The Darkest Pleasure(143)

By: Gena Showalter

“Let me warm you.” He snuggled next to her, wrapping her body with his own and soaking up her chill. “I love you so much.”

I love you, too. I want to see you, but I can’t break free of this…sleep. I can’t jolt my body awake.

He placed a soft kiss on her lips, inhaling her sweetness. Part of him had despaired of ever doing this again. Ever holding her, breathing her in. “Do you know where Cronus is?”

Oh, yes. I always know somehow. He’s with his counsel.

“Can you hear what they’re discussing?”

I already know. It’s what they always discuss. What to do about you. What to do about me. Where to look for his other artifacts.

“Can you bring him to us?”

Maybe. But why? I hate him. I hate dealing with him.

“Which makes me sorry to ask you to do so, but I am. Trust me, angel. Please.” He pressed another kiss against her lips, then along her jaw. “You are able to control a physical form with your mind. When Cronus arrives, wrap your mind around him and hold him as still as you can. We will not have long. He possesses a key inside his body that allows him to break free of any prison.”

A pause. Then, All right. I’ll try.

“If you can and if he has it, pry his scythe out of his hands. And know that whatever happens, I love you.” If they failed in this, Reyes knew Cronus would kill him. This was a direct challenge and no king would take it lightly or without issuing severe punishment.

“I’ve got him.” A moment passed. Another. Danika’s small body stiffened underneath his hands. He’s angry. He doesn’t have a scythe; he gave that to Chaos, who he put in charge of the Underworld when he imprisoned Hades, in exchange for a human soul. A female. Hunter. I think. He has Zeus’s lightning bolt.

“Keep a firm grip on the bolt, angel. Take it from him if you can.”

He’s almost here. Just a few seconds more…

Cronus stopped abruptly at the end of the dais. When he spotted Reyes, he growled low in his throat. Sparks exploded in his irises as the golden bolt was ripped from his grip and tossed aside.

From this moment on, Reyes knew every word out of his mouth, every emotion that colored his features, was critical. Everything counted. Forcing a casualness he didn’t feel, he eased to one of his elbows. “So nice of you to join us.”

The god king’s body shook, as if he were attempting to move. He had no luck. His arms stayed glued to his sides, his legs to the floor. “You will die for this, warrior.”

Slowly, Reyes kicked his legs over the dais and stood. “You’re probably wondering what’s going on.”

“I possess the All-key, demon. It destroys any shackle, opens any lock. You will not be able to hold me long.”

“I know.” His heart pounded like a war drum, but he smiled. “But you are not chained. You are simply being…momentarily embraced.”

The sound of teeth gnashing together echoed between them.

“You told me to summon you when I could prove my strength.” He paused, expression pointed. “Cronus, I summon you.”

“Do you think I will help you after this?” The king uttered a cruel laugh. “You are very foolish, Pain.”

How are you doing? he projected to Danika.

I’m not sure how much longer I can hold him. He’s very strong.

Fighting a rush of urgency, he walked to Cronus, stride unhurried. Expression still pointed. “You will free Danika and return her to earth. To me. Together, she and I will destroy any foe who thinks to take or use her.”

“You—”

Reyes cut him off. “In return, if she agrees, she will tell you of her dreams and the things she sees.”

“She will do that anyway,” Cronus snarled.

“Has she so far?” Reyes tried not to panic. “If you feel she is in danger, protect her. But do it from here, while she is with me.” He strode around Cronus, slid a dagger from the holder at his wrist, and placed the blade at the god’s neck. The pulse fluttered wildly. “I could take your head, like in the painting. There is nothing you can do about it—but die.”

Utter stillness came over them. Such stillness Reyes could not even form the will to breathe. He waited…waited…