Acheron (Page 25)

Acheron (Dark-Hunter #15)(25)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

She kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Let us hunt."

Acheron nodded before he nocked a new arrow and placated the only real friend he’d ever had. She didn’t shun him and he didn’t have to hide from her. What scared him, though, were the feelings inside him whenever she was near.

He was falling in love with a goddess and he knew just how stupid that was. Out of all the things he’d been, he’d never been a fool.

Until now.

She made him feel whole. Happy. And he never wanted these feelings to leave.

Pushing the thought away, he took aim at a buck. As he sighted it, Artemis ran at him and tickled him. The arrow flew wide of its mark, embedding itself in a tree where it disturbed a squirrel that actually threw a nut at him.

Acheron laughed before he narrowed his eyes on Artie. He tossed his bow aside then stalked toward her. "You have fouled my perfect shot. You’re going to pay for that."

Artemis dropped her bow before she bolted.

He ran for her as she tried to disappear into the woods. Her laughter taunted him and made him smile all the more. He caught up to her right as she reached the small stream.

Wrapping his arms around her waist, he swung her around in his arms.

Artemis couldn’t breathe as the full weight of Acheron slammed into her. The sight of his smile, the light in those magical eyes . . .

It made her want to shout out in ecstasy.

He twirled around with her while the birds sang a special melody for them. She was lost in this one time and place with him. This was what she’d always wanted. Always needed.

Acheron didn’t care about her quirks or her moodiness. Nor did he flinch from feeding her. He took her as she was and held her regardless. Unlike her family he didn’t belittle her or tell her that she lacked the followers he had. He didn’t care about any of that.

She wanted to lose herself to this moment and to him for the rest of eternity.

"Make love to me, Acheron."

Acheron froze at her words as his smile faded. "What?" He set her back on the ground.

She brushed his beautiful hair back from his face. "I want to know you like a woman. I want to feel you inside me."

He released her and stepped back, his expression reserved. "I don’t think so."

"Why not?"

He swallowed and she saw the fear in those silver eyes. "I don’t want anything to change between us. I like being your friend, Artie."

"But you already touch me in places no one else has. Why wouldn’t you want to be inside me?"

"You’re a virgin."

"Only by a small technicality. Please, Acheron. I want to share myself with you."

Acheron looked away as his emotions burned through him. What she offered him was unimaginable. Yet he’d had numerous princesses and noblewomen come to him so that he could break their bodies in gently for intercourse with other men.

Parthenopaeus . . . Of the pierced maidenhead-that was how Estes and Catera had billed his services to his female clients. Acheron’s reputation for gentleness had been legendary. The fact that he was extremely well-endowed and was still careful with them hadn’t hurt him either.

Now a goddess offered herself to him. Any other man would leap at the chance. For that matter, any other man would already be nak*d.

But unlike the rest, he fully understood the intricacies of physical intimacy. Even though they asked and paid for it, some women cried at the loss of their innocence. Others cursed him and themselves. Some had even turned violent over the loss. A small handful rejoiced.

The problem was he didn’t know which one Artemis would be.

"I don’t want to hurt you."

She walked herself into his arms. "Please Acheron . . . I want to feel you in me when I feed on you."

"I really don’t think we should."

Her eyes snapped fury at him. "Fine. Go then. Get out of my sight."

"Artie . . ."

It was too late. He was back in his room. Alone. "I’m sorry," he whispered, hoping she could hear him.

If she heard, she gave him no clue.

You should have slept with her. Would it really have mattered? He’d slept with everyone else. But the others had just been bodies for him to please. Artemis was different.

He loved her.

No, it wasn’t as simple as that. What he felt for her . . . it defied love. He needed her in a way he wouldn’t have thought possible and now he’d angered her.

His heart heavy, he only hoped that he could find some way to win her back and make her forgive him.

January 26, 9528 BC

It had been two weeks since Acheron had last seen Artemis and with the passing of each day, he grew more despondent. She refused to answer his calls.

He didn’t even bother going to plays. Nothing could alleviate the pain inside him that wanted to be with her. All he wanted was to see her again.

Tilting his head back, he guzzled the last of the wine in the bottle he’d been drinking from. Angry and hurt, he threw it over the banister to let it smash on the rocks below. He reached for a new bottle and tried to pull the cork from it. He was too drunk to manage it.


He froze at the sound of the one voice he’d been begging to hear. "Artie?" He attempted to push himself to his feet, but instead he fell back to the ground. Looking up, he saw her in the shadows of his room.

She stepped forward, her face pale and drawn. Her left eye was swollen and there was the faint outline of a bruise in the shape of someone’s handprint.

Rage darkened his sight. "Who hit you!"

Artemis stepped back, afraid of the man before her. She’d never seen Acheron drunk, but whenever Apollo drank, he turned violent. "I’ll come back-"

"No," he breathed, his voice a hoarse whisper. "Please don’t leave." He reached his hand out to her.

Her first instinct to run, she swallowed and reminded herself that she was a goddess. He was human and therefore couldn’t harm her. Her legs trembling in reservation, she reached out slowly and took his hand in hers.

Acheron held it to his cheek and closed his eyes as if he were content to die now, as if touching her was the greatest pleasure he could imagine. He buried his face against her skin and inhaled deeply. "I’ve missed you so . . ."

She’d missed him too. Every day she’d sworn she wasn’t going to see him, but today . . .

After Apollo’s attack, she needed to be held by someone she knew wouldn’t hurt her. "You look terrible," she said, frowning at the thick, prickly beard that had grown over his face. "And you smell bad."

He laughed at her criticism. "It’s your fault I look like this."

"How so?"

"I thought I’d lost you."

Those anguished words touched her so deeply that it brought tears to her eyes. Falling to her knees, she shook her head at him.

Before she could speak, he whispered in her ear. "I love you, Artie."

Her breath caught in her throat. "What did you say?"

"I love you." He leaned against her and wrapped his arm around her neck before he collapsed and passed out.

Artemis sat there, holding him as his words echoed all the way to her soul. Acheron loved her . . .

She looked down at his face that was still incredibly handsome even in its unkempt state. He loved her. That succeeded in making her cry in a way she hadn’t cried since she was a child. And she hated the fact that he could make her do this. She hated the fact that those words meant so much to her when they should mean nothing at all.

But the truth was the truth and she couldn’t deny it.

"I love you too," she whispered, knowing that she could never tell him that if he were awake. It would give him, a mortal, too much power over her.

But here in this moment, she could tell him a truth that she wanted to deny with every part of herself. How could a goddess be in love with a man? Especially her? She was supposed to be immune to it. But somehow this mortal had crept into her soul.

Chapter 12

If only he were a god . . .

He wasn’t and it wasn’t meant to be. He was human and not just any human. He was a slave. A whore who’d been brutally used by everyone around him. They mocked him and they would mock her for being with him. She winced at the truth. She had enough trouble with her credibility where the other gods were concerned. Should they ever learn about this, they’d strip her powers from her and banish her to the human realm.

She couldn’t allow that.

Not even for Acheron. It was more than she could give. More than she could bear. She’d seen how cruel mankind was to each other. The last thing she wanted was to be nak*d in this world and at the mercy of people who had no heart. Look what they’d done to Acheron. He couldn’t even walk in public without someone hurting him.

Imagine what they’d do to her should they learn she’d been a goddess . . .

They’d tear her apart.

Sobbing, she held him close and took him away from this stupid, mean world.

In her own bed, she brushed her hand over him and cleaned him up so that he looked like the Acheron she loved. His hair was fresh and clean, his cheeks smooth and soft while he lay nak*d on her feathered mattress. Every muscle of his body was sharply sculpted. The lines of his abdomen . . .

How could any woman not love a face and body so perfect?

Wanting to be as close to him as possible, she removed her clothes, then crawled into bed to lie beside him. She manifested a fur to cover them as she snuggled close and listened to his breathing.

While he slept, she ran her hand over the muscles that covered his chest. His body was flawless. Lean and well muscled, he looked powerful even while he was unconscious. Heat poured through her as she fondled his nipple. It puckered in response to her touch, making her smile.

And she wondered what it would taste like . . . Acheron was always tasting her, but she’d never done that to him. She was bashful about his body. But with him like this, she was emboldened.

Dipping her head down, she ran her tongue over the taut peak. Hmmm, he did taste good. His skin was salty and smelled of all Acheron. Her body aching, she moved slowly over his chest, sampling every inch of it.

It wasn’t until she reached his stomach that she pulled back. His entire torso was bare except for a small patch of hair that ran from his navel down to the thicker patch at the center of his body. She buried her hand there, letting the coarse hair tease her fingers. Unlike the hair on his head, these were prickly and as she ran her hand through them, his c**k began to harden.

Artemis touched him cautiously. She was fascinated by the part of him that was so different from her own body. At first she was able to move it at will, but before long he was so hard and stiff that all she could do was run her hand down the length of him and make his c**k dance in response to her touch.

How odd . . .

Even stranger was the moisture that leaked from the tip. She glanced up to make sure he was still unconscious. Reassured, she bit her lip, then crawled closer. Her heart hammering in fear and curiosity, she dipped her head down for a taste.

Artemis groaned deep in her throat. There was nothing scary about this. Truly, nothing scary about Acheron in the least. Smiling, she pulled back to cup him in her hand.

He slept on, oblivious to the fact she was exploring him.

She moved back up his body to kiss those lips that had haunted her dreams these days past. She couldn’t stand it anymore . . .

"Wake for me, Acheron."

Acheron was in a daze as he tried to focus his thoughts. But all he could see was Artemis. She was leaning over him, her green eyes scorching him with their heat.

"You take my breath away," he whispered.

She smiled ever so sweetly before she nipped his chin with her teeth.

He was already hard and aching for a taste of her. Was this a dream? His head was so foggy that he couldn’t tell. There was a haze over everything.

"Show your love to me," she breathed in his ear.

He wanted to and with her on him like this he couldn’t remember his objections to it. Turning his face into hers, he kissed her deeply. He’d never wanted to make love to anyone before, but right now he wanted inside her with a madness so unexpected that it tore through him and left him weak.

His head spinning, he rolled over with her and dipped his head down to tease her right breast.

Artemis gasped at the sensation of his tongue stroking her. Her stomach contracted sharply with each delectable lick. And to her amazement, she actually came from it.

Gasping, she clutched his head to her and shook as wave after wave of pleasure swept through her. She’d had no idea that he could do this.

He growled unexpectedly, before he lowered himself down her body. He nudged her thighs apart to stare at her with a hunger so raw it sent a shiver over her.

"Touch me, Acheron. Show me what you can do."

He ran one long finger down her, making her shudder in response. An instant later he buried his mouth against her. She cried out as his tongue tormented her. It was unbearably pleasurable.

And she wanted more.

For the first time, he slid a finger inside her while he tasted her. The intrusion was startling at the same time it was incredibly pleasing. When he slid another finger inside, she tensed.

"What are you doing?"

He met her gaze before delivering another exquisite lick. "I’m getting your body ready for me so that I won’t hurt you when I enter you." He pulled back. "Have you changed your mind?"