Dark Skye Read online
Lanthe toed Thronos’s convulsing body, then hopped back. Her gaze darted from one marble marker to the other, looking for the threat. One minute, she and Thronos had been arguing. The next, his eyes had rolled back in his head and he’d dropped like a rock. He was now unconscious, seizing on the ground as if afflicted by a supernatural malady. What zone had he crossed into? The nightmare sector? The noxious-air belt? The markers were inscribed with those weird glyphs, and her translator was currently writhing, out cold on the path. Lowering clouds closed in, darkening the morning. A soft rain began to fall; lightning streaking above. What to do? Despite his dickitry, she couldn’t just leave him like this. It was almost as if she felt the same kind of loyalty to Thronos that she did to Sabine. But Sabine had never hurt her the way Thronos continued to do. Even so, Lanthe would drag him out of the zone. All seven feet of him. “Thronos, you are such a pain in my ass,” she snapped at his unconscious form. “Here I am—saving yours yet again! I want this noted. ” Careful not to cross the markers herself, she reached for his feet, lugging him toward her. The instant she’d pulled his head out of the zone, his eyes shot open, locking on her. “Melanthe?” She dropped his feet; he scrambled to stand. With his irises fully silver, he jerked his gaze around, as if danger was on the horizon. He scented the air. Under his breath, he grated, “Not real?” The crazed look on his face had her backing away from him. Then he turned to her. “Not real. ” He eased closer. “Um, what’s happening, Thronos?” “You’re here. ” In the light rain, he reached for her, cupping her face with hands that shook. His thumbs brushed along her cheekbones. His brows were drawn together, lips thinned. She’d seen this yearning expression before—after that three-day absence when she’d called him a demon. So long ago, when he’d finally returned to their meadow, his eyes had told her, I’ve been pretty much lost without you. “I want your future, Melanthe,” he rasped now. “I don’t care about the past. We’ll work out the fucking details. ” Where was this coming from? Why had he changed— His lips descended on hers. As in her dream, his pained groan rumbled against her mouth. He sounded like he’d die if she didn’t return his kiss. A claiming kiss. A no-going-back kiss. Despite her issues with him, she found herself parting her lips beneath his. He groaned again, as if she’d conceded far more than a kiss. When his tongue dipped, her eyes slid shut in bliss. His lips slowly slanted, his tongue sensuously tangling with hers. For someone with so little practice, he was turning into a devastating kisser. Her hands twined around his neck, her toes curling as they began sharing breaths. When he drew back, he left her dazed, blinking up at him. “Thronos, I think that’s the best conversation we’ve ever had. ” He didn’t release Melanthe, just kept his quaking hands on her cheeks. She was brimming with vitality, sorcery, life. He savored the beating of her heart, the coursing of her lifeblood. Each wondrous breath she took. Though she’d initially looked stunned—and pleased—her brows were drawing together. “What’s going on with you?” She dropped her hands, ducking from his grip. “You have a seizure, and now you’re thinking clearly? You’ve suddenly realized how stupid it is to obsess about my past?” “I almost lost you. ” He bit out the words, unable to process what had just happened—what he’d seen and felt. “What are you talking about?” “You . . . you dragged me out of it. ” He opened and closed his fists, needing his hands on her. “Delivered me from it. ” “From what?” “Hell. I was in my personal version of hell. ” “Hell changed your mind about my past?” He nodded. “You talked about traps when we first arrived, about repeated labors. I believe I was in a loop of some kind. In each repetition, no matter what I did, I couldn’t save you. You . . . died. You were crushed by stone. ” She arched her brows. “Typical. The harlot got stoned to death. ” His voice hoarse, he said, “Don’t talk like that. Please. ” He took her hand in his, never wanting to let it go. She gazed up at him as if she was measuring the emotions in him—the ones he didn’t bother to hide. How asinine he’d been! He wanted to make a life with her, a marriage and family. To have all those things, he need only look to their future. It was there—for the taking! She was. Unless he’d already ruined things beyond repair. “What do the markers say?” she asked. “Pain confesses all. And Time cares naught. ” He now comprehended that what he’d just gone through wasn’t real. But the lesson had been. “What does it mean?” “Time cared naught when it allowed itself to repeat. ” With his free hand, he tucked a lock of raven hair behind her ear. “And pain clarified my thoughts about us. ” “That sounds . . . intense. ” You have no idea. “We need to move away from the edge of this zone. If we’d both crossed into it, we could’ve been there for eternity. And I’d rather spend forever with the pest that is. ” He brushed the backs of his fingers along her delicate jawline, vowing to all the Lore, to all the gods, that he would protect this woman for eternity. “You haven’t stopped touching me, Thronos. ” “You’ll have to grow accustomed to that—” A demon war bugle sounded from not far in the distance. She gazed over her shoulder. “They wouldn’t be signaling a charge during the day . . . ” “Unless they’re coming for those keys. Let’s put some distance between us and them. ” “Where? We can’t go back. And we don’t know which way this zone’s edge extends. ” He craned his head up to the sky, biting out a curse. “We can’t go up. ” Outlined by bursts of lightning, a pack of Volar demons hovered above. An advance contingent? Their position pinned Thronos and Lanthe against the hell zone. Their backs were against an invisible wall.