The day after Eros’ visit, I invited Kara to dinner. She suggested we eat at my penthouse, so I ordered some gyros, salad, and fries from a local place. By the time she arrived, I had the table set and the food warming in the oven.
Kara helped me fix the plates, then carried them to the table while I grabbed a couple Sam Adams lagers from the fridge. “I hope you like this,” I said, placing a bottle in front of her as I sat down.
“I’m always open to trying new things,” she replied. She twisted the cap off and took a drink. “Not bad. How did you find this brand? I didn’t think it was available here.”
“I got lucky. Plus, I know a friend who knows how to get it.”
“Always good to have friends in high places.” We clinked bottles. “This food smells great. I’m starving,” she said, picking up half of her gyro and taking a big bite. “Oh, this is wonderful!”
I nodded in agreement as I savored my food. “I love trying new food whenever I travel, but I love coming home to eat authentic dishes.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” Kara said. She wiped her mouth with a napkin. “So, how did your visit with your son go yesterday?”
“It went well. Better than I expected.”
She nodded. “Did he admit to shooting one of us with his arrows?”
My eyes widened in surprise. “How did you know I asked him about that?”
“I didn’t,” Kara admitted. “But, I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, so I figured you were as well. What did he say?”
“He said his arrows never left his quiver.”
“Well, that puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?” she said, eating a fry. “So, what we’re feeling is totally us then.”
“So, what do we do now?”
I took a long drink from my lager before standing up and holding out my hand to Kara. Standing as well, she placed hers in mine. Pulling her close, I slid the back of my fingers slowly down her cheek. “I’m going to take my son’s advice and not waste any time. You are what I truly want, and I hope you feel the same way. If you don’t, I will understand and let you go on your way.”
She took my hand, kissing the palm. “There’s no other place I’d rather be, Ares.”
I leaned over and kissed her gently at first, then with more intensity. Kara wrapped her arms around me, molding her body against mine. Images of Aphrodite and Cassie flashed through my mind, but I shoved them away and concentrated on the beautiful woman before me. I broke the kiss, reached up with my good hand, and slowly started to unbutton her shirt.
“You’re rather good at that for a man with a bum arm,” she teased me.
“Plenty of practice,” I replied. I slid the shirt off her left shoulder, bending over to kiss her skin gently.
Kara moaned softly and gripped my injured arm, causing me to wince. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she gasped, stepping back slightly.
I pulled her back toward me. “That’s not going to stop me, either,” I growled. I kissed her again, pushing her against the edge of the table. She finished taking her shirt off, then started pulling mine out of my pants. She slid her hands underneath, touching my chest with her fingers.
I stopped her, taking the time to sweep the dishes and remaining food off the table. She sat on the corner, pulling me to her for more kisses. She leaned backward until she was lying flat. Leaning down, I kissed her stomach, slowly working my way up. Her breath quickened, her fingers stroking my hair.
I kept kissing my way up until we were face-to-face. “Are you sure about this, agápi mou?” I looked into her eyes, searching for the answer.
“Páno apó otidípote állo, glykiá mou.”
A noise from the other room caused Kara to look to her left. “What was that?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I replied before kissing her again.
“Nice! Ares is finally getting some. I’m so proud. Maybe now you’ll stop walking around with a stick up your ass.”
Sighing, I touched my forehead against Kara’s. “I am so sorry about this,” I whispered, sliding off the table and standing. Turning around, I saw Atë standing in the doorway. Her raven hair was spread out like it was being blown by the wind. She was wearing a red silk shirt, black leather pants with a red belt, and red high heels. “Have you ever thought of knocking first?”
She rapped her knuckles on the doorframe. “Better?”
“What do you want, Atë?”
“So rude, Ares,” Atë tsked. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your little friend?”
Kara got to her feet, walked over to Atë, and held out her hand. “I’m Kara Johnston, Atë. It’s nice to meet you.
Atë shook Kara’s hand. “Aren’t you so polite and sweet?”
“Oh, I can be a bitch when need be,” Kara assured her. Turning around, she walked over, picked her shirt up off the floor, then kissed me. “I’ll wait in the other room.”
We watched her leave. “She’s a feisty one, Ares. I like her,” Atë said. “Rumor is you ran into a minotaur’s horn.”
“You make it sound like I did it intentionally.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me if you did.”
“I didn’t. Kara saved my life.”
“I heard it was that uptight secretary of yours.”
I snorted at her description of Reginald. “No, it definitely wasn’t him. Kara threw her poison-tipped spear through his back, then cut off his head after we got the answers we wanted.”
“So your quest is over then?”
“No,” I replied, shaking my head. “If anything, I think it has pointed me back to Olympus. The minotaur indicated someone had been planted here while I was sent on a wild goose chase. But I don’t know that for certain.”
“Speaking of chasing someone,” Atë said, “that brings me to why I’m here.”
“Should we discuss this in my office?”
“That would probably be a good idea.”
I went into the living room and told Kara we’d be down the hall in my office. “You keep an office up here?” she asked.
“Well, yeah. There are times when I’d prefer to get some work done without Reginald coming in every five minutes to complain about something.”
She laughed. “Having experienced what he’s like in the Foloi Forest, I can totally understand that. I’ll just clean up the mess we made in the dining room. Do you want me to order more food?”
“Definitely,” I told her, pulling her close to me. “I’m planning to use a lot of energy later.”
“You’re incorrigible,” Kara said.
“I’ve been told that.” I gave her a quick kiss before leading Atë to my office. Closing the door, I motioned toward a chair. “Have a seat. Now, why did you really come to see me?”
Atë refused the chair, pacing the floor instead. “I’m looking for information, and I figured you might be able to help me.”
“Sure, if I can.”
“I’m trying to find Chronos and Kronos.”
I looked at her in surprise. “Good Gods, why? Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time you got involved with them?”
“Don’t lecture me, Ares!” Atë snapped. “I don’t need that from you.”
I held up my good hand. “Whoa, whoa. Calm down. I’m not trying to lecture you here. I’m just wondering what you want with the information.”
“Let’s just say I have some unfinished business with them and leave it at that.”
I leaned against the edge of my desk. “It is my business if whatever you’re doing is going to cause problems for the family…again. Things are getting back to normal—whatever that means for this lot—and I’m not going to allow another full-blown war to erupt.”
“I’m not planning to cause any problems for the precious family,” Atë hissed. “All I want to know is if you know where they are right now.”
“Give me your word that this isn’t going to come back and bite me in the ass.”
“Pretty sure the only thing that is going to bite you right now is that pretty little thing in the other room.” I just stared at her. “Fine! You have my word I won’t intentionally cause problems for the family. Is that good enough for you?”
I looked at Atë for a minute, studying her. Something was going on with her, although I wasn’t sure what it was. She’d never been the most outgoing person, always keeping her feelings close to the chest. Trust was not something that she gave easily, nor was it something that others gave her willingly. Yet, my son and his wife loved her unconditionally and trusted her completely. “Alright,” I said finally. “I trust you to keep your word.”
A look of surprise flashed across her face. “Thank you, Ares. I promise not to abuse that trust.”
I walked behind my desk and sat down. I henpecked the keyboard with one hand. “Truth be told, I’ve had my people secretly keeping track of Chronos and Kronos since the Titans uprising. It hasn’t been easy, and they’ve managed to give my men the slip once in a while. But they are creatures of habit, so we just had to look in the right places to find them again.” I scanned the screen, read the latest information, then hit a button. The printer came to life, spitting out a few pages. Getting up, I went over, grabbed the papers, and handed them to Atë. “Theo says our operatives in Paris reported seeing them there two days ago.”
Taking the papers from me, Atë quickly looked over them. “Your guys are good.”
“That’s why I pay them the big bucks.”
“Thank you, Ares. I appreciate this. If anyone asks, you haven’t seen me, and you never gave me this information.”
I started to question this but decided against it. “You have my word.”
Kara knocked on the door. I noticed she had put her shirt back on. “The food is here, Ares. Atë, would you like to join us?”
“No, but thanks for asking. I’ve got to go.” She looked at Kara, then back at me. “Are you going to marry this one, or is she just another side piece like all the others?”
Kara’s eyes grew wide, and I scowled. “I don’t think that’s any of your business.”
Atë walked over to me, putting her hand on my arm. “If you truly care about someone, don’t play games. Seriously. She’s a mortal; she risked her life to save yours. That’s love, Ares. Don’t screw this up. Marry her.”
“I agree,” Kara said. “You should marry me.”
Atë smiled. “Oh yeah, I definitely like this one. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, she’s brave, and she’ll kill anyone who tries to hurt you. Marry her. Remember, I was never here, and you never told me anything.” Then, in a puff of smoke, Atë vanished.
We went back to the dining room, where two bags of fresh food waited for us. “Are you sure about this, Kara?” I asked her. “About getting married?”
“I think I’ve known it would always turn out this way since the moment I fainted in your arms,” she replied.
“Did you now?” I grinned. “You didn’t mention it to me.”
“Well, a girl has got to have some secrets.”
I moved the bags off the table. “I think we should pick up where we left off, don’t you?”
“Oh, definitely,” Kara replied.
Wrapping my good arm around her, I pulled her close, kissing her with a fiery passion that took our breaths away. Taking her by the hand, I led her down the hallway to my bedroom, closing the door behind us.
But a new door was about to open…