The Darkest Surrender(8)

By: Gena Showalter


“I get it already! He’s got a huge package, and he’s irritating as hell. What’s your point?”

“Glad you’re finally up to speed. It’s sad, really, that you need so much explanation.” The sparkle in her sister’s eyes dimmed. “Anyway, you told him how you felt about him and he rejected you. He’ll be annoyed by any further contact you initiate, and an annoyed demon-possessed warrior is a global disaster waiting to happen.”

“I know.” If she had realized his importance to her sooner, she wouldn’t have slept with his friend Paris, the keeper of Promiscuity. Otherwise known as Paris the Sexorcist, a male so sensual he could make your head spin. And if she hadn’t slept with the Sexorcist, Strider the Stupid wouldn’t have rejected her.

Maybe.

Or maybe he would have. Because to her consternation—yes, consternation, and not an all-consuming, organ-flaming rage—he kinda sorta desired another woman. Haidee, a pretty female who belonged to his friend, Amun, keeper of Secrets.

At least Haidee was off-limits, and Kaia didn’t have to worry about Strider getting handsie. Honor among evil demons, and all that.

But damn it, just the thought of his gaze on another woman caused Kaia’s nails to elongate and sharpen, her fangs to sprout and her blood to boil. Mine, every cell in her body cried. She would kill anyone who made a play for him, as well as anyone he made a play for; she wouldn’t be able to help herself. Her dark side would take over, driving her to protect what was hers.

“Seriously, he’s lucky to be alive, and not just because I want to chop off his man parts and feed them to zoo animals while he watches,” Bianka continued. “Any man who can’t recognize your worth deserves a good torturing.”

“I know.” Not because Kaia was anything special—though she was, kind of, maybe…damn it, she used to be—but because no one could reject a Harpy without suffering severe consequences.

Actually, most Harpies would have taken Strider despite his wishes. So maybe she was the stupid one for allowing him to push her away. She just wanted him willing. She needed him willing. To abscond with him was to defeat him, and to defeat him was to hurt him.

She couldn’t bring herself to hurt him. Even at the expense of her sanity.

“You’re too good for him, anyway,” Bianka said, loyal as always.

“I know,” she repeated once more, lying this time. She would only ever be a disgrace to her clan. He deserved better.

Her sister sighed. “But you still want him.” A statement of fact, not a question.

“Yeah.”

“So what are you going to do to win him?”

“Nothing,” she said, fighting a wave of depression. “I chased after him once.” And he’d found her lacking. “I’m not going to do it again.”

“Maybe—”

“No. A few weeks ago, I challenged him to kick more Hunter ass than me.” Hunters, the enemy out to destroy all things demon. The fanatics who loved to go after innocents who dared get in their way. The pre-dead humans who would meet the tips of her claws if they approached Strider again.

Well, if they dared approach him with a weapon in hand. She might let them crawl toward him to apologize for the trouble they’d caused throughout the centuries. Torturing the Lords—only she was allowed to do so. Blowing up buildings—yawn. Could they be any more B-movie? Sooo irritating. Decapitating the keeper of Distrust—okay, that one was a little more than irritating, considering Strider was still messed up about it and everything.

Speaking of Distrust’s murder, Haidee had helped carry it out. Yep, that Haidee. The one Strider desired.

Kaia didn’t understand it. If he could want Haidee despite her crimes, why couldn’t he want Kaia?

“I wanted to help him kill the men who were after him. I wanted him to see how capable I was,” she added. “I wanted him to admire my skill. But did he? Noooo. He was pissed. He raged about all the pain I was going to cause him. So I let him win. Freaking let him. You know I never throw a fight.” That smacked of weakness, and too many people viewed her as weak already. “And how did he thank me? By telling me to get lost.” Hu-mil-i-ating. “Now, let’s change the subject.” Before she threw a temper tantrum and razed the mall to the ground. “What look are you going for?” she asked, flipping through the racks herself.