The appearance of Daisuke, while initially a pleasant distraction, did little to change my underlying dark mood. I had been personally attacked by first the tulpa, then Kronos. For all my measures, for all the defensive walls I put up around myself and my loved ones, I had ultimately failed to protect them. I had withdrawn even farther, both physically and emotionally. I still hadn’t returned to help rebuild my apartments in Tartarus and spent little time at Nox or Eventide. Now with a baby to take care of, I retreated even more. I did not venture outside Dinlas’s twenty-ninth floor, often going several days at a time without leaving his private apartment. My fears had started to subside, which is why I had decided to see my girls at Whole Latte Love, but then I had a baby dropped on me by another deity. Not just any other deity, but a Japanese goddess, Amaterasu-omikami. Her cryptic warning to guard the child and protect him only served as a vehicle for my twin spectres of self-doubt and insecurity to ride rough-shod over me again.
What if I couldn’t do it? What if I failed to protect this child as I promised?
It was best if I stayed here. Safe. Safe and sheltered in the center of the entire God Complex security web.
It was mid-afternoon, and I was sitting on the sofa with my feet curled under me. Daisuke was playing on the floor with some wooden blocks that had the letters of the Greek alphabet carved on them while Adrastos, Calli, and Ao lay scattered about the room. They had grown accustomed to Daisuke’s presence over the first several days, but now all three were clearly more than just tolerant of the small lad. Each would patiently sit as he sometimes tugged on their ears, or accidentally stumbled and fell hard onto them. When he got too much, they would stand and go to another room. That was when Dinlas and I knew they needed a break and would scoop up Daisuke to redirect him.
Dinlas walked in, stopped, and gazed around the room. It reeked of domesticity, and in a way, I loved it. It was the sense of peaceful normalcy I was craving, and it felt good that I had everything where I wanted, and all my charges safe and content around me.
“How are you, amorcito?” he asked me as his eyes swept around the room with a grin. “Have you got everyone under control here?”
I glanced around the room, eyes hovering on the canines and Daisuke. “Yes, I suppose so.” I tucked in further around myself.
He watched me as I withdrew more and frowned. “I think we need to get out a bit. This apartment cloister isn’t helping you, Nyx. I would like to go with you up to Eventide, to see it now that you have straightened it back out. Can we do that?”
I shifted slightly on the couch, watching Daisuke instead of meeting his eyes. “I…I don’t know if I can do that, amata. What if something happens here? What if…” I stopped myself, trying to stem the flow of thoughts. I shook my head. “No, it would be safer to stay here right now.”
Dinlas started to answer, but a knock at the door stopped him. He opened it, and my assistant Luna stood there along with my daughter Philotes. They hustled into the room, and Philotes went straight to Daisuke, cooing over him while Luna fended off the bounding Adrastos. Dinlas cleared his throat and spoke, “Yes, well, I already spoke to the young ladies about it, and they are thrilled to watch the child for a few days while we get away. Also, Eros and Clio will stop in and check on things if needed.” He glanced at Luna, who gave him a conspiratorial nod and wink.
I blinked. “A few days? Where are we going to go for a few days?” I tried not to let a throaty panic rise, watching Luna and Phil busy themselves around the room as if I wasn’t there. “And you two, you knew about this for how long?” I rubbed my face hard, working to keep my immortal form in check.
Luna smiled at me and said quickly, “Please don’t be upset, Lady Nyx. Dinlas asked us just this morning, and we agreed. You need a change of venue, a…a place to air out your thoughts a bit and relax.”
I glared at her, then sighed, my body sagging into the cushions. Butterflies did laps around my stomach, and I watched Philotes still cooing over Daisuke before winking at me. “We’ll be fine, Mother. Please,” her voice dropped to a serious tone. “We’re worried about you. It will do you good, and if we’re wrong, you can come back and say, I told you so, okay?”
I nodded once and eased myself off the sofa, watching Dinlas. “All right…let’s go, then.”
Dinlas smiled at my unwilling surrender and said, “There we go, there’s the enthusiasm I know and love so well.” He took my hand and led us downstairs to the front of the Complex, where we popped away to Eventide, on the Isle of Skye. We had blessed it just last autumn, before it was destroyed in all the mayhem. I had spent a week rebuilding and reclaiming it. It was one of the few places here in the mortal realm that I truly thought of as my own.
The weather was a bit crisp, but overall pleasant. Dinlas smiled at me again and held out his hand.
“Care to walk?”
I nodded once and took his hand, wandering towards the coastline. This place held peace no matter what state I came in, and today was no different. The rocks jutting from the ocean, the way the waves eased themselves onto the shoreline…I could see the small cabin farther down the beach as we headed towards the water. I felt my shoulders relax ever so slightly as the scent of the ocean washed over me.
“Was there somewhere, in particular, you wanted to go, amata?” I glanced at him.
He shook his head, although I didn’t quite believe him, and replied, “Just want to spend some time with you.” We stood watching the waves, and I was content to let my head rest on his shoulder, the salt air washing over us. A few minutes passed before he pointed back up the beach, towards the woods. “Let’s walk this way.” I nodded, feeling suspicious. He had something in mind, but I was unsure of what it could be.
“Are you sure you don’t know where you are headed?” I asked after several minutes of silence.
“Just to a little spot right up here. You may remember it in a minute.”
“I remember everything about this place,” I replied, frowning slightly at him, “so just where – o-oh…”
We had passed into the woods and now stood where Dinlas had first kissed me. Had first touched my wings in that wondrous way that he still did. I could still see us, my wings wrapped around our bodies, hiding us against the night skies. I turned to him with soft eyes.
“Amata? Are you trying to tell me something I might have forgotten?”
He looked at me and smiled pensively, in a way that left me feeling self-conscious. The scars of my recent battles were still plain to see, even on my mortal form, and despite his reassurances, I still felt awkward about them. He took my hands and faced me, rubbing his thumbs across the backs of them as he gazed into my eyes.
“Nyx,” he began. “Before I ever knew your feelings for me, you saved me. You literally ripped yourself apart to chase the essence of my being across the universe and put me back together. When black magic tore me apart last Samhain, you refused to let go, and put all my pieces back together. We had no relationship then. You did it simply out of love for me. A love I didn’t even know existed. A love you had no expectation of ever being returned. Then more recently, you sacrificed yourself for me, Eros, and the girls. You laid down your weapon and surrendered to Kronos. You were willing to die, at least in part, for me.” He stopped for a moment and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index finger, then continued. “I can never repay those things. But I would be insane if I couldn’t see what we have here and to know there is an unending depth to which our feelings run for one another. Do you feel the same way?”
I touched his cheek gently, running my fingers through his hair. “I have, for a very long time, Dinlas. But why all this? I love you through every universe and reality, and I would die again for you if it meant you were safe.”
As I spoke, Dinlas reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a silver chain. It had several beaded gems on it, and on one end of the chain was a small moon. On the other end was a slightly larger star that was hollow in the middle. He held it out to me, and I understood instinctively, pulling my hair up so he could bring it around my neck. In the front, across my chest, he tucked the crescent moon through the hollow star, and the chain was clasped securely.
He stood back for a moment and admired me as he let the necklace fall across my ebony skin. The gemstones flashed like constellations in the night sky.
Then he said it.
“Nyx? Will you marry me?”
My heart stopped, and I clutched a hand on his chest, tears threatening to fall. “Dinlas, I…” They rolled silently down my cheeks and followed the curve of the smile that had bloomed on my face. My body shifted to my immortal form, no longer content with its mortal look in this moment. The sunbursts gleamed brightly, his handprint glowing as my body erupted in a meteor shower.
“I…nothing would make me happier to be…to be your wife, o vasiliás mou.”
“Good,” he exhaled. “So very good.” He then kissed me, and just like our first time, I tucked my wings around us in a protective gesture. We kissed for several minutes before finally breaking apart, both of us chuckling and laughing a bit as we got our emotions under control. Finally, he spoke again.
“Come, show me your island. It is raw, desolate, and yet oh-so-beautiful now that you are here. Show me your island, and we can spend all the time we need exploring and wandering here.”
I pressed my forehead to his, pulling him tight to me once more, before whispering in his ear. “As long as you like, love.”