"Yes, yes, you’re quite right. You were doing very well together.” Venus had materialized in an almost obscenely short silk tunic that showcased her long, shapely legs as she stood at the edge of the surf, letting the soft sea waves flow over her bare feet and calves. “I particularly liked when you cast that little spell over him and brought both of you to orgasm. Well done you!”
Kat felt her face flame. “Let’s make a deal. If my clothes come off, you stop peeping at me.”
“But, darling.” Venus smiled. “You didn’t have your clothes off.”
“You know what I mean,” Kat ground out between her clenched teeth.
Venus sighed prettily. “Yes, of course, I understand. Actually the reason I was watching was to be quite sure Achilles wouldn’t change when he became aroused by you, as he almost had earlier on the beach.”
“And he didn’t,” Kat said.
“No, not while he was under your spell.”
“Venus, it’s not a spell. You must know that. It’s just hypnotism—a trick that can be played with the subconscious mind. It’s used to get conscious barriers out of the way. Suggestions can be implanted during hypnotism, too, like don’t smoke. Or don’t eat so much.”
“Or only remember what happened if you want to?”
“Yes, like that. And, again. No more watching. But speaking of—did you happen to listen in when he told me about raping to death the girl he was going to marry?”
“Achilles did not do that. The berserker did. You know they are not one and the same,” Venus said.
“I understand that, but it doesn’t change the girl’s outcome, or mine if I happen to trigger a berserker possession.”
“Katrina, darling, I don’t believe you will.” The goddess paused, studying Kat carefully. “And I don’t think you believe you will, either.”
“Actually I believe that he can learn to control what triggers the possession. I may have figured out what it is that has to happen to call the berserker to him, and it’s not as simple as him being physically aroused or emotionally excited. It has to be a very specific combination of the two,” Kat said.
Venus nodded. “So you simply need to make sure both don’t happen at once.”
“Well, it’s not so simple. And both are bound to happen at the same time eventually. What I think I can do is get him to control himself enough so that he’s just on the edge of the berserker’s possession, but he doesn’t trip over into it.”
“And all of this will take time and keep him away from the battle-field so that a quick, decisive Trojan victory can be orchestrated. Excellent! I will report everything back to Hera and Athena.” Venus’s smile was brilliant. “I knew you were the right choice for this job.”
“Thanks. I think.” But she couldn’t help smiling back at the beautiful goddess.
“Oh, and you should know that I would never allow Achilles’ berserker to harm you. Had you awakened him last night, I would have protected you. So feel free to experiment with your lovely hypnotism spell.” The goddess raised her shapely arm, obviously getting ready to disappear.
“Wait! Okay, not that I’m unappreciative about you saying you’ll be sure the berserker doesn’t rape and pillage me, but can we work out some way you could know I need your help without you spying on me in way too intimate moments?”
“Darling, goddesses do not spy. We watch attentively and oversee our adoring subjects.”
“Fine, let’s just have your watching be not so personal, and your overseeing be slightly less attentive. Can’t I have like a panic button I could press or something?”
“What a lovely idea! And I saw the perfect thing on display at one of Tulsa’s exquisite jewelry boutiques on Brookside called Nattie Blue. My mortal friend, Pea Chamberlain, and I have recently discovered the delicious Garlic Rose restaurant there. Their food is fit for a goddess.” Venus laughed. “And, of course, I would know!”
“The panic button. Remember?”
“Oh, of course, darling.” Venus lifted her arm again and made a fluttering motion with her long, elegant fingers causing diamond glitter to form in the air around her. And then, with a pop a golden heart locket was suddenly dangling from her fingers. Venus held it up in front of her face and frowned. “Well, it’s more modern-mortal-world-looking then I remembered. But not a problem. I can fix that.” Venus closed her hand around the locket and then blew gently into her fist. When she reopened her hand Kat saw that the locket was the same basic shape and size, but the golden color had changed. Now it reminded her of the buttery color of the golden jewelry Agamemnon had draped himself in. “Perfect!” The goddess motioned for Kat to turn so she could fasten it around her neck.
Kat looked down at the heart that rested between her breasts. “Venus, it’s pretty, but how does this help me?”
“Simple, darling. If you need me you open the heart and call my name. I’ve inserted an oracle within it. I will hear and come to you.”
“And you’ll only hear me when I open the locket?”
“Yes, of course.”
Kat lifted the locket and studied the outside of it. “And it won’t let you watch me oh, so attentively?”
“You shouldn’t be so cynical, Katrina. It really isn’t attractive,” Venus said.
“You didn’t answer the question.”
“No, it’s not the seeing kind of oracle, only the hearing kind. And only when it’s open. Now go back to your Achilles and remember, Love is on your side.” Venus snapped her fingers and disappeared in a puff of glittering smoke.
Kat walked slowly back to Achilles’ tent. She’d meant what she’d said to Venus, she did think that she and Achilles had been doing well together. Kat actually liked spending time with him. Yes, he was very alpha male and completely testosteroney. He was also interesting and sexy. But now here they were, back where they’d started last night with her being warned off by him.
Kat paused outside the tent, drew a deep breath and straightened her spine. Well, last night hadn’t been so bad. Tonight she had the backup of Love herself and maybe she could work on a rerun… maybe even one with a twist…
He’d already dimmed the lanterns when she entered the tent. Kat could see his shape in bed, and that he was sitting up and definitely not asleep.
“I thought you might not return.”
“Where else did you think I’d go?”
"If the servants helped you to escape, I wouldn’t stop them,” he said.
“Nice to know you want me here so badly.” She made no attempt to hide the sarcasm in her voice.
“What I want is not the point.”
“Well maybe it should be.” Kat strode across the chamber and pushed aside the bed curtains. “Today when Diomedes accidentally wounded you, did you want the berserker to possess you?”
“No, of course not.”
“And so he didn’t.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Achilles, maybe it is that simple.”
He shook his head, clearly disgusted. “I have carried this curse for thirteen years. If that were true do you think I wouldn’t know?”
“How about considering this theory: You are older now, you have dealt with the berserker for more than a decade. You understand it better. Hell, Achilles, you understand yourself better. Maybe there’s a way you can use your age and experience to fight what triggers the possession.”
“So tell me, Princess, how do I practice this theory of yours? On whom do I chance unleashing a monster?”
“What do you remember from last night?”
She felt a shiver of excitement at how his voice had deepened and became intimate with just that one word. “Then you also remember that the berserker didn’t possess you.”
“No, but you did.”
Kat forced herself not to squirm. She didn’t particularly like Achilles believing that she had used some magic spell on him, but how else could she describe it? Explaining her master’s degree and the intricacies of hypnotism was simply not a possibility. Instead she cleared her throat, tried not to look too uncomfortable and said, “Well, I was sent to you by a goddess.”
“An oracle of Athena in my bed…” His lips tilted up just slightly. “It is an intriguing, alluring thought.”
“I didn’t stay in your bed all night last night.” She couldn’t look away from the brilliant blue in his eyes. God, he was so incredibly male and sexy, and so obviously like playing with a captivating fire.
“Perhaps you could remedy that tonight.” And then, as if catching himself in saying too much, he added, “If you think it wise, Princess.”
“Wise is probably not the word I’d use.” Like he was pulling her to him by an invisible rope, Kat approached the bed. Without saying anything he moved over, though not far enough to keep their bodies from touching. Kat sat beside him as she had the night before. “So since I didn’t run screaming from you, would you like to try that spell again?”
“There are few things I would like more.”
“You’ll have to relax,” she said.
“And you will have to help me with that,” he said.
“Then close those gorgeous blue eyes,” she said with a smile.
His brows lifted in surprise.
“Oh, come on,” she teased. “You must have been told you have beautiful blue eyes.”
“Not for more than a decade I haven’t.” He didn’t say it in an oh-please-feel-sorry-for-me voice. He said it in a practical, no-nonsense, that’s-just-the-way-it-is voice. Which made Kat’s heart squeeze.
“Well, I’m telling you. Now close them.” Kat brushed a hand gently down his face and he closed his eyes obediently. “And relax your body.” He shifted his posture a little, like he was settling in against the thick down mattress. “I want you to focus on your breathing.” Kat’s voice automatically changed, became softer, more soothing, as she began to take Achilles through the stages of relaxation that would induce hypnotism. He responded more quickly than he had the night before, and within just a few minutes Kat had him back on the beach in his special cove, completely and deeply hypnotized.
“Tell me what you see in the cove tonight, Achilles.”
“The sun is setting. It’s hot, but the breeze is cool against my skin.”
“What are you doing?”
“Touching myself while I wait for you.”
Kat’s body jerked in surprise and she almost bit her tongue. She looked down. No, his hand was not actually under the very thin sheet literally touching himself, but she could clearly see the hard bulge that was growing bigger by the instant. Achilles shifted his legs restlessly, and the sheet dropped down far enough to let her see the engorged head of his penis, already slick with a drop of moisture that had escaped the slit.
“What is it you want me to do?” she asked softly.
“Touch me, Princess. It has been so long since I’ve known a woman’s touch…”
His breathing had deepened, but not alarmingly so. Kat leaned forward, resting her hands gently on his chest. She felt him shiver under her touch. “Remember,” she whispered, “you’re calm and you’re dreaming.” She let her hands roam down his taut abdomen all the way to his thighs, pushing aside the sheet. “You are an incredibly beautiful man,” she said softly. To Kat the scars that crisscrossed his body extenuated his power. They were visible signs of his strength and of the battles he’d fought and won.
His penis was fully aroused and lay stretched up his abdomen. She stroked it gently, letting her hand trail down to cup his heavy sack. His hips lifted and he moaned. “Relax… you’re staying relaxed…” Kat murmured as she stroked him, knowing there was no damn way she was staying relaxed.
Kat bent down and let her tongue flick over the ridge of his abdominal muscles, kissing and tasting him. He was salty and wild, and he reminded her of the sea. She moved closer to his penis, though she didn’t increase the tempo of her stroking. When her tongue finally laved the slick head, his body jerked in response.
“Ah, gods, yes…” He moaned.
“Dreaming…” She let her warm breath brush against his skin between tongue strokes. “You are having a delicious dream Achilles…”
Slowly Kat took him into her mouth. Though his hips thrust up, she refused to be hurried. She swallowed him deep in her throat, then released him, murmuring calming words as she let her hands and mouth play across his hard body, then she took him deep into her mouth again.
Somehow, in the middle of all of the sucking and caressing and murmuring, Kat got rid of her clothes. She lay on top of him, pressing the wet heat between her legs against his hard shaft. Kat kissed his jaw, following the path of a scar to his mouth. She hadn’t kissed him since the beach, and then the berserker had become aroused. But the cool metal of the golden oracle that lay between her breasts was a comforting reminder that, in the worst case scenario, she did have an out. So she took a chance and brushed her lips against his with a soft kiss. His lips parted in response.
“Kiss me, Achilles. In your dream, kiss me…”
He kissed her. Kat controlled their tempo, taking his tongue into her mouth, deep and slow. She echoed the lazy kiss by moving her hips languidly against him and letting herself slide up his penis and then gradually back down.
“Yes, Princess… yes, more…” he said dreamily against her mouth.
Kat pushed herself up so that she was straddling Achilles. Whispering calming endearments, she lifted her hips and then came down slowly, impaling herself inch by inch on his thick shaft.
“Ah, gods!” Achilles breath came out in a rush, and his hips bucked against her. But, again, Kat maintained control. She didn’t move against him, but caressed his chest with her hands and let his breathing steady. It was only when it did that Kat began to ride him. Slowly she lifted herself to the end of his penis, and just as slowly she sank back until he was fully buried within her. She paused, and then began the ride all over again.
Kat thought she was going to lose her mind. It was an exquisite, wonderful, painful torture.
“Touch me,” she whispered to Achilles.
Without hesitation his hands lifted, skimming from her thighs, up her waist and rib cage, to cup her breasts. The thick callused palms of his sword-hardened hands rasped against her ultrasensitive nipples. Kat couldn’t help herself. While his hands were busy with her breasts and she concentrated on maintaining the slow, steady rhythm of their joined bodies, she let her fingers slide down to the hard bud of her clitoris. She stroked herself quickly, feeling the orgasm build easily and then, as it began to shatter over her in drowning wave after wave of sensation she gasped, “Come with me, Achilles!” His powerful body gathered itself and he pounded against her once, twice and then with a groan he shot his seed into her.
Kat collapsed against his chest, trying to catch her breath, feeling her heart beating like a crazy bird. She stretched out, half on top of him, half to the side of him, their bodies still joined, both slick with lovemaking. She kissed his shoulder and he tilted his head in her direction, his lips lifting in his familiar almost-smile. She was trying to come up with some calming words when his eyelids fluttered and then opened. Turquoise blue they stared at her, looking dazed and completely satisfied. He glanced sleepily down at their naked, entwined bodies. Then the slight lift of his lips increased and he smiled fully. Kat was amazed how much like a young, carefree boy he suddenly looked.
“It isn’t a dream, is it?”
“No,” she said, practically holding her breath. “It isn’t a dream, but you should probably close your eyes and go to sleep now.”
His eyes fluttered again and then closed, but the smile remained on his lips. Just before his breathing deepened Kat heard him whisper, “Two nights in a row I sleep and she touches me…” Then he turned, put his arm around her waist, spooned her back against him, buried his face in her hair and fell soundly asleep.
Ah, to hell with it, Kat thought. If I wake up with a monster it won’t be the first time.