reached over onto the wall and pulled down the lever for a fire alarm. It rang out in a deafening tone that drowned out everything, even the music.