The Darkest Touch

By: Gena Showalter

She grinned, and knew anyone looking on would think she was pure evil. They would be correct.

Poor Torin.

She’d made sure he would do anything to remain behind, if only to end her to save his friends from her crazy. Which meant he was out there somewhere, waiting.


Can’t get excited. This was business.

Bloody, bloody business.

An idea formed. Soon, Hades would send his minions after her. Every few weeks, they arrived to check on her and ensure she remained a prisoner. Watching them munch on Torin could be fun. He would experience writhing agony, and they would sicken. Then she could remove each of their heads.

The ideal end to so many of her enemies. It’s decided.

Okay. There was no help for it. I’m excited.


DUDE. THE RED QUEEN, Torin thought, incredulous. No wonder the immortals in the skies had merely whispered about her. Insane? Cruel? Hell, yeah. They’d probably assumed saying her name aloud would have a Beetlejuice effect and actually summon her.

Now, at least, he understood the title. With such power, she could kill entire armies in a snap and then some. And this is the female who threatened my friends. My only family.

Seriously. Duuude.

The demon shuddered.

Hidden by gnarled tree limbs that were covered with thorns and brittle leaves that snapped at him with actual teeth, Torin watched Keeley from a distance, like a creeper, completely dumbfounded by her. She’d stood in place as hunks of the dungeon rained around her, and not a single injury had she sustained. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. Her arm was a wreck. But still. She’d brought the prison tumbling down, just as she’d claimed, and she hadn’t seemed to lift a finger to do it.

What else could she do?

Something stirred within him. The same fierceness he used to feel on the battlefield. The very sensation he’d once lived for—and had never thought to have again.

He smiled.

Idiot! This was one battle he may not be able to win.

Could anyone? Had he not freed the other prisoners on his way out, every single one of them would have died today. Would she have cared?

Definitely not.

Speaking of the of the males had been familiar to him. Emaciated, but familiar, rousing a sense of anger inside him. Torin had been unable to place him—or later, to find him.

Not that it mattered anymore. He had a bigger threat on his plate. In more ways than one.

He’d lost track of the number of times he’d almost gone back for Keeley. Not to hurt her or yell at her as he should have wanted, but simply to see her again, to tease her. To beg for her forgiveness. To prove she wasn’t as heart-stoppingly gorgeous as he remembered. To end the stupid tugging, an invisible cord constantly urging him closer. To with her.

How stupid was that?

I have to kill her.

A pang of remorse ripped through his chest as he pictured the powerful, courageous beauty dead in a grave.

Damn it! He shouldn’t feel conflicted about her fate. And he shouldn’t have to remind himself of her threat against his family.

Time for a little negative reinforcement. Torin circled his fingers around the thick tree branch at his side, granting the foliage permission to feast on him.

Razor-sharp teeth grazed his skin, and blood dripped from his hand. The leaves erupted into a feeding frenzy like piranha, leaving nothing but bone. Hurt like hell as he pulled his arm away. He didn’t have to worry about the plant spreading the illness—it would die within the hour.

As he healed, he studied Keeley more intently. Two things became uncomfortably clear. The negative reinforcement hadn’t helped, the desire to slay her remaining curiously absent. And a desire to throw her down in a test of strength grew. A test of strength—that was all.

Her eyes were wide and sensuously uptilted as if forever beckoning the men around her to bed. Strip me, they said. Do anything you want to me.

Though her hair was caked with dirt and tangled, the strands glinted brilliant cobalt-blue in the muted sunlight. Her lips were red, erotically plump, the kind women were willing to pay a fortune to have...and men were willing to pay a fortune to have all over them. Her skin was flawless, as pure as ice, and also tinted blue.

Extraordinary. A living, breathing Sugar Plum Fairy, Dungeon Edition.

Cue the porno soundtrack.

He groaned. Not this. Anything but this.

Centuries ago, Torin had spent the bulk of his time screwing every woman he met—in his mind. And he’d been good. A god among men. Nothing like the too-rough soldier who’d been unable to seal the deal. He’d taken his lovers against walls, bent over coffee tables and on the ground as wild as an animal, and they’d loved it.

My gateway drug, opening doors I will never be able to enter, taunting me with what I can never have.

Keeley lifted her arm and stretched out her index finger. Lightning split the sky, striking the tip. She wasn’t felled and never even wavered on her feet. But she did smile.

What the hell was she?

Disease banged against Torin’s head, reckless in a bid to get away from the girl.

For once, Torin agreed with the demon. Warring with Keeley would not be a quick grab and stab as he’d expected. It would take time. Time he didn’t have. Cameo and Viola weren’t going to find themselves. And let’s not forget the need to hunt and destroy Pandora’s box. It was the only thing in this world or any other capable of killing him and all his friends in a single swoop.

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