The Darkest Kiss(137)

By: Gena Showalter

“Bastard.” She reached through the bars and scratched his chest, drawing blood. “Come near me and feel pain. You got me? The captain was bigger than you and I killed him without blinking.”

He sank to the floor in front of the bars, the last few days playing through his mind. When he’d woken up in his bedroom, alive, once again merged with Death, he had been overjoyed. Then he had seen Anya sleeping in the cage. Then she’d woken up and looked at him as though he were a stranger. Cursing at him. Hating him.

Would nothing go right?

It seemed a pall had settled over all the warriors. He’d learned that Paris had returned from Greece a broken shell of a man. Paris refused to talk about it, though, so no one knew what had happened. The warrior would soon be leaving for the States to join Gideon as planned, but Lucien couldn’t help feeling guilty that he was the one who’d told the others not to worry about Paris. With the delay, that haunted look, something had clearly gone wrong.

Aeron and Reyes were in the States themselves, though no one had spoken with either and didn’t know what was happening with them. Which, in turn, meant no one knew what had happened to Danika and her family. Lucien sighed. The other warriors were still searching for signs of the other Hydras. So far, no luck.

Lucien should be out there, searching with them. At the very least, he should be helping Paris recover from whatever had happened to him. That’s the way things had always been. Something happened, and Lucien fixed it as best he could. But he couldn’t leave Anya. Wouldn’t. She was his life.

Unfortunately, he could not seem to fix her, either.

She remembered neither Maddox nor Ashlyn, though the couple visited her every day to thank her for what she’d done for them. She would listen, seem to soften for a heartbeat, but still her memories did not return. He’d even given her the lollipops she loved to no avail. What more could he do?

“I love you,” he told her.

“Well, I hate you. Let me go!” The bars rattled as she shook them.

He dropped his head into his waiting hands. “You are not going to remember me, no matter what I do. Are you?”

“Go fuck yourself.” She slammed her fist through the bars and into the back of his skull. “I will not be your slave. Do you hear me! I’m no one’s slave.”

With a heavy heart—and wanting to die all over again—he stood and unlocked the door.

At first, she simply stood there, looking at him. “Why are you so sad? Why are you freeing me?”

“I cannot bear to see you imprisoned.”

“Why?” Not waiting for his answer, shaking her head and keeping as wide a berth as possible between them, she stalked from the cage and turned narrowed eyes on him. “What’s wrong with me? Why do I hurt at the thought of leaving?”

Tears ran down his cheeks, and he scrubbed them away. He didn’t dare hope. Not yet. “I am your mate.”

“I have no mate.” She marched toward him, fury in her crystalline eyes. Along the way, she swiped one of the daggers he’d set on the nightstand. “You’re going to pay for locking me up.”

Seeing her like that, a memory clicked into place. She’d once stood before him exactly like this, telling him about the cage. Whoever was inside had to do exactly as the owner commanded.

Even kill yourself? he’d asked.

Yes, she’d answered.

It was so simple, really. Scowling, she lunged at him. Careful not to hurt her, hopeful for the first time in days, he knocked the blade from her hand and grabbed her, flashing into the cage, then flashing himself out before she knew what was going on.

She screamed at him as he locked the door. “I’ll kill you for this! What kind of sadistic mind game are you playing?” Her gaze snagged on his tattoo, which was pulsing black and red. She blinked as though mesmerized, lost some of her fury. “Pretty.”

Maybe she was remembering. Hope intensifying, he gripped the bars and stared at her. “Sit down, Anya.”

She fell on her ass and glared at him, resentment back in her eyes. It was working. She opened her mouth to yell, but he said, “Be silent, Anya.”

Her lips pressed together. The resentment became utter fury.