Devil May Cry (Page 31)

Devil May Cry (Dark-Hunter #12)(31)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"I’m sorry," she whispered.

There was no forgiveness in his expression at all as he stalked toward her. His eyes were filled with utter agony. "You keep saying that."

"But I’m sincere."

He raked her with a sneer. "Sincerity doesn’t fix any of this, now does it?"

No, it didn’t, and it didn’t bring back Kytara’s life. How the hell had they managed to kill her? It didn’t make sense. "What happened?"

He let out a tired breath as he wiped the blood from a cut over his left eye. "When I came back, Kessar had Zakar in chains and was holding the Tablet in his hand." He gestured toward Kytara. "He must have used the Tablet to drain her. She was already dead when I arrived."

"How did he get his hands on the Tablet?"

"Damned if I know. I had it locked in the safe in my bedroom."

This was awful. Kat covered her eyes as guilt and pain settled deep in her soul. This was all her fault. All of it.

If not for her, Sin would still have his god powers and there would be no danger to the world.

Kytara would still be alive…

How could she even begin to make this right? Everything was falling apart because she’d made a really bad decision centuries ago. Her heart sank to her stomach as she tried to imagine the coming attack from the Dimme. "We’re doomed, aren’t we?"

"Yeah," he said, his voice thick. "We are. If you have any last wishes to accomplish before total annihilation hits, I suggest you get started."

Still in demon form, Simi approached them with an ecstatic gleam in her eyes. "Can I eat the bitch-goddess?"

Kat sighed in resignation. "I’m afraid the only bitch-goddess around right now would be me."

Simi shook her head. "Akra-Kat isn’t a bitch. You’re always nice to the Simi."

"But I wasn’t nice to Sin." She walked slowly toward him, wanting him to understand the depth of her sorrow and guilt. "I know you don’t believe me, but I am sorry about all this. More than you’ll ever know."

His expression was cold. "I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t really change anything, does it?" He walked over to Kytara and closed her eyes, then he covered her with a blanket. "You should probably take her body home to Olympus. It’s the least we can do."

Kat was confused. "We don’t have to burn her?"

He shook his head. "No. They just killed her. There’s no bite marks on her that I could see. Guess they didn’t want to convert her over."

Kat couldn’t imagine that, since Kessar and crew seemed intent on converting as many people as they could. Surely a dream god would have been a big boon for them. But then nothing the demon did made sense.

How had all this gotten so out of hand?

Sighing, she frowned as she saw Simi and Xirena changing back into their more human forms. "Why didn’t you call for Simi and Xirena when you saw them?"

He gave her a cold glare. "Well gee, since I popped in here in the middle of a fight and I was trying to save my brother and had hoped Kytara was only wounded and not dead, I really didn’t think about them. Sorry I was so self-absorbed in staying alive that I forgot about the demons down the hall."

Kat had to bite back an equally caustic retort. He was hurting and she knew it. This wasn’t easy on either one of them, and more sarcasm wouldn’t accomplish anything more than to further alienate him from her. "Are our powers gone for good?"

"No. Not unless they have a conduit"-he gave her a meaningful sneer-"to drain you. Our powers will be back. Personally I think the prick is just playing with us."

Kat didn’t believe that. "No, he was honestly afraid of Simi and Xirena."

"That’s because they can rip his heart out and, as we learned, they’re immune to the Tablet."

"Which gives us an advantage."

"As long as their numbers are small, yes. But the minute they open the doorway and let the whole demon clan out to party, our demons are dead."

Xirena’s eyes widened. "Um, I don’t like dead. Dead is bad."

Simi nodded in agreement. "Akri would be really sad if his Simi died. The Simi wouldn’t be happy about it, either."

"And neither would I," Kat assured them. "Don’t worry. We won’t let them eat you."

Sin folded up the couch. By his demeanor, she could tell he was trying to think of a solution. Finally, he met her gaze. "Any chance Grandma will let more demons out of her sight?"

"I don’t know. Too many Charontes out of Kalosis without Apollymi here to rein them in would be like too many gallu set free. I think we’d just be changing the face of human annihilation."

"Of course it would," Sin growled. "Now they have the Moon, they have the Tablet that I found for them, and we have no powers so long as they hold it. If we attack, they drain us. I should just shoot myself and end my suffering before they turn me into one of them."

Kat rolled her eyes at his melodramatic tirade. "Don’t go Socrates yet. It’s not over until they let loose the Dimme, right?"

He snorted. "Excuse me if I’m not feeling really upbeat and hopeful at the moment. After all, the one person I thought I could trust is the one who f**ked me the hardest."

Kat had to clench her hand to keep from slapping him. Her first instinct was to give tit for tat. But as she opened her mouth to let him have it, she remembered Acheron’s words.

"But I do know this, Katra. The first betrayal, even as severe as it was, could have been forgiven had your mother just apologized and meant it. Had she come to me and promised that she’d never hurt me again, I would have laid my life down for her. Instead she let her pride get in the way. She was more focused on punishing me for her imagined embarrassment than she was on the future we could have had together."

Those words quelled her tongue. She didn’t want to make the same mistake her mother had made. She’d wronged Sin and they both knew it.

Taking a deep breath for patience, she turned toward Simi. "Simi?" she said quietly. "Will you please take Kytara’s body home to Olympus? Give her to M’Adoc."

Simi nodded as she came forward to hug her. "Don’t be so sad, akra-Kat. We’ll eat all them gallu demons and make it all right. You’ll see."

Kat smiled at the two demons. "I know you will, Simi. Thank you."

As Simi went to pick up Kytara from the floor, Xirena looked a bit awkward, as if she wasn’t sure what she should do. "I’ll wait in our room." Xirena vanished an instant before Simi did.

Sin headed for the bar to pour himself a drink. "You might as well join them. No need in staying around here."

Kat followed him behind the counter. "You’re not getting rid of me that easily."

He slammed a glass down on the counter so hard she was surprised it didn’t shatter. "Don’t push me, Kat. My anger at you right now is only surpassed by my desire to kill Kessar. Since I can’t lay hands on him, you might prove a worthy substitution." He poured the glass full.

"And I want you to understand the depth of my sorrow over what I did to you and your family. If I could put a hair shirt on to make amends, I would. I wish by all the gods I’ve ever met or even heard of that I could go back and return your powers to you. You deserve them. But I can’t do that." He turned to leave.

But she wasn’t willing to let him go that easily. Angry over his dismissal, she spun him around and kissed him. "I love you, Sin. I just wanted you to know that."

Sin was stunned by both her actions and her declaration. He couldn’t move. All he could see was the tender look on her face. The sincerity. But even so, he heard the laughter of his wife echoing in his head. "You’re incompetent as a god, a lover, and a man…"

The only thing he’d ever been good at had been killing. But Kat made him feel as if he had more skills than that. She made him feel as if he mattered. As if he had value.

And that shredded his resistance to her.

She laid her soft hand to his cheek. "We will win this and we will save your brother. I promise. I won’t ever let you down or hurt you again. I swear it by all that I am and all I hope to be. You can trust me, Sin."

He swallowed as his emotions choked him. He wanted to turn and walk away from her, but he couldn’t. It was too late for that.

"Don’t disappoint me, Kat. I don’t think I could recover from it if you did."

Kat’s eyes teared as she heard those words from him. He didn’t say that he loved her, but it was a start. He hadn’t laughed at her or thrown her out.

He’d given her the promise of a relationship. A chance to rebuild the trust that had been broken. She couldn’t expect more than that.

"You have my word, Sin."

He dipped his head down and gave her the lightest whisper of a kiss. Even so, it sent shivers over her and it fired her blood.

She buried her hand in his hair and held him close so that she could nuzzle her cheek against his. The scent of his skin made her hot and shivery. Her entire life had been spent wanting this kind of contact. He felt so good in her arms.

She didn’t want to be her mother. She didn’t want to miss him. To live her life with a memory of what they’d had and then to know she’d lost it all because of stupidity.

For the first time in her life, she had total clarity on Artemis’s relationship with her father. It was a tragedy she didn’t want to duplicate.

She rubbed a lock of Sin’s hair between her fingers as she realized just how much she really did love him. Not just his body, which was hot, but the man inside it. "We’re going to win this."

"I can almost believe it when you say that."

Stepping back, she smiled. "So what do we need to do?"

He took a deep breath before he answered. "One. Don’t die. Two. Don’t get bitten."

She really hoped there was more to it than that. "And?"

"Kick their ass," he said simply.

"Good plan. Little vague on the details."

He gave her a wicked grin. "Isn’t it though?"

She laughed at his mischievous demeanor. It would be infectious if their lives didn’t hang in the balance. "I’ve found that specifics aren’t necessarily a bad thing at times like this. Plans can actually be your friend."

"Really? I’ve found a game plan usually gets in the way. Better to hang loose and improvise."

She took his glass and drained it. "Hang loose, huh? Is that really what you’re going to do?"

Sighing, he stepped away from her, and his face fell to complete sobriety. "No. We have a time bomb in our hands and a lot to do. Step one-"

"Get your brother."

He shook his head. "We have to get the Tablet first."

"You’re willing to leave Zakar in their hands?"

He winced as if the mere thought cut him. "It’s not my first choice, but now that they know we can get to him, they’ll be guarding him a lot closer than before. And if they have the Tablet when we go for him…"

"They’ll kick our asses."

"Exactly. We have to get the Tablet back. The question is how."

Kat considered that for a minute. They couldn’t exactly waltz in there and demand it. They didn’t even know where it was. What they needed was an insider.

"Does Kessar have a weakness?" she asked.

"None that I know of."

Why didn’t that surprise her? Simple. If he’d known of one before now, he no doubt would have used it. "Well, I might know someone who can find it. Hold that thought."

He scowled at her. "Where are you going?"

"The Vanishing Isle. You stay here and rest and I’ll be right back."

He actually appeared to be afraid for her. "You sure you don’t want me to come with you?"

"Yeah. This I’ll need to do alone."

"Be careful."

Warmed by his concern, Kat nodded before she tried to flash. She didn’t get far.

"It’s the Tablet," Sin said as she let out a frustrated growl. "You’re still drained."

She let out a fierce growl. "This is just a little inconvenient."

Sin moved to stand behind her. She closed her eyes as she felt the heat of him radiate through her. There was something about him that never failed to warm her body. His scent, his presence, it filled her with desire and strength.

He placed his hands on her h*ps and bent his head so that he could whisper in her ear. As soon as the melodic Sumerian words started, she felt power radiating from his hands to her body. It sent a warm fissure up her spine to her scalp, where it tingled.

"What are you doing, Sin?"

"I’m loaning you what powers I can."

His whispered words brought tears to her eyes and choked her. "You’re trusting me?"

His lips were so close to her cheek that they tickled her skin. "You asked for another chance. I’m trying my best to give it to you."

Don’t fail me.

Even though he didn’t say those words, she could feel them in her heart. "I won’t fail you, Sin," she whispered back to him an instant before their weakened powers united enough to flash her to the hall where Simi had taken Kytara. But Simi must have returned to Las Vegas, since she was nowhere to be seen.

Her raw emotions still churning, Kat paused in the corner to give herself a moment for composure. D’Alerian, M’Adoc, and M’Ordant stood with their backs to her. From this angle, the dream gods were almost identical in appearance. D’Alerian had long, straight black hair that hung just past his shoulders. M’Ordant’s black hair hung to his collar and was straight, while M’Adoc’s was the same length, only wavy. All three were dressed in black and speaking in a low tone.