The Damned (The Unearthly Book 5)(2)By: Laura Thalassa
The walls here, made out of the same dark stone as the rest of the castle, were carved with faces of gargoyles and demons, and if I stared long enough, I could swear those faces moved.
We halted when we came to an elaborately carved door. Hades pushed it open and stepped aside so I could enter.
The room was hexagonal, just like the one I woke up in, and, like the rest of the palace I’d seen so far, it was decked out in black. On the far side of the room, the walls opened up to an opulent balcony. And in the center of the room was a canopy bed. Gauzy swaths of semi-transparent material hung from each post.
“Another torture chamber?” I asked.
He stepped in close behind me, his lips a breath away from my ear. “Not quite. This is one of our bedrooms.”
My stomach dropped at his words while my connection … my connection flared to life.
“What’ve you done?” I whispered.
He came around to face me. As he did so, our connection throbbed. The devil’s—shit, Hades—and mine. “Many things, little bird. Elucidate me on which you’re accusing me of.”
I edged away from him and clutched my heart, which thumped beneath my hand. I had no time to marvel over the fact that I once again had a heartbeat. “Why do I feel you here?” I asked.
He took another step forward. “You were made for me.”
Not an answer.
“Do not speak the vampire’s name to me,” the devil hissed.
How could this happen? Making a deal with the devil, coming to hell, that was one thing. But to be bonded to this man, to have a part of me joined with him …
Sickness rose within me. My body had betrayed me in the most fundamental way.
“Come, my queen.”
He took my hand without asking and our surroundings disappeared, only to be replaced with those of a grand dining room.
Hades led me to an intricately wrought chair. I sat, thinking he would take his own seat, but instead he knelt in front of me.
“I will take care of you and cherish you the same way I do my power,” he said.
I searched his eyes. They were beautiful, just like the rest of his features. Beautiful, foreign and frightening.
“Why?” I asked. The devil wasn’t supposed to have a caring side. He was sadness and despair and loneliness and anger and violence and—
He sighed. “I can burn away a soul but apparently not your human misconceptions. You think I’m incapable of anything but hate and pain.”
“I am everything and nothing,” he continued. “Cultures have never agreed on a definition of me because I exceed language and logic. But, know this, Gabrielle: I am not the devil. Not with you.”
“Then what are you?”
That word implied so many things. I sorted out which ones I thought the devil meant and which he probably didn’t. The result left me cold.
“I know what you want from me,” I said.
The subarctic temperature of the room warmed. Literally. The devil’s eyebrows rose. “I’m no human man, but yes. I would take your flesh along with your heart and soul.”
He saw my terror, and I swear it looked like someone slapped him before he recovered his composure. Then the expression was gone as fast as it appeared, leaving me wondering if my eyes had played tricks on me.
“What do I call you?” I asked, pretending to go along with his declaration that I had things all terribly wrong.
Our connection throbbed. His face gave nothing away, but I realized as I stared at him that the pulse came from satisfaction. His. He liked that I asked, that I wanted his opinion on something.
“When we are alone, you may call me ‘Asiri.’”
I’d never heard of that name. “Did you just make that up?”
He laughed, and the sound rose the hairs on my arms. More disturbingly, it also seemed to caress me like soft velvet. I enjoyed the sound of his laugh.
This situation was so messed up.
“No, I did not. Men and women who lived and died thousands of years ago addressed me as such. They liked me better then. They liked you too—not as much, but we can’t all be favorites.”
That didn’t even deserve a response.