Chapter Twenty-Seven

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Ari (Sloth)

When Rome maintains his grip on me, I don't fight the inevitable. Why bother? I have better uses for my time.

He teleports us to my room of all places. The scent of sex is unmistakable, his nose crinkling with disgust as soon as we materialize from the ether. He scowls at the crumpled bedding falling halfway to the floor, incorrectly interpreting it to mean something other than deep sleep and sweet dreams.

"I can't smell her cum. So, either you suck in bed—excuse the pun—or you guys didn't actually have sex. Which is it?"

Will I be an unsatisfactory bed partner? I don't want to disappoint Willow in that regard. Devil knows I'm up against experts in the field of sexual gratification. Perhaps I should study up on the subject, though the firsthand experience is sure to be a better teacher than anything discerned from a book.

"Ari," Rome presses.

"We didn't have sex in the traditional sense," I assure him.

It's these words that Ragnar catches when he also appears in the room. Between my confession and the scent of the air, his hands are wrapped around my throat and I'm pushed against the wall in two seconds flat.

I wonder if Galileo's caught up to Willow yet, if I'm mirroring her position in this exact moment. I gave her a sweatshirt I won't miss, but fire's a tough way to go. I've been sleeping in it for weeks, too, ensuring that my scent reached maximum potency.

The wheels are in motion; I can only hope the momentum is enough to carry us through.

Ragnar crushes my windpipe, but who needs oxygen when you can convince your cells to function without it? When you can slow down every part of your body to the point where you register as dead? It's a dangerous game, one of many I've perfected over the years.

Ragnar is feral, an animal stripped down to his primal instincts. Protecting his mate from outside threats, even if I'm not really a risk to him or her or their relationship. I support the two of them together, actually. Just like I support her being entangled with my other brothers.

I'm not a jealous person. Jealousy implies a fear of someone taking something from you. If things don't work out between me and Willow, it'll be because of my own actions, not my brothers'. Besides, all I really want for her is to be happy. If they can do that for her, then we won't have any issues.

Ragnar continues to add pressure until the ligaments connecting my head to my shoulders snap. It doesn't hurt, it can't hurt when my nerve cells are unable to send a signal to my brain that damage has occurred. It took six months in my basement lab to isolate my nerves like this. Six months and more fragmented bones than hairs on my scalp.

His eyes are saturated with black, the darkness of the iris a match for the rage coursing through his veins. Glare is too simple a word to describe the look he casts in my direction. It's mayhem and destruction personified, nothing but the promise of gore and violence.

With his free hand, he yanks at my own. "You touch her?"

The bones in my hand crumble to dust once he lets go. Moving to my other hand, he gives it the same treatment.

Has Willow given in yet? She likes the way Galileo commands her, if only because she trusts him not to break her. Trust is earned and easily shattered, but he's had hers long before they ever met.

When Ragnar taps under my eyelid, I don't stop what's meant to happen. "You look at her?"

With strong fingers and an even stronger will, he removes my eyeball—optic nerve and all—from my skull. He squeezes it in his fist, squirting clear fluid and blood into the air.

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