I shouldn’t have told her about my folks—too dark a topic for a first date—but with what happened when she had me in her mouth, taking things slowly isn’t an option. As her wet heat engulfed me, I was transported to my first time with Ariadne. I felt the grass beneath my bare feet. Heard the song of the birds. Smelled an air so different from today’s fossil-fuel scented one, it felt as foreign as it was familiar.
I obviously projected all that to Moira through our rapidly establishing link. I saw it in the widening of her hazeleyes when she recoiled. Things like this will keep coming up the more time we spend together, and unless I explain what’s happening, I’ll drive her away.
The thought chills me to the bone. I can’t lose her. Ever.
But the alternative is bonding, and that can’t happen unless I know how to hide my memories of Ariadne from her. Having my mate hate me until the end of the world wouldn’t be optimal, as Sei would put it.
Fuck, he and the others will mock me relentlessly if I go ahead with the bonding after renouncing it so adamantly for the past decade and a half.
So my options are either letting her go and dying inside, or lying to her by omission for eternity and suffering my brothers’ ridicule. Lovely.
Maybe I’m lucky, and my sad dead-parents story will make my choice for me.
I downplayed how their absence still hurts. The ache has dulled, but it’s constantly there, a hole behind my ribs. It’s not that I miss them, because I don’t really remember them. I miss what we could have been—a different family than what I was brought up in. I try not to hate my father for getting involved with another woman. Try not to blame my mother for not sending him off alone when she found out. It’s hard to accept that deep down, I resent them for dying.
When Moira gets up, my heart lurches in my chest. She’s leaving.
But she’s not. She plops down beside me and hooks one of my arms around her shoulders, so she can fold her body into mine. “My parents are so supportive, it’s annoying.” The words are muffled, her lips tickling my chest. “If I tell them I’m going to the bathroom, they’ll start cheering for me to have the best pee ever.” She slaps one hand over her mouth. In my mind, I see her cringe at mentioning peeing on a date. With a superhot guy. Who’s obviously a little damaged.
Fair assessment. I’m both superhot and a little damaged.
“They wanted me to find a job near them, in Halkida, and live out the rest of my years in the neighborhood I grew up in, but…” It wasn’t enough for her, and she’s afraid I’ll think less of her if she admits that. That I’ll believe she’s after my money. If only she knew what I stand to gain from our relationship.
“The big city called, huh?” I trail my fingers down her arm, steering clear of her breast. This isn’t about sex; it’s about a deeper connection that scares the fuck out of me.
She nods. “There was more for me out here. I had dreams that didn’t fit in Halkida.” With a delicate snort, she adds, “Like becoming a bartender and hooking up with my boss.” Who won’t fuck me.
Takes me a second to realize she didn’t speak that last part. My cock, never fully relaxed in her presence, stands at attention. Why am I not balls-deep inside her?
Worth any risk, Joy said. She didn’t know the risk is that Moira will hate me, assuming she can access all my memories if the bond is complete.
When it’s complete.
I jump up, and she falls face-first on the cushion. Her scowl is a perfect depiction of the what the fuck blaring in her thoughts.
“I’m hungry,” I say. “Room service?”
Moira shakes her head but says, “Sure. But I’m paying for this.” She doesn’t speak again until the food is delivered, other than to tell me she wants a club sandwich and a cola, please and thank you.
I’ve fucked this up. Part of me insists it’s for the best, but deep down, where all my worst ideas are birthed, I know it’s not. What’s for the best is for her to be riding my cock from now until eternity.
And I want to smack my forehead. C will know if there’s a way to bond with Moira without allowing her a glimpse into the past I shared with Ariadne. He’s known everything, as far as I can tell. Hermes and Sei are no longer sure about his best intentions, and their doubts may not be unfounded, but whatever his reasons, he wants me to ascend. He’ll tell me the truth.
According to the same two pains in my ass, I can mentally conjure our surrogate grandfather, but I rely on good old technology. While Moira is pushing perfectly crisp, golden fries around her plate, I send C a quick text.
When can we meet? Urgent.
The text is delivered, but no reply has arrived by the time the worst first date in the history of first dates between people who’ve already seen each other’s genitals is over.
I look at my watch, though I’ve seen the time on my phone. “We should head out in half an hour or so.”
“Right. Work.” She pushes a fry in her mouth and chews slowly. “Need to take a quick shower.”
Moira naked. Water pelting her flawless skin. Her hair clinging to her bare breasts. Me, behind her, driving into her, my grip slippery on her soap-lathered hips.
I clear my throat and adjust my cock, hoping the table hides it from view. “Should I wait downstairs, for you to get ready?”
“Yeah. Sure.” The disappointment in her expression is fleeting but unmistakable. Chaos, I want to wipe it away for good and leave her walking around with a silly grin for a week.
She’s marginally more talkative in the car, asking where my family home is, and how old my brothers and I were when we were adopted.
The light ahead turns red, and I stop more abruptly than I should have.
Moira leans against the passenger door and rests her hand on my shoulder. “I can’t get over the names he gave you. Must have made for a weird childhood.”
What would she think if she knew he tracked us down, and we were already named this way? I certainly have thoughts about it. But what are they? Our parents… What?
As always when my mind drifts to this subject, something nags at the edge of my consciousness, but when I reach for it, my thoughts scramble and scatter, like someone’s playing eight-ball with them and just broke the rack.
Green light. I hook a right, and we’re on Konstantinos Karamanlis Avenue, the sea spreading out on our left. Its calmness belies the low temperature of the water, but I have a brother who could make it warm as a bubble bath if I asked him to. “It was okay. Would have been harder if I didn’t have the guys.”
She squeezes me briefly, before letting go. “I can only imagine. My brother is a whole decade younger than me, and we were never that close. Mostly because he goes out of his way to annoy me. On the plus side, growing up, I never had to share my toys.”
I chuckle. “Well, neither did I. The Olympios family is filthy rich.”
I can’t look her way, but I hear the amusement in her tone. “Disgustingly,” I say.
Her laugh is the sweetest melody. I could listen to her laugh forever. Only we’re almost there. “Do you mind if I drop you off here, and you linger a couple minutes?” We’re a block away from the bar. “I don’t want people to talk. I don’t mess with my employees, and if they see you getting out of my car—”
“They’ll know you messed with me.” She doesn’t sound upset, and she’s smiling when I meet her gaze.
I pull over next to a parked car and bring her hand to my lips, to lay a tiny kiss on each fingertip. “Staying away while you work so close to me will be torture.”
Color spreads up her neck and to her cheeks. “Maybe this will tide you over.” She leans in and presses her lips to mine for a slow, teasing kiss. Her wicked tongue traces the seam of my lips and flicks across mine when I open my mouth. She tangles both hands in my hair, and I want to pull her on top of me and—
A car horn snaps me out of it. “I’ll need more of this later,” I whisper against her lips.
Her laugh lingers in the car alongside her perfume, as she throws open the door and climbs out. I take the time to appreciate her long legs and gorgeous ass, while I give the driver behind me an appeasing gesture that involves an outstretched middle finger. To the soundtrack of his horn, I roll slowly to the parking spot reserved for me outside the bar.
As I get out of the car, I check my phone. Still no reply from C.
Here goes nothing—I clench my jaw, and mentally call his name.