Chapter Thirteen

Ares

Bet I could drive my dick through the wall; it’s that hard.

When Tilje sits up, it jumps under her heated gaze. Our mental connection is severed for the moment, but I don’t need it, to know what’s on her mind. She’s wondering what my cock can do, if my mouth and hand made her come like that. And fuck, next time, I want to watch her as she comes apart for me—not that I minded being trapped between her pale thighs and feeling her every twitch.

She knows what I can offer now. She’s hooked. Wants more. Will she stroke my cock again, like she did earlier? Will she put it in her mouth? The thought of those rosy lips stretching to accommodate my girth has my hips thrusting toward her as if they have a mind of their own. Which they may actually have, since they support the head that makes most of my decisions.

Tilje licks her lips, and I groan. I can almost feel the wet heat of her mouth closing around my cock.

When she raises her arm, however, it’s to push me back.

Her mouth is a hard line as she stands, avoiding my gaze. “That was stupid,” she tells my feet. “I’m only supposed to watch over you while you recover. You’re obviously fine, so I must return to my other duties.” She takes the few steps to where her discarded dress lies as if she’s marching into battle.

I watch the muscles in her back ripple and her buttocks clench, as she lifts the material over her head and until she covers that sublime body.

It was stupid to think she’d give herself to me, when I know what’s at stake for her. She has no clue what we’re supposed to be to one another. Should I tell her about the bond? That letting me make love to her won’t only have no effect on her immortality, but it’ll also elevate her into a goddess?

No.

It’s egotistical—and stupid, since her being my soulmate means she will love me, truly and completely—but I want to win her over. So I do something I never in a million years expected to do. “Don’t go.” The pleading in my voice makes me wince.

She must hear it, because she stops trying to strap on her breastplate and glances at me over her shoulder. “Why? Are you still in pain?”

Yeah, but said pain is centered on my throbbing cock. “No, but what if I open the wound in my sleep and bleed out? You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

“I’d rather not have your untimely death on my conscience, no.” Her lopsided smile makes my heart jump but is gone much too soon. “I cannot allow a repeat of what just happened, though.”

“I swear I won’t touch you unless you specifically ask me to.” The words scrape my throat on their way out. I can still taste her on my tongue, and I want more. But not until she decides she wants to be with me, no matter what.

And yes, a part of me knows I’m being an idiot for expecting someone I barely know to prefer sex with me over immortality, but my ego can be a beast.

Tilje turns to fully look at me. “That won’t happen. I’ll never ask you to… Ever.

My money is on tomorrow morning, but I’ll allow her to believe whatever keeps her in my bed.

I ask the table for a bucket of water and soap, and wash before I join her under the covers, where she thankfully lies without her breastplate. I don’t offer to put on my pants, and she doesn’t ask me to.

Her knuckles graze my hip, as she fixes the covers over us both. When she raises her face to mine, blue eyes huge and guileless, it takes restrain nobody would believe I have, to keep from kissing her.

Instead, I do something else I’ve never done before. “Tell me about yourself.”

Her cheeks are still flushed, and her eyes shine feverishly, but her voice is all business. “What do you want to know?”

“You said Odin created you. Was it only to bring him news of our world? Valkyries are supposed to collect the souls of dead warriors, aren’t they?” Can they do so while Valhalla is in a time bubble?

She shakes her head, and a curl falls across her face. Scrunching her nose, she tucks it behind her ear. “Originally, half of those who died in battle came here, and the rest went to Fólkvangr.” At my blank look, she explains, “Freya’s field.”

“I see. And now?”

“Now Valhalla is frozen in time, with nobody new coming in, and Fólkvangr is lost to us, along with the rest of Asgard.”

I don’t know what to ask first. I’ve heard her invoke the goddess before, so I go with— “And Freya?”

Tilje’s expression falls. “Gone before my creation. Odin says her stubbornness was her demise. She refused to be locked up in here. Insisted those who believed in her would make sure she never faded.” Her gaze skitters around the room, as if she’s worried someone may be hiding in the shadows. Lowering her voice to a whisper, she says, “There’s a rumor that Loki found her in her last moments and managed to catch her final breath in a jar, which he brought Odin as a gift.”

“Because she was his wife?” I think I remember this from the movies.

Tilje rolls her eyes. “No, that was Frigg. People today think she and Freya are the same person, because why would the Allfather allow a goddess to run around with lovers and command armies, unless she was his to control?” She bites her bottom lip. “Freya’s always been my favorite, even though I never met her. She was fierce and independent. She jumped into battle with the same glee she made love.” Her cheeks practically glow crimson even in the deepening darkness.

“The fire is dying down,” I say stupidly, because I’m honestly trying not to think of how she’ll blush if I do make love to her. If I linger on that thought, I’ll forget my oath to not touch her, and the oath of an Olympian cannot be broken without dire consequences.

“I’m not cold.” She rolls to her other side, and I find myself opening my arms for her to scoot back against me.

We’re spooning, and I’m hard as nails. Lovely.

“Did you ever run into her?” Tilje asks. “When you knew Odin and Thor?”

“No.” My certainty surprises me.

“How come?”

I shrug, though she can’t see me. “Guess she wasn’t around much when I visited.”

She tangles her fingers through mine and lets out a contended sigh. “So you never slept with her?”

I chuckle. “Nope.”

I think she says, good, but it’s more like a breath than a word.

“Do you remember a lot from back then?” she asks.

“Not really, no. It’s more like some things or people feel familiar.” That’s an understatement. But how can I put into words how Thor feels like a brother or Valhalla calls to every cell in my body?

Tilje squeezes my hand. “And in this life?”

I groan as she squirms to get comfortable, her ass grinding against my cock. “What about it?”

“What was it like, growing up with so many brothers and knowing you’ll become a god one day?” She punctuates the question with a yawn.

“I was a teenager when C—our adoptive father—brought me to the family. He knew who we were, and he prepared us for our ascension.”

“What does the C stand for?”

Why have I never wondered about that? Insignificant detail. Nothing to concern myself with. “I’d had a rough couple years, and he saved me.” Which is something I don’t admit aloud, as a rule. What is it with this female, making me cross years’ worth of self-imposed boundaries on every step?

Rough, how?” Her voice is light, and she doesn’t turn to look at me, but her body tenses. It’s not mere curiosity; she cares to know the answer to her question.

Do I care to give it?

“When I was twelve, my parents took me on a trip to the United States.” Does she know what that is? “Huge-ass country. Other side of the world from Greece,” I add.

When she hums in acknowledgment, I continue. “It was supposed to be my present for getting the Certificate of Proficiency in English, and I thought we’d go to Disneyland, but we stayed in a hotel room in New York, for two weeks. Only Dad left the room, to bring food. Then, one Monday morning, I woke up and they were gone. There was a note on the dresser.” A knot in my throat makes it hard to recite the message I’ll never forget. “There’s something we need to do, to keep you safe. Whatever happens, know that we love you more than life itself. Mom and Dad.

I swallow hard and wait for Tilje’s pity, but she just gives my hand another squeeze.

When I’m sure she won’t say anything, I continue. “I waited in the room until nightfall, and then went to Reception, to ask if they’d heard from my parents. Nobody had. The room was paid for another week, but the hotel people called Child Protective Services the next day, and I ran. I had no money and knew nobody in the city, so I did some things I’m not proud of. Picked pockets. Begged. Slept on the street.” The words are pouring out of me with an ease I didn’t expect. “It wasn’t easy, always being on the lookout for someone who’d want my stolen shoes or my passport or the few bucks I pinched on the subway, or who’d stab me for sleeping in the wrong alley.

“When C found me, three guys had me cornered. One or more of them was about to rape me. I fought them, but I was a fucking fourteen year old. C saved my ass.” I let out a harsh chuckle. “Literally. And he promised me a future. He took me to Greece, introduced me to brothers I really didn’t like at first, and forced me to catch up with school.” And I fought him every step of the way. “I owe him my life.” Even if those thugs couldn’t kill me, they would have taken away my will to live. Which is why I need to stop listening when Sei, Hermes, or Dionysos say C’s got an agenda of his own.

But why would someone with his powers want to help other gods ascend?

 

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