Dark skye, p.45
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       Dark Skye, p.45

         Part #15 of Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole
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Chapter 44

  What did I do with them? Thronos recalled little of what had happened in that room, just knew he’d woken with no clothes on and naked Nereids kissing his body—while more had been layered beneath him. “Melanthe!” he bellowed as he strode down the corridor, hastily dressing as he went. Those nymphs had whispered that there was no matehood in Nereus’s realm. Thronos would be free to partake—as he’d wanted to for ages. But that had been before. I was unfaithful. He’d gotten drunk on demon brew, then betrayed his lovely, brave, intelligent mate. All of his laws, all of his righteousness, all of the grief he’d given her about her behavior—and he was the one who fell. How could he tell her? If he’d been seduced by nymphs, then what in the hell was happening to her? Was Nereus ravishing her? If the god touches her . . . “Melanthe!” His fear for her, his blind panic, burned away much of his inebriation. “Answer me!” He heard, “I’m here!” just before he saw her speeding around a corner. She ran for him, face ecstatic. My incomparable mate. So bloody beautiful. “We’re free, Thronos! We can leave now. ” He gave a curt nod, looping his arm over her shoulder. “I want to get far away from this wretched place. ” “The portal’s near. ” She led him down a shadowy passageway. As they hastened along it, sweat beaded on his lip. What did I do? “Where were you?” he asked. “Uh, looking for you. ” “Nereus didn’t hurt you?” “No, he kept his hands to himself. ” You’re going to have to tell her. The only thing worse than his infidelity would be hiding it. How would she react? At the end of the corridor was the portal. Living coral framed the rippling surface. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked. “I can all but hear you grinding your molars to dust. We’re here, we’re finally here. ” “Melanthe, my instinct tells me to do anything I can to get you to the Skye. ” Only a coward would confess afterward. “But I must be honest with you. ” “What is it?” He wanted to rail at himself, to tear at his hair. His fist shot out, connected with the wall. Stone cracked, and a trickle of water seeped through it. “Lanthe, I . . . I was unfaithful to you. ” She raised her brows. “With whom?” “Nereids. ” “Plural?” She seemed to be vibrating with some kind of tension. “Yes. ” “I thought you couldn’t stray,” she pointed out. “They smelled like you. ” “And what did you do to them?” “I was . . . drunk. ” An excuse he’d never expected to give, an excuse that shamed him. “I tried to fight off the effects, but at one point I lost consciousness. I woke unclothed. ” He cleared his throat. “With their mouths upon me. I don’t know what I did or how long I was out. ” “You look sick about this. ” “I am! I want only you. It will always be this way. ” He scrubbed his hand over his face. “I don’t understand how this could happen. If you knew how badly I desire you . . . ” “And you decided to confess this to me now?” “I want you to come to my home. But I won’t trick you to get you there. ” “I know about the Nereids. ” She looked unperturbed. “Nereus set it up so that I could see all of it. ” “But you’re not . . . upset? You don’t even care, do you? What would it take to make you give a damn?” “They bespelled you, and you still didn’t do anything. You’re the first male ever to shake off their magics. ” That relieved some of his guilt, but his chest felt hollow at her lack of reaction. She’d witnessed those nymphs seducing him; if he’d ever seen a male’s hands on her naked body, it would have annihilated him. “You suffer no jealousy?” She might as well have sunk a sword into him. “Maybe I should’ve indulged them!” She went up on her toes and grabbed his face. “When I thought you were going to succumb, I cried. ” After all the times he would’ve expected her to cry in the last week? Even in the belly of the beast, she’d somehow stemmed her tears. “You cried over me?” he asked gruffly. She nodded. “And not just because of the bet I’d made with Nereus. ” “What are you speaking of?” “I bet Nereus that you couldn’t be seduced. If I won, we’d go free. If I lost, he’d bed me. ” Nereus would’ve taken my mate this very night! But Thronos had proved stronger than even the Nereids’ spells, and now he and Lanthe would be rewarded. He seized her hands. “Then come with me to the Skye. ” She bit her bottom lip. “We could go to Rothkalina. ” “I need to return home to get something settled with Aristo. Changes must be made. ” “You still plan to rehab him?” She drew away. He reluctantly released her. “I told you. I will make him see reason. You will help me. Once he understands what we have together, what we’ve overcome, he’ll have to conclude that his views are mistaken. ” “Why do you think I won’t use my power for ill while I’m up there?” Earlier, he’d thought of the solution. “I have ways. ” “Tell me, Thronos. ” “I’m going to trust you not to. I’m going to take you fully empowered to my home, because I trust you. ” Clever, clever demon. Of all the things he could’ve said . . . “You are trusting me to deal with my brother,” he told her. “I’m trusting you to use your sorcery in a way we both can live with. ” “That’s your plan?” He lifted his chin. “That’s my plan. I know you, Melanthe. You’re a good person. ” “Lower your voice!” Her eyes darted. “If that got out . . . ” “Come, take this step with me. ” “You think King Aristo will let me stay empowered in the Skye?” He quirked his brow. “If anyone tries anything, then I’m sure you can persuade them not to. ” “You’re giving me leave to protect myself?” “I know you won’t harm anyone unless you must do it in self-defense. ” Was this a good-with-the-bad situation? If a sorceress wanted a man who would stay faithful even when bespelled and accosted by nymphs, then she had to support that man even when he believed he could rehab his douchelord brother. But Lanthe and Thronos had so many issues unsettled between them. She didn’t see how these things could be improved in the realm of the Vrekeners. To her, going there would be like going into the belly of the beast. Having actually been in the belly of the beast, she didn’t think this lightly. He curled his finger under her chin. “In Pandemonia, you accused me of wanting something from you. I do. The opportunity to protect you and treasure you. ” She parted her lips to argue, but he stopped her. “Not only because of my instinct. ” “I’d like to believe that. I would. But . . . ” “Do you want to know what Nïx’s advice was concerning you? One sentence: ‘Before Melanthe was this, she was that. ’ I figured it out two worlds ago. ” “Tell me. ” “Before you were my enemy, you were my best friend. ” Just as it had centuries ago, her heart ached with yearning. “You still are,” he told her. “And that is why I want you to come with me. ” He was nothing like Felix—or most other males she’d met. Thronos was a good man. He was her man. Hadn’t she wished for the opportunity to give him encouragement? She replayed the yawning loss she’d felt when she’d thought he would succumb. Now, she needed to say something, anything, but her thoughts were tangled. He must have sensed she was on the ropes. He inched closer to her. “When we were children, we made big plans in that meadow, expecting every happiness to follow. I want to look back one day and say that our plans went awry for only the first five hundred years, but not for the following millennia. Lanthe, if you come with me, I’ll want to wed you. This very day. ” Marry him today? The word cleave had another meaning. To bind. In a flash, she understood: on this night, she would either separate from Thronos or bind her life to his. If she went with him, she would be all-in, committed to him, to them. She would do her damnedest to make a future with Thronos. But could she abide Skye Hall? Could she bring her family around? And survive his? He released her and moved to the edge of the portal, the threshold of something more, and awaited her. She swallowed. All-in? With his eyes gone molten silver, Thronos Talos—a fierce, sensual demon—offered his hand, inviting Lanthe to her idea of hell, to become his bride. Like a fool in love . . . She took it.
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