“Very well,” he repeated just before he disappeared.
A split second later, Cronus materialized in front of her, and oh, was he pissed. His scowl broke up the clean lines of his face, turning regal features sinister. At least he’d given up the goth mesh and tailored suits in favor of his white robe.
“You summoned me, and then you blocked me?” Eyes a shimmering mix of ebony and scarlet, he snarled, “How did you block me?”
Just as before, Wrath went silent, unable to see into Cronus’s past. Frustrated them both. Much as she raged about the sick things the demon had made her do, she’d come to rely on his keen insight into the people around her.
“I didn’t block you,” she replied honestly, the words laced with venom. I hate this man, she realized. For everything he’d done to her, and everything he was doing to Paris. “I summoned you to tell you I’m ready. I want to go to Galen. But first…”
Steps unhurried, she approached him. Her arms were lowered at her sides, and she gave a little shake. The blades slid into her hands, as planned, and the moment she reached Cronus, she whipped into a frenzy of motion, shoving him back, into the castle wall, the tip of her weapon poised at his jugular.
He could have thrown her off, but the threat happened so quickly, he could only widen his eyes in astonishment.
“You fed me ambrosia, made me ambrosia.”
Finally he shoved, propelling her backward. Only by frantically flapping her wings did she prevent herself from flying over the rail.
“And the problem?” He brushed a piece of lint from his shoulder. “I did what was required to make this work. You were right, you aren’t pretty enough to capture Galen’s attention, and we need his attention.”
No apologies, the bastard.
He went on silkily, “Now, allow me to capture yours.”
She blinked and her surroundings changed, from dark to light, bleak to ostentatious. Befuddled, she sheathed her weapons.
Above, a teardrop chandelier hung from the center of intricately carved woodwork. At her sides, thick red-velvet curtains spilled over the windows, with chairs and lounges made of the same material scattered throughout. A rosewood desk, candelabra, tables with swirling bars of gold at their bases. Below, a plush wool carpet with the loveliest blooms woven in jewel tones. The scent of jasmine and honeysuckle saturated the air.
“What is this place?” she asked.
“This,” he replied, “is your new home.”
She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t. “Galen lives here?”
“In Rhea’s realm of the heavens? Yes. Usually his men occupy every room, but many of them are currently missing.” Steps light, Cronus closed the distance between them. He gripped her forearms, forcing her to peer up at him. “In exactly sixty seconds, you are going to enter that room.” His gaze shifted to a closed doorway behind her.
Why the wait? Then again, who cared? “All right.”
“Galen will not accept you as you are, not any longer. You stink of Paris, his enemy.”
And she was supposed to convince the horrible man otherwise? Fabulous.
“There’s only one way to avoid that,” Cronus added.
Sickness in her stomach, ice in her veins. “And what’s that?”
She never saw him move. One moment Cronus was holding her, the next he was stabbing her in the stomach. Sharp pains tore through her, and she glanced down through widening eyes. His hand was wrapped around a blade hilt he had slammed into her belly.
Wrath roared at the injustice, and in that moment, the demon had no need to see into Cronus’s past to experience a desire to strike. Punish!
“Why would you… Why…?” Blood trickled from her mouth. One day, I really will kill him.
PUNISH. PUNISH. PUNISH.
“I told you. Galen would not have wanted you otherwise.” Cronus stepped back, taking the weapon with him. Again he offered no apologies for his actions.
Hate him. Blood wet her shirt, poured down her skin. Her knees shook, collapsed.
Eyes narrowing, she inched toward him, once again palming her blades.
He grinned. “Unwise to waste your remaining energy on me. I suggest you crawl to the doorway I showed you and find Galen. Otherwise, I’ll return to Paris and kill him myself.”
With that, he abandoned her, leaving her alone and slowly bleeding to death.
Spiderwebs wove around her vision. Zacharel had been right, she thought dazedly. Cronus had lied and betrayed her time and time again, and like a fool she’d let him. Had come to regret her decisions. But she couldn’t cry out for the angel.
Her desire merged with Wrath’s. Somehow, some way, she would finish Cronus, Rhea and Galen, and save Paris, and tell the rest of the world to screw itself.
PARIS JOLTED UPRIGHT. Fog enveloped his mind, and a great sense of doom had taken up residence in his chest. He patted the spot beside him. Cold, empty.
“Sienna,” he called, thinking she might be in the bathroom. He needed to hold her, to know she was okay. A sense of foreboding was overtaking him.
“Sienna.” He shouted her name this time, and with the reverberation of his voice, the fog thinned and memories flooded him.
Sienna had left him. Left him to go to Galen. He threw his legs over the side of the bed, ignoring a wave of dizziness.
Need her, Sex said.
I know. I’ll find her.
“Don’t get up,” a familiar voice intoned. Lucien had just flashed inside the room.
Paris tensed, did his best to focus. His friend had pulled a chair beside the bed, stretched out his long legs and locked his fingers over his stomach. Though the position was relaxed, his dark hair shagged and tangled around strained features and grave eyes.
“Have to.” Paris performed a quick scan of the room, checking off things he’d need. Clothes. Boots. Weapons. His gaze landed on the nightstand where both of his crystal blades rested. He gritted his teeth. She was out there, unprotected.
Fear momentarily overwhelmed him, and he dropped his head in his hands.
I know, damn it! You think I don’t know?
“She came to me, you know,” Lucien said. “Asked me to keep you here.”
He lifted his head and met his friend’s multihued stare, his fury rising on a swift tide. “Did you hurt her?”
Lucien blanched, the scars on the side of his face seeming to rise up. “No.”
Okay, then. Okay. “What did you say to her?”