She screamed out, clutching him to her as he continued to lick and tease, making her orgasm all the more intense.
When he’d finally wrung the last spasm out of her, he moved forward to rest his chin on her stomach while he lay between her legs. He traced a small circle around her navel as his gaze held hers.
"Yes," she breathed as she brushed her hand through his hair. "Much better."
He nuzzled her stomach with his whiskers, adding another shiver to her.
Delphine sighed in utter contentment as she felt the fire draining out of her to be replaced by a sense of utter satisfaction. "So that’s what those feel like, huh?" No wonder he’d been so calm and kind after his orgasm. She really did feel at peace right now.
Then she became aware of the fact that she was completely nak*d. Exposed.
He was lying between her open legs….
No one had ever seen her like this. No one.
Heat crept over her face as horror filled her.
Jericho lifted himself up as he became aware of the change in her. She was tense now. Her face flushed as her eyes returned to the beautiful shade that haunted him. "What’s wrong?"
She tried to cover herself. "What have I done? I’m so embarrassed."
He moved to her side before he pulled the sheet over her. "Don’t be. You weren’t in control."
She covered her face with the sheet. "How can I look at you after that?"
Jericho stifled a smile at her dire tone. Her reserve amused him, but he did feel bad for her. He tugged lightly at the covers until she had to look at him. "You’re beautiful, Delphine. There’s no shame in what we’ve done."
He kissed her words away. "No buts. I don’t want you to be embarrassed with me. Ever."
Delphine smiled at him, grateful for his kindness. What amazed her most was the fact that he hadn’t taken advantage of her, even though she’d begged him to. He had helped her out selflessly. Even now, she felt how rigid his erection was, but he made no demands on her.
She’d been wrong about him. He did have compassion, after all. He could have walked away or taken her ruthlessly any way he wanted to. But he hadn’t. Even though he was still hard, he’d withheld himself.
Her heart warm with that knowledge, she placed her hand on his scarred cheek. He nipped playfully at her thumb.
"We have to do something about this, Jericho. I don’t know what Azura gave me, but it’s terrible what it does."
"There’s no telling what they’ve found, but the question is why give it to the Skoti? Why incapacitate an army that you want to fight for you?"
"Maybe they don’t want them to fight. Maybe it’s something else they’re after."
He grimaced. "Such as?"
"I don’t know. You’re supposed to be the one with the Source connection and fighting expertise."
"Yeah, but that doesn’t give me any insight into evil. You have to remember that Noir and Azura are cut from an entirely different bolt than I was."
Delphine was glad to hear him say that. There was nothing redeeming about either Azura or Noir.
Brushing her hands through his hair, she was amazed at how relaxed she was while lying nak*d with a man. His breath tickled her face, and even though his weight should have been heavy, it was comforting to have him pressing against her.
Was this what love was like?
No, maybe not love, it was too soon for that. But there was something very bonding about this shared moment. It was familiar and comforting.
"Do you think we can get the others free?"
He looked up at her with his mismatched eyes. "You calmed down rather quickly once I"-he flashed her a devilish grin-"placated you. They must be constantly feeding the others to keep them like this. Which again begs the question of why."
"We have to get them out of here."
He made a sound of disagreement. "Saving Olympians isn’t my priority."
She yanked his hair.
"You’re lucky that’s all I’m pulling on," she said sternly. "Those are my brothers and sisters you’re talking about."
Jericho looked away as those words resonated inside him. They were his, too. For all the good it did them. "I’m not a god of forgiveness, Delphine."
"No, you’re a god of strength, and the greatest strength of all is being able to forgive the people who’ve harmed you. Even greater still is the ability to fight to defend them. Be a better person than they were. I know you can be."
Jericho shook his head. "You have more faith in me than I deserve."
Her gaze burned him with its intensity. "I disagree. I have seen the other side of you and that’s the side I’m appealing to. There’s more to you than hatred and fighting. You have a beautiful heart, Jericho. I know it."
The only problem was he didn’t. He couldn’t find forgiveness inside him. Only bitter resentment. Utter hatred. Contempt.
Until he looked at her.
She alone had made him feel something else. But the problem was he didn’t understand what she stirred inside him. At least other than lust. That he knew intimately.
But the part of him that was holding her now was alien and frightening. He didn’t know or understand it.
It was the same foreign place that had defied Zeus to save her life.
She owed him, and for some reason, he couldn’t bring himself to force her to pay him for his sacrifice. He only wanted what she was willing to give him.
What is wrong with me?
He’d always been the type of person to take what he wanted. But it was so different with her. Closing his eyes, he savored the sensation of her flesh under his cheek. The gentle strokes of her hands in his hair.
He never wanted to leave this.
Delphine ran her finger down the stubble of his cheek. She loved the feeling of his skin. So different from hers. Most of all, she was stunned that he lay so calmly with her. She knew the violence he was capable of and yet. . .
It was like taming a ferocious beast that she knew wouldn’t be so kind to another living soul.
Only she knew this side of him, and it made her treasure it all the more. Treasure him.
They both jumped at the quiet voice that whispered through the room.
Jericho covered her. "Jaden?" he asked in an equally hushed tone.
Jaden appeared in the corner as nothing more than a faint mist. He looked worse than when Jericho had seen him earlier. There were fresh bruises on his face and blood on one side of his mouth. But he seemed oblivious to the pain. "They’re plotting against you."
Jaden gave him a "duh" stare. "Your best friends, fool, who do you think? The Easter Bunny or the ass**les who brought you here? FYI, they’re planning to feed you to the gallu so that they can control your powers without your fighting them. If I were you, I’d be gone five minutes ago."
Jericho tensed suspiciously. Why would Jaden help him? "How do I know you’re not lying?"
"I have no reason to lie. But if you want to hang out here and get eaten, far be it from me to stop you. As is, my ass is fertilizer if they catch me talking to you."
Still, Jericho was skeptical. People didn’t help him, and he found it hard to imagine Jaden doing so without getting something in return.
"I believe him," Delphine whispered. "I don’t trust Noir."
Jericho snorted. "I don’t trust anyone" And especially not the evil who’d brought him here. He’d been suspicious of them from the moment Azura had first approached him.
"Maybe you should try trusting me for once," she said in a determined tone.
Jericho was torn. He really didn’t know if he could trust Jaden, and yet he had no reason to doubt him. It made sense. Why give him his powers back unless they knew they had complete control over him? He wouldn’t make that mistake, especially given the totality of his powers. If he’d brought him over, he would have put him under lock and key.
Just to be safe.
Look at how they treated Jaden. It was obvious fair play and kindness weren’t part of their world.
But he had another problem. "Where do we go?"
Delphine frowned. "What do you mean?"
"If I go to Olympus with powers, Zeus, in spite of what he says, will attack me. I have no doubt."
She shook her head. "That’s not true. He promised to give you all of your powers back."
Jericho laughed. "I think that’s what you heard. I don’t believe for a nanosecond it’s what he said."
"I’m not lying."
"I’m not saying you are. Tell me verbatim what thunder-ass said to you."
She let out a frustrated breath. "He said that so long as you fought against Noir and the Skoti. you’d have your powers."
Jericho cast a droll look at Jaden’s mist. "What does that sound like to you?"
"That you will only have your powers when you fight against Noir and the Skoti."
Delphine frowned. "Isn’t that what I just said?"
"No," Jericho answered. "You heard that my powers would be returned to me. What I hear is that I’m a lap-dog unless I’m fighting to protect their scabbing hides."
"He’s right. After what he’s done to Cratus, Zeus would never take the chance of giving him unfettered powers."
"He knows what I’d do with them and more to the point, what I’d do to him with them."
Delphine felt sick that she’d been so easily duped. But then, as Jericho had pointed out, she’d heard what she wanted to. What they were saying made a lot more sense. "Then what do we do?"
Go to New Orleans. Jaden’s voice was in their heads as if he was too afraid of being heard even in a whisper. Find Acheron Parthenopaeus. Let him know what’s happening and he can help.
"Why would he do that?" Jericho asked.
"For the love of the Source, Jericho," Jaden snapped. "Do it. He’s the only hope you have right now."
Jericho opened his mouth to argue. But before he could make a single sound, the door flew open, disintegrating Jaden’s mist form.
It was a gallu demon, and he wasn’t alone.
Jericho dressed himself and Delphine immediately. He started to launch himself at the gallu, but Delphine caught him and pulled him back. "You can’t. One scratch or bite where your blood mingles with their spit or blood and you’re under their control. Think about it."
But it wasn’t in him not to fight.
Growling with rage, he covered himself in black body armor. "They better be able to penetrate Kevlar."
Delphine was stunned as he went for them. He caught the first one with a punch so hard, it lifted the gallu three feet into the air and sent him slamming into the wall behind him. The second one tried to take a bite out of Jericho, but he caught the gallu by his shirt and flipped him over his shoulder. In one swift move, he pulled his dagger out and went for the third.
Delphine gasped as the one on the floor got up and rushed toward her. Without armor or her powers, she was defenseless. She looked around but there was nowhere to go. No way to outrun him.
She was trapped.
Just as the gallu would have reached her, he rebounded off an invisible wall. It took her a second to realize what had happened.
"Ha!" she said triumphantly as he smacked it with his fist. Jericho must have used his powers to shield her.
The gallu wasn’t happy as it opened its mouth to show her two rows of serrated fangs. She lifted her chin and gave him her best "neener, neener" smile.
"Sooner or later, you’re mine," he promised.
She scoffed at him. "Careful, baby, I bite back." Just not today and not without her powers. Lucky for him because when it came to fighting, she seldom had an equal.
Jericho, on the other hand, was in his glory as he beat them down. She’d never seen anyone enjoy a fight more. At least not until five more joined the first three. Undaunted, he kept going, but she wasn’t so audacious.
Even the strongest of the strong could be overrun and killed when this badly outnumbered.
One bite. One scratch. He would be gone forever.
"Jericho, please!" she begged as they attacked him at once. "It’s not worth the chance. I don’t want you to get hurt. Please stop."
Jericho hesitated at the anguish he heard in Del-phine’s voice. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the concern on her face as he punched one gallu and then scissor-kicked another. Her hand was splayed against the invisible wall he had around her. Her brow was taut as her eyes begged him to listen. She looked so upset.
Most of all, she cared…
Such a simple, unbelievable thing. Only Nike had ever shown that to him and never with the kind of passion that Delphine was showing now. It gave him pause.
A shadow crossed in front of him. It was Noir.
Noir looked around at the gallu with a disgusted sneer. "Do I have to do everything for you bastards? Stupid, worthless dogs. Hold him down and bite him. How hard is that?" Noir sent a blast straight at Jericho’s chest.
There was no way to avoid or deflect it. Jericho cursed as it sent him reeling and skidding across the floor. The pain of it caused him to drop the shield around Delphine.
She kicked the gallu back as it ran for her.