Acheron (Page 45)

Acheron (Dark-Hunter #15)(45)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Xiamara gaped as she let out a nervous laugh punctuated by disbelief. "Apollymi, you can’t."

She met her friend’s gaze levelly. "If this were Xedrix, Xirena or Simi?"

Xiamara cursed as she realized she’d do the same exact thing to protect her children. "Are you sure?"

"He’s my son, Xi. The only part of me that’s worth living. Whatever it takes to save his life, make the bargain. I just want to hold him one time before I die."

Xiamara pulled her into a hug and held her close. "You are the bravest woman I’ve ever known, akra. I will do as you ask even though I don’t want to."

"And will you bond with him when I’m gone?"

"You know I will. After all we’ve been through together, I’d give my life for you and for your son."

Apollymi choked on her tears. "Then you are the best friend anyone could ever have."

Xiamara tightened her hug before she stepped back. "I will return as quickly as possible."

Despondent and yet hopeful, Apollymi watched as Xiamara left her. She looked at the pond, desperate to check on her son, but knew better than to try. The moment Xiamara had unlocked Apostolos’s powers, it had put the others on notice.

The day of reckoning was here. By all the gods of the universe, she would make them pay for what they’d done to her baby and for every day they’d made her live without him.

June 24, 9527 BC

Acheron walked through the center of the city, feeling the power of life moving through his veins. It was as if he were now truly part of the universe. Colors were more vibrant, every sound . . . he could hear heartbeats and blood rushing through veins. Every person he passed, he knew their names instantly. Their past, their present and their futures.

Nothing was hidden from him. He could feel the power of the ages. He felt invincible . . .

Mmmm, I’d love to have a sample of that.

He turned toward the woman whose thoughts were in his mind. She immediately glanced away as if embarrassed by her wantonness.

Acheron stopped dead as he realized something.

With his powers unlocked, the others didn’t pounce on him the way they’d done before. Testing his theory since he now knew he could teleport himself away from them with nothing more than a thought, he lowered his cowl. The familiar tremor went through those who saw him, but for the first time in his life, they kept their distance. It was as if they could sense the powers within him and knew better than to approach.

Amazed, he jerked the cloak off and handed it to a beggar as he continued walking through the streets uncovered. Exposed. So this was what it felt like to be normal. It was incredible to live without fear. Without being mauled and hurt.

Wanting to laugh in relief and excitement, he headed toward Artemis’s temple and fearlessly strode inside.

The temple was empty this time of day. Emboldened by his powers, he approached her statue.

"What are you doing here?"

He saw Artemis in the shadows. "I wanted to see you."

"You know better than to come here," she growled in a low, fierce tone. "What if someone saw you?"

He tsked at her. "What’s the matter, Artie? Why can’t I make an offering to a goddess? Am I really that offensive to you?"

Artemis scowled. There was something different about Acheron today. An essence of power rippled . . . like the presence of a god, and yet she knew better. "Are you drunk?"

His grin was actually charming. "I can’t get drunk anymore."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing." He approached her like a feral beast stalking its prey. Slow. Sensual. Seductive. She was mesmerized by the beauty of his fluid movements that oozed an unnatural sexuality. Before she could move, he pulled her forcefully against him and kissed her lips.

Fire spread through her as she forgot all about being in the open with him. He hadn’t kissed her like this in a long time. The next thing she knew, they were in her bedroom on Olympus.

Strange, she didn’t remember bringing them here . . . But that thought was lost the instant he scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the bed. She loved whenever he carried her. It made her feel so feminine.

Acheron didn’t know where his sudden surge of desire came from. It was overwhelming and exhilarating. He couldn’t remember ever wanting to be with someone as much as he wanted Artemis just then. It was as if he had to have her right now.

As if something from deep within him was driving him to possess and dominate her.

Her fangs grew in as she made their clothes vanish. "You are so beautiful," she said with the slightest of lisps. "I want you inside me while I feed."

But he wasn’t in the mood for that. He pulled her up to meet his lips so that he could kiss her with the fury and strength that boiled deep inside him. It was as if there was no humanity left there. Growling low in his throat, he rolled her over onto her stomach, spread her thighs wide and entered her from behind.

Artemis gasped as unimaginable pleasure tore through her body. Acheron had never been so forceful with her before. But even so, he was gentle. The mixture of the two blinded her with ecstasy. His strokes were so deep and strong. Powerful. It felt as if he were touching a part of her immortal soul.

"Tell me who you hunger for, Artemis," he growled in her ear.

She sucked her breath in sharply as he punctuated each word with a deep thrust. "You."

"And who do you crave?"

"Only you."

"Then say my name. I want you to use it while I’m inside of you. While I possess you."

"Acheron," she cried in pleasure.

He pulled out of her then and rolled her over to face him. His breathing ragged, he stared down at her with a desire so hot, it scalded her. There was nothing subservient about him now. He met her as an equal.

No, he was more than that.

His kiss burned her before he entered her again. Artemis arched her back, drawing him in even deeper.

He pulled back and cupped her face while he rode her deep and hard. His silver eyes flashed red. "Look at me while I’m inside you and say my name again."


"And who commands you, Goddess? Who is the only man who makes you wet with desire?"

She cried out on the verge of an orgasm.

He froze as if he knew and the frustration of it was almost enough to make her slap him.

"Answer me, Artemis. If you want to come, tell me who you answer to."

She lifted her body and wrapped her legs around his lean hips. "You, Acheron. Only you."

He descended on her lips with another scorching kiss before he returned to thrusting against her. Unable to stand it, she brushed his hair back from his neck and sank her teeth in deep.

The moment she did he drove himself in all the way to his hilt as they both came. Artemis screamed out as she shook in unrivaled bliss.

Acheron felt paralyzed by the spasms in his body. It was so rare for him to actually come inside her that the novelty of it temporarily blinded him. She clamped her body around his before she rolled him over onto his back so that she could feed.

Fully sated, he lay there while she drank her fill of his blood. For once there was no weakness from it.

With a shocked expression on her beautiful face, Artemis pulled back to stare down at him. Her eyes were now silver, her lips coated in his blood. "What are you?"

Before he could answer, he felt that foreign coldness seeping through him with the shiver of electricity that heralded he was turning blue.

Gasping, Artemis shot to the foot of the bed where she crouched nak*d as if ready to attack him.

Acheron threw his head back as his powers surged out in a wave so powerful, it shattered the windows of her room.

"Get out!" she shrieked. But this time when she tried to flash him back to the human world, he refused to go.

He grabbed her and pulled her against him. True to his suspicions, he saw his blue marbled hand on her pale arm. "What’s the matter, Artie? Are you afraid of me now?"

Artemis gulped at the sight of her precious Acheron. Gone was the golden fair man whose every feature was perfect. What held her now was sinisterly beautiful. His skin swirled in a symphony of blue color. His hair was as black as his lips and nails.

And his eyes . . .

They flashed from silver to red and back again.

This was a god of destruction and she knew it. She could feel powers that made a mockery of even the ones Zeus possessed. Acheron could kill her . . .

"You tricked me!" she accused him.

"I’ve done nothing." His skin flashed back to normal. "I offered my heart to you once, Artemis. You told me I wasn’t good enough for you. Am I now?"

No, this was even worse. To bring a more powerful god to Olympus . . .

They would kill her.

"What do you want?" she asked, terrified of his answer. Had he come to destroy all of them?

He reached a marbled blue hand up to cup her cheek. His eyes burned her with their tormented need. "I want you to love me."

"I do love you."

"You say that only because you’re afraid of me now. I can feel it."

"No, Acheron. It’s the truth. I’ve loved you since the moment you first kissed me."

His eyes turned vibrant, flaming red. "Then prove it."


"Walk with me through the palace at Didymos. By my side. As my equal."

The very thought horrified her. "I can’t do that."

"I’m a god. Why can’t you walk with a god?"

Artemis shook her head. It wasn’t that simple. "You were a whore."

Acheron flinched as those words tore through him with the ferocity of stinging blades.

"I am a virgin goddess," she said forcefully. "No one can ever know that I was seduced by a common prostitute. God or not, you cannot be claimed by me. Ever."

He still wasn’t good enough. God or not, he was still nothing except unwanted garbage. An embarrassment. Not even his mother could claim him.

His heart shattered, he took a deep breath as he watched her cowering. In that moment, he hated himself for what he’d been and for what he was.

A bully.

He was no better than the ones who’d made him beg and crawl for kindness. The thought sickened him.

Coming off the bed, he pulled Artemis to her feet. She shivered as he leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Don’t ever cower before me, Artie. I gave you my word that I would never hurt you and I will always stand by it." He cupped her cheek with his blue hand and laid a gentle kiss on the side of her head.

Artemis didn’t breathe until Acheron was gone. Naked and trembling, she stood in the darkness of her room, confused by everything that had happened.

Acheron was a god.

But of what pantheon? She could still taste the power of his blood. That power mixed with hers and gave her just a glimpse of his capabilities.

He was a destroyer. A god-killer. All of her pantheon lived in fear of the dark gods. The ones who could command the primal source of the universe. There weren’t many who possessed that ability and none of the Greek gods had it.


But Acheron did . . .

"What have I done?"

Her foolish carelessness could very well cause the death of them all.

June 25, 9527 BC


Xiamara stood before an old, gnarled oak tree that grew out of a mountainside, toward the heavens. From the beginning of time, trees had always been associated with the gods. Their roots plunged deep into the heart of the earth, spreading toward its center while their branches soared toward the sky.

It was the life of the earth that they carried in their core and each tree held a piece of the universal spirit that bound all worlds and creatures together.

They were composed of three of the four basic elements. Air, water and earth. When they burned, it united all.

But the most important part of the tree was that, with it and human blood mixed with hers, she could summon one of the most powerful creatures in the universe.

Al Baraka.


No one knew where he came from or when he’d been created, spawned or birthed. If he were human, demon or other. But if a demon needed something, he was the one they bargained with.

Her heart racing, she poured the human blood that one of Apollymi’s human priestesses had donated into the roots of the tree. Then she sliced open her own hand and whispered the words to call the demon broker.

"I summon you forth with voice and blood. With weight of the moon and the strength of the sacred wood. Darkness come to me. So say the gods, so let it be . . ."

Lightning flashed as a heavy wind picked up. Xiamara tucked her wings down so that they weren’t damaged in the storm.

A swirling black mist rose up from the earth, thick and heavy as it rolled over the tree.

Jaden was ever one for theatrics.

Stepping back, she watched as the mist formed the body of a man. Slowly, it solidified into a pair of inhuman eyes. One was deep, dark brown and the other a vibrant green. From those eyes formed a face as handsome as any man could hope to be. Shoulder-length black hair settled around broad, muscular shoulders. Merciless power and intolerance bled from every fiber of his being.

He stood on a tall branch, looking down at her. His dark brown leather pants and long brown cloak blended in perfectly with the tree.