Acheron (Page 37)

Acheron (Dark-Hunter #15)(37)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Weeping, Ryssa held him close as she ached for him. She would kill anyone who ever hurt her son like this. Even her own father. But Acheron had never known such love, such care, and that broke her heart even more. "Sleep in peace, little brother. Sleep in peace."

Wiping away her tears, she left him alone and went to check on Apollodorus. For the rest of the day she held her son close, promising him that he would never be left alone in the world. That she would always love him and protect him from anyone out to do him harm.

If only their mother had made such a promise to Acheron.

October 27, 9528 BC

Acheron lay in bed with the tip of his nose itching so badly it actually overrode the rest of his pain. He’d sell his soul if only he could scratch it. A bright flash to his left drew his attention.

It was Artemis. Dressed in white, she was as beautiful as always and he hated her for it.

His stomach knotted in anger that she’d finally remembered him. "What are you doing here?"

"I was bored."

He scoffed at her petulance and the fact that she’d come to him now. "I’m afraid I can’t entertain you anymore. I’m no longer capable of it."

She pulled the sheet off him and curled her lip at what they’d done to his groin. "Ew! What did they do?"

He closed his eyes as humiliation washed over him. "They emasculated me. Remember? I was even stupid enough to ask for your help."

"Oh, that." She snapped her fingers.

Acheron gasped as even more pain tore through his groin. It ached so badly it took his breath and brought tears to his eyes.

"See? You’re all better."

His breathing ragged, he was still on fire.

"Your hair’s longer."

Was that all she cared about? His hair was longer? It was a good thing he couldn’t move, otherwise he might have gone for her throat over that comment.

"Why are you chained?"

If she asked one more stupid f**king question, he really was going to strangle her. "To keep me from trying to kill myself."

"Why would you do that?"

Acheron ground his teeth. What good would it do to even try to explain it? She couldn’t care less. She hadn’t cared less when he’d begged her to do it for him. Except for the fact that she’d be bored and might actually have to try and find another man to jump on top of. Gods forbid someone else’s c**k might actually satisfy her. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. Not so much presently."

She gave him an annoyed glare. "I shall have to get them to release you. I swear, you’re more trouble than you’re worth. Wait here."

As if he had a choice? "Don’t worry," he called out after she’d vanished. "I can’t even get up to piss."

And his nose was still itching.

It wasn’t long before his father entered the room to glare at him in displeasure. What else was new?

As always, the king looked freshly groomed. His blond hair was perfectly combed and his white robes gleamed in the sunlight.

Acheron met his scowl unflinchingly. "Can I help you?"

His father’s blue eyes lit with fury. "What more has to be done to teach you your place?"

His place? That should be as his father’s heir. It should be one of a revered prince.

Instead, he was lying chained down on a bed, his nak*dness only concealed by the bloodied sheet Artemis had tossed back on top of him so she wouldn’t have to see the butcher’s handiwork. He was filthy from lack of washing and no doubt his hair was as ragged as his beard.

Acheron looked away. "I know my place."

His father kicked the bed. So much for Artemis getting him freed.

"The maids are sick of cleaning up your filth, not that I blame them. For that reason, you’re being set free. But if you do anything else stupid, I swear by all the gods that I’ll chain you to a wall in the dungeon and leave you there to rot."

He’d already done that to him.

"Don’t worry, Father. I’ll stay out of your way."

"You better." He gestured for the guards behind him to remove the shackles.

Finally, Acheron could scratch his nose again. He’d barely finished it before Styxx entered the room and tossed a pale blue garment at him.

Acheron frowned until he realized it was one of Ryssa’s gowns.

Styxx laughed. "I thought you might want something to match the new you."

His gaze turned red in anger.

Before he could think better of it, Acheron was off the bed. He tackled Styxx to the floor and pounded his head against the stone, wanting to shatter it like a melon. He got in a good six solid whacks until the guards pulled him off Styxx’s stomach.

Acheron fought them with everything he had, but they held his arms twisted behind his back so that there wasn’t much he could do except curse them. Thank you, Artemis, for rescinding your gift.

Chapter 17

Styxx came off the floor with a furious curse of his own. He grabbed their father’s sword and would have killed Acheron had their father not stopped him.

"Take him out and beat him," his father snarled.


Acheron looked up to see Ryssa in the doorway.

His father’s expression was one of complete disbelief. "What did you say?"

She folded her arms over her chest and stood strong and determined in the center of the opened doors. "You heard me, Father. I said no."

The king’s face flushed with fury. "You do not tell me what to do, woman."

"You’re right," she said calmly. "I can’t order you about. I have no power over you, but as the mistress of Apollo, I do have some say in what he does and who he pacifies, especially in regards to my own family . . ." She glanced meaningfully from him to Styxx and back again. "I’m sick of Acheron’s abuse. No more."

The king gestured to Styxx. "Look at your brother. He’s bleeding."

She looked at Acheron and nodded. "He’s bled more than his share."

"Styxx is bleeding."

Her gaze went to the gown on the floor. "And for his cruelty I’d say he received a light sentence."

Styxx glared at her. "One day, Ryssa, I will be your king. You’d do well to remember that."

She met his angry sneer levelly. "And I’m the mother of a demigod. You’d do well to remember that, brother."

Styxx shoved her aside as he walked out of the room. Their father shook his head. "Women," he snarled before he left them alone.

Ryssa moved forward and snatched the gown from the floor before she wadded it into a ball. "I would apologize for him, but there’s no excuse to be found." She snorted. "I only wish I could have used that argument to save you earlier. Little do they know Apollo couldn’t care less what I thought. But that will be our secret, won’t it?"

Acheron shrugged as he moved to the bed and pulled the sheet around him to cover his nudity from his sister’s gaze. "I’d only be shocked if Father showed me anything other than contempt."

She let out another long, sad breath. "Should I have a tray of food sent to the bathing room for you?"

He shook his head. "I have no intention of going there again."

"You have to bathe."

Not really. Maybe if he stank enough no one would bother him anymore. But he wasn’t willing to argue with his sister. "You should go and rest while Apollodorus doesn’t need you."

She gave him a gentle hug before she left.

Ryssa had barely closed the door before Artemis stepped out of the shadows.

She smiled at him. "Say thank you, Artemis."

"Only if I can say it through gritted teeth."

She gaped at him as if she couldn’t believe his anger. "You’re not grateful?"

Acheron threw his hands up in surrender. "I don’t want to fight with you, Artie. Honestly. I just want to lick my wounds for a while."

She materialized at his back and pulled him against her. "I’d rather lick them for you." She dipped her hand down to cup him.

Cringing over her caress, Acheron pulled her hand away from his groin. "Given that it’s been less than a week since I had my nuts cut out, Artemis, I’m not in the mood."

She made a sound of disgust. "Don’t be such a baby. You’re intact now. Let’s celebrate by putting them to use." She blew in his ear.

Acheron jerked away from her. Naturally, she followed him.

Just give her what she wants. Otherwise this would only continue to the point she’d get angry and probably attack him. I would rather have my eyes gouged out.

Of course, they’d only regrow which made him wonder if his balls wouldn’t have done the same thing even without Artemis’s help.

Honestly, there was no use in fighting this. It wasn’t like he hadn’t been forced to have sex with people he detested before. All an argument would do was delay the inevitable and get him hurt again.

You might as well get it over with as quickly as possible.

He turned to face her. "Where do you want me?"

The words had barely left his lips before he found himself on his back, in her bed with her nak*d on top of him.

"I’ve missed you, Acheron."

He cringed as she sank her teeth into his neck and then he did what he always did. He pleased her and took nothing for himself.

She didn’t even notice except to say that she liked it when they weren’t as messy as they were whenever he ejaculated. Now he lay holding her while she purred in satisfaction.

And Acheron was still empty inside.

Artemis sat up and wrapped a sheet around herself. "You better go back now. Hades is hosting a party in Zeus’s temple tonight and I have to make an appearance."

He didn’t even have time to open his lips before he was back in his room alone-like a discarded piece of furniture she was through with for the time being. He went to the washing bowl and poured a little water out of the pitcher to clean himself with and shave, then he dressed.

Soul sick, he considered going to a play, but why bother? It would take much more than that to ease what was hurt inside him. And as he looked around his prison, his gaze was drawn to the wine that Ryssa had brought. Unfortunately it wasn’t strong enough to fill the empty hole that burned.

Grabbing his coin purse and cloak, he left the palace and went to the street where all the stews in town were relegated. It didn’t take long to find his old merchant. Short and plump, the man was bald with a mouth full of rotten teeth, and standing on a corner outside the worst brothel in town.

Euclid smiled the moment he saw him approach. "Acheron, it’s been a long time."

"Greetings. You have any Morpheus Root?"

He licked his lips greedily. "Of course I do. How much do you want?"

"I’ll take everything you have."

He arched a brow at that. "You got enough coin?"

Acheron held his purse out to him.

Impressed, Euclid pulled out a small wooden arc from the wheeled cart that to the uninitiated or naive appeared to hold only rags. He handed the arc to Acheron for his inspection. Acheron opened it and lifted the herbs to his nose. The pungent lavender wasn’t enough to overwhelm the herb that would ease him.

Acheron closed it. "My thanks. I’ll need the cord and pots for it as well."

Euclid handed them over in exchange for more coin. "I’ll have more of it next week. Anytime you need some, let me know and if you haven’t the coin for it, I’m sure the two of us could work something out." He dragged one dirty finger down the side of Acheron’s face.

He didn’t know why that offended him. After all it was a common practice for whores to barter their bodies for supplies, but for some reason it cut him deep. "Thanks, Euclid." Pulling his cowl lower, he made his way through the dark alleys back to the palace and his room.

There in the darkness, he opened the lid and mixed the herbs together. Strange how he could still recall the exact amounts to use.

"Inhale this, boy. It’ll make it all so much more pleasant for you."

His gut tightened as he heard Estes’s voice in his head. The first time he’d been given this, his uncle had held him on the ground and forced him to breathe it in. After that, Acheron had needed very little coaxing. His uncle had been right, it’d made everything much more tolerable since it took away all of his conscience and fight. It’d made him a mindless supplicant to whatever deviant act they wanted to perform on him.

He lit the herbs and blew on them ever so slightly to get them charred to the right amount so that the fumes would be potent enough. Closing his eyes, he picked up the clay mask and held it to his nose, then inhaled until everything that hurt stopped.

His head swimming, he stumbled to his bed and lay down so that he could watch the ceiling tilt and spin.

Apostolos? Where are you?

"Hello, voices," he breathed. They were always louder when he was high.

We want you to come home, Apostolos. Tell us where to find you.

He looked around the room and sighed. "I’m in a dark room."


Acheron laughed, then rolled over onto his stomach and groaned at the sensation of the coarse linen brushing against his body. He drew a ragged breath as his c**k hardened. Artemis had thrown him out too soon. The drug was making him incredibly horny.

Then again, she didn’t really care for the mess he made. Every time he came in her bed, she wrinkled up her nose distastefully. It was why it was easier for him to just screw her and please himself later when he was alone.