The Damned (The Unearthly Book 5)(3)

By: Laura Thalassa

“Asiri.” I tried out the word. It echoed in the cavernous room, and hot, phantom winds ruffled my hair, then resettled. In this realm, the word itself had power behind it.

I might call him this. So long as he didn’t piss me off. Otherwise, it was back to the usual gauntlet of names. Only I’d find which one annoyed him most, and I’d use that one over and over again.

The devil—Asiri—smiled at me, whether from my thoughts, which he sometimes heard, or my saying this archaic name.

There was something intimate about the name he gave me. Asiri. A name no longer spoken by humans. It was mine and his alone. My heart beat faster. I knew he could hear it because he reached up and covered the skin over it with his hand.

“Are you nervous?”

Staring at this beautiful, evil thing? This ageless god who shared a secret name with me?

“I’m petrified.”

He smiled, not unkindly, and kept his hand on my chest until the thump of my heart went back to normal.

“Better?” he asked.

“No. Your hand is still touching me.”

“It is.”

I could feel the heat from his palm seeping into me. Our bond tugged at us, beckoning us closer. Before, when the cord connected me with Andre, my soulmate had fought to keep his physical distance, fearing that if he didn’t, he’d rush me and I’d regret it.

Now that my bond had somehow attached itself to the devil, I found myself pulling away, fighting this force of nature that tried to eliminate the distance between us.

I could tell as the devil leaned forward, something wondrous and hungry in his eyes, that he’d never come across anything like this bond.

Just then, a woman—demon?—came in with a tray bearing two champagne glasses. Celebratory drinks.

I exhaled, my body relaxing at the distraction.

“Ah, here we are,” Hades said, taking the flutes from the tray and handing one to me.

Mechanically, I wrapped my hand around it.

The woman bowed to Hades and left, leaving us alone once more.

“To us,” he said. He clinked his glass to mine and took a sip. I watched him, fascinated. He drank … champagne. So weird.

I glanced back down at my own glass, twirling the bubbly liquid. “Aren’t I not supposed to eat or drink here?” In the myths, Persephone trapped herself in the Underworld after she ate the food. I may be dense when it came to these things, but imbibing anything seemed like a bad idea.

The devil brought his glass away from his lips and stared at me for a long moment. Then he threw back his head and laughed. “You’re already here, consort. I’m not trying to entrap you. Just trying to get you drunk while I whisper sweet nothings in your ear in hopes that I might get lucky.”


I lowered my glass. “I’m too young.”

“To drink? Or to bang?”

“‘Bang’?” I couldn’t stop my scowl.

“Forgive me—to make sweet tender love to your nubile body.”

“Ugh, you can stick with bang.”

I stared at my drink again, until the devil removed it from my gasp. “If you don’t want to drink perfectly decent champagne, I’m not going to force you to.”

“You won’t?” The words slipped out before I could help myself. But seriously, the devil’s M.O. had changed since we were last together.

Take it or leave it, Gabrielle. He’s being decent when he could be bashing your skull in.

The devil’s lips twitched. He had to have heard that thought.

I worked my throat. “What do I call you when we’re not alone?” Which would be always if he kept looking at me like he was.

“Pluto or Hades is fine,” he said, his eyes focusing on my mouth.

He’d avoided his Christian pseudonyms. Those were the especially depraved ones. Interesting.

“And what would you like me to call you in private?” he asked.

“Gabrielle is fine.”

“Not … ‘soulmate’?” He’d clearly said the words to goad me, and damnit if the endearment didn’t lance right through me.

“Do you even have a soul?” I asked.

He flashed me a secret smile, his eye glittering. “Maybe. Maybe not. It’s a mystery I’ll enjoy watching you unravel.”

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