The Darkest Seduction (Page 93)

The Darkest Seduction (Lords of the Underworld #9)(93)
Author: Gena Showalter

Shadow Man laughed, the sound all creepiness and no joy. “I know what you wonder. I can bypass the blood, yes. And I will if I must. My phantoms feed from the immortals, and that is payment rendered for their stay. Yet now you house the Lord of the Dark, their enemy, and keep my boys from their due. That is unacceptable.”

“Your phantoms aren’t feeding on my friends.” He recalled the warrior lying in a pool of his own blood, what was left of his insides spilled on the floor. The prisoner’s pain had been unbearable to witness, so Paris could just imagine what the guy had felt.

“Other arrangements must be made, or I will force you out of my realm. You will not like my methods, I assure you.”

There was a time for physical confrontation, and a time for bargaining. “What else would they like to eat?”

“Immortals.” Clipped, angry. “Only immortals.”

“Then we’ve got a problem.” He inched backward, edging Sienna to the door.

Shadow Man lurched forward, that dark mist stretching and gliding like wings. Paris swung the flashlight, his thumb flipping the on switch. White light cut through the darkness, but just before reaching his opponent, the man rolled through the air and out of the way.

When he stilled, they faced off. Paris twirled the thin flashlight in his palm. “That all you got? Huh?” A taunt meant to buy Sienna enough time to blast inside. He hoped she understood that, but he couldn’t hear footsteps, couldn’t hear the door slam.

“If I showed you what I’ve got, it would be the last thing you ever saw.”

“Prove it.”

Like that, they were on each other, a choreographed dance straight from Star Wars. Funny that they both knew the moves. Paris used the klieg like a light saber, twirling the golden stream as he contorted his body left and right to dodge the sashay of those misty wings.

Finally, contact. When the light sliced through one of Shadow Man’s legs, there was a sizzle, a rise of steam, and the big guy released a firing-squad shout, his anger like little bullets that pelted against Paris’s mind, causing him to stumble.

That stumble cost him.

One of those dark wings whipped out and hit his arm with so much force the flashlight flew from his grip. Not mist, after all. Then that big body engulfed him, closing around him. Screams, thousands upon thousands of screams, echoed around him. So loud his eardrums burst and warm blood poured down his lobes.

Releasing a scream of his own, he covered his ears and fell to his knees. Ants were crawling all over him, surely eating at his flesh, ripping it away, consuming him bite by tasty bite.

Another firing-squad shout sounded, and the darkness instantly lifted from him. Took him a moment to orient himself, and what he saw made him want to vomit. Shadow Man was a few feet away, and Sienna was holding him off with the flashlight. Their mouths were moving, but Paris couldn’t hear what they were saying.

Until…boom, his eardrums healed and the volume came back on in an explosion of noise.

“—how many would you be willing to settle for…consuming?” Sienna was saying, trying not to reveal her disgust.

“Five. A day.”

“They never got five before! One,” she snapped. “A week.”

“Three. A day.”

“Three. A week.”

A moment of silence before Shadow Man nodded. “Agreed. First payment must be given today.”

“Yes, but only if all of us—the Lords, their loved ones, the babies, the immortals, me—are safe, no matter where we go in this realm or what we do.”

Another moment of silence, another nod. “And so the deal is made. But best you hurry, female. I might change my mind before the first payment is delivered.” With that, the black mist thinned, broke apart and disappeared altogether.

Sienna rushed to Paris’s side and sank to her knees, patting him down, checking for injuries.

“Are you okay?”

He hung his head. He hadn’t saved her, hadn’t helped her. She’d had to save him. She’d had to help him. He’d let her down in so many ways. What kind of warrior was he?

“I’m sorry, baby.”

“What? Why?” She handed him the flashlight.

A quick mental command, and the crystal blade returned. He stashed the thing at his waist. “I let you down. You could have been hurt.” And Zacharel had warned him about that, hadn’t he? That Paris’s temper would get the better of him and he would hurt his woman. He’d thought that meant he would strike at her, which he knew would never happen. But, no. The angel had known better. His temper would cause him to lose focus, to allow others to hurt her.

Yeah. Well. That was so not happening again. He’d keep himself level no matter what the hell he had to do.

“Paris, you’ve never let me down,” she said with feeling.

Yeah, he had, but that stopped now. His thigh muscles burned like a son of a bitch as he stood. He helped her do the same. Inside the castle, he tucked her into a corner, checked the only window in the small alcove to make sure William’s blood was still smeared over the top—it was—then cupped her cheeks.

“Stay here for me, okay? I’ve got to tell Lucien to find us three acceptable, uh, meals.”

“They don’t have to be immortal,” she said. “He finally admitted that immortals taste better, but anyone will do.”

Then Paris knew exactly who to use. Last he’d looked, there were Hunters stashed in their Budapest dungeon.

“Who are—”

“Don’t you worry about that.” If she knew the men, well, he wasn’t sure how she’d react. “In fact, why don’t you go to our room instead of staying here? I’ll join you in a bit. Okay?” He kissed her before she could reply, and left her there.

Didn’t take him long to locate Lucien. The warrior was still in the ballroom, and when he caught sight of Paris he apologized all over himself, his mismatched eyes filled with regret.

“We’ll talk about the intervention later. Right now I need you to do something.”

He explained what he needed, and the warrior was Johnny-on-the-spot, disappearing and returning a few minutes later with a Hunter clutched in each hand. Humans were easier to transport than immortals.

The men, both in their late thirties by the looks of them, were grimy, weak and had no fight left. Paris claimed them, and Lucien went back for a third.

Maybe this should have settled heavily on his shoulders, but these men had been captured while trying to slaughter his friends and their lovers. They would have cut the throats of the females without a moment’s hesitation.