Acheron (Page 75)

Acheron (Dark-Hunter #15)(75)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

He turned it back on.

She went back to ignoring him.

Hoping she could stay out of trouble for the next few days, he returned to the hospital. Pam was now in the waiting room where he’d been earlier.

"Any word?" he asked.

"Not yet. Kim went to check." She skimmed his body which was now covered with his long duster, a gray hoodie and black shirt and jeans. "You don’t look as near to death as Kim said you did."

He shrugged as he pushed his sleeves up on his arms. "A shower does wonders for a body."

"So they tell me."

Ash sat down beside her, his heart heavy as they waited and waited with no word. Kim joined them and after what seemed like forever a doctor came out to talk to them.

"How is she?" Kim asked before he had a chance.

"Amazingly resilient and very lucky she got here as fast as she did. Her spleen was damaged, but we’ve got it put back together. Barring a bizarre infection, she’ll be good as new."

Ash let out a deep breath in relief.

"Can we see her?" Pam asked.

"She’s still in recovery, but we’ll have her out within the hour. You’ll be able to see her then."

Kim shook the man’s hand. "Thanks, Phil."

"No problem."

As the doctor walked away, Ash turned to Kim. "Since she’s going to be here for a couple of days, I have something you need to know."

Kim’s face blanched. "Oh God, you’re a serial killer aren’t you?"

Her logic baffled him. "What?"

"See this is what happens," Kim said to Pam before she looked back at Ash. "You’re too perfect which means you’re probably Dexter right? Hiding bodies someplace weird. You probably have your mom’s body stashed away in your closet."

Ash shook his head. "No, at least not this week." He paused as he hoped he was doing the right thing by telling them what’d really happened this afternoon. "We didn’t just wreck. We were run off the road."

Pam narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean?"

"Someone was trying to kill us. Last night, her friend Dimitri was murdered in Greece and his house searched. One of her team must have found something significant and someone wants it bad enough to kill for it. I don’t think Tory should be left alone until we know more about it. The guys who came after us today, could very easily show up here."

Pam paled. "Can we get security on her?"

Kim shook her head. "The police won’t do anything without concrete proof."

"I can guard her," Ash told them, "but I wanted you guys to know why if I’m not here, another guard needs to be. She can’t be left alone."

Pam nodded in agreement. "Don’t worry, I’m a major conspiracist anyway."

"And on that note," Kim said, stepping back, "I’m going to cruise by the recovery room and check in on her just to make us all happy."


Kim patted him on the arm. "No problem. I’ll be in touch."

But even so, Ash didn’t breathe comfortably again until Tory was in a private room with him by her side.

She was hooked to several monitors and an IV. Her face was so pale that it scared him and he hated that sensation. It was also strange to see her without her glasses on.

Brushing her hair back from her forehead, he smiled at how beautiful she was. Not in a classic way-she honestly had nothing on Artemis in terms of looks, but there was something about her that even while she was unconscious shined through. Her spirit and her impishness. He could already hear her insulting him.

I thought you knew how to ride a bike. Gah, I can’t believe you wimped out and lost control like that.

He could almost laugh at her imagined barbed comments as she took him to task for letting her get hurt.

His gaze dropped to her hand. Picking it up, he studied the daintiness of it. Her fingers were long, thin and graceful. The kind of hands that were made to stroke and to soothe. Fingers made to suckle and nibble. Before he could think better of it, he held her hand to his cheek and savored the soft feel of her skin. All his life, he’d craved a loving touch. One that wasn’t selfish or hurting.

The only one to touch him like that had been Ryssa, but even she’d been stingy with them. Part of it had been his own fault. So many years of being slapped, pinched and hurt had preconditioned him to tense whenever someone came at his face. Even now he didn’t really like anyone to touch him and yet he craved it.

I’m psychotic.

No, not really. He wanted what he didn’t know and he didn’t know how to get what wanted. It was that simple and that difficult.

But as he held her hand against his cheek, he imagined her awake, touching him. His c**k hardened with need and his heart broke over the reality that he could never be with someone like her.

He was forever tied to Artemis. Forever tied to a destiny he’d wanted no part in. Trapped between his mother and a goddess who claimed ownership of him. What he wanted was one single day of freedom to be a normal man who could make decisions that would only affect his own life. A day to laugh and to relax.

And people in hell want ice water.

Wishes weren’t magical and his life was what it was. All the wishing in the world wouldn’t change that. Sighing, he led her hand back to the bed and placed it beside her.

What he was about to do was wrong and he knew it. He tried to rationalize it by saying that she was going to heal anyway . . . barring infection and what were the odds she’d get an infection? She was young and healthy. He was just speeding the process up so that she wouldn’t be tied to the hospital in case the men hunting her came here.

If she’s supposed to die, she’s supposed to die.

Then she would die and his healing her wouldn’t matter at all.

"I’m not messing with her fate. I’m only healing her." As he reached to touch her chest, he remembered the times he’d wanted to die and had been prevented from it. The time when he’d been dead and Artemis had tricked him into taking her blood to bring him back.

But this was different.

Yeah it was real different. Artemis had saved the world by bringing him back. By waking Tory, he might end it.

Still he couldn’t stop himself from doing this.

Taking a chance he knew better than to risk, he touched the valley between her br**sts and let the energy of life flow from his body into hers. The monitors popped ever so slightly before Tory gasped.

Ash moved his hand away the exact instant she opened her eyes to look up at him.

Tory lay confused as she saw Ash standing over her. With his sunglasses on, she couldn’t gauge his mood. Her entire body was sore and she couldn’t quite figure out where she was. "Did you hit me?"

Ash gave her a crooked smile. "Why would I hit you?"

He had a point. And as she tried to get her bearings, a faint image went through her mind . . . it was Ash holding her. "Don’t you dare f**king die on me. Tory!" Those angry words brought back an immediate flood of memories as she remembered the guys chasing them.

"You were shot!" she said, looking for his wounds.

"No. They missed."

Tory frowned. The one guy had shot them at almost point blank range. How could he have missed? And then she saw the bike going down in her mind and remembered sliding over the street. "Where did you learn to ride anyway? Disasters-R-Us?"

Ash laughed. "I knew you were going to insult me when you woke up."

She wasn’t amused by it. "What happened to wreck us?"

"One of the cars clipped our tire."

"And we lived?"

He nodded. "We lived."

"You sure?"

"I think so."

"Yeah, I think you’re right." She looked around the hospital room that wasn’t much more than a blur of lights and shadows without her glasses. "I don’t think I’d be in this much pain if I were dead. Not to mention, if I’m this blind after death, I have a bone to pick with the higher powers."

Ash stared at her in disbelief. How could she be making jokes about what had happened? "I think we left your glasses under the car that hit us."

"Figures. I’m just glad you didn’t leave me there too, though to be honest, my ribs feel like the car is still parked on top of me."

Ash didn’t say anything since his legs weren’t quite the same either.

"Oh my God, you’re awake?"

Ash stepped back as Kim squealed and then ran to the bed to embrace her friend. He was always amazed by such friendship and love. Throughout history, he’d witnessed it, but he’d never really felt it. He had people he could rely on. People he called friend, but none of them-not even Alexion-was ever privy to the real him. None of them knew his thoughts and though they might know some of his past, they certainly didn’t know all of it.

He was a ghost who walked through life observing it, wanting to take part, but too afraid to risk being hurt to reach out. No wonder he and Jaden got along so well. They were armored to the point they were hollow inside.

And as he’d learned when he’d been human, nothing could ever fill that vast hole. It was endless and it was ever consuming whatever he attempted to put there.

Tory had a strange sensation go through her as she remembered something else from the wreck.

Ash had been hit by the car . . .

Releasing Kim, she looked at him and saw no injuries on his body. Not even a bruise. Yet she remembered clearly the last thing she’d seen before she blacked out.

Ash being run over. Completely run over. It stood out because until then, she’d felt no pain, sliding on the street. Then the instant the car hit him, her pain had set in and her last thought had been that she’d just watched him die . . .

You’re imagining things. It’s shock from the accident.

Or was it?

What are you saying, Tor? The man’s immortal?

How stupid could one woman be? He wasn’t immortal by any means. She had an overactive imagination and it was playing with her again.

"Ash said someone intentionally ran you guys off the road."

She blinked at Kim’s chatter. "Yeah, they did."

"So what are you guys going to do?"

She looked to Ash who appeared to be watching her. "What are we going to do?"

"I don’t know about you, but my plan is simple. Find the bastards and kill them."


Kim’s eyes widened at Ash’s harsh words. "A little bloodthirsty isn’t it?"

Not to him and not when they so richly deserved it. He flashed her a taunting grin. "Given what they did to Tory, I’m thinking a quick death is merciful. Not to mention they ruined one of my favorite jackets and totaled my bike."

Pam snorted. "Well let’s just torture then bomb the bastards. How dare they!"

Ash ignored the sarcasm as he crossed his arms over his chest. "Now you’re thinking like me. A little eye-gouging, some slit nostrils . . . I could seriously get into that."

Kim shuddered as she spoke to Tory. "I think your new friend is a little bloodthirsty."

Ash stifled a smile at her words. If she only knew that was his primary nourishment. And yes, he could definitely use some blood since it’d been over a week since he last ate.

Kim’s phone rang. "Work calls. I’ll be back soon."

Ash stepped back toward the bed to check in with Tory. "How are you feeling?"

She smiled up at him. "Amazingly whole. How about you? I thought the car ran you over."

"I rolled out of the way."

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "It didn’t look like that from my perspective. I could have sworn it plowed right over both of your legs."

He looked down at them before he shrugged. "Obviously not."

Tory’s expression turned sweet and adoring, and it hit him like a blow to his stomach. She placed her hand gently on his arm in the most loving touch he’d probably ever experienced. "Thank you for getting me here. Kim said they told her you were bleeding like crazy when you carried me in through the ER doors."

He felt his face flush at her gratitude. "Don’t worry about it. Next time I’m hurt, you can carry me."

She laughed at his humor. "I think it would take at least a team of people to carry you."

"Back to the insults, huh?"

She shook her head at him. "That’s not an insult. You are a big man."

Ash opened his mouth to speak, but before he had a chance, the doctor came in to examine her. He moved away while the doctor chatted with Tory.

"You are one very lucky woman. But for your friend getting you here as quickly as he did, you wouldn’t have made it. Your spleen was severely damaged in your wreck."

Tory was still amazed by what Ash had done for her. Kim had told her that he’d been in bad shape himself and that he’d been over-wrought when she’d died in his arms. Tenderness for him overwhelmed her.

When the bike had gone down, she remembered him reaching to protect her. He’d tried to keep her near him, but the force of the crash had separated them.

She grimaced as the doctor touched a tender spot on her abdomen.

He pulled back with an incredulous look. "You’re healing unbelievably fast."

"Good genes and lots of vitamins."

He laughed at her. "You keep this up and we’ll have you out of here in about three days."

Ash cleared his throat. "Is there any chance she can leave sooner?"