Waking up with Moira’s soft, warm body in my arms? Definite yes.
Having Sei’s voice in my head, yelling score, as Moira thinks of a forever with me? No. Fuck no. The shock makes me recoil and slam up my mental walls, but the asshole keeps wooting and cheering and ignoring them.
Can he shut up and give me ten minutes, to rock Moira’s world one more time? Totally.
Does he? Another nope.
“It’s urgent,” he blares in my head like a fog horn. “Get your ass to your apartment. I’ll pick you up in two.”
“Don’t want to,” I reply the same way.
But he won’t stop until I do as he says, so I get out of bed. Holding a conversation with Moira while Sei screeches for me to haul ass is near-impossible, but I’m awesome, so I manage. I want to look my fill of her naked body, stretched alluringly behind me, but I don’t know if the jackass in my head can sneak a peek.
I hate her look as I scramble out the door. She must think I’m a coward, but I said I’d see her later. Didn’t I?
I make my way upstairs, burst through the door, and shove my dick of an older brother with both hands. “What the fuck was that, Sei?” Sparks come off his chest where my palms make contact, but I push once more, even if I can’t make his immortal ass move a centimeter. “Who said you can invade my head like that?”
“I tried your cell, more than a couple times. I told you, it was an emergency.” Chill as fuck, he clasps my wrists and forces me to drop my arms. “I swear I didn’t peek at your female. Besides, you should be thanking me for cutting in; she seemed about to initiate the bond.”
Forever. Moira’s voice echoes in my mind. Was that all it took for the bond to form? I thought we had to fuck first, and for the decision to bind ourselves to each other for eternity to be a conscious one. “I didn’t… We didn’t…”
Sei shrugs. “Hermes and Joy hadn’t shared that level of intimacy when their bond fell into place.”
Shit. Does this mean I shouldn’t even be kissing her? That I can’t taste her again?
Or that I could taste her for the rest of a very long life.
No. I won’t bond. It’s a decision I made a while ago.
But the circumstances have changed.
“Fuck.” The word bounces off the walls, mocking me. Maybe I should have fucked her and gotten this over with.
“Yup.” Sei nods gravely. He closes a hand on my shoulder, and my apartment fades away, to be replaced by the whites and blues of his suite in the Kifissia Olympian Plaza. Unlike me, Sei likes flaunting his wealth, even if he’d like to believe he does so in an understated manner. The leather sofas and real-gold accents are so understated on marble floors, right?
Said sofas—as well as armchairs—are now occupied by all my brothers. Joy is in Hermes’ lap, and Irine hurries to latch onto Sei’s side. See, I can’t do this. I can’t have a female touching me at all times.
Moira isn’t any female. She’s—
Hey, Ares is sporting a black eye. Don’t think I’ve ever seen one of us bruised before.
I point at his face as I lean against the floor-to-ceiling window. “What does that to an Olympian?”
Today’s a day of firsts, because Hephaestus—he of the perma-sadness—chortles. “A fucking Titan. This dickwad made a joke about Pandora’s Box. Epimetheus didn’t appreciate it.”
Ares rolls his eyes. “Pussy-whipped ape’s got no sense of humor.”
“Upside—we know Epimetheus isn’t our enemy,” Hermes says. “If he were, Ares would have seen the punch coming, and he’d have avoided it.”
“Not sure he could have avoided that.” Sei huffs. “He should consider himself lucky that King Nereus and I stopped Epimetheus before the Titan caused greater damage.”
“Yeah, or before I brought the whole fucking palace down.” Ares crosses his arms over his chest, green eyes blazing.
The guy scares me sometimes. Who wants someone with so many issues, ascending to full power? But he’s my brother, and I love him. And, if we’re lucky, his Valkyrie will stay in Valhalla and never ever cross his path.
I tap the nonexistent watch on my wrist, looking at Sei. “You said this was urgent. Did you just wanna show me Ares’ face before he healed? ‘Cause I do appreciate it, but I have things to do.”
“Things.” Hades snorts. “We know what you have to do, brother. No need to be coy about it. I, for one, am happy for you.” That may be the longest he’s ever spoken in one sitting. If Hephaestus is sad all the time and Ares is moody, Hades acts like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. Which I guess is the case, now that Sei abdicated the throne in the new pantheon, but that doesn’t explain why Hades has been this way since he reached adulthood.
Not that any of us has had the balls to ask. He may never get violent, but those ash-gray eyes of his can be scary when he levels a glare your way. He’s a couple months younger than Sei, but I’ve always considered him the oldest in the family. Maybe the wisest after C, too, not that I’d admit it aloud.
“Whatever. Is there something you need me for?” I sound bored, like I’m not dying to go back to Moira and to not doing the things I want to do to her.
“Sit.” An invisible blast of air wraps around me at Hermes’ words and pulls me down.
I cross my legs and try to look as if sitting on the floor was my idea.
“Poseidon and Ares met with Epimetheus, King Nereus, and Aphrodite.” Hades’ voice is a touch brighter than I’m used to. “Those three spoke for those of the ancient world still in existence. Nereus swore fealty to Sei, and once Epimetheus stopped trying to kill Ares, he and Aphrodite swore the Titans will not oppose our rule as long as we don’t endanger humanity.”
“Which should go without saying,” Joy interjects in perfect Greek that she didn’t speak a couple days ago.
“Damn right,” Hermes adds.
Hades continues, as if they didn’t speak. “But that’s not all. Our sister remembers all of her past life.” He glances at Hephaestus. “She wants to meet with you, at your convenience, to thank you for raising her son.”
Hephaestus scowls, the look perfectly in place on his angular face. “Her son?”
Sei cuts in. “Eros. You were a father to him, even though he wasn’t yours. He wants to thank you too. And his mate, the witch Circe, had a gift for you.”
Silver overtakes the brown in Hephaestus’ irises. “A gift?”
“Unless you don’t want it.” Ares shrugs.
“I’m gonna fucking kill you.” The threat is uttered matter of factly, before Hephaestus turns his expectant gaze to Sei.
Sei’s smile is crooked, and when he doesn’t answer for too long, Irine pinches his arm. “Tell him,” she hisses.
“All right, but you people know nothing about showmanship.” Sei brings her hand to his lips and brushes a kiss across her knuckles. “Circe promised love will never break your heart again.”
Whatever Hephaestus was expecting, this wasn’t it. His expression falters, and he leans back in the armchair, face to the ceiling. “Neat.”
Now, me? I’d appreciate such a reassurance. And I say so, before I can stop myself.
Joy’s eyes glimmer when she turns her gaze to me. “Someone is smitten.”
This familiarity should irk me; she and I only met a couple days ago. Instead, I find myself eager to talk about Moira. What’s wrong with me? Whatever it is, it’s taken over rational thought. “I didn’t expect to be so into her. I mean, she’s a virtual stranger, but I can’t stop thinking about her.” I tug at a strand of hair, and go cross-eyed, looking at it. Better than facing my brothers, as I fess up to what I’ve spent my adult life denying. “It’s so fucked up.”
“I got this,” Hermes says.
I look up, to see him motioning for the others to leave us. “No, it’s okay.” My protest is half-hearted, and they obviously get that, because they file into the elevator.
All but Sei. “You can fuck off somewhere else.” He lazily strokes Irine’s arm. “This is my suite.”
Hermes blinks beside him and lightly punches his shoulder. “Come on, man. Remember what a mess you were when you thought you and Irine weren’t happening.”
“He was, huh?” Irine’s lips twitch in an unformed smile.
“And we’ll be in my London suite, if you absolutely need us.” Sei wraps an arm around her waist and pulls her to him in a theatrical fashion. A split second later, they’re gone.
Joy isn’t. She’s watching me from the couch, her legs folded beneath her. “Don’t mind me. Consider this research, for my next book.”
I chuckle. I can see what Hermes saw in her. She’s unfiltered. And gorgeous. But she doesn’t hold a candle to my Moira.
Hermes drops to the floor beside me and stretches out his legs. Except for our coloring, we could be twins. So weird, considering we share no genes. “Talk to me,” he says.
“I heard the alarm go off in the bar last night. Went down to kick some ass, and found her sneaking around. She’s apparently moved in till she finds another place. She was in nothing but a fucking towel, man.”
From the corner of my eye, I see him nod. “So you kissed some ass instead?”
I slam an elbow in his ribs. It hurts—me. “What we did or didn’t do is none of your business.”
He’s quiet for so long, I turn to face him. His expression of shock is comical. “After all”—he flicks his gaze to Joy and back to me, and lowers his voice—“we’ve shared, this is off limits? You are in love.”
“Can’t be. Too soon.” But even as I say the words, something flutters in my stomach, my head is full of cotton, and my legs feel like they’re made of lead. I’m not susceptible to human ailments, but love is divine.
“Did you spend the night with her?” Joy asks.
I nod, not meeting her gaze. “We didn’t go all the way. Fuck, I sound like a twelve year old. But we didn’t. I couldn’t. I mean, I abso-fucking-lutely could, but I didn’t.”
Hermes ducks and leans into my line of sight. “Why the fuck not?”
Yet another moment of truth I choose to skip. The thought of letting them know I drove my last significant other to madness overtakes the memory of Moira’s smooth skin for a heartbeat, to tighten in my gut like a white-hot poker. “Not sure I want the commitment that comes with it.”
His laugh holds a tinge of pity. “Man, you’re already committed. Did you kick her out?”
I recoil. “Of course not. What kind of asshole do you think I am?”
“The in-love kind.” He counts out on his fingers. “You didn’t kick her out.” Thumb. “I’m guessing you didn’t fire her.” Index. “You didn’t… sleep with her.” Middle.
“I did sleep with her,” I counter with my own middle finger in his face. “Just not that way.”
He ruffles my hair and hops to his feet. “You’re making my case for me. You, Dionysos, spending the night with a woman and not”—he slides his gaze to his mate—“touching her? You’re a gonner.”
I won’t explain how I very much did touch her, because I get what he’s saying. Doesn’t solve my problem, though. Twice now, Moira has shared my dreams of my past. What more will we share if we complete the bonding? How much more will I hurt her?
I climb upright too, and brush my ass with both hands. “Thanks for nothing,” I mumble.
“Tell her what you want.” Joy’s voice is hushed. “I know it’s none of my business, but you should see how your face lights up when you talk about her. If you feel for her what I do for your brother? It’s worth any risk.”
Fuck. She makes it sound so easy, but she doesn’t know what I’ve done. Moira may hate me, if she knows the whole truth. She will fear me.
Is there a middle ground between going all in and keeping my distance?
“Take me home?” I ask Hermes. “And can you get me a room at the Glyfada Olympian Suites for Moira? The backroom cot isn’t meant to be slept in.