It was the dead of night but he was as awake as a lit lightbulb.
He stared at the ceiling. His brain refused to turn off since it was too busy daydreaming about Artemis.
Another minute of longing passed by before he kicked the blanket off his body, threw his shirt on and followed her scent. The trail led to a door that he didn’t hesitate to knock on.
He heard cloth shifting around and light footsteps before the door was pulled aside and revealed the owner of his imagination.
She was wearing a plain t-shirt along with stripped pajama bottoms. “Do you need something?” she asked, sounding as awake as he felt.
“Yes,” he nodded. Not interested in beating around the bush, he skipped right to his point. “I want to hold you.”
Artemis’ eyes mimicked the full moon. Just as he was about to throw himself off the roof for being so straightforward, she timidly stepped aside.
Raiden’s jaw clenched. Her cinnamon scent was everywhere. He would bathe in the damn thing if he could.
He looked at her and smiled ghostly when he realized that her face was buried under a veil of hair. As far as he knew, Artemis was only shy when it came to him. She was downright bossy in public but when they shared little moments like these, she showed a side that only he knew.
Without looking at him, she walked over to her bed and slipped in. When the bed dipped, she forgot how to breathe. She shut her eyes tightly and prayed to the moon goddess that her body didn’t react embarrassing.
Please, Luna, don’t forsake me.
Luna and Aphrodite laughed as they watched the scene from their own universe. The Moon Goddess heard her plea but threw it right in the trash. Artemis was on her own.
Her chest was on fire for some reason. Bitch, let me breathe, her lungs cried out. Remembering what oxygen was, she took in a greedy gasp.
She was pinned under Wrath before the sound could finish dissolving into the room. “Are you ok?” he asked her silhouette.
The Goddesses crackled from above but Artemis didn’t find the situation anything remotely close to amusing. “Yes. Sorry,” she assured after clearing her throat.
She needed to get it together.
Wrath released her so slowly it became clear that he was hesitating. As he laid back down, his arm made its way around her stomach. He took his time, giving her the chance to push him off.
To his relief, she did no such thing.
Sensing his unease, she assured that his embrace was welcomed by placing her hand over his. Raiden relaxed some but didn’t give into the pleasure of putting his guard down entirely.
This was probably a bad idea.
He used to get violent nightmares.
What if they made a comeback?
What if he squeezed her too hard?
What if his hand accidentally trailed too high or too low and gave her the wrong impression?
What if he felt too rough against her?
Was she uncomfortable? Maybe he should shave his face in case she didn’t like stubble. Maybe he should lose some muscle.
All of the what ifs of the world hit him like a comet. His insecurities were gaining on him and would soon have him locked in his own room.
He squeezed his eyes shut. Fight it. It’s all in your head.
The smell of cinnamon waltzed its way into his senses and momentarily enchanted him. He forgot all about the what ifs and remembered one very important detail: Whether she liked his touch or not was up to her. If she disliked it, she would let him know. He needed to stop making decisions for her.
With his nose tucked into her hair and his heart cloaked with tranquility, he fell into the best sleep he had in the past 600 years.
When Artemis opened her eyes, brown ones were there to greet her.
She jolted, surprised by Raiden’s gaze. He released her immediately and clenched his fist to avoid cringing. Of course got caught appreciating her beauty as she slept. She probably thought he was a freak.
He looked back at her. Her face homed no accusation or judgment, only warm happiness.
Right. He needed to stop his unhealthy habit of hopping to conclusions. She wanted this. She wanted him. So he had to try for her.
Fight the demons, he encouraged himself.
“Good morning,” he mirrored.
He could get used to this. If he had to kill the Goddess 1,000 times in order to get to call Artemis his, he’d ask you where you’d want him to stab her.
Artemis pushed the sheets off her body and sat with her legs crossed while he remained on his back. He observed her as if this was the last time he would see her. When she chuckled, he was torn between smiling at the melody and frowning with confusion.
“You have a pillow imprint on your cheek. It looks silly.”
His hand reached for his cheek and was pricked by stubble. Remembering his insecurities from last night, he found himself blurting, “does facial hair bother you?”
What was wrong with him again? Oh yes, he is a 600-year-old lycan who hasn’t bedded a woman since the first world war and is plagued by a crippling depression.
Artemis crooked her head. She didn’t really care about whether his face was bare or not. He was handsome nonetheless.
She winked. “Does it bother you? Because I like to grow beards here and there.”
Raiden awarded her comeback with a laugh. He didn’t laugh often. At times, he forgets how good it felt.
“You are perfect, my raven.”
His hand reached out for her face as a knock reached the door.
“Artemis?” Lukas called out.