Acheron (Page 80)

Acheron (Dark-Hunter #15)(80)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

What was the deal with Acheron? Who was he really?

And how old was he?

She looked up as a shadow fell over her bed. Her heart missed a beat until she realized the shadow was Justina. "You scared me!"

"Sorry. There was something I forgot to give you. It was so small, I didn’t put it in the bag with the rest." She pulled a small sandwich baggie out of her pocket. "I think you’ll find it really interesting."

Scowling, Tory took it from her and pulled the coin out. They’d found a lot of coins so that wasn’t surprising. The back of it was the same as other Didymos coins.

But when she turned it over, she gasped.

The face on the coin was Acheron’s.


It wasn’t Ash who brought Tory’s clothes to her later. He sent them up via Aimee which was a bit disappointing, but if he wanted to be a coward after locking her in, so be it. Besides, she liked Aimee who had a biting sense of humor and a very keen wit.

It also gave her time to plot revenge on the tall Goth who irritated her to distraction.

With nothing better to do, Tory took a shower in the small bathroom, careful not to get her sutures wet. She was extremely bored with her bed rest. She didn’t understand how she could feel so good given what had happened to her. Honestly, she was only a little sore from the almost fatal wreck.

It was so strange.

Not wanting to be alone where thoughts of Dimitri and worry for her team made her ache, she left the room and headed into the bar area, seeking distraction. As she came out, Justina and Katherine got up from a small round table where they’d been sitting-Justina facing Tory’s door and Katherine scanning the bar around them.

She didn’t know where the other priestesses were, but the fact that those two were still here made her arch an eyebrow.

"What are you doing?" she asked them, curious about their nervous twitching.

Katherine looked away sheepishly. "We were watching you to make sure no one disturbed you."

Well at least the man hadn’t made them keep her locked in the room. She should be grateful for some small liberty. "Ash’s orders?"

Justina smiled. "I finally found someone even bossier than you. Who knew? Not to mention he’s a lot more fierce."

Ha, ha, Tory thought sarcastically. She didn’t really find that particularly funny-most likely because she was on the receiving end of his bossiness. "So where is he?"

Probably out chasing the redhead or some other woman.

Katherine pointed over the banister down to the stage area. Tory looked below, then gaped as she saw the one man at the back of the stage who didn’t have a spotlight on him. There was no mistaking the giant dressed only in black as he played a black guitar emblazoned with red flames.

Justina joined her at the banister. "The band’s guitarist jammed two fingers right before they were supposed to play so they begged Ash to cover for him."

Tory was absolutely stunned as she watched his long fingers fly over the neck into perfect chords. "Get out."

Justina grinned. "Yeah, I know, he’s impressive isn’t he?"

No, he careened past impressive and went straight into the realm of guitar god. Because she played herself, she could easily appreciate the talent it took to make what he did look and sound so effortless. He didn’t make a single mistake.

And when he broke into a screaming solo that rivaled Hendrix, Rhodes or Van Halen, the crowd went wild.

Before Tory even realized what she was doing, she was heading down the stairs to watch him play at closer range.

Ash didn’t normally look at the crowd what few times he’d filled in with the Howlers-which was only during practice sessions or when the bar was closed to anything not preternatural, but for some reason he felt an uncharacteristic compulsion to do so now. He immediately saw Tory in front with Justina and Katherine behind her.

Time seemed suspended as he met those beautiful brown eyes that always seemed to see through him, straight into his soul. As he stared at her, he forgot everything else, especially when he finally heard her thoughts above those of the people around him.

Why do you live in the shadows away from everyone else? You should be out front and shining with that talent. I’ve never heard a better guitarist. How do you do that? Were you born with a guitar in your hands?

She looked at him in awe. You are so beautiful, Acheron. All of you. Why do you hide from the world and from me in particular? I would never hurt you . . .

The sincerity of those words reached out to him in a way nothing had before. But more than that were the other glimpses he finally had into her. Some of them he would never have guessed. Her soul was beautiful. Her heart unbelievably kind. He was used to dealing with those who, like him, were jaded. Those who expected only the worst from other people and the world.

But not her. She saw even the evil around her with a childlike hope.

Gods, how he wanted to touch that purity. To feel the magical way she saw the best in people, even when they didn’t deserve it. Most of all, he wanted to see himself the way she did. To be the person she thought he was, instead of the animal he knew himself to be.

Just for one minute.

This had to be the greatest gift anyone had ever given him and she hadn’t even realized she’d done it. It was just who and what she was. That was what made it perfect.

And he wanted to return the favor to her as they ended the God-smack cover they were playing. He went over to the lead singer of the band, Angel Santiago, who had long brown hair and a cocky grin, and whispered to him.

Angel shook his head, laughing. "For you, man, anything." Angel went to the others while Ash adjusted the mike in front of him to accommodate his height.

An instant later, Ash cringed as a spotlight was turned straight on him. He’d never craved this kind of attention and every part of him wanted to run for cover.

But Tory had a stupid fantasy and the part of him that she’d unknowingly touched wanted to give it to her.

His throat dry from embarrassment and fear, he met her gaze. "This is for Soteria." He went into the opening strands of Nickel-back’s "Savin’ Me." The moment he did, he wanted to die as he realized how badly he’d just screwed up-in public. The club was filled with people and animals in human form who knew who and what he was. Beings who would be dying to know who Soteria was and why he’d dedicate a song to her when he never did such a thing.

More than that, he’d most likely angered Tory by linking her name to his. Damn it. He knew better. No one wanted to be seen with him. Ever.

When was he going to learn that one basic fact? Decent people only wanted to interact with him in private. He was an embarrassment. A freak.

But it was too late now. All he could do was see this through and hope she didn’t publicly bitch-slap him for the affront when it was over.

I’m such an idiot.

Tory couldn’t breathe as she heard Ash sing. He had the most amazing voice. Low and deep, it sent shivers over her.

Good gods of Olympus . . .

She’d never heard this song before but the lyrics were beautiful . . .

Heaven’s gates won’t open up for me.

With these broken wings I’m fallin’

And all I see is you.

Those lyrics brought tears to her eyes. All her life, she’d had a fantasy about a great-looking guy in a band singing to her. She knew how stupid it was, but to be here right now having Ash of all men sing to her.

It was surreal and it was wonderful. Most of all, it made her want to cry.

And when the song ended, the spotlight was turned off. Ash set his guitar on the stand by the drum set and jumped down from the stage.

"We’ll be taking a twenty-minute break," the lead singer said.

Tory barely heard him as Ash approached her slowly and for the first time she saw hesitancy in his powerful gait. Unsure, he stopped in front of her.

Ash cringed, dreading her reaction. "I’m sorry if I-" He was going to say embarrassed you, but before he could get the rest of the sentence out, she pulled the sunglasses off his face and grabbed him into the fiercest kiss he’d ever known.

Everything around him receded as her lips set fire to his entire body. It wasn’t demanding or painful. It was a kiss of commitment. Of caring.

One that made him growl with need as she cupped his face with her hands, then trailed them down his body to hold him so close to her that his head spun with disbelief.

And in that moment, all he wanted was to be inside her. To have her hold him like this while there was nothing between them. Just bare skin to bare skin.

Tory couldn’t breathe as she tasted Acheron. His body was so incredibly hard. She doubted there was a single molecule not muscled and ripped. Except for his lips. They were as soft as a whisper and tasted of raw masculine power.

"Damn Ash, get a room."

Ash tensed at the sound of Dev’s voice as the bear walked past him. But he was still incredulous that Tory had grabbed him like this in public. No woman had ever done that before. He’d always been relegated to the shadows-to places where no one could see them together.

The fact that she’d kissed him openly . . .

It was heaven.

Biting her lip, Tory pulled back to see his face mottled with red. Whether from anger, exertion or embarrassment she couldn’t tell for sure. "I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t offend you."

Ash shook his head as he laid his hand to her cheek. Pulling her against him, he buried his face in her hair and inhaled the sweetness of her scent. It was a scent he wanted to bathe in until it coated every inch of his flesh and branded him as hers.

Tory closed her eyes at the tightest embrace she’d ever had. She hugged him back and just held him while people walked around them. She’d never really been one for public displays of affection, yet with him it was different.

Nothing seemed to matter except being with him right here and right now.

Ash squeezed his eyes shut as raw emotions tore through him. Let her go. Shove her away. It was the sanest thing to do. The safest thing to do.

But he couldn’t. He’d lived his entire life for other people, trying to please them and failing with every attempt. First it’d been his human father, then his uncle. The clients he’d taken.

And then Artemis.

He’d never been good enough to earn their love. Never good enough for them to make him feel the way Tory did. To her he was neither whore nor god. Neither property nor a source of shame.

He was just a man.

And that man wanted to make love to her.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t. You’ll only get hurt, Ash. You know better.

Artemis will make you suffer until you beg for death . . . and then she’ll torture you even more.

Yet when he looked into those deep brown eyes that saw him as a human with feelings, he was lost. Most of all, he was tired of taking nothing for himself. Of sacrificing himself for other people’s happiness while he had no one who made him feel like he mattered.

Surely he deserved to have someone hold him close and soothe him. Would that be selfish?

His resolve bucked under the weight of conscience. Fuck it if was.

If he had to pay for this later, he would. He’d suffered unbearably for a lot less than Tory. And she’d be worth every scar.

Stepping back, he took her hand and led her to the stairs and up to her room. He closed the door, isolating them from the sounds and people downstairs, then turned to face her.

Tory was unprepared for the ferocity of his kiss as he pinned her to the wall. He’d always been so reserved and cool that she’d never suspected how sexy it would be for him to lose control like this.

The fact that she was the one who drove him to it only made her hotter. His lips tormented her as his hands began unbuttoning her blouse. She swallowed at the heat pounding through her. She’d never been with a man before.

And she barely knew him.

Yet she realized Pam was right. If she didn’t sleep with Ash, she’d regret it for the rest of her life. There was something about him that made her restless and calm. Something that touched her heart in a way no one ever had before.

She wanted to be with him. To hold him close and never let him go.

Ash pulled back from her lips as he opened the last button of her blouse. Her br**sts, covered by purple lace, were small and inviting. Adorable and perfect. He kept waiting for her to push him away and reject him.

She didn’t.

Taking a deep breath, he reached to the gold clasp between her br**sts. He met her gaze and the raw hunger there set fire to him as he opened her bra and spilled her br**sts to his gaze. He cupped the right one in his hand, amazed by the softness of her skin as her taut nipple teased his palm. Dying for a taste, he dipped his head down to gently suckle her.

Tory gasped as he flicked his tongue over her nipple. With every lick, her stomach contracted sharply. His mouth was so hot as he sucked and played. His breath scorched her skin. She cupped his head to her, unable to believe how much pleasure he gave her.

He moved to her other breast as he unzipped her pants. Tory felt herself getting wet already. "Touch me, please," she begged, dying for something to sate the fire inside her.

Ash obliged her as he slid his hand under the waistband of her panties. He let the small hairs tease his fingers as he sank his hand down further until he could separate the tender folds of her body and run his finger down her cleft.

She made a strangled cry of pleasure. Smiling in satisfaction, he dipped his hand down lower to let her moisture coat his fingers before he moved his hand up to massage her.