“You need to eat.” Atticus placed a plate of sliced honeydew melon, pineapple, and mango on the small table next to Danni’s lounge chair.
Danni sighed and looked up at him, lifting her hand over her eyes to shield them from the bright sunlight. “I know. I just haven’t been able to get much down.”
Atticus sat down on the chaise next to her and glanced across at Azrael, who occupied the chair of the other side of Danni. He wore a speculative expression as he studied her. Atticus could almost see the thoughts running through his brother’s mind. Was Danni’s illness progressing faster than they had detected?
She had spent the last couple of days barely able to do more than sit around the pool, occasionally taking a quick dip in the water to cool herself off. She napped often and ate little. Atticus had seen disease take its toll on countless humans. Her body’s responses were normal, under the circumstances. And if her illness was progressing faster than he’d anticipated, then his mission would be over all the more quickly. He narrowed his eyes and studied Danni, wondering why that thought bothered him so much?
Maybe he just dreaded the possibility of returning to Hell without her soul, should Azrael best him in their opposing missions. Or maybe, in spite of his insistence otherwise, he wasn’t really all that irritated by his brother’s presence. Truth be told, Atticus was enjoying his brother’s company, though he would never admit that to anyone, least of all Azrael.
Azrael had even relented and called Atticus by his preferred name in front of Danni, though he still called him by his given name when they were alone. It was a small concession, but one Atticus appreciated, all the same. His given name reminded him too much of times long past, when his purpose had been different.
Danni shifted in her chair, dragging Atticus’s thoughts back to her. He picked up the fork he’d brought and speared a piece of honeydew. “Just a bite, Danni. Please.”
Danni sighed heavily, but then she pushed herself higher up into the chair. “Okay, but only because you’re being so good to me.”
The words froze Atticus for a moment, before he extended his arm and placed the melon in her mouth. She tugged it off the fork and then licked her lips, catching the juice before it ran down her chin. Atticus’s field of vision seemed to shrink down so that the small, pink tip of her tongue was the only thing he could see. His chest seemed to constrict, as though a tight band encircled him and squeezed. She thought he was being good to her? His sole mission was to snatch her soul and ferry it to Hell, but she thought he was being good to her?
Danni leaned back against the lounge chair again and closed her eyes while she chewed the fruit. “Mmmm, this does taste good. If I promise to eat the rest, will you stop worrying so much?”
Abaddon set the fork down on the plate. His hand shook and he stared at it, appalled. What the hell was wrong with him? He was the Grim Reaper, for fuck’s sake. He should be encouraging his victim to starve and speed up the dying process. But here he was, hand-feeding her and encouraging her to eat.
He shot a glance at his brother, who stared back at him with narrowed eyes and a furrowed brow. Panic bolted through Atticus. Did his brother suspect Atticus was losing his touch? Did he think Atticus was going soft? And would Azrael use that to his advantage?
He had to pull himself together. Atticus stood up and walked to the edge of the pool. Without looking back at Danni and Azrael, he dove into the deep end of the swimming pool. The cool water enveloped him. He swam close to the bottom, not emerging until he reached the far side of the pool. As his head popped up above the surface, he wiped the water from his eyes and glanced back to Danni and Azrael. Even from a distance, he could feel Azrael’s calculating stare.
Atticus pulled himself out of the pool and turned toward the beach. Maybe a long walk would help him clear his head. He’d never spent this much time in such close proximity to one of his targets. Not since…
The realization struck him as hard as a lightning bolt. There was only one other target he had gotten close to in all of his existence. And that hadn’t turned out well at all, for either of them. The memories flooded back into his mind. He broke into a run, churning up the sand under his feet as he ran. Faster and faster he sprinted down the beach, the memories and shadows chasing him with every step.
He kept running. With rage and remorse he yelled at the heavens. He would not—could not—repeat his past mistakes. There would be Hell to pay if he did.
Abaddon squeezed his eyes shut. As he knelt there, the hard tile under his knees and the cool water flowing over his shoulders and down his back, he felt tears spill down his face. He knew he didn’t deserve to be loved so much. He had never done anything to earn his brother’s compassion and he could never do enough to earn Danni’s heart. Yet they gave him both.
The scent of strawberries filled the air again and he opened his eyes. Danni smiled and wove her fingers into his hair. He stared into her eyes as she performed the same cleansing ritual for him that he had done for her. As her hands moved with such gentleness across his body, it felt as though more than just the outward evidence of his time in Hell was being washed away. He felt clean, all the way through. When the water cascaded over his body, he knew it washed away more than just dirt and suds. It also washed away all of the pain, bitterness, and rebellion he had held in his heart for so long.
When Danni finished with him, she turned to Azrael and reached her hand out to him. Abaddon stood and moved to the side, while Azrael stripped out of his soot-stained jeans and then stepped into the shower. Danni repeated the cleansing process for Azrael, taking care to wash away all of the filth and black soot that clung to him.
Abaddon watched Danni’s face as she cleansed his brother. Her gaze roamed over Azrael, her pupils dilating and her nostrils flaring at times. His brother had been right. Danni could not resist Azrael’s body. But as he watched her face, Abaddon suspected there was more to it than that, even if she hadn’t realized it yet. He looked at his brother and studied his face. Azrael’s gaze was focused on Danni. Abaddon grinned. He recognized the expression in his brother’s eyes. It was the same look he knew he wore every time he looked at Danni. He wondered when Azrael and Danni would admit their feelings for each other.
As he watched her wash his brother and saw desire light up her eyes, Abaddon felt his own desire burn through him. His cock swelled and stood erect. He reached for it and stroked his hand down the hard shaft. The movement caught Danni’s attention and her gaze followed his hand. A smirk turned up her lips and she slid the tip of her tongue over her bottom lip. The small action sent a shudder through Abaddon and her smile broadened. He narrowed his eyes at her. The little devil knew exactly what she was doing to him and she was enjoying it.
She finished washing Azrael and then stood up on her tiptoes and placed a quick kiss on his lips. “I’ll finish with you in a few minutes.”
She turned to Abaddon. He felt as though his skin was going to burst into flames as her gaze wandered down his body and then settled on his throbbing cock. His hand was not enough to satisfy him. There was only one thing that could give him what he needed. And only one person who could give it to him. As though she could read his mind, she dropped to her knees on the floor of the shower.
She took his thick cock in her hand and ran her fingers over the tight skin. She rubbed the swollen head with her thumb, spreading the drop of pre-cum that had emerged. Her fingers teased his aching shaft. Abaddon groaned and leaned back against the cool tile wall. Her hand felt incredible as she rubbed and stroked him. He didn’t know how anything could feel better. But when she ran her tongue along the underside of his cock and then sucked the head into her mouth, he thought his world was going to come undone.
She sucked and licked, pulling moan after moan out of him. Her mouth and tongue drove him to near madness as the pressure inside him built and grew more intense. He didn’t want it to end. He wanted to feel her lips around him forever.
He wove his fingers into her hair and thrust into her mouth, his hips coming away from the hard tile behind him. Her teeth skimmed his shaft and drove him to near madness. She took every inch of him and he felt his head hit the back of her throat with each thrust. Still she sucked and teased, giving him no mercy.
He hurled toward the brink, his cock straining into her mouth. As the pressure built to an almost unbearable level, he felt slim fingers wrap around his tight balls and then squeeze. The pressure broke. His cum shot from him into Danni’s mouth and he yelled his release. She kept sucking, pulling everything he had to give from him. His fingers tightened in her hair and his cock twitched in her mouth as she drained him.
He fell back against the wall and stared down at her. She slid his cock out of her mouth and then looked up at him and licked her lips. The sight was enough to make his cock swell again.
She grinned up at him. “Greedy much? You’ll have to wait your next turn.”
She spun on her knees and grinned up at Azrael, who was staring down at her with the look of an angel who would give his wings to feel her lips on his cock. Just as she reached for him, a silver glow formed around the three of them and lit up the bathroom.
“Fuck.” He exchanged a look of dread with his brother.
Danni jumped to her feet, her eyes wide and alarm flashing across her face. “What? Not Hell again?”
The glow around them intensified to a blinding white as Abaddon and Azrael answered in unison. “Worse.”