Devil May Cry (Page 36)

Devil May Cry (Dark-Hunter #12)(36)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Ha ha. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever get used to his humor. "So what do you do? Really?"

"Nothing. Really. It’s boring as hell. Artemis won’t allow me to bring anything here with me. No guitar. No Cartoon Network. Occasionally, I sneak a book in just to watch her wig out when she finds it."

That didn’t make any sense to Kat. Why would her mother be so cruel? "Why doesn’t she allow you to have anything here?"

"It’s a distraction and she won’t tolerate it. My part of the bargain is to be at her beck and call. So here I wait. It’s another power trip… a small victory she can claim over me."

"Why do you tolerate it?"

The look in his swirling silver eyes sent a shiver down her spine. "The same reason Sin hasn’t resigned himself to death. There are six billion people on earth who need someone to protect them from things that are scarier than the tax man or the knife-wielding stranger. Things that a gun won’t stop. As long as their lives hang in the balance, what’s a little humiliation for me? Besides, I’m used to it."

Maybe, but she wondered if she’d be so altruistic in his place. "Yeah, but you’re a god of fate. Can’t you change that?"

"You’re thinking like a child, Katra. Things that appear simple very seldom are. It’s like the mechanic who goes to fix the carburetor and in doing so accidentally puts a hole in the radiator and causes even more damage. Every person on this planet is connected. Sometimes those lines are easy to see, and others are more complex. You change one insignificant thing and you change the very core of humanity. Case in point, had I stopped you from taking Sin’s powers he wouldn’t have become what he is now. He’d have been just as cold as your mother."

"But his pantheon would have survived."

"Would it? Fate is never that simple. It doesn’t go in a straight line, and the more you try to circumvent it, the worse you make it on yourself. Fate will not be denied. Sin would have lost his powers by another means, at another time and place. And whoever took them then might have killed him. Had he died, the world would have ended a long time ago or the gallu would have run free and taken over. There are infinite possibilities."

"But if fate won’t be denied… if it’s set, how could there be infinite possibilities?" That was a question she’d never fully understood.

"Only certain aspects are fated. The outcome isn’t. It was fated that Sin would lose his godhood, the means and what followed were determined by free will. Free will is that one scary variable that sets so much into motion that no one, not even I, have control over."

"I don’t understand."

He took a deep breath as he rubbed her arm comfortingly. "Here’s an example. When I first met Nick Gautier it was fated that he was to get married at age thirty and have a dozen kids. As our friendship grew, I lost the ability to see how his future would play out. Then in one moment of anger, I changed his destiny by telling him he should kill himself. I didn’t mean it, but as a god of fate, such proclamations when made by me are law. Fate realigned the circumstances around him that would lead him to make a decision to take his own life. The woman he was to marry ended up dead in her store. His mother’s life was taken by a Daimon and Nick shot himself at her feet. My free will would have been to not lash out at him. Instead, I did. His free will would have been to seek revenge as a human against a Daimon and not kill himself. But because of who I am, my proclamation that he kill himself outweighed his will and he didn’t really have any choice. I took his free will and I cost him everyone who was close to him. Do you understand?"

She was beginning to see, but there was still the matter of the original plan for Nick. "If fate won’t be denied, then Nick could still find someone to marry and have a dozen kids, right?"

"That might have been true, but the moment I forced my will onto his life I altered that. His fate is no longer set and it’s his free will now that leads him toward a destiny I can’t see. But I know his future actions will touch the lives of people I love and whatever happens to them is ultimately my fault for being stupid. Don’t be stupid, Katra. Never speak in anger and never try to force your will onto someone else. You’ll never find peace in that."

Kat paused as she realized exactly what he meant. For centuries her mother had been trying to force her will on Kat’s father. Her grandfather had tried to force his will onto her grandmother. And in each case the outcome had been disastrous for everyone involved. As much as Kat wanted to have Sin, unless he was willing, there would never be any happiness between them. "I understand."

"Good. That’s the first step."

She supposed. But honestly, doing the right thing really hurt when all she wanted to do was go force Sin to take her back.

Kat looked at Acheron and shook her head. "You are incredibly wise."

He laughed. "Only when it comes to other people. It’s easy to see how to fix their lives. It’s much harder to see the cracks in your own house."

"Well, I appreciate it. Thank you." She kissed him on the cheek before she left him alone and headed for her room. She had to leave the temple to walk across to the dormitory that belonged to all of the koris who served Artemis. Kat’s room was the last on the left.

She would give Sin the space he needed to see what he wanted out of his life. She wouldn’t seek him out. Let him be the one to call. It was the only way.

As she went to open her bedroom curtains to let daylight in, she heard something behind her. Turning, she watched as Xypher appeared in the center of her room.

His expression was cold and brutal as he dragged a male demon, in true demon form across her floor. He held the demon by the scruff of his neck as he kicked and screamed, demanding release. Xypher was covered in blood. Scratches marred the left side of his face.

But he didn’t seem to notice as he walked calmly toward Kat.

As soon as he reached her, he dumped the demon at her feet. The demon tried to rise, but Xypher kicked him back down. "I found this piece of shit trying to eat a woman outside a deli. Thought it might prove a good snitch and I was right."

He grabbed the demon by the hair and pulled him up so that Kat could see his face. "Now tell the good lady where Kessar put the Tablet of Destiny."

"It’s around his neck. He won’t let anyone near it."

"And Zakar?"

"He’s pinned to the side of the master’s throne."

Xypher let the demon fall back to the floor. "Good enough? Now, can I kill it?"

She looked at Xypher’s bleeding wounds. "What about you? Are you converting?"

He laughed bitterly. "I’m dead. Can’t convert me when I don’t have a pulse."

That made her feel better… in an odd way.

"Can I kill it now?"

Kat hesitated and she didn’t even know why. Looking at the demon, helpless on the floor…

It was one thing to kill in a fight but another to kill after the person, or demon in this case, had been defeated. It just seemed wrong somehow.

"What are you? Weak?" Xypher snarled when she didn’t respond. "Don’t tell me you want me to spare this pathetic animal when it wouldn’t show you any such mercy. Believe me, it’s better to take the head off a cobra before the cobra strikes you."

"A cobra can’t help what it is. Why should you punish it because it’s doing what the gods created it to do?"

He rolled his eyes at her. "Are we going to debate philosophy or should I just kiss and make up with the demon now? Let it get a good shot at your throat so it can rip it out?"

Xypher was right. This was no time to be merciful, especially since she’d seen what demons were capable of firsthand. They didn’t show mercy or compassion. But that didn’t mean she had to be just like them. "Put him down mercifully."

"Yes, Queenie," Xypher said, his tone full of venom and sarcasm. "I’ll make sure and use a cushioned blade."

"I could do without your sarcasm."

"And I could do without your bleeding heart."

She narrowed her eyes on him. "Just remember, my bleeding heart is what gained you a shot at freedom."

His face turned to stone. "Queenie, it was a bleeding heart that put me in that position to begin with. The person I was trying to protect when I was taken didn’t return the favor. The bitch was only using me. So take my advice, whatever compassion you have, kill it off. You’ll thank me for it later." And with that he vanished. Kat stood there for a full second as his words rang in her ears. It made her wonder if maybe Xypher wasn’t right. Betrayal seemed to be the worst part of humanity.

At least with the gallu, they didn’t pretend. They merely were what they were. Demons. You knew where you stood. They didn’t pretend to like you and then try to stab you in the back. They came at your throat from the beginning.

She could almost respect them for that. Maybe they were a higher life-form after all. Betrayal wasn’t in their nature.

With that thought, another terrifying one went through her mind. Sin knew how to kill her. She’d given him a secret that no one, not even her mother, knew.

Was his kindness toward her only a facade meant to blind her until he betrayed her? Surely not…

I took his powers. He’d been after her mother for centuries to kill her for that. Now he knew Artemis was innocent and Kat was the one who’d done it.

Maybe I’m being stupid and paranoid. It was more than possible.

"Stop it, Kat. Sin wouldn’t hurt you." He wouldn’t and she refused to let herself continue on with such nonsense. Right now Sin was hurting and confused. Just like her.

She wouldn’t let unfounded fears destroy what they had built together.

And what do you have? He told you to get lost.

Ugh, how she hated that voice in her head. "I won’t listen to you. I love Sin and I’m not giving up on him yet."

She only hoped he shared that sentiment about her. If not, he was going to kill her.

Chapter SEVENTEEN

"You know, you could just kill Kat off."

"Kish!" Sin snapped, wanting to splinter his servant across the wall behind him.

"What? It’s been a full week since she left and all you’ve done is sulk like a dying cow."

"Dying cows don’t sulk."

"How do you know? Do you make it a habit to hang around dying cows?"

Sin glared at the man who was busy trying to clean up his penthouse. For over a week he hadn’t left his couch except to kill demons and hunt for Kessar and his brother. He’d slept on it, eaten on it, and sulked on it. And all in a useless effort to push Kat out of his life.

But the truth was, he missed her. He missed the scent of her skin and hair. Missed the way her forehead crinkled whenever she thought he was nuts. He missed the sound of her voice, the touch of her hand.

Most of all, he missed the laughter they’d shared. Her razor-sharp sarcasm.

His stomach ached from the emptiness left by her absence. It was a pain so profound that it permeated everything about him. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. He had no energy.

All he wanted was Kat back.

Damn her to hell for that.

Kish picked up the pizza box, which still held an untouched pizza, and added it to the garbage. "I’m just saying a dying cow could sulk."

"The least you could do is call him a dying bull," Damien said as he entered the room behind Kish. "Man his ass up a bit. At least that would be an improvement to the whiny little girl we’ve had to deal with these last seven days."

Sin shot his hand out and sent a jolt to each of them. They yelped before they went flying. "Anything else you girls want to complain about?"

"Ow," Kish whined. "I think he broke my body."

"What part?"

"My whole body. It all hurts."

Damien pushed himself up on one of the bar stools to glare at him. "Do you even own a mirror?"

Sin scowled at him. "What are you talking about?"

"You. Man, no wonder Kat left you. You smell, your hair is knotted, and you haven’t shaved in how many days? Forget fighting the gallu. One whiff of you would kill them." He looked at Kish as he stood up. "Don’t strike a match. The alcohol fumes alone would send him up like a Roman candle."

"Shut up," Sin snarled as he got up and grabbed the half-empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s off the coffee table. He headed for his bedroom so that he wouldn’t have to put up with their nagging anymore.

At least that was the plan, but the walls were so thin, he couldn’t help but overhear them.

"When was the last time he changed those clothes?" Damien asked.

"I think it was the last time he bathed… the day Kat left."

Sin heard the sound of glasses clinking together.

Damien cursed. "How much shit is he drinking?"

"Let me put it to you this way… I restock the cabinet twice a day now."

"Damn, how can he fight the demons and be that wasted?"

"I think you were right earlier. He strikes a match and breathes at them. Like a human blowtorch."

"If it wasn’t so sad and probably true, I’d laugh."

"Yeah. I hear ya. Personally, I stopped laughing when I found this under his pillow."

Sin cursed as he realized what Kish had found and he went to his bed to quickly verify exactly what was in his hands. Just as he feared… Katra’s heinous flannel pajamas.