He jumps into the water, and I laugh, removing my shirt before jumping in after him. The water helps push me along, and I catch up to Kai in a heartbeat. I wink at him before shooting forward, and I can almost hear him yell the word ass towards me. Maybe…maybe I haven’t ruined everything.
I watch him go, wishing I could be as easily freed. My mind is trapped with thoughts of Nerites, and I need to cut him loose so I don’t hurt those that I care about. I already hurt Kai. I can’t feel what he feels for me, and I knew that before I touched him. I close my eyes and stretch my arms out to find the ship. It’s bow is currently crashing into waves a few kilometers ahead of me.
Laughing, I untie us from the dock. “The wind is always in my favor. The Anemoi are old friends. We are going to want to head southeast to the Dodecanese Islands. There should be one covered in mist. Only the eye of a god can spot it.”
I know this is it. The moment. He’s giving me one last chance. One chance to tell him what he needs to hear, the words he deserves. The feeling grows inside me, but the words refuse to tumble from my lips. If I don’t say anything, he’ll leave. He’ll be done with me. He’s not a man to give second chances.
The key is a shade of deep-sea blue. An A is etched in the top, surrounded by seaweed. But it’s the things that are invisible to the mortal eye that make me want to snatch it from his palm. Golden runes, spells of old, even older than me, are etched into it, visible only to a God of the Sea.
It wasn’t a lie or an evasion. Mathieu and I had put so much time and effort into this event. Now that it was happening and progressing along, I seemed to be lost in it. Dion reached over, sensing my discomfort. He patted my leg and squeezed it softly. I smiled at him. Tonight was taking forever.
I have never been a good man to her. I should have been there for her more, but there were things I needed to do that took me centuries to figure out. The guilt gnaws at me. I only hope she can forgive me for my absence. Even if she cannot forgive, at least I can apologize.
I snorted derisively. “Even when we were never technically married? If it ever comes to that, we’ll have that conversation then. But no, I’m not ready to give up the throne. I wasn’t 2,000 years ago, but I couldn’t physically return.”
Frowning, I try to rub the strange sensation out of my chest as I get up from my bed. The cracks in the walls are still there from when I lost control, but something is out of place. I tilt my head, noticing a folded note on my desk. Picking it up with a shaky hand, I scan over the words.
Look at me. I’ve turned into a sappy romantic bitch. “Love me, or I’ll die.” Ugh, I can’t even look at myself right now. And yet, it’s how I feel. Like Dionysos is my future, and I can’t shake it. I don’t want to shake it.
“The only thing I can control is myself,” I whisper once more. My words continue on, bouncing around me and pinging off the cave walls. The words come quicker, rolling over each other. Sound travels faster and more efficiently through water, and here in the depths, an echo can last a lifetime.
As my last bit of essence became one with the sea around me, I felt power reaching out from the golden net, almost like it knew someone was escaping. It rippled, and in that ripple, a pulse of magic was sent out, disrupting my transition. I lost my sense of self, and the tenuous binding that held the parts of my being together shattered.
Why Rome? Why did I head to Rome, and why didn’t I return? The question was vexing me, and I turned from the figures haunting me as I tried to suss it out. I don’t think they liked it too much that I wasn’t paying attention to them, and the figures started to circle me, chanting that I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t good enough, I was barely a goddess.