Kanna-sama: Whenever I finish my favorite books series, I always end up feeling depressed because it's so good. Anyway, please read below and enjoy.

X

Title: Hunger

Rating: M for mild mature content

Genre: Romance

Summary: After the brutalizing of her son, a widow turns to the strongest man in the kingdoms to get her revenge and unintentionally falls for his dark allure. Two-shot

Notes/Warnings: Mild mature content; two-shot

X

Hunger, Part II

Gavriel, an influential male in the Ganrion Kingdom – or any kingdom, for that matter – steepled his fingers, his eyes narrowed on the female in front of him. He wasn't necessarily an assassin, but he had been hired many times for his skills – and his temper. He was every bit as deceitful as the next man, even more so. He showed no mercy to anyone, not women, not children. Nobody liked to deal with him, that much was true, but because he was the key reason the kingdom of Ganrion had such nice income, nobody tried to exile him, no matter what cruel tortures he inflicted on his enemies.

Serine, a widowed woman of a relatively young five hundred, had the fierce anger and determined stubbornness in her eyes that he rarely saw in women. He had heard her son had recently been murdered. Like him, though, the murderer was an influential part of the kingdom and therefore was not punished. He had heard what had been done to the ten-year-old, though, and he understood the rationality behind Serine's reason for coming to him.

The man, Aclesie, was a bit over a thousand years, younger than Gavriel, but older than Serine's young son and older than her as well. Word had come to Gavriel that the man had beat the boy in submission and then raped him – and forced Serine to watch. If he was right about who her former husband was, he was unsurprised that she wasn't a puddle of emotions. Then the beatings came again, except in different forms of torturous weapons. The death was slow, agonizing, and his informant had told him the boy's screams only stopped when the last strike of death came. Gavriel hadn't thought to ask why the mother wasn't killed and tortured as well. He hadn't really cared.

Now, though, as Gavriel's dark, sapphire eyes moved over the naturally pale face of Serine's, flicking a look to her pale hair that came with her race, he almost smiled his cold, calculating smile. How fitting it was that this woman, who had been married to a harsh, though loving man, was coming to the most deadly man in the kingdoms in order to get back at another twisted male.

"I have heard of your son's demise, Lady Serine," he told her in his quiet voice, meeting the flashing, light cerulean eyes that held fury and pain – which she was overpowering with her need for revenge. "I am not generally an executor, though, as you know. I have performed such services," he added as her mouth flew open to protest, "but it will be a high price." His eyes glittered as she took out three, small red-velvet bags, dropping them on his oak wood desk, a dull thunk sounding as she did.

"Will this be sufficient, my lord?" She questioned. He untied one of the bags, dumping the thin, golden plates onto his desk, his eyebrows twitching upward in surprise. "There are sixty golden marks in each of them." He raised his eyes to her. No one had paid him so much. Then again, she was a very wealthy widow.

"Hm. Indeed, this is an adequate payment." He tied the bag up and set it and the other two aside. He got to his feet with fluid grace that was known of his race. He moved to the door of his office, locking it and returning to his desk, leaning against it, smiling coolly down at her. "You wish for me to kill Aclesie?"

"No," she answered, getting to her feet. She was much shorter than him, but that didn't seem to bother her. He made a quick assessment of her petite body. Her dark dress, he decided, didn't suit her. It did, however, give him a good idea of her proportions. It glided over the small, soft curves of her breasts, moved over the flatness of her stomach, and hugged her sensuous hips. Her long, pale white-blonde hair clashed with the black of her dress, lying on her shoulders and flowing down her back. Her eyes were sharp, though, denying what her body suggested. She was not weak, he suspected, and wasn't to be taken advantage of.

"If you do not wish for me to kill Aclesie, then what are you paying me so handsomely for, Lady?" Serine's eyes flickered over him and then she turned, moving to the window, lifting the curtain to peer out at it, down on the streets where carriages fluttered by, where people walked leisurely on the side of the road.

"There will, eventually, be a time that I want you to kill him, Lord Gavriel. But I am not asking for that now." She turned back to him, letting the curtain drop. Gavriel's eyes narrowed slightly. Her gaze was intense and almost desperate. "I want him to die a slow, painful death."

"That can be arranged – " She held up a hand, closing her eyes briefly.

"Allow me to finish, my lord. I am requiring more than an execution."

"...Very well. What else are you asking for?"

"Aclesie is powerful and has a very nice life going on. A beautiful wife, two gorgeous children that are spoiled beyond belief. His business with his land being cultivated is going wonderfully. He has a life that anyone would enjoy to have." She brought out a silver, diamond-shaped crystal from the folds of her dress, holding it up speculatively. He warily watched her finger it. He could feel the reservoir of power that she had trapped inside it pulsing wildly, waiting to be unleashed. "I want you to ruin him and his family first. Then, with that torturous skill you have been feared and admired for, I want you to kill his beautiful family one-by-one, letting each of them suffer for a moment over their death. And then, in the end, I want him dead. A slow, painful death that he'll never forget, even when he is sent to Hell." She tucked the crystal back in her dress, smiling at him slightly.

"...How very cruel, Lady Serine." He returned her smile with his own. "He must have pissed you off badly."

"I do not like being tampered with, my lord, nor do I appreciate having my last loved ones ripped out of my hands." She crossed her arms over her chest, as though protecting herself from the onslaught of memories. "I want him to pay."

"You came to the right person, then, Lady. He will regret hurting you." She raised her eyes to his and saw the dark glint in them, the deadly promise of retribution that Aclesie would receive. She shuddered, suddenly frightened of what this man could do. She knew one flick of power from him could obliterate any entire town. Serine wondered if she should have dealt with Aclesie herself in a less destructive way.

"It would be wise if this was all done discreetly," she added carefully.

"Of course. We wouldn't want it any other way." She swallowed and nodded.

"Good. Then I shall correspond with you." He nodded in return.

As she moved towards the door, he cooed, "I would suggest, Lady, that you abandon those dark colors. They are quite unsuitable to your complexion." She whipped around, her eyes narrowing on him. His face was a cold expression, his slight smile not at all warming his face. She ripped the door open and snapped it shut firmly behind her, glad to be finished with the meeting. She wasn't sure she could deal with the upcoming meetings.

X

"Lady?" A maid, Tally, peered at her mistress. They had been at the cemetery for nigh an hour and all that Lady Serine had done was sit and sigh, staring at the graves before her. Because her estate had a private cemetery, she merely had to walk out to it. For the past month that her husband and son had been dead, she would go to the cemetery every day and stare at them without an expression on her face. "Lady?" Tally touched her shoulder and Serine turned her head slightly. "There is a lord here to see you..." Tally shuddered, remembering very well who the man was that had come to pay her mistress a visit. She didn't know what she was doing associating with Gavriel, the subtle, unofficial assassin in Ganrion Kingdom. The mistress's husband had been cold, but he would warm up and laugh and smile every once in a while. Gavriel was just...cold. There was nothing more to him.

"...And is it Lord Gavriel whom is here, Tally?" Serine quietly questioned, unmoving.

"Yes, Lady," Tally whispered. Serine stood and sighed as rain started to pound down on them.

"Tell him I will be with him in a moment. I need to clean myself up." Tally nodded and shivered as the rain quickly started to beat down on them. Serine raised a basic shield to protect them. She placed a warming shield up beneath it and Tally stayed close behind so as to keep shielded. When they entered the manor, Serine dropped the shields and ascended the stairs while Tally left to give the lord the message.

Serine closed her door behind her as she entered her room and she quickly stripped of her clothing, choosing a simple white gown that she had always liked. It dropped down, exposing some of her chest, and the sleeves slid to her upper arms, flattering her soft, pale shoulders. Serine donned the gown and then brushed her white-blonde hair out. It went past her shoulders, almost to the middle of her back. She glared at the way it defiantly curled at the ends. She pinned a glass, blue, rose clip in her hair at her temple and then smoothed her hands out, deciding it would have to do. She wasn't trying to impress the wretched man. After all, he was only paid to bring the death of the man that had killed her siblings, husband, and son. When will he just finish me? She wondered, swallowing shakily.

Serine hurried down to the drawing room, sliding the door open and then sliding it closed behind her. When she turned, she jumped. She hadn't heard or seen him move. His eyes pierced hers and he lifted a hand, his fingertips brushing over her shoulder. "Good evening, Lady Serine."

"My...lord," she greeted shakily. He smiled at her, though it seemed more of a baring of the teeth. He glided back from her, making her slump slightly. She let out a small breath and glanced warily at Gavriel as he settled himself at the window. She, in turn, sat on the divan, bringing her legs up, her gown sliding upward to reveal her ankles. After so many deaths and the jibes thrown at her, Serine didn't care anymore for propriety.

"I've been digging up information about Aclesie and his family." He turned his head slightly. Serine kept a perfectly expressionless mask on, feigning boredom. A corner of his mouth tilted upward, revealing a sharp fang that was acquired from his race, before turning back to the window, saying, "It was all very fascinating." She didn't take the bait. He turned completely around and Serine felt wariness cover her at the look in his eyes.

From what she had heard from her late husband, when Gavriel had first arrived in Ganrion, the women had flitted around him eagerly. It was true that he was attractive and could be seductive when he wanted to. And he had taken his share of women, until his first killing in the kingdom. It was a gruesome scene and he had merely laughed at the shocked faces of the people surrounding him and the remains of his prey. It was then that everyone was cautious around him. It was also then that people began to contemplate the idea of him killing for them. Because of the good business that he had with the territory he owned far from Ganrion and the business that was unintentionally acquired from his cruelties, he settled in Ganrion permanently. People were used to him and newcomers were quickly warned about him. No one wanted to provoke him.

Serine, on the other hand, had been startled at her fear of him. She had never met him before, but had always been surrounded by harsh, unfeeling males and therefore had expected him to be just like those males. She hadn't expected the cold chill of fear and apprehension when he'd accepted her offer. She hadn't expected the want to make herself seem at least a bit respectable in his eyes. She'd never cared what people thought of her before, so why it changed confounded her. Serine didn't like so much cold, cruelness in one man. It was startling.

"You never informed me that you had a history with Aclesie," Gavriel said, his eyes moving to her ankles.

"My history with Aclesie does not matter, my lord," Serine replied coolly. Her "history" with Aclesie was the reason she was so sharp, so stubborn, and less the woman with "delicate sensibilities."

"Perhaps," Gavriel purred in that aloof manner that made her uneasy, "but it might help me destroy him more thoroughly if you fully elaborated on your relationship with him." Serine's eyes narrowed to slits at the implications behind his voice.

"We were to be married," she began slowly, cynical of the male before her. "It was an arranged marriage that my mother had set up before she died. My father wished to honor her wishes and intended to go on with the wedding. Our families were both wealthy and so it would be a good marriage. However, I met my late husband and he had even better ties than Aclesie had. I preferred him to Aclesie and asked my father to allow me to be married to him instead. He hesitated, but broke the current arrangement and made it to the more pleasant one. I never saw Aclesie for a long time. I had no reason to believe he had become upset with the breaking.

"I met Aclesie again a long time after my marriage. He had been civil to both me and my husband and my son. My husband was cool to him and Aclesie had gotten angry over it – why, I don't know. I hadn't remembered who he was until he was hunting after my husband's life. He killed him. He broke through every shield that my husband put up and murdered him in such a way that made him unrecognizable. But I could sense the fight, could recognize the power residue in my husband's body and knew it was he. It was only after that that I actually began to contemplate over Aclesie and recalled who he was. After I looked in on him, I learned the truth of my brother and sisters' death. My father hadn't told me because he hadn't wanted to bring up something that was 'from the past,' as he put it.

"In any case, Aclesie went after my son, then. I'm sure you have heard the rumors of that, my lord. I still am haunted by his screams, by images that I know I will never be able to shut out of my mind. I don't know why he is so furious with me, why he is going after me after all these years. But I want him to feel the same torture that I have gone through. I want him to writhe in pain." Her eyes flashed and Gavriel chuckled inwardly.

Gavriel had a less informative story about Aclesie and Serine, but this certainly did explain why she wanted him to suffer so badly, why she was willing to pay 180 golden marks in order to make Aclesie suffer. He was going to enjoy it, too, because Aclesie was the one person in Ganrion that dared to try and undermine him. He was the one man that was nearly as twisted as he was. But Gavriel had a more sense of sadistic humor than Aclesie ever would have.

"My dear Lady," Gavriel said lightly, making her glance at him in suspicion, "you needn't worry about him any longer. I will enjoy destroying his life bit by bit. He has been a pest to me." He smiled then, querying, "Would you like to watch me kill his wife and children?" She blinked. "...Or even take some part in it?"

"I am not a sadist," she snarled at him, hugging herself from a cold that wasn't from the temperature in the room. "I am paying you to take care of him and his family." She glared at him. A darkly amused look crossed his face.

"As you wish, Lady. I will begin the destruction tomorrow." The way he worded it made her glower darken. He approached her and she froze as he held out a tan, smooth hand. She moved her gaze from the black end of the jacket, up to his broad shoulder, to his face that hid any emotion that he held. She took his hand, her white hand contrasting with his tan skin. He pulled her up with a strength that she sincerely hoped would never be used against her.

"I'll accompany you to the door," she mumbled, opening the door, ushering him out before following him.

"Might I say," he drawled, "that your dress this evening suits you much better than the one you wore the last time I saw you?" She stiffened as his eyes raked her body appreciatively. She wasn't sure she liked receiving a compliment from this dangerous, lethal man. "It's very...flattering." His hand rose to brush over the beginning curve of her petite breast. His eyes locked on hers and she jerked her gaze away, infuriated with herself for the heat rising to her cheeks. He chuckled, a dark, seductive sound that made her body tauten. "I'll be sure to keep in touch, Lady Serine."

"I'm certain you will, my lord," she responded, opening the door for him. "I hope you'll do your best."

"I always do," he said with a smile that promised the pain that she had paid for. "Good night, Lady."

"...Good night." He turned from her and she sensed him putting up a shield to protect him from the rain as he stepped from the veranda to move down the steps to the sleek, black carriage awaiting him. She shook her head, shutting the door, her hand remaining on the knob for a moment. Her tongue darted out, wetting her lips. She shook her head again, irritated with the man. I'll not get seduced by the damned man. Her temper blazed. I despise him. He's everything that I hate about men. He's too much like Aclesie... Growling beneath her breath, she stormed upstairs to her room.

X

Gavriel took a slow drink of his brandy, taking in his surroundings. It was true that not many associated with him, but those that did were careful in how they approached him. Perhaps if Gavriel's family hadn't been so suspicious, so unloving, he might have turned out differently. Then again, he didn't mind how he was. It was just that once he had been unmasked as the sadistic killer her was, it'd been hard to get a woman in his bed. He shouldn't have been so indulgent with himself with Lady Serine. A sneer curled his lips as he downed the rest of his brandy.

She wasn't quite as skittish as other women were around him and he admired that. She was more suspicious than fearful. He had sensed that brief rush of desire when he'd touched her, though, and it meant there was a very good chance he could get laid. There was something about that woman that fascinated him. The fact that she lived in surroundings that included men like him was interesting. She'd been so confident that she could handle him at first, but when she'd seen that flash of twisted coldness, her confidence had waned. True, Serine had flickers of fear now, but they were brief. Her wariness of him overwhelmed anything else. He could deal with suspicion in a woman he wanted to bed. That wasn't difficult.

"Gavriel," a harsh, rasping voice greeting quietly. Gavriel flickered a look at a worn-out man that was about two hundred years older than him. Lusvitz was the only person Gavriel could call a friend. Lusvitz had been Gavriel's friend for as long as he could remember. He knew Gavriel's honed temper, cold indifference, and sadistic killing was more out of the abuse he had endured from his family than anything else. It was also the many people that had betrayed Gavriel that made him snap. He had been there when Gavriel's power had erupted from when he finally lost his sanity long enough to go blood crazy. He had killed more than three thousand people as he prowled the countryside, ruthlessly murdering people that had done nothing to him. Lusvitz had only survived because he was the only person Gavriel recognized and because he'd kept behind him far enough that his power didn't affect him too badly.

After that one event, his friend had become cold, his temper easily provoked, and he distrusted everyone except Lusvitz. He had been distressed by the change of attitude, but he understood the transformation, understood that Gavriel was only trying to protect himself from more abuse and betrayal. There was nothing that could be done for how Gavriel was now. He accepted him as he was and that was that.

"I haven't seen you in awhile, Lusvitz," Gavriel said quietly as his companion sat down across from him, his shaggy blonde hair matted to his tan forehead. He bared his teeth in a grin, fangs that matched Gavriel's glinting.

"No," Lusvitz agreed, "but I've been busy."

"How is your throat?" Lusvitz laughed a low, unpleasant guttural laugh.

"As awful as always." Lusvitz had been strangled by his power when he'd tried killing his wife, who had attempted to poison him. In the end, Gavriel had done the favor of killing her. He'd left the house to let Lusvitz release the power and destroy the home that he'd once happily lived in with his wife. The power in his throat had left his voice hoarse. Gavriel had coldly, but calmly, scolded him for becoming weak and not being able to kill a woman.

After that, the two of them traveled with each other for a while and had settled in Ganrion together. Lusvitz, though, worked as Gavriel's man of business and often had to leave to take care of things in Gavriel's territories. They often went to them together, to simply enjoy the feel of traveling together again.

"Do you recall Aclesie?" Gavriel casually questioned, his face a cold mask of detachment.

"Of course," Lusvitz answered, taking a cup of brandy for himself. "How can I not?"

"I've been paid 180 golden marks to make his life a living hell, to kill his family, and then to kill him." Lusvitz swallowed a drink of brandy, staring at him in surprise. By the curling smirk on his lips, Gavriel was going to take great pleasure in this certain task.

"And who...?"

"A widow that goes by the name of Lady Serine. Perhaps you have heard of her."

"Ah. Yes." He smiled slightly. "The woman looks like a frail one, but she's got some temper in her." He glanced at Gavriel and questioned, "How does she like you?"

"She is interesting," Gavriel said dismissively.

"You misunderstand me, Gavriel. I know that you haven't been in bed with a woman for a long time because of your reputation. I'm curious as to know if she can handle you. From what I know, she's been around bastards her whole life." His eyes glinted and Gavriel's eyes narrowed slightly. "I think she'd be a match even for you."

"Don't be ridiculous, Lusvitz. You know who I am. You know what I am capable of." A chuckle escaped his lips, a fang sticking out from beneath his lip. "I intend on forcing her to watch the slow, painful death of Aclesie just so she remembers who I am, just so that she understands that I took care of the prick."

"...If you insist," was the vague response Gavriel received. Gavriel refilled his glass and then took a swig of brandy, irritated by how his friend was watching every move he made. He didn't want to admit it, but, for a woman, Lady Serine was a match for him. The fact that he didn't scare the shit out of her was the main reason. She just didn't trust him. She danced around him, cautious not to get too close, knowing that his handsome attractiveness could make an explosion of desire erupt in her. She had been widowed for about two years. It wasn't disrespectful to her deceased husband if she went to bed with him. She just refused to. And somehow, Gavriel had a feeling his friend knew that was how it was. Well, right beside being the most sadistic, cold male in all the kingdoms, he was also known to be able to seduce even the most prudish women. And, he decided, Serine could be placed in that category.

X

Gavriel smirked to himself as he watched Lusvitz leave, as, not his friend, but his man of business. He was going to bring down Aclesie down hard with his own political and economical power. That was the only way to destroy the outer foundations of Aclesie's life. Then, once that was accomplished and Aclesie was no longer of any help to Ganrion, he would tear the two darling children of his to pieces. Oh, yes. He would be as ruthless as his very Being was. That wasn't hard since that was all he was.

To Be Continued...