Everyone on the raft with the exception of Solin and Kat gaped at her.
"What are you talking about?"
"How can we quit?"
"Are you insane?"
"We just got the permits! How can you even say that?"
The questions were fired at her in rapid succession. Geary held her hands up to quell their fury. "Look, guys, I’m not my father. I can’t live knowing that I caused someone else to die. Least of all the people who are sitting here on this raft. We don’t need this. I’ve been to one too many funerals in my life and I’m tired of it."
Tory glared at her.
"Yea!" Thia said happily, "Does this mean I get to shop more?"
"Shut up, Thia," Scott snapped. "Geary, think about what you’re saying."
Tory held Kichka up to her chin. "Geary’s had a bad shock today. Give her time to calm down and she’ll change her mind. You’ll see."
Geary started to correct her but didn’t want to argue the point. Her mind was made up and there was no way she’d ever take another group this far out. Today had taught her a valuable lesson and she was going to heed it before it was too late.
Her resolve set, she stayed on the raft while the others boarded the small rescue boat.
Arik hung back with her. "Are you sure about this?"
She expected him to ride her, but instead he asked a simple, flat-toned question. "Then what are you going to do with the rest of your life?"
She laughed. "I don’t know. It’s been years since I’ve thought past this interminable quest. What would you do?"
A devilish light glowed in his eyes. "Well, I personally would go back to shore. Shower and change into something nice, then go out to dinner with this guy who wants to spend a little time with me. Then I’d take him back to my place and rock his world."
His words warmed her and she couldn’t resist teasing him. "Daydream about a lot of guys, do you?"
He laughed. "No, that’s just what I’d do if I were you ."
Smiling, she shook her head. "You’re relentless."
He gave a weary sigh. "I’m never going to wear you down, am I?"
Geary had to admit he was gorgeous sitting there with his wet hair plastered around his sharp features, bruised though they were. And those eyes… they were the stuff of legends. What could one dinner with him really hurt? After all, he’d kept her calm today and watched after her. If not for him, she might very well have panicked and died today.
"All right. I’ll take you up on it."
He actually gaped at her. Then his smile turned wicked. "Shall we get nak*d now? I definitely want to see you rock my world."
"The dinner, you loon. And only the dinner."
Arik pouted playfully. "Fine. If that’s your best offer…"
He stood up and helped her to her feet, then he assisted her in climbing up after Teddy. Geary tried not to notice the strength of Arik as he easily swung her up on board the rescue boat, then climbed up behind her. He was nimble and fast.
And he made her body melt.
Images of her dreams haunted her.
She turned away from Arik as one of the officers came up to her. "Yes?"
"I need to ask you a few questions about your boat."
Nodding, she expected Arik to join the others. Instead, he stayed by her side, lending her his unspoken support while she was interrogated.
Kat moved to the back of the boat and remained silent as they headed for the docks. Solin joined her by the side with an intense look of displeasure etched into his features.
For a man who was completely amoral his actions today surprised her. "Why did you save them from the explosion?"
He shrugged nonchalantly. "It was a momentary lapse in judgment I assure you."
She wasn’t buying that argument. "There’s more human in you than you want, isn’t there?"
"I have no idea what you mean. Whatever humanity ever existed has long since died."
Uh-huh. "Did you happen to see who was behind this?"
"I didn’t see anything, but I felt…"
"A presence near and dear to your heart. It appears Artemis also has an interest in ending this expedition. Perhaps you should take this matter up with her."
Kat was frozen into place as he drifted away. It was as she thought. Her anger boiling, she stopped a passing sailor. "Where’s the restroom?"
He gave her directions to it. Thanking him, she immediately headed for it and locked herself in. Then she closed her eyes and flashed herself to Olympus to speak with said goddess.
A warm breeze whispered against her skin as she opened the golden door to Artemis’s temple. Dressed in a flowing white gown that set her pale features and vibrant red hair off to perfection, the goddess was lounging about on her throne while Satara, another of her handmaidens, played the harp for her entertainment.
Kat came to a stop before her goddess and crossed her arms over her chest. She looked to the other koris before she barked a single order, "Leave us."
Artemis sighed wearily. "You don’t make that whisper, Katra."
"It’s call, matisera . The phase is ‘you don’t make take call B, today I do."
The other koris lifted stunned eyebrows as they waited for Artemis to blast Kat. But she knew she was safe from death. Punishment she could handle.
Artemis pushed herself up. "Fine. Koris , leave."
They were immediately flashed from the room. Artemis narrowed her eyes as she rose from her throne to stand beside Kat, who was a good two inches taller than the goddess she served. "What is your breakage?"
"Damage, matisera . The phrase is ‘what is my damage.’ And I want to know why you blew up the boat."
Artemis rolled her eyes and made a disgusted sound in the back of her throat as if she couldn’t believe Kat would ask such a trivial question. "Because I felt like it."
"You felt like it? Good grief, matisera , have you any idea how disconcerting it is to be underwater when the boat that’s supplying you your air comes floating down past you?"
She scoffed. "Why are you so angry? It’s not like you can die. Get a grab."
"Whatever." Artemis turned on her with green eyes blazing. "I don’t care what it takes or who has to die.
Preserve that seal, Katra. I heard Apollymi calling to you and to that other bitch. I know she was guiding her toward the seal. Box my elbow. Apollymi knew what she was doing. She won’t rest until she’s free and I’m dead."
"You can relax. I’m not going to allow Apollymi to be free."
"No? Then act like it. Remember at the end of the day which of us has protected you. Shielded you.
Nurtured you. You’re nothing but a tool to Apollymi."
"And what am I to you, matisera ? Am I not your tool?"
Artemis’s face flushed with color caused by her anger. "You know what you are to me. Now go and do as you’re told. Keep that human from Atlantis."
Kat ground her teeth at the order. "When will you learn to trust me?"
"Trust you?" Artemis asked in an aghast tone. "You went behind my back to Kalosis and then bound yourself to my most mortal enemy. Why should I ever trust you again?"
That ignited Kat’s own temper. Why did Artemis always bring up something that had happened thousands, and it was thousands , of years ago? "You know why I had to see Apollymi."
It didn’t placate Artemis in the least. "After all I have done for you, sacrificed for you, you slapped me in my face. If it were anyone other than you, I’d have killed you for what you’ve done."
"Then kill me."
Artemis hissed at her, "Don’t tempt me, Katra. Ever."
"And don’t push me, matisera . I know the source of your powers and you know the depth of mine. If we ever go to war, who do you think would win?"
Artemis curled her lip. "You are your father’s child. Impudent. Surly. Argumentative and spiteful."
Kat laughed at that. "Strange, I would have sworn it was my mother you’re describing."
Artemis’s hair flew around her as her face mottled with rage. Her incisors grew to fangs as she spat at Kat. The air around Artemis sizzled with power an instant before she raised her hands and shot a bolt at Kat.
But it didn’t hit her.
Before it came near, Kat flashed herself back to the boat.
" Heed me, Katra," Artemis growled in Kat’s mind. " I am not one to be trifled with."
Katra rolled her eyes at the angry voice. "My loyalty to you is above reproach, matisera . One day, I hope you will know that."
"I will know it only when you help me kill Apollymi. Until that day, I will always have my doubts."
"I can never hurt her."
"Then I can never fully trust you. So long as your loyalty is split between us, you are as great a threat to me as she is."
"Do you honestly believe that?"
"Believe it? I know it. And that is why your boat is lying on the seafloor. Next time you go near that seal, I will make sure that you pay for it with flesh and bone. And the humans will pay with their lives."
That was a beautiful thought. "Love you, too, matisera . Thanks."
She jerked as she heard Tory’s voice. "Um, yeah?"
"Are you okay in there? I heard you talking to someone."
Kat flushed the toilet before she opened the door. "Just thinking out loud."
By Tory’s face Kat could tell the girl didn’t believe her. "You were speaking in ancient Greek."
"Just practicing. You never know when it could come in handy."
"True. We might one day clone Aristophanes and need an interpreter."
"Yeah." Kat stepped past her and headed back to the topside. As she ascended the ladder, a whisper went through her.
"I will be free, Katra. Neither you nor Artemis can keep me bound here forever."
Kat could actually feel Apollymi’s breath on her neck. Feel the touch of her hand. " We both know why you can’t leave Kalosis."
" And we both know why I must…"
Kat had no sooner stepped on the upper deck than she met Solin, who gave her an amused stare.
"I really hate voices in my head, don’t you, Kat?"
She forced her features to remain blank. "I have no idea what you mean."
"Of course not."
As he moved away, she stopped him. "For the record, I’m not on their side."
He arched a brow at her. "Whose side?"
"Anyone’s. My loyalty is to myself."
"Why are you telling me this?"
She smiled. "Because we are similar creatures. I have my own agenda here and I know you do, too."
"And what is your agenda?"
"To survive this expedition."
He laughed in the back of his throat. "That’s something easier said than done, isn’t it?"
"It’s beginning to appear that way." Kat looked over to where Arik sat with Geary. They were leaning toward each other, and even though they weren’t touching, there was no missing the electricity between them. How Kat wished to feel that way toward a man, but she wasn’t that type of creature. Every woman she’d ever known had been ruined by a man.
She would never be so stupid.
"What about you, Solin? What do you want out of this?"
He gave her a harsh stare. "Mine is simple. I only want revenge."
Before she could ask him to elaborate or at the very least to narrow his choice down from the few billion people on earth and in other realms, he drifted out of her reach. "Nice talking to you, too," she said under her breath. She was getting really tired of gods drifting away from her.
But that was no matter.
She was stressed enough walking the tightrope between Apollymi and Artemis.
Geary laughed at something Arik said. He was smiling as he looked up and caught Kat’s gaze. She cocked her head at the way the two of them were acting as she felt the attraction between them. She understood the physical, but what surprised her was what she felt from Arik.
He thought he lusted for Geary, which he did. But there was more to his feelings than that. As a Skotos, he was used to taking his emotions from others. What he didn’t realize was that his newfound emotions came from his feelings for Geary. They weren’t Geary’s feelings. They were his own. The giddiness and joy he experienced right now wouldn’t be there if Geary were somewhere else.
And in that moment, Kat understood why Solin was helping him. Solin wanted Arik to know these feelings so that when they were gone and Geary was no longer here Arik would mourn her. It was cruel beyond belief.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Arik had wanted emotions and now he would experience the full array of them. May the gods have mercy on him.
Sympathetic pain sliced through her, but it was mitigated by the fact that none of this was her business.
Arik had chosen this path.
And he would be doomed by it.
GEARY STOOD IN FRONT OF THE FULL-LENGTH MIRROR, exhausted by her day and yet strangely thrilled at the prospect of being with Arik. She hadn’t been on a date in over a year, and the last one had been particularly bad. She’d made the mistake of accepting an offer for dinner from a man she’d met at the local market. Since she’d spent a great deal of time in Europe, she was used to the differences in culture. But this guy…