It was the same thrum she felt with Gabriel, after she'd been claimed as his mate.
Would it be as strong as hers had been to Gabriel, where she'd ached for him to touch her, no matter how little sense it made?
It was harder to resist him than it was Gabriel, which made her want to weep.
Was what she felt for Gabriel nothing more than destiny and Immortal laws she knew nothing about?
Her eyes flew up in shock that he knew about her plan to get Gabriel back.
She swallowed hard, willing herself to remember that she was meant for Gabriel, even if it was Darkyn's name on her back.
Gabriel gave her space.
If her bond to him was like hers to Gabriel, he'd be able to find her no matter what.
She'd challenged Gabriel's new mate to win him over in one week, or one of them lost their souls.
Gabriel's intense hatred was born of intense love and pain, and he'd clearly never made up his mind about her in the time they were together.
In a week, Deidre would be dead or back with Gabriel.
His eyes were blacker than Gabriel's, and his plain features deceptive.
She wanted to win, so she could return to Gabriel.
He'd said she had a chance not only to leave, but also to help save Gabriel's life, if she did exactly as Darkyn said.
His nearness rattled her senses in a way that reminded her of how she felt around Gabriel.
Gabriel's body was built for power; Darkyn's was crafted for agility.
What would it be like to run her hands over Darkyn's lean frame the way she had Gabriel's, to feel his sharp teeth nip the delicate skin of her inner thighs and breasts?
This was too similar to what she physically felt towards Gabriel to be anything other than the Immortal bond that branded Darkyn's name across her shoulders.
You were never meant to belong to Gabriel.
Gabriel cannot kill his own mate.
She'd walked away from Gabriel, because he all-but-pushed her away.
Unlike Gabriel, who was gentle, teasing, Darkyn was demanding.
The dread and guilt at the pit of her stomach were countered by the confusion of knowing that she'd fallen into the grip of the Immortal laws first with Gabriel then with Darkyn.
Gabriel had been, and she was furious at herself for not taking him more seriously and for choosing to accept Darkyn's deal instead of taking a chance with Gabriel.
If Gabriel had killed her while trying to save her, he'd kill the soul in her head, too, the one that damned Deidre to Hell.
Do you really think you'll become Gabriel's mate? he started, ignoring her.
Even Gabriel has, Darkyn said.
His words struck her as true; they were the same doubts she'd had about Gabriel since she met him.
I wonder what your Gabriel will think when he finds out.
You already know the Immortal mating is what made you feel that way towards Gabriel.
I'm Gabriel's, she retorted.
I also foresee Gabriel refusing to kill her.
You will never have a chance with Gabriel, even when you win your deal.
Gabriel's biggest mistake was not forcing you to accept your new world from the start.
They were the same she'd said to Gabriel on the beach, the night they met.
He stripped her deity powers, said she had to earn Gabriel the same way you did.
Her first thought was that he was sending her to Death as a means of torturing her or at least, nailing home the point that he had won this round with Gabriel.
One Gabriel doesn't know and probably shouldn't for another few days.
She wanted to ask after Gabriel but didn't.
"Gabriel doesn't know," he guessed and sat back.
I gave her a week to make Gabriel fall in love with her, or I get her soul.
I can't go back to Gabriel, even if I do win.
The bond I shared with Gabriel.
Gabriel and I didn't get that far.
I was terrified of Gabriel, knowing he was Death.
She wanted to think that Gabriel wouldn't turn his back on her so quickly.
The idea that Gabriel's people were there brought confusion.
Her instincts were at full alarm, but she didn't understand what she had to fear from Gabriel's death dealers.
Unless more than Harmony had betrayed Gabriel.
So they weren't there on Gabriel's behalf but on Harmony's.
Deidre had no bad interactions with the death dealer, but she suspected anyone who betrayed Gabriel wouldn't be interested in helping her.
Gabriel was speechless for a long moment.
Gabriel's eyes were on her.
First the death dealers attacking her, now Gabriel.
Darkyn had tensed at Gabriel's' movement.
That's it, Gabriel said.
She nodded at Gabriel.
Gabriel asked in a hushed voice.
Gabriel stretched towards her slowly.
Darkyn's eyes were on Gabriel.
You weren't about to take a chance that you lose her, Gabriel said, sounding baffled.
Gabriel turned her to face him again.
"Of course not," Gabriel snapped.
Which means this could be your doing, Gabriel pointed out.
Gabriel faced the demon lord.
"This sounds like a favor," Gabriel said, frowning.
"By letting them attack you, Harmony made a personal affront to the Dark One," Gabriel explained.
"Even I won't go to bat for him," Gabriel said.
"For once, I agree with Darkyn," Gabriel said.
Gabriel asked, looking at her once more.
Deidre twisted her head to see Gabriel.
"She did what she did because she loves you, Gabriel," Deidre said.
She moved away from Darkyn to stand in front of Gabriel, searching his gaze.
Gabriel shook his head.
But I accept that, Gabriel.
Gabriel made her heart flutter; Darkyn made it fly.
"We're done here," the Dark One said to Gabriel.
Gabriel was still for a moment.
… feelings for Gabriel.
Why did you make me face Gabriel today?
Seeing Gabriel was painful.
In doing so, she drove Gabriel away.
She wanted Gabriel to be happy but couldn't bear to see it, not when her own world was still so new and frightening.
She was never meant to outlive meeting Gabriel.
A vision of the beach where she met Gabriel told her who it was.
Darkyn didn't restrict her movement or who she saw, but the idea of seeing Gabriel again so soon after their meeting yesterday disturbed her.
Gabriel awaited her on the beach near where they'd first sat together two weeks before.
"Hi, Gabriel," she called softly.
After a moment, Gabriel laughed.
Gabriel kept his eyes on the ocean.
"He told me it was over," Gabriel said, gaze intent.
"I'm sorry, Deidre," Gabriel whispered.
I loved you, too, Gabriel.
Letting go of Gabriel was much harder than accepting her new mate.
Gabriel glanced at her.
Gabriel had no way of knowing that Darkyn was in and out of her mind.
"Oh, god, Gabriel," she whispered, stricken.
Send someone to grab Gabriel's soul?
"Just get me through Hell," Gabriel said.
"Gabriel …" She rose and paced, her feet sinking into the soft sand.
I'll try to help you, Gabriel.
I can't talk about it with you, Gabriel.
No need to be jealous, Gabriel said, bristling.
Darkyn's arm slid around her when the portal closed behind Gabriel.
No part of her wanted to reveal what Gabriel told her or that she meant it when she said she would find a way to help him.
It was impossible to help Gabriel without Darkyn finding out.
You're not going after Gabriel.
First the videos then the confrontation with Gabriel, now this.
She was torn between anger and pity for Gabriel's mate right now.
If you were alive, I wanted to see if you had any … advice about how to deal with Gabriel.
I'm glad you told Gabriel the truth.
Darkyn's approach to the mating bond was much different than Gabriel's.
Gabriel gave me space and a choice.
Her throat tightened at the memory of the night she met Gabriel.
What she started to feel for Gabriel had been real; what she felt for Darkyn was real.
"I want to see Gabriel happy," Deidre replied honestly.
I'm learning that with Gabriel.
She was the last to lose hope, and it was being forced to see how out of place she was in Gabriel's equation that finally broke her resolve.
She'd felt that level of desperation before and didn't wish it upon the woman meant to be with Gabriel.
You made up your mind to deal with me, even if Gabriel was not part of your future.
Gabriel's mate was struggling to sit up.
I didn't betray Gabriel to be stuck in the human world, Harmony said.
"Darkyn made a deal with Gabriel for your soul, Harmony," she said.
Deidre took it, and they shook, the deal sealed with the magic of Gabriel.
No matter what happened from here on out, neither Darkyn nor Gabriel would ever let them live after this.
As noble as Gabriel was, he wouldn't hesitate to turn over anyone who hurt his mate to Darkyn.
Gabriel had to fix this.
Gabriel was struggling with his domain.
It was the Deidre, the deity who ruled over Death's domain before turning it over to Gabriel.
Heading home to my Gabriel.
The immortal mating script clearly read, Gabriel.
How she won over Gabriel.
"She used my magic to seal your deal, just as you used Gabriel's to seal yours," he said with a slow smile.
He circled the small, blonde woman and stopped behind her, gaze on Gabriel's name, which was written across her back, along with the Immortal mating script.
All she had to do was practice for a day or two and then find Gabriel.
But the day she met Gabriel, human-Deidre made an omelet.
She struggled to recall what her real mother looked like or the day she became Death or even the day she met Gabriel.
"Gabriel wants one of us with you at all times," Cora said.
She wanted to see Gabriel; it was the reason she'd done everything she'd done.
To win Gabriel, Deidre planned on lying to him, convincing him she was human-Deidre.
Wynn said to tell Gabriel the truth.
Telling him that she'd mated off human-Deidre to the Dark One would make Gabriel hate her.
"Gabriel will kill you if you touch me," she said quietly.
Soft voices drew her attention to the doorway, where she was able to hear but not see Cora behind the massive frame of Gabriel.
Her Gabriel, who spent his life a part of the shadows, radiated the quiet power of a deity that reached her from across the room.
If a demon nowhere near his size was able to hurt her, what could Gabriel do, if he was upset at her for any reason?
Deidre's heart flip-flopped at Gabriel's husky baritone.
Deidre pushed herself up carefully, unable to take her eyes off of Gabriel.
The Gabriel she remembered would've dropped it and left.
This Gabriel wasn't going anywhere.
Her greatest warrior, Gabriel had experienced his fair share of battle wounds.
It wasn't coming out the way she practiced it, maybe because Gabriel was sitting close enough that she wanted to lean against him instead of the bed and place his large hands on the parts of her body hidden by clothes.
"You wouldn't …" Gabriel shifted towards her.
Gabriel placed a large hand on her back.
Neither she nor human-Deidre thought to involve Gabriel in their plans.
They were more alike than Deidre realized; they both sought out Darkyn for quiet deals they hoped would result in ending up with Gabriel.
"Gabriel, wait!" she called.
Gabriel had held her on the beach.
Her Gabriel was gone.
The overload of emotions, the inability to read Gabriel's mind to find out what he thought, so she knew what to say or do.
Gabriel didn't trust her.
Gabriel was still reeling from the sudden, inexplicable changes in his mate and the admittance by Deidre that she had made a deal with Darkyn.
Gabriel hacked at the demon before him then straightened.
"All good," Landon, Gabriel's second-in-command, told him.
"Count and collect," Gabriel ordered.
Gabriel moved through the meat locker, unaffected by the cold after the half hour battle.
Gabriel's attention was caught on a faint green glow on a table in the middle of the stacks of dead bodies.
"Darkyn's after someone in particular," Gabriel said.
It was a new one, recently made by the Ancient Immortal that Gabriel hired to help, indicating another of his dealers had defected.
Gabriel drained the bowl of water and placed the souls in his pocket.
His silver gaze was wary and his muscular frame only slightly smaller than Gabriel's.
Gabriel's thoughts drifted to Deidre.
The woman Gabriel touched today wasn't the one he touched last night.
Gabriel hadn't wanted to believe her story of Darkyn combining the two Deidres into one, but it certainly seemed possible.
Gabriel asked, focusing once again on his surroundings.
At the half-demon's frustration, Gabriel glanced at him.
Gabriel understood why the old standard was gone.
The thought of the Dark One reminded Gabriel that he lost three death-dealers to him in the course of a week, not to mention the deal Deidre made.
"If it makes you feel better, I've got another traitor," Gabriel said in cold anger, motioning to the soul compass the demon's had obtained.
Gabriel bristled at the reminder that his own underworld had shut him out.
"Take these," Gabriel said, handing him the souls he took from the bowl.
"I need to move Deidre," Gabriel said when the death-dealer was gone.
It won't work, Gabriel said.
"Drop them at the lake and hang out for a bit," Gabriel said.
Gabriel sat down across from his mate, studying her.
Gabriel drew a deep breath and stood.
Gabriel, I want to stay here.
Gabriel met Cora's eyes.
Gabriel smiled, entertained as much by the story as he was by Cora's visible exasperation.
It sounded far too good to be true, especially since Darkyn knew who she was and what he might extort out of Gabriel to have his mate returned.
It had to be the private deal, the one Gabriel found no trace of that Darkyn himself had mentioned to him.
Her way involved deals with Darkyn and lying to Gabriel.
Gabriel waited in front of the yawning portal.
Gabriel stopped and turned, glaring down at her.
Gabriel said nothing, but it took effort.
Gabriel tossed her bag on the floor next to the bed and strode to the doors, opening them.
Gabriel sat down on the railing to face her, arms crossed as he took in her features.
What did you do, Gabriel? she demanded at last, the fire flaring in her eyes once more.
Gabriel drew her into his body, and she tucked her head against his shoulder, so she didn't have to look at him.
Gabriel prodded her thoughts.
"He could do something you …" It was Gabriel's turn to raise an eyebrow.
Gabriel didn't let go.
You're scaring me, Gabriel.
What Wynn did was really bad, Gabriel.
Gabriel withdrew and called a portal to take him to the lake.
The tracker was wide and thick, a head smaller than Gabriel, and built like a boulder.
"Mind check," Gabriel said.
Gabriel knew they were loyal before he placed hands on their heads based on their body language.
Gabriel asked Tymkyn in an even voice.
The highest ranking of his death dealers to defect, Harmony had been Gabriel's lover for months and his second-in-command since he took over the underworld.
She disappeared, and Gabriel assumed she was in Hell hiding.
Gabriel stared at him.
Gabriel's gaze went to the waiting death-dealers.
"I'll determine who's at risk in about five minutes," Gabriel said firmly, eyes going to the waiting death dealers.
"Install someone else," Gabriel repeated and shook his head.
Gabriel frowned, unaware of anything that could push him from his position as Death.
Gabriel sighed in frustration.
Gabriel lifted his chin in dismissal.
Gabriel checked Cora's thoughts, relieved to find her clean and started down the line.
All five of the death dealers were borderline about abandoning Gabriel.
Gabriel reached the end of the assassins and turned to gaze at the lake with its souls.
"Give me one reason why I shouldn't kill you now," Gabriel said calmly.
Gabriel acknowledged the request for a quick death.
Gabriel called the soul to him silently and watched the green fog form around his hand before it crystallized into an emerald.
Gabriel tossed it into the lake.
Gabriel went down the line.
Gabriel took a moment to breathe deeply, unsettled by how quickly his assassins were falling.
Morale was low, and many had lost faith in Gabriel.
Gabriel summoned a portal and returned to Deidre's room.
Gabriel held up his hand.
Gabriel thought back to the three items he'd discovered in her jewelry box: the compass, a soul and the tarnished ring he gave her hundreds of years ago.
Gabriel rose, furious once more, and began to pace.
"Then you have to fix that, Gabriel," she said and rose, concerned.
Gabriel growled at her, the brief touch enough to stir desire.
Gabriel took her arm and spun her back.
When she didn't reject him, Gabriel deepened the kiss, nibbling at her full lower lip.
Gabriel's arms went around her.
Gabriel chuckled and kissed her quickly again before she was able to object.
The tension melted from Gabriel's shoulders as he sat on the settee across from Andre.
"Yeah," Gabriel said with a snort.
Gabriel knew the secrets of all the brothers on the Council; there were things people told Death that they never revealed to anyone else.
"We may not need the information anymore," Gabriel said pensively.
He didn't ask questions, which Gabriel liked.
"She's here," Gabriel added.
Gabriel left for the Caribbean Sanctuary, where the book possessed by a long dead Oracle was busy scribbling notes about the Present.
The Oracle listed the complete terms, but Gabriel was only able to see the portion concerning his domain.
Darkyn's end of the deal was hidden from Gabriel, but the deal was marked as fulfilled, according to the Oracle.
Gabriel knew Darkyn well enough to know the demon lord would exact no small fee for these favors.
Gabriel rubbed his jaw.
Gabriel's gaze lingered on the images playing before him.
All it took was a kiss from Gabriel, and the words that thrilled her.
She wasn't going to fall under the spell of Gabriel's strong body, his passion, his taste.
She'd broken the rules from the time-before-time for a chance with Gabriel.
What else had she broken to cause Gabriel so much hardship?
How did Gabriel get souls back to the underworld if he wasn't allowed there?
When the sun was up, she retreated from the French doors, troubled by the lost souls and what she did to make Gabriel's life worse, when she'd hoped to make it better.
If it was Gabriel, he'd made it clear he'd walk in.
"Gabriel raised you?" she asked curiously.
She dwelled on Gabriel's touch, lost momentarily.
I loved Gabriel, but I know now that love was nothing compared to what I feel now.
"Gabriel. I, uh, couldn't have him when I was Death," she murmured.
A way to make Gabriel my mate and a way to prevent Darkyn from destroying everything.
She was supposed to attract Gabriel, until I was brought back, and then she was to be turned over to Darkyn as his mate.
My deal with Darkyn is complete, and I get Gabriel.
I have to win over Gabriel in a week.
The only thing I didn't count on was Darkyn giving me the choice of my power or Gabriel when I left Hell.
She tried to deny it, but she knew Gabriel too well.
She'd have to throw herself at Gabriel's mercy.
Heavy in her mind was the thought that there might've been something Gabriel could've done to save the other Deidre.
What if it was her fault the human Gabriel loved died?
She traded everything for this moment, and Gabriel wasn't beside her.
Did it matter, if doing as they said cost her Gabriel?
Thousands of miles away, Gabriel was with one of his death dealers surveying the gruesome discovery.
Gabriel was working them – and himself - overtime to try to catch up.
Gabriel rose from his position crouching over the body of someone he knew.
Gabriel studied the scene before deciding finally he had to tell Rhyn.
Gabriel doubted Darkyn was after the Immortal because he was fighting demons.
Gabriel assessed the half-demon was conflicted.
"I would," Gabriel agreed.
"His soul is gone," Gabriel said quietly.
Gabriel said nothing, sensing the half-demon's explosive temper was close to the surface.
"But I am," Gabriel said, laughing.
Remember that, Gabriel cautioned his friend.
"I'm headed to see him next," Gabriel said casually.
Gabriel knew how sensitive the crypt in the basement was.
Gabriel withdrew a piece of paper from his pocket as he went, studying the symbols.
Gabriel emerged into Tamer's palatial home in Cairo.
Gabriel strode down the narrow hall to the only open door and entered.
Gabriel snorted and sat in one of the plush chairs.
Tamer had translated them, but they meant little to Gabriel.
The tool lit up at Gabriel's touch, the symbols swirling around the edges then settling.
"Good day to you, too," Gabriel said, always amused by Tamer's curtness.
"I didn't tell him anything," Gabriel replied.
"Speaking of people in your hair, you may want to keep an eye out for any pesky demons," Gabriel said.
Gabriel asked, holding up the paper.
He scribbled them down onto another piece of paper and tore them off for Gabriel.
"Well," Gabriel said, recognizing the symbol.
He showed Gabriel the drawing of the different symbols with a sketch of the sun on one end and the ground on the other.
"Hole, meaning a bad soul," Gabriel said, gazing at the symbols.
Tamer was serious, but Gabriel wasn't about to take him up on it when his own dealers were ditching him.
Gabriel returned to the study of the Immortals stronghold.
Gabriel squinted, unaccustomed to so much light after all his years in the underworld.
Gabriel nodded and felt himself relax.
If Gabriel wasn't immune to the mind manipulation magic, he suspected Andre would be using it on him right now.
Gabriel waited for more.
Dread was heavy in Gabriel's stomach.
I've gotta go, Gabriel said, standing.
"Andre said your tumor is gone," Gabriel said.
She didn't want to keep secrets from Gabriel.
Revealing her secrets, though, would drive Gabriel away forever.
How do I … earn your trust, Gabriel?
Will you answer a question for me, Gabriel?
Gabriel was quiet for a long moment, which she took as a bad sign.
Gabriel released her and moved away.
The chain-of-events had unfolded the way she planned, except that Gabriel didn't fall into her lap, and she had lost all her power in the process.
Her Gabriel had distrusted her – hated her even? – for much longer.
What happened if Gabriel didn't want to be with her at all?
The mating laws from the time-before-time were absolute, but what if Darkyn and Gabriel made their own private deal to return the human Gabriel loved and abandon past-Death to the hands of the Dark One?
"For what it's worth, Gabriel, I've always loved you," she said in a low, tight voice.
Gabriel watched Deidre's small form walk into the forest.
Troubled, Gabriel didn't move until she was gone from sight.
"Yeah, right," Gabriel said with a grimace.
"In other matters," Gabriel started.
Andre gave him a disapproving look, and Gabriel realized the joke was probably misplaced when talking to the family member of the deceased.
"We didn't," Gabriel said.
"If I need to, I will," Gabriel said.
Gabriel crossed his arms.
Gabriel wasn't certain what Andre wanted him to know.
"Gabriel, I don't want to turn you against her," Andre continued.
Andre didn't deny she was lying to him, which left Gabriel even less certain what to do about his mate.
He didn't give her the reassurance she sought about whether or not they had a real future together, and she brokered a deal with the Dark One in a desperate attempt to ensure she had a chance with Gabriel.
For what it's worth, Gabriel, I've always loved you.
She was running from someone in the forest and instead of helping her, Gabriel would only watch.
Was there anything remaining of her memory that might help Gabriel?
She could help Gabriel and the souls, even if her whole world crashed at the end of the week.
Even if she managed to save the souls and win Gabriel, the truth was going to ruin everything.
"Cora, can you ask Gabriel if I can go to a …um, mall today?" she asked, turning.
"So it's not important to you that the woman Gabriel loves stays alive," he said.
You also know Gabriel won't kill me even if I do lose.
At least, she could when Gabriel let her access the portals again.
By the end of the week, she won't want Gabriel anyway.
"A visit to Gabriel seems to be in order," Darkyn said.
Perhaps when she lost her soul at the end of the week or maybe, if she could help him recover his underworld, she'd tell Gabriel then.
"Gabriel said no more shoes," Cora said.
It was good that Cora had faith in Gabriel when he was losing death dealers who no longer believed in him.
Cora was a good woman, and Gabriel needed those in his life.
Cora was loyal to Gabriel but wanted to go home, and right now, the only way there was through Darkyn.
They were caught in an impossible position: stay loyal to Gabriel and maybe never see the underworld again or deal with the Dark One to return home.
Gabriel was fed up with everything.
Gabriel could move forward, try to win over the woman who seemed much more interested in him than she had a few days ago, before her deal with the Dark One.
Gabriel rolled his eyes.
"You really aren't supposed to be here," Gabriel chided, knowing it was useless.
It was about Katie, when she was in the underworld and you didn't know she was alive, Gabriel clarified.
Gabriel asked, unaware of the Dark One doing anyone favors for free.
I can't fix whatever is wrong down there, Gabriel said in frustration.
Gabriel felt a pang of guilt.
Though he had visited Rhyn regularly, Gabriel never was able to fully forgive himself for what felt like a betrayal of the only friend he had.
Darkyn did a number on her before sending her back, Gabriel said.
"I will," Gabriel said, doubting that Deidre was able to help without her memories.
Gabriel knew his friend well enough to know he was contemplating.
Though rough around the edges, Rhyn was the best friend Gabriel had ever had.
Gabriel's mate was alive and well.
Gabriel followed Rhyn into the portal.
Rhyn went through one door while Gabriel went through another.
Gabriel glanced out over the lake.
Though terrible news, Gabriel couldn't help thinking it was the best thing he'd heard all week.
"Five souls a minute times how many minutes in the past six months …" Gabriel shook his head.
Gabriel crouched near the edge of the lake.
When Deidre was close enough, Gabriel stretched out and gripped the rope looped under her shoulders.
Gabriel untied the knot from the rope.
This time, Gabriel did laugh.
We have to take care of the souls first, Gabriel.
Gabriel wasn't certain why that surprised him.
"No, Gabriel, I – " "I'll carry you."
Gabriel trailed her, resisting the urge to wrap her shivering body in his arms.
"They're mine, Gabriel," she retorted.
We can do it together, Gabriel.
Gabriel was taken aback.
"Gabriel," she said hesitantly.
Gabriel offered his hand.
Gabriel's gaze took her in with some concern.
Gabriel dipped his head and kissed her.
"You're so strong, Gabriel," she said in awe.
Forced into hiding by the circumstances of the past two weeks, Gabriel's yearning for his mate emerged stronger than ever at her passionate kisses and touch.
Gabriel felt a thaw deep within him, one fed by the hope that arguing over her sweaters was the worst they'd face from here on out.
Gabriel had to let the past go.
"Yes, Gabriel," she replied without hesitation.
If Deidre found pleasure in funnel cakes and warm socks, she found utter ecstasy in Gabriel's arms.
Dozing after his insatiable passion, she roused herself when one of Gabriel's hands moved down her body.
Gabriel had stayed with her for hours without showing any sign he was ready to leave.
This was the best day of my life, Gabriel.
"Thank you, Gabriel," she murmured.
"This is a good start," Gabriel said.
"Do you love me Gabriel?" she asked.
It was far more important than the bet with the human, but Deidre couldn't help thinking about her deal and Darkyn's threat to reveal everything to Gabriel.
Right now, she felt like she was on the verge of an important breakthrough with Gabriel.
One that would result in her capturing Gabriel's heart and keeping her own soul.
If Gabriel didn't fall in love with Deidre in three days, he would be betrayed once more.
"I did mean it, Gabriel," she said in a hushed voice.
Once more, Gabriel was right.
Any pain she caused was going to be short lived and quickly fixed, when she revealed herself to Gabriel once more and told him they could be together.
I had to have it, Gabriel.
Yet Gabriel managed to.
They could've both gone somewhere else entirely, wherever they wanted to go, without the underworld crumbling or the pain Gabriel was in.
In three days' time, she'd not only lose her soul, she'd lose Gabriel, too, this time for good.
Gabriel left his sleeping mate in her bed with a lingering glance.
Gabriel was halfway to the lake when Darkyn spoke to him.
Gabriel almost stopped mid-step, having forgotten he contacted the Dark One yesterday.
Then again, if she owed any sort of debt to Darkyn, Gabriel wasn't about to be caught off guard.
Gabriel trotted first to the lake, curious to see how last night had gone now that they knew about the tears.
Gabriel waved the dealer over.
Gabriel opened a portal and strode through the shadow world.
This very building was the one Gabriel dived off of in an attempt to keep the terrified human from trying to kill herself.
On a mission to ensure there was a clean slate between his mate and Darkyn, Gabriel waited in the middle of Deidre's old apartment for the Dark One to arrive.
He reminded himself why he chose this place: it was where Darkyn met him originally, before the Dark One had brokered a deal with Gabriel's mate.
If Darkyn had a connection to Deidre, he'd be affected by the place as much as Gabriel was.
Gabriel just had to watch for the signs.
Gabriel assessed the demon lord.
A full head smaller than him, Darkyn was nonetheless the most lethal creature Gabriel had ever known.
Something about the demon was different enough to make Gabriel pause.
"I take it you found what you were looking for, the last time we met here," Gabriel said.
Darkyn had demons searching the apartment last week for what Gabriel assumed was the soul contained in the tumor of the human-Deidre's head.
Why he wanted the soul that he then let go was another mystery Gabriel wanted to resolve.
Gabriel studied him with a frown.
Gabriel ignored the barb.
"Absolutely not," Gabriel said with a snort.
Then why are you here, Gabriel?
Andre was the only one who seemed to think there was a reason for Gabriel to be here, and Gabriel trusted Andre more than both Deidres and Darkyn combined.
"To discuss how you are assisting my death-dealers get into and out of my underworld," Gabriel replied, changing the subject.
Gabriel grated his teeth.
"I don't want you to," Gabriel replied firmly.
Uneasiness grew within Gabriel.
"A battle," Gabriel said with a snort.
We have eternity, Gabriel replied.
"Relationship advice from the Dark One," Gabriel said dryly.
Gabriel rested a hand on the hilt of his sword, waiting for it.
Verify there is a portal through Hell to our underworld, Gabriel instructed Landon.
Gabriel was never one for small talk.
Gabriel pitied even the foulest of demonesses, if Darkyn took her for his mate.
"It's where we met last time," Gabriel said with an unconcerned shrug.
Gabriel glanced the way indicated, noticing the blood on the wall.
"Yeah, they seem to," Gabriel agreed, unwilling to let the Dark One see he was thinking the same thing.
Gabriel was ready to challenge the Dark One when Landon and the demon reappeared.
Landon's grim expression was enough to tell Gabriel the route to the underworld was there.
Gabriel tossed his head towards the portal.
Darkyn was entirely too satisfied with himself for Gabriel's comfort.
Gabriel couldn't take his eyes off the woman who had been his mate, for however brief a time.
This was almost beyond Gabriel's ability to believe.
Gabriel stretched towards her slowly, afraid of spooking her.
Deidre looked at the demon lord, and Gabriel followed her gaze.
The sense of satisfaction was there again, along with the faint smile that made Gabriel furious.
Gabriel didn't know what to say for a long minute.
Her secret now revealed, Gabriel understood why she'd refused to tell him.
Gabriel studied the demon lord.
If Darkyn told him about the death dealers attacking his mate, Gabriel would've ignored him.
Gabriel waited, sensing the Dark One wasn't finished.
"This sounds like a favor," Gabriel said with a frown.
Deidre glanced at Darkyn in puzzlement, and Gabriel realized she didn't yet understand the depth of the Dark One's obligation to her.
"For once, I agree with Darkyn," Gabriel said, staring at the Dark One with no small amount of surprise.
Darkyn asked Gabriel mentally.
What you did to Deidre cannot be undone, Gabriel replied.
Gabriel was quiet for a long moment.
Gabriel had never felt inadequate in his life until that moment.
Gabriel wanted to say something to her, to apologize, to rationalize what happened … He felt like he was on the verge of snapping, unable to settle the turmoil of his emotions.
"Gods, if I could send her home with that demon in your place, I -" "Gabriel!"
Gabriel asked with a bitter laugh.
Gabriel didn't trust himself to respond.
The morning sun felt hot, and Gabriel was soon sweating.
What other deals were in place that Gabriel didn't fully know about?
"You are the last person who should be around me right now," Gabriel snarled.
He stopped a safe distance away, his multi-hued eyes on Gabriel.
In desperation, the goddess made a series of deals with the former Dark One, Fate, Darkyn and others to alter the series of events that might see her with anyone but Gabriel.
"I'm beginning to see why she hates you," Gabriel muttered.
Gabriel glared at him.
"Then you have no idea how personal it gets," Gabriel snapped.
Gabriel was reminded of the many times he'd expressed something human to the goddess he'd loved for thousands of years.
Gabriel hated it when one of the deities made sense.
"We'll have this talk again when you've got a mate," Gabriel said.
"She didn't deserve any of this," Gabriel said, frustrated.
Gabriel looked at Fate.
Gabriel guessed the deity considered his work done and was no longer concerned.
"Time for a mind check," Gabriel directed him.
Darkyn would slaughter Gabriel in a deal, but human-Deidre … would she do it, if he asked?
Gabriel pulled on his clothes and weapons again, pensive.
Gabriel, can I talk to you?
Uncertain he could handle more bad news, Gabriel trailed.
I owe you that, Gabriel.
Gabriel crossed his arms, surprised.
I swear to you, Gabriel, I never meant to hurt anyone.
Gabriel listened to her tell him what she did, the mind check and traitor forgotten.
Gabriel reached out to her, wiping away the tears on one cheek with his thumb.
Gabriel left the forest.
Gabriel stood for a long moment, numb, and then flung a knife into the forest with a roar.
Gabriel wiped his mouth.
"Reassemble them later," Gabriel barked.
Gabriel sat on the beach.
Gabriel sat in silent thought, comforted by the ebb and flow of the waves.
Gabriel suspected the Dark One wasn't going to let his little human out of Hell, especially not to see her former mate.
Struck by the change, Gabriel laughed in bewilderment.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.