Time Untime (Page 30)

Time Untime (Dark-Hunter #22)(30)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

With her safe and secured, he lowered his head into the warrior’s countenance that sent chills over her. Then he laid into the demons with a skill that was truly frightening.

This was the creature who had battled her father night and day for a solid year. Three demons attacked him at once. Ren caught one with his claws under its chin. Screaming, it staggered back while another moved to stab him with a short sword.

Ren caught it with his hands, disarmed the demon, then rammed its weapon straight through the demon’s stomach. The third turned to run, but Ren wouldn’t let it. He sent a blast into its back.

Sundown lowered his gun as Urian moved to stand by his side. "I’m feeling a little unnecessary right now. How about you, Cowboy?"

"About as useful as warts on a pig’s bottom."

They turned to look at Kateri.

"Did you know about this?" Urian asked her.

"Kind of, but it’s more impressive in live action."

And it was.

Until a bad feeling went through her. He is the Thunderbird….

She didn’t know where that thought came from, but in her mind, she saw him as the destroyer of legend. While thunderbirds could be protective, they were also known to unleash their wrath against the world and to tear it apart. They destroyed everyone and everything in their path. That was why her father had placed a thunderbird on Ren’s necklace that denoted him as a Guardian.

Cabeza fell back to their position. "We’re in trouble."

Jess gave him a doubting grin. "How you figure?"

"The pendajo fighting Ren is Chamer. He’s the husband to Ixtab. The suicide goddess."

Kateri started forward, but couldn’t go far before the force field cut her off. "We have to help him."

"Help who?" Urian asked. "From where I’m standing, Ren’s winning."

And if he was fighting a regular demon, she might believe it. But this was a god.

He’s going to die…. She could feel it with every part of her.

Ren staggered back as Chamer kicked him hard in the chest. What the god didn’t know was that it didn’t hurt. The beauty about this brand of armor was that it drew power from hatred and malice. The more the god sought to hurt him, the stronger the armor made Ren. And the weaker the god would become.

"You will never leave here," Chamer snarled. "All of you belong to us now."

Ren laughed. "Do you know what happens to a god when you kill him? You gain his powers."

Chamer attacked him again.

Ren met him stroke for stroke without hesitation.

The god tried to blast him.

Ren arched one brow. "Are you done?"

"You should be in pieces. I don’t understand."

Ren grabbed him by the throat. "Then let me explain the rules. We both draw demonic powers. And because yours are demonic in origin, they make me all the stronger. So summon every god here. Let me drink of their powers until I’m drunk from it." He laughed evilly. Then he sank his teeth into the neck of the god and drank his blood.

Kateri went cold at the sight. "Is he supposed to do that?"

"No," the three of them said in unison.

Cabeza slid his gaze to the other two men. "One of us should go and break that up, I think."

Urian clapped him on the back. "By all means. Go for it."

Sundown handed his gun to Kateri.

"What are you doing?" Urian asked.

"I don’t want Ren to shoot me with my own weapon. If he goes for my throat, I’m expecting one of you to grow a set and pull him off me." Sundown headed to Ren.

At his approach, Ren raised his head and licked his bloody lips. His eyes glowed a deep, scary red.

"Why don’t you go ahead and let the not so nice god go, Ren?"

"I am Makah’Alay. And you should fear me."

"Ain’t real big on fear. I tried it once, and well … didn’t like the taste of it. Burped it up for days afterward and have no intention of doing that again. Now let the god go before we have to do something we’re both liable to regret."

Ren tilted Chamer’s head back, exposing the wound in his throat. He sniffed at it as if the scent of the blood was the finest nectar made. "Why don’t you leave? I think I’ll stay. I like it here."

Chamer summoned Ixtab to him.

With long black hair and skin of the finest caramel, she appeared, then froze at the sight of her bleeding husband.

"Get them out of here, Ixtab. Or they’ll destroy us!"

She raised her arm, but Sundown stopped her.

"We’re one man down and we’re not leaving here without him."

She curled her lip. "The wolf? Take the beast. We don’t want him here either."

One second they were in the forest, in the next, they were back at Ren’s trashed house.

Even Sasha, who was still in wolf form and bleeding profusely.

"I’ll get him to Sanctuary," Cabeza said, rushing to pick him up and teleport him out.

Sundown retrieved his gun from Kateri’s hands. "I might be needing this after all."

Urian stopped him. "You know, a gun against a demon is a real bad idea. It won’t kill him, but it will piss him off."

"Yeah, but it’ll make me feel better." Sundown started past Urian, but Kateri cut him off.

She went to Ren and cupped his face in her hands. "Baby? What’s going on?"

Ren heard the words, but he couldn’t understand them. Any more than he could comprehend why this strange woman was touching him. His anger surged.

Until he caught a whiff of her scent.

Kateri. Images of her making love to him filled his head. He placed his hand over her heart so that he could feel it beating beneath his palm.

"Ren?"

Help me, Kateri. He wanted to go back to her. But he felt so lost.

She pulled him against her and held him tight. "It’s okay, sweetie. We’re home now. You’re safe."

Safe. He’d never understood that word.

But as she rocked him back and forth, strange emotions and compulsions warred inside him. One was for him to bite her and taste her blood, too.

The other was to protect her. To make sure no one ever preyed on her.

"Look at me, Ren."

He did. He stared into a pair of eyes that were filled with …

She kissed him. The moment her lips touched his, he remembered how she’d looked holding her bow and refusing to back down.

"A’ight, baby. But just so you know, you get hurt, I’m opening up a can of ‘Bama whup-ass on them so big it’s gonna look like an LSU Bowl showdown. You hear me? Roll Tide."

In that one memory, he found himself. Is this what it feels like to be loved?

Her hand toyed with the hair at the nape of his neck while her tongue teased his. When she pulled back, he was so light-headed that for a moment, he feared he might fall.

Kateri breathed in relief as she saw his eyes return to blue. There were still little flecks of red in them, but he seemed to be back to the Ren she’d made love to. "Feeling better?"

"If I say no, will you kiss me again?"

She laughed. "I’ll kiss you either way." Her laughter died as she glanced down to see the red teardrop around his neck. The only time she’d seen him wear it had been in the visions where he fought her father. "Where did this come from?"

Ren looked down to see what she was referring to. His breath caught the instant he saw the crystal that contained Windseer’s blood. The blood they’d used to tie him to the Grizzly Spirit.

In his mind, he heard the evil bitch curse him, and he finally understood. When the Guardian had freed Ren from Grizzly’s hold, Windseer had been forced to return to Grizzly’s service. She’d only been freed the first time because she’d delivered Ren to him, and her freedom was based on Ren’s slavery.

No wonder she hated him so badly.

But he couldn’t tell Kateri that, and he was grateful that she couldn’t divine its significance that marked him as Grizzly’s slave. "It’s nothing."

Kateri knew he was lying. She just didn’t know why. But she decided to trust him. Perhaps he had a good reason for it. However, he better not make it a habit. She hated a liar worse than anything, but she wasn’t naive enough to think that there was never a time when a lie was needed. Like all the instances when they were kids and she’d tell Sunshine one of her paintings was beautiful while the truth was she thought it stunk.

He’s hiding something from you.

And it was bad. She couldn’t shake that feeling no matter what. Worse, images of him on a homicidal rampage wouldn’t go away no matter how hard she tried.

In them, he destroyed the entire world. And there was nothing she could do to stop him.

Chapter 16

Acheron Parthenopaeus paused as he entered Kateri’s bedroom. While her home was modest, the interior was filled with warmth.

Like his own house in New Orleans.

A smile curled his lips as he thought about his wife and son. He couldn’t wait to get them back home and have all of this nastiness put aside.

If it didn’t kill them all.

His mother would be thrilled to hear his doubt. But he didn’t want to think about her right now. He had to find Kateri’s time stone and get it to her. Time was running out and the gates were so thin, they were translucent.

"Damn, there’s a lot of rocks in here," he muttered as he saw them all around the room. There were even more in boxes in her garage and a huge pile on her covered back porch. He’d never seen anything like it.

The woman was obsessed.

"It’s been a long time, Acheron."

He froze at the sound of a voice he hadn’t heard in centuries. Turning, he saw the shade of the extremely wise medicine woman he’d met on a previous doomsday avoidance mission. "Ixkib. How have you been?"

"Not as well as I would have liked, but I’m glad to have your help, old friend."

"Glad I’m still here to do it."

She laughed. And by that, he knew it wasn’t the real Ixkib. Though she looked like her, she didn’t have the same laugh. Dread filled him. "Who are you?"

"You know me."

Acheron searched his mind, but he couldn’t tell who it was. "No, I don’t."

But as soon as those words left his lips, he realized how wrong he was. He did know her…. "Tiva." The goddess of unraveled time. While her twin brother oversaw time itself and kept it in order, Tiva lived to destroy lives.

Zev was the one they called Time.

Tiva was Untime.

She clicked her tongue at him. "Always brilliant. Thank you for leading me here, by the way. I appreciate it. I would never have found this place without you." She moved to go through one of the boxes.

Ash pulled her away. "I can’t let you do that."

She sneered. "You can’t stop me."

"Oh yes, I can." Ash felt his body start to glow as his god powers surged. "You want to try me?"

* * *

Kateri was still worried sick about Ren. Though he said he was fine and they were both back in normal clothes, she had her doubts. Something didn’t feel right.

Now that he was resting in his bed, she’d snuck away for a cup of coffee. She sat at the kitchen table with Cabeza, who’d returned a little while ago to let them know that Sasha was being tended to and would make a full recovery.

Kateri hung up the phone to smile at Cabeza. "Sunshine said that they’re all fine and that Rain is driving her up the wall. She wants us to hurry so she can go home before she kills him."

Cabeza laughed.

Sobering, Kateri raked her hand through her hair. "I still don’t understand why all of this has fallen to me. I get that Sunny isn’t completely American Indian because of her mother, but-"

"Your grandmother was a very special woman," Cabeza said, interrupting her train of thought. "Back before records were kept, a fierce battle was fought between our peoples. Ahau Kin was our god of the underworld and time, and we’re exceptionally lucky we didn’t meet him while we were down in Xibalba. Of course, Ren might have enjoyed his blood more. Why risk it? Anyway, you do know who he is, don’t you? He’s almost always shown at the center of our calendars."

"The god with the jaguar face. Ren already covered this with me, and said that Ahau Kin was the father of the Anikutani."

He inclined his head to her. "When the other tribes went after Ren’s people, their hatred and attack so angered Ahau Kin that he cursed them and divided them for all time. His intent was to send mankind out of this existence and to banish them to the realm of the underworld so that he’d never have to see them again…."

His words made her mind flash to one event in particular. It was in a dark, small village where fires burned all around. Ahau Kin was walking through the center of the village, making sure there were no survivors.

All of a sudden, he saw a young woman holding her neighbor’s baby, trying to protect it.

He went to kill them, but rather than cower, she stood her ground.

"What you’re doing is wrong!" she shouted fearlessly. "You are supposed to be better than us, but you’re not, are you? My father always said that being an ass**le to others doesn’t make you feel better, and it if does, then I really do feel sorry for you. How awful to hold all the power in the universe and to not have any better means of coping."

Her words stunned him. Here she was, a puny human, and she dared confront him. Not with weapons.

With words.