“And slaughter her on our own turf,” William said with a nod, black hair shagging around his supermodel face—or whatever he insisted on calling that ugly mug. “I like it. Simple, yet elegant.” He eased onto the only rock in front of the fire he hadn’t helped build, and dug through his backpack. He withdrew a pistachio nutrition bar he’d stolen from Kane, tore off the wrapper—and ate every bite, never offering Kane a taste.
“That was good. You should have brought one.” William brushed his hands together. He wore a T-shirt that read I’m a Jenius, and that pretty much encapsulated the male’s entire personality. Silly, unconcerned, irreverent. Misleading.
Kane dug through his own pack. He withdrew three daggers, two Sigs and the parts to his long-range rifle. What could a female Phoenix want with him? He knew the race lived for the enslavement of others. He knew they were nearing extinction, many having met their final end. Like cats with nine lives. He knew they were bloodthirsty and war-hungry…but they usually only picked battles they could win.
So confident. Disaster chuckled with evil glee. So wrong.
Kane ignored him. He’d tried engaging the fiend, snapping retorts, issuing threats, but look where that had gotten him. Now, he wasn’t going to waste his time or energy. And why should he? This was a full-on case of dead demon talking.
Suddenly sparks flew from the fire, shooting out white-hot streams in every direction. Grass sizzled, and black smoke billowed. Heat licked over Kane’s pants, blistering his calves.
William scrambled around, patting out the flames. “You’re a menace. You know that, right? Everywhere we go, something terrible happens.”
“I know.” And the worst was yet to come. “To your knowledge, have the Moirai ever had a wrong prediction?”
“Oh, yes,” William said. “Definitely.”
Hope bloomed. “When?” He fit the rifle’s barrel on top of the frame, and the scope on top of that. He inserted the screws and gently tightened. “How?”
“When—too many times to count. How—free will. Our choices dictate our future, nothing else.”
Intelligent words from a Jenius. Go figure. “They think I’m destined to marry the keeper of Irresponsibility.”
“So do it. Hunt her down and marry her.”
William made it sound so easy. Just snap his fingers, and boom. Done. Only one little problem. He had yet to meet the keeper of Irresponsibility.
“I’m not sentencing a woman to an eternity with me.” He attached the bipod and rested the entire weapon on a thick stump.
“What about White?” William grumbled. “I happen to think you’ll end up with her, whether I like it or not.”
White was William’s only daughter, and, if Kane had to take a guess, one of the reasons William had followed him out here. William wanted Kane to stay away from the girl.
“I know you do,” he said. “What I don’t know is why.”
“Simple. I was once told her husband would cause an apocalypse.”
“By the Moirai?”
“One of the Moirai. I slept with Klotho. And both of her sisters.”
“I so did not need to hear that. Dude, they’re ancient.”
“They weren’t at the time,” William said with his classic wanton grin.
“Whatever. What about your whole free-will over fate spiel?”
“I believe you’ll choose her.”
“I hate her.” He remembered how, in hell, she had stood over his bound and mutilated form. Silent. Uncaring. Then, she’d left him to his suffering.
Actually, hate was too soft a word for what he felt for her.
“Maybe I’ll just avoid both women,” he added, “and save myself the trouble.”
“You? Avoid trouble? Ha!”
He gnashed his molars. “I can try. And what will you do if White and I do end up together, huh? You don’t think I’m good enough for her.”
“I certainly don’t. You just slept your way through a baker’s dozen.”
“At your urging.”
“And your point? I didn’t hold a gun to your head.”
In some ways, Disaster had.
“If you two hook up, I’m moving back to hell. I don’t want to clean up her mess,” William said. “And I know she’ll make one. She won’t be able to help herself. It’s her nature.”
William, the adopted brother of the underworld’s king, Lucifer, had once lived in hell. Eventually, the hate, greed, envy and wickedness living in his soul had mated with the vengeance living in his heart. White, as well as her brothers, Red, Black and Green, had spewed from him.
He’d heard demons call them the four horsemen of the apocalypse. But these four were not, not really; they were more like shadows of the originals.
Actually, that’s exactly what they were. Shadow warriors.
They had been birthed in evil, and prophecy claimed they had futures to match. White was to conquer anyone she encountered, before somehow enslaving herself. Red was to bring war, Black famine, and Green death.
Little wonder Kane wanted nothing to do with White. He had enough problems, thanks.
And yes, he knew being conceived in evil had no bearing on the girl herself. He knew those in darkness could find their way to the light. He knew something beautiful could come out of something terrible. After all, diamonds were formed in the mantle of the earth, with horrendous heat and bone-crushing pressure.
He knew. But he didn’t care.
It wasn’t White he longed to see. It wasn’t White he yearned to scent.
It wasn’t White his mind pictured and his treacherous body suddenly responded to, shimmering need flash-flooding him, riding on bolts of lightning. It was Tinker Bell. Sweet, sexy Tinker Bell, with her—
Hands wandering…hot breath fanning over him…moans, groans…
Scowling, he tossed a handful of dirt into the fire. The flames sputtered and died. “You don’t need to worry about me. Like I said, I don’t want to marry anyone.”
“You would be lucky to win White!” William huffed.
The words penetrated Kane’s blooming rage and actually calmed him. One of his brows arched. “Now you want me to make a play for her?”
“No. But you should want me to want you to make a play for her. She’s highly desirable.”
“Well, I don’t want and I won’t ever want.”
“Why? Are your ovaries swollen?”