The Darkest Lie


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this is the 6th book in Gena Showalter's series of LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD

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The Darkest Lie

  1. 1. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie1
  2. 2. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie2The DarkestLieGena Showalter
  3. 3. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie3Dear Reader,Im delighted to present The Darkest Lie, the sixth installment of myparanormal series, Lords of the Underworld. In a remote fortress inBudapest, twelve immortal warriors--each more dangerously seductivethan the last--are bound by an ancient curse none has been able to break.When a powerful enemy returns, they will travel the world in search of asacred relic of the gods--one that threatens to destroy them all.In this story Gideon, the keeper of Lies, battles Scarlet, the keeper ofNightmares. And by "battles" I, of course, mean seduces, infuriates, utterlybaffles and completely charms. She claims to be his long-lost wife. Onlyproblem is, he cant remember her. But, oh, does he want her. And hell doanything to have her...Join me on a journey through this darkly sensual world, where theline between good and evil blurs and true love is put to the ultimate test.
  4. 4. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie4And dont miss Into the Dark (out now!), featuring two extended Lords ofthe Underworld eBooks in print for the first time, plus fun bonus material,as well as The Darkest Passion, Aerons story, also available now. And staytuned for more Lords of the Underworld tales coming in 2011 as thestakes get higher, the quest more dangerous and the romance hotter!Wishing you all the best,Gena Showalter
  5. 5. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie5More stunning tales from Gena Showalter are comingyour way!In September 2010, watch for the sequel toIntertwined Unraveled
  6. 6. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie6In honor of the keeper of Lies, I thought Id write this dedication in GideonSpeak.To someone who didnt (and doesnt) help me every step of the way:Margo Lipschultz.To the five men I absolutely despise:Jill Monroe, Kresley Cole and P.C. Cast.To my hated wife: Max.And firstly, to Gideon herself. To my complete delight, you made my job soeasy, the words flowing like smooth, rich wine. You never once provedstubborn, drove me to the edge of insanity or put yourself in impossiblepositions that I then had to scramble to find ways out of.Thank you.
  7. 7. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie7PROLOGUEGIDEON STARED down at the woman sleeping atop the bed ofcloud-soft cerulean cotton.His wife.Maybe.Inky hair tangled around an innately sensual face, long lashes castingshadows over graceful cheeks. One of her hands rested at her temple, herfingers curling inward, her azure-painted nails gleaming in the goldenglow of the lamp. Her nose was perfect in shape and size, her chinstubborn, and her lips the plumpest--and reddest--hed ever seen.
  8. 8. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie8And her body...gods. Perhaps those made-for-sin curves were thereason she bore the name Scarlet. Her wickedly rounded breasts...theslender dip of her waist...the feminine flare of her hips...the lean length ofher legs...every part of her was meant to lure, to ensnare.Without a doubt, she was the most hauntingly lovely female hed everbeheld. A genuine sleeping beauty. Only, this beauty would come upswinging if he tried to kiss her awake.The thought had him grinning in pure male satisfaction.One look, and a man knew she was passion and fire underneath thatsnow-white skin. What most men didnt know, however, was that, likeGideon, she was possessed by a demon.
  9. 9. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie9Difference is, I earned mine. She didnt.For-freaking-ever ago, hed helped his friends steal and openPandoras box, unleashing the evil inside. Yeah, yeah. A mistake. Hardlyworth a seconds thought, if you asked him, but the gods hadnt, so, aspunishment, each warrior responsible was cursed to host a demon insidehis own body. Baddies like Death, Disaster, Violence, Disease, yada yada.Thered been more demons than warriors, though, so the remainingfiends had been placed inside the immortal prisoners of Tartarus. WhereScarlet had resided her entire life.Gideon was paired with Lies, Scarlet with Nightmares.Clearly, hed gotten the short end of that demon-stick. She merely
  10. 10. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie10slept like the dead and invaded peoples dreams. He couldnt utter a singletruth without suffering. To tell a pretty woman that she was pretty was tofall to his knees, agony unlike any other exploding through him, cutting athis organs, acid spilling through his blood, draining his strength, eveneroding his desire to live."Youre ugly," hed have to say instead. Most females would burstinto tears and run the hell away. So, yeah, he was immune to tears.But what would Scarlet do? he found himself wondering. And wouldher tears bother him?He reached out and traced a fingertip along the curve of her jaw.Such silky, warm skin. Would she laugh at him, unconcerned? Would shetry and slice his throat? Believe him? Call him a liar?
  11. 11. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie11Or would she haul ass like the others?The thought of hurting her, angering her and ultimately losing herdidnt sit well with him.His arm fell to his side, hand fisting. Maybe Ill tell her the truth.Maybe Ill praise her. But he knew he wouldnt. Make that mistake once,fine. You were stupid. Make it twice, and you were proving Darwinstheory.Hed already made it once.Gideons greatest enemy, the Hunters, had captured him and told himthat theyd killed Sabin, keeper of the demon of Doubt. Now, Gideon lovedthat man like a brother--boy could bitch-slap like no one else--so hederupted, screaming how much he hated them, how he was going to kill
  12. 12. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie12them all, and it had been the gods honest truth, every word of it. Thoughit might take him years, centuries, to see the promise through, that didntmatter. Hed meant it and had been penalized for it, the anguishinstantaneous.After that, curled on the floor and writhing, hed been an easy targetfor torture. And torture him the Hunters had. Repeatedly.After beating him so severely his eyes had swollen shut and severalteeth had flown the coop, after shoving sharp pins under his nails,electrocuting him and carving the mark of infinity--their mark--into hisback, theyd removed his hands. Hed seriously thought hed reached theend. Until a very much alive Sabin had found him, rescued him andcarried him home (after doing some of that aforementionedbitch-slapping).Thankfully, both of his hands had finally regenerated. Something hed
  13. 13. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie13been waiting for. Very...patiently. So he could seek revenge, yes. Or rather,that had been the case at first. But then his friends had jailed this woman,this Scarlet, and she had claimed they were husband and wife.His priorities had kinda switched at that point.He didnt remember her, much less wedding her. But he had seenflashes of her face all these thousands of years. Mostly every time hecollapsed atop a woman, sweaty but not truly replete because he was toofilled with longing for something, or someone, he hadnt been able toname. Therefore, he couldnt outright deny her claim. And he needed todeny her. To prove her wrong.Otherwise, he would have to live with the knowledge that hedabandoned a woman hed promised to protect. Hed have to live with theknowledge that hed slept with other women while his wife suffered.
  14. 14. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie14Hed have to live with the knowledge that someone had fucked withhis memory.Yeah, hed demanded an explanation from Scarlet, but she wasstubborn to her core and had refused to tell him anything more. Like howtheyd met, when theyd met, if theyd been in love, happy. How theydsplit.To be honest, he couldnt blame her for keeping the details a secret.How could he? She had been as much a prisoner to the Lords as hedrecently been to the Hunters, and he hadnt talked to his captors, either.Even during that oh, so pleasant hand extraction.So, hed come up with a plan. For Scarlet to open up to him, he wouldhave to take her somewhere else. Just for a little while. Just until he hadanswers. Then, this morning, hed done it. While his supposed wife slept,
  15. 15. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie15oblivious to the world around her, hed kidnapped her from his home andcarted her fireman-style to this hotel in central Budapest.Finally, he would have everything he wanted.All she had to do was wake up...
  16. 16. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie16CHAPTER ONEA few hours earlier...LETS GET THE PARTY STARTED, Gideon thought with unparalleleddetermination as he stomped through the renovated hallways of hisBudapest fortress.The demon of Lies hummed inside his head, heartily in agreement.Both of them liked Scarlet, their alleged wife, but for different reasons.Gideon liked the look of her and the saucy, forked-tongued comments shemade. Lies liked... Gideon wasnt sure. He only knew that the beast purredin approval every time she opened her beautiful,I-can-do-things-youve-only-dreamed-about mouth.
  17. 17. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie17It was a reaction usually reserved for pathological liars. Except, thedemon couldnt actually tell if she fibbed or not. Which meant beneath allthat affection for Scarlet, Lies was frustrated, sensitive to every word thatleft Gideons mouth. And that made Gideons life frustrating as hell. Hecouldnt even call his friends by their own names anymore.Was she or wasnt she a filthy freaking liar? And yeah, he was wellaware of the irony. He, a man who couldnt utter a single truth, wascomplaining about someone who might be feeding him a big, heapingbowl of shit. But were they or werent they? Had they or hadnt they? Hehad to know before he drove himself insane, puzzling over everythingshed ever said and everything hed ever done and thought.His request that she just lay out the facts, black and white, boom,done, over had been ignored for the last time.
  18. 18. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie18He was finally taking action.Hopefully, pretending to rescue her from his own dungeon wouldcause her to trust him. Hopefully, trusting him would cause her to openthe hell up and answer his godsdamn questions.Oops. His frustration was showing again."You cant do this, Gid," Strider, keeper of the demon of Defeat, said,suddenly keeping pace beside him.Fuck. Anyone but him.Strider couldnt lose a challenge, any challenge, without suffering asGideon suffered when he spoke true. Including Xbox, and that was
  19. 19. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie19seriously screwing with Gideons "Assassins Creed" mojo, because yeah,Gideon had challenged him, trying to distract himself and work out thestiffness in his new fingers.Anyway. Always, without question, he and Strider guarded eachothers backs (video games aside). So, he shouldnt have been surprisedthat his friend was here, resolved to save him from himself. Didnt meanhed roll over and play dead."Shes dangerous," Strider added. "A walking blade through the heart,dude."Yes, she was. She invaded dreams, presented sleepers with theirworst fears and fed off the ensuing terror. Hell, a few weeks ago, sheddone it to him. With spiders. He shuddered, momentarily sick to hisstomach as he pictured the hairy little bastards crawling all over him.
  20. 20. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie20Pussy. Suck it up. Hed faced countless swinging swords withoutflinching--as well as the monsters wielding them. What were a fewspiders? Another shudder. Revolting, thats what. He knew what theywere thinking every time their beady eyes landed on him: tasty.But why hadnt Scarlet invaded anyone elses dreams? Hedwondered about that almost as much as hed wondered about their"marriage." The other warriors, their female companions, shed left alone.Despite the fact that shed threatened to slaughter every single one ofthem. Something she truly could do."Damn it. Stop ignoring me," Strider growled, punching a hole in thesilver-stone wall seconds after they passed a closed bedroom door. "Youknow my demon doesnt like it."Dust and debris plumed the air, a loud crack echoing. Great. Soon,
  21. 21. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie21other warriors would be up and running to find out what had justhappened. Or maybe not. As temperamental as members of thishousehold were (cough too much testosterone cough), they had to beused to unexpected, violent noises."Look. Im not sorry." Gideon flicked his friend a glance, taking in theblond hair, the blue eyes and the deceptively innocent features that weresomehow perfect for his he-man build. More than one woman had calledhim "beautifully all-American," whatever that meant. Those same womenusually avoided looking at Gideon, as if even roving their gazes over histattoos and piercings would blacken their souls. For all he knew, theywere right. "But youre correct. I cant do this."Which meant that Strider was wrong and, yes, Gideon damn wellcould do this. So suck it!Everyone who lived in this fortress--and godsdamn, there were a lot
  22. 22. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie22of people, the number seemingly growing by the day as his friends eachhooked up with their "one and only" (gag)--was fluent in Gideon Speakand knew to believe the opposite of whatever he said."Fine," Strider said tightly. "You can. But you wont. Because youknow that if you take the woman out of this home, Ill go gray from worry.And you like my hair the way it is.""Stridey-man. Are you hitting on me? Trying to get me to run myfingers through those mangy locks?""Shithead," Strider muttered, but his anger was clearly defused.Gideon chuckled. "Sweetie pie."
  23. 23. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie23Striders lips even twitched into a grin. "You know I hate when youget mushy like that."Boy loved it. No question.They snaked a corner, bypassing one of the many sitting rooms thefortress possessed. This one was empty. As early in the morning as it was,most of the warriors were still in bed with their women. If they werentweaponing-up at that exact moment, of course.Out of habit, he scanned the area. In this particular room, portraits ofnaked men littered the walls, courtesy of the goddess of Anarchy whosewarped sense of humor rivaled Gideons own. There were red leatherchairs (Reyes, the keeper of Pain, sometimes had to cut himself to quiethis demon, so red came in handy), gleaming bookshelves (Paris, keeper ofPromiscuity, enjoyed romance novels), and weird silver lamps thattwisted and curved over the chairs; he had no idea who those were for.
  24. 24. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie24Fresh flowers bloomed from vases, sweetly scenting the air. Again, he hadno idea. Fine. Hed requested those. That shit smelled good.Gideon breathed deeply of that fresh, delicious air. Except he endedup inhaling a nose full of guilt. Sadly, that happened all the time lately.While he luxuriated in this, his would-be wife rotted below in thedungeons. Before this, shed spent thousands of years in Tartarus, so thatmade him doubly cruel for leaving her down there.Really, what kind of man allowed such a thing? An asshole, thatswho, and he was certainly king of them. After all, he was going to returnScarlet to the dungeon once his questions were answered. For, like, ever.Even if she was--or rather, had been--his wife.Yes. He was a bad, bad man.
  25. 25. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie25She was simply too dangerous to be permanently freed, her ability toinvade dreams too destructive. Because when you died in one of Scarletsnightmares, you died for real. That was it. The end. And if she everdecided to aid the Hunters, which could happen, scorned women and allthat, the Lords would never be able to sleep soundly again. And theyneeded their beauty rest or they became snarling beasts.Case in point: Gideon. He hadnt slept in weeks.Slow down, his demon suddenly instructed. Moving too fast.Usually Lies was merely a presence in the back of his mind. There,but silent. Only when the demons need was great did he speak up. Buteven then, he had to say the opposite of what he wanted. And now hewanted Gideon to hurry up and reach Scarlet.
  26. 26. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie26Give me wings and its done, Gideon replied dryly, but damn if hedidnt quicken his step. He could and did think what he meant. Always. Henever lied to himself or the demon during these private moments. Maybebecause hed had to fight savagely and without mercy for such moments.Upon possession, hed been lost to darkness and chaos, a slave to hissoul-companion and his evil cravings. Hed tormented humans just tohear them scream. Hed burned homes to the ground, as well as thefamilies inside them. Hed killed indiscriminately, and taunted whiledoing so.It had taken a few hundred years, but Gideon had finally clawed hisway to the light. He was in control now, and had even managed to tamethe beast. For the most part.Strider heaved a sigh, regaining his attention. "Gideon, man, listen tome. I said it once, but Ill say it again. You cant take the female outside
  27. 27. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie27these walls. Shell run from you, you know she will. Hunters are in thecity, we know that, too, and they could catch her. Recruit her. Use her. Or,if she refuses them, even hurt her like they hurt you."One, Strider was speaking as if Gideon couldnt hold on to the wilytemptress for a few days. And he could. He knew how to kick ass and takenames with the best. Two, Strider was speaking as if Gideon would beunable to find her if he did indeed lose her. And three, Strider wasprobably speaking correctly, but that didnt soothe Gideons sudden burstof anger. He may not be the smooth operator that Strider was, but he hadsome skills with the ladies, damn it.More than that, Scarlet herself was a warrior. An immortal. She couldsurround herself with darkness. A darkness so thick no human light, andno immortal eyes, could penetrate it. Losing her wouldnt be asdisgraceful as losing, say, an untrained human.
  28. 28. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie28Not that hed lose her, he told himself again, and not that she wouldwant to run. He was going to seduce her. Was going to pleasure theenergy right out of her and make her desperate to stay with him. Whichshouldnt be too difficult. Shed liked him enough to marry him, right?Maybe. Damn it!"I know what youre thinking," Strider said after another sigh. "If sheescapes you, so what? Youll find her.""Wrong." He had thought that, yeah, but hed soon discarded the idea.So there. What are you? A girl?"Well, what happens to her while youre looking for her? During theday she needs protection, and if youre not with her, whos going toprotect her?"
  29. 29. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie29Fuck. Good point. Scarlet couldnt function during daylight hours.Because of her demon, she slept too deeply. So deeply that nothing and noone could wake her until sunset, a fact hed discovered after nearly givingher a brain aneurysm while trying and failing to shake her intoconsciousness.He had been shocked when, a few hours later, her eyes had poppedopen and shed sat up as if shed just taken a ten-minute power nap.Which had raised other questions. Why did her demon sleep duringthe day, when the people around her were awake? Didnt that defeat thepurpose of creating nightmares? And what happened when she traveledand the time zone changed?"Were lucky we found her when we did," Strider continued. "If wehadnt had Aerons angel on our side, we wouldve died trying to secureher. Setting her free, no matter the reason, is stupid and danger--"
  30. 30. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie30"You havent said that before." Over and over again. "Besides, Olivesno longer on our team." Meaning, she was. "She cant help us again ifneeded." Meaning she could. "Now, I hate you, man, but please keeptalking." I love you, but shut the hell up! Seriously.Strider growled his renewed frustration as they pounded down thesteps that led into the dungeon, stained-glass windows giving way tocrumbling, bloodstained walls. The air became musty, tainted with sweat,urine and blood. None of it was Scarlets, thank the gods. His guilt couldnthave handled that. Fortunately--or unfortunately, depending on whomyou asked--she wasnt the only being locked away. They had severalHunters awaiting payback, aka interrogation, aka torture."What if she was lying to you?" his friend asked. The man didntknow when to quit, and yeah, Gideon knew Strider couldnt quit. Whichwas why he didnt simply punch his friend in the face and beat feet. "What
  31. 31. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie31if shes not really your wife?"Gideon snorted. "Forgot to tell you. Sifting through truth and lies isdifficult for me." Except with her, but he wasnt going to issue thatreminder just then."Yeah, but you also told me you dont know with her."One of them had a perfect memory. Excellent. "Theres no way shecan be my wife." The chances were slim, but yeah, they were there. "Idont have to do this."When Scarlet had first invaded his dreams and demanded he visit herin this dungeon, hed been helpless to do otherwise, filled with a need tosee her, some part of him recognizing her on a level he still didntunderstand. When shed alleged theyd kissed, had sex, even wed each
  32. 32. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie32other, that same part of him had hummed in agreement.Even though he didnt fucking remember her.Why couldnt he remember her? he wondered for the thousandthtime.Hed been playing with several theories. The first: the gods haderased his memory. But that raised the question of why. Why would theynot want him to recall his own wife? Why had they not erased Scarletsmemory, as well?The second theory: hed suppressed the memory himself. But again,why would he have done so? How would he have done so? There were amillion other things hed actually like to forget.
  33. 33. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie33The third: his demon had somehow erased the memory when theywere paired. But if that were true, why did he recall his life in theheavens, when hed been a servant to Zeus, tasked with guarding theformer god king at every moment of every day?He and Strider stopped at the first cell, where Scarlet had resided thepast few weeks. She was asleep on her cot, as hed known she would be.And as hed done each time hed seen her, he sucked in a breath. Lovely.But...Mine? Did he want her to be?No, of course not. That would complicate the hell out of everything.Not that hed let it matter. He couldnt. His friends came first. Thats theway things were, and the way they would always be.
  34. 34. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie34At least she was clean; hed made sure she had enough water to drinkand to bathe. And she was well fed; hed made sure food was deliveredthree times a night. He would do the same when he ultimately returnedher. That would have to be enough.Dont hurry, Lies cried, practically jumping from one corner of hisskull to the other. Dont hurry!Cram it, buddy. Ill handle this. But he couldnt force himself to movejust yet. Hed been waiting for this moment forever, it seemed, andwanted to bask in it.Bask? He really was becoming a woman.Look away before you get an erection, he told himself. All right, now
  35. 35. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie35that was more manly. He purposefully shifted his gaze. The walls aroundher were composed of thick, impenetrable stone. Therefore, she couldnever see the Hunters imprisoned beside her. Actually, Gideon didnt careabout that. He didnt want the Hunters seeing her.Yeah. He wanted mine. At least for now.Speaking of the Hunters, they spotted the warriors through their ownbars and shrank into the shadows, their murmurs tapering to quiet. Theymight have stopped breathing as well, so afraid were they of being singledout. Good. He liked that his enemy feared him.They had every reason to do so.These men had imprisoned and raped innocent, immortal women inhopes of creating half-breed children they could raise to hate and fight
  36. 36. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie36Gideon and his friends. Children who wouldve been able to help theHunters find Pandoras box before the Lords could, all in hopes of usingthe artifact to separate each demon from its host. An act the warriorswouldnt survive, as man was now bound irrevocably to beast.That, too, was part of their punishment for opening that stupid box.Gideon withdrew the key to Scarlets cell, his new fingers stiff andshaky from disuse, and reached out."Wait." Strider placed a hard hand on his shoulder, trying to hold himin place. Gideon could have shaken free, but he allowed his friend theillusion of winning this small battle of wills. "You can talk to her here. Getyour answers here."But they had an audience, which meant she couldnt relax. And if she
  37. 37. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie37couldnt relax, she wouldnt allow him to touch her. Degenerate that hewas, he wanted to touch her. Besides, how else was he going to seduceinformation from her? By telling her how ugly she was? By telling herwhat he didnt want to do to her?"Dont ease off, man. Like I havent told you countless times, I have noplans to bring her back when I find out what I dont want to know. Okay?""If you can bring her back. We discussed that little problem already,too. Remember?"Kinda hard to forget. Unfortunately. "I wont be careful. You donthave my word. But I dont need to do this. Its not important to me."That hard hand never left him. "Now isnt the time to leave us. Wehave three artifacts, and Galens pissed as hell. Hes gonna want revenge
  38. 38. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie38for the one we took from him."Galen was leader of the Hunters, as well as a demon-possessedwarrior. Only, he looked angelic and was paired with the demon of Hope,so all of his human followers thought he was, indeed, an angel. Because ofhim, they blamed each of the Lords for the worlds evil. Because of him,they expected a future free of that evil, and fought to the death to achieveit.Aerons new woman, Olivia, who actually was an honest-to-her-Godangel, had stolen that third artifact from the bastard. The Cloak ofInvisibility. As there were four artifacts needed to lead the way toPandoras box--the All-Seeing Eye (check), the Cage of Compulsion(check), the Cloak of Invisibility (as stated, check) and the Paring Rod(check coming soon)--Galen was desperate to win back the Cloak, as wellas confiscate all the others.
  39. 39. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie39Which meant their war was really heating up.Didnt matter, though. Nothing was going to deter Gideon from hispresent course of action. Mainly because part of him felt like his very lifedepended on this. "Gid. Dude."He flicked his friend a narrowed glance, lips pulling back in a snarl."Youre begging to be kissed." Beaten to hell.A moment passed in heavy silence."Fine," Strider finally muttered, raising his arms, palms out. "Takeher."Jeez. "Wasnt planning on it, but many thanks for the approval." But
  40. 40. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie40why wasnt Strider collapsed on the ground, out for the count? Hed justlost a challenge, hadnt he?"When will you return?"Gideon shrugged. "I wasnt thinking...a week?" Surely seven days wasplenty of time to soften Scarlet toward him and get her to open up abouttheir past. Right now, she seemed to hate his guts. He didnt know why,but he would. It was a vow. But still. She clearly preferred dangerous men.Why else would she have supposedly married him? So he fit the bill."Three days," Strider said.Ah. Negotiation time. That was why Strider hadnt fallen to hisdemon. He wasnt defeated, merely trying another strategy. Gideon coulddig. He felt just as guilty about leaving his boys behind as he did about
  41. 41. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie41leaving Scarlet in this cell. They needed him, and if they were hurt whilehe was gone, he would completely flip his lid."Im not thinking five now," he compromised."Four.""No deal."Grinning, Strider nodded. "Good."So. He had four days to soften Scarlet. Hed fought more difficultbattles in less time, he was sure. Funny that he couldnt recall them at themoment, though.
  42. 42. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie42Hell, maybe he just suffered from selective memory loss. Maybefights and Scarlet--whom hed probably fought with a lot, since she wasopinionated, bossy and mouthy as shit--were the biggest casualties of thatloss.He wouldve liked to remember the sex, though. Mind-blowing. Hejust knew it."Ill inform the others," Strider said. "But in the meantime, Ill driveyou to wherever you want to take her.""Sure thing." Gideon finally inserted the key and unlocked Scarletscell, the door swinging open with a whine. "Im not gonna drive hermyself. I want everyone to know where were going."
  43. 43. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie43Strider gave another growl, this one just as frustrated but now lacedwith anger. "Stubborn jackass. I have to know you made it safely towherever youre going or I wont be able to concentrate enough to killanyone. And you know Im on a strict, at-least-one-Hunter-a-day diet.""Thats why you wont be getting a phone call from me." Gideonapproached Scarlets still-sleeping form. She no longer surroundedherself in that impermeable darkness while she slept. As if she wantedGideon to always be able to see her. As if she trusted him not to hurt her.At least, thats what he told himself."Gods. I cant believe you talked me into this. Did I tell you alreadythat youre a shithead?""Nope." Gently he scooped Scarlet into his arms.
  44. 44. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie44Sighing, she rubbed her cheek against his heart. A heart that was nowbeating against his ribs like a sledgehammer. She must have liked theerratic rhythm, because she cuddled closer. Nice.She was five-nine to his six-three, slender, but leanly muscled. Shehad refused the clothes hed offered her, so she wore the T-shirt and jeansAeron had found her in.Gideon inhaled deeply again, but this time there was no guilt. Shesmelled of floral-scented soap, and it consumed him. What had shesmelled like all those years ago, when theyd supposedly been married?Flowers, like now? Or something else? Something more exotic? Somethingas dark and sensual as she was? Something he would have enjoyedsucking into his mouth as he tongued her from head to toe?
  45. 45. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie45Head out of gutter. Now wasnt the time to indulge such thoughts.He turned with her clutched tightly to his chest, a treasure he wouldprotect while they were outside the fortress walls. Even from his friends.He knew he was contradicting himself, thinking of her in such romanticterms and so ferociously, when his intentions were neither pure norhonorable, but he couldnt help himself. Stupid lust.Striders expression was wary, but accepting, silently telling him nodefensive moves would be necessary. "Go. And be careful."Gods, he loved his friends. They supported him no matter what. Theyalways had."By the way. You look like youre a cat, and you just found a bowl ofcream," Strider said with a shake of his head. "Thats not comforting. You
  46. 46. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie46have no idea what youre getting yourself into, do you?"Maybe not. Because he hadnt looked forward to something thisintensely in a long time, and he probably shouldve been wary. Having hisidiocy pointed out, though... "Im not showing you a finger in my mind. Doyou know that?""Yeah, I know. Its your index finger and youre telling me Imnumber one."He laughed. Something like that."Four days," his friend reminded him. "Or I come find you."Gideon blew him a kiss.
  47. 47. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie47Strider rolled his eyes. "You wish. But listen. Ill be praying for you toreturn to us alive. And with the girl. And that shes alive, too. Oh, and thatyoure satisfied with what you learn. And that she satisfied you in otherways, so youll forget about her like youve done all the other women inyour life."Okay. That was a lot of prayers. "Thanks. A lot. I really mean that. Sowhen didnt you become a priest? And when did the gods decide theyliked answering us?" Strider had never wasted his time on prayers before,and the gods actually adored ignoring their requests.No, not true, he corrected himself. Cronus, the newly crowned Titanking, now liked to visit the fortress without an invite and make all kinds ofshitty demands Gideon and the others were forced to obey.
  48. 48. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie48Like killing innocent humans. Like choosing to save either yourwoman or your friend. Like begging to be told where your friends spirithad been sent when the friend in question had had his head cleaved fromhis body. Yeah, that had happened. Aeron had lost his head to a warriorangel and at Cronuss behest, Gideon had begged (in his way) to knowwhere the mans spirit resided, tears streaming down his face. Actually,all of them had begged and sobbed like babies.But in the end, Cronus had still refused to tell them. Because theydneeded a lesson in humility, the bastard had said.Then, of course, Aeron had returned on his own. Or rather, with hissweet Olivias help. Hed been restored to his body, minus his demon, andonce again lived here in the fortress. But Gideon had yet to forgive Cronusfor his disregard, so prayers werent something he would be offeringanytime soon.
  49. 49. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie49"Priest." Striders head slanted thoughtfully. Of course, he ignoredGideons questions. Him, though, Gideon easily forgave. "I like it. I mean,its practically true. I have sent many women through the gates ofheaven."Hadnt they all?And Scarlet would be no different, he assured himself.Grinning now, Gideon carried his woman away.
  50. 50. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie50CHAPTER TWOSCARLET AWOKE with a jolt. But then, she always did. The momenther demons required time in dreamland ended, awareness would slaminto her brain, as if shed been hooked to a generator and the switch hadbeen flipped.Panting, sweating, she sat up, wild gaze roving though not reallyseeing. Yet. The screams she and her demon had garnered from theirvictims were already fading, but the images theyd projected into thosesleeping minds remained in hers. Crackling flames, melting flesh, blackash wafting and dancing in the breeze.The nights terror du jour had been fire.
  51. 51. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie51She couldnt control the demon while she slept, as he searched outanyone he could find, wreaking what havoc he could. She could, however,make suggestions, urging him to attack certain people in certain ways.And he usually rushed to do so. Not that shed made any suggestionslately.Ever since the Lords of the Underworld had captured her, shed beenoperating on autopilot, her thoughts consumed with one warrior inparticular. The blue-haired, gorgeous, utterly frustrating Gideon.Why didnt he remember her?As always, recalling his selective amnesia had every muscle in herbody tensing on bone. Her hands fisted; her teeth gnashed together, littlepains shooting through her jaw. But most of all, a savage need to killsomeone, anyone, consumed her.
  52. 52. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie52Anger isnt good for those around you. Calm down. Think ofsomething else.She forced her mind to return to her demon; sadly, death and chaoswere a much safer topic than that of her husband. During their hoursawake--which amounted to twelve each and every day, though not alwaysthe same twelve--she pulled the strings. She could summon the darkness,and she could garner the screams. The demon could urge her, and sheoften heeded those urgings. Turnabout was fair play, after all. Andusually, Nightmares liked to urge. Scare him... Make her scream...But right now, her demon was strangely content.Were out of the dungeon, Nightmares said, seeing theirsurroundings before she could.
  53. 53. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie53Aw. No wonder.The flames finally died, and Scarlet scanned the area. She frowned.Okay. So. Where the hell was she now?Shed been locked in that dungeon for several weeks, enclosed incrumbling stone and iron bars. Pained moans had constantly drifted fromthe other cells, and all kinds of pungent, acrid scents had taken uppermanent residence inside her nose.Now...decadence. Floral paper decorated the walls, and dark velvetcurtains hung over the bay windows. There was a glistening, violetchandelier over the bed, the lights shaped like bundles of grapes. And thebed, well, her gaze slid along every inch of it. Large, with soft blue sheetsand four hand-carved posters.
  54. 54. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie54Best of all, the air smelled sweet, like those hanging grapes mixedwith apples and vanilla. She breathed deeply, savoring. How had shegotten here? Without her knowledge?Clearly, shed been carried while shed slept like the dead. Somethingshe usually despised but couldnt this time because it meant shed beenset free, just as shed hoped. Yes, hoped. She hadnt wanted to remain inthat fortress, just to be near Gideon. Really.Still. While she was lost to the dreams of others--and yeah, no matterwhat time she slipped into that realm of darkness and turmoil, someone,somewhere was sleeping, the demon feeding off their terror--anyonecould attack her, and she would be unable to defend herself. Anyone coulddo anything to her, and she would be powerless to stop them.
  55. 55. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie55Being moved while she was helpless irked.Usually she protected herself from just such a situation withshadows. She had only to crook a mental finger just before she drifted andthey would envelop her the entire time she slept, making it impossible foranyone to see her. But once shed realized she was inside Gideons home,shed stopped summoning those shadows.Perhaps shed wished, on some level, that watching her while sheslept would revive his memory of her. Perhaps shed wished he wouldgrow to desire her again and beg to be a part of her new life. Which wasstupid. The bastard had left her to rot inside Tartarus; she shouldnt wanthis desire.She should want his ruin.
  56. 56. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie56"Well, well. Im so upset youre finally awake."At the sound of his voice, deep and rumbling, Scarlet stiffened, gazeonce again roving. Then, she spotted him, and her heart stopped abruptly.He stood in the bedrooms doorway, muscled arms hanging loosely. Hewas a warrior whose wicked face promised incomparable nights of sinfulpleasures, his eyes bright with anticipation and contradicting his casualpose.Gideon. Once her beloved husband, but now a man who deservedonly her scorn.Her heart kicked back into gear, quickly gaining speed, and her bloodheated with tendrils of awareness. The same reaction shed experiencedthe first time shed seen him, thousands of years ago.
  57. 57. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie57Not my fault, then or now. There was no man more beautiful, partangel, part devil, and all the more masculine for it. No man who temptedeven as he repelled, someplace deep inside a woman warning her of thedangers that awaited her should she succumb to his allure. Dangers shecouldnt help but crave.He wore a black T-shirt that read "You Know You Want Me," blackpants that bagged just a little and a silver chain belt. There were threepiercings in his right eyebrow, and now one in his lip. A hoop. Silver. Tomatch his belt, she thought snidely.Hed always cared about his appearance, and hadnt liked beingteased about it. Something that had once amused her, for it had showed asofter side of him. A hint of vulnerability.Today, however, she couldnt summon any joviality. While he stoodthere looking as edible as a chocolate truffle dipped in caramel, she
  58. 58. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie58probably resembled a gutter rat dipped in sewage. Shed only been able toscrub herself with the water the Lords brought her each evening, so herclothes were wrinkled and dirty and her hair a mass of tangles."Got lots to say, huh?" he muttered. "Were on the right track, then."She knew he could only speak lies, so she knew exactly what hemeant. He wanted her talking. Keep it cas. Dont let him know how heaffects you. She arched a brow, donning what she hoped was anunconcerned expression. "Remember me yet?" Good. There hadnt been asingle spark of hurt in her tone.His eyes drained of emotion, making those crystalline orbs look ashard as diamonds. "Of course I do."So, no. He didnt. Bastard. She didnt allow her expression to change,
  59. 59. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie59wouldnt let him know how much he upset her. "Then why did you takeme out of the fortress?" Slowly, purposefully, she traced a finger down thecolumn of her neck, between her breasts, wondering if--yep. His gazefollowed the entire way. Did some part of him still find her attractive?"Im a very dangerous woman.""Havent been warned about that already." The words were broken,emerging on a rasp of breath. "And I didnt remove you to talkcomfortably, thats for sure."Not because hed wanted her, then, but just to appease his curiosity.Her hand fell to her lap. She was not disappointed. This was more of thesame, and shed steeled herself against the mental anguish countlesstimes already. One more time should hardly make a difference."Youre a fool if you thought a change of scenery would loosen mytongue."
  60. 60. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie60Though he remained silent, a muscle ticked in his jaw. He was clearlyperturbed.She offered him a sugar-sweet smile, determined to enjoy themoment. And there was something satisfying about leaving him in thedark, keeping him guessing the way hed kept her guessing about hiswhereabouts for thousands of worry-filled years.Reminded of her worry, that soul-deep, ever-present worry, shecouldnt stop her smile, fake as it was, from vanishing. She even had topress her tongue to the roof of her mouth to stop herself from chompingon it in fury."Ill come back for you," hed told her one night. " Ill set you free, Iswear it."
  61. 61. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie61"No. Dont go. Dont leave me here." Gods, shed been so whiny backthen. But shed been a prisoner, and hed been her only bright light."I love you too much to be without you for long, sweetheart. Youknow that. But I have to do this. For both of us."Of course, she hadnt seen or heard from him after that. Not until theTitans escaped Tartarus, a prison for immortals, and wrested control ofthe heavens from the Greeks. Not until shed come here to Earth andsearched...only to find him carousing for tail at some skanky nightclub.The fury expanded, dotted her line of vision with red. Deep breath in,deep breath out. Slowly the dots dissipated.
  62. 62. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie62"Were done here," she said, though she remained still, gauging hisreaction. "Youre not getting what you want, and youre certainly notkeeping me here.""Feel free to run from me." He crossed his arms over his massivechest, pulling the fabric of his shirt tight across his pecs. "You wont regretit."Again, she knew what he meant. Run, and he would ensure shesuffered. But she said, "Soon as I stretch, Ill take you up on that offer andrun. Thanks for the suggestion, by the way. I never would have thought ofit on my own."He growled with frustration and anger, all hint of casualness gone. "Iwas cruel to bring you here. You dont owe me a favor in return, so youhad better not stay put."
  63. 63. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie63"Were in agreement. Youre cruel, and I dont owe you anything, so Iwont feel obligated to remain."Another growl. She tried not to laugh. Damnation, he was still fun totease.Fun? Her grin faded a second time. She should hate that he could onlyspeak in lies, not enjoy it. That deceitful tongue of his had once shatteredher already fragile heart."Thats so not enough from you," he sniped."Wow. Already begging for more." Once, shed thought him special.But hed proven himself exactly like the others. Her mother, her king, hersupposed friends. They should have cared about her, but they had
  64. 64. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie64betrayed her, each and every one of them.Theyd been criminals, sure, but even criminals could love. Right?Right. So why couldnt they love me?Shed spent her entire life locked inside Tartarus because hermother, Rhea, wife to Cronus, had had an affair with a mortal just beforethe queens imprisonment and had eventually given birth to Scarlet insideher cell. A cell shed shared with several other gods and goddesses.Scarlet had been raised among them, and at first, theyd liked her. Asshed aged, however, jealousy had sprouted in some. Lust in others.Captivity, hatred and bitterness had soon become her only trustedcompanions.
  65. 65. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie65Until Gideon.Hed once been an elite guard to Zeus and every time hed brought ina new prisoner, their gazes had met. Shed waited for those moments,desperate for them. Hed enjoyed them, too, because hed begun to visitTartarus regularly. Not to lock up another criminal but simply to see her,to talk to her.Dont think about your time with him. Youll soften toward him. Andyou cant soften, you idiot.After gaining her freedom, she should have stayed in Olympus, whichwas now renamed Titania, thanks to Cronus, and found a nice god tosettle down with. But nooo. Shed had to see Gideon one last time. Then,having seen him, shed had to remain near him. Then, having decided toremain, shed just had to convince herself to warn the Lords away from
  66. 66. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie66her, since shed heard that they were tracking every immortal paired witha demon from Pandoras box, with the intention of recruiting them...orkilling them.Bastard, she thought about Gideon again. Excellent. Thats more likeit. Hes a filthy liar, a cold-blooded killer, and you hate him. He stillplanned to kill her after he got his answers; she knew he did. Because shewould never aid him, and that made her a liability."This silence is awesome," he remarked."Glad you like it," she replied. Annoyance bloomed over hisexpression, and she had to fight another grin. "Cause Im willing to giveyou a lot more of it." Another growl."Oh, and for your peace of mind, you should know that Im not going
  67. 67. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie67to run." Yet. She wanted to talk, too, though not to satisfy his curiosity.For too long, shed wondered if hed found someone new. Someonepermanent. And it was past time she knew. Of course, if he had, Scarletwould have to kill the bitch. Not because she still cared about Gideon--shedidnt, she reminded herself--but because he didnt deserve suchhappiness.That wasnt vengeful of her. As his scorned ex, that was simply herright."No thanks for staying put," he said with a relieved sigh.Thanks, he was saying. "Youre not welcome." Fuck you, she wassaying.
  68. 68. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie68Eyes narrowing, and making him look as if he wanted to stomp hisfoot in vexation like a child, he traced his tongue over his teeth. Score onefor Scarlet. "How is it possible that we didnt marry, yet my friends knoweverything about it?"How had they married without anyone knowing? Easy. "We marriedin secret, dumbass."This time, he didnt react to her taunt. "Was I not ashamed of you?"Oh, she could slap him for that. Of course he thought hed beenashamed of her rather than the other way around. Shed been theprisoner, after all, and he the free man. Not that he remembered even thatslight detail, but clearly he still thought very highly of himself.
  69. 69. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie69Bastard was too kind a word for him."You werent ashamed of me, but you would have been killed if youdbeen caught associating with me," she gritted out.He nodded, as if he now understood she was a Titan who had beenlocked in Tartarus by the Greeks, rather than an actual criminal. As if henow understood that those Greeks, the very ones who had created him,would have punished him in the worst possible way for "dating" one oftheir reviled enemies."So. If we havent been married all this time, what name have you notbeen using?"Uh, what? Hed already forgotten her damned name when shed toldhim the first time hed visited her in the dungeon? Only a few weeks had
  70. 70. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie70passed since then. "My name is Scarlet." You ass! "But I already told youthat." Ass, ass, ass. Her hands fisted the cotton beneath her.He waved in dismissal. "Didnt know that already. What I dont wantto know now is your last name."That failed to calm her. Her grip tightened, and her eyes narrowed totiny slits. Clearly, this was part of his excavation for information, notintimate curiosity, and he considered her dumb enough to fall for it.He wasnt sure if she was a god or one of their servants. As a god, shewouldnt have a last name. As a servant, she would, for last nameslowered status, as if you couldnt be distinguished by your first namealone. Like a human. Gideon was doing the process of elimination thing.Not that it would do him any good, for she was neither god nor servant.Nor human, for that matter. She was something in between them all.
  71. 71. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie71"My last name changes pretty much every time I watch a movie andfind new man candy," she said in a sugar-sweet tone that matched herearlier grin.Now he popped his jaw, lip ring glistening in the lavender light.Irritated by that, was he? Didnt like the thought of his supposed wifeeating up other men with her eyes, huh?"Man candy? Like something youd buy from a bakery?" His tone wassneering, intent on shaming her."Hell, no." And he clearly didnt think so, either, because he hadntpassed out from his words. He was irritated, then. Good. Finally. Truesatisfaction. Score two. "You know. Man candy. Men to lust after, men youwant to lick, men you want to suck on and take a bite out of. Well, not you,but me." No way did she want Gideon thinking shed pined for him all
  72. 72. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie72these years. That shed lain awake, wishing for him, desperate for him.No matter how true that was.Those eyes narrowed farther, his lashes fusing together andobscuring the bright blue of his irises. "Youre not a Lord. Not like me. Youshouldnt call yourself Scarlet Lord.""You call yourself Gideon Lord?" she asked. She hadnt known that."No."Yes. "Well, then, I will never call myself Scarlet Lord." She wouldnttravel down that road with him again. She would not proclaim to thisworld and the heavens that she belonged to him.
  73. 73. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie73If she shared anything with this man, it would be the tip of herdagger. Right through his black, forgetting, abandoning heart.He bared his pearly whites in a fearsome scowl. "Im not warning youto tread carefully. Im not dangerous when Im riled.""Hey, stop me if youve heard this one. But...wait for it...go fuckyourself."For some reason, the anger drained right out of him and his lipsquirked into the semblance of a smile. "No spirit. I cant see why I wouldhave chosen you."Do. Not. Soften.
  74. 74. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie74"I dont want to know who youve named yourself after." Hestraightened from the door frame, though his arms remained crossedover his chest. "Please dont tell me. Please."Casually asked, with that hint of amusement, yet there was now asharp gleam in his eyes, as if he would close the distance between them, ifnecessary, and shake the answer out of her.If he touched her, if those strong fingers closed around her arms... No,no, no. She couldnt allow it.She shrugged as if the information didnt matter. "Well, Ive beencalling myself Scarlet Pattinson for several weeks. Have you seen RobertPattinson? Hottest. Man. Ever. And no, I dont care if that makes me acougar. He sings with the voice of an angel. Gods, I love when a man singsto me. You never did because your voice is terrible." She shuddered indistaste. "I swear, its like a demon running its claws over brimstone."
  75. 75. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie75His fingers were digging into his biceps so savagely, bruises werealready branching from under them. "And now youre not going to tell mewho you were before that."Hed dropped the "please." Excellent. She was getting to him again.But how far could she push him on this point? How much could his stupidmale pride take before he did stomp over to her? Before he did shake her?And not for answers, but for an apology.Once, shed known the answer to those questions. He would nevertouch her in anger. But he wasnt the same tender man shed fallen in lovewith. A man who had shown her that first taste of kindness. He couldntbe. She and all the other prisoners had heard stories about the Lords ofthe Underworld and their exploits. The innocents theyd killed, the citiestheyd destroyed.
  76. 76. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie76Besides, she knew what her own demon had done to her upon theirpairing. The darkness, the terror, the absolute loss of control. Shed beenconsumed, no longer human in any way. And that had lasted for centuries,shed been told, though there were gaps in her memory, the time seemingto have passed in a matter of days. Still. She was no longer the sameperson, either."I was Pitt for a while," she said. "Then Gosling. Then Jackman. ThenReynolds. I always go back to Reynolds. Hes my fave. That blond hair,those muscles..." She shivered. "Lets see, who else? Oh. Ive been Bana,Pine, Efron and DiCaprio, as well. DiCaprio is another fave. And anotherblond, for that matter. Maybe I have a thing for blonds."Hopefully the barb cut its mark. Gideon had black hair underneath allthat blue.
  77. 77. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie77"Oh, and Im not into girls," she continued, "but Jessica Biel couldchange my mind. Have you seen her lips? So yes, Ive even been ScarletBiel."Gideon did that jaw-popping thing again. And if she wasnt mistaken,the anger had returned full force, burning away the last vestiges ofamusement. "So very few pieces of candy," he remarked.Apparently, she could push him pretty far. How had she thought himmerely angry before? That was suppressed rage she was hearing in well as deep thrums of arousal.The latter was a sound shed once known well and never thought tohear again.Do not smile. "I like variety, what can I say? Maybe one day itll even
  78. 78. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie78be my mission to bag and tag each and every one of them."Steam practically curled from his nostrils. Yep, rage. He straightened,stepped forward, stopped himself, and retreated back into the doorway."We arent done with that topic for now," he snapped. He turned as if toleave."Wait." She wasnt ready to end the exchange. Not yet. "What aboutyou?" she asked, shifting the focus off herself. Careful. "Any girlfriends Ishould know about? Or better yet, another wife? If so, Ill have to have youincarcerated for polygamy." There. No way he could guess at herdesperation. At her clawing need to know.Slowly he spun back around. "Yes," he said through clenched teeth,the word barely scraping its way free. Meaning no, he had none. "I have agirlfriend, and Im married to someone else."
  79. 79. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie79Scarlet released a searing breath she hadnt known shed beenholding. Gideon was single. A male whore who tapped any ass he couldget his hands on, yes, but he was still unattached. She began shaking. Notin relief, she was sure, but in disappointment that she wouldnt get tomurder someone he loved right in front of him.So...were done here.She now had the info shed wanted; she could ditch him. Except, shethrew her legs over the side of the mattress and stood. Without knockinghim down and running away. Idiot. "Im taking a shower and youregetting me food. Dont even think about arguing or I swear to the gods Illfill your next dreams with countless spiders." At least, she thought shewould.For some reason, Nightmares didnt like to torment him. Shed had to
  80. 80. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie80beg to get the demon to do so the first and only time, and the stupid beasthad protested and whined every single moment. That had neverhappened before. Her demon was an equal opportunity tormentor.Why did Nightmares like him? Him, of all people. Her demon didnteven know him, since shed become possessed after Gideon hadabandoned her. But her demon had endured her constant complaintsabout him, so she would have placed good money on Nightmares wishingGideon was dead, just so Scarlets complaining would stop."Well?" she demanded. "Why are you just standing there? Getmoving."Gideons lips did that adorable twitching thing again. Trying not togrin? Odd man. Anyone else would have stomped away in irritation. Orthreatened to stab her for such a haughty, commanding tone.
  81. 81. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie81"Whatever you desire, my sweet."Which meant hed be doing nothing. Shed figured. Hed always beenstubborn and had never taken orders well, and that was something sheused to like about him. Still. She couldnt leave him feeling satisfied withthe conversation.Satisfaction belonged only to her.Which meant it was time to throw him for another loop.As she strolled to the bathroom, stripping along the way, she saidover her shoulder, "Oh, and, Gid. Ive been lying to you all along. We werenever married."
  82. 82. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie82DAMN IT, damn it, damn it! Gideon still couldnt detect when Scarletlied, and that was really starting to annoy him. For some reason, everyword out of her lovely lips still caressed his ears, and worse, that audiblestroke was spreading to his entire body. How?Fact: truth usually made his demon hiss. Fact: lies usually made thedemon purr. With Scarlet Pattinson--he nearly punched a hole in the wallof the hotel room as Strider had done at the fortress as his annoyanceescalated--it picked up only on her raspy voice, too lost in pleasure to careabout truth or lie.He was going to have to stop that. Otherwise, he might never get hisanswers.
  83. 83. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie83Leave her, Lies demanded.Go get her? Hardly. I like my balls where they are, thanks. The kind ofwoman who would punch you for trying to kiss her awake would kneeyour testicles into your throat for peeking at her naked curves while shewashed.Naked...curves... Hello, hard-on.The bathroom door clicked shut, blocking every last inch of her fromhis sight. Bad, uh, good thing, too. Shed been down to her bra and panties.Black, both of them. With lace. The bra had clasped in the front, justasking to be separated. That testicle ascension might be worth it, hethought, already striding forward.
  84. 84. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie84His mouth watered, a lick of flame dancing over his body, heating hisblood to scalding. Somehow, he stopped himself before hitting the door.Show some restraint, for gods sake. It was just, holy hell, she wasbeautiful. Like a portrait come to life, all pale, rose-dusted skin and a fallof silky black hair. All dangerous curves and lean muscle, two things thatdidnt normally go well together. On her, however, they did. Andexquisitely so.Exquisite. The perfect word for her back and its tattooed canvas.Around her waist were the words TO PART IS TO DIE, and around thewords were flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. Flowers of every color,shape and type, and he wanted to trace each of them with his tongue.Below the blooms, on her thighs, was a butterfly tattoo laced with all thejewel tones of a rainbow, glitter-bright and caught midflight, as if headinginto those flowers. Ex-qui-site.That wasnt what had caught the bulk of his attention, though. TOPART IS TO DIE. Hed had those very words and the flowers surrounding
  85. 85. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie85them tattooed around his own waist. Why had he done something sogirly? Thats what all his friends had wanted to know after laughing theirasses off at his expense. Hed told them hed wanted to prove that nothingcould lessen his appeal.The truth was hed done it because hed seen those words andflowers in his mind, over and over again. Theyd plagued him, and hedknown, known they meant something, but not what they meant. Now heknew hed seen them on this woman. Which meant whether they weremarried or not, they had spent time together.Why cant I fucking remember it?I know, Lies replied, as if hed asked the demon.Shut up. I like you better when youre quiet.
  86. 86. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie86The sound of water hitting porcelain suddenly reverberated throughthe hotel room. Scarlet was probably naked now, he thought. Probablysoaked in that water and moaning as it slid down her luscious body.He moaned, scrubbing a hand down his face and hoping to wipe awaythe naughty images flashing through his head. Didnt help. He closed therest of the distance, arm extending for the knob. Goodbye, testicles. Wehad a good run.Just as before, he caught himself in time. He growled, backed awayand planted his feet more firmly in place. No, no, and no.At least he didnt have to worry about her escaping. Not successfully.While shed slept, hed placed tiny sensors on all the doors and windowsand wired them to his phone. Hed know the moment she tried to leave.
  87. 87. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie87And she would. Soon. She wouldnt be able to help herself. Fighting wasclearly part of her nature.So was annoying him.How was he supposed to handle a woman who picked her last namebased on who she was currently lusting after? Which was fine when shewas lusting after other females. Sexy, even. Something to be encouraged,too. But the males? Hells. No. Not if there was a chance they were hitched,and not until they had things settled between them.Still. He knew how he wanted to handle her. Skin-to-skin. Every partof him longed to step into that shower, lick her all over, tasting her. Then,oh, yes, then, hed sink deep inside her, feel her tug his hair and scratchhis back. Feel her legs wrap around him and hold on tight. Hear her gasphis name and beg him for more.
  88. 88. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie88Mini Me, his most beloved appendage, started weeping, and the twinsbegging, uncaring about potential loss.Not gonna happen, men. Not yet, at least. Shed resisted him moreintensely than hed expected. Not that hed tried very hard. Hard. Ha. Butmaybe that was a good thing. As Strider had reminded him, Hunters werein Budapest and out for blood. Now that they could kill the Lords and pairthe demons with people of their choosing, now that the Lords were closeto victory, the Hunters were more determined and vicious than ever. IfGideon seduced Scarlet, he would forget about guarding her.He could have taken her to another city, he supposed, and seducedher there. That would have been safer. But, no. He couldnt leave hisfriends like that. They needed him more than ever. Maddox wasconsumed with easing his pregnant wife; Luciens girlfriend was planningtheir wedding; Sabins wife was visiting her sister in the heavens, so thewarlord was pretty much operating on a hair-trigger of emotion; and
  89. 89. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie89Reyess woman had enough shit to deal with. As the All-Seeing Eye, shecould peer into heaven and hell, and the things she saw were often farworse than anything Scarlet could manufacture in her dream-world.Not to mention, Aeron, until recently the keeper of Wrath, was stillrecovering from his interlude with death. For the first time in centuries,his mind was his own, his demon no longer a part of him. As expected, hehadnt yet acclimated to the change.Gideon wasnt envious as some of the warriors were. He actuallyliked his other, darker half. Together, they were more powerful. Together,they were stronger, smarter, and no one but Scarlet could lie to him. Okay,fine. A few others could, but only when he let his emotions get the betterof him. Which wasnt often.But speaking of being unable to tell truth from lies...Ive been lying toyou all along. We were never married, Scarlet had said.
  90. 90. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie90Damn her and her seductive wiles. Were they or werent they? Hehad those flashes of her, yes, as if he had taken her to bed before. As if hehad savored every inch of her and had already done all the things he nowwanted to do. But those could very well be urges hed had, mere fantasies,rather than reality.Gideon sighed and strode to the bed where Scarlet had lain. He liftedthe sheets and pressed the still-warm cotton to his cheek, the scent ofmidnight orchids wafting to his nose. Had he experienced this warmthskin-to-skin? Did he know that scent?Scowling, he dropped the sheet as his cock wept a little more. Get outof here before you forget your good intentions and storm into thatbathroom.
  91. 91. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie91His demon liked the thought of storming. Dont enter the bathroom.Dont enter the bathroom right now!Seriously. Shut it. Even though Gideon had told Scarlet in hisroundabout, deceitful way that he wouldnt be fetching her any food,which hed meant at the time, he left and locked the room, rode theelevator downstairs, wrote out what food he wanted, then handed thereceptionist the note.Lies prowled angrily through his head the entire time, hating thedistance from Scarlet. Completely surreal.The receptionist smiled and began typing. "Give us an hour, Mr.Lord." He almost corrected her and said Pattinson. Anything to connecthim to Scarlet. Instead he nodded and returned to the room. Scarlet washungry. Therefore he would feed her. Wife or not. Because bottom line, hestill had questions for her and she still had answers.
  92. 92. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie92How he proceeded after this, as caveman or seducer, would be up toher.
  93. 93. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie93CHAPTER THREEHAD SHE EVER felt this fantastically clean? Scarlet marveled as shebrushed her hair.Gods, this was nice. Not a speck of dirt marred her. She now smelledof the same apples-and-vanilla fragrance that coated the air, along withthe usual floral scent that coated her skin. Courtesy of her father? Shedalways wondered.Her sore muscles felt revived, her spirits restored. Well, kind of. Whywas she still here? Why wasnt she running, as shed promised Gideon shewould?
  94. 94. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie94Nightmares didnt reply, the water having lulled the demon into apeaceful sleep.Didnt matter. She already knew the answer. Gideon still intriguedher.How many times do you need to be told? You cant let yourselfdevelop feelings for him again.Easy to think. Hard to actually prevent. Gideon had seen toeverything. Hed placed a toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush on thesink. Oh, yeah. And a freaking blue bow for her hair. Clean clothes hadrested on the toilet lid, though they werent what she would have chosenfor herself. Hed picked a flowing, barely there blue dress rather thanpants and a T-shirt. High heels rather than boots. He hadnt given her abra. Just blue panties.
  95. 95. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie95Clearly, he had a fascination with blue. Why?She should know, and hated that she didnt. Was this a recentdevelopment?Wasnt like it mattered, she told herself next. His thoughts andreasoning werent her concern."Im so happy waiting for you," he called through the door.The sound of that rumbling voice caused goose bumps to break outover her entire body. She imagined him pacing back and forth in front ofthe door, and she wanted to grin. Patience had never been his thing. Shedalways liked that, mostly because hed been so eager to be with her.
  96. 96. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie96He used to rush to her cell after every mission, kiss her face, handsroving, desperate to relearn her curves."I missed you so much," hed said. Every damn time."Dont leave me again." Always her reply."Id stay in this cell with you if I could." A fleeting, sad smile, offeredthe very last time theyd had this exchange. "Maybe one day I will.""No." She hadnt wanted that for him, no matter how much shecraved being with him. "Just...make me forget you were ever gone."And he had. Oh, had he.
  97. 97. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie97If he could have removed the collar that had been permanentlyanchored around her neck, hed always said, he would have done so andrun away with her. But he hadnt possessed the ability. Only a few ofZeuss chosen had. So the golden collar had remained, seemingly glued toher skin and keeping her weakened, her demons powers muted.Besides, only a select group of immortals were able to flash--to travelfrom one location to another with only a thought--in and out of Tartarus,and Gideon hadnt been one of them. He would have had to sneak herthrough the entire realm, past the guards and to the gate. One, on its own,would have been difficult; together, they were impossible, even withoutthe collar. But hed still wanted to try.With the thought, she felt herself softening. Damn it! Fight it. Youcant survive another heartbreak, and thats all he has to offer.Heartbreak.
  98. 98. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie98She dropped the brush on the sink and as it clattered ominously,tugged the dress over her head. The soft material stroked her skin, andshe moaned. Shed never dressed herself this way, but maybe she shouldhave. So decadent... The panties were equally soft, which elicited anothermoan. The heels, she left alone, donning her old boots instead. Better tobeat a heartless man into submission with.Finished, she turned, shoulders squaring, determination rising. Onelast encounter with Gideon, and then she was ditching him. But that wasit, the end. Shed finally have closure. For surely thats what she needed,what she lacked. Once she had it, she would return to the life shed begunbuilding for herself. A life as a human mercenary. Or rather, a jack of allwicked trades.Do it. Get it over with.
  99. 99. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie99"Are you kidding me with this?" she said as she stomped from thebathroom and held out the bow. A cloud of sweetly scented steamfollowed her.Immediately his electric gaze raked her, lingering on hisonce-favorite places. Something dark entered his eyes, and he gulped."What?" The word was a croak. "I thought it was ugly." Meaning hethought it was pretty.And he wanted her to have pretty things. How...sweet.Damn him!He stood in front of a wheeled square table that hadnt been therebefore, arms once again crossed over his chest. To keep from throttling
  100. 100. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie100her?"So you like women who dress like schoolgirls." She ignored thethundering of her heart and the heat spreading through her veins. "Ididnt realize you had such innocent fantasies," she said, then wanted tocurse. Shed sounded breathless. Maybe because her statement had raiseda very naughty question. What did he fantasize about nowadays?How did he like his sex? As gentle and consuming as he once had?How did he like his women? As sweet as shed once been? Mostlikely.Hed shown only a few signs of attraction to her since discovering herinside his dungeon, and she was as hard as stone.
  101. 101. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie101She had to be. Her life didnt allow for dresses like this one. She hadto be prepared to fight, always. She was a child of Rhea, the god queen,and she would make an excellent hostage to ransom. Not that her motherwould pay it. More than that, she had many enemies, for killing her wouldremove her half-mortal self from the line of succession.The scent of fresh baked bread, chicken and rice suddenly hit hernose and her mouth watered. Forget the bow. Forget closure. Her handfell to her side. "You brought me food," she said, dazed.Another sweet gesture, the jerk."Nope. Its all for me." He eased into the chair behind him. Steamingplate after steaming plate littered the surface of the table, that steamwafting around him and creating a dream haze. "That color looks terribleon you, by the way."
  102. 102. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie102She licked her lips. Over the food, she told herself. Not because heliked the way she looked. Which was good. "Payback is a bitch, you know.And you can count on the fact that Ill put you in this dress sometimesoon."He shrugged, drawing attention to the wide girth of his shoulders,then held out one of the plates. The one with chicken, rice and veggies.She was walking to him, hands outstretched, before she realized what shewas doing. After she claimed the plate, she plopped into the seat acrossfrom him and dug in.So. Good."So...why dont you sleep during the day?" he asked. "When thepeople here arent awake."
  103. 103. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie103That, she didnt mind sharing. Even though she could guess his plan.Start her off with something light. Get her talking while she wasdistracted with food. "Somewhere in the world, people are asleep when Iam, and the demon finds them. Besides that, every day I fall asleep asingle second later. And every night I awaken a single second later. Thetime always varies ever so slightly, ensuring were able to target everyoneat some point." In other words, fear us."Not good to know." A pause, then, "I dont want to know why yougot the tattoos. I dont want to know who gave you those tattoos. And Imost definitely dont want to know how things ended between us."Yep. Shed been right. "I told you we werent really married." Shechased a deliciously flavored bite of buttered carrots with a glass of redwine. Even. Better.
  104. 104. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie104"And I believed you."She shrugged, mimicking his nonchalance. "Ive answered enough ofyour questions tonight. And I know thats why you brought me here. Torelax me, lower my guard and find out everything youre dying to know soyou can lock me back up." And worse."Youre wrong," he said, reaching out and cupping her hand with hisown. He brought it to his lips and pressed a soft kiss into her suddenlyburning flesh. "I just wanted to spend time with you, to get to know you,the world around us forgotten."Softening...again... They were words shed longed to hear so badlyshed often ached physically. Hearing them now...
  105. 105. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie105And realizing they were a lie...The softening instantly ceased. Suddenly she wanted to remove theinvisible knife hed left in her back and stab him with it. Since he wasntcrumpling into a heap of pain, as shed heard he did when he spoke thetruth, she knew hed just told a whopper.He was playing her, and shed almost let him. Harden up. Youre abitch. Act like it."Thats easy for you, isnt it? Forgetting the world around you, Imean." Bitterness crept through her tone, and there was nothing shecould do to defuse it. "Your poor, sad memory."He frowned, and his hand fell away.
  106. 106. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie106She wanted to shout. With frustration. With a demand that he touchher again. With fury that she wanted him to touch her again. Instead, sheremained quiet and finished her meal, consuming every last crumb, everydrop of wine, and leaving nothing for the man across from her."Why are you so...not stubborn about this?" he asked with whatseemed to be genuine curiosity. "About keeping me in the light?"Because shed spent thousands of years wondering where he was,what he was doing and who he was doing it with. Wondering if he everthought of her, wondering why he never returned for her. Wondering ifhe was even alive. Each day had been worse than the last, a constantchurning in her mind, her emotions rolled out, flayed and left raw.But shed known with gut-wrenching intensity that he loved her, soshed finally had to accept that he hadnt returned because hed been
  107. 107. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie107killed. Death was the only thing that could have kept him away. So shedmourned him, crying so forcefully, so intensely, shed actually shed tearsof blood.And when shed finally discovered that he lived...Oh, the pain. Painthat still haunted her, a constant shadow in her heart.In contrast, hed been wondering about her for a few weeks. Hedidnt cry himself to sleep about it. He didnt throw up because the worryand the heartache were too much to bear.Her hands clenched so tightly, the glass she held shattered. Beads ofcrimson sprang up all over her palm, but she didnt flinch at the ensuingsting. This was nothing compared to what shed once endured. Nothing.She no longer cried about anything.
  108. 108. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie108Gideon sighed and wrapped his fingers around her wrist, inspectingthe damage. "Love to see you injured. Dont want to make it all better."Truth.When he had strode into his fortresss dungeon and shed seen hisbeautiful face, the only thing shed truly felt at the time was awe. He wasalive. He was with her again. But then the anger had sparked. Followed bythe resentment and the consuming urge to hurt. None of those comparedto what she felt just then, however.Rage. So much rage.How dare he. How fucking dare he care about such paltry wounds!He was sitting there, calm as could be, poking at her emotions like a childwith a stick because he could. Because she was a big, fat question to him.That was all. He wanted answers. Not her. Not her forgiveness. Hecouldnt care less about easing her real injuries and making her "all
  109. 109. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie109better."Had she been nothing to him, even all those centuries ago? Yes, hedwed her, but hed left her soon after. Left her, she now knew, to steal andopen Pandoras box. She also knew hed been paired with his demon andshoved out of the heavens soon after that. But shed been possessed thatsame day, still locked inside her cell.After those centuries spent in darkness--what oddly seemed like amere blink of time for her whenever she looked back--had passed andshed once again had control of her mind, shed remembered Gideon.Realized hed been given a demon, too, and figured he had gained controlof himself, as well. So shed waited for him to return for her. And waited.And waited, for so damn long. Then all those questions began swirling inher head. And then the worry had set in, followed by the grief that hehadnt survived.
  110. 110. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie110And in that grief, shed done things that had shocked even herdemon. Terrible things. None of the gods and goddesses sharing hercell--the one shed been moved to, away from the tender hand of hermother--had survived her rampage.The Greeks had nearly executed her for those actions, but in the end,Zeus had preferred to parade her in front of Cronus, his own father andgreatest foe, enjoying the fact that she was proof Rhea had cuckolded him.Anything that tormented the deposed Titan king was worth keeping alive,the Greek sovereign had said, no matter how dangerous that thing was.And then the Titans finally won their freedom. Cronus and Rheawould have liked to leave her behind, she knew, but theyd needed herskills to help defeat the Greeks.Once the screams had faded and the blood had stopped flowing,shed scoured ancient scrolls for information about the Lords of the
  111. 111. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie111Underworld, hoping to find them and ask how Gideon had perished.Where his bones rested. Shed intended to give him a proper burial, prayover him, say goodbye.Instead, shed discovered her husband was still alive.Her relief had known no bounds. But then, neither had her upset, forthats when other questions had begun plaguing her. Why hadnt he comeback for her? Why hadnt he sent word that hed survived?Shed sought him out to ask him. And yes, to throw herself back intohis arms. To feel him surrounding her, sliding in and out of her, onceagain. Finally. The way shed been dreaming about for so many years.Shed found him in that bar in Buda. Shed walked past him. Except,he hadnt noticed her. Glanced at her, yes. Moved his gaze away as if she
  112. 112. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie112were of no consequence, yes, that, too. Hed been too busy crooking hisfinger at a human female, and then having sex with that female right therein the club.Scarlet had left, heartbroken all over again. As she did her best tolearn about modern human society by watching TV, all the while secretlyhoping Gideon would find her worthy when she did so--her, a womanwho had been raised among criminals, who had never been wanted byher mother, had never known her father, and who had a wretched demontrapped inside her--shed kept her ear to the ground, always curiousabout Gideon and what he was doing.Maybe shed purposely allowed the Lords to capture her. Withoutconsciously admitting that she craved a moment like this. A moment tosee what a shit Gideon truly was. A moment to finally, blessedly cut himfrom her thoughts. Which, even now, was completely against her natureand something shed sworn never to do. Captivity was something shedespised. Yet shed stayed in that fucking dungeon and hadnt tried to
  113. 113. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie113escape. For this man who didnt remember her. A man who had noproblem using her. Hurting her. Tearing her down.He. Needed. To. Suffer.Scarlet jumped to her feet, plate in hand. A plate she tossed at Gideonwithout warning. It crashed into his face and shattered just as herwineglass had done. And just as her hand had beaded with blood, so didhis face. Not enough.Scowling, he jumped up, as well. "That was nice. Thanks!"Shed already launched another plate, and this one slammed into hischest. It, too, broke apart, slicing past his T-shirt.
  114. 114. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie114"What dont you think youre doing?""Im not kicking your ass. Im not hating your guts. Im not thinkingyou are the biggest ass the gods ever created. Hows that? Did I speak alanguage you can understand?" Kill him. She wanted to kill him."I may remember you, Scarlet," he bellowed, backing up when shegrabbed her fork and held it out like a dagger. Shed murdered men withless. Even immortals. "But you havent haunted me." Motions stiff, heraised his shirt. Amid the cuts, above his heart, was a tattoo of eyes. Darkeyes. Like hers. "Dont you see?"It was a lie, like him. It had to be."That proves nothing! Thousands of people have dark eyes."
  115. 115. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie115He slanted his head and brushed the hair from the back of his neck.There, she found a tattoo of bloodred lips in the shape of a heart. Likehers. Then he turned and raised his shirt again. On his lower back wereflowers, all kinds of flowers, and the words TO PART IS TO DIE.It was an exact replica of her own tattoo. Hed shown it to her oncebefore, the first time hed entered the dungeon, but seeing it again wasstill like being punched in the chest."I just want to make no sense of this," he added softly. He pivoted,facing her once again. "Dont help me. Please."Seeing those tattoos didnt lessen her fury. No, seeing them increasedit. Hed imagined her, but hed still slept with all those other women. Hedstill continued on with his life, not seeking out the source of those images.
  116. 116. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie116"You think that makes everything better, you uncaring bastard?While you were down here whoring around, loving life, I was in Tartarus,a slave to the Greeks." One step, two, she eased around the table andapproached him. Warrior that he was, he remained in place. "What theywanted me to do, I had to do. Whether I wanted to or not." Paradingaround naked for their enjoyment. Fighting with other prisoners whilethey bet on the winner. Scrubbing other peoples filth on her hands andknees. "Yet you left me there. You never came for me. You promised youdcome for me!"Seething, panting, she stabbed the fork into his chest and twistedwith all her strength.Surprisingly, he didnt try to stop her. Didnt try to defend himself.Rather, he stood there, his eyes narrowing. In his own fury? And if it wasin fury, who was he pissed at? Her? Or the Greek gods who had forced herto do those vile things?
  117. 117. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie117Didnt matter. This was just the beginning of his punishment."And do you know what else?" Her fingers clutched the fork sotightly, her knuckles screamed in protest. "After I came here and saw youwith another woman, I gave myself to another man. Willingly this time.And then another." Lies, all lies. Shed tried. Shed wanted to hurt him thatway, but she hadnt been able to follow through.And oh, how she hated herself for that failure. More than wanting tohurt him, though, shed needed someone to make her feel as he once had.Protected, loved, cherished. Like a treasure. That, too, had failedmiserably. Shed walked away from both encounters feeling hollow andsad.Gideons shoulders slumped, and all that dark emotion seemed to
  118. 118. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie118drain from him. "Im not sorry. I love that you felt the need to do such athing. I dont want to kill the men you were with. Even though I remembereverything about our time together. You still somehow do not affect me."He was sorry, he loathed that shed done such a thing and wanted todestroy the men. Pretty words. For him. But she was having none of it. Hewas far too late. With a snarl, she jerked the fork out of his chest, theprongs dripping crimson, then stabbed him anew and twisted. Hegrunted."Again," she snarled, "do you think that makes everything better?You think the fact that youve forgotten me makes your actions any lesspainful?" Shut up, shut up, shut up. She didnt want him to know howmuch hed damaged her."I dont--" He frowned. Then he reached into his jeans pocket andwithdrew his phone. His gaze quickly scanned the screen, and when their
  119. 119. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie119eyes next met, there was smoldering rage in those electric depths. "Wedont have visitors.""Friends of yours?" She didnt ask how he knew. She could guess,loving modern technology as she did."Yeah. I adore Hunters."She could have struck him again, quickly jabbing both of his eyes,leaving him to deal with the uninvited guests injured and blinded. But hewas hers to hurt, not theirs."How many?" she demanded, removing the utensil and switching thefocus of her rage. Wake up, Nightmares. Your skills might be needed.
  120. 120. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie120The demon stretched and yawned inside her head."I know," Gideon said.So he was as clueless as she on that score. "Which door did theyenter?" she asked."Not the front."She performed a quick inspection. There was a doorway that led outof the bedroom-slash-kitchenette into a vestibule. That vestibulebranched into three hallways. No matter which direction the intruderscame from, theyd have to enter it. Perfect.You ready, baby? Because Mama was wrong. No maybe about it.
  121. 121. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie121Youre needed.A purr of anticipation rumbled through her. Gonna be fun.Ill handle the final blow. Okay?Greedy.Yes. But then, she needed some outlet for the growing darknessinside her. And leave Gideon alone. I dont want him to see the things youshow his enemies.That earned her a growl. I would never hurt him.
  122. 122. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie122It was a declaration shed never thought to hear, even with thecreatures reluctance to scare the warrior in his dreams. Had thecircumstances been different, she would have demanded to know why.Not that it would have done her any good. Nightmares was as generouswith answers as she was."Get on the bed," she commanded Gideon. "Ive got this.""Hell, yes," he said, unsheathing a sharp, gleaming knife and a smallrevolver from the waist of his pants. Hed been armed this entire time, yethe hadnt defended himself against her. "I relish the thought of youbattling such sweethearts alone."Macho men. They considered women a liability in situations like this.But this one would soon learn. She wasnt the same girl hed known inprison. Or rather, the same girl he couldnt recall.
  123. 123. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie123"Theyre here. I know theyre here," someone whispered. A whisper,yes, but her ears registered every word as if the person were right besideher. A skill shed developed in prison. A skill that had saved her life oncountless occasions."If we take him the girl, theyll have to let us in," another said."And the guy?" Yet another."Dies."As Nightmares laughed, more than ready to begin, Scarlet shovedGideon back into his chair. He landed with a huff as she lowered herinternal guard and unleashed her demon. Darkness exploded from her,thousands of terrified screams threading through the impenetrable
  124. 124. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie124thickness. Even Gideon, powerful immortal that he was, wouldnt be ableto see through it. She, however, would have no trouble drinking in everysparkling detail."Id cover your ears, if I were you," she suggested."Scar," he began, as close to her name as his demon would apparentlylet him get, a hint of anger in the undertone. And oh, was his expressionstony. He hated this. But whatever he meant to say was cut off as Scarletpressed a finger against his lips, a silent command for no talkie-talkie. Theenemy would hear.A moment passed. The stiffness never left him, but Gideon nodded.He was graciously bowing out of the fight and letting her handle things.His surrender was completely unexpected. Why hadnt he jumped to hisfeet and foolishly demanded to help her?
  125. 125. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie125Ponder it later. Frowning, she turned to face the intruders. Therewere four of them, all male, and all holding weapons.Only four? They must think themselves stronger than they actuallywere. Or consider her and Gideon weaker than they really were. Orperhaps this was just the beginning. Most likely others were postedthroughout the hotel, watching, waiting for the right time to strike.As the men entered the bedroom, they encountered the darkness andthe screams and stumbled to a halt, trying to orient themselves and figureout what was going on. But it was too late for that. Nightmares wovearound them, a swirling, dark dancer, as graceful as he was lethal, holdingthem in place, even floating to their ears and whispering their deepestfears.Pain.
  126. 126. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie126Blood.Death.Soon they were clutching their heads, moaning, images of the Lordsof the Underworld strapping them down, torturing them as the Huntershad often tortured others, becoming all that they could see.One of Nightmaress talents was sensing hidden fears and exploitingthem. Thats how theyd known about Gideons fear of spiders. Onlyproblem was, they had no way of knowing what had caused those fears.And she was beyond curious about Gideon. He hadnt seemed to careabout the bug while with her in Tartarus. Hed even flicked the creaturesoff her when theyd invaded her cell.
  127. 127. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie127"Make it stop, please make it stop," someone pleaded."Enough!" someone else shouted.No. Not nearly enough. Cold, uncaring. Thats how she had to be. Andreally, she enjoyed this as much as her demon did. Enjoyed hurting thosewho thrived on suffering. For too long, shed been a victim herself. But nolonger. Never again.Smiling, she strolled toward the men, fork still in hand. She reachedthe nearest, his terrified moans like candy to her ears, and brushed hishair from his face. The soothing touch startled him, yet he leaned into it,as if seeking comfort anywhere he could find it. As if he assumed she wasa friend.
  128. 128. Gena Showalter The Darkest Lie128Without any more warning, she jammed the fork into his jugular. Hescreamed, but that scream blended with all the others floating from her. Achilling but welcome music. Warm blood spurted from him, coating herhand as he collapsed. She eased to the next man, gifted him with thatsame gentle touch, the calm before the storm, then stabbed him, as well.More blood sprayed, a river of the deepest scarlet, the very essenceof her name.She finished off the other two just as quickly and efficiently. Just asruthlessly. Perhaps she should have played with them a bit. Oh, well. Nexttime.Once the moans and movement ceased, she closed her eyes andtugged the shadows and screams back inside her. There they whirled likea tornado until she blocked them from her awareness, something shedlearned to do over the years. Otherwise, she would have tumbled into