Dionysos is hawt. Like, panty-meltingly so.
The whole family is gorgeous, weird-ass names and all, but the rest of them don’t have the smoldering eyes or the wicked smirk.
And I’m not thinking of those things. Fate has smiled at me by practically tossing a job at my feet on the day I got fired. I’m not gonna mess up the opportunity. If Dionysos pays as well as Ares said, I can afford to rent a small studio in the area.
I shift closer to the fire, so it warms my feet.
“Do you live nearby?” Dionysos asks.
“Yes.” The lie is out of my lips before I realize it. Why don’t I want this stunning man to know I’m out of a home as well as out of a job? Because I don’t want him pitying me? Maybe because his growl before made my pussy clench with need, and if he lets out that sound again, I’ll forget how much I need this job, and crawl over the table to him. Or perhaps under it.
“Good. Shifts are seven in the evening to 3 am. We usually start cleaning up at two, so you don’t need to stay overtime. We do get lingerers, but I take care of those. We don’t open Mondays, and you get one more day off. Argyro—your predecessor—used to take Tuesdays, which would save me the trouble of redoing the schedule, but if you’re set on a different day—”
“Tuesdays are fine,” I say.
He rolls his eyes. “Will you let me finish my hiring speech?”
“Oh. This is your hiring speech?” No celebrating till he confirms it.
I beam at him. “Does this mean I’m hired?”
“Duh. Bring your ID, proof of past employment, your social-security number, and a copy of the first page of your bankbook tomorrow, to make things official. Technically, I should also have your resume and references on record, but I won’t need those since you haven’t tended bar professionally.”
“This was the shortest interview ever.” And I didn’t double-check what Ares said about the money, damn it.
“Shorter than the one with Ares?” Dionysos asks.
I scrunch my nose. Pretend to consider it. “Second shortest.”
“Good. I usually close up. If you do stay late, you get paid overtime. I don’t skimp on these things. Your tips are your tips, and you need to come in one Monday every couple months for a few hours, to help with inventory.” He nods, more to himself than me. “I think that’s all. Any questions?”
“Umm… my salary?”
“Right.” He rubs his face. “How’s a thousand a month?”
“Is that in my pocket or including social-security charges and stuff?”
“In your pocket.”
Well, that’s a couple hundred more than I made before.
He tilts his head, and his brown curls clear the corded muscle of his neck. He’s freaking ripped. “What do you say?” he asks.
“When do I start?”
He sits back, pecks bulging as he crosses his arms. “Actually, can you come in tomorrow? It’s a one-time thing; I don’t plan on stealing your day off on a regular basis. You’ll get paid for overtime, you can help Phaedra—since Nancy called in sick—and you’ll train on the job, on a slow day.”
He’s watching me. Why is he watching me? Should I get up and leave, since we’re done? My shoes are almost dry, finally. Only my shoes. “Shit. I should have brought my clothes near the fire. They’ll never dry in—”
He covers my hand with his, but withdraws it like he was stung. “It’s okay. Irine turned on the dehumidifier before she left.”
“When? I didn’t see her going into the staff bathroom.”
He gives me a slow blink. “It’s—uh—remotely controlled.” Is he lying?
I’m suddenly intensely aware I’m alone in a darkened bar with a stunning yet huge stranger.
I don’t feel threatened. Should I? I tilt my head and study Dionysos as he sits back in his chair. He seems utterly relaxed. Is this murdery-relaxed, though, or happy-go-lucky bar-owner relaxed?
He pulls his hair back from his face and secures it in a knot at the top of his head with a black band he slips off his wrist. “Come.” He unfolds his so very tall and impossibly wide frame from the chair, and wiggles his fingers at me. “Lemme show you around, and then we’ll check on your clothes and close up.”
I’m tempted to take his hand. Experience another shot of the rush that sped up my arm when we shook hands. But holding hands with my new boss can only lead to badness.
Or so much goodness.
Nope. None of that. I just quit a job—or was fired—because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss. Not gonna drool over this random, panty-meltingly hot stranger.
The fire is nice, and I’m in no rush to get away from its warmth, so I reluctantly stand and stretch. The hem of my borrowed hoodie tickles, as it glides up my thighs. Shit. I forgot what I’m wearing. I shove my fists in my pockets and drive the material back down. Hope I didn’t flash him.
My cheeks burn. Need a distraction. “What’s back there?” I tilt my head toward the door he disappeared behind earlier.
Deep, slow breaths. He didn’t see anything. The table was between us.
And I’m imagining the ribbon of silver swimming in his eyes. Must be a reflection of the light. The light that’s warm and yellow and nowhere near silver.
“Oh, that’s the back room.” His voice drops an octave, and his tone turns suggestive. Or I’m imagining things.
“Is that where you stuff things out of sight?”
Dionysos bites his lips and hangs his head, to look at me through lowered lashes. He’s about to say something naughty. I see it in the quirk of his lips, before they settle in a tight line. Is it me, or is he avoiding my gaze? He rubs his neck with one hand, looking at his boots, then shuffles his feet across the room and opens the door. “It’s more a spare bedroom, instead of a storage space. In case one of the girls is too tired to drive home at the end of the shift.”
That’s not the whole truth, though. His eyes say there’s more to the story. I take in the room. A cot, a mini-bar, a sink, an electric radiator, a wall-mounted TV, and a small desk with a sturdy-looking chair. “You never crash here?”
He shakes his head. “Don’t need to. My place is right upstairs.” His eyes widen comically. “Never tell any of the patrons that.”
“Why? Are you afraid one of them might stalk you?”
He doesn’t answer, but his half-shrug says it’s not out of the question. In the small space, his cologne permeates the air. It’s not one I’ve smelled before. Woodsy, with a hint of… grape? Fuck, does he smell like wine?
Would explain why I crave his taste.
Has he sampled his wares more than he should have? That would make me alone in a darkened bar with a stunning yet huge, drunk stranger.
“I should be going,” I say.
“Let me check if the rain stopped.” He exits the room ahead of me and strides to the front door. The sound of water pelleting the glass reaches my ears as soon as he cracks open the door. Soundproofing in here kicks ass. Yet another reason I should be leaving—nobody can hear me scream. But how can I go, in this weather? My car is at the Halandri metro station, and the bus schedule is not reliable even when the weather is nice.
I’m not sure what I’ll find when I get to my apartment, anyway. Meh, it’s not my apartment any more. Petros may have already been by and tossed my stuff out on the street. He may still be there. I shudder. I don’t want to deal with him alone.
Moving out won’t be much trouble; the furniture came with the apartment. I can pack my whole life here in three suitcases. Four tops. And then what? Move back in with my aunt and uncle? They’re a far cry from the Dursleys, but they weren’t exactly happy to be putting me up for the six months I was in Athens before I found a job and a place of my own. Can’t blame them. Their youngest just left for college, when Mom shipped me to them. They didn’t get any time to enjoy their empty nest. I can imagine their faces when I show up with my luggage. Again.
“You can’t leave.” Dionysos shuts the door on the rumble outside. “Not until the rain at least slows down.” He bites his bottom lip. “Guess I could call Sei.”
I wave him off. “I don’t need a ride. I’ll call a taxi. I have money.” In my soaked shoulder bag. Shit shit shit. I didn’t check if any water got in.
“What?” He meets my gaze. “Oh, I didn’t mean… Never mind. Listen, if you can wait for the grill to heat up, I’ll make us two of the juiciest burgers you’ve ever had. We’ll wait out the rain, and then I’ll call you a cab.”
A burger sounds good. I haven’t eaten since this morning. But I was supposed to be leaving.
He reaches for my arm, but drops his hand before he makes contact. “What happened with your old boss… It’s not going to happen here. Ever. I’d never lay a hand on someone who doesn’t want me, and I’d especially not make a pass on someone who works for me. I really do only want to feed you.”
I should be relieved, not sad, that he won’t hit on me. What’s the matter with me? I was sexually harassed less than an hour ago. Shouldn’t I feel worse? Shouldn’t my sexual appetite be subdued, if nothing else? I remember reading somewhere that everyone reacts differently to trauma. Or maybe I’m not traumatized. I didn’t feel threatened by Petros, even when he was throwing actual threats my way. I felt indignant. How dared he treat me that way?
Then again, I am fortunate enough to have a fallback scenario. If all else fails, I can move back to Halkida. My parents are well off. I won’t starve; I’ll just eat humble pie. If my livelihood really depended on my job with Marinos Advertising, if I couldn’t afford to knee Petros in the groin and walk away… If he were strong, and not a shrimp of a man with an overinflated ego…
A shudder skips down my spine.
Dionysos is still watching me, eyes filled with worry I want to assuage.
“I didn’t think you would… You know. It’s that”—I gesture down my front, indicating his hoodie—“I’ve imposed enough. You don’t need to provide sustenance, on top of clothing and a job.”
His smile makes the room brighter. “It’s no trouble.” He’s already heading for the kitchen. “Pour yourself a drink, go sit at the table again, and I’ll be back in a few.”
I could use some more time by the fire, but I feel warmer when I’m near him, so I sit at the bar, where I can see through the window into the kitchen. “I wanna watch,” I say. “Maybe learn something more sophisticated than the grilled-cheese sandwiches I usually make for company.”
His laugh has my nipples straining against the lace of my bra. I lean against the bar, to hide how they push at the cotton of the hoodie.
Yes, I’m aware I was trying to get away two minutes ago, but that was my logic and past experience behind the wheel. My body, my gut, tells me Dionysos is safe. Meaning he won’t rape and dismember me. When he bats his eyelashes and gives me this lopsided grin that makes a dimple appear on his left cheek, I’m not sure he won’t rip out my heart and stomp on it. If I let him. Which I won’t. Because I’m only here to stay dry, and I’m only coming back in the morning because I need the job.
But for the next few minutes, while he prepares dinner for me, I can enjoy the sight of his back rippling beneath his T-shirt, and his ass and his long, muscular legs stretching the denim fighting to encase them. The fryer is on, and he does not skimp on the frozen fries he pours into the basket from a bag when the oil heats up. He doesn’t talk while he forms two patties, adds a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and lays them on the scorching hot grill plate. The smell of beef and the sound of bacon sizzling make my mouth drool.
Dionysos gives the patties a couple minutes, then flips them.
“I like mine well done,” I say.
He doesn’t turn away from the cooker. “I said I’ll make you the best damn burger you’ve ever had. Won’t go above medium.”
I huff a sigh. “Okay. But you’d better rock my world.”
This time he does glance at me, and his eyes smolder.
The fryer dings, breaking the spell. Dionysos raises the fries out of the oil and turns off the switch. He has the ease of someone who’s been doing this for years, his moves perfectly synchronized. He takes the burgers off the grill, slaps a slice of Gruyere atop each one, and turns off the fire. Then he slices open two buns, butters them, and presses them to the hot surface. While the divine scent of butter mixes with the rest of the scintillating aromas, he chops lettuce and whips up a mayo-based sauce I couldn’t replicate if you paid me.
I force myself to stop staring, and my gaze falls on the frame beside the serving hatch. It’s the bar license. Dionysos’ last name is Olympios. Why does that sound familiar?
“Are you related to Poseidon Olympios? The hotel magnate?” I try to keep the shock from my voice. Poseidon Olympios is among the ten richest people in the world.
Dionysos doesn’t raise his head from his work. “Yeah. He’s my brother. You met him.”
“I did not— Wait. Sei? Sei is Poseidon?” Wow. I’ve met a freaking multi-billionaire up close. “How can I get him to offer me a job?”
Was that a growl? Can’t tell over the noise the range hood makes.
“The company I worked for did a TV-spot for him a couple years before I joined, and they still talk about how generous he was. The day the spot aired, he sent everyone who worked on the project flowers and champagne.”
Dionysos grunts. “I’m generous too.”
“Are you also filthy rich?” I slap my hand over my mouth, but it’s too late. The idiotic, gold-diggery question is out there.
To my infinite relief, he chuckles. “I am. Not as filthy. We were adopted into old money. Sei did what was expected of him with his share, while I—”
“Bought a bar.”
“Two. Soon to be three.”
I love the pride in his tone. Well, love is too strong a word. I sure do enjoy it, though. It gives his voice a deeper rumble that makes me squeeze my thighs together. He is every bit as sexy as the girls said he was. And I’ll attribute the snarl that curls my lips at the thought of other women knowing that fact to hunger pangs.
He ducks into a cupboard and comes back up holding two chop blocks, then proceeds to set up the burgers. Finally, he adds generous side portions of crispy, golden, liberally salted fries, and coleslaw he pulls out of the humongous stainless-steel refrigerator in the far corner.
By the time he places my plate in front of me, I’m cross-eyed with hunger.
“This smells amazing.” I reach for a fry, but he swats away my fingers.
“Not ready yet.” He goes back to the fridge and brings out a small bottle with a spray nozzle. And a piece of cheese. Pausing by the workbench to grab a cheese grater, he motions for me to move to the table and joins me there. He sprays first my fries and then his with what turns out to be truffle oil, and then tops them with finely grated Parmesan cheese.
“Can I please try them now?” I give him puppy eyes.
He sits back and crosses his arms over his chest. He does that a lot. He must realize the posture showcases his pecs and biceps. I’d stare more, but I need to shove a fistful of fries in my mouth. I do just that. And they taste as incredible as they look.
“Try the burger.” He nibbles on a fry and chews slowly. I watch his Adam’s apple bob as he swallows, and then my gaze is glued to his fingers, which he licks clean, one by one.
Burger. Eat. No fantasizing of what that tongue or those fingers can do.
I pick up my burger with both hands and sink my teeth in it in a very unladylike bite. Oh my God. I try to say the words, but all that comes out of my full mouth is a moan. I take my time, chewing and swallowing the exquisite combo of meat, bread, cheese, and salad. “This is the best burger I’ve ever had,” I say.
He nods, obviously satisfied, and finally digs into his meal.