Ravyn rushed upstairs, then froze with Susan one step behind him. He held her back with one arm while he stared through the crack in the door. He could see three uniformed officers and a tall, beautiful blond woman who was dressed all in black with the demeanor of a fighter. She appeared to be their leader. If not for the fact that she didn't have fangs and didn't set off his Dark-Hunter senses, he would think her a Daimon or Apollite.

"What is this?" Dorian asked as he looked at a piece of paper. Phoenix and their father stood just behind him.

The woman narrowed her gaze on Dorian. "It's a search warrant for this club. We have reason to believe that you're harboring a wanted fugitive."

Ravyn felt as ill as Dorian looked. They'd been so concerned about the Daimons coming after them that they hadn't even thought about what the humans could do. A search warrant was the one thing they couldn't hide from. One of the rules of a sanctuary was that they had to abide by human law.

Dorian would be arrested as well as him and Susan...

"There's nothing here," his father said angrily. "This is total bullshit."

Ignoring his outburst, the woman turned to the officer on her right. "Get the others and tell them to be careful while they search. Remember both of them are wanted for murder and they could very easily be armed. If anyone gets in the way, arrest them. "

Dorian lifted his hand in the gesture that said he was trying to manipulate the woman's thoughts. "There's no need to search our club. There's nothing here for you."

The woman gave him a peeved stare. "We'll see about that, won't we?"

Damn, she was too strong for them to tamper with her will. This seriously sucked.

His father turned and glared at the crack where Ravyn watched as if he knew exactly where Ravyn was while Phoenix told his father they should hand them over in Arcadian.

The cop turned, walked over to the door that led outside, and opened it. As he did so, Ravyn did a double take. Instead of a human standing there, he saw the one person he hadn't seen in centuries... and he meant centuries.

Susan pushed past Ravyn so that she could peer through the crack to see what was going on. She frowned as she saw the woman in front of Dorian and her heart stopped beating. "She was at the Happy Hunting Ground. "

Ravyn scowled at Susan. "What?"

She lowered her tone so that only Ravyn could hear. "She was with the group of Daimons who tranked you."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely." And she was, too. She'd never forget the woman who actually put Cael's wife to shame in terms of beauty and grace.

But Susan's gaze was snagged away from the woman to the man who came into the back room with an aura so powerful that it instantly commanded everyone's rapt attention. Not to mention he had the determined stride of hell wrath and damnation. It was obvious he was here for blood and making no attempt to hide it. Wearing a black and blue scuba suit that showed off a lean, ripped body, and dripping wet, that man had a face that was both beautifully chiseled and rugged. He had at least a week's growth of whiskers and shoulder-length dark brown hair.

"You," he said to the cop on his left as he stopped beside the woman, "go outside and have a donut with your buddies."

The woman scowled her displeasure at him.

She raked him with a sneer that said she held him in the same estimation as something stuck to the bottom of her shoe. "Who do you think you are?"

His lips twisted into a mocking grin. "Oh, baby, don't ask me that question. I know exactly who and what I am... and more to the point, what I'm capable of." He wiped at a bead of water on his cheek before he spoke again. This time, his low, feral tone was sinister and cold and filled with his anger. "How dare you bring your prissy little ass into one of my clubs and pull this shit. You're lucky you're still breathing."

She was aghast at him. "I will have you arrested."

"And I will have your ass for breakfast, little girl," he sneered. "I'm not Stryker. There's no fraternal love in my heart for you. In fact, there's no love in my heart for anyone... much." He brushed his wet bangs back from his dark brown eyes. "Now, I just sent your boys in the alley off to Bainbridge Island. They're not sure how they got there and lucky for you, they have no memory of ever seeing you. For your sake, and that of your half-ass brother, let's keep it that way. You pull this shit again, and I don't care who you serve or who you think you know, you're dead. Got me?"

The woman appeared a bit subdued. "How do you know about Stryker?"

He gave her a dry stare. "I know everything about everything and before I dry off completely, which is something I truly hate, you better go outside, collect Trates, and have both your asses out of here or I'm going to lose what little patience I have." The air around him seemed to snap with powerful energy that appeared to be emanating from within him. "You will play by the rules I've set up for sanctuary, or I'll use your entrails for armbands. Understand me? Don't you ever chance exposing the Weres to the humans again."

The anger returned to her as she stiffened her spine. "If you know everything as you claim, then you know you can't stop me."

He laughed at her. "Yeah, and the next time you're fetching for Auntie, tell her Savitar said hi and watch her bitch slap you for even bringing her to my attention."

"How do you-"

He cut her words off by moving to stand so close to her that she had to take a step back and crane her neck to look up at him. "I told you, little Satara, I know everything about everything. I even know about the goddess who really does scare the shit out of you. And you should be afraid of her. Trust me. The Destroyer earned her name for a reason, and it wasn't by posing. You might win this little battle you're trying to fight, but ask yourself if it's going to be worth the cost of it."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

An evil laugh emanated from deep within his throat. "Yes, you do. And when you find yourself back in Kalosis in a few seconds with a wide-eyed Trates and a pissed-off Stryker, remember that I'm watching you and that the Weres are off-limits in this game. You want to fuck with Artemis, fuck with Artemis. You want to fuck with me... make out your will."

The woman instantly vanished.

Savitar looked past Dorian, Phoenix, and their father, to the door where Susan and Ravyn were. "You two can come out now. They're gone."

Susan walked out first, but as she approached Savitar, the hair on the back of her neck rose. There was something so powerful and scary about him that it actually made her want to run for the door. The very air around him crackled with some kind of unholy energy. It was like standing next to a thrumming nuclear generator... that could explode and destroy you and the entire city at any second.

"Savitar," Ravyn said in a surprisingly friendly tone, extending his hand out to him. "It's been a while."

"Yes, it has." He shook Ravyn's hand, then turned to look at Dorian and his family. "No offense, Dorian. Oh, what the hell, take all the offense you want, it's not like I give a shit." He looked back at Ravyn. "I miss the days before you crossed over to the dark side. Back when you sat on the Omegrion, Rave. You were actually highly entertaining. Dorian, on the other hand, has a major stick up his ass."

"Glad to know I had some purpose."

A strange light darkened Savitar's eyes. "You have more than you've ever dreamed of. "

Ravyn stiffened. "What do you mean?"

Savitar tilted his head. "Dorian and others, take a break." Before they could speak or move, they vanished.

Susan widened her eyes at the way Savitar seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted with people regardless of their will.

"Don't worry," Savitar said to her as if he knew her thoughts. "I won't send you off without warning. Just stand there and be awed by my beauty. It's the safest mode around me."

Yeah..."Can I ask-"

"You're not ready for that answer," he said, cutting her off. "The only person who needs to know what I am already knows. That would be me. I like to keep the rest of the world guessing."

All things considered, she strangely liked this enigmatic man, even if he did have a titanic ego and frightening powers.

"But back to Ravyn." He placed a heavily tattooed arm over Ravyn's shoulders and hugged him like an affectionate brother. "You're going to do me a favor."

"I am?"

"Yes." Savitar stepped away to clap him on the back. "I have a small matter that I need you to help me with."

"You need my help?"

"Astonishing, isn't it?"

"You could say that." Ravyn exchanged a puzzled look with her as she wondered what a man like this could possibly want with Ravyn. "So what is this favor?"

"I have a friend who has a friend who needs to be trained."

"Trained for what?"

"To be a Dark-Hunter."

Ravyn was stunned by his words. For the first time in centuries, he was beginning to wonder about Savitar's mental capacity. "I can't train another Dark-Hunter. We weaken each other's powers."

"Normally, this would be true, but this particular Dark-Hunter is a little different from the others."

Now that made him nervous. Different wasn't necessarily a good thing, especially in this work. "Different how?"

"In many ways. He was entrusted to me, but I've found that training someone to fight just isn't my forte." Savitar screwed up his face. "It actually dawned on me that I don't fight. I just kill whatever annoys me, and it's over. Not to mention the kid is seriously cramping my style... which seriously annoys the hell out of me, and if I kill him, it'll just open a whole can of worms I don't want to deal with. Oh, and he's taken to complaining daily about how he wants to start training, wah, wah, wah." He sighed. "I just can't be bothered with it. Too many waves to surf... know what I mean?"

Not really. "Uh-huh, and who is this kid?"

Savitar snapped his fingers.

Susan gaped as a good-looking man in his mid-to late twenties appeared next to her. Standing a good six foot four, he had dark brown hair and black eyes, but what held her attention most was the double bow and arrow Dark-Hunter mark that covered his neck and part of his extremely unhappy face.

"What the hell is this, Savitar?" the man demanded.

"You wanted to be trained, Nick. Meet your new trainer. Ravyn Kontis, this is Nick Gautier."

Ravyn gaped at the name that was meaningless to Susan.

"Nick Gautier? The New Orleans Squire who went missing?"

Savitar gave him a droll look. "He's obviously not missing. Open your eyes, man. He's standing right in front of you."

Ravyn scowled. "No offense, Savitar, but this is a really bad time. I'm kind of in the middle of a situation here."

"Yeah, I know. You're basically screwed. But Nick can actually help you with this matter. Not to mention the fact that you're missing a Dark-Hunter. He can be the replacement. "

"Can I ask one question?"

Savitar gave a heavy sigh. "I know you, Ravyn. I've known you for centuries, and Nick is a special member of this world. There's no one else I would trust to train him."

Ravyn wanted to protest, but one thing he knew about Savitar was that he didn't like to be questioned. As he said, he tended to kill things that annoyed him, and questions definitely annoyed him.

Savitar moved to stand beside Nick. "You've been entertaining, Gautier. At least most of the time. And you play a mean-ass game of pool. Before I leave you, I have two quick things I want you to keep in mind. One, stay away from the Charonte demons. They're really bad for you."

Nick didn't appear amused by his words of advice. "And the second?"

A wave of energy peaked in the room as Savitar's face lost all humor. "Is the life you seek to take worth the one you could one day create?"

Nick scowled. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You'll learn." There was something in Savitar's eyes that looked like regret as he clapped Nick on the back. "Remember, Nick, there are only two people in the universe I care for... and you're not one of them."

"Damn," Ravyn said, with a hint of humor. "Savitar, that's cold."

Savitar took that in stride. "No one has ever accused me of being anything else. For good reason, I might add."

Ravyn nodded. That was certainly true. He glanced to Susan, who seemed to be completely subdued by Savitar's presence. "Before you go, can I ask one last question?"

"You can ask."

"Do you know where Acheron is?"

Savitar answered without hesitation. "Yes."

He waited for Savitar to continue. When he didn't, Ravyn prompted him, "And where would that be?"

"He's tied up at the moment."

"Tied up how?"

"Double-knotted to a bedpost, not that it's any of your business. That boy was always too trusting for his own good. You'd think by now he'd know better. But no. He's got to be stupid. Personally, I'd tie the bitch up, muzzle her, and ride her around the room with spurs on, but no one ever asks my opinion, do they? No. What do I know? I'm only omniscient."

Was any of that supposed to make sense? Before Ravyn could ask anything more, Savitar vanished.

He stood there with Nick standing between him and Susan. The air around Nick was rife with anger and agitation. It was obvious the man wanted to be anywhere but here.

Ravyn released a perturbed breath. "This is awkward."

"Yeah," Nick agreed. "I'm really getting sick of being dumped on strangers."

He could just imagine. "So why isn't Acheron training you?"

Hatred flared deep in the Cajun's eyes as he curled his lip. "You'll have to ask the bastard that for yourself. Seems he's not man enough to face me after he screwed me over."

Ravyn sucked his breath in between his teeth. He only knew Nick vicariously through the Dark-Hunter bulletin boards that Nick had run as a Squire. In those days, Nick had been friendly enough, if not a bit acidic at times. Then one night, about two years ago, Nick had gone missing. No one had known what had happened to him.

Until now.

Susan gave him a sympathetic smile. "I take it you and Acheron aren't on the best of terms."

"You think?" Nick looked around the room as if trying to place it. "Where am I?"

Ravyn exchanged an awkward glance with Susan before he answered. "Seattle."

Nick frowned in her direction. "And who's she?"

Something about that look and his tone greatly perturbed her. "You know, I am right here in the room, not outside looking in, and to answer your question, I'm a Squire."

"Bully for you," he said coldly. Nick curled his lip. "What's the date?"

Ravyn felt a stab of reluctance go through him. From his past when he was a member of the Omegrion, he knew that Savitar's home, which was a floating island, existed outside of traditional time. Nick most likely had no idea how long he'd been gone or, more to the point, what had been happening in New Orleans over the last few months. "June 3, 2006."

Nick's mouth dropped. "I'm missing almost two years of my life."

"No, Nick," Ravyn said quietly. "You're missing two years of your death."

He grew quiet at the reminder.

"Let me get Dorian," Susan said, her blue eyes filled with sympathy for a man she didn't even know. "I'm sure he has some place to put you." But before she could move, the back door opened to show Otto coming in with a large box in his arms.

He took one look at Nick and froze in place.

Time hung still as the two men faced each other with a shared look of stunned shock. It was obvious that they never thought they'd see each other again.

Nick was the first to recover himself. "Otto? What are you doing here?"

"Me? I thought you were dead..." He set the box down as he approached Nick like a man seeing a ghost for the first time. He offered Nick his hand and when he took it, Otto pulled him against his chest for a man hug.

When they pulled apart, Otto's gaze narrowed on the bow and arrow tattoo on Nick's face. "Jesus, it's true. You are a Dark-Hunter."

Nick's features hardened as if he hated that fact. "Why are you in Seattle?"

"I-uh... I got transferred up here."


A veil fell over Otto's face. Ravyn had to give him credit, he had the best poker face he'd ever seen. Otto, along with a whole crew of New Orleans Squires, had been evacuated out of the city just before Katrina hit. Since then, they'd been slowly moving back to Louisiana, with Otto, Tad, and Kyl being the last to go. They'd been kept here a little longer while the New Orleans Council recouped. Not to mention that the Daimons hadn't been very active there since the hurricane.

"Council's orders," Otto said in a bland tone.

Nick nodded as if in understanding.

Otto's brow furrowed as he continued to stare at Nick like he was a bad science experiment. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm supposed to train him," Ravyn said.

The poker face slipped as Otto's jaw went slack. "You?"


"What about Ash?"

Nick cursed. "He's recused himself." There was so much tension in the air that it was tangible.

"We need to find Nick some place to sleep," Susan said, trying to alleviate the unspoken hostility.

Otto shifted the box in his hands. "He can bunk in my room. I won't be sleeping for a while anyway." He stepped past Nick, toward the stairs.

They disappeared for a second before Otto came back alone.

He neared the two of them, then spoke in a low whisper. "Whatever you do, don't mention Katrina to Nick. I don't think he needs to know what's happened to New Orleans until he gets some bearing on being back here again. Not to mention, he was originally from the Ninth Ward."

"Don't worry," Ravyn said. "I'm not about to tell him."

Nodding, Otto left them again.

"Are you okay?" Susan asked.

Ravyn shrugged. "Honestly, I have no idea. Any more than I understand why Savitar would release Nick to me. How can I train him with all the crap that's going on?"

"Like he said, Savitar trusts you."

Yeah, but he couldn't imagine why. This day made no sense whatsoever to him. Tired and baffled, he held his hand out to her so that they could return downstairs. "C'mon. We still have a lot of stuff to cover. "

Ash growled low in his throat as he twisted at the rope that held his arm to Artemis's bedpost. At the moment, he hated her.

No, wait, he basically hated her every moment of every day, but at this particular time, he really wanted to rip her head off and play a few games of baseball with it. He stared at the gold hourglass that was set on the shelf across from the bed and watched as the last few grains of black sand fell through it.

He should have known that nothing with Artemis would ever be simple. When he'd made the bargain with her, he forgot to stipulate that she had to stay in the room for a full hour. Instead, she'd finished her fifth orgasm, then vanished out from under him before he could uphold his part.

But not before she'd tied him to her bed to keep him from going after her. Leaning his head back, he ground his teeth in frustration. Yes, he could use his powers to free his arm, but whenever he did that, Artemis went wild on him because the other gods on Olympus could feel it. They weren't "supposed" to know that he was here.

Yeah, right. They'd known for centuries that he stayed with her in her temple, but all of them pretended ignorance so that they didn't have to deal with Artemis's temper tantrums. If only I were that lucky. . . .

Dressed in a long, flowing white gown, Artemis appeared beside the bed. She feigned shock as she saw her hourglass that was now empty. "Oh no, did the hour end?"

"You know it did."

She tsked. "Then I guess we have to start over, don't we?"


"Don't take that tone with me, Acheron," she said sullenly. "You accepted the terms of your release." She freed his arm, then rubbed at the bruise on his wrist that had been caused by the rope. "Now, now, love, don't be petulant."

Ash recovered his features to the typical stoicism he wore around her. Fine. Now that he knew the rules, he could turn them on her. Rising from the bed, he went to the hourglass and turned it over.

Artemis watched him with a curious frown.

Ash returned to her side and reached for the brooch that held her dress over her body. He opened the brooch and let her dress fall in a puddle at her feet. "Now where were we?"

Susan caught herself as her head dropped down. Blinking, she stifled a yawn. Ravyn reached around her and took her hand from the keyboard.

"Let's call it a night."


"Susan, you've been a trooper, but it's already dawn and you look like you're ready to keel over from exhaustion. You can't keep going like this. You're as likely to overlook something as you are to find it."

As much as she hated to admit it, he was right. She'd read the last paragraph at least a dozen times and she still wasn't sure what it said. Her head hurt and it was all she could do to keep her eyes open. "I guess you're right."

This time she didn't bother to hide her yawn as Ravyn shut down the computer for her.

"Did you find anything?" he asked her.

"Not yet. There are a couple of entries about some of the missing students whose parents called trying to locate them. Jimmy wrote that he took the inquiries to his chief only to be told not to worry about runaways. The chief told him he needed to focus his attention on other cases. That's odd, right? I mean, if he's covering up for Daimons, it makes sense. Otherwise why wouldn't he let Jimmy keep investigating their whereabouts?"

"I have no idea. Dealing with the police force isn't something I have much experience with. I tend to avoid them as much as possible."

Susan rubbed her eyes before she helped Ravyn pick up the files he'd been reading through. "What about you?"

"Not much to say. Just case notes. There are a few that mention a couple of witnesses who changed their testimony about an investigation he had that involved some woman he'd been trailing. But no real names or information. It's so vague that I'm not even sure what he was referring to. "

"C'mon, Jimmy," she breathed as she put away the file folders. "Tell me something we need to solve this."

Ravyn pulled her up against his hard chest. It was the most soothing thing she'd ever known. And if she closed her eyes, she could almost pretend they were something more than strangers. But that was stupid. She knew better. "Enough, Susan. You need sleep."

"I know." She looked down at the uninviting mattress.

Ravyn got up and started for the door.

She frowned at him. "Where are you going?"

"To tell Dorian to set you up in a bedroom upstairs where you can get a decent day's rest."


He gave her a "duh" stare. "You're not allergic to daylight. There's no need for you to stay down here in this disgusting hole with me. At least one of us should get a good sleep."

His thoughtfulness warmed her. Susan caught his hand and pulled him back into the room. "It's okay. I'd rather be here with you."


"Sh," she said, placing a finger over his lips. "Don't argue. Besides, I'm too tired to climb those stairs one more time and I'm sure you are, too." She pulled him back into the room and closed the door. "We can be grown-ups about this."

Ravyn wasn't so sure about that. All he could focus on was those lips that begged him for a kiss. He glanced down at her body and felt his own stirring in response. Not to mention the scent of her hung heavy around his animal's senses.

Yeah, he could be grown-up about this...

Switching off the light, he allowed her to pull him down on the mattress. He grabbed the blanket and covered them. Then he turned his back to her, hoping that might ease some of the temptation.

She sneezed. "Ravyn?"


"Could you roll over?"

His heart skipped a beat at her question. "Why?"

"I'm allergic to your hair and I have to sleep on my left side. I don't know why, but it's the only way I can rest. "

That really wasn't the answer he'd been looking for. He was actually hoping she'd wanted him to flip over for her to molest him.

Unfortunately, he wasn't that lucky. "Are you serious?"

She sneezed again. "Yeah. I'm rather positive."

Great. Just great. She was allergic to him. Well, that was a new one. Sighing heavily, he rolled over only to realize that facing her was a big mistake. It brought the soft, delicate scent of her skin right up to him. Not to mention that his hand was dangerously close to the breast he wanted to explore.

She opened her eyes to look up at him with an expression that said she wasn't any more immune to him than he was to her. Normally that invitation would kick him into action.

But she was a Squire, completely forbidden fruit, and the last thing he needed was to be physical with a human he had feelings for. Not that he was completely sure what those feelings were, but she wouldn't be a one-night stand for him. He couldn't just sleep with her and leave. It was wrong, and it was the last thing either of them need.

Which meant he had to keep his hands to himself. Frustrated, he moved to the other side and lay back-to-back with her. "Is this okay?"

"Perfect," she said in a voice that was so laden with sleep he wasn't even sure if she was awake.

He smiled at the grogginess of her voice. "Night, Susan."

"Night, gorgeous." The words were barely out of her mouth before he heard her fall into a deep sleep.

How he wished it were that easy for him, but his erection was throbbing so badly that it was all he could do to lie still and not attend to it in some way.

Closing his eyes, he imagined Susan in his arms, her naked body pressed up against his as he sank himself deep inside her. Or better yet, her on top of him, riding him slow and easy as they both sought their own piece of paradise...

It was an image that both tormented and soothed him as he felt sleep slowly overtake him.

"Who exactly is Savitar?" Satara asked as she faced an angry Stryker in the main hall at Kalosis. The dark hall was empty except for her and her brother, who sat on his throne, thrumming his fingers against the carved arm as he eyed her with malice.

"That would be the question d'eternite, little sister. Basically he is what makes everything evil and otherwise quake in its boots. I've never met a god yet who didn't flinch at his approach, and that includes the bastard who donated his sperm to create us. Savitar scares the gods so much that they won't even speak his name for fear of drawing his attention to them. Ironically, the only person who doesn't fear him is Acheron. No idea why."

That didn't bode well for her plans. As a handmaiden to Artemis, Satara had never even heard of this man, but then given what her brother said, that made sense. Artemis liked to keep her head down low. "How do we fight him?"

"We don't. I already told you, we don't screw with him."

She wanted to choke him for his obstinacy and fear. If there was anything she loathed it was weakness. "Then how do we get inside the Serengeti to drive out Ravyn?"

"Again, we don't." Stryker rose to his feet and stepped down from his dais. He strode forward with an eerie, silent gait until he was beside her. "My plan, such as it was, for Seattle has fallen apart. Now that the Dark-Hunters know what we're up to, there's no point in pursuing it. The game is over."

"Not so fast," she said as her mind played through everything that had gone wrong. "What was your original plan?"

"What do you mean?"

"Before Seattle opened its doors to you, what did you have planned?"

He didn't answer. But even so, Satara knew. "You're after Acheron. You want to see him suffer." She stepped closer to him so that she could whisper faintly in a voice that the goddess who ruled this realm wouldn't hear. "More than that, you're after Apollymi herself for all the pain the two of them have caused you."

He didn't react, but still she knew the agony Stryker harbored. To prove his devotion to Apollymi, he'd cut his son's throat and made Urian a bitter enemy.

Urian had been the only thing Stryker had ever loved. And that included her. He kept her around only because he didn't like to be totally alone, but at the end of the day, she didn't have any delusions about where she fell in his affections. If she died this instant, he would shrug it off and move on.

Urian, on the other hand, was a constantly festering wound that ate at him.

"Do you have a point?" Stryker asked from between clenched teeth.

She nodded as a new idea formed. "There are still ways to damage Acheron here and now."

"Such as?"

"Oh, Stryker," she said in a pitying voice. "Of all men, you should know exactly how to cripple someone. What hurts more than having someone you trust beyond measure turn on you?"

His face hardened and she knew he was thinking of the day he'd learned Urian had been lying to him while protecting the family Stryker was sworn to kill.

"Yes," she whispered in his ear. "Now imagine turning one of Acheron's men to our side without his knowing it? We can do to him exactly what he did to you..."

Suspicion darkened his eyes. "How?"

She laughed low and evil. "What has always been the downfall of man, my brother?"

He didn't hesitate with his answer. "Pride."

"Hardly." She held her hand up to her face and blew a deep breath across her nails before she pinned him with an evil stare. "Love, my brother. It is the one thing that men will kill to possess. The one thing that will make them do things that they would never normally do. Things they can't even conceive of. And it will be the one thing that will ultimately bring Acheron to his knees. His Dark-Hunters are the one weakness that we can reach and exploit. We haven't lost Seattle yet. There are still ways to claim the city and drive a spike straight through Acheron's heart."

"And if you're wrong?"

"What have we got to lose? Honestly?" Satara stood on her tiptoes so that their gazes were locked and level. She offered him a tiny hint of a hopeful smile even though his face was still hard and unforgiving. "But if I'm right?"

He blinked and looked away as if considering her words. When his gaze came back to hers, it was filled with all the raw, aching need he had to win this war against Acheron and Apollymi. "If you're right, Satara, I'll deliver the Atlantean up to you on a silver platter and hand you the dagger you need to cleave his heart out of his chest."

"That's not what I want, Stryker. That's your dream."

His eyes flashed in greedy expectation. "Fine then. You get this for me and I'll give you the secret to kill Artemis and free you from her service forever."

Satara closed her eyes as she tried to imagine it. If she never saw that bitch another day in her life, it would be too soon.


It was too good to be true. Her heart racing at the prospect, she held her hand up to Stryker. "Have we a deal then, Brother?"

He took her hand in his and held it over his heart. "Yes, we do."