A dead body is never a welcome sight, but it’s especially troublesome when Tadd Leventis and Declan Anagnos return home to find one in their foyer. Most people know the dead woman as a curator at the local museum, but Tadd and Declan recognize her as someone from their distant past—Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare. To Tadd and Declan, it's more than a murder. It's a threat to the mortal lives they've worked so hard to build—and a wakeup call that their immortal lives are in danger too.
At Zeus’s request, they once again don the mantles of Ares and Hermes, but when they start investigating their fellow Olympians, Tadd and Declan discover things are far more complicated than they seem. As the body count rises, tracking the killer becomes more dangerous, and the investigation starts to strain their relationship. Can they patch things up in time to catch the killer, or will the killer catch them first?
Nessa L. Warin lives in southwestern Ohio with a cat who graciously allows her to pay all the bills and demands pampering on a regular basis. She enjoys wine tastings and travel, and can easily get lost in science fiction or fantasy stories. She's a true geek, enjoys costuming, and can be found dressed up at at least one Renaissance festival and fantasy convention each year. When she's not having fun, Nessa works in Corporate America coordinating the production and mailing of marketing materials and wishing she had more time to write. Visit Nessa's blog at http://nessa-l-warin.livejournal.com/and follow her on Twitter @nessalwarin. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s my fault Adara’s dead.”
Declan looks up from the program running searches on Cal’s recordings. He widened the search, including Egan’s and Adara’s names in it as well in the hopes he can find something besides their history linking them to either Cal or Sofia, and now he’s watching the results scroll across the screen almost faster than he can read. “What do you mean?” he says, furrowing his brow in confusion. “I know you didn’t kill her, so how is it your fault?”
Tadd lets out an unamused laugh that makes him sound slightly crazy. “I’m glad you realize that, at least.”
“Tadd.” Declan sighs. “Please.”
“Sorry.” Tadd tips his head back and stares up at the ceiling. “She came to me,” he says, lowering his gaze so he’s looking at Declan again. “She specifically asked me to keep her safe from Egan, and I didn’t.”
Declan rolls his chair around the corner of their desks and stops it right next to Tadd’s. “You did what you could.”
“No, I didn’t. That’s the point. I was pissed off, Declan, mad at you, mad at Lukas, and I didn’t want to put up with her bullshit. I told her I needed to arrange protection for her because I couldn’t stay with her all day, and she didn’t want to wait. She left and I let her go.”
“You couldn’t have known.”
“I should have!” Tadd jerks his arm out from under Declan’s hand and slams his fist down on the desk. “She asked me for help!”
Declan waits long enough to be sure Tadd isn’t going to hit anything else, and puts his hand back on Tadd’s forearm. “You asked her to stay, didn’t you?”
“Told her to.” Tadd rolls his eyes. “She didn’t listen.”
“So how is that your fault?”
“You know how to do your job, Tadd.” Declan squeezes Tadd’s arm and starts stroking his thumb along the inside of Tadd’s wrist. “You couldn’t have stayed with her all the time, anyway, especially not if you were going to listen to Bront and keep me safe too. Arranging for help was the right thing to do.”
“I could have waited, let her run her errand first.”
“And then she would have wanted to run another, and another, and another.” Declan lets out a breathy chuckle. “She would have kept you running until you dropped, just because she could, and you would have gone along with it to be nice.”
Tadd raises one eyebrow. “Nice? Me?”
“Yes.” Declan pokes Tadd’s shoulder. “I know about the gooey inside under that crusty exterior.”
Tadd raises his other eyebrow. “You. Over there. Now.” He points back toward Declan’s desk with a scowl, but it’s mostly faked. Even when Tadd is mad at him, Declan is able to push all the right buttons to calm him down.
Declan slides back around the desk and stops just on the other side of the corner. “Fine, but this doesn’t change the fact that I know you’re secretly a fluffy marshmallow inside.”
“Would you like me to show you how wrong you are?” Tadd narrows his eyes further. “I can.”
Declan stills and slowly lifts his gaze to meet Tadd’s. “I’m not wrong.” His heart is pounding in his chest, and he has to fight to keep his breathing under control. He doesn’t want to seem too eager, but he’s been itching to touch Tadd. It’s killing him that he feels like he can’t.
Tadd’s blood starts to boil. “Yes, you are,” he growls, fisting his hands in his pants to keep from shaking with anger. “I would not have followed her around all day. I—”
“Yes, you would, and we both know it.” Declan stands, sending his chair rolling toward the wall as he pushes it away. “If you’d given in and gone with Adara on one errand, you would have spent all day following her around. You’d still be with her.”
“And she’d still be alive!” Tadd jumps to his feet and takes a step closer to Declan. “Adara is dead because I didn’t go with her!”
“She’s dead because some asshole killed her, Tadd!” Declan steps forward, rounding the corner again so he’s chest to chest with his husband. “If you want to blame yourself for not going with her, you should blame her for being so stubborn and not listening, and you should blame me for not having caught the killer yet. Hades, blame me for Cal too, while you’re at it. I should have figured out who killed Sofia before either Cal or Adara died!”
“You were trying!” Tadd throws his hands out wide as he pushes up into Declan’s face.
Declan leans down to meet him. “And so were you! It’s no different!”
“Yes, it is!” Tadd moves quickly, grabbing Declan’s shirt and shoving him against the desk. The edge digs into Declan’s thigh as Tadd manhandles him, laying him out flat across the wide, clear surface. He leans over Declan, his breath hot on Declan’s cheek, and growls, “It’s my fault.”
“No, it’s not.” Declan keeps his voice quiet and his body still. “It’s the killer’s fault and no one else’s.”
“Shut up!” Tadd shakes Declan hard enough to rattle the pens in the cup on the other side of the desk.
Declan looks him straight in the eyes, meeting his gaze calmly as he twists his lips up into a purposely goading smirk. “Make me.”
Tadd growls and lunges forward to capture Declan’s mouth in a bruising kiss.
It would be easy for Declan to give in, to let Tadd have his way and control this from beginning to end, but that’s not what Declan wants at the moment. He wants to get them back on the same page, to eliminate the friction between them, and the only way he’s going to do that is to get Tadd to work out all of his aggression now. If there’s something he can do to speed that along, he’s going to do it.
Especially when it’s so much fun.
Declan leans up into the kiss, tangling his fingers in Tadd’s hair and holding him close as he slips his tongue into Tadd’s mouth. Tadd snarls as he pushes his tongue back past Declan’s lips, curling it around Declan’s. They battle back and forth, their tongues gliding over and around each other until Tadd growls again, nipping at Declan’s bottom lip as he slides his hands up Declan’s arms and pins them to the desk above Declan’s head. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” Declan asks, shifting under Tadd. He lifts his hips, deliberately brushing against Tadd’s groin and letting Tadd feel how hard he is. He’s aching, his hard cock tenting his dress pants. It almost hurts to have it rub against the silky material of his boxers, and he wants nothing more than to pull it out and let Tadd wrap his hands around it, but instead he lowers his hips back down, twists his head so he can look into Tadd’s eyes, and meets Tadd’s stare with one of his own. “Don’t reciprocate? Do you want me to lie here and take it, Tadd? Let you pin me down and pound all your anger into me?”
Tadd falters for a second, but then his eyes narrow and he leans in closer, pressing his body against Declan’s everywhere he can make them touch and putting his lips right against Declan’s ear. “Yes.”
The word comes out as almost more of a growl than speech, but Declan knows exactly what Tadd means. He waits until Tadd pulls back enough for them to look into each other’s eyes, and then lets his lips curl up into a lazy, smug smile. “No.”
Before Tadd can do anything, Declan moves, using his speed to twist free from under Tadd and drop to the floor. He lands on his knees, grins, and yanks on Tadd’s pants without bothering to unbutton them. The material rips, easily giving in to his immortal strength, and Tadd’s cock springs free, bobbing in front of Declan’s nose. He leans in and slides his lips all the way to the base in one swift movement.
Tadd’s knees buckle at the unexpected sensation. He catches himself on Declan’s shoulders, digging in with powerful fingers as Declan grabs his hips, holding him still as he pulls back, licking as he moves.
It’s phenomenal. Declan has always had a talented tongue in more ways than one, and he's always enjoyed using it this way. From the first time Declan gave Tadd a blowjob, distracting him from Plato’s obnoxious alarm clock, this has been Tadd’s favorite of Declan’s talents. It’s nothing like laying Declan out beneath him and having his way, but the sensations shooting up his nerves and threatening to short-circuit his brain are among the best he’s ever felt.
He thrusts hard, fighting against the grip of Declan’s hands and the wobbliness of his knees, controlling the pace as Declan continues to suck. His teeth scrape lightly along the swollen skin of Tadd’s cock, sending pleasure and pain shooting through his body and leaving him breathless. Tadd thrusts harder, pushing his hips forward so he’s fucking Declan’s mouth, taking back every little bit of control Declan claimed. He throws his head back, letting his mouth fall open as he moans and his eyes flutter closed so he can focus on the feel of Declan’s mouth around his dick.
The world narrows to just this, Declan on his knees, his fingers digging into Tadd’s hips and his lips curling around the tip of Tadd’s cock. He licks and sucks, humming as he bobs up and down, keeping time with Tadd’s thrusts and moving opposite them, pulling back when Tadd does and pushing in so his lips slide down Tadd’s cock with a speed he’d have to use his powers to match. He grazes one hand along Tadd’s hipbones, brushing fingertips over the sensitive skin before slipping them between Tadd’s legs and carefully curling them around Tadd’s balls. Tadd gasps, his hips bucking wildly as he lets out a deep moan and starts chanting Declan’s name. He digs his fingers hard into Declan’s shoulder until Declan stops moving, and then tangles them in Declan’s hair and pulls him back.
“No,” Tadd growls, dragging Declan up with not-so-gentle pressure in his hair and twisting him around and pressing himself against Declan’s back. Declan is still completely dressed, and his pants feel rough against Tadd’s cock as he presses into Declan. Tadd fumbles for the waistband as he bends Declan over, and when his fingers curl around both pants and boxers, he yanks, ripping the material with his full strength and tearing it away from Declan’s body with ease.
Declan shudders at the sudden blast of cold air, and his cock dips a little bit, but then Tadd rubs his finger along the cleft of Declan’s ass, and Declan shudders, his elbows wobbling as he braces himself on the desk. “Hurry,” he breathes, pushing back into Tadd and begging for more.
Tadd complies, giving in to Declan’s demands easily now that they match his own. He shoves Declan forward, pushes his arms out from under him, and pins him to the desk. His cock presses hard against Declan’s ass as Declan curls up over the desk. He’s hard and aching, leaking precome onto the mahogany surface, and when Tadd shifts to grab lube from the closest drawer and slides one slick finger inside Declan’s body, Declan moans. “Tadd. Now.”
“Yes,” Tadd breathes, vanishing his shirt as he slides a second finger in. Declan makes his own shirt disappear as he squirms beneath Tadd, shoving back against Tadd’s hand as he slides one of his own down the dark wood of the desk and curls it around his cock. He strokes in time with Tadd’s scissoring movements, his hand banging against the wood as his ass presses against Tadd’s hip.
He’s almost at the edge, his hand slick with precome and his cock red and engorged, when Tadd pulls his fingers out, lines himself up, and thrusts in, hard. He shoves Declan down over the desk, pressing his cheek into the smooth surface, and pulls almost all the way out before he adjusts his angle and plunges in again. He thrusts over and over, hitting Declan in his sweet spot every time.
Declan clenches around him, his buttocks squeezing Tadd’s cock. His hand grips tight at the edge of the desk, giving him extra leverage, and Tadd pushes hard, slamming forward again. He puts one hand at the base of Declan's spine, holding him to the desk, and curls the other around Declan’s cock. He strokes as he thrusts, the movements fast and ragged and yet still falling into a synchronized rhythm as he moves.
It doesn’t take long before Declan is whimpering and moaning. “Gonna… Tadd… gonna come.”
That’s all the warning he’s able to give, and then he spurts over Tadd’s hand, crying out Tadd’s name as his entire body shakes and writhes. He can still feel Tadd inside him, slamming forward and pulling back, and it’s the best feeling in the entire universe. It carries him through the aftershocks, and then Tadd pushes forward one last time, leaning over Declan and pressing his lips to the back of Declan’s shoulder as he comes.
They lie still for a minute, gasping for breath, their sweat-slicked bodies pressing against the strong polished wood of the desk. Tadd is heavy and warm over Declan, but his weight is comforting, reminding Declan this argument they’re having is temporary. He’s uncomfortable—sticky and hot and struggling for breath he doesn’t really need—but he doesn’t ask Tadd to move.
Tadd stays still for a few minutes, his breath ghosting over Declan's neck. When he pulls out, he slides his hand down Declan’s back as he stands. “I’m going to shower,” he says, stepping away and grabbing his clothes off the floor.
Declan pushes himself up and twists so he’s leaning against the desk. “Want me to join you?” He keeps his tone light and hopeful, though he doesn’t expect Tadd to agree. Sex is one thing; showering together is probably far more intimate than Tadd wants to get right now, given their earlier conversation.
“No.” Tadd manages a strained smile as he looks at Declan. “We have things to figure out. We can’t keep getting distracted or someone else might die.”
"Right." That’s the last thing Declan wants, and it’s what he focuses on as he wipes himself down with the bundle of fabric and heads off toward the bathroom.
This job comes first. Then they can work out their issues.
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