The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld #12) - Gena Showalter Page 0,1

inhaled deeply...exhaled sharply. As a spirit made tangible, he had no need to breathe, but the once-familiar action pandered to his calm.

“Come on,” William said. “Where’s the brave piece of shit who stole and opened Pandora’s box? He’s the one I’m here to see.”

Brave? Sometimes. Piece of shit? Always. He and his friends ended up freeing the demons trapped inside the box. Zeus, king of the Greek gods, then punished them with a lifelong curse.

And so your body shall become the vessel of your own destruction.

Baden was possessed by Distrust.

Tainted and unworthy, the warriors were discharged from the royal army and booted to earth. As predicted, the demons soon destroyed them. Him most of all. More and more, his ability to trust eroded. He spent weeks...months plotting ways to murder those he should only succor.

One day, he reached the end of his tolerance. Them or me was the last thought to sweep through his mind as a human swung a sword at his head. He’d picked them—his family. But they hadn’t emerged unscathed. Grief had haunted them. And so had Distrust!

The moment Baden’s head fell from his body, the demon emerged, emancipated from his control. No longer was he able to check the worst of the fiend’s impulses. Invisible chains then dragged his spirit into a prison realm created for anyone tainted by the box, his only link to the land of the living a wall of smoke that revealed real-time happenings.

He had a front row seat to his friends’ spiral into a pit of agony and despair, unable to do anything but lament. The rest of his time was spent warring with Pandora, the realm’s only other occupant—a woman who detested him with every fiber of her being.

Then, only a few months ago, Cronus and Rhea, the former king and queen of the Titans, appeared in the realm. They were Zeus’s biggest rivals, and Baden’s number-one targets. How many times had the pair hurt his friends?

He’d taken great pleasure in his escape with Pandora, leaving the other two behind.

Bang, bang, bang. “Yo! Baden! The wait is ridiculous. I’m pretty sure I’m going gray.”

He jolted, pissed he’d gotten lost in his head.

“Fine. I guess we do this the hard way,” William called. “In three seconds, I kick in your door.”

Calm. No hacking. Baden yanked so hard the handle came off in his hand. Oops. “What do you want?”

Unlike the tornado he was, the black-haired, blue-eyed warrior leaned one shoulder against the frame, as gentle as a summer rain. He looked Baden up and down and grimaced. “Dressing for the job we want, not the job we have, I see.”

Strong male. Too strong. Threat.

As feared, the Get Out of Torture Free card burned to ash. No hacking! But...punching wasn’t hacking. It was pure bliss. Bone against bone. The intoxicating scent of blood would hit his senses, and the musical howl of someone else’s agony would fill his ears.

He pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth. Who am I?

“Go away,” he repeated.

William scanned the room. “Drinking all by your lonesome? Tsk-tsk. Is your heart missing the demon?”

A few times, he’d thought he...might. The arrival of his new companion had set him straight.

Now Distrust had a new host. A woman. Her name was—his brow furrowed. He couldn’t remember.

Whoever she was, she had supported Galen for centuries, helping him commit the most heinous of deeds. A few months ago, the foolish female had willingly accepted Distrust. In other words, she had willingly accepted unceasing paranoia. Who did that?

William sighed. “No need to respond. I can see the answer on your face. Don’t you know looking back pulls you back? Fine, fine. I’ll help you focus on the future. No need to beg.” He drew back his fist—and punched Baden in the nose. “You’re welcome.”

He recoiled from the impact, his nose snapped out of place. Though Baden produced no blood, his body simply a husk for his spirit, the taste of old pennies coated his tongue. Delicious. Practically dessert.

The beast raged, hungry for more.

Glaring at William, he righted the cartilage in his nose.

“Oh, no. I’ve provoked you. Whatever shall I do?” A grinning William rolled up his shirtsleeves. “I know. How about I give you more.”

Looking for a fight? He’s found it.

The beast...exploded. Every muscle in Baden’s body pumped full of adrenaline while his bones filled with molten lava. Somehow, he doubled in size, the top of his head brushing the ceiling.

“I heard Distrust caused your hair to catch fire,” William said. “Pity