He was certainly a snotty bastard. Not that she didn’t deserve a degree of snottiness seeing how she’d just tried to kill him. Still, he could be a little more understanding, especially since, if Stryker and Kyros were to be believed, he’d been sent here to kill her.
"He has some really sweet talents, Danger," Keller said from the couch. "He made all the Daimons explode without touching them, but he won’t tell me how he did it."
Danger took her dagger from Alexion’s hand, then, without thought, touched the ragged tear in his black turtleneck. He felt solid underneath. Real. There was cold skin beneath the silk and wool fabric and it was hard and masculine.
Yet human beings didn’t shatter like Daimons and no Daimon reappeared after death…
In that moment, she was terrified of him and terror wasn’t something Danger St. Richard felt. Ever.
Alexion ground his teeth at the sensation of her soft fingers on his flesh. His body roared to life as he watched her examine him like a scientist with a lab experiment that had gone tragically wrong. She was very short for a Dark-Hunter which meant Artemis must have taken an unusual liking for the woman. The goddess preferred to create Dark-Hunters who were equal in height to the Daimons they fought.
No more than five two or three, Dangereuse was petite and athletic. He’d seen her many times lately in the sfora as he kept watch on what the Mississippi Dark-Hunters were up to.
There had been something about her that caught his interest. An innocence that still seemed to be inside her. Most Dark-Hunters were jaded by their human betrayals and deaths, and by their duties. But this one… She appeared to have avoided the cynicism that eternal life often brought.
Of course, she was young by Dark-Hunter years.
Still, it would be a shame to see her lose that inner glow that continued to allow her to enjoy her immortality. How he wished he could feel it too. But too much time and lack of hope had long robbed him of it.
Her dark, chestnut-colored hair was worn in a long braid, hanging down her back, but pieces of it had escaped to curl becomingly around her pale face. Her features were angelic and delicate. If not for her carriage and self-assuredness, she would have appeared fragile.
And yet there was nothing fragile about her. Dangereuse could more than take care of herself and well he knew it. As one of the newer Dark-Hunters, she was only a couple of hundred years old and had died while trying to save the noble half of her family from the guillotine in France during their revolution. It had been a monumental task she had set for herself, and had she not been betrayed, she would have succeeded.
Not to mention that the woman had the most kissable mouth he’d ever seen. Full and lush, her lips were the kind that a man dreamed of tasting at night. That mouth beckoned him now with temptation and the promise of pure unadulterated heaven.
She also smelled of sweet magnolias and woman.
It had been over two hundred years since he’d last had the pleasure of a woman’s body. And it was all he could do not to bend his head and bury his face against her soft, tender neck and inhale the scent of her. Feel the softness of her skin against his hungry lips as he tasted the supple flesh there.
Oh, to have her lithe body pressed up against his, preferably while they were both nak*d…
But then-given her first reaction to his presence-he didn’t think she’d react much better to being mauled by him.
Danger swallowed in sudden trepidation as she looked at the man before her. He was just as Stryker had foretold… right down to the white cashmere coat.
It’s all true. All of it.
He was Acheron’s personal destroyer who had come to kill them for questioning Acheron’s authority. She felt the sudden need to cross herself, but caught herself just in time. The last thing she needed to do was to let him know she feared him.
Her extremely superstitious and Catholic mother had always told her as a child that the devil wore the face of an angel. In this case, it was most certainly true. The man before her was without a doubt one of the choicest examples of his gender. His dark blond hair held golden highlights and brushed the top of his collar. He wore it in a casual style that was swept back from a perfectly masculine face. His well-sculpted cheeks were covered with two days’ growth of whiskers that added a savage, fierce look to him.
Like hers, his eyes were the midnight-black of a Dark-Hunter and yet she sensed that he wasn’t one of them. For one thing, he didn’t drain her Dark-Hunter abilities.
There was an aura of extreme power and lethal danger emanating from him. It rippled and sizzled in the air around them and made the hair on the back of her neck rise.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, forcing herself not to betray anything other than nonchalance. Although the earlier dagger throw had most likely tipped him off that she wasn’t exactly ambivalent to his presence.
Yeah, that had been a really smart move. It was all she could do not to roll her eyes at her swiftness in betraying her knowledge of him. She only hoped she didn’t live or die to regret it.
His smile was wicked and disturbing. "You invited me."
Was that a play on Ash’s being a Daimon? No Daimon could enter someone’s home without an invitation.
Or was he just making an idle comment?
Either way, she wasn’t ready to welcome him… not yet. "I invited Ash here. Not you. I don’t even know who you are."
He didn’t hesitate to answer. "Alexion." His voice was deep and well cultured. There was only the faintest trace of some foreign accent, but she didn’t know what nationality it came from.
"Alexion… ?" she prompted, wondering what his surname was.
He wasn’t forthcoming with it. "Just Alexion."
Keller rose from his chair and joined them. "Ash sent him here for a couple of weeks to check into what you were saying about a Rogue Dark-Hunter."
She arched a brow at Keller. "Is that what Alexion told you?"
He tensed as if he realized he might have done something wrong. "Well, yeah, but then I called Ash myself and he corroborated it."
Good boy that he hadn’t taken the man’s word. "Did Ash say anything else?"
"Just to trust Alexion."
Yeah, right. Like she’d trust an agitated cobra at her bare feet.
Danger sheathed her dagger before she addressed Alexion again. "Well, it appears I spoke too soon. I was checking into the Rogue thing myself tonight and everything’s fine so you can feel free to return to Ash now."
Alexion’s dark eyes narrowed on her. "Why are you lying to me?"
"I’m not lying."
He dipped his head so that he could speak in a low tone just for her hearing. His nearness was disturbing and intense. It actually raised chills over her body as his breath fell against her skin. "For the record, Dangereuse, I can smell a lie from nine miles off."
She looked up to see the deep curiosity in those… She frowned. No longer black, his eyes had turned to a peculiar hazel green that practically glowed.
Just what the hell was he?
Alexion pinned her with a fierce stare he no doubt hoped would intimidate her. It wasn’t working. Danger refused to be intimidated by anyone or anything. She lived her immortality just as she had lived her human life and it would take more than this… person to make her shiver in fear. The worst thing he could do was kill her, and since she was already dead…
Well, there were worse things, she supposed.
When he spoke again, his voice was scarcely more than a primal growl. "My only real question is, why would you protect your Rogue?"
She moved away without answering. "Keller? Can I have a word with you in private?"
Alexion gave a short laugh at that. "I will leave the two of you alone so that you can tell him just how unhappy you are that he let me in." He headed for the hallway that led to the guest rooms.
Danger ground her teeth. Don’t tell me Keller already set him up in my house!
He should know better than that. How could he do such a thing without consulting her? That’s it, he’s toast, and I mean it this time.
She waited until she was sure Alexion had left them alone and lowered her voice so that he couldn’t overhear them. "What the hell happened tonight? You look like someone beat you."
"They did. I ran into a group of Daimons, and when I told them to back off, they said they were untouchable now. They said that they were working with the Dark-Hunters and that if they wanted to eat a Squire, that was fine."
Anger whipped through her that they would dare to beat her Squire. "They attacked you?"
He gave her a snide look. "No, I beat my own self up. What do you think?"
She ignored his sarcasm as she realized why the plasma TV hadn’t been blaring when she came in. It was shattered.
"What happened to the TV?"
Keller looked at it and shrugged. "I don’t know. Alexion doesn’t say much, so I was flipping channels after we got back so that there’d be some noise in the house. Everything was fine until I paused on QVC to see this cool camcorder they were advertising, and the next thing I knew, it blew up. I’m not sure if it was the TV or if Alexion has a thing against QVC."
Thank the Lord and his saints that her Squire hadn’t blown up as well.
"And where did Alexion just head off to?" she asked.
"I put him in the guest suite that you said Ash uses whenever he visits."
She clenched her fist to keep from choking him. "I see."
He gave her a worried frown. "I didn’t do anything wrong, did I? I thought I was doing what you’d want me to do. You weren’t here so I could ask you. Are you mad at me?"
Yes, but she didn’t want to get into it with him. If he stayed ignorant of all this, maybe Alexion would spare him.
Either way, she refused to put Keller in any danger. Unlike her, he was mortal with a family who loved him dearly.
"You’re fine, sweetie. Why don’t you head on home before it gets any later?"
Luckily her Squire didn’t argue and he was too dense to recognize the slight tremor of fear for him in her voice. In case Alexion intended to fight, she wanted Keller out of here and tucked safely away at home.
"Okay, Danger. I’ll see you tomorrow night."
"Ahh…" Danger hedged at that. "Why don’t you take a few days off? Go see your sister in Montana."
His frown deepened. "Why?"
She offered him a smile she didn’t feel. "I have Acheron’s Squire here. I’m sure he can-"
"I don’t know," he said, wrinkling his nose. "He seems all right, but I think I’ll hang close to home, just in case. You never know what can happen."
"Don’t mess with me, Danger. My number one mandate is to protect you. I may be human, but I’m your Squire and that includes all the inherent risks that come with the position. Okay? I was raised in this world and I know all the freaky shit it sometimes entails. I’m not going to leave you when we don’t know what’s going on other than someone is working with the Daimons. I’ve heard too much weirdness lately to just hightail it for no real reason."
She couldn’t argue with any part of that. His loyalty warmed her greatly, and that was why when all this was over, she would request a new Squire to replace him. The last thing she wanted was to become emotionally attached to anyone, especially someone who would die of old age and wreck her.
She’d lost way too many people she cared about in her life to lose any more. The Squire’s Council knew it, and since the day she’d joined the Dark-Hunter ranks, she’d never had a Squire for more than five years.
And never one with a child. There were some wounds that just didn’t need to be probed.
"All right," she said quietly to him. "Go home and I’ll keep in touch."
Keller nodded, then gathered up his lightweight jacket and left.
Grateful he’d listened for once, Danger took a deep breath as she headed for Alexion’s room. She really didn’t want him here, but what else could she do?
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
So long as he was in her house, she could monitor his activity and see what he was doing. Not to mention, she still wasn’t thoroughly convinced by Kyros and his agenda. She’d heard a lot of weird things lately, including the rumor that some of the local Dark-Hunters were drinking human blood. For all she knew, Kyros was one of them and was currently setting her up for reasons only he knew.
Until she had more information about all of this, she would play it cooly and see for herself what was going on. But even as she thought that, a chill went over her. Alexion had some incredible powers that she wasn’t sure she could fight.
How could a woman kill a man who didn’t bleed?
At the end of the hallway on her upper floor, Danger pushed open the door to the guest room to find Alexion studying one of the Faberge eggs that she collected. She’d started the collection about forty years ago because they reminded her of the Malowanki eggs her father always brought back for her from his annual trips to Prussia to visit his grandmother. Until the year she died, Babcia would always make sure that she’d created the Malowanki eggs for all of them to remind them of their Prussian heritage and the beauty of Easter.
None of those precious, colored eggs that Danger had guarded so carefully as a human had survived. Calling them the frivolous waste of the aristocracy, her husband had taken great pleasure in destroying them after she’d died.