Dream Warrior (Page 2)

Dream Warrior (Dark-Hunter #17)(2)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

She frowned. "I don’t know anyone by that name. Sorry. Maybe he’s at the garage down the street."

Phobos scratched his head, obviously as baffled as Delphine was. "I know for a fact that he works here in this garage. Believe me, my sources are beyond reproach."

The little girl wiped her nose and pushed a pair of glasses back with her knuckle. "Did they lose their friend, Mommy?"

"Do your homework, Mollie." She turned her attention back to Phobos. "Look, I’m really sorry, but I’ve never heard the name Crams before. I’ve worked here for five years and I assure you that none of our guys are named that. It’s not exactly a name you’d forget-you know?" The phone started ringing. She put her hand on it. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No." Phobos stepped over to the large window that looked out from the office into the garage area where men in gray and blue coveralls were working on various cars.

Delphine followed his lead and froze as she saw the man they sought.

Holy gods. . .

No one could miss him.

Little wonder he was the god of strength and the son of Warcraft. . . That power and formidableness bled from every pore of his body. Standing well over six feet tall, he rippled with well-defined muscles. As she watched him, he wiped grease from his hands with a dark blue cloth. His gray coverall suit had been unzipped, and the sleeves wrapped around his lean waist, leaving his torso covered by a black tank top that only made those muscles more apparent. Black tribal tattoos decorated both of his arms from the wrists to his shoulders.

But it was his face that made her gasp. She’d never seen a man more beautifully made, except for the jagged scar that ran down the right side of his face, hairline to earlobe. His right eye was covered with a black patch and from the depth of the scar, she wondered if he’d lost the eye completely to whatever injury had caused it.

Yet it in no way detracted from his handsomeness. If anything, it added to it and made his face all the more rugged. His jet-black hair was sweaty and curled slightly around a face that was chiseled from steel and dusted with dark whiskers.

Fierce power emanated from every inch of him. Strong and lethal, it said he should be on a battlefield, sword in hand, killing and maiming his enemies, not stuck in a garage, working on cars.

He was everything she’d heard and more.

May the gods help them .. .

If he didn’t kill the two of them, she’d be stunned.

Phobos glanced at Delphine over his shoulder. "He is definitely here."

The secretary frowned as she hung up the phone and saw Cratus through the window. "You’re looking for Jericho?"

Phobos faced her. "You mean Cratus."

She pointed at the man Delphine had been ogling. "That’s JerichoDavis. He’s only been here a couple of weeks. Is he in trouble with the law or something? If you’re here to serve process-"

"No. Nothing like that." Phobos gave her an almost charming smile. "We’re old friends."

She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Well, if his name isn’t Jericho Davis, we need to know. Landry is a stickler about his people toeing the line. We don’t take in convicts or riffraff here. This is a respectable business, and we intend to keep it that way."

Phobos held his hands up. "Don’t worry, I’m sure he’s not a felon. I just need to talk to him for a minute."

The secretary snorted. "I thought you said you knew him."

"I do."

"Then how are you going to talk to a man who’s mute?"

Phobos snapped his attention to Delphine, who was as shocked as he was by that disclosure.

Surely Zeus wouldn’t have been that cruel. . .

What was she? Insane? Of course he would.

Sick at the thought, Delphine looked back to where "Jericho" had his head under the hood of another car. What exactly had been done to him? Zeus had taken his godhood, his life and most likely his voice and eye.

Getting his help was looking less and less likely by the second.

"You stay here," Phobos said as he put his hand on the knob of the door that led from the office to the garage.

No problem there. She’d rather confront a rabid lion than try to gain a favor from a man the gods had screwed over so badly. Why on earth or beyond would this man ever help them?

Hoping for the best, she walked to the window to watch Phobos. She closed her eyes and opened herself up to the ether so that she could hear their conversation.

The shop was loud with mechanical noises and a radio playing "Live Your Life" by T.I. Several of the men were chatting and joking while they worked. One was singing along, off-key, while he added air to the tires of a red Jeep.

Phobos paused beside the white Intrepid where Cratus stood. Cratus glanced up, and his face froze an instant before he looked back down and continued working. Phobos stepped closer. "We need to talk." Cratus ignored him. "Cratus-"

"I don’t know what you’re doing in here," an older man in a coverall matching Cratus’s said as he stopped beside Phobos, "but you’re wasting your time trying to talk to old Jericho there. Boy can’t speak." The man shook his head. "Not that he needs to. The way he works on a car is magic." The man looked at the others and laughed. "Trying to talk to Jericho…" More laughter joined his before he walked off to work on the Jeep where the man was singing.

"Jericho," Phobos tried again. "Please give me one minute of your time."

If looks could kill, Phobos would be a distant memory. Jericho flipped the wrench in his hand before he walked over to another car.

Phobos glanced at Delphine, who shrugged in response. She had no idea how to persuade him.

Sighing, Phobos followed him. "C’mon, I-"

Jericho spun on him so fast that Delphine didn’t even realized he’d moved until he had Phobos slung over the hood of a car and pinned in place by a tight hold on this throat. "Fuck off and die, you putrid bastard," he snarled in the ancient Greek language of the gods as he banged Phobos’s head furiously against the hood.

Every mechanic who heard his deep growl paused to stare at him.

"Be damned," a tall, lean African-American man said. "He can speak after all. Anybody know what language that was?"

"Russian?"

"Nan. I think it’s German."

"Dude," a younger guy said, pulling at Cratus’s arm. "You’re going to dent the hood and when you do. that will come out of your paycheck."

Grimacing, Cratus slung Phobos off the hood like a rag doll. Phobos rolled halfway through the bay before he caught himself.

His features looking shaken, Phobos pushed himself to his feet. When he spoke, he continued to use their language so that the humans wouldn’t understand them. "We need your help, Cratus."

As he moved past Phobos, Cratus drove his shoulder into Phobos’s, making Phobos grimace in pain and rub his arm. He went back to the Intrepid. "Cratus is dead."

"You’re the only one-"

Cratus growled at him. "You’re dead to me. All of you. Now get out."

Delphine projected her thoughts to Phobos. "Should I come in?"

"No. I don’t think it’ll help." Phobos turned to Cratus. "The fate of the entire world is in your hands. Don’t you care?"

The feral look Cratus gave him said no. Well, that, and for him to go to Tartarus and rot.

Delphine sighed. What were they going to do now? They needed the god of strength. One who could pull power from the primal Source to combat the most evil of beings. Without Cratus, they didn’t stand a chance of winning against Noir and his army of Skoti.

The older man walked over to Cratus. "So what country are you from, anyway?"

Cratus ignored him as he returned to his work in silence.

Phobos moved to stand by his side. "Zeus is willing to forgive you for what you did. He’s offering you your godhood back. We need you desperately."

When Cratus still refused to respond, Phobos let out a frustrated breath. "Look, I understand why you’re mad. But my brother’s life is on the line here. If you don’t help me, Noir will kill him."

Cratus didn’t even twitch as he worked.

A muscle worked in Phobos’s jaw. "Fine. When the world ends and everyone here is dead, remember you’re the only one of us who could have stopped it."

Cratus continued ignoring him. Phobos turned and headed back to her.

Delphine kept waiting for Cratus to reconsider and stop Phobos. But he really appeared to have meant what he’d said. He didn’t care.

Even she, who had nothing save muted emotions, had more feelings than this man showed.

"We’re so dead," Phobos said in a dire tone as he rejoined her. "Maybe we ought to join the other team before they pound us into hash."

Delphine cast a hopeless glance back at the man in the garage. "Maybe I should try."

He shook his head. "There’s no reaching him. He’s past help."

"I can try to contact him in his dreams tonight. He won’t be able to run from me then."

He didn’t tell her no, but his look reiterated the fact that he thought she was wasting her time. "You want backup?"

"I think I’ll be more effective alone."

Phobos snorted. "Good luck. If you need me, I’ll be on standby."

Delphine glanced back at Cratus. He was working, but she saw the agony in his one eye. It was so deep and biting that it made her ache for him.. ..

How strange to have those feelings. But they meant nothing. She had a mission to fulfill.

I’ll be seeing you tonight. And she definitely didn’t intend to fail.

Jericho paused as he saw the grease on his hand covering the tattoo he’d used to hide the words of condemnation his own mother had burned into his skin at Zeus’s command. Old memories tore through him anew as he thought about the way the Olympians had turned on him.

And all because he’d refused to murder an infant. Closing his eyes, he remembered that one defining moment so clearly. The small hut. . . the goddess’s screams as she begged him for mercy.

"Kill me, not my baby, please! For the sake of Zeus, the baby’s innocent. I’ll do anything."

He’d tightened his grip on the child, fully intending to fulfill his duty. The baby’s father had gone at his back. But the god of pain, Dolor, had caught him and cut him down before the goddess who’d tried so desperately to save her family.

That baby’s only sin had been its birth.

And as he’d looked into that small, trusting face and the baby had smiled up at him, unaware of what was going on, he’d faltered.

"Kill it," Dolor had snarled.

Cratus had pulled his dagger out to slice its throat. Laughing, the baby had reached for him, its eyes twinkling with fire and joy as its tiny fingers wrapped around his large hand.

So he’d done the only thing he could. He’d used his powers to put the baby to sleep, then smuggled it out and given it over to peasants to raise.

One moment of compassion.

An eternity of shame, abuse and degradation.

Now they dared to ask him for a favor after all they’d done to him. They were out of their collective minds.

And he was through with them.

"Hey, man," Darice said, coming up to him. "Why didn’t you ever tell us you could speak?"

Because talking to Darice might lead to friendship. And if he made that mistake, Darice would die right before him. Brutally and mercilessly.

Zeus had taken everything from him.

So he ignored Darice while he unbolted the alternator that needed to be replaced.

Darice made a sound of disgust. "Whatever. Guess you’re too good to associate with the rest of us."

Let them think that. It was much easier than trying to explain a truth they would never accept. He was alone in this world. As always.

Darice wandered over to work on the Toyota that had come in earlier. He and Paul joked good-naturedly while they set about flushing the radiator and putting in new plugs.

Jericho had just pulled out the alternator when a shadow fell over him. Looking up, he found the shop owner, Jacob Landry. Short and pudgy, Landry had salt-and-pepper hair that was receding and a pair of greedy blue eyes.

"I heard there was some trouble here with you earlier."

Jericho shook his head no.

"Um-hmmm. Charlotte done told me that you can speak, too. Is that true?" He nodded.

"Boy, why you want to lie to me? I done told you when I hired you that I don’t play that bullshit. You want to work here, you come to work on time, keep your personal life at home and give me no lip and no lies. Comprende?"

"Yes, sir," he said as he tried to keep the hostility out of his voice. He hated that he was reduced to belly-crawling to ass**les like this just so that he could eat. "It won’t happen again, Mr. Landry. I promise."

Landry poked him sharply in the shoulder. "It better not."

Jericho tightened his grip on the wrench in his hand, wanting to give Landry a taste of what he was capable of. There had been a time when he’d have gutted anyone who talked to him like that. Never mind someone who’d actually dared to touch him uninvited. Before his human life had begun, everyone who came into contact with him quivered in fear of his strength and sternness.

But Landry was a bully. He enjoyed his minuscule power over the people who worked for him. He only felt good about himself when they were groveling for their livelihood.