Authors: Dee Carney
"Charon is the ferryman for the river Acheron … which flows before you now."
It all flooded back to her in a single outrageous moment of remembrance. To get to Hades, the underworld, souls were transported across the river Acheron by a ferryman.
He exacted his fee in the form of a single obolus—her coin—that family members usually buried on or in the mouths of the dead. Perchance a family was too poor to perform this ritual, the soul could still cross Acheron, but only by spending a hundred years on the shore line, waiting its turn.
With trembling fingers, she searched beneath the silver skin and pulled out the little coin. In its day, the beautifully handcrafted piece was worth a pittance. The miniscule price served as a reminder to both poor and rich that almost anyone could gain admittance to Hades.
"Come with me," Danyl said, holding his hand out. "Let's go wait by the water's edge. I think it'll be several hours before he gets here and I'm sure by now you're hungry."
She put the coin back and pressed a hand against its hard edges as if reminding herself of where she placed it. Her stomach chose that moment to rumble, and a smile curved her lips. "Wow. I don't remember the last time I've had something to eat. It's been several hours at best."
"I'd like you to be clear-headed when we meet my father. I'm afraid I don't have anything you're used to, but I saw some plants over there that will provide nourishment."
He wrinkled his nose. "Be forewarned, goddess, they don't taste very good."
After glancing over her shoulder into the mysterious hollow, she nodded and walked with him. They plucked a few of the bitter plants that continued to repeat in her mouth, long after she'd swallowed them. Every time she took a mouthful, she had to close her eyes and clench her stomach against the viscous coating that refused to come off the plant no matter how she scrubbed.
"Ugh. Does this taste ever go away?"
Lying on his back and reclined on one elbow, Danyl dangled a long stem above his mouth. With great relish, he sucked on its end until the entire thing disappeared. He swallowed, and with a grin said, "In about an hour."
Her stomach turned over once at that thought and another small burp escaped her lips. "I think I'm gonna be sick," she muttered.
Danyl was on his feet in a flash. The look on his face was heart attack serious as he rushed to her. He gripped her chin between strong fingers and searched her eyes. "Are you ill? What's the matter?"
Somersaulting insides fairly melted at the concern in his voice. "No, I'm fine. Really.
It's just an expression of sorts."
"You're certain? It's not too late to go back."
She shook her head. "You don't get rid of me that easily. I've already told you once, and I still mean it. If you're going to face off against your father, you need someone there who's got your back. That someone is me."
The grip on her chin softened until his fingers grazed gently across her jaw. The brooding rage had long since left his eyes and been replaced by an almost hopeful glint.
, how did I live without you in my life before? You are one of few who would stand by my side in this."
The corners of her mouth lifted in a smile. "You were supposed to tell me what that means."
With casual ease, he backed away until his hand on her face dropped to her neck and then arm in a suggestive caress. A low burn smoldered in his gaze and she knew that look well.
"Come with me into the water," he murmured, "and I'll show you."
He dove into the water, heedless of any danger. Di on the other hand, eyed it cautiously. The bout with hypothermia still registered too sharply in her mind to forget.
Danyl did a form-perfect flip into the water, the grace of his tail a wonder to behold before it disappeared beneath the dark depths. He came up to the surface again and held his arms out. "The water's fine without your clothing. Trust me."
Watching her remove the clothing almost took every vestige of restraint he possessed to not join her on land and couple with her there. But with a drumming heart, he watched and waited. He almost went to the ledge for an up-close view, but didn't think his fingers could stand the pressure of him digging into the compact earth. Already his jaw took a beating as he clamped his teeth together to fight back the urge to impale her on his cock.
He knew with certainty that at this moment, if he went too close, he would forget himself.
He took a deep cleansing breath because he wanted to share this with her.
Still, it was torture when dark nipples on rounded breasts were revealed. His throat went dry and he forced his tongue over his lips. Then that damnable skin dropped lower to reveal her tummy and its perfect smoothness. Di shimmied a little, the flare of her hips an immediate draw. A low sound echoed in the cavern and it took him a minute to realize he made it. By the time her slit was bared before him, his mind was hazy with lust.
Thoughts of mating and fucking and loving tumbled upon each other until only the cadence of her name would drown them out.
Di squatted down and his gaze dropped to the slit between her legs. Its pink folds glistened as she moved and he groaned another guttural sound. Somehow he'd drifted closer to her and had to force himself to back up. But knowing that her body was already waiting for him to take her made his heart ache with longing. He would go slow. He would make this her pleasure. But he needed to do so now.
She dropped into the water feet first and let out a squeal as soon as she came up for air. The locks of her golden hair tightened into a crown around her face, and the effect was dazzling. Her broad smile called to him. "You said it wasn't cold."
He chuckled. Each slow circle he made around her might have seemed puzzling from where she bobbed, but to him, it was the only way to cool down his maddening urges. He drew in closer though, his gaze locked with hers as she treaded water. Surrounded by the lapping waves, she was grace and beauty and he wanted to admire her there a little while longer.
"Danyl, how do you… In the water, I mean."
That's exactly what he was going to show her. "To me, goddess."
Her arms wrapped around his neck when he pulled her into his embrace. The tight buds of her nipples scraped across his chest and sparked a bolt of electricity that ricocheted through his tail. The last time he would be able to kiss for a while, he covered her mouth with his hungrily. He left her intoxicating lips to drag his mouth to the pulsing hollow at the base of her throat before travelling up again. To stay in that moment with her as his mouth learned hers could have fed at least part of his need for hours, but by now, his body all but screamed for more.
"Hold your breath, Di."
She looked deep into his eyes and nodded. The intensity behind her green eyes told him much. Her complete and absolute trust resided with him. Her chest expanded and when it did not lower, he secured his grip and took them beneath the surface.
At first, he waited. If she couldn't handle this, if she needed to resurface, he would do so immediately. Whatever she needed. But when she relaxed in his arms and allowed him to direct their movement, it was a gift.
Using one arm, he guided her leg around his waist. She caught his intent and wrapped the other around him as well. The moment he released his cock from its sheath and probed her slit with it, her hands tensed on his back. Lazily, he pushed them toward the surface, allowing the drag on her body to slide her down on him until her slit engulfed his tip.
"Where did that come from?" Surprised laughter amplified into the air the moment she caught her breath. His hands gripped the rounded globes of her ass and pulled her further onto him. Her laughter morphed into a moan.
"Feel." He moaned this time when her hand gripped the base of his cock still not yet embedded in her soft walls. She rocked forward and he pushed further inside. Still, her hand pumped on the base of his cock, the sensation shooting through him and making him dizzy. "A sheath encases my organ until I'm ready to use it. Hold your breath."
The water swallowed them as soon as she nodded. Surrounded by its cool caress, it became a third in their love making. But all Danyl could focus on was being buried in Di's heat. Every time he withdrew, the ocean stroked his cock and urged him to find her center again. He would have loved to stare into her eyes in those moments, but settled on watching the ecstasy rippling in her expression.
Twice more they resurfaced only to descend a minute or two later. All of his life he'd waited to love one of the maids like this. The chance to love Di instead was worth the price of another thousand lifetimes of waiting. They rose to the surface again and he swam them toward the embankment ledge until her back pressed against it. "My goddess.
," he murmured against her lips.
Each thrust inside coaxed a low groan from her that made his heart pound against his ribs. It wasn't enough. "Open your eyes, goddess. Look at me."
He increased his pace, driving into her. Beneath hooded eyes, she begged for more, for a reprieve, for him, before burying her face against the side of his neck. Indeed, her cries gained in volume, but he wanted more. "Call my name, Aphrodite. Let the heavens hear our love."
She moaned again and the sound vibrated through his chest. "Danyl, please…"
Still he wanted more. Danyl slipped his hand between their writhing bodies and found that glorious place between her curls. The one that sent her body into shudders and made her slit clench around him. She matched his urgency with her own lusty cries and they echoed a beautiful sound.
," she screamed.
. His body began to vibrate with liquid fire. His stomach tensed and when she spasmed around his pistoning cock, he came undone.
A hot tide of passion raced through his body and poured into her. It was a raw act of possession to push himself harder, deeper into her depths. The more of his seed she milked from his distended cock, the more lost he became in her hold.
" He kissed her mouth tenderly. "My beloved."
* * * *
It did little to squelch a shudder of revulsion when the boat finally stopped. Charon, the ferryman, stood as nightmarish a figure as ever she could have imagined. Hollow, soulless eyes stared forward on a gaunt face. If he noticed they stood there, she couldn't tell. His unkempt beard hadn't seen soap in his lifetime, she'd bet. The tattered red-brown robe he wore fared no better.
He held a pole directing the boat in one hand, and opened the gnarled skeleton of the other toward them. Danyl slipped the obolus into his hand as he stepped aboard. The boat remained stock still regardless of the shift in weight. Di stepped in beside him, but frowned when Charon extended his hand toward her.
He'd been given his penance. What more did he want? "Danyl?"
His jaw tightened. "I was afraid of this." He moved in between Di and the ferryman.
"Charon, I am Danyl, son of Ancelin and Simeona. I am bringing my mate to the place of my father's home for his blessing of our union. She and I are one soul and I demand passage for us both. You've been paid adequately in this regard."
For a moment, she didn't think he would acquiesce. The ferryman's fingers curled around the coin however and he withdrew his hand. Apparently, the matter was resolved.
Except this business about being mates. She glanced at Danyl, a man who'd laid claim to her heart in the short time she'd known him. Did he really believe they were mates? Then again, he'd lied to Charon about their purpose for visiting his father, so it was possible that he'd lied about their being
But just hearing that word come from him sent a thrill racing through her body.
Would it be unwise to latch on to that idea, no matter how much it appealed to her?
She looked into his face and knew the answer with unwavering certainty. In this short time, despite the impossibility of such a sudden bond, he held her heart.
Danyl pulled her into his arms, and they stood pressed together during the ride. She breathed in the masculine, slightly salty scent of him and let it soothe her fluttering nerves. The contentment vanished when the boat settled against a new embankment. It might have taken Charon hours to reach them, but he managed to approach the gods'
home in what couldn't have been more than mere minutes.
"Di, please stay here. Please." Danyl's exasperated voice would have normally been reason for concern, but damn it, she was not letting him out of her sight.
Ignoring his final plea, she moved toward the complex ahead of them. He released another frustrated breath and moved in beside her. They passed a huge cavern, and though tempted to peer inside, she hurried past it. Her skin crawled like a thousand millipedes had just run across every part of her flesh from the idea of lingering outside of the hollow.
"When we get inside, he'll know I'm here. He may know my reasoning, he may not.
In either event, please, Di, don't get in between us."
"You know, it's not too late for you to change your mind. Two wrongs don't make a right. Doing this will not bring your mother back."
"I made a vow."
"And I wouldn't think less of you if you broke that vow."
He placed a restraining hand on her arm, turning her to face him. "And I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't at least try to uphold it."
She studied his face, trying to understand. There had to be another way out of this.
Didn't his gods have to face some sort of tribunal or something for heinous crimes?