The Darkest Craving (Page 36)

The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)(36)
Author: Gena Showalter

Because, as Kane had realized in the forest, she was his light? Maybe. The memories were his darkness, and darkness had to flee in the presence of light.

Even after she’d sat down, he maintained contact, lingering, marveling, once again fighting an inexplicable need only she was able to stir.

“Kane,” she said, her voice taut, and he forced himself to release her. He climbed inside the carriage. One girl was on the left, one on the right. Embracing the chance to touch Tink again, he picked her up by the waist. So delicate. So feminine. Her gasp of surprise fanned over his skin as he set her beside her sister. Then, he settled into the other bench on his own, now able to watch both females.

“You look pretty today,” Synda said to Tink. And astonishingly enough, she sounded sincere.

This must be one of her sweet moments. Never had he met a person who could change moods so quickly—and he was counting himself. But then, Synda hadn’t yet learned to fight the demon inside her. Darkness drove her. Urges came, and she gave in without stopping to analyze the wisdom of her actions. Emotions came, and she never tried to look past them to the reasons behind them.

She needed help, but she didn’t want it—last night, at dinner, he’d offered and she’d declined.

“I want your body, Lord Kane, not your mind,” she’d said.

He’d shrugged. And yeah, he felt a little guilty about his lack of concern for her. She might just be his destined mate.

No. Impossible. Kane must have misunderstood what the Moirai had said. And what about the prediction William had mentioned? His daughter, White, wedding the man destined to start an apocalypse.

Kane didn’t even want a mate. He wanted…he needed…yeah, some part of him wanted and needed a mate.

For the first time in centuries, he had a reason to hope. He’d watched his friends fall in love, and that love had strengthened them. They’d overcome centuries-old rages and self-loathing simply to become the men their women needed. What if Kane’s mate could help him defeat Disaster? What if she was the key?

The right girl could calm him, soothe him. The right girl mattered. But again, who was the right girl?

The princess, who carried Irresponsibility? Tink, who had spent time in the Never-ending? Or White? The wrong choice could torment him as much as the demon.

What he felt toward Synda was anger and pity.

She didn’t make him want to live, just to be with her.

She didn’t make him forget the trials of his past.

She didn’t make him long for something better.

What he felt toward Tink was…powerful.

She made him eager to achieve his goals.

She made him ache, in body and in soul.

She made him smile.

So, yeah, when he next had sex, it would be with Tink.

When? Whoa.

Had he seriously just thought the word when in conjunction with sex? He’d promised himself he wouldn’t go there with Tink. He would only disappoint her. He would ruin her innocence. Now, he considered her a foregone conclusion?

“You can speak,” Synda was saying to her. “I won’t tell Daddy. Swear.”

“You had better speak,” Kane reiterated. He wouldn’t be able to endure this little jaunt otherwise. “I’ll make sure no blame is cast your way.”

The buggy jolted forward, but Tink remained quiet.

A few minutes later, Synda stood up and said, “Oh, look. There’s the Twenty-fifth,” nearly tumbling out the side of the vehicle. “Hey, Aos Sí Caroline! Look at—hmph.”

Kane grabbed her hand and forced her back into her seat. “Stay,” he commanded. “Don’t move.”

The princess crossed her arms over her middle and pouted. “You’re no fun.”

“I’m devastated you think so. Now, tell me why you called that woman by a number, and what ees-shee means.”

Upset forgotten, Synda giggled like a schoolgirl. “Twenty-five is her number, silly, and Aos Sí is her title.”

Vapid does not even begin to describe. He looked to Tink.

After a lengthy pause, she drew in a deep breath and said, “Every Opulen outside the royal family bears a number. Caroline is twenty-fifth in line for the throne, meaning, she’s the twenty-fifth member of the high court. There are fifty members. All others are part of the lower court, and without a number.”

Was nothing more important than status to the Fae? “And the title?”

“The literal translation of Aos Sí is her people. Every female in the upper class bears such a title. The males are referred to as Daoine Sídhe.”

Good to know. “What’s your number and title?”

Red stained her cheeks; she clamped her lips shut.

“She isn’t an Opulen,” Synda said matter-of-factly.

So…she didn’t have a number or a title. He didn’t like that.

He spent the rest of the fifteen-minute ride drilling the girls with questions. How often had the throne changed hands? Answer: eight times in the history of the Fae. How had the past kings died? Answer: murdered by their successors. Had the race ever been without a king? Answer: never.

The exchange ended when the carriage stopped in front of the first shop in a row of shops. The buildings were comprised of dark stone and some kind of glittery material, with crystal roofs and windows surrounded by ivy, reminding him of something out of a fairy tale.

And…was that William the Panty Melter entering the shop at the end of the street? The…Devil’s Punchbowl, was the name, and it was clearly a tavern.

Kane popped to his feet. “I’ve spotted our first stop,” he said.

He helped the women exit the buggy, cringed against the memories Synda’s touch caused, marveled anew at the mental peace Tink’s wrought, and surged forward. When Synda tried to enter a shoe store, he dragged her away.

“But…” she began.

“The tavern first,” he said, and Synda stopped fighting.

“Why didn’t you say so? I’m always up for a good drink or twelve.”

“You can’t be serious, Kane,” Tink said with a groan. “It’s early morning and you want to get trashed? With the darling of the Fae? I’m going to be blamed for this, I just know it.”

“You’re not going to be blamed,” Kane said. He wouldn’t allow it. Not ever again.

He shouldered the doors open, and scanned the area. He spotted a dark-haired warrior sliding into a seat, claiming a handful of cards, and knew beyond any doubt. Yes, that was indeed William the Ever Randy.