Galen: Give me a minute to find the fucks I give…

Galen: Still searching…

Galen: Sorry. Can’t find a single one.

Aeron: I love her, and I want what’s best for her, even if I must pay for her happiness w/ my life. Can you say the same?

Galen responded with a gif he’d made for situations like this. In it, he made a lewd hand gesture while the words “Look what I gave your mother last night” flashed in the center.

Then he typed: Listen, Dr. Usuc Atfilosofee. I didn’t see you braving H’s wards to help L escape that bloodthirsty army. (Drop mic.) (Pick mic back up.) She’s safe, ok. And I CAN say the same. I DID protect her with my life. So be a good daddy and let your daughter spread my wings. Over and out, mo-fo.

He returned the cell phone to the nightstand.

Legion gave a violent shake of her head and released another choking sound. “No. Please, no.”

He could imagine what images plagued her nightmares.

Uncaring about the flare of pain, he leaped off the bed to crouch in front of her chair. He lightly caressed her jaw, then lifted her hand to his face, holding her palm against his cheek. “I’m here, sugar.” His raw throat turned the words to smoke.

A few months ago, Galen had made a deal with Hades. Every time Galen completed a task for the underworld’s top dog, he earned a reward. All he’d wanted? The demons who’d hurt Legion. He’d tortured and killed every one of the bastards but Lucifer.

“No. Please, no. Don’t!” Eyes rolling behind her lids, Legion panted and groaned. Every few seconds, her fingers twitched, as if she tried to deflect a blow. “No!”

He ground his teeth. One day, one day soon, this beauty would rest in the comfort and security of his arms. Fear would lose its hold on her, and contentment would become her constant companion. I’ll make sure of it.

“I won’t let anything happen to you,” he vowed. “Not now, not ever.”

She melted into the chair, a soft sigh leaving her. Pride suffused him. For once, he’d comforted rather than frightened her.

Though he yearned to linger, he returned to the bed, lest he terrify her when she awoke.

Before he resettled, he cast her a final glance, his heart thudding. My downfall is exquisite. Flawless even. She wore a black tank top and gray sweat pants rolled at the waist and ankles. Adorable, yes, but he missed the prom dress. The long length of her honey-blonde hair cascaded over one delicate shoulder. Roses painted her checks, exactly where he’d caressed her. Jewels adorned her: diamonds around her neck, rubies and sapphires around her wrists, rings on every finger.

Maybe her dreams had nothing to do with her past. Maybe she worried for Galen? The idea pleased him. Unless he had False Hope to thank? The demon enjoyed building him up, just to tear him down. The higher his hopes, the harder he crashed. Of course, at his lowest, Jealousy would whisper sweet nothings in his ear. You deserve so much more. Take it!

Then False Hope would swoop in to build Galen back up. Once you remove the obstacles in your path, you’ll be so happy.

As soon as Galen overreached, and he always overreached, he would lose something he valued. The fiends would cackle with glee, and the process would start all over again.

Galen would give anything to extract the pair. But, when an immortal bonded with a person, place or thing, whether willingly or unwillingly, he tied his life-force to it. One could not survive without the other.

The only upside to Galen’s companions—they hurt his enemies just as thoroughly as they hurt him.

The thought of Legion being harmed in such a way…

Stiff as a board, he said, “Wake up, beautiful.”

She obeyed with the finesse of a freight train, erupting out of the chair while throwing a punch. Her whiskey-colored gaze glittered with terror as she scanned the room, her pupils the size of saucers. When she spotted him, the terror gave way to relief. After she gave him a once-over, the relief gave way to awareness.

Awareness? Or more wishful thinking on his part? He’d wanted this woman for so long.

No, it must be genuine. The air between them heated, as sultry as a stormy summer night.

His cells sizzled, struck by lightning bolts of desire.

“You’re alive,” she rasped.

The pessimistic side of him reared up. “Are you disappointed?”

“After working with Fox to bring you back from the dead? No.”

“I remember your last words.” In a falsetto, he said, “Oh, Galen, my gorgeous lover boy, there’s no other way to make you better. You must live, for I will perish without you.”

She took the bait, bristling. “I did not call you a lover boy.”

But you will. Soon. “Did you think it? You can tell me. I’ll keep your secret.”

Her cheeks flushed, revving his desire another notch. How hot did her skin burn? “What you did, you did to help me. I get it,” he said. “But I’m not happy that you gambled with my future. When a demon-possessed immortal kicks it, his spirit ends up in a prison realm.” Galen had spent too much time in prison already.

Most recently, the Cronus clone had sheared off his wings and caged him alongside an immortal named Keeleykael, AKA The Red Queen, one of the strongest beings in history, with a megaton of superpowers.

Galen respected and admired Keeley. He even loved her. Shockingly, their friendship persevered even after she hooked up with Torin, keeper of Disease.

An invisible knife twisted in Galen’s chest. Once, Torin had been his best friend. If the guy couldn’t forgive a massive betrayal of his trust and a few hundred measly murder attempts, he didn’t deserve to have Galen in his life.

“How are you feeling?” Legion moved to the side of the bed, swept sugar and salt granules to the floor, and eased down. Laser focused, she reached out, clearly intending to press her hand against his forehead. At the last second, she stiffened and dropped her arm to her side without making contact.

He ached for contact with her. Why pull back? What did she fear most about him? And how could he help her overcome it?

If the fear had roots in intimacy, he knew of only one way to help. Initiate contact so often the act became as automatic as breathing.

Tough job, but he would find a way to push through.

Step one: give her a reason to touch him—or an excuse.

Galen sagged against his pillows, as if strength had deserted him. “I’m feeling feverish.” Truth. His cells only sizzled hotter, and only Legion had the power to cool him down… after she’d burned him alive with passion.

“Any other symptoms of infection?” she asked, reaching out…Yes! This time, she pressed her hand against his forehead. A sense of triumph flared.

Step two: fight a smile when you succeed.

He leaned into her touch, luxuri

ating in her soft as velvet, warm as freshly tapped molasses skin.

Step three: enjoy.

How sweet would she taste?

“Good news. You’re hot, but not too hot.” Her gaze traveled over him. In an instant, a choked noise rose from her; she jumped to her feet and spun around, severing contact.

He swallowed a curse and gave himself a once-over, wondering what had caused such a vehement reaction. Well. Hello, hard-on. How I’ve missed you. Since taking Legion’s virginity, being with other women had proven impossible. His body wanted her, and only her. Now, having her nearby…

He needed sex.

“Why did you save me?” she asked, changing the subject. “And don’t say you just wanted to sleep with me. Your desire is kind of obvious. I want the real reason.”

“Kind of obvious? Darling, there’s nothing kind of about my erection.”

Her cheeks pinkened. “There must be more to it than that. And I’m not talking about your erection!”

The show of spirit activated a battle cry inside Galen’s head: More!

Give someone the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Usually he refused. When you spoke your truths aloud, you revealed secret shames, hidden desires, and masked vulnerabilities. An inadvertent consequence, but a consequence all the same. Why give someone unnecessary power over you? But this was Legion. The exception to his every rule, apparently.

“To understand why I did what I did,” he said, “you need a little background.”

“I’m listening.”

“Like all former soldiers in Zeus’s army, I was created fully formed. Unlike most of the others, I experienced an immediate desire to lead, to conquer, to own everything I surveyed. The desire has only grown stronger over the centuries.” Every time he’d won a battle, Fate itself seemed to say: You are meant to rule.

“So…you want me to co-own the world with you?” she asked, her brow furrowed.

Yes. No. He wanted to co-own her pleasure. And he would. But that particular truth would only frighten her.

“When you were being tortured in hell,” he said, proceeding with caution, “I went after you. I didn’t know the awfulness of the deeds being done to you, I just knew part of me wanted to strike at you the way you’d struck at me while the other part of me wanted you back in my bed. But I let a personal vendetta against someone else derail my plans. A fact I will forever regret. So when I discovered an army marched for your cabin, nothing and no one could stop me from getting to you. Now,” he added with a sigh, “I want a chance to help you heal, Leg—Honey. I need to help you.”

Tags: Gena Showalter Lords of the Underworld Fantasy