Galen might have been created for war, but he lived for Leila. His everything, he thought again. She meant more to him than any war, title, or kingdom. Because…

Yeah. Every part of him loved every part of her. No one had ever fit him so perfectly. She had become his greatest strength, and his favorite weakness. A true beacon of hope.

The knowledge kicked him into a tailspin of excitement rather than panic. His future had never looked so bright. She soothed the ravages of his soul, and satisfied the man who’d always wanted more.

So they’d had a rough start. So what? The end mattered more than the beginning.

Not that they would end. She had trusted him with her passion; now he would fight for her heart.

You’ll never make a relationship work. Soon she’ll remember you are a betrayer. Galen the Treacherous. She’ll leave.

“You tensed,” Leila said, tracing her fingertips along the stubble on his jaw. “Are you all right?”

He buried his face in the hollow of her neck, clinging to the woman who owned his future. “When you are with me? Yes.”

* * * *

Awash with vulnerability, Legion traced her fingertips along the shell of Galen’s ear. “When we kissed, I climaxed, but you didn’t.”

“Believe me, I am keenly aware of this,” he replied, his tone dry.

“Well…I want to make you come.”

He winked at her, desire ablaze in his irises. “Yes. I want you to. Need you to.” But he frowned. “Do you hear that?”

He didn’t give her a chance to respond, just jumped to his feet, grabbed her shirt and yanked it over her head before pushing her behind him and zipping his pants. As he palmed two daggers, footsteps registered. So many, blending together, moving at a clipped pace.

Fear chilled her to the bone. An invasion?

“Run,” he commanded, flaring his wings. “Hide. Now!”

Part of her shouted, Yes! Run! Now, now, now. The other part of her simmered with a fierce tide of rage. How dare anyone interrupt the most beautiful moment of her life?

She wouldn’t leave Galen to fight the coming battle on his own. And there would be a battle. Aggression charged the air.

Though she trembled, she planted her feet, determined. I will stand. I will fight for this man. No matter the cost.

Glass shattered. An entire wall crumbled, and over a hundred men stormed into the living room. One man occupied the center of the group. He had dark hair, bronzed skin, and a cold, calculated smile. Cronus, the former king of the Titans. Or rather, his clone. How had he opened a portal to get here?

More powerful than we realized…

“So nice to see you again, Galen.” The Titan’s smile grew colder. “I knew putting a contract on your life you would lead me to my prize.” With a snap of his fingers, the army launched forward—advancing on Legion.

Chapter Nine

What is happening?

Legion stood as motionless as a statue, her good intentions pulverized. Fear overshadowed rage.

Galen had no such difficulties. He acted fast, bending down to clasp the hilt of a sword that had been anchored to the underside of the coffee table.

How many weapons were hidden in this place, and where could she get one?

Like you could do any damage. Helpless…

Galen fought the soldiers with masterful skill. But then, he had the heart of a warrior, and the soul of a predator. The limbs of their enemies thudded to the floor. Blood flowed. Bellows of pain and agony created a horrifying chorus.

And still she remained in place, her heartbeat warped, her stomach in knots.

More soldiers swarmed Galen. So many. Too many. Swords arced toward him, one after the other. He ducked and parried, all while shielding her. No matter how many injuries he sustained, he kept fighting.

Why did Cronus want her? Why go to so much trouble?

Was she going to do nothing for the man who’d just pleasured and comforted her? Who’d encouraged and praised her. Or would she find a way to push through her terror and save him?

Metal whistled through the air—slice. Galen roared, his wrist detaching from his arm. A second later, his hand plopped to the rug with a sickening thud.

Legion screamed, horror shredding what remained of her calm.

“St-stop,” she cried. “Please! I’ll…I’ll go with you. Just leave Galen alone.”

“No,” her winged warrior shouted.

The same cry echoed inside her head. Still she peered at Cronus and pleaded, “Don’t hurt him any more.”

Though blood spurted from a severed artery, weakening him, Galen continued fighting until his knees gave out, and he dropped.

Close to vomiting, Legion leaped in front of him and spread her arms. Breathing was nearly impossible now, the air too thick. Her lungs shuddered, burned, and seized, rejecting what little oxygen she’d managed to draw in.

In a blink, Cronus appeared at her side. He pinched her chin to turn her face one way, then the other.

Still on his knees, Galen tried to stab the king’s midsection. But his reflexes had slowed dramatically, and his aim was off. Probably dizzy. Cronus easily deflected both blows.

“I said stop! If you kill Galen,” she croaked, “I will fight you. Whatever you want from me, I’ll do everything in my power to ensure you never get it.”

She had to get the Titan and his men out of here, so Galen could summon Fox.

A shrug of the king’s wide shoulders. No man had ever been so smug. “Fight me or not. Makes no difference to me. Either way, I will get what I want.”

“Are you sure?” Think, think. How to get him out? “Wh-what is it you want, exactly?”

“I want many things from you, she-demon, for you are a rare and wonderful creature. The best of humans, the best of immortals.”

“I don’t understand.” Could she drag and toss Galen out the window, giving him a chance to run? She’d have to do it fast enough that none of the soldiers could take a swing at him.

Galen struggled to rise, still refusing to give up. A soldier kicked him in the face. Breath heaved from him in a single gust, and blood sprayed from his mouth. Legion swallowed a cry of distress.

“Think of it. I can scrap you for parts,” Cronus said casually, as if a man wasn’t bleeding to death at his feet. “If I remove your teeth, I can adhere venomous enamel to different weapons. I can extract your marrow, and create my own army of demons. A legion commanded by me, and me alone. I can use your bones as shivs. For what can slay a demon? Another demon. The possibilities are endless.”

Her chest tightened, the urge to vomit bombarding her. “You wouldn’t go to this much trouble for such things.”

And still Galen struggled to rise.

“You are right.” Cronus kneed the underside of Galen’s chin, sending him back to the floor. “I want inside your head. You have secrets I will unearth.”

She tried to dive on her man, but one of the soldiers grabbed her arm to lock her in place. Galen wheezed as he met her gaze, and it was clear speech was no longer possible for him. Words weren’t needed, however. In his eyes, she saw grief, remorse, and fury; he would rather die fighting than watch as the Titan used her for anything.

“If you walk away now, without killing him, or hurting him further,” she rasped, “I won’t wipe my memory.” A bluff, and a downright dirty lie. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn’t. But she had to try. The only way to sell your lies? Confidence. “You know Cameo, former keeper of Misery? The demon wiped her mind anytime she experienced happiness. That is a demon trick. I retained my demon qualities, remember? I can erase everything at will. There’ll be nothing left to unearth.” What secrets did he want? She had none.

Cronus stared at her, hard, a muscle jumping in his jaw. “Very well,” he finally said. Then he vanished and reappeared, flashing directly behind Galen to slam a dagger hilt into his temple.

Her beautiful warrior slumped over, his eyes closing. He would have crash-landed if she h

adn’t wrenched free of the solider and caught him, easing him down.

Hot tears burned her cheeks. She ripped material from the hem of her shirt, planning to bind his forearm. Blood continued to spurt from his severed artery. But strong arms snaked around her, dragging her backward.

The last glimpse she had of Galen, he lay on the floor, face down, blood pooling around him.

* * * *

Tags: Gena Showalter Lords of the Underworld Fantasy