The Darkest Craving (Page 43)

The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)(43)
Author: Gena Showalter

Trembling, Josephina fisted the skirt of her soft new gown.

William paced in front of the eager combatants, saying, “First rule of Teach Kane a Lesson: you don’t talk about Teach Kane a Lesson. Second rule of Teach Kane a Lesson: you don’t talk about Teach Kane a Lesson. Third rule of Teach Kane a Lesson: if someone taps out, you just keep fighting. Fourth rule of Teach Kane a Lesson: there are no rules. Got it?”

Kane cleared his throat, gaining William’s attention. “Is it okay to kill them, or would you rather they survive?”

The man tilted his head to the side, as if he were actually pondering the question.

“Alive,” finally came the response. “But close to dying wouldn’t be a terrible thing.”

Uh…hello, confusion. Whose side was he on?

The males were confused, too, and hurtled curses at William.

The warrior shrugged, unaffected, saying to Kane, “I love them and I hate them. They’re a joy and a pain. I can’t ever decide if I want to hug them or choke them. Right now, they’re in need of an attitude adjustment, and I think you’re the man for the job.”

Kane led Josephina to the table where the blonde woman and Synda waited. “White,” he said, a warning. He gently pushed Josephina into a chair. “What I said to your dad goes for you. Don’t touch her.”

“Kane,” the woman—White—said. “Who is this girl to you?”

Josephina’s ears twitched, as she waited to hear his answer.

“That’s none of your concern,” he finally replied, disappointing her. “Just keep your hands to yourself or bad things will happen.”

The woman shrugged. “Very well. My problem is with you, not her.” She traced a grape over her mouth, licked away the juice. “I won’t allow the supposed fates to dictate my future, and if that means getting rid of you, I’m fine with that.”

The fates—the Moirai. Three women with an eternal case of verbal diarrhea. Josephina hated the hobags with every fiber of her being. Because of them, she had helped destroy her mother.

And they thought Kane and this White person would end up together?

Josephina pressed her tongue to the roof of her mouth. I won’t say a word.

Hitting doesn’t involve words.

“So kind of you, White,” Kane finally said, his tone cutting. His gaze moved to Josephina and stayed. He leaned over and planted his hands on the arms of her chair, caging her, surrounding her. “You are to stay put. Understand?”

She lifted her chin. “What reason do I have to do what you say? You and your hot-and-cold attitude are nothing to me.”

He rubbed his nose against hers. “I’m something all right, but I respect your fight against it.”

She…had no reply.

“Candy Kane,” William called, as she tried not to shiver. Kane’s nearness was addling her brain. “The clock’s ticking.”

Kane stayed just where he was. “You were right before, you know. We do need to talk, iron some things out.”

A lump grew in her throat, and she nodded. She found herself saying, “Be careful, okay?”

“Now that I’ve got something to look forward to?” His gaze dropped to her lips, lingered. “Definitely.” He straightened, ending the comfort—and sensuality—of the contact.

What did he have to look forward to? Their talk? Or, as that parting look had hinted at, another kiss?

Melting…

“What about me?” Synda asked, squirming in her seat. “What should I do?”

Kane flicked her an impatient glance. “You’ll behave for the first time in your life. After the fight, I might do the world a favor and put you over my knee to spank the poor judgment right out of you. I guess we’ll find out together.”

Red sprang into the princess’s eyes, her expression hardening. “Say something like that again, and I’ll cut out your tongue while you’re sleeping.”

No longer peering at her, Kane reached out blindly and patted her on top of the head. “I’d probably be scared if you actually knew how to keep your promises.”

A rumble rose from Synda’s chest, and spewed out her mouth, the sound more animal than Fae. Josephina had heard the sound before—right before the princess had set the stable on fire.

“Kane!” William snapped. “Sometime today.”

“No, wait.” The moisture in Josephina’s mouth dried as she held up her gloved hands and wiggled her fingers to gain his attention. “Don’t be so hasty to count me out. I could…you know.”

“No.” He turned to her, adamant. “None of that.”

“But—”

Once again he got in her face. Only this time, he wasn’t gentle about it. “Don’t push on this. I will never willingly put you in harm’s way. Plus, I don’t know what you’d end up with.”

Their powers, he meant. “Whatever I take, it’ll be temporary.” More than that, the men might do what Kane had refused to do: kill her.

She would die. Finally. Never again would she have to deal with her father or the queen or her brother or her sister. There would be no more whippings, no more shunnings, no more punishments of any kind. But…but…

I don’t want to die.

The realization shocked her to her bones. Knowing the bliss of Kane’s kiss, she only wanted more. Like, his hands on her bare skin next time, touching her…everywhere. Like, his voice in her ear, whispering all the things he planned to do to her. Like, his body delivering on every single promise. She wanted…

Everything he had to give.

“I want you safe,” he said. “Whatever the cost.”

Melting faster…

He straightened and faced the men. “Everyone clear on the rules?”

“We’ve been clear for hours now.” From the blond.

“Definitely.” From the dark-haired one. “You should have stayed in hell. You would’ve had an easier life—and death.”

A nod from the bald one.

Kane grinned without a shred of humor. “I can’t wait to prove you wrong.”

“Ding, ding,” William said.

And just like that, the battle was on. The males converged on each other, becoming a tangle of fists and legs and weapons.

Synda cheered, “Go, Kane, go!” as if the two hadn’t almost come to blows seconds before.

White snapped her teeth at the girl. “You should cheer for my brothers. You just had sex with two of them in the bathroom.”