How she hated that man. But most of all, she hated herself for putting her trust in someone and allowing him to deceive her so completely.
She would never be so stupid again.
Narrowing her eyes on Alexion, she opened the door wider to watch him. His modern clothes looked rather out of place in a room she had fashioned into an exact copy of the one she’d grown up in. The hand-carved Baroque bed had been imported from Paris and was decked out in bloodred and gold pillows and comforter. Gold draperies fell from the padded half-tester. She’d spent a lot of time choosing the antiques for this room.
It was the last of her world and in many ways a time capsule. In here she sometimes thought that she could glimpse sight of her father… hear the faint laughter of her siblings.
Mon Dieu, how she missed them all.
Grief swelled inside her, but she held it back. There was no need in crying. She’d shed enough tears over the centuries to fill the Atlantic.
The past was the past and this was the present. Tears would not bring her family back and they would not alter her life in any way. All she could do was move onward and upward, and make sure that no one ever deceived her again.
For now, Alexion was the present and he was her enemy.
He stood before the small Neoclassical-style dressing table, holding the egg carefully in his large hand as if he understood how much she loved her collectibles. In spite of herself, she was struck by the gentleness of his touch as he closed it and returned it to its stand.
He was incredibly handsome standing there and her body reacted to him with an intensity that surprised her. It wasn’t like her to be attracted to someone she had just met. Hot Hollywood actors in movies and magazines notwithstanding, she normally had to be around a guy a long time before she felt such a strong, potent desire for his body. If she ever felt desire for him. Most of the time, she could take or leave any man.
But she actually wanted to reach out and touch him. And that never happened.
Alexion felt her presence like a sizzling caress. It was as if she made contact with his soul every time she drew near him. Something that was completely impossible since he hadn’t owned a soul in more than nine thousand years.
He didn’t know what it was about her, but his body reacted wildly to her presence. Turning, he found her in the doorway, watching him with a wary, almost angry expression.
She was afraid of him and pissed at herself for that fear, he could feel it deep inside himself. But she was trying hard to disguise it.
He could respect her for that.
In the end, she was wise to fear him. He could kill her as easily as he blinked. Yet he didn’t want to hurt her.
For some strange reason, he didn’t even want her to fear him, and that was something he’d never experienced before. Usually when he was in human form, he used that fear to his advantage to intimidate the Dark-Hunters and bring them back in line. He had the powers of a full god within him. The ability to take any life he chose…
He could hear and see things that were far beyond the comprehension of man, Apollite, or Dark-Hunter.
And yet as he stood there, only one thing echoed in his head-the sound of her laughter. He’d heard her laughing earlier this very evening as she fought with the Daimons. It was a lush, musical sound that rolled out from her. Hearty.
He wanted to hear it again.
"I mean you no harm, Dangereuse."
She stiffened defiantly. "The name’s Danger," she corrected. "I haven’t gone by Dangereuse in a long time."
He inclined his head to her. He knew from his research into her background that she’d been named for the grandmother of Eleanor of Aquitaine whom her mother had adored. A great duchess who’d lived life solely on her own terms and who had flouted societal rules. It was a name that suited the petite woman in front of him. "Forgive me."
His apology did nothing to soothe her. "And just so you know, I’m not afraid of you."
He smiled at her brave words. She was a tough, no-nonsense woman and he wondered if she had been like that as a human. But he somehow doubted it. The world she had been born into wouldn’t have tolerated such a whirlwind personality from the fairer sex.
No doubt they would have quashed her rebelliousness, not embraced it.
She took a step into the room. Her dark eyes were piercing as they searched him for some weakness.
Good luck, ma petite. I haven’t any.
"So, what’s your story?" she asked. "You say you’re Ash’s Squire. Are you a Blue Blood, Blood Rites, or what?"
Alexion bit back a smile at her question. Blue Bloods were Squires who came from long generations of Squires. Blood Rites were the Squires who were charged with assuring that the rules of their world were followed. They protected the Dark-Hunters and were a police force for other Squires. Of course, he had been serving Acheron since before the Squires’ Council had existed. He wasn’t a true Squire. He was Acheron’s Alexion, an Atlantean term that had no real translation into English.
Basically, he would do whatever was necessary to protect Acheron and Simi. And he truly meant "whatever."
He had no conscience. No morals. In his world, the only right was Acheron’s will. It governed everything about him. Yes, he could and did argue with Acheron at times, but at the end of it all, he was Acheron’s protector. He would always do what was in Acheron’s best interest no matter the personal or physical cost to himself.
Yet he couldn’t tell her the truth of his status. Only he, Simi, Artemis, and Acheron would ever know of his real relationship to the boss.
"I’m a barnacle chip," he answered in Squire slang, meaning that Acheron had recruited him to be his Squire. In a way, it was almost true.
"How long have you served him?"
He gave a short laugh at that. "It seems like forever most days."
Her dark eyes flashed suspicion and intelligence at him. She was far too bright for her own good. And far too sexy for his.
She still wasn’t through interrogating him as she moved closer to him… so close he could now smell her. Her sweet scent permeated his head and created images of her nak*d and pliant in his bed.
"How is it that you did that little trick with the dagger where you reappeared after I stabbed you?"
One side of his mouth quirked up at her question and he leaned even closer so that he could smell the fragrance of her hair and skin. It went through him like a warm whiskey, shocking and invigorating.
It made his blood hot, his c**k hard.
"Ask me what’s really on your mind, Danger," he said, his voice deepened by his lust. "I don’t like to play games. We both know that I’m not human so let’s not do the polite song and dance while you tiptoe around me trying to figure me out."
Danger seemed to appreciate his frankness even as she shivered at his nearness. She looked up at him from under her lashes. That look made him feel things that he hadn’t felt in a long time. He actually cared that she was confused and uncertain. He wanted to soothe her and that was beyond shocking to him.
"Are you here to spy for Acheron?"
He laughed at the very thought. "No. Trust me, he doesn’t need anyone to spy for him. If he wants to know something, he does."
It took all of his willpower not to reach out and touch her cheek to see if it was as soft as it appeared. Her skin was flawless and tempting. No doubt it would be even softer against his tongue…
"I meant what I said, Danger. Acheron is able to find things out on his own. Spying is the last thing he needs me for."
Danger was getting extremely irritated by her attraction to this man and his own inability to answer her questions. She wasn’t sure if she should kiss him or kick him.
The heat of his look was searing. Unnerving. It was so intense that she could almost feel his hands on her.
She had the most inexplicable desire to nuzzle him. Breathless, she decided to use his own hunger against him. She stood up on her tiptoes and moved so close to him that their cheeks were almost touching. She watched as he closed his eyes and drew in a sharp breath.
When he didn’t pull back, she whispered in his ear. "Why are you really here?"
His voice was deep and thick when he answered. "To protect you."
Danger couldn’t have been more surprised had he come right out and admitted to being Acheron’s destroyer. She moved away from him to put more distance between them. It was hard to think straight while a man was staring at her as if he were picturing her nak*d. "Protect me from what?"
Still those eerie green eyes pierced her with their intense hunger. "Those who would see you dead. You are in a precarious place, Danger. The one who has gone Rogue will kill you instantly if he learns you have betrayed him."
Funny, Kyros had been remarkably understanding about that.
"He can’t kill me and you know it. No Dark-Hunter can harm another."
He arched a brow at her. "You really believe that? There’s nothing that says a Dark-Hunter couldn’t handcuff another to a gate, car, or anything else, and leave them outside for the sunrise. You can’t hurt each other, true. But there are many ways to expose your enemy to the day without endangering yourself."
Oh, now there was one hell of a loophole she’d never thought about. But obviously he had.
"And how did you acquire this information? How many Dark-Hunters have you exposed to daylight after they trusted you?"
He laughed bitterly. "If I wanted you or anyone else dead, Danger, I hardly have to wait for the sun."
"Then what do you want to protect me from?"
He looked away from her. "I can’t tell you that."
"No," he said from between gritted teeth. "Even if I did, you wouldn’t believe me."
They were at an impasse. She wasn’t about to trust him until he gave her a reason to-and probably not even then-and the last thing she wanted was a guy in her house she couldn’t trust. "In that case, you’ll understand if I ask you to stay in a hotel while you’re here spying for Acheron?"
His expression amused, he gave a short, sinister laugh. "You met with Kyros tonight and he tried to sway you to his rebellious cause. Did you believe him?"
How did he know that? That wasn’t exactly something she had broadcast. Sheez. He seemed every bit as omniscient as Acheron and it was starting to piss her off. "I don’t know what you’re talking about."
He closed the distance between them. His presence was mammoth in the room, overpowering and yet strangely comforting. It was as if something inside him was putting off soothing vibes. Not to mention he had pheromones that should be bottled and sold. He was extremely compelling in a most sexual way. Acheron was the only other person she knew who had that strange "do me" factor that enticed everyone who came near him to strip his clothes off and throw him down for a wicked night of play.
What is wrong with me?
She’d never felt lust like this.
"You know," Alexion said in a deep tone that actually made her shiver, "for an actress you certainly can’t lie worth a damn."
She stiffened at his words. "I beg your pardon?"
"You heard me. So what lie did Kyros tell you? I hope he was at least more creative than the ‘old Acheron is a Daimon’ standby."
She didn’t know what surprised her more. The fact that he knew what they’d said about Acheron or the fact that he spoke of Kyros as if he knew the man personally. "How do you know about Kyros?"
"Believe me, I know everything about him."
Danger was even more confused now. Was Alexion telling her the truth? Or was he using the truth about Acheron being a Daimon to distract her? What better way to throw her off than to ridicule what could very well be fact.
Who did she believe? Kyros who seemed delusional or the man before her who seemed homicidal.
She crossed her arms over her chest and watched him closely. "So tell me, is Acheron a Daimon?"
Those eerie green hazel eyes narrowed on her. "What do you think?"
"I don’t know." And that was the honest truth. "It makes sense. He is from Atlantis and we all know that the Daimons are from there originally."
Alexion scoffed at her. "Acheron was born in Greece and grew up in Atlantis. That hardly makes him a Daimon or an Apollite."
Still, there was more evidence to be considered. "He never eats food."
"Are you sure?" he taunted. "Just because he doesn’t eat in front of you, doesn’t mean he doesn’t eat at all."
Okay, so he made her own point for her. It made her feel somewhat better to know that Kyros might be an idiot.
But there was still one piece in all this that didn’t make sense. One piece Alexion had yet to explain. "Then what about you? If Kyros is so wrong, how did he know that you were going to come in here wearing your white coat and trying to pass judgment on all of us, huh?"
Alexion froze at her question. It went through him like shards of glass. "Pardon?"
A smug look came over her face. "You have no answer for that one, do you?"
No, he didn’t. It was impossible that Kyros had learned of him. "How could he know about me? No one knows I exist."
"Then he’s right," she said accusingly. "You are lying to me about your purpose. You’re here to kill us all. You are Acheron’s assassin."