Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(60) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Never again will I be so selfish.
But then motherhood had taught her that. How to put someone else and their needs before hers. To value another being more than herself. Strange how Max, the animal, had been born with that sense of how he was part of a larger whole and his life wasn’t as important as the continuation of others. Or maybe it was his being male. She wasn’t sure. All she knew was that it’d taken the birth of her children before she’d understood it.
How she wished she could have loved him back in their past the way she could now.
It’s not too late.
At least she hoped that was true.
Yet as they made their way through the dark nether world, she wondered.
All of a sudden, Max froze in front of her so quickly that she slammed into his back. He remained completely ramrod stiff and still.
She opened her mouth to ask him what was wrong when she saw.
There in front of her was Nala and the rest of her Amazon tribe. Only they weren’t stone, or in the process of returning to stone.
They appeared completely normal. As if nothing had happened or that demons weren’t out to kill or eat them.
Confused, Seraphina stepped around her mate and approached Nala, who wore a peculiar welcoming smile on her face. “Basilinna?”
Nala let out a relieved breath. “There you are! We thought we’d have to send out a patrol to find you.”
That weird feeling of trepidation worsened. Something definitely wasn’t right. “We came to free you, Max and I.”
She laughed again as if Sera was insane. “That was never the bargain, child. The bargain was that Kessar would overthrow the Greek gods from Olympus and surrender it to me, and in turn, I would give him your mate. He just fulfilled his part. Now I’m going to fulfill mine.”
Max couldn’t breathe as he heard those harsh words and was instantly taken back to the day when Sera had surrendered him to her tribe for his harrowing. He still remembered the cold resignation on her face as they hauled him out to beat him.
The way she’d just stood there…
Like he deserved it. As if she didn’t care at all what they did to him.
A part of him had died that day. The biggest being his heart that had never completely healed.
Now, she was going to do it to him again. Only this time, Kessar would kill him. He knew it with every part of himself. There was no chance of survival.
Had this been her plan all along? Was that why she’d been so desperate to find her sisters while they were here?
You’re such a fool. When are you going to learn that you’ll never come first with your mate?
Seraphina saw the expression on Maxis’s face. In that moment, she knew what he thought and it slapped her hard. Not that he doubted her.
The fact that she deserved his doubt.
Reaching up, she cupped his face in her hands. “I made you a promise, baby. I intend to keep it.”
With those words spoken, she did what she’d never done before. She stepped back, turned toward her queen, and let loose a burst of fire at them all.
“And I’m fulfilling mine, Nala. Anyone wants a piece of my mate has to come through me. You want to fight? You better arm up, bitches.” She let loose one more shot before she grabbed Max about his waist and pulled him back the way they’d come.
He stumbled and almost fell as they ran. “You just attacked your tribe.”
“No. I just defended my mate.”
“You shot fire at them.”
She paused to glance at him. “Are we really going to waste time reliving it?”
“We’re definitely doing something.” He cracked an adorable grin. “Arm up, bitches?”
“You left me alone too long with Fury.”
He laughed at the same time her tribe was closing in and gaining ground faster than she cared for. Arrows shot past them. “Arm up, Strah Draga.”
With those words, he turned into his dragon form. She jumped into her saddle and held on tight.
Max rose up on his hind legs and used his wings to create a massive wind that sent them tumbling back on their asses.
In that moment, she loved him even more. “You don’t have to take mercy on them for me. They wanted to tilt the dragon. Let them tilt.”
“Are you sure?”
She leaned down over his neck and kissed it. “Positive. In this battle, you’re the only one who matters to me.”
“In that case…” Max threw his head back and let loose his Bane-Cry.
It was something no drakomas did lightly and was reserved for only when their lives were under dire threat, and they had no way out. In all the centuries he’d lived, he’d never made the cry. He’d only answered them.
Mostly because he’d never cared whether or not he survived a fight.
For the first time, he wanted to live. And he fought the Amazons and gallu with everything he had. They came at him with spears and claws, and he unleashed his fire and magick at them, while he whipped at them with his tail.
He banged at the ground, causing the stalactites to fall down on top of them. Several screamed as they were impaled.
Still they kept coming.
Max couldn’t teleport out. The gallu wouldn’t release the nether gates. Which meant none of his drakomai brethren could get in.
But it didn’t stop his demonic aunts from helping. They circled and ran at the gallu and Amazons, doing their best to protect him and Sera.
He kept inching back into the darkness, trying to find some way out of this mess and dark realm.
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