“I kinda did,” Sienna said in a scandalized whisper.
Mmm, but he liked her scandalized. Wondered what he could do to ramp that up, what would make her nervous but too excited to say no. Finding out, well, he’d never looked forward to a bedding more.
“Later, after your spanking, we’re gonna do a little role playing. I’m going to be your sweet, innocent roommate, Parette, and you’re going to demonstrate that kiss on me.” And then I’m going to talk you into doing things you’ve only ever dreamed about.
“But you love me anyway.”
“I love you always.”
Before he could respond, there was an explosion of white light at the front of the tent. In a flurry of movement and frothing rage, Paris grabbed both the crystal blades, pressing one into Sienna’s hand. He was standing a moment later, unconcerned by his nakedness.
Cronus had arrived, and if his fearsome scowl was any indication, he was ticked. First instinct: attack. Paris tamped it down. Barely. Second: recon. Answers, he needed answers.
The king’s narrowed gaze slid past Paris and onto Sienna, who had just finished righting her clothing. “You ruined everything,” he growled.
Paris moved in front of her, blocking the king’s view. Cronus merely pointed to the side of the tent, and Paris was propelled there on a powerful gust of wind, his arms spread, his legs spread, invisible ropes tying him in place. Though he fought, he couldn’t free himself.
Helpless. Just like that. Panic was like bitter pills in his mouth, and he swallowed so many he might just overdose.
Darkness…so much darkness…I will hurt him. I will kill him. He struggled so viciously his muscles began to tear from his bones. That didn’t slow him.
A scowling Sienna popped to her feet. Use the crystal, he projected with the last vestiges of his control. She didn’t; she stood her ground, her chin held high.
“I’m not going back to Galen,” she announced.
“Even if he were addicted to you, Galen will not trust or follow you now. He hates you. You took his prisoner, damaged his soldier, and he is not the type to forgive or forget. To him, every offense is to be returned a thousandfold.”
Those gossamer black wings extended. “There’s another way. We’ll find it. Just give us time.”
“Time? Time.” Menace pulsed from Cronus. “You once asked me why I wanted you willing. The answer was simple. Eventually you would have turned on me. Now you have and that’s no longer a concern. So, no, I’m afraid you’re out of time. Now I will destroy everything you hold dear.”
Paris snarled as Cronus vanished and reappeared in front of Sienna in a single blink. He snagged her by the hair. At last Paris managed to free himself, both shoulders popping out of joint. He was running for them. Nearly upon them.
Just before he reached her, Sienna shouted, “Zacharel! I summon you.”
Cronus reached out and stabbed Paris just before Paris reached them. Sienna gasped. The pair vanished, her gaze locked on Paris as he fell to his knees, a searing pain consuming him.
“WE ARE NOT DOING THIS again,” Sienna shouted, worried for Paris, desperate to return to him. “I’m sick of everyone flinging me where they want me to be.” Black, all around her. In her nose, in her lungs, pouring through her bloodstream. No color, no life, just an endless void. “That ends now.”
“You failed to take the easiest route, and now you’ll have to live with Plan B,” Cronus said, his voice slithering from the nothingness.
I won’t ask. His plans mean nothing to me.
“Zacharel!” she called again. Work with the angels? Why not? She would learn to fly properly, and finally, once and for all, control her own destiny.
A flicker of light. A return of the dark. Another flicker, lasting just a bit longer. She caught a glimpse of big, puffy clouds, glued to an endless expanse of night sky. A star here, a star there, twinkling from their perches like eyes trained on her, watching her every move. She must be in another realm. One without a single living creature in residence.
She turned a full circle, and found Cronus standing a few yards away. His arms were crossed over his chest, his legs braced apart. She was suddenly very grateful she’d maintained her grip on the crystal blade Paris had given her.
“Another reason I wanted your willingness,” Cronus said. “If you had turned on me, you would have become Rhea’s soldier and therefore been under her protection.”
Now he wanted to talk? Well, he could take his confessions and shove them. “I’m warning you. Return me to Paris. Now.”
He arched a mocking brow at her. “Or what?”
“Or I will fight you.” Planned to, anyway. You just sped things along.
A booming laugh, sharp and bitter, even anticipatory. “You could try.”
“Return me to Paris,” she repeated. “This is your last chance.”
He continued on as if she hadn’t spoken. “Rhea did not kill your sister. I did.”
Her heart skipped a beat as denial rushed through her. “No.” A lie, surely. One meant to punish her. Because, if he were telling the truth, she would have helped the very man who’d destroyed her precious Skye, leaving her bloody and broken, her last memory of a knife slicking through her skin. She would have bled for the man who had destroyed an innocent. She would very nearly have sacrificed her own life and happiness for her sister’s killer…
And yet, Wrath’s earlier insistence that something had been wrong suddenly made sense. The moisture evaporated from her mouth. A knot grew in her throat, and she had trouble drawing in the necessary oxygen. Dizziness took center stage in her head.
“I held her in my hands, and I slit her throat. I watched the life drain out of her. I killed her husband first. Made her watch. I can prove it.” He reached up and jerked a chain from around his neck. A butterfly carved from a black diamond dangled from the center.
In the next moment, the shield that had prevented Wrath from seeing his sins crumpled to nothing. She clutched her temples, squeezed her eyes closed as the scene unfolded inside her head. Cronus, holding Skye and a human male at his sides. Making them kneel. Stabbing the male. Skye, fighting, shoving herself into his blade. Skye, bleeding. Cronus, finishing her off. Skye, dying.
Nausea rolled through Sienna’s stomach, a churning acid threatening to boil up and out. A fury drenched in seething flames and sharpened by jagged bits of glass.