“Whatever she is,” Paris said, far less angry than he’d been, “it doesn’t mean she’s not working with our enemy. Need I remind you that Galen, the world’s biggest blowhard, says he’s an angel?”

“Yeah, but he’s lying.”

“And she can’t be?”

Aeron scrubbed a hand down his suddenly tired face. “Olivia. Are you working with Galen to harm us?”

“No,” she mumbled, and Paris stumbled backward, just as Aeron had done, clutching his chest.

“My gods,” his friend gasped. “That voice…”

“I know.”

“She’s not Bait, and she’s not helping Galen.” A statement of fact from Paris now.

“I know,” Aeron repeated.

Paris shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. “Still. Lucien will want to search the hill for Hunters. Just in case.”

One of the many reasons Aeron had always followed Lucien. The warrior was smart and cautious. “When he finishes, call a meeting with whoever’s here and tell them about the other woman. The one from the alley.”

Paris nodded and suddenly there was a sparkle in his blue eyes. “Quite an evening you’ve had so far, huh? I wonder who else you’ll meet tonight.”

“Gods help me if there’s another,” he muttered.

“You shouldn’t have challenged Cronus, my friend.”

Aeron’s stomach clenched as his gaze swung back to the angel. Had the god king actually answered his dare? Was Olivia to be the one who led him for a merry chase? His heart was pounding, he realized, and his blood was heating.

He ground his teeth. Didn’t matter whether she was or not. She could try to tempt him, but even she, with her fall of chocolate hair, baby blues and heart-shaped lips, would fail to do so.

“I don’t regret my words.” Truth or lie, he didn’t know. He hadn’t thought Cronus had any power over the angels. So how then would the god king have sent her here? Or was he not responsible? Perhaps Aeron was mistaken and Cronus had nothing to do with this.

Again, it didn’t matter. Not only would the angel fail to tempt him, he would ensure she left before she had time to cause a single moment of concern.

“Just so you know,” Paris said, “Torin saw this one on the hill with his hidden cameras. Said she dug her way out of the ground.”

Out of the ground. Did that mean she had been tossed into hell, and had then been forced to claw her way free? He couldn’t picture the fragile-looking female doing such a thing—and surviving, that is. But then he recalled the determination she’d displayed while running toward the fortress. Maybe.

“Is that true?” He looked her over with new eyes. Sure enough, there was dirt under her fingernails and smeared on her arms. Besides the blood, however, her robe was perfectly clean.

In fact, as he watched, the tear he’d made wove itself back together, much like his body did when wounded. A piece of cloth with healing properties. Would wonders never cease?

“Olivia. You will answer.”

She nodded without glancing up. He heard a sniff, sniff. Yes, she was sobbing.

An ache bloomed in his chest, but he ignored it. Doesn’t matter what she is or what she’s endured. You will not soften, damn it. She frightens and hurts Legion and has to go.

“A real, live angel,” Paris said, clearly awed. “I’ll take her to my room, if you’d like, and—”

“She’s too injured for bedsport,” Aeron snapped.

Paris eyed him strangely for a moment, then grinned and shook his head. “I wasn’t sizing her up or anything, so let go of your jealousy.”

That didn’t even deserve a response. He’d never experienced jealousy, and wasn’t about to start now. “So why were you offering to take her to your room?”

“So I can bandage her wounds. Who’s the despot now?”

“I’ll take care of her.” Maybe. Could angels tolerate human medicine? Or would it hurt them? He knew well the dangers of giving one race something meant for another. Ashlyn had almost died when she’d drunk wine meant only for immortals.

He would have called for Lysander, but the elite warrior angel was currently living in the heavens with Bianka and if there was a way to reach him, Aeron hadn’t been told what it was. Besides, Lysander didn’t like him and wasn’t the type to willingly offer information about his race.

“You want to be the responsible one, fine. But admit it.” Paris tossed him another grin. “You’re staking a claim on her.”

“No. I’m not.” He didn’t have even the smallest desire to do so. It was just that she was injured and couldn’t take care of herself, and was therefore in no position to be anyone’s bedmate. And that’s all Paris would want her for. Sex. No matter what the warrior claimed.

Besides, she’d called for Aeron. Screamed Aeron’s name.

Undeterred, Paris continued, “An angel isn’t technically human, you know. An angel is something more.”

Aeron popped his jaw. Of all the things for the man to remember from their earlier conversation. “I said I’m not staking a claim.”

Paris laughed. “Whatever you say, compadre. Enjoy your female.”

Aeron’s hands curled into fists, his friend’s laughter not so welcome now. “Go and tell Lucien everything we’ve discussed, but under no circumstances are you to inform the women that there’s a wounded angel here. They’ll raid my room wanting to meet her and now is not the time for that.”

“Why? Do you plan to make out with her?”

His teeth ground with so much force he feared they would soon be nothing but a fond memory. “I plan to question her.”

“Ah. So that’s what the kids are calling it these days. Well, have fun.” With that, a still-grinning Paris strolled from the room.

Alone once more with his charge, Aeron gazed down at her. Her silent sobbing ended, at least, and she faced him again.

“What are you doing here, Olivia?” Saying her name shouldn’t have affected him—he’d said it before, after all—but it did. His blood heated another degree. It must be those eyes of hers…piercing him…

A shuddering breath escaped her. “I knew the consequences, knew I was giving up my wings, my abilities, my immortality, but I did it anyway. It’s just…my job changed. Joy was no longer mine to give. Only death. And I hated what they wanted me to do. I couldn’t do it, Aeron. I just couldn’t.”

His name on her lips, uttered with such familiarity, affected him, too, and he sucked in a breath. What was wrong with him? Toughen up. Be the cold, hard warrior I know you can be.

“I watched you,” she continued, “as well as those around you, and I…ached. I wanted you, and I wanted what they had—freedom and love and fun. I wanted to play. I wanted to kiss and to touch. I wanted joy of my own.” Her gaze met his, bleak, broken. “In the end, I had a choice. Fall…or kill you. I decided to fall. So here I am. Yours.”


YOURS. SHE SHOULDN’T have said that.

Olivia froze in horror, one thought blasting through her mind louder than any other: she’d just ruined everything.

She should have eased Aeron into the truth. After all, every time she’d approached him these past few weeks, he’d threatened her with agony and death. That she’d been invisible hadn’t mattered. He’d known she was

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