The Darkest Craving (Page 37)

The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)(37)
Author: Gena Showalter

Had he talked to Taliyah and followed Kane here?

One female and three males formed a circle around William. Kane recognized each. White, the female, and her brothers, Red, Black and Green. In hell, Red and Black had rescued him from Disaster’s minions, but rather than setting him free, they’d bound him, hoping to learn his secrets—whatever those were—then kill him to prevent him from hooking up with their sister. As long as they’d lived in hell, as many horrors as they’d seen, they’d come to hate demons with every fiber of their beings. It was a sentiment Kane shared. But they’d made the mistake of lumping him in the same category as Disaster and that he resented.

Then, of course, Green and White had found him and walked away, leaving him to his agony until Tink had found him.

He owed all four a little payback. With knives.

The five-person gang smoked cigars and drained shots of whiskey as they studied their cards. Synda tugged from Kane’s hold and skipped to the bar, where she ordered “my regular.” Tink remained by his side, unsure.

“What are you doing here?” Kane demanded.

“What else? You forced me!” she snapped.

“Not you, sweetheart.”

William glanced up, grinned and waved him over, not the least surprised to see him. “Kane, my boy. We’re playing hard. But not as hard as you, it seems. Two women? Really? I’m shocked Kanie the Prude can manage so much estrogen at the same time.”

White and her brothers looked over at him. In unison, the three guys pushed back their chairs and stood, glaring at him with murderous rage. White went back to studying her cards.

“Down,” William commanded easily. “Now isn’t the time for a battle royale.”

“When?” Red insisted.

“When I say so. I feel like finishing our game first.” Though William wore a T-shirt that read DADD: Dudes Against Daughters Dating, and it was difficult to take him seriously, the three obeyed without protest. But even still, Kane was never taken out of their cross hairs.

Black cracked his knuckles. “Today, demon, you die.”

He couldn’t help but grumble, “I wish you had rotted in hell, I really do.”

“I’m getting the impression he doesn’t like us,” White said, blowing out a puff of smoke. She flipped her cascade of pale hair over her shoulder. “I’m very okay with that.”

“What are you playing?” Synda asked, closing the distance and, without waiting for an invitation, plopping herself on Red’s lap.

Uncharacteristically patient, the dark-haired male with eyes of the cruelest blue settled her more comfortably against him and began to explain the game.

In that moment, Kane knew she couldn’t be the female for him, no matter that she was the keeper of Irresponsibility, and no matter what the Moirai had meant. He felt no sense of jealousy or possession.

Would there be consequences if she was the one and he blew her off? Maybe.

Did he care? No.

The woman in Danika’s painting had been blonde. White was also blonde, but while William’s daughter was lovely and strong, Kane absolutely despised her and that wasn’t going to change.

Tink, however, continued to interest him greatly. But if she was the one for him, why did he continue to ache when he neared her? And who was the blonde in the painting? What did she mean to him?

Kane pulled up a chair beside William, and forced Tink to sit in his lap. He wanted her nearby, wanted his hands on her to prevent her from running, and wanted to ensure every man knew to keep his grubby paws off her. The action ensured Kane received all three at once. Screw the pain, he thought. Yeah, it had bothered him less today, but now, he just flat-out didn’t care.

“How’d they get free of hell?” he asked, even as Disaster screamed a protest about the seating arrangement.

William shrugged his massive shoulders before tossing his cards on the table. He faced Kane. “I thought you could use a bit of help. You didn’t want your friends knowing what you were up to, so my own brood of vipers was my only option.”

“That tells me nothing.”

“Nor was it meant to. I sprang them early, and that’s all you need to know.”

“Fair enough. But answer me this. Why are you playing cards with them instead of helping me?”

Another shrug. “We heard about your engagement, and figured all was well.”

“You could have checked in.”

“Yeah. I could have, and I even thought about it. And it’s the thought that counts, right?”

“No. No, it’s not.”

William claimed a cigar from White, and took a drag. Smoke puffed around him as he said, “Clearly I have more faith in you than you have in yourself. You’re welcome.”

Ashes drifted from the cigar and should have fallen to the floor. Disaster ensured they fell on Kane’s arm and leg, burning little holes in his clothing and singeing his skin.

Tink pressed a hand against her heart. “That’s so sweet of you to say, sir. What a kind man you are.”

Kane looked at her and did a double take. She was serious, he realized, and she was gazing at William as if he were everything she’d ever wanted but had never really thought she could have. Razors of jealousy cut through Kane and calmed the demon.

“Did you hear stories about him, too?” he demanded.

“No. I can just tell you’re lucky to have a friend like him.”

“William’s not sweet,” he gritted. “I’ve seen the bloody results of his temper tantrums.”

“And I’ve heard of the bloody results of yours,” she quipped.

William beamed up at her. “I like you.”

“I’m glad, because I have a proposition for you,” she said to him.

“No, she doesn’t.” Kane squeezed her tight, silencing her.

“Go on. I’m listening,” William prompted.

“The night I left you in that club, I went looking for a key into Séduire,” Kane said before Tink could decide to talk over him. She was stubborn like that. “All the while, you clearly already had one.”

“Nah. I would have flashed here, but I had to buy one for my kiddies,” the warrior said.

“By buy he means steal,” Red said, not even bothering to look over at them. “And by steal I mean kill for.”

Stated so simply, it was a testament to the hardness of the warrior’s heart. To the savage lengths these men would go to get what they wanted. Bring it.