Kingdom of the Cursed (Kingdom of the Wicked, #2) (7)

Not wanting to be tested for wrath or pride—or any other sin again—I swallowed any further protestations and went searching for branches. I found some a few paces away from where Wrath worked and knocked chunks of snow and ice from them as quickly as I could. Surprisingly, I moved as fast as the demon prince. In moments, I had almost more than I could carry. Which was good since my fingers were turning red and getting stiff from the cold and wet.

Once I gathered up a heaping armful, I hauled them back to our campsite. Clouds swirled around angrily, and thunder shook the ground. We had minutes left before the first plump drops hit, if we were lucky. Wrath had already created a small circular shelter beneath one of the denser trees and was in the middle of pushing snow up and around the branches he’d driven into the ground. The exterior walls were solid snow, the roof was thatched branches, and we’d both probably have to lay curled on our sides to fit. I couldn’t imagine surviving the night in a chamber made of winter’s offerings, but Wrath seemed to think we’d be safe.

I looked up; the large evergreen tree towering above us would also provide an added barrier of protection. It was a smart location to choose.

Without turning, Wrath stuck his arm out. “Hand them over.”

I did as he not-so-gently asked, giving him one branch at a time, all the while dreaming of whipping him upside the head with them. He laid them in a row, making sure the entire ground was covered in two layers of greens.

He moved swiftly and efficiently, as if he’d done this a thousand times before. And he probably had. I was not the first soul he’d stolen for the devil. But I would be his last.

Once he placed the final branch down, he started unbuttoning his shirt, careful to avoid the leather holster. That he kept on. Powerful muscles rippled as he shrugged out of the shirt, and I couldn’t help but stare at the serpent tattoo that wound up and around his right arm and shoulder. It seemed grander here, more detailed and striking.

Maybe that was because his skin looked darker when contrasted against the pale backdrop of this land, and the metallic gold lines stood out more vividly.

I cleared my throat. “Why are you undressing? Are you affected by the magic here, too?”

He looked up. Sweat dampened the dark hair at his brow, making him appear mortal for a change. “Take off your corset.”

“I’d rather not.” I gave him an incredulous look. “What in the seven hells do you think you’re doing?”

“Giving you something to wear so you don’t freeze your ass off in that metal.” He held his shirt out but pulled it back before I grasped it, eyes glittering with mirth. “Unless you’d prefer to sleep in the nude. Lady’s choice.”

My face heated. “Why can’t you just magic more clothing?”

“Any use of magic during your first journey in the Sin Corridor is considered interference.”

“You magicked a cloak.”

“Before we crossed into the true underworld.”

“What will you sleep in?”

His expression turned positively wicked as he raised a brow.


I cursed this world and the devil and marched inside our chamber made of snow and ice and took the proffered shirt. I quickly removed my cloak and set it on the ground. Being a gentleman, Wrath exited the chamber—long enough to retrieve his jacket—and looked me over when he crowded back into the small space. So much for good manners.

His lips twitched as I twisted and tried turning the stupid garment around without touching him. It wouldn’t budge. And neither would he. I glared at the demon as if my current predicament was all his fault. He seemed utterly delighted by my anger, the heathen.

“I need your help,” I finally said. “I can’t undo it myself.”

The infernal prince inspected my corset with the same level of enthusiasm as if I’d asked him to recite a sonnet by light of a full moon, but he didn’t deny my request. “Turn around.”

“Try not to look too thrilled, or I might think you like me.”

“Count your blessings. My liking you would be a dangerous thing.”

I snorted. “Why? Would you ruin me for all other demon princes?”

“Something close.”

He smiled and motioned for me to turn. His fingers moved deftly across the ribbons crisscrossing down my back, tugging and undoing with militaristic precision.

I held the front of my top to keep myself from spilling out as the back fell open a moment later, exposing my skin. Frost-kissed air danced over me.

I’d never gotten out of a corset that quickly before. Either his supernatural senses aided him, or he had a lot of practice with undressing women.

Unbidden, a flash of him bedding someone crossed my mind in strikingly vivid detail. I saw perfectly filed nails digging into his back, long, tanned legs wrapping around his hips, soft groans of pleasure escaping as he rhythmically thrusted.

A dark feeling slithered through me at the thought. I ground my teeth together, suddenly biting back a string of accusations as I spun around. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was…

“Envious.” Wrath easily detected my change in mood.

“Stop reading my emotions.” I jerked my attention up to his. His expression was wiped clean. Gone was any glint of wry humor or wickedness. He stood rigidly, as if forcing himself to become an immoveable block of ice. Apparently, the idea of touching me that way was revolting.

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