The Darkest Kiss(136)

By: Gena Showalter


Cronus was silent as he raised his arms high in the air. A second later, they were inside Lucien’s room in Budapest. Lucien lay on the bed. She could see the rise and fall of his tattooed chest. He was naked, and his wounds were gone. His skin was healthy and tanned, and she could sense the demon nestled safely inside him.

Cronus stood beside the bed.

Without a word, Anya flashed to where her mother and father were in hiding, an island near Anya’s Hawaiian home. Dysnomia was standing in front of the cage, frowning down at it.

“Sorry, Mom, but you don’t need to watch it for me after all.”

Pretty Dysnomia gasped at the intrusion, her dark hair swaying at her shoulders. She smiled when she realized it was Anya. “Hello, darling.”

“I know what you’re thinking. Two visits in one day when I swore to stay away from you to keep the Titans off your trail. But you’re still safe, so don’t worry, okay?” Anya kissed her soft cheek. “Tell Dad I said hi and that I’ll visit again soon. Promise,” she said and, grasping the artifact, flashed back to Lucien.

Cronus stood exactly where she’d left him.

She placed the Cage of Compulsion against the far wall. Anya had to admit, she was surprised when Cronus merely raised an eyebrow rather than attempting to take it.

“I have kept my end of the bargain,” he told her.

Now she would keep hers. Suddenly nervous, Anya kissed the sleeping Lucien and flashed herself inside the cage. “I’m ready,” she said, gripping the bars.

The god blinked in surprise and confusion. “You want to be locked away? Without the All-Key, you will not be able to escape and anyone who steps inside this room will be able to command you to their will.”

“I know.” But this way, if she lost her memory of Lucien when the key left her body, she wouldn’t be able to run from him, hurting them both because of the bond between them. He would have time to win her heart again. “I love him.”

Cronus stroked his beard in puzzlement. “Astounding. And unexpected from one such as you.”

She let the “one such as you” slide. Loving Lucien was the best thing she’d ever done, and she’d do anything for him. “Let’s get this over with.” She gulped, pushed out a breath, then uttered the necessary words. “I, Anya, known across the ages as Anarchy, freely give Cronus, king of gods, the All-Key. I do this willingly and with no reservations.”

Humming with anticipation, Cronus reached inside her with a ghostly hand, just as she had seen Lucien do to the dead all those many times. Her chest burned…burned…. A sharp ache erupted as he pulled his hand back, and then a bright amber light was pulsing in his palm. Anya’s knees gave out and she collapsed. Closing his eyes, Cronus placed that light over his heart.

His smile of satisfaction was the last thing Anya saw before her entire world went black.



“LET ME OUT!”

Lucien had never felt so helpless. He simply didn’t know what to do. Anya had been locked in the Cage of Compulsion for four days. Despite their bond, she had no idea who he was. She possessed only the memories of her time before accepting the key inside her body. Constantly she demanded he release her. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. She would leave; she might even try to kill him.

She’d threatened it often enough. And he could still sense her emotions, so he knew that she meant it. She, too, could still sense his emotions and asked him daily why he loved her. Always she asked with confusion, as if they were strangers and he should view her with revulsion. Certainly she seemed to view him with revulsion.

Like a chained, hungry animal, he paced the length of his bedroom. She’d given up the All-Key for him. He hated that she’d done so and wanted to spank her and hug her at the same time. She’d lost her memories, but at least she hadn’t lost her strength. He liked to think it was because of their bond. She’d once given him strength and now he was returning the favor.

If only he could make her remember him.

“Let me out of here!” she shouted at him. “You have no right to keep me. How did you move me from Tartarus without my knowledge?”

He stopped and stared over at her, his chest tightening. He hated what she’d given up for him, yes, but more than that, he hated to see her suffering. “Anya. We are bonded. Why do you not remember me?”