Damian's Oracle (Chapter Seven, page 1 of 12)

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My name is Darian. Help me. The man in her head just wouldn't leave her alone. She spent the better half of the next day too depressed to leave her bed before forcing herself up and parking on the patio in the sun, determined not to waste another day in the dark. Darian-whoever he was-would drive her crazy if she didn't find a way to distract her thoughts. Han stayed with her, not moving until two Guardians-a raven-haired man with a quick smile and a brooding blond-approached. He stood and shook hands with both of them.

"The winter's better here than Europe, I imagine," he said with a smile. "This is Ikira Sofia."

"Ikira, I'm honored," the dark-haired man said with a bow and a thick Spanish accent. "I'm Grande."

"That would be a description of his ego and nothing else," the brooding blond said with a light French accent. "I'm Pierre, ikira."

"Boring," Grande said. "He skipped the class on good nom de plumes."

Pierre gave him a sidelong look at his butchered French, and Sofia smiled despite herself.

"Grande and Pierre are joining us from our European front. We rotate every twelve months or so," Han explained.

"Front? Like war front?" she asked.

"Fighting Czerno and his monsters."

"Ikira, welcome," Grande said.

"Thanks. Call me Sofia."

"No," Han said, leveling a look on them both. "Dusty's a stickler for titles."

"Mi corazón," Grande said, faking a wounded look. Pierre punched him in the shoulder, and they walked toward the garage.

"What is ikira?" she asked, turning to Han.

"Similar to 'my queen.' You rank up near Damian now."

Her smile faded. The mention of him reminded her of her cramped stomach and the half dozen failed attempts to eat normal food.

"It's a good thing," Han said at her silence. "He owns your ass. No one will mess with you."

"Great," she muttered.

"I bet you won't make it another day and a half," he said.

"We'll see. Let me ask you something, Han," she said, facing him. "What am I supposed to be doing? If I'm not a financial planner, should I be oracl-ing or something?"

"Ask your master."

"I knew you'd say that. And he's not my master. I'm an American; we don't have masters."

"I will give you a piece of advice," he said, unaffected by her tirade. "Don't wait until tomorrow to go to him or you'll crawl to him on your knees. No matter what you think, you can't live without his blood. You might as well make it on your terms, ordering him to submit, rather than begging and mauling him like an animal."

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