Sacrifice (The Gryphon Series Book 3)(14)

By: Stacey Rourke

“I’d stop short of killing him if I were you,” a silky, sultry voice suggested.

Rowan snapped up, ramrod straight. His hands balled into fists and his arms pulled away from his body, ready to strike. “Countess.”

Despite the awkward angle, I craned my head around. There she stood. The evil villainess that turned an entire army of mortals into her own band of demonic minions programmed to create carnage and destruction as she saw fit. She possessed an incomprehensible amount of power, yet chose to dress like a skank. Skintight black leather pants disappeared into matching thigh-high boots. A satin ivory corset drew her tiny waist in and hugged her hourglass shape. Her leather fetish continued with a plum jacket that covered her arms, but stopped just below her full breasts. Many cows died so she could look like a high- priced call girl from Hell.

Her complexion held the same flawless luminescence of polished marble. Thick crimson hair waved down her back like a velvet curtain. The glowing red of her eyes made her a kind of beautiful that could only be described as demented.

“Rowan,” she cooed and licked her wine-painted lips. “Always a pleasure.”

His body jerked in response, as if hearing his name spew from her lips caused a physical reaction.

The Countess ignored his discomfort and swung her gaze my way. “Bestiarequiesce!”

Beneath me the Bat-bull went limp. All the fight left his body… and he seemed to be snoring.

She gave me a smile reminiscent of a snake eyeing a field mouse. “You can let him go. He’s no longer a threat to you.”

I peered down at the drooling Bat-bull, then pulled the horn away from his throat and rose to my feet. Fur brushed the back of my hand as Gabe took his place beside me.

“I take it he’s your toy.” I jerked my chin at the sleeping demon. Its hands and feet kicked at the air as if it was dreaming about chasing a rabbit.

“He is,” she confirmed, her hands resting on her ample hips. “But not just any toy. One of great value. To me…” she savored the remaining words before she revealed them, “…and to you.”

The flap of feathers, a gust of wind, and Keni landed beside me. A big enough danger was all it took for my Protector to grow a spine and return. “We don’t value demons. At least not ones that look and smell like that …‘cause ick.”

“That’s only because you haven’t been properly introduced to him.” The Countess paced in front of us, her stiletto boots crunching across the snow covered ground. “This is Cronus. Celeste has had the pleasure of meeting a couple of his brothers tonight. Namely Lapetes and the dearly departed Menoetius.” She turned my way and stared straight into my eyes, “They happen to be…Titans.”

My chest tightened. The drumming thud of my heart pounded in my ears. It took everything I had to keep my face at neutral. “Caleb.”

“Correct!” Eerily white teeth flashed with her smile. “The exact kind of demon your hunky boyfriend has in him. Isn’t that a fun coincidence!” Her nose crinkled like we were two girlfriends gossiping.

Keni’s blonde head lobbed back and forth from the Countess, to me, and back again. “Wait … what does that mean?”

“It means that one of them is linked to Caleb. Its blood is in his veins. If the demon he’s linked to dies, it’s buh-bye to your fine Irish lad.” The Countess pressed one deadly sharp fingernail to her lip and pretended to mull it over. “You know, for the life of me I can’t remember which one it was. We branded a lot of young boys with demon blood that day.” She threw her hands in the air and chuckled. “After all this time, how could I be expected to keep them all straight? Anyhow, it’d be a real pity for you to kill the wrong one. You got lucky when you slaughtered Menoetius. But next time a Titan dies Caleb might just tag along with them.”

At that very moment Caleb was on the beach fighting with the Shadow dude … another Titan. If he killed it … No. I couldn’t even think it. Urgency left no time for words. Empathically I slapped Rowan with a deep-seeded need to get Caleb now. Concern shadowed his face and he disappeared in a puff of smoke as the message penetrated his thoughts.