Sam watched as Dev went over the room making sure nothing would harm her even though Nick had assured them it was safe—neither of them trusted him.
The care Dev took as he reviewed it all was adorable and it reminded her so much of the image she’d seen of him protecting his sister when they were young. He was so protective and sweet….
Worst of all was the compunction she had to brush his hair back from the nape of his neck and nibble his skin until he made that little growl in the back of his throat that sent shivers over her. She wanted to walk into his arms and just have him hold her until everything else vanished.
Love them. Leave them. That was the Code she’d lived by. As an Amazon and a Dark-Hunter. In her ancient world, men had often been seen as an impediment to the Amazon social structure. Amazons would go, have sex, and then never tell the men they’d fathered children unless they had to. They raised the daughters independently and brought them into the Amazon nation. Sons would be given to their father or his family.
It was rare for an Amazon to marry. Her sister had tried to use that to undermine her authority, but the Amazon code was actually more versatile than that. The point of their nation was for women to have the power to make their own choices about their lives and their happiness.
In an ancient world were women had less autonomy than male slaves, it was up to the woman to determine if she wanted domesticity or not and the rest of them had vowed to support their sister in what ever decision she made. Yes, most chose to live without a man. But not all. Sam wasn’t the first to marry and she hadn’t been the last.
For that matter, not all Amazons gave up their male children. Their world had been about respect and support. It was why she’d loved her nation so much.
As a Dark-Hunter, she’d had the same freedoms. Much like her people, they supported each other. Very rarely was a male Dark-Hunter chauvinistic—Ash kicked that out of them during training. The most important thing about being a Dark-Hunter was their vow to protect humans.
Be a part of the world, but not in it.
Let no one know who or what you are.
Take care of carnal needs when you have to so that you can stay focused, but never take a lover or a significant other. They will distract you and weaken you. Most of all, they become a target to be used against you.
Ash’s rules. They all knew them and as she looked at Dev, she wished she’d listened.
Because right now, she didn’t want to leave. She wanted to snuggle. Most of all, she wanted to wrap her body around his and make love to him until neither of them could walk straight.
But she had to get him out of harm’s way before it was too late.
“Why don’t you head back to Sanctuary?”
He looked at her with a fierce scowl. “Why?”
Because I don’t want to see you hurt. It would destroy me. “I was just thinking they might need you there. The Daimons might come back for retaliation against your family.”
Grinning, he scoffed at her dire tone. “I think my family can handle it.”
“I don’t know. Aren’t Were-Hunters supposed to be extra special nubby treats for them?”
“When they can get us, yeah. But the problem is we have the same powers they do so getting one of us isn’t easy. We bite back and we have clans who tend to attack en masse whenever they dare attack one of us. As a rule, they leave us alone.” He moved to the window to make sure their was no smidgeon of daylight escaping.
He would have to make this difficult.
Don’t make me hurt you, Dev. The last thing she wanted was to stomp on the one person who had finally made her feel alive again. It took every part of her sanity not to walk into his arms and hold him.
Her mind flashed to the sight of Ioel going down. The sound of him calling out to her to run.
I can’t let you die, Dev.
But she didn’t want to live without him.
“I really wish you’d go home.”
He turned sharply and the look of hurt on his face cut her soul deep. Maybe that was her punishment for having made her bargain with Artemis. Hate had brought her back, and now she found something more sustaining than that, and couldn’t have it because she’d been reborn from that hatred.
The gods were twisted that way.
Let him go.
“What are you saying, Sam?”
“I’m saying what I’m saying. I want you to go home now.” When he started to argue, she knew she had to come up with something stronger to get him out of the line of fire. Something that would offend him and make him go even though neither of them wanted that.
Gods help me….
She choked on the words that stung her throat and her heart, but forced herself to say it. For his sake. “Look, I’m not used to having people hang all over me and it’s starting to get on my nerves. I need my space.”
The look on his face shredded her and it almost succeeded in making her cry, but she was stronger than that. She was an Amazon and they didn’t weep, no matter the pain.
Dev clenched his teeth over her unexpected verbal bitch-slap. It left him reeling. What the hell was her problem? What had he done other than risk his life to take care of her?
He cramped her space? Oh yeah, that pissed him off to a level he hadn’t hit in awhile.
“I didn’t realize I was getting on your nerves. Forgive me for trying to help.” He walked over to her and had to bite back a resounding set down. But he wouldn’t be that way.
Not with her. He refused to kick her with the same gut punch she’d just delivered to him.
“Fine.” He took a step away from her. “I’m not one to stay where I’m not wanted. Have a nice life. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime.”
Sam didn’t move until he’d vanished. Then the sudden absence of his presence tore through her. It was like someone had ripped out her heart and left her vacant. The room seemed to shrink down to nothing and yet at the same time it left a hole in her life so large, it swallowed her whole.
Her eyes watered as tears gathered in her throat to choke her. “I’m so sorry, Dev.” But he’d never hear that apology. Not now. Not after she’d effectively cut him off at his kneecaps and left his ego throbbing.
She tried to tell herself that it was for the best. That she was doing this to save him.
None of that mattered to her heart. It ached and it begged her to call him back. “I can’t.” He was gone and she had to leave it that way.
Even if it killed her.
Thorn didn’t move as he felt a powerful presence behind him. Normally he’d be blasting anyone who dared to intrude on his sanctum.
But to do that to Savitar would be tantamount to suicide.
Well, not really.
It would, however, result in one seriously bloody battle that, while it would alleviate his boredom for a bit, would ruin his favorite suit.
“What could have possibly gotten you off the beach and brought you to my dark domain?” He turned his head to see Savitar standing behind him.
Dressed in white cargo pants and an open Hawaiian shirt, Savitar looked like any surfer right off the beach. Right down to his Birkenstock sandals, dark wind tossed hair, and opaque sunglasses.
Thorn arched a brow as he saw Shara frozen mid movement behind Savitar.
“You’re tampering with my Were-Hunters again. You know how I feel about that.”
Thorn scoffed at the ire in his tone. “Didn’t realize you owned them. Not sure they’ve realized it either.”
Savitar gave him a droll stare as he moved forward to stand in front of him. “You’re lucky I didn’t fight you when you grabbed Fang without my permission, but Dev…I want you to stay away from him.”
“Why? This town not big enough for the two of us?”
A muscle ticced in Savitar’s jaw. “Don’t push me, Thorn. Don’t forget that I know why you did what you did for Dev and Sam. Unlike them, I know you’re not the asshole you pretend to be.”
“There you’d be wrong, beach bum. I assure you. Every day I live is a study in how not to give in to the powers that beckon me…like you. We’re creatures of destruction.”
“Then you should remember that. Leave Dev alone.”
“And I repeat…why?”
Savitar gave an evil laugh.