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Now without further ado here is, as our small gang of misfit CP's have begun to call it, her Epic Olive Grove scene.
She stopped in a small clearing between two sections of olive trees. Her eyes were still dark when she turned to me, her face tight.
I fidgeted with my tongue barbell for a silent moment. "Please tell me what I did to upset you. I'm really bad at guessing and don't want to make you even angrier at me."
Her features softened only a little. "Why didn't you tell me about your dream? And why were you so rude to the Gorgons?"
"I didn't want to frighten you. And the Gorgons piss me off with their riddles and nonsense. If this prophecy is as big as it seems like it is and our lives or whatever are dependent on it, then you'd think they'd be a little more forthcoming with some concrete details." I folded my arms.
"That's just the way they are."
"Yeah, and segregation is just the way it is. Doesn't make it right." I snapped.
She sucked in a breath. Her eyes flashed in the moonlight and I was reminded of the torchlight again. "So being rude to them was your way of taking charge? How do you know we couldn't have figured it out?"
"Was any of that making sense to you?"
She looked away. "Some of it. Maybe."
I ground my teeth together until my jaws hurt. I had no idea what she wanted from me or, really, what I'd done wrong. So I'd mouthed off to the Gorgons. Big. Deal. A twinge ran up my leg and I shifted my weight, trying to delay the inevitable need to sit. In my current mood, the state of my leg irritated me more than usual. How on the gods' green earth was I supposed to "lead a war" or "take a journey" with a twisted leg? I raked a hand through my hair and blew out a breath.
"Do you need to sit?" Her soft voice broke through.
"No." I refused to look at her. I didn't want to see her pity.
"Lucas." Her hand slid onto my arm. The warmth burned through my coat.
"I said I'm fine." I moved away from her, trying in vain to mask the limp. The pain steadily grew, pulsing along the bone, far too deep to massage it. I closed my eyes against it, putting as much weight on my other leg as I could.
"Then come sit with me."
I turned, something in me softening when I saw her. She'd spread my cloak on the ground and was sitting on it. Her dress was white and clung to her in all the right places, the skirt fanning around her like a blanket of snow. Her skin looked so dark against it. Her lips twitched and I realized I'd been staring and not breathing. I limped over to her, the pain stabbing up into my hip as I lowered myself to the ground. I leaned against a tree trunk, relieved to be sitting but still irritated she had to see me like that.
"It doesn't bother me." Her voice was soft.
Her fingers slipped under my chin and I allowed their gentle pressure to turn my face to hers. Before she could say anything, I captured her hand and kissed the fingertips one by one. I didn't want to talk about my leg. I didn't want to think about my leg. I kissed the center of her palm and slid my fingers between hers. "Tell me what you think the Gorgons meant…please."
The look on her face betrayed concern but she nodded and tightened her hold on my hand and pulled it into her lap. She traced the tendons on the back of my hand, her fingers leaving trails of warmth across my skin. Her simple touch soothed me more than any healer could.
"Did they speak in your head first?"
I nodded. "Lots of stuff about carrying weight and if I'm strong enough."
"Did they…" She chewed on her bottom lip. "Mention anything about a murder?"
My heart skipped a beat. "Not in those words. They, um, asked if I was strong enough to…" My voice faltered. I rubbed the soreness in my leg as a distraction. "To take a life if it meant saving another." I looked at her. She was pale, her eyes wide. "What? What did they tell you?"
She took a shuddering breath. "That my life would hang in the balance and would be tipped by the choice of another."
My blood turned to ice. I reached for her, folding her into my arms. "I will never let anything happen to you."
"You can't make that promise."
"I can sure as Hades try." I tilted her face up to mine. "I would do whatever it took to keep you safe."
"Even kill someone?"
"Yes." I answered without hesitation, but my insides twisted into knots at the thought. I was trained in combat; I was one of the best fighters at the University. But that was classroom simulations and heavily monitored sessions. To actually be responsible for ending the life of another…
But looking at Pandora now—the way her eyes searched mine for any hint that I might be wavering—I knew I'd do it. Losing her wasn't something I wanted to think about.
I cleared my throat. "What about what they said to both of us?"
She settled into my arms, fidgeting with the hem of my shirt. "I think we were meant to be together. I mean, I think we still have a choice about whether or not we are together but I don't think us meeting was an accident."
I nodded against the top of her head. "The part about war bugs me."
She laughed. "I gathered that."
"I'm sorry I lost it a little with them. I just don't like being jerked around. And this whole thing seems so…"
"Big." She finished quietly.
"Do you regret choosing me?" She pulled back to look at me. Her eyes were smoky—somewhere between charcoal and silver.
I frowned at her. "Not at all. Why would I? Do you?"
She shook her head. "No, I just…wondered."
"Hey…" I cupped her cheek and kissed her. "I love you and that hasn't changed. I couldn't leave you if I tried. You're inside me now. It would be like ripping out a part of me."
I didn't even see her move. One moment she was watching me, the next, her mouth was on mine and her arms were around my neck. Relief flowed through her kiss, stunning me. Had she been worried I would leave because of this? That I would abandon her? Guilt welled up. My arms slid around her waist and I pulled her against me, kissing her with everything I had. I never wanted her to doubt me again. I pulled away just enough to speak, sharing her breath, our lips brushing lightly. "Dance with me."
"What?" Laughter tinged her voice.
"You heard me."
"But your leg—"
"Is fine. Please." I stood, grasping her elbows and bringing her with me. My leg twinged as I put weight on it but it would hold. Grinning at the amused expression on her face, I pulled her against me and we began to dance. I hummed the same tune as the masquerade, closing my eyes as she nestled against me. The stress dripped out of us while we moved. Just like that night, the whole world tunneled to only this girl in my arms except, now, I was in love with her. Our futures were intertwined, heading down a path no one could really see, but one that could change everything. The prospect was thrilling and frightening.
"That night at the masquerade…if I'd kissed you…" I didn't know how to finish.
She raised her head, her eyes a bright silver. "I would have kissed you back."
I grasped her hand and spun her away from me and, just like that night, when she spun back, her back pressed against me. My hands roamed and my lips found her neck. I kissed the pulse as it thrummed under her soft skin. "We may have caused quite a scene." I kissed the soft spot under her ear.
"Oh, really?" I heard a hint of a challenge in her voice. Energy spiked—mine and the remnants of hers—which sent my blood into a wicked boil. I grabbed her wrists and pulled them above her head, spinning her to face me. At the same time, I maneuvered us against one of the ancient olive trees, its twisted trunk scraping toward the night sky. Holding her hands behind her, I pinned her against the trunk and grinned at her. She grinned right back, her eyes narrowing.
I leaned over, brushing my lips across hers as lightly as I could manage. She leaned to me but I pulled away. I repeated the barely-there kisses along her jaw and down her neck, moving away when she'd arch to me. She moaned in frustration, her arms pulling against my grip. "Dammit, Lucas…"
"Yes?" I forced as much nonchalance into my voice even though my hands itched to run over her body. A maelstrom of energy whipped through me.
"Please…" Her body trembled and heated.
I touched the tip of my tongue to the soft spot in her collarbone. "Please what?" I brushed my lips up the other side of her neck to her ear, grazing the earlobe with my teeth.
She sucked in a breath. One of her legs partly curled around mine and was pulling against me. "If you don't really kiss me right now, I'm going to turn into a ball of fire and that will suck for you."
The thick desire in her voice was more than I could handle. With a growl, my mouth covered hers and I kissed her. Possessively. Thoroughly. I released her wrists, my hands tangling in her hair and holding her against me. Her hands wound around my waist, sliding under my shirt, her nails raking across the skin of my back. Waves of heat crashed into my body while spirals of my own energy bled into hers. She made a little sound of protest when I pulled away from her swollen lips. I buried my face in her neck, kissing, tasting, grazing my teeth against her skin. Her fingers dug so deeply into my skin I knew she drew blood. But I didn't care. All I cared about was the little feminine noises she made when I pressed against her. All I cared about was her breath coming out in pants while I kissed her throat.
Her hand slid into my hair and cupped the back of my head as I kissed down to her shoulder. She inhaled sharply, her entire body going rigid. I was about to ask if I'd done something wrong or hurt her when her trembling voice cut through. "Oh gods…Lucas."
I raised my head, my throat going dry at the look of terror on her face as she stared at something over my shoulder.
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