Dark Skye Read online

Page 58

Chapter 57

  Thronos’s pain continued to escalate. He’d decided to leave, but at the last moment he’d felt as if he was on the verge of remembering something. So pain be damned. He remained in the forest glade. Thronos knew pain. He could handle it. The day was beginning its long, slow fade to twilight. Considering this realm’s sluggish passage of time, he’d already been away from the outpost far too long. But leaving this place would be cowardly. And he was no— Movement behind him? He twisted around. In the center of this glade, the air blurred. A gap opened, a portal. Cautiously stepping from it was the most breathtaking female Thronos had ever seen. Long raven hair. Plump red lips. Eyes as blue as the skies he’d lost when his kingdom fell. That raw emptiness, that maddening absence began to . . . ease? As if some magnet were pulling him toward her, his feet started to close the distance between them. But she was dressed as a sorceress, with a metal headdress and breastplate, an unusual gold necklace—and leather trews that lovingly molded to her generous curves. He scrubbed his palm over his mouth, needing to focus; difficult when treated to such a sight. A sorceress might fear he meant her harm. After Morgana, he supposed he should be suspicious of this one as well. If he announced himself, would she run back into that portal, lost to him? At the thought, panic seized his chest. Why did he feel like she would run? She caught sight of him, and her gaze widened, as if with disbelief. She dropped the bag she was carrying, taking a quick step forward, body tensed, those red lips parted. He could almost swear she’d been about to leap into his arms before she’d stopped herself. Which couldn’t be right. A trick of the mind. Raising his palms, he quickly said, “My name is Thronos Talos, and I mean you no harm, sorceress. ” “I know. ” Her eyes started to shimmer with a blue metallic gleam. “I don’t mean you any harm either,” said the tiny female—who looked like she couldn’t hurt a fly. But with Sorceri, appearances were deceiving. Her friendly demeanor emboldened him to step closer to her. He struggled not to limp in front of such a beauty. “I’m Lanthe. ” She looked like running from him was the last thing on her mind. Again, he got the curious impression that she was barely holding herself in place. She also showed no surprise at her surroundings, as if she’d been to this glade before. Thronos had half believed he was the only one who knew of it. All around her, surreal drops floated and bubbles bobbed, but she never took her eyes from him. When she tilted her head, her black hair swept over her shoulder, sending tendrils of her scent toward him. He inhaled greedily. His muscles shot tight with tension. Sky. Home. This exquisite creature was . . . his mate. A sense of déjà vu wracked him. “Will you not close that threshold and speak with me, Lanthe?” She nodded, turning back to the portal. She leaned over to poke her head back in. Gods, the body on that female! He didn’t know whether he wanted to kiss her—or crush her in a hug. All he knew was that the shard was slowly withdrawing from his chest. Lanthe seemed to be speaking to someone on the other side. Was there another who would yank her back through? Who could ever let such a female go? His face fell. How could a woman this incomparable have no mate? “Yes, right this very minute!” she said to someone unseen. “Not twenty freaking feet behind me!” Pause. “Because maybe I don’t suck. ” Another pause. “For the love of gold, I don’t need an illusion,” she said in an exasperated tone. “I look fine. I’ll portal soon!” Relief rushed through him as soon as the threshold closed. “My sister. ” Lanthe rolled her eyes. “For someone so cool, she’s turned into a mother hen. Weird. So where were we?” She seemed nervous. “Why are you in a place like this, sorceress?” A dark thought arose. “Perhaps you’ve come to spy on me for your queen?” Maybe Morgana sought their total annihilation. “I vow to you that I have no loyalties to Morgana. She’s taken much from me. ” “Then we have that in common. ” “I’m so sorry about your kingdom, Thronos. ” “How much do you know of the situation?” Seeming to choose her words carefully, she said, “I believe that I’m versed in both sides of the conflict. ” “Then you know Vrekener actions could have prevented the attack. I could have. I should have paid more attention to the former king and his actions. ” “You blame yourself?” she demanded, as if indignant on his behalf. “Of course. ” “How about this: Let’s not blame anyone. Let’s just fix the situation as best as we can. ” He liked this sorceress! Playing along, he said, “How shall we fix it, then?” “I’m working on it even as we speak. But first, tell me—why are you here? What do you hope to find in Pandemonia?” “I . . . I can’t lie. ” He ran his fingers through his hair. “I’ve been unwell. In the explosion that destroyed my home, I somehow injured my mind, and I’m not healing. Some of my memories were lost. ” Why did he find it so easy to talk to her? Just because she was his fated one? Yet she also felt familiar to him. “I recall traveling to this place, but it’s like looking at a puzzle with half of the pieces missing. Incomplete. I come here in the hopes of remembering. ” Sharing these things with her felt like shucking weights from his shoulders. “Maybe I can help with that?” she said softly, her voice like a balm. Surely this sorceress had to be taken by someone. And even if she wasn’t, the idea of a female like her choosing him was implausible. He was scarred, his body and mind battered. He had no wealth, no real home, nothing in the worlds to offer her. But I want her. He’d still try. Because he also had nothing to lose. Yet when she sidled closer and he drew more deeply of her scent, he detected the faintest hint of . . . another. Recognition slammed him, along with a misery so weighty he felt that his knees would buckle. Voice gone hoarse, he said, “Sorceress, you’re expecting. ” She was taken. “Where’s your man?” I will challenge him for her. And since the other male would fight to the death for a female like this . . . I will kill him. Her eyes misted as she murmured, “I fear the man I knew is lost to me forever. ” The depths of sadness she conveyed roused a seething jealousy inside him. He wanted her to feel so strongly about him—only him! But if the other male was lost . . . Then I can have her for my own. Lanthe had just probed his mind—and nearly wept. She’d found nothing of herself in Thronos’s thoughts, not past today. His blocks were down—he might not even remember that he had them—so she’d searched, and found . . . Not a single fleeting memory of a girl named Melanthe. A wife. A queen. A best friend. How could she make him recall what was no longer there? His thoughts troubled her as well. Though he was filled with fury toward the man she loved—unknowingly himself—he was struggling to choke it back so he could speak to her with his full attention, because his “mind was not well. ” Already, he’d scented that she was his mate. He neared, tentatively, so as not to scare her away. He had no idea he’d never be rid of her. When drops from the canopy kissed her face, he drew his wings over his head, creating a shelter. “I’ve always room for you too. ” Don’t cry, don’t cry. As she met him halfway, she gazed up at him, taking in his exhausted mien, his troubled gray eyes. He didn’t look like he’d eaten or slept since they’d been separated, and his wings had reverted to their gnarled and twisted state. She’d noticed him trying to conceal his limp in front of her. Because she wasn’t his Lanthe anymore. She was a mysterious woman—his fated one—and he longed to impress her. Yes, she would start over with him and tell him about their past, but how could she adequately put their journey into words? Overcoming impossible odds. Defying death and learning to trust. Coming to love each other again. Reminded of all they’d beaten, she set her jaw. I’m getting my Vrekener back. She would juice him with all the power in her body if she had to. She’d done it for Sabine; she’d do it for him. When he stood before her, Lanthe said, “Thronos, if I tell you something crazy, could you try to believe me?” “Sorceress, in these last few weeks, I’ve seen crazy. I’ve lived it. ” No kidding. “What if I told you that we were well acquainted with each other? But you were bespelled to forget me?” She debated telling him upfront that they were married (oh, and having a kid!), but decided against it. S