Kingdom of the Cursed (Kingdom of the Wicked, #2) (10)

I stared down at the cooling, empty spot beside me, confused.

“Is something wrong?” Perhaps my new association with House Pride prevented us from intimately associating with each other. “Did we break a rule?”

“I tried to warn you.” I couldn’t see his face but heard the satisfied, all-too-smug—and very masculine—smile enter his voice, and alarm bells started ringing. “Your longings will taunt and tease you into oblivion if you can’t control them. This is a realm of sin and desire. It depends on your vices for its survival the same way the human world requires oxygen and water. If you lose control for a second, it will pounce. And not always in the way you believe it will. For example, if you were thinking of hatred, it might test to see if the opposite could be true.”

“I—” Goddess above. My lust-addled brain finally caught up with what had happened. He’d said it was an illusion. More like a nightmare. I buried my burning face in my hands, wondering if there was a spell I could use to disappear. “That wasn’t real… any of it?”

“One thing I can promise,” his voice was deep and sensual in the dark, “is you won’t ever doubt it’s real when I touch you.”

Frustrated, embarrassed, and furious to have submitted to desiring him for even one second, I plucked up his shirt and roughly tugged it back on before flopping onto my side. “Someone’s cocky.”

“Says the person rubbing up against my c—”

“Finish that sentence and I’ll smother you in your cursed sleep, demon.”

Wrath’s low chuckle had my toes curling and my imagination flying straight back into the fiery pits of Hell. My treacherous mind replayed one little word choice over and over. He’d said when he touched me, not if. As though he planned on making that erotic fantasy a reality at some point in the future. It was a good long while before sleep found me again.

Only this time I didn’t dream of being happily seduced by the forbidden prince.

I dreamed of a vicious, violent murder. And a beautiful woman with starlight eyes, screaming a curse of vengeance into the darkest of nights.

Most disturbing of all, it felt as if I knew her. And her curse had been directed at me.


Dawn fought its way into our tiny shelter. Not that I could tell for certain what time it was. This world seemed to be stuck in a permanent state of twilight. Maybe the swift approach of the next storm was to blame. So far “overcast” was the preferred state of the atmosphere here. As if proving my theory correct, wind screeched in the distance, raising the small hairs along my arms.

There was only a slight shift in the angle of the light and the way Wrath gruffly said, “Time to move,” that indicated it was indeed daytime. I waited for the arrogant prince to mock what happened a few hours ago, but he gave no indication I’d been half-naked and writhing against him, taunted with a sinful illusion of our bodies tangling together.

Maybe it was only a dream within a dream.

That hope rallied me up from our makeshift bed. I twisted from side to side, stretching out sore muscles. It wasn’t the worst night’s sleep I’d ever had, but it wasn’t comfortable by any means. A warm bath, a change of clothing, and a good meal were just what I needed.

At the thought of food, my stomach grumbled loud enough that Wrath turned around to look, a slight crease forming between his brows. “We don’t have much farther to travel, but, due to the terrain, it will likely take until nightfall to arrive at our destination.”

“I’ll live.”

Wrath seemed skeptical about that but kept his troublesome mouth shut.

I stared glumly at the metal corset top and started unbuttoning the demon’s shirt. Might as well get the miserable garment on quickly so we could leave. While I could definitely survive without food for a while, I’d eventually get a headache if it was too much longer.

Vittoria had been the same way. Our father used to tease us, claiming our magic burned a constant stream of energy that needed replenishing, and how it was a good thing we had a restaurant. Nonna would shake her head and shoo him away before slipping us sweets.

A different kind of ache took up residence near my heart. No matter how much I tried to shut it down, thoughts of food quickly turned to thoughts of Sea & Vine, our family trattoria.

Which was a swift emotional punch that almost had me doubling over. I missed my family terribly and I’d only spent one night in the underworld. Time might move differently here, so it was possible just an hour had passed in my world, maybe less.

I hoped Nonna managed to find a safe hiding place for everyone. Losing my twin was devastating, my grief still powerful enough to drown me if I let it surface above the fury for too long. If I lost anyone else… I shoved those worries into a little trunk near my heart and focused on getting through the day. A new thought slipped in.

“Where’s Antonio?” I watched Wrath carefully. Not that I would read much if he chose to shield his emotions. “You never told me where you sent him.”

“Someplace safe.”

He didn’t elaborate and it was probably best to let it be for now. We had more important things to focus on. Like making it out of the Sin Corridor without another prodding of my desires, and then formally introducing me to Pride and his royal court.

There would be plenty of time in the future to speak with Antonio, the human blade one of the demon princes had influenced to kill my twin. And the young man I used to dream of marrying before I knew the truth of his hatred for witches.

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