T H I R T Y
I was cold.
Like frozen popsicle cold.
I opened my eyes with a groan, blinking at the tented ceiling.
“When am I?” I said, my voice croaky like if I was on my deathbed.
Which, by the way I was feeling, felt like I was.
“You’re awake” a sigh of relief sounded from my right. “Finally.”
I turned my head to the side, which was the only thing I could do at the moment, and found a shirtless Zephyr staring at me with an unknown emotion in his eyes.
I shut my eyes quickly.
“Why are you naked?” I squeaked/croaked “And what happened?”
“You don’t remember?”
I shook my head and tried to sit up.
Before my body could plop back down from lack of strength, Zephyr was there helping me sit up.
“Easy” he scolded softly, sitting behind me to prop my back up to his chiseled front.
I bit my lip, cheeks flaming.
Although the gesture was innocent enough, my mind was wandering to places that I didn’t want to consider just yet.
Zephyr was the first boy, man, that really caught and held my attention.
Sure, I had crushes in the past but they were a come-and-go type of thing.
I would like someone one week and the next, I would be over it.
My cousins thought I was too picky in the dating department but I knew that wasn’t the case.
I knew my self worth and concluded that every single boy I had a crush on wouldn’t understand or cherish my values.
“You okay?” Zephyr asked, his warm breath on my neck making me shiver in delight “You kind of spaced off?”
I nodded, leaning my head back slightly to look at him.
I was startled to find his face so close to mine.
His lips tilted up at my surprised face “You scared me Princess.”
I swallowed thickly, suddenly realizing how dry my mouth was.
“Sorry for that” I said softly, looking at his pretty crimson and violet eyes “But what happened exactly?”
He sighed, dropping his head to my shoulder.
“I don’t want to tell you” his muffled mutter came “Because if I tell you, then I have to relive it too.”
“Come on Zee” I teased, pinching the top of his thigh “I’m a big girl. I can handle it.”
He growled and the sound reverberated through my whole body.
I shivered again.
“Are you cold?” He asked, looking at me in worry “I can bring you another blanket.”
I waved him off, my blush deepening.
I paused then, looking around the place we were staying in.
“What is this place?” I asked in awe, looking around the whole...Room?
“Why does this look like a more rustic version of your room back home?”
“Because it is” he said, twirling a piece of my hair with one hand and pointing to something in the corner of the room with the other hand “You see that?”
I squinted “That pearlescent looking thing?”
He nodded “It’s a specialized stone that Hades created for Mom whenever she travels topside to visit my Gram to keep her from getting homesick. It mimics and materializes whatever the owner wishes, as long as the owner actually owns and can visualize it.”
I took in that information before looking at him “She really leaves for six months?”
He grinned “Yep. Probably the only thing those myths got right.”
“So the stone basically makes our lives easier on this hellish journey?”
He laughed “No awful camping for us Princess.”
I snickered “When were you going to tell me about this little handy dandy tool?
He lost his smile and his eyes dimmed “Before you got kidnapped.”
I frowned myself, searching though my foggy memories “A giant spider really kidnapped me?”
“You remember that?”
“I could never forget that” I snorted “But I thought I was having a nightmare. I hate spiders.”
He rubbed his temples “Arachne was a pain in the ass.”
“I kind of felt sorry for her” I leaned my head on his shoulder to look up at him “You know, before she tried to eat me.”
“Don’t” Zephyr grabbed my chin gently, making me give my undivided attention to him “She knew what the consequences were when she started causing trouble. Do I agree that her punishment was harsh? Yes. But I also agree that she got off far easier than what should have happened to her. She wasn’t telling you the whole truth.”
He grasped my thigh gently and I hissed in pain “Not to mention, she tried to kill you.”
I swatted his hands away “Ow! That hurts!”
He nudged me “Can you sit up on your own now? I need to check your wound.”
I nodded and he scooted out from behind me to check my thigh.
From the dim light in the corner, I watched as he glanced at my thigh before glancing at my face, his cheeks tinting red.
“I...uh...” he stammered.
I raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not a pervert” he blurted out, his eyes widening “Shit... that’s not... I’m not... shit.”
I laughed “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t hate me.” He hung his head “After we killed Arachne, we were covered in blood. I had to get you to safety and I didn’t want the wound to get infected so I...had to...uh...get you out of your clothes and clean you up.”
For the first time since I’ve woken up, I finally noticed that I was in a large shirt.
Much larger than my own clothes.
My cheeks, which were only tinted red before, were now on fire.
“...Oh” Was all I managed to say.
“I didn’t see anything!” he quickly added “I just took you back to the river and rinsed you off quickly before setting up camp somewhere safe and changing you into one of my shirts. I didn’t even go through your things!”
“It’s okay Zephyr...” I said shyly.
“And I didn’t even touch you. I used my powers to...wait...what did you just say?” he asked, stopping mid rant.
“I said it was okay” I shrugged, trying to calm my racing heart “You did what you needed to do.”
He just stared at me, his mouth hanging open.
“You’re a weirdo.”
I snorted on a laugh “Why?”
“Because a normal girl would have been screeching at the top of her lungs while throwing things at me.”
I raised an eyebrow “So you have experienced this before? Should I be worried that you are a pervert preying on innocent women?”
“Can’t say that I have” He laughed, tickling me “You’re my first victim.”
I swatted his hands away “Just check my damn leg.”
“Yes victim...I mean ma’am.” he grinned at me.
He examined me, biting his lip as he did.
If we’re being honest here I did stare at him like a creeper.
He was just too...gorgeous... and funny...and good-hearted.
Honestly...to good to be true.
My Wolf, who has been relatively quiet when it came to the matter of Zephyr, stirred at my feelings.
“Finally.” she barked at me.
“There” Zephyr announced, oblivious of my internal conflict “All done. Looks like you’re healing nicely. Had me worried there for a minute when your fever wouldn’t break but it looks like that’s over now.”
“Great” I avoided his eyes “That means we can get back on track soon? Right?”
“I want to wait at least one more day” Zephyr said “The land we’re going through next can only be reached on foot. I don’t want to bust open your wound on that tricky terrain.”
“How do you know about all this?” I asked, laying back down on the small bed.
Zephyr laid with me “My Dad sends me on jobs throughout the Underworld to make sure things run smoothly.”
I turned to him, my head in my hand “Did he send your brother too?”
Zephyr shook his head “No. Not anymore. Cerb created more chaos then he made peace. Dad pulled him from the job when he realized everything was going to Hell.”
I giggled “Literally.”
He smiled and ran a finger down my cheek softly, effectively cutting off my laugh.
“I love your laugh” he murmured “Ever since we were kids.”
“I love your eyes” I admitted softly “Especially when they light up when you’re happy.”
Zephyr’s hand unconsciously fluttered up to touch the corner of his crimson eye.
“I hate them actually” he admitted “I have ever since I was a kid.”
“Because they’re a reminder that no matter how hard I try, I’ll always be a freak of nature” he sighed “A aberration.”
“And you think I’m not?” I let out a sarcastic laugh “I don’t know if you know this or not Zee, but Shifters aren’t exactly considered ‘Normal’ from where I’m from.”
“But that’s the thing” he twirled one of my loose curls “You have others like you. A whole family like you. I have no one. Cerberus and my parents can pass off as normal in the human world. I, on the other hand, am stared at like a freaky disease.”
“I didn’t think you were a freaky disease” I snuggled closer to him “Arrogant? Yes. Freaky? No. You were normal to me.”
“Yeah, well” He chuckled “Like I said before. You’re a weirdo.”
I laughed and his looked turned contemplative.
“My mom’s Mom, my Gran, used to say that my eye reminded her of the Red Windflower she used to grow back home. Their seeds carried on the wind, hence the Greek name for the flower. Mom said that when Gran first saw my eyes, she commented on them and my mother loved the meaning behind the name so much, she named me after it.” He paused “Mom also said that I was like a soft gentle breeze when I was a baby. Never fussy. I guess she kind of like the fact that my name also meant ‘West Wind’ too.”
I stared at him, a little jealous that there was so much thought behind his name.
“That’s so sweet” I pouted “My mom named me Serenity because she thought it was funny that I was anything but serene and tranquil when I was baby.”
Zephyr laughed and I decided, to hell with it.
If I was going to put myself out there and try with Zephyr, I might as well go all in.
“When I was a baby...” I began “A newborn actually, I shifted right then a there. The Doctors didn’t even have time to clean me up before BAM...full Wolfy. My parents were so in shock that Dad had to grab me from the Doctor’s hands before I bit anyone. I mean...I’m glad I was delivered with the Pack Doctor and didn’t end up scaring any humans but it still freaked everyone out to the point that my parents rarely took me anywhere. Even now, I still don’t have a handle over my shifting. Once I turn into my Wolf, I have a hard time turning back. It’s like...she just... won’t give up the control.”
Zephyr looked at me, enthralled with my story.
I looked right back up at him.
“So...if anyone knows what you feel like when you go to the human world, I do. Because I get those same looks from my Pack. ‘My Family’ They watch me like they know I’m going to spontaneously shift and expose our secret to everyone else. Even though I’m a Wolf too, they look at me like I’m a special bred.”
He continued to look at me, the unknown emotion from earlier back in his eyes.
I gave him a little shrug and a weak smile “I guess that why I’m bit of a bitch too. I have to show them that their looks don’t bother me, when in actuality, they really do.”
One minute, I was snuggled softly into Zephyr’s side, and the next, I was flat on my back on the bed.
Zephyr climbed over me, carefully avoiding my injured thigh.
He leaned down until our lips were a breaths width apart. I could have tilted my head slightly to the right and we would have been kissing.
“Thank you for trusting me with that” he said softly, his nose skimming my cheek “I know how hard it is sharing your true feelings. Trust me, I know. I want you to know that I’ll take that secret to my grave.”
“Good to know.” I joked, trying to ease some of the rising tension.
He didn’t laugh.
Instead, choosing to kiss the corners of my mouth twice before moving onto the tip of my nose, my eyelids, my cheeks, and then back to the corner of my lips.
I groaned softly, hooking my hands behind his neck to tangle in his dark hair.
I tugged on it softly when he started to kiss me everywhere on my face except my lips.
He nipped the edge of my jaw “Patience is a virtue.”
I groaned “Never had any. Why do you think they call me Sin? Because it’s a vice, not a virtue.”
I felt his lips tilt up into a grin on my neck “It’s a good thing that I’m the son of Hades, now isn’t it?”
“I don’t know” I nipped his neck this time “Is being the Devil’s son a good thing? or a bad thing? Because, from where I’m looking up from, it’s definitely becoming a pain in my ass.”
With a grin, he leaned forward and kissed me.
No hesitation. No preamble. No more teasing.
I groaned, and held onto him tighter, loving the way his weight felt on top of me as well as the fireworks I experienced when our lips touched.
This kiss blew our first kiss out of the water, by a gazillion miles.
And the best part?
He wasn’t drunker than a skunk.
We separated, panting slightly at the extreme heat in here.
We grinned like loons at one another, our cheeks flushing bright.
Zephyr leaned down and gave me one last long kiss before rolling off of me.
I snuggled into his side and sighed in content.
He wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me closer into his body.
“We need to sleep” he said gruffly “Or else...I won’t be responsible for what happens next.”
I smiled against his chest “I don’t mind.”
“You really are a Vice” He growled and pinched my waist “Now sleep Princess. I plan to make out with you often now.”
“We’ll see.” I snickered, totally bluffing “We’ll see.”