The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld #12) by Gena Showalter
Publication date: May 31st 2016
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Can Beauty tame her Beast?
Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he’s back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he’s unable to withstand the touch of another…and he’s quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride—just not his own.
Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she’s taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she’s plunged into a war between two evils—with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them…and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.
But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she’ll have to teach him to love…or lose him forever.
Includes Q&A featuring J. R. Ward, Jeaniene Frost, Nalini Singh and more!
Baden reached the keeper of Defeat’s door and knocked hard enough to crack the wood.
Note to self: Buy a new door.
“Coming, coming.” A patter of footsteps rang out and the door swung open, revealing Strider’s mate, Kaia. She greeted him with a dagger in hand, her mass of red hair anchored in pigtails, her eyes bright with fury.
She’s armed…a true threat. Kill her!
Baden did his best to ignore the beast, staring over Kaia’s shoulder. He scanned the room, checking for hidden threats out of habit. Well. Her decorating style could probably be classified as a hoarder died here. “Did you reach your sister?”
“Yep. She’ll meet you at Downfall in an hour.”
“Save your thanks and do me a favor.” She gave the hilt of her dagger a kiss. “Next time you’re with Hades, demand to know each of William’s hideouts.”
The urge to protect suddenly overwhelmed him. Protect William? Or Hades?
Both. Destruction snarled inside his head. They are mine, and I will annihilate anyone who even thinks to harm them.
His mouth watered. Her blood, I’ll taste it. His hands itched. Her bones, I’ll break them.
As a predator, Kaia sensed his intentions and reacted accordingly, crouching, readying for attack.
Rational thought intruded: No, no. Not her.
But Destruction had already pulled back his fist to strike. At the last second, Baden regained a semblance of control, raining the fury upon the wall with punches and kicks.
The beast roared as more and more of Baden’s friends sprinted from their rooms, grabbing hold of him to try to stop him.
They dare try to restrain me?
Again, the beast was able to overtake him, flinging one warrior after another across the hall.
“How do we corral him?” someone shouted.
“Keeley.” Torin’s voice poured over the intercom. “You’re needed in Strider’s room. ASAP.”
“No time. We need Katarina,” a female called. “She calms him, I think.”
A handful of warriors rushed him at once, tackling him to the floor, but again, flinging them away wasn’t difficult. Power expanded his limbs, reinforced his bones. He was able to work his way to his feet.
I might fall, but I’ll never stay down.
A grinning blond stepped into his path. The male named Strider. Killing him would be a pleasure.
Baden screamed at Destruction. He’s my friend. They all are!
“Hey! Over here.” One of the women said, “I’m going to rip you a new asshole—in your face.”
Not my friends, Destruction told Baden as he grabbed her by the neck and lifted her off her feet. Anya. Destruction had made of point of learning the identities of the residents. Know your enemy…
“No!” Lucien shouted, tackling him from behind.
The goddess of Anarchy twined her legs around Destruction’s neck and, as he stumbled, squeezed with surprising strength.
From the corner of his eye, he spotted Katarina and the one named Ashlyn rounding the far corner. Both females stopped to gap at him. He paused, he wasn’t sure why, giving Baden the opportunity to regain a bit of control. Not enough to claim ownership of the body, but enough to slow him down as their wills clashed. He bellowed to the rafters.
“Run, Ash and take the girl with you,” Maddox demanded. “She’s only making him worse.”
Baden and Destruction worked together to pull Anya off their shoulders and drop her. They sidestepped Lucien and stalked to the woman who’d haunted them. The woman who belonged to them. If only for a little while.
“Go!” multiple voices screamed at once. The warriors were giving chase, trying to beat him to the object of his fascination.
Ashlyn attempted to tug Katarina away, but Katarina shook off her hold and stepped forward. Toward him.
The moment she reached him, she framed his face with her delicate hands. He had to crouch to allow the action, which wasn’t exactly a prime position to mount a proper defense—but worth it.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
He drew in a breath, his usually useless lungs suddenly infused by the sweetness of her scent…as if he were coming back to life. “They are threats.”
“Wrong. There are no threats here.”
“They are threats,” he insisted.
She brushed her thumbs over the rise of his cheeks, gentle, so gentle, and yet still the action stung. But he didn’t pull away. The air between them thickened and crackled with awareness. He liked it.
The others stopped their pursuit and maintained a proper distance, whispering with incredulity.
“Is this really happening or am I hallucinating?” someone asked.
“Does the human have a magic hoo-ha?”
“You have a job to do,” Katarina reminded him, ignoring the others. “Why don’t you go do it, and I’ll take care of the threats here?”
He snorted. “You’re not strong enough.”
That earned a raised brow. “So you’ve told me.”
“Dude. Isn’t she married?” Kaia asked.
He snarled at the Harpy, though his gaze remained on Katarina. She’d lost weight and looked more fragile than ever, and yet her beauty took his breath away.
Breath he now needed to survive?
“Baden,” she said.
“Destruction,” he corrected.
“Since he’s affected by you, I’m willing to bet you’re affected by him. Why don’t I call you Baduction?” She smiled at him, inviting him to play with her. “And a hat tip to you. If your newest job is to stare at me, you’ve got it nailed.”
He didn’t know how to play, but he liked seeing her like this. Happy rather than despondent.
He shouldn’t care what she felt. Caring left him vulnerable.
He scowled at her. “Stay out of trouble today.”
“I will, but not because you ordered it. Because I’m a girl and girls are made of—”
“Sugar and spice,” he interjected, remembering the rhyme. Boys were made of snakes and snails.
“Wrong. Girls are made of vodka and ice. The two combined increase our tolerance for masculine nonsense.”
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over fifty books, including the acclaimed Lords of the Underworld and Angels of the Dark series, and the White Rabbit Chronicles. She writes sizzling paranormal romance, heartwarming contemporary romance, and unputdownable young adult novels, and lives in Oklahoma City with her family and menagerie of dogs.