Chapter Nine

Ares

Knew I was taking a risk when I placed Tilje’s hand on my dick. I expected her to yell, jump back… maybe slap me again. Definitely not for her to stroke me into an impossibly harder state. But great risks can yield great returns.

They can also yield veiled threats of de-cockification. What’s the word for that?

Not that she’d go through with it, judging by how she was touching me a moment ago. Or by the fact that she’s still holding my dick.

Gorgeous, naughty, and with a bite. Oh, I’m going to enjoy bonding with this one.

I mean fucking her, obviously. It’s not the bond I’m looking forward to. Just the sex and my ascension. I mean, who’d possibly look forward to monogamy? One woman for the rest of eternity? Please. Sei had the right idea before he went and got himself pussy-whipped. My bond with Tilje will be like an open marriage.

My chest tightens, and it has nothing to do with her implied threat. It’ll be an open marriage for me. My woman will not be touched by another male.

She drops her hand, and I turn to face her. Her surprised breath puffs warm on my chest. Before I know I’m going to, I wrap my arms around her.

“What are you doing? You’re supposed to join the battle.” She sounds upset but looks up at me with open desire, pupils blown so wide, they threaten to overtake the blue of her irises.

I have no choice but to swoop down and claim her lips.

Our second kiss is much, much more intense than the first one. Her fingers seek purchase on bare skin, short, jagged nails digging into my arms. Her grip keeps slipping, so she gives up and grasps the leather strap over my shoulder to hold me to her. She bites my lips and sucks on my tongue. Her other hand is on my cock again.

I’m supposed to wait till she begs, but this is close enough. Right?

And how the fuck does the thing covering her torso come off? I find no hint of a clasp in the back, so I start lifting her skirt instead. Chaos, there’s no getting under this thing.

Tilje closes her teeth on my bottom lip so hard, I taste blood. My little Valkyrie is ferocious.

When she frees me, I skate my palms up the rough texture of her armor—which she probably can’t feel—and cup her face. Her eyes are hooded, her cheeks bright pink, and her lips swollen with my kiss.

“I want you. Now.” I state it like the order it is.

She should be peeling off those layers and climbing my body.

Instead, she plants both hands on my chest and shoves me back.

I half-fly, half-drop into the huge, fur-covered bed behind me. I laugh and lazily tug at my cock that’s leaking precum for her. Normally, I’m the one flinging bed-partners into the desired position, but I’ll make do, this once. Besides, being ridden by a Valkyrie has to be a unique experience.

“Get my wallet from my jeans? There’s a condom in there,” I say.

No reply.

Cock standing proudly at attention, I prop myself up on my elbows and look at her.

Uh oh. No more desire in her gaze. More like murder. Her arms are crossed over that uncomfortable breastplate, her eyes narrowed, and her brow furrowed.

“Get dressed. I’ll be outside,” she barks.

She’s out in a flash, and the door bangs shut behind her.

Do I finish what she started?

“You have two minutes,” she calls out from the other side of the door. “Then I send Thor in after you.”

I’m not afraid of anyone, immortal or not, but I’d rather not be caught molesting myself on my first visit in Valhalla in literal eons. Well, unless Tilje does the catching. I pull on the coarse woven trousers, and knot together the ends of the string holding them in place. At least there’s room for my erection. I finally mange the leather straps of the harness, but I don’t cover my torso with the leather and fur. I cannot be wounded, and I look damn good shirtless. Why deprive Tilje of the sight of my bulging muscles, while I kick ass out there?

I barely spare the soft leather boots she brought a glance, before pulling my own steel-toed biker boots back on. Not fighting in someone else’s shoes.

I shove my way out the door and strut ahead of her toward the fray.

“This way.” She tugs on my wrist, till I follow her toward a building near where we first entered Valhalla. “This is the armory,” she says, pointing to its entrance. “Choose your weapon. Or weapons, if you can wield two at once.”

Pfft. Of course I can. Even if they weigh a ton each. I go through the extensive selection, hefting each one in my hand and trying not to drool at the gilded handles and edges shined to perfection. If my phone weren’t back on Earth, I’d be snapping pictures to show the guys. I’ll need to come back with it soon.

In the end, I pick an axe and a sword, and scoff at the guard’s suggestion of a shield or helmet. They’d weigh me down and obstruct my view. Besides, I can’t be physically harmed. I’ve never even had a nosebleed. Epimetheus bruised my eye a few days ago, but that was nothing, considering the power a Titan’s punch packs.

Tilje gives me the arched-eyebrow treatment when I reemerge. “Ambitious,” she says.

I smirk. “Whether it’s ambition or well-earned self-confidence will be proven shortly.”

“Oh, it’s definitely ambition.” A huge—meaning my size—male appears out of fucking nowhere. Long strands of blood-matted hair frame his face, and the thick, scraggly beard reaching halfway down his chest scratches my cheek when he pulls me into a bear-hug so tight, the contours of his breastplate may be imprinted on my chest.

He lifts me up, not easy at my hundred and thirty kilo of pure muscle, and squeezes. “Welcome back, brother.”

Brother. Sounds as right as if Hades said it. I know this is Thor, like I know he truly wants only what’s best for me. Though if he doesn’t let go, he may break one of my unbreakable ribs. I’m about to tell him just that, when he gently places me back on my feet.

He pats my back, and I instinctively pat his, and we’re both smiling. My cheeks hurt. When did I last grin this widely? For as long as I can remember myself, I’ve felt the odd man out. Too impulsive. Too aggressive. Too confined by the rules of reason. Here, surrounded by dead heroes and bloodthirsty gods, I belong.

My glee is soured by the memory of Tilje’s words from earlier. What will you do with all that power? Death? Mayhem? No. I’m not a destroyer; I just relish the ability to lose control in this confined environment, without permanent consequences. I take in the mass of bodies executing strikes. Blood spurts from wounds that would be lethal if these warriors weren’t already dead, and yet their laughter resonates inside me. It’s like a no-holds-barred version of my dojo.

“Come on, then. Show us what you’ve got.” Thor points at the fray, and Mjölnir appears in his outstretched hand.

Hmm… I didn’t realize I remembered the name of his hammer.

I let out a war cry I didn’t know I had in me, and side by side, Thor and I run into the fight.

“There are no friends here,” he yells, to be heard above the clang of metal. “In the end, there can be only one.”

“Like in Highlander?” I ask.

He gives me a perplexed look, as he crushes someone’s skull in with Mjölnir. “Who?”

I laugh and bring up my sword, to slice through a spear heading for my chest. “Never mind.”

Axes, swords, and lances fly at me, and I parry and sweep and block, and my chest swells with this fierce sense of happiness. Between the battle and Tilje, this may be the best day I’ve ever had.

Sappy fool. A blade between my ribs acts as a painful reminder I shouldn’t let my mind wander when people are trying to kill me.

I bring up my arm reflexively, and my sword pierces through resistance only bone can pose. Even among all the noise, I hear the crunching sound as I thrust harder.

I try to laugh, but it turns into a cough. Fuck, the cut stings. I bring my hand to the wound, and it comes up covered in blood. I’ve never seen my blood before, because it always stays inside my fucking body.

This is wrong. Not supposed to happen. I can’t bleed.

What the hell is going on? Was this a trap after all, for Odin to get rid of me?

I suck in a breath, but air won’t fill my lungs. My knees buckle, and as I hit the dirt, one word—one name—blares inside my mind.

Tilje.

 

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