She needs time to process, and I’ll give it to her, even if every cell in my body screams at me to block her path and complete the bond.
She can have till after breakfast. I’m patient; I’m not a saint.
I watch her go out the door and slam it behind her, then I pull on my chlamys, pin it in place, throw the rope over my shoulder and gather her laptop. My chest feels hollow, the good mood I woke up in gone. How did I think she’d take the info I blurted out?
I’ll fix this. Her laptop too, but this, between us needs to be resolved. Not like she has the option to turn me down. It’s fate.
And now I sound like Sei. Worse—like Ares. Sei’s changed his tune since he bonded with Irine, but the other asshole still considers mortals, and especially females, inferior beings, whose will doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
I’m itching to get on with the fixing, but I shouldn’t leave yet.
I could take a shower.
The thought of washing her scent off me makes my chest ache. No shower for the foreseeable future. No swimming either, unless she’s with me.
Know what? Screw the waiting. I don’t care who knows I spent the night with Joy. When she comes around to seeing things my way, she won’t either. I throw open the door and strut my stuff to Reception, even though there’s nobody here to witness my walk of fame—because there surely is no shame in what she and I did.
Kalliroe is behind the desk and beams when I tap my fingers on the wooden surface.
“Morning, gorgeous. May I please have my keycard?” I say.
She looks me up and down, eyebrow arched. “Thanasis said you didn’t come back for it last night. I was worried you fell asleep on the beach and would wake up stiff. Glad to see you’re fine.” Her lips twitch, and her eyes have a naughty glimmer that makes me smile in return.
“To be honest, I did wake up stiff.”
She bats at my hand with a girlish giggle. “You’re horrible.” With her other hand, she smacks my keycard on the surface between us. “You should do something with that hair before the shoot. It’s at eleven. Thanasis will drive you and Ms. Moore to the studio I’ve booked.”
Awesome. That guy raises my hackles, though he’s been nothing but polite. I’ll have to sack up and deal for the twenty-minute drive. Not like he’ll stay with us.
“He’ll wait till you’re done, to bring you back,” Kalliroe says. Something in my eyes must betray my lack of enthusiasm at the idea, because she adds, “Or you could catch a taxi back. Take the scenic route.”
I nod, take the card, and pretend to fan myself with it. “What a marvelous idea. Thanks, beautiful.”
Her cheeks redden. “Go make yourself presentable and have some breakfast, boy. And stop flirting. I’m old enough to be your mother.” But she’s smiling.
Laptop under my arm, and twirling the card in my fingertips, I barely notice Thanasis stepping into my way. I stop and force a pleasant expression onto my face. “Sorry, man. Was lost in my head.”
“Yeah,” he says. He bumps my shoulder as he rounds me, and I hear him mumble malaka.
I’d be more upset if the feeling wasn’t mutual.
I let myself into my room, and almost drop the laptop when I see Sei sitting on my bed. Yeah, I know. I’m a freaking god; I’m supposed to have my shit together.
“What are you doing here?” I ask.
“Came to see what’s holding you back.” He grimaces and points at my outfit. “Maybe it’s the sarong.”
I scowl. “You know it’s not a freaking sarong. And it posed no obstacle whatsoever.”
“But you’re not bonded?” Denny’s voice to my left startles me. “Someone’s jumpy,” Asshole Number Two says from where he stands by the door to the balcony.
“Why are you both here? What is this?” I ask. If it’s an intervention, I swear to me, I’ll—
Denny tilts his head toward Sei. “He didn’t sense you ascending, and he wanted to help. He’s convinced his bonding makes him an authority in soulmates.” He shrugs. “I’m mostly here to mock you relentlessly for failing to bond with her on your first time together. And for the sarong.”
“It’s a fucking chlamys.” I am used to my brothers throwing jibes at each other, but I don’t usually bite. That they’re getting under my skin now, and over something this insignificant is telling. I mean, I know I’d look masculine in a pencil skirt. I’m all man, no matter what clothes you put me in. Who cares if they call my chlamys a sarong?
What I care about is that I’m wasting time with them, when there are things to be done and soulmates to be bedded until they realize we’re made for each other.
“I need Hephaestus,” I say.
Sei hops to his feet. “Why?
“Yeah, he hasn’t scored since…” Denny drops his gaze to his feet with something close to guilt. “You know.”
I do, and though I’m the first to point out Denny’s assholery in several instances, in this particular one, he shouldn’t be feeling guilty. The last girl to show an interest in Hephaestus was a bitch, and it wasn’t Denny’s fault she tried to jump him on Hephaestus’ birthday. Plus, it’s been five years since, and Hephaestus knew she wasn’t The One.
You ask me, Hephaestus was looking for an excuse to feel sorry for himself. It would explain why he’s so determined to believe there’s been a mistake with locating his soulmate.
But I’m digressing.
“Need him for this.” I take the laptop from under my arm and hold it up for them both to look at like they’ve never before seen such a contraption.
“You wanna hack into her computer?” Sei finally asks.
I won’t punch my brother, and not because he’s a full-on deity now, but because I’m evolved. “No, you cave-dweller. Because it broke, and I need him to fix it for her. Can you get it to him?”
Sei shrugs, blinks away, and reappears holding a frowning Hephaestus by the forearm.
“I fucking hate when you do that.” Hephaestus smacks Sei on the chest with the back of his hand. His jet-black hair is mussed, and he’s in a white T-shirt and dark-gray boxer shorts. “You could have given me two minutes, to get dressed.” He gives me a once-over and rolls his eyes. “Though at least I’m not in a chlamys.”
“Thank you.” I beam at him.
“Sorry to get you out of bed, but Junior needs you.” Sei indicates the laptop, and I hold it out for Hephaestus to take.
He doesn’t. “What about it?”
I scratch my chin. Need to shave. “We dropped it, and now it won’t work.”
“We?” Hephaestus arches one dark eyebrow, his brown eyes sparkling with uncharacteristic mirth.
Guess I’m the family’s laughing stock. I can live with that, as long as they help me out now. “Joy tossed it onto the floor, while… You know what? It fucking fell. Now can you fucking fix it?”
The hard line of his mouth softens in a smile that makes him look like the man he was before The Bitch stomped all over his confidence. “I’ll fix it, but you’ll owe me,” he says.
“Dinner as soon as I’m in Athens? Somewhere expensive, with huge-ass steaks?” I suggest.
He grabs the laptop. “That’ll do.” To Sei, he says, “Take me home. I need my tools.”
“How long with it take?” I ask.
Hephaestus holds the laptop flat in one hand and hovers his other palm splayed above it. “It’s nothing too bad. Give me an hour.”
“I’ll give you two,” I say. “Sei, you’ll bring it back, won’t you?”
Sei lets out the mother of all sighs. “Not like I have a life.”
I slap him on the back. “That’s the spirit.”
“You’re lucky Irine is busy, dealing with her sister,” he grumbles.
Before I ask what about the sister needs to be dealt with, he clasps Hephaestus’ wrist and the two of them disappear in a ball of white light. Which is totally for show, by the way.
I glance at Denny. “You’re staying?”
He’s halfway through shaking his head, when Sei blinks in beside him. When he blinks out again, a heartbeat later, Denny’s gone too.
Can’t wait till I can pull off this shit. Seriously.