DEMETRIUS--He's the hulking, brooding warrior even his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it's best to keep everyone at arm's length.
Isadora is missing. The words pound through his head like a frantic drumbeat. For her own protection, Demetrius did all he could to avoid the fragile princess, his soul mate. And now she's gone--kidnapped. To get her back, he'll have to go to the black place in his soul he's always shunned.
As daemons ravage the human realm and his loyalty to the Guardians is put to the ultimate test, Demetrius realizes that Isadora is stronger than anyone thought.
And finally letting her into his heart may be the only way to save them both.
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August 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Tempted by Naughton, Elisabeth
Temptation hung like a thick mist in the club, calling to the desperation seated deep inside him.
Demetrius swallowed back the shot of whiskey and slammed his glass on the table. Heavy bass pulsed around him, lights flickered over bare skin, strips of leather and dangling chains, and bodies ground against each other in time to the thumping music.
He couldn't remember where he was--LA, Houston, Atlanta?--but he didn't give a rat's ass. One human city was just like the next, and sleazy clubs like this that fed the deviants on the fringes of society were easy to find. Yeah, he was in the mood for pain tonight, and right now he didn't care if it was he or the brunette in the skimpy dominatrix getup across the dance floor who got to dole it out.
She shot him an I'd-hit-that look and smiled when he nodded her over. As she turned away from the two shirtless losers in dog collars she'd been talking to and headed his way, lights rippled over her cleavage, her long legs, her dark brown shoulder-length hair. A scar marred her upper lip and her makeup was way too heavy for his taste, but that was okay. He wasn't beautiful either. So long as she wasn't petite and pale and perfect, that was all he cared about.
She stopped at his booth in the shadows, gave him the once-over. He knew what she saw--a big-ass,
tattooed, scarred, and menacing biker dude dressed all in black. And obviously, from the gleam in her eye, she approved. But it was what she couldn't see that should have scared her shitless.
She braced both hands on the table, leaned forward so her breasts all but spilled out of her leather bustier. Three small triangles were tattooed just above her left breast. The Greek symbol delta repeated.
His gaze flicked up to her eyes, outlined in thick black. Her fake lashes curled almost all the way to her eyebrows. No, he was sure she wasn't Argolean, didn't possess any link to the ancient Greek heroes who'd been the first to settle his realm thousands of years ago. As an Argonaut, born of the guardian class, his sense of perception was strong. She was definitely a mere human.
That little bit of conscience dogging him pushed in, twisted through his gut.
"I'd ask you how it's hanging, stud, but"--she drew in a breath that seemed to give her pleasure--"I have a feeling I already know the answer: Well. Very, very well, by the looks of you."
Bind me, hurt me, and fuck me were written all over her heavily made-up face. And when she sent him that come-and-get-me look, what was left of his conscience slid to the wayside, just that fast.
He flipped cash onto the table and pushed to stand, refusing to think of the reason he was here, in this human club, desperate for the all-too-familiar pain that would make him forget. "Where to?"
"There's a dungeon room below."
Excitement flared in her eyes as she turned, giving him a nice view of her ass in the barely-there leather bodysuit. Not perfect, but it would do for tonight. "Follow me."
He made it four steps before he caught movement to his left. And two faces that shouldn't ever be in a place like this popped into his line of sight.
"Whoa." Gryphon, Demetrius's guardian brother in battle, stopped feet away, eyes wide as he took in the interior of the club. He pointed to his right. "Is that woman naked in that cage?"
"No way." Phineus moved into the light so he could get a better view of the cage hanging from the ceiling above the dance floor. "She can't be--holy crap, she is!"
Demetrius clenched his jaw. He didn't have time for this shit tonight. He was off duty, damn it. It was the first night in months he wasn't on patrol with the Argonauts, searching for the daemons Atalanta had unleashed from the Underworld because of her twisted need to control and annihilate. And the last thing he wanted to do was stand here with these two yahoos, ogling something he didn't want. He glanced toward the far side of the room. His dominatrix stood in ice-pick heels on steps to a hallway that disappeared around a corner. Her what-the-hell's-the-hold-up? look said he was running out of time.
"Dude," Gryphon said with a wide grin, eyes locked on the woman in the cage, now rubbing against the bars, "you've been holding out on us. This is where you go when you leave our asses behind in Argolea? I am so following you from now on out!"
Demetrius shot the blond Argonaut a withering glare, then looked back toward his dominatrix. She was already moving back into the crowd, searching for someone else.
No. His muscles coiled. He'd been sitting here for the last hour, scoping out the scene, and she was the only one who fit his requirements. She was the only one who in some way didn't remind him of--"...
Isadora's vanished. Like into thin air."
Demetrius whipped around at the sound of Phineus's voice and focused in on the dark-haired guardian. "What did you just say?"
"For shit's sake," Gryphon yelled over the pulsating music. "Didn't you hear a damn word we said?"
Demetrius glanced between the two Argonauts, who'd given up gawking and were now focused solely on him. Humans had taken notice of their conversation, but drawing attention was suddenly the least of his worries. As if his brain had just come back online, he realized Gryphon and Phineus should be in the royal temple. Right this minute. Witnessing the princess's binding ceremony. Not here in this seedy club with him.
"What do you mean, vanished?"
"Gone," Phineus said, snapping his fingers for effect. "Into thin air. No one knows where she went and Theron wants your ass back in Argolea, like now, to help find her. If the Council finds out she's missing..."
Demetrius's chest went cold as Phineus's words faded in his head. He thought of the Council of Elders, of their desire to see Isadora ousted as soon as her elderly father, the king, passed and she assumed the crown of their realm. It was no secret they didn't want her to rule. Then his mind shot to Atalanta and what the goddess would give to get her hands on Isadora. As a descendent of the Horae, the three goddesses of balance and justice, Isadora had powers yet untapped.
Wouldn't it just be like the princess to run off again? Except now...this wasn't about her anymore. This was about all of them. Didn't she realize she was screwed--that they were all screwed--if Atalanta got her claws on her?
Plan for tonight forgotten, he pushed by his fellow guardians and stalked to the door as his mood grew blacker and that dark mist he lived with every day of his damn life roiled and boiled inside him. Bodies parted as he passed, but he didn't need to look to see the fear in the eyes around him. Normally he'd enjoy scaring the shit out of a group of humans, but right now all that mattered was getting outside so he could open the portal and flash back to Argolea, then find that bloody princess before she screwed up everything for good. And when he did? Oh, when he found her--after he laid down the law--he was going to haul her skinny butt back to the castle and make sure she was exactly where she should be.
Bound. Forever. To any Argonaut who wasn't him.
"Demetrius! Dammit." Gryphon sighed at his back before he reached the exit. "What in Hades crawled up his ass and died?"
"I don't know," Phineus said. "I've been wondering that for over a hundred years. You ever figure it out, you let me know."