Tess had danced with every Dakiedes male in Persephone’s. She’d even cut the rug with Damon and Dominic. She had almost melted when Damon took her in his strong arms and swung her around the floor. Dominic made it a point to loudly and flamboyantly cut in on his brother’s ‘turf’ while the sons fought with each other on who would be next. There was something about a gaggle of hotties vying for your attention that boosted a girl’s ego. These men sure knew how to make a woman feel good about herself.
She was seated at the bar after having danced sandwiched between Darius and Julian, chugging a bottle of water to quench her thirst and try to cool off. While she enjoyed her time spent on the Dakiedes pedestal, she couldn’t help but think the only one she wanted to be with was Apollo. She’d caught a glimpse of him fleetingly before Niko had swept him off outside onto the balcony. After that, the boys hadn’t let her spend one minute alone. Closing her eyes, she sighed. She was glad she came tonight. She was having fun in spite of herself and that made a giggle escape her lips.
“Glad to see you smiling, Tess.” His voice was like velvet, sliding over skin and making her shiver. When she opened her eyes, she looked straight into his sapphire blue ones.
“It’s been fun,” she said, clearing her throat. “Your brothers have kept me pretty busy,” she laughed. His smile could light up downtown Detroit. He was looking purely edible, the bastard. His dark hair messy from having run his fingers through it. She clenched her hands into fists to keep from reaching out and running her own fingers through the thick locks.
“Yeah I’ll bet they did. You look…wow.” His eyes blazed a heated trail over her body and she had to suppress a moan from escaping. The last thing she wanted was to embarrass herself by having him think he affected her. Because he did. Every single part of her. “Can I get you a drink?” She didn’t trust herself to speak so she simply nodded her head. He surprised her with a raspberry martini.
“How did you know I like martinis?” she asked, almost breathlessly. God, why did he have to be so fucking lickable??
“There’s a lot I know about you, baby girl,” he purred. “I know your favorite flowers are lilies and you take your coffee black with a splash of cream.” He sat beside her, making sure his thigh brushed hers. He didn’t miss the slight shiver as he moved ever so lightly against her. “I know you still cry at the end of Old Yeller and that’s why you refuse to watch it. Until you break down and watch it again.” He took a lock of her hair between his fingers and gently stroked it. “I know you have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met and I know that I’m a sorry motherfucker for breaking it.”
Tess couldn’t move. She couldn’t look away. She was stunned by what Apollo had just said to her. She gulped and downed her martini, setting the glass harder on the bar than she meant to. What the hell had gotten into him? He nodded at the bartender to bring another round. As he waited, he took her trembling hand in his, stroking the soft skin across her knuckles. “I’m not asking you to forgive me, Tess. I don’t deserve it. This last year has been fucking miserable for me but it made me realize how fucked up I really was.”
“What is all this Apollo?” she asked quietly. “Did Niko put you up to this? Or your sister?” Apollo chuckled and shook his head, sliding her a lopsided grin.
“No, baby girl. This is all me.” He trailed a fingertip down her cheek. “There’s so much more I want to tell you but this isn’t the place. Do you think you can spare me one dance? I won’t ask for more than that.”
“Oh hell,” she muttered and gulped down her martini. Huffing out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, she stood and took his hand. “Come on, big boy. I guess I can give you this one thing.” Apollo laughed and squeezed her hand. He led her to the dance floor and took her in his arms. The song was a slow jazzy number that allowed him to pull her close. He tucked her head into his neck and rested his cheek against hers. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, reveling in the sweet scent of her vanilla shampoo.
He was convinced he was dancing with a goddess, one who was made especially for him. Tess fit perfectly in his arms. The longer they swayed to the soft beat, the more she relaxed until he felt her melt against him. Her arms snaked around his neck, her fingers finding their way into the curls along the back of his neck. Her warm breath brushed against his pulse. His hands splayed on her bare back, loving the feel of her skin under his palms. The song finally came to an end but Apollo found he didn’t want to let her go. Not yet.
Sighing, he released her slowly and led her back to the bar. When he had her seated again, he leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Thank you for the dance, beautiful,” he murmured in her ear. With a wink and a smile, he walked out of Persephone’s, leaving a confused Tess behind.
“What the hell just happened?” she whispered to herself. A warm familiar hand squeezed her shoulders and pulled her into a hard chest. “What the ever loving actual fuck just happened, Niko?”
“I believe it is called humility, malyutka. You have witnessed a miracle,” he chuckled. “I believe my friend has finally realized what he wants and he is willing to do anything to get it, including humbling himself before the woman he loves.”
“Oh come on, Niko. Really? That the best you got?” Tess tried to sound indignant but failed miserably. “Ok maybe you’re right but I wouldn’t go so far as to say Apollo was in love with me. That’s crazy talk.”
“Not so crazy, Tess.”
“I don’t know, Nik. I want so badly to believe he can change but what if this is just another one of his tricks? What if he’s just playing another sick game with me? I can’t trust this to be real. Can I?” She looked at her friend, her big brown eyes searching his for answers.
“I cannot make that decision for you, sweetheart. Only you can decide if you are willing to trust him, trust in what your heart is telling you.”
“Well you’re no help,” she huffed. Niko chuckled and kissed her temple. “I’m not ready to think about that right now, I’ll tell you that. Nor am I sober enough. So, I say we get drunk and make fools of ourselves and to hell with the heavy shit!” She hugged Niko and drug him out on the dance floor. The rest of the night went by in a blur of alcohol and crazy dancing. Tess danced with anyone and everyone who was willing, not giving Apollo another thought. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. As a matter of fact, that was an outright lie. He was all she thought about.
She made her way to a booth and slunk down to rest. She was feeling pretty good but wanted to go home sober. Why? She had no idea. So, she sat in the dark booth alone and let her thoughts run wild in her head. Apollo freakin’ Dakiedes. She ran over his confession again and again, replaying every word he had spoken. Could she believe him? Had he really meant everything he said? That little bitch voice in the back of her mind sniped no. She didn’t have the energy to shut her up. God, she just didn’t know.
Giving up on figuring anything out at that moment, she texted Meda and Lex to let them know she was leaving. Then she called an uber to take her home. She hugged Niko on the way out. The whole ride home was thankfully silent. She was glad her driver was not super talkative and she tipped him extra for it. She took a quick shower to wash the night’s scent of booze and bar off her skin and tugged on one of her dad’s oversized Sounders tee shirts.
“Dad I could really use your advice right now,” she said. It was times like this that she really missed her father. He was always her rock, her nonjudgmental sounding board and the best advice giver. He always knew what to do or what to say to help her get her mind clear. But he was gone now and she would have to figure this one out on her own. Hugging the shirt around her, she whispered “I love you, Dad.” It wasn’t long after her head hit the pillow that she was asleep.