My phone rang; it was my operative. “We’ve got a problem,” they said breathlessly. “The target just got a text on his phone, freaked out and left.”
“I know. Whatever they’ve got planned is starting to go down.”
“We’ve been following him, so I have a couple of ideas about where to look for him. I’m headed over to get my partner and…”
“And what? Where are you going? Tell me and I’ll meet you there. We need to work as a united front right now, not separate entities.”
The voice on the other end became cold. I could hear the anger in their voice. “My partner is dead.”
“Hang on.” I heard footsteps, something being shoved aside, and then some breathing. “She’s been garroted.”
“That name sounds familiar. Why do I know that name?” I listened to the answer. “No, there’s another reason. Hold on.” I flipped through the papers on Bill’s desk. “She’s on the list for Η τελευταία δύναμη.”
“That’s impossible. I would have known.”
“Let’s not worry about that at the moment. Look around the area. Do you see any clues?”
More scuffling noises, followed by very colorful language, which was totally understandable, given the circumstances. “Tell me what you see.”
“A bloody mess. There are papers everywhere, like he was looking for something. Not sure what he expected to find, or if he found it. I can’t imagine there being anything here that would do him any good. I’m going to take a look at the body.”
“Are you sure you want to do that?”
“If it means justice for Cyndi, then yes. Personal feelings can’t interfere in an investigation. I’ll deal with them later.”
“And you wonder why I gave you such a plum assignment.”
“Screw you, Ares. The garrotte is still around her neck. Somebody has been watching too many Godfather movies. Wait…there’s something in her hand. It’s a long strand of red hair.”
For a moment, I think my heart stopped. An icy chill went up my spine. “I gotta go.”
“I don’t know. I’ve got a bad feeling. I hope I’m wrong.”
Sometimes it was good to be a God. With a pop, I was in front of a house near the OA. The front door was partially open. I didn’t have my gun with me, so brawn was going to have to deal with the man I was after.
Nudging the door open with my foot, I listened for noises, but heard nothing. I quietly moved through the foyer and into the living room. My heart dropped into my stomach. It couldn’t be…
Cassandra was on the floor, her beautiful red hair splayed out around her head. In the middle of her chest was a knife. She was gasping for air, and I quickly knelt beside her. “Cassie,” I said, caressing her cheek gently.
“Don’t talk. I’m going to get you some help. Don’t move. Lie still.”
She looked at me, a mixture of sadness and pity. “I…I… love…y…you…”
“I love you, too. More than anything.” I texted Hestia, pleading for help and sending her the address. “You’re going to be fine.” I took off my shirt, wrapped it around the wound without moving the knife, and applied pressure. “I’ve been thinking. We should go back to Paris. Go to all our favorite places again, don’t you think?”
I heard a noise from behind me, and looked over my shoulder at my operative. “What can I do?” they asked.
“Wait outside for Hestia. I texted her and asked her to come.”
Kneeling next to Cassandra, my operative felt her neck. “She’s gone, Ares. There’s nothing Hestia can do for her now.”
I looked at this beautiful woman, who I had blithely discarded so many years ago. She opened her heart to me, giving me another chance. She had given me so much, but getting close to me had cost her life.
They say a heart can turn cold, but it’s always been something that I’ve scoffed at. Until now. There was a rage building inside of me, a rage that I had not felt for a long time.
Standing up, I walked out the door, my operative right behind me. “Hey, look, there’s a note on the door. Didn’t you see it when you came in?”
“No, I didn’t,” I replied.
“Let the games begin, God of War. Do you have the guts to fight, or have you truly turned into a coward, as others have said? I say coward; after all, you let a mortal get to your heart. Rather poetic that I drove my knife into her heart, isn’t it? Grab your sword and your armor. Let’s go to war. Markos.”