Acheron (Page 22)

Acheron (Dark-Hunter #15)(22)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"You’re not?"

"No. I’m afraid of reliving my past. At least with death, I’d know that it’s all behind me. It would be a relief, I think."

She shook her head. "You’re a strange man, Acheron. Unlike any I’ve ever known." Walking backwards, she took his hand and pulled him into her bedroom.

Acheron went willingly.

Artemis didn’t speak as she knelt on the bed, then turned to face him. She gathered him into her arms for an incredibly hot kiss.

Closing his eyes, Acheron breathed her in as her tongue danced with his. How odd . . . when he held her, he didn’t feel like a whore. Maybe because she wasn’t asking for anything more than his company. No one was being paid. Neither of them wanted anything except a respite from their solitude.

Was this what it felt like to be normal? He’d always wondered.

Artemis pulled back to stare up at him. "Promise me you’ll never betray me, Acheron."

"I would never do anything to hurt you."

Her smile blinded him before she pulled him onto the bed and rolled him over onto his back. She straddled his h*ps before she brushed the hair away from his neck.

"You are so handsome," she whispered.

Acheron didn’t comment. She hypnotized him with those flashing green eyes and skin so smooth and soft it haunted him. At least until he saw a flash of fang.

An instant later a blinding pain tore through his neck. He tried to move, but he couldn’t. Not a single muscle.

His heart pounded until the pain gave way to an unimaginable pleasure. Only when the pleasure replaced the pain could he move. He cupped her head to his neck as she continued to suck and lick until his body exploded into the most intense orgasm he’d ever known.

No sooner had he felt it than his eyelids sank down as if lead weights were pulling them. He tried to fight the darkness, but he couldn’t.

Artemis moved back and licked the blood from her lips as she felt Acheron pass out. She’d never tasted human blood before . . . it was incredible. No wonder her brother sought it out so often. There was a vitality to it that immortals lacked. It was so intoxicating that it took all her strength not to drink more. But that might kill him.

It was the last thing she wanted. Acheron fascinated her. He didn’t flinch or fawn. Even though he was a mortal, he met her as an equal.

Delighted with her newest pet, she lay down by his side and snuggled up against him.

This was definitely the beginning of a great friendship . . .

December 14, 9529 BC

Acheron woke up to a pounding ache in his head. Opening his eyes, he found himself nak*d in his bed. It wasn’t until he moved and felt no pain that he remembered everything that had happened the day before.


His breath catching, he reached to his neck to find a small trace of dried blood where Artemis had bitten him. But that was the only mark on his body. All signs of his beatings were gone.

What was a little bite when compared to that?

He glanced around his room. "How did I get here?" He couldn’t remember that part. The last thing in his memory was Artemis biting him in her bed and a sense of exhaustion overtaking him.

Someone knocked on his door before pushing it open. He knew before he saw the small blond woman coming inside that it was Ryssa. No one else knocked on his doors.

He quickly brushed the blood away and covered his neck with his hair before she drew close enough to see it.

Her cheeks were flushed and her body was obscured by thick purple robes. It was the first time he’d seen her since Apollo had claimed her.

Before he could speak, she threw herself into his arms and wept.

Acheron held her close as he rocked her. "What happened? Did he hurt you?"

"He was gentle," she said between sobs. "But he scared me and it hurt occasionally." Her grip on him tightened. "How do you stand it?"

There had been many times when he’d wondered the same thing himself. "It’ll be all right, Ryssa."

"Will it?" She pulled back to stare at him as if she was trying to see whether or not she should believe him. "What if he wants me back?"

Acheron cupped her face in his hands. "You’ll endure it and you’ll survive."

Ryssa ground her teeth at words she knew Acheron understood all too well. "I don’t want to go back to him. I feel so nak*d and exposed even though he wasn’t particularly mean or unkind. But you were right. He didn’t care what I thought or felt. All that mattered was his pleasure." She shook her head as she held a new understanding of her brother that she’d never had before.

Her shame was but one instance. Acheron’s was many. It was awful to be at someone else’s mercy. To have no say in what was done to your body. She felt so used . . .

"I want to run away from this."

He took her hand into his. "I know. But you’ll be all right. Really. You will get used to it."

It didn’t feel that way. She was terribly sore and still bleeding from Apollo’s intrusion into her body. He’d taken care of her and yet he’d been callous, too. The last thing she wanted was to be at his mercy again.


She jumped at her father’s shout.

Acheron tensed. "You should go."

She didn’t want to but she was afraid of getting Acheron into trouble. Sniffing back her tears, she pulled away and saw the raw sympathy in his swirling silver eyes. "I love you, Acheron."

Acheron cherished those words. Ryssa was the only person who’d ever loved him. At times he hated that love because it made her do things to hurt him, but unlike with others he knew her actions were motivated out of kindness.

She scooted from his bed and ran across the room, to the hallway.

He heard their father’s angry curse through the walls. "What were you doing in there?"

Acheron winced. At least Ryssa didn’t have to fear being beaten. To his knowledge their father had never once struck her.

"You are the mistress of a god now. You’re not to keep company with the likes of him ever again. Do you understand? What would Apollo think? He’d throw you out and spit on you."

He couldn’t hear Ryssa’s soft reply.

But his father’s words tore through him. So he wasn’t worthy of being in Ryssa’s presence, but he could keep company with Artemis. He wondered how his father would deal with that knowledge. If it would make his father look at him with something other than derision in his eyes.

Most likely not.

His doors swung open so forcefully they echoed. The king strode into the room with fury punctuating every step. Acheron looked away and forced all emotion from his face . . .

Fuck it. If his father wanted to hate him, let him. He was tired of hiding and cringing. Beatings and insults he could take.

His nostrils flaring, Acheron met his father’s angry glare without flinching. "Good morning, Father."

He backhanded him so hard, Acheron tasted blood as pain erupted through his skull. Gasping, he shook his head to clear it, then he met the king’s furious glower.

"I am not your father."

Acheron wiped the blood away with the back of his hand. "Is there something I can help you with?"

"Father, please," Ryssa begged, running across the room. She took his arm before he could advance on Acheron again. "I went to him on my arrival. Acheron did nothing wrong. It’s my fault, not his."

The king leveled one bony finger in a condemning gesture at Acheron. "You are to stay away from my daughter. Do you hear me? If I catch you near her again, I’ll make you wish you’d never been born."

Acheron laughed bitterly. "That would be different from a normal day, how?"

Ryssa put herself in front of their father as he started for Acheron. "Stop it, Father. Please. You had questions about Apollo. Should we not focus on that?"

He cast a superior, condemning sneer at Acheron. "You’re not worth my time."

With that, he hauled Ryssa out of the room. "Seal his door shut. He can go without food this day."

Acheron leaned back against the wall and shook his head. If his father wanted to control him with food, he should have spent more time with Estes. That bastard had known how to hold food over him.

His gut tightened at the memory of his begging Estes for even a drop of water to slake his thirst.

"You’ve earned nothing and nothing is what you’ll have . . . Now get on your knees and please me, then we’ll see if you’re worthy of salt."

Squeezing his eyes shut, he forced the images away. He hated begging and crawling. But the only thing that would make it go away was the memory of the goddess who’d claimed him.

"Artemis?" he whispered her name in fear that someone might actually hear him call her. Honestly he expected her to ignore him as everyone else did.

She didn’t.

She appeared before him. Acheron’s jaw opened ever so slightly in shock. Her long red hair appeared to glisten in the dim light. Her eyes were vibrant and warm and welcoming. There was nothing about her demeanor that condemned or mocked him. "How do you feel?" she asked.

"Better with you here."

A small smile toyed at the edges of her lips. "Really?"

He nodded.

Her smile widened as she approached his bed and crawled across him.

Acheron closed his eyes as the sweet smell of her skin filled his head. He wanted to bury his face in her hair and just inhale it. Straddling his hips, she brushed the hair back from his neck before she fingered the skin she’d bitten.

"You’re very strong for a human."

"They trained me for stamina."

Ignoring his comment, she frowned. "You’re still not looking at me."

"I see you, Artemis." And he did. He saw every single line of her face, every curve of her luscious body.

She took his face in her hands and turned his chin until he was facing her squarely. Still Acheron kept his gaze on her knees that poked out from underneath her dress. "Look at me."

Acheron wanted to run. He’d spent his entire life never looking directly at anyone except for those times when he wanted them to see his defiance. And any time he dared that, he’d been brutalized for it.

"Acheron . . . Look. At. Me."

Bracing himself for her attack, he obeyed. His heart stilled as every part of his body tensed in expectation of being hurt.

Artemis sat back on his groin with a pleased expression. "There now. That wasn’t so hard was it?"

Harder than she could ever imagine, but as each second passed and she didn’t slap him for looking at her, he relaxed a bit more.

She smiled. "I like your eyes. They’re strange, but very pretty."

Pretty? His eyes? They were disgusting. Everyone, including Ryssa, was afraid of them. "You don’t mind my looking at you?"

"Not at all. At least this way I know you’re paying attention to me. I don’t like the way your eyes dance around the room as if you’re distracted."

That was a first for him. "How could anything ever distract me while you’re with me? I assure you, whenever you’re around, all I see is you."

She beamed in satisfaction. "Now why did you call me?"

"I’m not sure. Truthfully, I didn’t think you’d come. I only whispered your name, hoping you might answer."

"You’re such a silly human. Are you stuck inside again today?"

He nodded.

"We can’t have that. Come." The word had barely left her lips before they were once more in her bedroom.

Acheron was again dressed in red, which was odd given that everything else was white or gold. "Why do you always put me in crimson?"

She bit her lip as she walked around him, dragging her finger over his body. "I like the way you look in it." She paused before him so that she could lift herself on her toes and kiss him.

Acheron gave her what she wanted. It was always in his training to please whoever he was with. To take nothing for himself. His needs never mattered. He was only a tool to be used and then forgotten.

But with Artemis he didn’t feel like that. As with Ryssa, she made him feel like he was a person-that he could have his own thoughts and it wasn’t wrong. He could look at her and she didn’t curse him.

Artemis sighed as Acheron pulled her close. She loved the way he held her. The way his muscles rippled around her body. He was so handsome and strong. So seductive. All she wanted was to be alone with him like this. To feel his heart beating against her br**sts.

His breath mixed with hers. She could feel her teeth growing as her hunger for him increased even more . . .

She pulled back and met his gaze so that he could see the real her. He didn’t even blink at her fangs. Instead, he tilted his head and offered her what she wanted most. No one had ever been so accommodating before. Normally she fed from her brother or one of her maidens. But they didn’t care for it.

Her heart racing, she brushed her hands over his neck before she sank her teeth deep.

Acheron hissed as pain spread through his body. But it was quickly replaced by a pleasure so profound that it made his c**k harden. Weakened by it, he staggered back. Artemis followed, gripping him even tighter.

His head swam as everything around him became sharp and clear. He felt her breath on his skin, heard her blood pumping through her veins. Every part of him seemed alive. So strong and yet so weak. He staggered again, falling against the wall behind him.