The Darkest Craving (Page 7)

The Darkest Craving (Lords of the Underworld #10)(7)
Author: Gena Showalter

The shambles of his room proved it.

He soaped up, rinsed off and towel dried, every action stiff, forced. Standing in front of the mirror, he studied his foggy reflection. His skin was pale. Dark hair dripped water down his shoulders and chest. Because of the weight he’d lost, his cheeks had yet to fill out. His lips were compressed into a thin line, as though they’d never known a smile. Maybe they hadn’t. Any memory with an accompaniment of amusement no longer seemed to belong to him. Everything positive had happened to someone else. Surely.

But the worst thing about him? His eyes were no longer a mix of brown and green. They were a mix of brown, green—and red. Demon red.

A sense of repugnance grew. Disaster was attempting to control him. And the demon was actually succeeding, whispering reminders about what had happened inside that cave.

A hand here…a mouth there…so helpless…

How dirty was Kane now? How tainted?

A whip across your legs. A dagger along your ribs.

How much of a failure was he?

Hot breath on your wounded skin…kisses…tongues…

Fighting to breathe, Kane flattened his hands on the edge of the sink. He hardly cared when the porcelain cracked. He wanted to rip Disaster out of his chest, and strangle the creature with his bare hands.

Yes. That’s the way his tormentor would die.


If he could get his mind right, at least a little, he could figure out a way to make it happen. But any time he wasn’t plagued by gut-wrenching memories, he was plagued by thoughts about the girl from the motel. The Fae. He ached as he’d done when she’d touched him. He tensed. He cursed.

He yearned.

He remembered the adoration painted on her face as she looked at him, as if he were someone special. A look he still didn’t understand—but wanted to experience again.

He replayed the silly words she’d spoken to him.

I never lie—except for the few times I do, in fact, lie, but it’s never intentional, and I’m totally telling the truth right now, I promise.

You weigh, like, ten thousand pounds. But they’re glorious pounds.

I’ve been crossing off the seconds in the calendar in my heart.

He wanted to know what else she would say.

Who was she? Where was she? What was she doing?

Were memories she’d rather not recall afflicting her? Was she hurt? Alone? Scared?

A few times, fear had wiped away her adoration and sass, leaving her with nothing but tremors.

He understood all too well the difficulty—the desperation—of an inescapable past.

Had she found someone to end her? Had she ended herself?

Or was she still alive?

His arms dropped to his sides as his hands fisted. She was his. She—

Wasn’t his.

Still, he wasn’t going to take care of his problem until he’d taken care of hers, was he? He couldn’t leave her out there, desperate and afraid, possibly in danger. The girl had saved him from the most horrific situation of his life. Even though she’d run away from him, he had to step up and save her from what had to be the most horrific situation of hers.

She was right, after all. He owed her. And he would pay up. Just not the way she wished. He would fix her life the way he couldn’t fix his own. Then, one of them would be happy.

She deserved to be happy.

If she still lived.

He sucked in a sharp breath. She had better still live, or he would…he would… He punched the mirror, shattering the glass. The sound of tinkling bells filled the small enclosure. Several pieces arrowed into his leg, cutting into his thigh. A gift from Disaster, he was sure. Gritting his teeth, he removed the shards.

After he helped the girl, he could concentrate on killing the demon. He wouldn’t give up until he succeeded. He couldn’t take this anymore, and he didn’t want his friends to have to take it anymore, either. He was too much of a danger to those around him, and there were too many innocents here.

He would leave today, he decided, and he wouldn’t ever come back.

Sorrow settled heavily on his shoulders, weighing him down. He couldn’t talk to his friends about his decision. They wouldn’t understand. They would try to talk him into taking another path. They might even lock him away for his “own good.”

They’d done it once before.

Kane wouldn’t sneak away, but he wouldn’t admit the truth, either. He would say his goodbyes, as if he meant to return after his rescuer had been saved. Only he would know this was it. The end.

Jaw locked, Kane strapped weapons all over his body. There were multiple blades, two Sigs and several clips. He dressed in a black T-shirt and camo pants, then tugged on his favorite pair of combat boots. He stomped from the bathroom, glass crunching under his feet, his mind a field of evil laughter.

Stupid demon.

During Kane’s absence, his friends had moved into a fortress in the Realm of Blood and Shadows, a kingdom hidden in a pocket between earth and the lower level of the skies. He strode down the hall, his gaze on the walls covered with pictures of a beautiful blonde female in various outfits and positions. Lounging on a velvet-lined couch, standing in a rose garden, dancing on a table. Blowing a kiss. Winking.

Her name was Viola, and she was a minor goddess of something or other, as well as the keeper of Narcissism. He couldn’t help but compare her to sperm: she had about a one in three million chance of becoming a human being with actual emotions. The girl irritated the fire out of him.

He pounded down the stairs, then down another hallway, this one littered with ridiculous portraits of the warriors wearing ribbons and lace and smiles—and nothing else. They’d been painted by a dead man, if ever Kane met the guy, and had been commissioned by Lucien’s fiancée, Anya, the goddess of Anarchy, without permission.

Finally Kane reached his destination. Maddox and Ashlyn’s bedroom. His first stop on the Tour of Goodbyes.

Maddox was the keeper of Violence. Ashlyn was the new mother of the warrior’s twin babies.

For a long while, Kane watched Ashlyn, silent. She was a delicate beauty with honey-colored hair and skin, and she swayed in a rocker, singing to the bundle of joy clutched lovingly in her arms. Beside her, Maddox swayed in a second rocker. He was a brute of a man with black hair and violet eyes, and seeing him kiss the tiny fingers wrapped around his pinky did something to Kane’s insides. Twisted and knotted them, until he experienced the same lance of pain his pointy-eared rescuer had caused.

What was that?

William the Ever Randy—aka the Panty Melter, Kane thought with an eye-roll—sat at the edge of the king-size bed, a pink comforter plumped around his battle-honed body. Somehow, the feminine coverlet failed to diminish the savage intensity of his strength. He wasn’t demon-possessed. No one knew what he was, exactly. All they knew was that he had a temper rivaled by few, and a mean streak longer than any Kane had ever before encountered. He smiled when he killed his enemies—and laughed when he stabbed his friends.