The Guardian:Dark-Hunter Series #22

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon


“Was hell good for you?”

Seth looked up from beneath the strands of his blood-soaked auburn hair, to snarl at the sound of a voice he hadn’t heard in centuries.


Primal god.

Lord of all things dark and deadly.

Rank bastard.

He would have responded to the stupid question, but his mouth had been bolted shut by the demons who’d been torturing him for the last …

Ah hell, who could count that high? And why would anyone want to when every single heartbeat drove home a pain so foul he no longer remembered living without it? Indeed, over the centuries, pain had become its own source of pleasure.

Yeah, I’m even more fucked up than Noir.

With the bolt in place, he hadn’t been able to speak since he’d been thrown in here. Not that he would. He’d never give any of them the satisfaction of hearing him beg or cry out. Only one person had ever made him do that and, even after a millennium, his adoptive father’s mocking condemnation still echoed in his ears.

Screw them. He wasn’t a child now, and he’d die before he ever humiliated himself again by asking for something he knew he’d never receive.

But he would have insulted Noir if he’d been able to. As it was, all he could do was glare his hatred at the ancient being and wish he possessed his full powers so that he could rain down utter misery on all of them.

Almost seven feet in height, Noir made the demons around them tremble in fear. His immaculate black suit and crisp white shirt looked out of place in the cold dark room—a room with walls that were splattered and stained with Seth’s blood.

Noir reached up and patted him on the cheek like he was a dutiful puppy. “Mmm. I have to say hell doesn’t appear to agree with you. I’ve seen you look at least a little better than this sorry state.”

“Fuck you,” Seth said, but his words were indistinguishable. The bolt kept him from moving his mouth or tongue. All it did was shoot an excruciating jolt of pain through him.

Like he needed that.

Noir arched his black brow. “Thank you? I can’t imagine why you’d be thanking me for this misery. You are a sick bastard, aren’t you?”

Seth ground his teeth. The playful light in Noir’s black eyes told him that the pig only said it to piss him off.

It worked. Not that Noir had to make the effort. The mere fact that … Seth couldn’t think of an insult bad enough. That Noir lived was enough to grate his last nerve.

Noir glanced around at the others. “Leave us.”

Could that tone be any more commanding?

Oh yeah, wait. We were talking about Noir. Of course it could.

And the ancient god didn’t have to say it twice. The demons immediately vanished, terrified that Noir’s wrath would deliver to them the same “hospitality” he’d shown Seth. After all, Seth had once been Noir’s most beloved pet—one he’d lavished with gifts in between the abuse.

The dark god had never been able to stand the demons who served him.

Hell, I’d run, too, if I could.

Seth envied them that freedom as his naked body hung lankly from the ceiling, with his hands shackled over his head. He’d been in this position for so long that his wrist bones protruded through the open cuts the manacles had worn through his flesh.

He was sure it had to hurt, but that pain blended in nicely with all the others so that he couldn’t tell where one ache began and another throb ended. Who knew torture could have benefits?

Once they were alone, Noir returned to stand in front of him with a snarl that was as impressive as it was cold. “I have a proposition for you. Are you interested?”

Not even a little. He’d had his fill of bargains. No one could ever be trusted to hold up their end of them. Let Noir go roast his nuts in a fiery hellhole somewhere.

The gods knew, in this place, Noir wouldn’t have far to go to find one.

Seth looked away.

Noir tsked. “You know you have no choice except to obey me, slave. I own you.”

And that ate on him even more than the flesh-devouring vermin the demons had salted his wounds with. Damn you all. His own family had sold him to Noir when he’d been nothing more than a child. It was something no one ever allowed him to forget.

As if he could.

Noir buried his hand in Seth’s hair and yanked his head back. That action caused the bolt to dig deeper into his throat and tongue.

The sudden pain of it made his eyes water in protest as his old wounds were reopened and blood poured into his mouth.

Maybe this time I’ll drown from it. But he knew the sad truth. He was immortal. Death would never save him from this misery, any more than it had spared him from the rest of his violent past.

His only way out was Noir’s ever missing mercy.