No Mercy (Page 15)

No Mercy (Dark-Hunter #19)(15)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"’Cause I’m betting Dev has some shit he wants to drag me into and you can friggin’ forget it, Bear." There was no missing the venom in that deep masculine tone. "I’m done with you and your sister and don’t even mention that worthless Wolf’s name to me ’cause I’m not your bitch and I ain’t leaving here. Stick a fork in me, Bear, ’cause I repeat, I am done. D to the O and you know the rest so get the hell out of my club before I feed you to my boys."

Dev laughed as he turned to face the demon who’d flashed in behind them. "Nice seeing you too, Xedrix. Always a pleasure."

"Yeah, for you. Never for me."

Sam had to force herself not to gape at the spectacle in front of her.

With swirling blue skin and black hair, Xedrix dwarfed Dev’s height. Something that wasn’t easy to do. Dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, Xedrix had a pair of oversized wings that twitched behind him. Whether it was from a need to attack or fly or strictly from irritation, she wasn’t sure. But there was no missing the malice in his glowing eyes.

The strangest thing, though, was that even with a small pair of horns jutting out of his head and his short black hair that was tousled from sleep, the demon was incredibly beautiful and very masculine. There was just something about him that made you want to reach out and touch him.

Weird.

Xedrix narrowed his stare on her. "Why you bring a Dark-Hunter here, Bear? You know how we feel about them and they’re not even on the menu, which double sucks for us."

"We have Daimons after us."

That got Xedrix to widen his eyes. Several of the demons dropped from the ceiling. They twisted in midair so that they landed gracefully on their feet around Xedrix.

Their happy expressions were almost comical. "Dinner!" The tallest one started licking his lips in eager expectation as he high-fived one of the other demons.

The shortest one shook his head. "No. Snack time. Unless there’s a bunch of them. Let’s hope there is."

"Need some sauce," the orange demon said to the other two. He shoved at the short red one. "Ceres, grab a bottle. Extra hot."

Xedrix held his hand up to silence them. "We’re not lucky enough for home delivery, guys. Trust me. They won’t come here."

The demons around him actually pouted.

Ceres didn’t seem to buy his argument. "One of them might be stupid. Daimons not real bright. They could come here. Maybe we could lure them in with a tourist or two?"

The tall one brightened. "We could tie some Dark-Hunters outside as bait."

They all seemed to like that thought.

Except Xedrix, who rolled his eyes. "They’re not that dumb. Believe me and you tie a Dark-Hunter outside, Acheron will go Atlantean on us and the last thing we want is to be sent home to mama. Or do you guys really want to go back into slavery under the Destroyer’s not-so-delicate fist?"

"Fine," Ceres said petulantly, his wings drooping. "Should have known it was too good to be true." He sighed.

The demons shot back to their places in the rafters, but not before they muttered a few choice insults for Dev getting their hopes up.

Sam looked at them as they wrapped their wings around themselves and seemed to cocoon into the ceiling. That was interesting…Odd, but intriguing.

Xedrix stood with his hands on his hips. "Why you here, Bear?"

"The Daimons want Sam. I don’t know why–"

"Duh." Xedrix gestured at her. "She’s their mortal enemy. Of course they want her. In pieces, I’m sure."

Dev shook his head. "That’s just it. They don’t want her dead. They’ve tried twice now to kidnap–"

"You both realize that I’m right here and I don’t need either of you talking about me like I’m mentally defective, right? I can speak for myself."

At least Dev had the decency to look sheepish. "Sorry, Sam. We know. I’m just trying to get Xedrix on our side." He looked back at the demon. "They want her alive. Do you have any idea why?"

"’Cause she’d be tastier that way?"

Sam ignored the demon and scowled at Dev. "Why are you asking him that? He’s not a Daimon."

Dev gave her a droll stare. "He used to live with Stryker and serve Stryker’s mistress in hell so he might have some indication why they’re after you."

Xedrix made a rude sound. "They’re not exactly my favorite people and I have no idea why they’d be after her. Bad luck?"

"Xed…"

"Don’t growl at me, Bear. It’s early and I haven’t eaten yet." He passed a pointed look at both of them as if sizing them for his pot.

Dev let out a deep sigh. "What ever they want her for, you have to figure it’s not good. For any of us. I need someplace safe to keep her until night."

Xedrix pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "The door’s that way."

"Show her to a guest room."

Xedrix flashed his fangs at the soft, gentle voice.

Sam looked past him to see a tiny, ethereal woman. Her features were pale and absolutely stunning. Her blond hair seemed to glow and her eyes…white and vibrant, they were truly eerie.

Xedrix didn’t appear all that happy to see her either. "Kerryna…you should still be asleep."

She approached him slowly and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder before she rose on her tiptoes to lovingly kiss his cheek. "My fierce protector. Don’t worry. I’m fine." She held her hand out to Sam. "I’m Xedrix’s mate, Kerryna."

"Sam." She looked down at Kerryna’s peace offering and cringed. Even though her powers were down, she still didn’t want to chance pulling something out of the demon’s past. "Sorry I can’t touch you. Not to be offensive. My powers won’t allow that."

Kerryna dropped her arm. "Understood and no offense taken."

Xedrix pulled Kerryna’s hand in his and held it against his heart as he glared at Sam and Dev. "You bring war to my family and I will eat both your hearts…without sauce."

The way he said that, Sam had a feeling it meant something.

Dev inclined his head to Xedrix. "Got it."

Sam hesitated as she had a memory flash in her mind from the night Dev’s parents had died. It was brief, gone in an instant, but clear. She frowned at Xedrix. "You fought with us when the wolves attacked Sanctuary. But you were human then." Which was why she hadn’t recognized him. His features had been similar, but the differences without the marbled blue skin were marked.

In one heartbeat, Xedrix turned from a demon into a handsome human with black hair and no wings that she remembered from the battle. "Not human. I just looked like one. Kind of hard to walk around the streets in my real form. Halloween notwithstanding. It tends to freak out the humans and I don’t want to deal with their crap."

"Unless you barbecue them," Ceres called down from the ceiling. "Then humans are quite tasty."

Xedrix looked up at him. "So are Charontes who don’t mind their own business."

Ceres covered himself completely with his wings.

Xedrix returned his attention to Sam and Dev. "And if I kill the humans, I violate the treaty that allows us to stay here and we all get sent back to Daimon hell to serve the biggest bitch-goddess you ever met." He started for the stairs that were set off in the far corner of the bar. "Now follow me."

As they moved across the floor, Sam realized something. She was walking barefoot and not picking up anything from the floor.

How odd.

Her head was still completely quiet. Was it from Dev or something the Charonte did? She had no idea, but she was grateful for it. It was really nice to live as a normal human again.

Even for a few minutes. For that alone, it was worth being a Daimon magnet. But the madness did need to cease soon–she was tired of them popping in without an invitation.

Rude, insensitive bastards.

Xedrix took them to a small room halfway down the upstairs hall where there was a bed, a chest of drawers, and a small nightstand with an old-style electric lamp. One that was decorated in pinks and Victorian frills–very feminine and sweet–a complete dichotomy to the testy, overtly masculine demon.

Pausing in the door frame, Kerryna gestured toward the door over her shoulder. "Our room is just across the hall if you need anything."

Xedrix made a noise of protest, but Kerryna ignored him.

Sam tensed as she heard the sudden cry of a toddler wanting its mother coming from the room next to theirs.

Kerryna vanished immediately while Xedrix’s look turned even more fierce. "Like I said, Bear, you bring war to my family and I will make sure it’s the last mistake you make."

Dev held his hands up. "Peace, brother. I would never hurt anyone’s family. You know that."

His features stern, Xedrix closed their door and vanished.

Sam pushed away the pain inside her as the toddler stopped crying. Bittersweet memories washed through her, making her wish again for one more second of time with her daughter. Gods, how aggravating those cries had seemed at the time, especially when Agaria had colic. Sam had feared she’d lose her mind as she dreamed of a time when she wouldn’t hear that sound ever again.

Now she’d give anything to hear it one more time. To be able to carry her screaming infant and rock her through the night even with frazzled nerves and sleep deprivation.

If only she’d known at the time just how precious it was, she’d have savored every heartbeat and headache. Every messy diaper…

She flinched, wishing mistakes had a do-over. It was the cruelest act of Fate that there was no rewind at all.

And thinking of the past achieved nothing. So she made herself focus on the present and what was important now. "Kerryna’s not a Charonte, is she?"

Dev shook his head as he made sure there was no window under the faux curtains that opened onto a brick wall. "No. The Charonte are Atlantean. Kerryna’s a Sumerian dimme demon."

Now that was a combination you didn’t find often and there had to be a story in how the two of them had met and ended up mated with a child. "How did she get to New Orleans?" It was a long way here from ancient Sumeria.

Dev turned to face her. "Like you, she was being chased by her enemies and wound up here. Actually that’s an oversimplification. Kerryna and her sisters are fierce killing machines and they were cursed and bound."

Ah, now that didn’t sound good. "Where are her sisters?"

"They’re still trapped. She alone escaped."

"And she’s okay with that?"

Dev laughed. "Yeah, freaky, huh? Apparently family togetherness wasn’t her forte. I’m not sure what drew her to New Orleans, but once here, she met the Charonte and more to the point, Xedrix. Somehow they settled in and decided to protect her. Makes me glad I’m not a demon. ‘Cause I don’t want to know what kind of funky monkey stuff went down that they let her in…if you know what I mean and I know that you do."

Sam let out a "heh" at his semi-humorous words. "And her enemies? Are they still after her?"

"Probably, but only a fool would try to pull her out of a home filled with Charontes ready to lay down their lives for her."

That made the least amount of sense to her. "Where did they come from? Why are the Charonte here in the middle of the city?"

He laughed. "Mardi Gras, baby. Mardi Gras. Time when all manner of weird shit cuts loose and parties down."

"Dev…"

He sobered before he gave her the real answer. "A few years back, one of the gods opened the portal between their realm and this one, wanting to unleash destruction on the world. They escaped and Acheron sealed it, then allowed them to stay. They’ve been living here happily ever since."

"Even though they were going to destroy us?"

"Well, not them per se. Their mistress was. They were just following orders and now that they’re here, they obey Acheron, who set up the rules they have to follow–such as no eating humans–or he’ll send them back to their realm. They’ve been here for a while so the arrangement seems to be working." He gave her a cute grin.

Shaking her head, Sam was still trying to get a handle on all of this. "And how do you know them?"

"They tried to eat my kid brother, Kyle, who talked them out of it. He showed them how to start a club and function in the human world as normal citizens–the hanging from the ceiling thing notwithstanding. They’ve been friendly with us ever since…at least most of the time."

Sam sighed. "This town is so strange."

Dev laughed as he pulled her to him. "Yes, but…there’s no place else quite as exciting."

True. Very true.

He traced the line of her lips with his finger. "We’ve got to find out what the Daimons want from you."

"Well, we both know it’s not world peace."

"Definitely not." Dev traced the line from her mouth up to the corner of her eyes. "Are you aware of the fact that your eyes are green?"

Sam gasped. "What?"

"Your eyes are green."

She pulled away from him to run to the mirror. Sure enough he was right. No wonder she’d been unable to pull anything from the floor. She had no Dark-Hunter powers left. The very fact that she could see herself in the mirror was testament to that. To help them retain their stealth while they hunted, no Dark-Hunter could cast a reflection unless they used their powers to do it.