, Book Six
She was back. He hadn’t imagined her after all.
Titus’s nerves hummed as he moved past doors and scanned offices on the second floor of the castle. The guardians had been dispatched to do a thorough, yet quiet search of the premises. With the Council milling around downstairs and all of Argolea in the streets outside, this was not the time to have a spy sent by the Prince of Darkness fucking around.
Shit, he had not seen that one coming. He pushed open a door, glanced around the empty meeting room and moved on. She worked for Zagreus? How had he missed that? He passed through a sitting area and into a small kitchen, also empty. Perching his hands on his hips, he turned a slow circle and took in the room.
Zagreus… It explained a lot though. Like why she was searching for Maelea, why she was asking questions about Prometheus, why she was able to block his ability to read her mind, why, even, Maelea had sensed some great power within her. Dark power, obviously. A frown turned his lips as he eyed the table and chairs in the middle of the kitchen. But it didn’t explain why he could touch her and not feel anything.
Movement outside the window over the sink caught his attention. He whipped that way just as something landed with a thud on the verandah.
A body pushed to full height, and his adrenaline surged. Fire red hair blew in the breeze, and eyes—sparkling, emerald green eyes—peered his way through the glass.
It was her. Natasa. Alive in front of him as if he’d conjured her.
Titus lurched into the sitting area and raced for the French door that led to the balcony. Chants from the crowd growing impatient on the other side of the castle walls filled the air. The fresh scents of sea and salt wafted around him. His pulse raced while he scanned the empty balcony.
Where the hell—?
A thud echoed up to his ears. Followed by a voice, shouting, “Hey? Where did you come from?”
He rushed to the railing and looked down. A gardener standing between rows of roses, holding pruning sheers in his hand, was looking after a woman—a redhead—already halfway across the garden. Heading straight for the trellises covered in purple, flowering vines that climbed the castle wall.
Holy Hades, who was this female?
“Stop her!” he hollered, already tossing his legs over the railing and dropping to the ground. Normally, since they were in Argolea, he could flash wherever the hell he needed to go. But he still wasn’t back to one-hundred percent after his recent injuries. And flashing was one of those things you needed to be in tip-top form to make work.
She slowed when she reached a large oak, turned and looked back. And as their eyes met, he saw fire in her gaze. Fire and determination and a come-and-get-me challenge no man could resist.
“Signal the guards,” he yelled at the gardener. “And alert the queen.”
He didn’t have time to contact Theron and the others. If he let this female out of his sight, he had a strong hunch he’d never see her again.
And aside from the fact she was working for the enemy, had infiltrated their realm and had somehow gotten past the castle’s security, something in his gut told him he had to see her again. Needed to…for reasons even he didn’t totally understand.
She was already at the top of the trellis—at least thirty feet up in the air—by the time he reached the base, moving as smoothly as a seasoned cat burglar. After pulling herself up to the wall walk, she turned and looked down. Grasping the trellis in his hands, he paused his hasty climb. The wind blew silky hair back from her face, and sunlight highlighted her creamy features. But it was the victory he saw flash in her eyes that did him in. A victory that turned one side of her lips up in the sexiest smile and caused his heart to skip a beat with both awe and arousal.
A dog barked. Voices echoed at his back. She jerked her head up to look back toward the castle, and her smile faded. Those eyes grew hard and focused. Before he could reach her, she winked down at him, then took off at a run across the castle wall.
“Skata…” Titus pushed his muscles into gear and climbed faster. He couldn’t lose her now. Why the hell had he yelled at her from the balcony? He shouldn’t have let her know he was coming. Just as he reached the top, a crack echoed, bringing every limb to a stand still.
He slapped the palm of his left hand against the wall walk and managed to hurl his right forearm over the edge just as the trellis gave way beneath his feet. Wood splintered and cracked. The entire section pulled away from the wall and crashed to the ground.
Sweat slicked his skin. Muscles in his arms burned as he held his weight on the edge of the wall. He may be part hero, but he didn’t have Theron’s super-human strength. And though he knew if he fell it wouldn’t likely kill him, it would definitely shatter his legs, sidelining him for he-didn’t-know-how-long. More time in a fucking hospital bed was not his idea of a good time.
A scream echoed. From his peripheral vision, he saw the eagle, diving straight for him. Fucktastic. Just what he needed. As if he weren’t in enough shit already?
He ground his teeth, grunted and tried to pull himself up. The eagle swooped low, screeched with a shrill that echoed off the inside of his skull, almost nailed him in the head then took off for the sky at the last second. Titus’s fingers slipped. The weight of his body pulled on his arms. His adrenaline surged all over again.
And then something soft brushed against his hand. He looked that way only to discover it was the end of a rope.
His gaze shifted up and to the right. She—Natasa—was tying off the other end of the rope to the parapet. When she finished with the knot, she glanced his way, winked again, then took off at a run.
Bloody Hell… He had to know who she really was. It wasn’t even a question anymore. He needed to know what it was about her that left him so…obsessed. Needed that knowledge more than he needed air to breathe.
He grasped the rope and pulled himself up. When he finally threw his leg over the ledge, he was breathing heavy and cursing the injury from a week ago that had left him weaker than he should be.
He pushed up to his knees. Dragged air into his lungs. And looked down the walk in the direction Natasa had run. She stood at the corner where two walls intersected, another rope in her hand, looking back at him as if…checking to make sure he’d made it.
Slowly, one side of her kiss-me lips curled. And his blood flowed fast and hot as he watched. Only this time not from fear of falling to his death, but from excitement. Pure, unadulterated, sexual excitement.
No way he was done with her. Not by a long shot. No matter what Theron and the others said. Before this was over, she was going to be his.