Fire and IceBy: Sherrilyn Kenyon
The League_ Nemisis Rising 04
Adron Quiakides had never been the type of man one approached recklessly.
Not if one wanted to live, anyway.
And tonight, while he sat alone in a back booth of The Golden Crona nursing a bottle of expensive Grenna alcohol, the last thing he wanted was for anyone to disturb him.
His pleasures in life were minimal, and consuming buckets full of the yellow-orange liquid gave him the solace his battered soul craved.
Because tonight, more than ever before, his memories hurt.
This very hour marked the fifth anniversary of the night he had made the decision he would spend the rest of his life paying for.
Adron gripped the bottle tight in his right hand, unable to believe it’d been that long since he’d last walked without a pronounced limp. Moved without pain. Spoken without his throat aching from the effort of it.
Five years since he’d experienced any comfort or peace whatsoever.
He’d lain in bed for hours trying to sleep. Trying to forget, and finally he’d realized the only way to silence his demons was to drown them out.
And nothing worked better than Grenna.
Tipping the large bottle to his lips, he let the fire pour down his throat.
“Hey, baby,” an attractive red head said as she sauntered over to him and propped a thin hip against his table. “You want some company?”
“I have company,” he said, his raspy voice grating on his ears. “Me, myself and I.”
She raked a hungry look over his body, then leaned across the table to show him her ample breasts. “Well, there’s enough of me to make all three of you happy.”
There had been a time, once, when he wouldn’t have hesitated to take her up on that offer.
But then life was nothing if not ever-changing, and usually it altered on the hairpin of a second.
She licked her lips. “C’mon, handsome, buy me a drink.”
Adron glared at her. She wasn’t the first woman to proposition him tonight. And in truth it mystified him that any woman would bother given the vicious scar on his face. But then, the women in The Golden Crona weren’t all that discriminating, especially not when they sensed money.
“Sorry,” he said coldly. “None of us are interested.”
She sighed dramatically. “Well, if any of you change your minds, you let me know.” With one last wistful look at him, she headed back into the human and alien crowd that drifted through the packed bar.
Adron shifted uncomfortably in his seat as a bone-deep pain shot through his left leg. Clenching his teeth, he growled low in his throat.
One would think the amount of pain-killers he lived on when combined with the alcohol would squelch any amount of ache. But it barely numbed his physical torment.
And it did nothing for the burning agony in his heart.
“Damn it to hell,” he snarled under his breath, then he threw his head back and finished off his drink.
He grabbed a passing green-fleshed waitress and ordered two more bottles.
As he waited for her to return, he saw another woman headed his way. The fierce glare he narrowed on her, sent her scurrying away.
He was through playing around. Tonight he intended to get fully flagged and he pitied the next fool stupid enough to approach him. Unless they came bearing more alcohol.
Livia typpa Vista had lived the whole of her life in protective custody. More hostage than princess, she’d long grown weary of everyone’s dictates for her behavior, and at age twenty-six, she’d had enough.
She was not a child.
And she was not going to marry Clypper Thoran in two weeks. Not even if he were the last male in the universe!
“You will do as you are told.”
She winced at her father’s imperious command. High Eminence he might be, but she, not her older brother, had inherited his stubbornness. No matter the cost, she refused to marry a Territorial Governor sixteen years her father’s senior.
Since Clypper had demanded a virgin for his bride, she knew a way to thwart them both.
After tonight, she would be a virgin no more.
Tomorrow, her father would kill her for it. But better to die than to be married to a cruel, goat-faced ancient who groped her with cold hands every time he got near her.
“The Golden Crona.”
As the cold rain poured over her, Livia stared at the sign above her head. Her maid, Krista, had told her about the club. Inside it held all manner of heroes and villains, and though she would rather surrender her virginity to a hero, she honestly didn’t care. So long as he was passably attractive and gentle, he would be good enough for the night.
Gathering her courage, Livia opened the door and stopped dead in her tracks.
Never had she seen anything like it. A sea of aliens and humans danced and bobbed through the smoky bar that smelled of sweat from many species, and of cheap alcohol. The obnoxious music was so loud, it made her ears throb.
A big, orange reptilian male gave her a frown as she hesitated in the doorway.
“In or out,” he snarled.
She took a deep breath to fortify her courage. That, and she mentally conjured an image of Clypper’s fat jowls and beady, lust-filled eyes.