- 25 -

28.6K 2.1K 121

I would have recognized the terrifying woman anywhere after our prior. Her countenance was just as severe as I recalled, a smirk playing at her red lips, nails tapping a slow, patient rhythm against the desk's top. She sat, a well-satisfied tyrant perched atop her empire, and watched with undisguised amusement as we approached.

Lavender flashed in her black eyes.

That's when it occurred to me. Grace Amoroth was the Sin of Lust. This was her office. Her building. The dread I felt chilling my bones was the burden of her power clawing at whoever found themselves in her immediate proximity. This was an otherworldly creature commanding billions in monetary wealth, a woman who could collapse the world's economy overnight and destroy millions of lives if it suited her mood.

Next to her, hostile and antagonistic Darius was woefully outclassed.

This woman was a Sin. A Sin not bound to me. A woman that just might crush my spine under her designer pumps if she didn't like what Darius and I had to say.

Ms. Amoroth tilted herself from the plush leather of her seat to move around the desk and lean her weight upon it. "Darius," she drawled. The violet color refused to fade from her eyes as she stared at the Sin of Pride. She crossed her arms and glanced at me. Her brow rose. "And Sara Gaspard of IMOR Advances. What a surprise."

Darius glared at the both of us. "You know her?" he demanded, his voice so rough I quickly shook my head before he could misunderstand.

"No. I met her at a—event, for IMOR. I didn't know she was...was...." I swallowed, unable to give voice to the word. I hadn't occurred to me, not even in my most muddled theories and considerations.

"A Sin, Ms. Gaspard. I am a Sin, as you no doubt know by now." The woman came closer, swaying on her stilettos, the material of her indigo pantsuit contoured to the sharp angles and curves of her body. "I wouldn't have guessed I'd see you in my office, let alone with such interesting company." The words she spoke were cordial enough, but the sarcasm dripped from her tone like toxic bile. "But where are my manners? Please, have a seat."

She slid her hand between Darius and me to take my arm before either of us could object. My face paled as I felt the strength present in her single hand. It was as if the woman had wrapped a vice over my forearm and not a slim set of feminine fingers.

The Sin brought me to a seat and I took it without complaint. I felt Darius shift behind the chair instead of taking the one at my side. The woman balanced her hip on the lip of the desk, standing close enough to touch if I were so inclined. Darius' hand rested on my shoulder. The air was frigid, the weight of the Sin's scrutiny like a swallowed ice cube sinking and burning the depths of my gut. Why did Darius bring me here? I didn't like being brought to this woman's attention. It wasn't a positive thing.

"So, what brings you Klau Incorporated, hmm?"

I took a breath and told myself my anxiety was unfounded. Yes, Amoroth was terrifying—but so was the menace skulking at my back. I had to trust Darius in this, at least to an extent, and though I found him unpredictable, I had to believe he wouldn't allow the other Sin to do anything...unpleasant.

While I was relaying these thoughts through my mind, sitting with a blank expression plastered on my face, Ms. Amoroth watched without speaking and her smirk took on a decidedly cruel mien. Darius grunted and moved so I could hear the rustle of his jacket's leather sleeves folding. "Amoroth—."

The Sin of Lust snarled at Darius—snarled with bared teeth and curled, feral lips—silencing Darius and nearly scaring me half to death. "I will not speak with you," she spat as her hands balled into small fists, the color in her eyes liquid and vibrant. How could I have ever mistaken this creature for a human woman? "You will do well to hold your tongue, bastard."

BereftWhere stories live. Discover now