The muffled sound of Lukas’ voice made Raiden’s defenses shoot up. He didn’t like Lukas. As a matter of fact, he didn’t like anyone that wanted to take his woman from him.
Sitting up, he faced the door to shield Artemis. His eyes glared at the wood but his hatred was directed at the figure behind it.
He became aware of his stiffness when Artemis’ hands slid over his stomach and shoulder. “It’s okay,” she whispered and paused to plant a kiss behind his ear. “I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
He wished she hadn’t kissed him. Her lips along with the warmth of her breath against his skin awakened a new... wrath. One that wasn’t located in his chest as you’d expect from an emotion. This wrath was... further south.
“One second dad,” she called out before getting off the bed and leaving Raiden behind with sheets strategically placed over his lap. He knew that if Lukas saw his dick reaching for his daughter, punches would be thrown.
Artemis partly closed the door behind her to hide Raiden from view. Unfortunately, their scents couldn’t be muffled. Lukas was fully aware that they shared a room.
“Dad?” Artemis asked Lukas who had strangely thrown his head back and closed his eyes.
He took a deep breath and then started muttering. “Goddess, give me the strength to not detach that man’s head from his shoulders in this Godly hour. I ask that you look over me and protect me from all temptations of violence. Deliver me from the evil—”
He stopped mid-prayer. With a sigh that was heavy with frustration, he looked at Artemis. “Princess, can I talk to you?”
She looked at the door hesitantly, wondering if Raiden would be ok. She then remembered that he had been alone for the past few centuries so he had plenty of experience with solitude.
She nodded and walked into the living room. They sat on a couch and Lukas kept his eyes on his hands. They had caused plenty of pain over the years to his loved ones. Although he hurt Zena, she gave him a chance, a child, and a purpose. Wrath deserved a chance too.
“I wanted to apologize for yesterday,” he cleared his throat. “I was afraid. That man terrifies me because when I look at him, I see a reflection of the younger me. I was a bad man.”
Artemis leaned in and rested her head on his shoulder tenderly. “Dad... he's much older than you. If anything, you’re the reflection here,” she chuckled.
Lukas growled. “Let’s not add fuel to the fire by reminding me that he’s an ancient artifact.”
“He is so cute,” she smiled lovingly. “He is simple and quirky even though he looks...” she trailed off thoughtfully. What's the right word to describe Raiden’s sullen personality? “Uh, lethal?”
“Baby, no offense but I am not interested in your romance,” Lukas interrupted as his fingers picked up a lock of her hair and started to fuss with it. She watched his fingers for some time before the fact that he was braiding dawned on her.
“You learned how to braid?!” she squealed proudly.
Lukas’ face lit up. “Yeah, I learned while you were missing... I missed you so much during that time, nugget.” He bent down to kiss her hair and she grinned at him. “It took you 2 decades but you did it!”
He mirrored her smile, accepting the shower of praise. “Yeah, it also took patches of Zena’s hair since I had no one else to practice on. Wait... you remember?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I remember everything.”
“That’s great! How?”
Her lips pursed at this. She was reluctant to answer. If she told him that kissing Raiden got the job done, he would need more than a prayer to keep his anger at bay.
Her face caught fire when she remembered what the kiss was proceeded by. Oh yeah, the orgasm Raiden gave her was truly meditational.
She squirmed out of Lukas’ grasp and put some space between them while appreciating the fact that he couldn’t read her thoughts.
“Moving on... Is there any way that I can interest you in not sharing a room with him? Or a house... Or a country...?”
“Dad!” Artemis scolded.
The older Clark pouted, looking like the child in the relationship. “Please?”
Before she could turn him down, there was a knock at the door. Lukas got up and pulled it open. “Oh, for fuck’s sake. Please tell me your bastard of a father isn’t in my territory," he groaned.
Artemis walked to his side and looked over his shoulder. There stood a person she could swear she hadn’t seen in decades. “Karen!” she smiled and dove into her friend's arms.
Karen returned the hug with equal ferocity. “Sorry uncle but the whole circus came,” Karen replied and gestured behind her. Artemis looked out the door and found Adrian holding a leash attached to the leg of a chicken, Eva, and Sean. With a gasp, she took off in their direction.
The Millers were good family friends. Artemis spent her entire upbringing besides Karen and Sean. As she closed the distance between them, she became overwhelmed by a rush of memories.
Adrian caught her, fearing that her enthusiastic speed would crush Eva. “Hi squirrel, you’ve gotten taller," he complimented.
She laughed into his shirt and looked at his mischievous green eyes. “You say that every time you see me, uncle. I haven’t grown an inch in the past 5 years.”
Sean snorted. “Don't blame him. He has gotten a bit senile.”
A faint growl followed the insult. Strangely, it didn’t come from Adrian. She turned to face the house and spotted Raiden by the doorstep with Lukas’ hand pressed against his shoulder. There was rage in his expression but it was clear that he was trying to keep it under wraps.
Artemis couldn’t determine the source of his anger. Lukas, however, understood. “Calm down. She’s like a daughter to him. Adrian has as much sexual interest in her as he does in a rock,” he told him irritatedly.
Realizing the dilemma, she released Adrian and took a mindful step away. Adrian was equally shocked by the far-fetched accusation.
“Let’s go see Zena,” Eva proposed to disrupt the awkwardness.
“Art, Alex said hi. She couldn’t come since she had some exams today,” Sean said while keeping his arms to himself.
She waved with a reluctant smile and watched the family walk away, still confused about the chicken. When she turned to the house, Raiden wasn't in sight but Lukas was still standing by the entrance.
“I’ll get going too, princess. I’ll be home if you need anything. Copy?”
“Copy. Thanks, dad.”
Wrath's scent led her to the living room. He was slouched on the couch, kneading a pillow. “I wasn’t going to attack him,” he blurted.
Fear pulsed in him. He had snapped and shown his uncontrollable nature. The seed of doubt has been planted and soon she will start questioning if he was worth the trouble. After all, who would want a rabid mate?
His fingers messed with the edge of the pillow anxiously. “I was tempted to but I fought it. I’m sorry. I’ll work on getting better,” he ranted all while avoiding her gaze. He didn’t know what he would do if he found disappointment in her eyes.
“Hey,” Artemis sighed before sitting beside him.
“I understand. I’m not mad. Jealousy is normal... but... Adrian is a second father to me. He probably changed a diaper or two,” she stopped to chuckle but he seemed more interested in the pillow than her joke.
Shame and angst weighed down his shoulders. He knew that this wouldn’t be the last time he snapped. The rust of his social skills would probably cost him their relationship.
“No. I stopped being Raiden a long time ago. I’m Wrath. Antisocial, fucked up, worthless,” his fingers ripped into the pillow and he relished the sight of the destruction. He was used to destruction. Chaos was normal. But change... change was frustrating and draining.
Palms touched his cheeks and turned his face to hers. He could see through the blur of his eyes that her brows were knit with sadness.
“Stop walking backward,” she whispered. “We’ve made it so far. Keep walking forward. I’ll be right beside you.”
He looked for dishonesty, impatience, and disbelief. He found determination. Without putting much thought into it, he placed his hands on her hips and drove her to his lap.
He closed his eyes tightly to shove the tears of frustration away. He placed his face in the crook of her warm neck and enjoyed her magical touch as she stroked his hair.
He needed no river or alcohol. All he needed was her. Her small body created an impenetrable wall between the void and him. She made the thoughts stop. She made him function.
When he was calmer, he pulled his face from her neck and dedicated all of his attention to her warm eyes. It was at that moment that he learned the true definition of possession. He would die before he gave her away.
With that thought, his arms tightened around her waist. They maintained a private stare as they leaned in, not bothering to comment about the wrongs of the past or insecurities of the future. There was only the present and the growing love that made their blood pump hotter.
Their lips met.
The world exploded.