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The sight of her had heated his blood as if he’d been caught on fire.

 

That still didn’t mean he desired her, his enemy. The fact that his name was spelled across her back was simply playing havoc with his mind, he was sure.

 

“Well,” Mnemosyne prompted.

 

“Yeah,” Nike said. “We’re waiting for an answer.”

 

“Shut up, prisoner,” Mnemosyne snapped. She was sister to Rhea, the god queen, and an elitist. Always had been. She loved power and strength above all else, and viewed most people as beneath her.

 

He wanted to scold her for using that tone with Nike, but didn’t. They were waiting for an answer to what? he wondered, thinking back over the conversation. Oh, yeah. Why was he moving Nike? He raised his chin, refusing to look down at her. Not that he would have had to look far. At six feet, she was nearly as tall as he was. “I don’t need a reason. I’m responsible for this prison and everyone in it. Therefore, if I want to move you, I can.”

 

The last was meant for the Titans. They would do well not to question him.

 

Without another word, he dragged Nike away.

 

“But Atlas,” Mnemosyne called.

 

He ignored her. Where should he take Nike? There were not many private places in this doomed structure. All of the cells were filled to capacity. That left—his office, he decided.

 

“You’re lucky I don’t have that bastard slain,” he said when they snaked a corner and he was sure the others couldn’t hear him.

 

Nike didn’t have to ask who “that bastard” was. “What for? He did nothing wrong.”

 

Nothing wrong? He touched what’s mine. “He didn’t have permission to consort with you.” There. An answer to pacify. Truthful, yet misleading. Atlas snaked another corner, and there at the end of the hallway was his door.

 

“Consort with me?” She laughed without humor. “Oh, wait. I get it. You can screw anyone you want, but I can’t.”

 

Good. They were on the same page. “That’s right.” He pushed his way inside, kicked the door shut and finally released her. His hands itched to return to her, but he kept them at his sides. Rather than settle behind his desk, he faced her, placing them nose to nose. “You are to suffer in solitude.” Gods, she smelled good. Like passion. Pure, white-hot passion.

 

“As if. I have more fun with myself, anyway.”

 

The image those words evoked nearly sent him to his knees. He should back away from her. Before he did something foolish.

 

Her eyes narrowed. “You haven’t changed, you know. You’re as much of an ass now as you were years ago.”

 

“However,” he continued, as if she hadn’t just insulted him. Foolishness be damned. She was here, and they were alone. “If you need to be kissed, I’ll take care of it.”

 

And, godsdamn it, that was the absolute truth.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

THERE WAS NO TIME to protest. In less time than it took to blink, Nike found herself smashed into the wall, Atlas pressing against her, solid chest to soft breasts, his hands pinning her temples, his mouth slamming into hers. His tongue thrust deep, without warning, forcing its way past her teeth.

 

She could have bitten him. Wanted to bite him, actually, and not in affection. She wanted to draw blood, pain. Instead, her body instantly became his slave, as if centuries of hatred hadn’t passed, and she welcomed him inside. She wound her arms around him and arched into his erection. Erection? Oh, yes. He was hard. Hard and long and thick. Just as she remembered.

 

His taste was decadent, wild and burning, like dark spices. His muscles were tensed under her palms. Up she moved them, until her fingers were tangled in his hair. The short spikes abraded deliciously, causing her to shiver.

 

Touch me, she wanted to shout. It had been so long, so damned long, since she’d experienced this. Oh, she’d been with other men since giving herself so foolishly to Atlas, because she’d been searching for something as intense as what they had shared. Something to soothe her, heal her even. But each experience had left her hollow and unsatisfied. She’d actually felt worse. And then she had been captured—by Atlas himself—and unceremoniously stuffed into this prison.

 

With the lack of privacy, there’d been no opportunities to find companionship. Not that she would have wanted to or had even tried. No one drew her anymore. No one but Atlas, damn him.

 

Yes, damn him. Him. The man who had held her down only yesterday and etched his name into her flesh. What was she doing, allowing this? He would think she still cared for him. He would think she still pined for him, dreamed of him…craved him. That might be true, curse it, but she would never allow him to know it.

 

Panting, she tore her mouth away. How dare you stop, her body cried. “I don’t want you,” she lied. “Let me go. Now.” Hold me forever.

 

A low growl erupted from his throat. “I don’t want you, either.” Once, twice, he rubbed his shaft against her. “But I’m not letting you go.”

 

Thank you.

 

Stupid body.

 

Tremors slid the length of her spine. Sweet heaven. He’d hit her sweet spot, and sensation rocketed through her. Then one of his hands lowered and cupped her breast, and her knees almost buckled.

 

“Why?” The word was a mere whimper. And why was she allowing him the choice? Why wasn’t she ripping away from him? You are Strength. Act like it.

 

“Why won’t I let you go?” He rolled her hardened nipple between his fingers.

 

That was why she remained as she was, she thought, dazed. The pleasure was building, flowing through her veins, burning her up, recreating her into a new being. Someone who lived for satisfaction alone. Someone who didn’t care that the one responsible for her desire was an enemy.

 

“Yes.”

 

“I just…I…” Those fingers tightened, stinging her a little. “Just shut up and kiss me again.”

 

“Yes,” she replied before she could stop herself.

 

Their mouths met again, and this time she rose on her tiptoes to meet him. As their tongues clashed and warred, he cupped her ass and lifted her feet off the floor. So strong he was. Forcing him to hold her weight would have been fun, but not nearly as pleasurable as winding her legs around his waist and pressing her needy core against his shaft.

 

Clever girl.

 

With her braced against the wall, he was able to tunnel both of his hands under her robe. Their bodies were too close together for him to reach her slick center, where she wanted him most, but having his hands on her cheeks, wanting skin against fiery skin, was almost as welcome. He was hotter than she remembered.

 

His lips left hers, but before she could moan her disappointment, he was kissing and licking his way down her neck.

 

“Yes,” she gasped. “Yes. Like that.”

 

“More?” His nose nuzzled the golden slave collar as if it were a trinket rather than a device that could kill her. For once, she even liked the collar.

 

“Yes.” More. At the moment, that was the only word she was capable of. Unless…did he think to make her beg?

 

Fury suddenly blended with desire. Well, she would show him. She would beg for nothing. Not even this. Especially this. Not for him.

 

“Then more you shall have,” he said, shocking her. She had not begged, yet he was giving her what she wanted. He tugged the fabric of her robe down, revealing her breasts. Air hissed through his teeth. “So lovely. So perfect.” His tongue flicked out and circled the nipple he’d pinched just a short while ago. “So mine.”

 

Her head fell back, and her nails scratched at his back. So good. The heat…the wetness…the—“Yes!” The suction. He was sucking at her so forcefully, her stomach muscles were quivering. No one else had been physically powerful enough to suit her. Their caresses had felt like whispers, barely there, utterly unsatisfying. “Atlas,” she groaned. “Don’t stop.” A command, not a plea.

 

“I won’t. I can’t.” He straightened, his narrowed gaze suddenly pinning her in place far more effectively than his body. “I want you. All of you.”

 

She struggled to regain her breath. Her senses. “You mean sex?” Yes, yes, yes. Here, now.

 

A clipped nod was the only answer she received. She opened her mouth to reply, but somehow found the strength to stop herself. She drank in the sight of him—a sight that delighted her almost as much as it angered her. Angered? Why? Her delight should be all-consuming. His nostrils were flared, his lips pulled tight. He looked as if he barely had himself under control. Nothing like he’d looked with Mnemosyne.

 

He truly wants me.

 

But…why? she wondered. Or was he merely that good an actor?

 

Yes, she mused darkly. He was that good an actor. And that was where the anger sprang from. He’d looked at her like that once before, the last time they’d had sex. That look had been the catalyst to her decision to free him, despite the consequences to herself. Consequences that could have resulted in a death sentence. But, she’d thought, he truly loves me with the same intensity that I love him. She’d thought anything worth the risk of freeing him. Of possibly being with him for eternity.

 

How they would have managed that, she hadn’t known. But she’d wanted to try. He had not.

 

Thank the gods she’d encountered one of the members of his skank parade mere minutes after escorting him from the building and into the clouds outside, where he would have been able to flash away. He’d still had his collar on—she hadn’t wanted to remove it until they’d bypassed every single guard. That way, everyone who saw them walking together would have assumed she was simply moving a prisoner.

 

But outside, they’d been seen. No one could flash out of or into the prison itself, so everyone had to walk through the front door. Aergia, the goddess of Laziness, of all things, had decided to come to work early, surprise, surprise—just to be with Atlas again. She’d stopped Nike to question where he was being taken.

 

I’m taunting him with what he can never have again, Nike had claimed.

 

The goddess had frowned. Well, take him to my office when you’re done.

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