For the Love of a God

By: Rosanna Leo

Before she ever got past the foyer, she spied her friends Sheila and Dino. They were colleagues in the conservation office and had worked with Maia for years. In all probability, they were her only real friends. She hurried over to their little huddle.

Sheila Flynn's blue eyes were ablaze with excitement. “He's here!"

"Who's here?” Maia lazily slurped some extra-strong coffee from her eco-friendly travel mug, hoping it would wake her up.

"Maia, honey,” Dino Di Iorio said, his tweezed brows arched. “You look like shit. And I just know it's not because you got fucked last night."

She turned to him, eyes wider than they had been all morning. “Do you have to be so vulgar all the time?” She frowned and sipped more coffee. “Besides, how do you know I wasn't ... screwed last night? Maybe I was. And maybe it was fantastic."

In a sense, it was. But it had all been in her head, as it had been for weeks.

"Ah, honey,” Dino commiserated. “Did you have another sexy dream last night? About your statue?"

"He's not a statue in my dreams, trust me,” she answered quietly. Her sleep had been perforated by intense, sexual dreams featuring the god Eryx. It had been happening for weeks, and she couldn't remember the last good sleep she'd had.

Last night's had been particularly vivid. She'd been wearing an ancient Greek costume, a peplos. He had come to her, removed her clothing, and made love to her with his glorious nude body. Done things to her she'd never done with anyone. Eryx had been so blond and beautiful and hungry for her. Insatiable. When she'd woken up, her panties were down at her ankles and she'd somehow wriggled out of her ratty Monkees T-shirt. And she'd woken up in a frustrated sweat, her body uncomfortable and aching with aborted passion.

"Well, at least you're getting some action,” Dino said.

Sheila shook her head and her auburn spiral curls bobbed. “Hello, people. Back to the topic at hand. He is here."

Maia looked at the groups of staff members wandering listlessly through the foyer. She could see the nervous looks on their faces. For a moment, she forgot about Eryx and his Greek god body. She felt a distinct chill down her spine, and her head was starting to pound. Something was wrong. Her quiet sanctuary, her museum, never bristled with such anxious electricity. She didn't like it one bit. “What are you talking about?"

"The new director! Eric Lord,” Sheila whispered. “Don't tell me you've forgotten. He's already fired someone, and he hasn't even sat in his chair yet! Didn't you get my text this morning?"

"No,” Maia said, stunned. “I've been unplugged for the last ten hours.” It was true. She'd spent her evening thinking about Poseidon's testicles and about the strange voice she'd heard coming from the Eryx statue. And then, of course, she'd been a little busy with the god himself, in her dream.

She shivered as she remembered the dream again. He'd been so sensuous, so persuasive. With a shiver, she realized she could still feel the softness of Eryx's blond waves as they brushed against the skin on her neck and her stomach. Between her thighs. She could still see his green eyes clearly as they searched hers, aching, pining. And his touch...

She banished the raunchy image and forced herself to concentrate on Sheila's words. “Okay, wait. You said he's already fired someone. How do you know?"

Dino piped up. “He canned Mark from Etruscans and Romans. We all saw him leave first thing, box in hand. He was walked out the door by security."

Maia stared at them, incredulous. “Mark? He's been here for twenty years. He's published, for God's sake!"

"And now he's redundant,” said Sheila. “Look, Maia, there's more. People have been whispering all morning. There's a rumor he's been asking for you."

Maia felt her heart start to palpitate. “What could he possibly want with me?"

Sheila was about to say something, but her face paled. Maia watched as Sheila's eyes, then Dino's eyes, slowly travelled to a point over her shoulder. Behind her, Maia could hear the clicking of a man's dress shoes on the floor. Her heart fell promptly into her crocs.

Then she got mad. Who was this Eric Lord anyway? What made him think he could arbitrarily fire Mark, a respected leader in his field? And what made him think he could come after Dr. Jim Douglas's daughter? She'd give Eric Lord a piece of her mind.

Maia turned with a huff, hands on hips, ready to put the dictator into his place. But when she saw the man approaching them, her hands dropped. And then her jaw dropped.

If the elastic on her Hanes underwear hadn't been so strong, her panties would have dropped too.

It was him. Eryx. Or, at least, the closest she'd ever seen any man come to the image she'd created of him. The image haunting her delicious dreams. As he walked toward them, she gawked.

He was everything she'd ever imagined Eryx would be. Wavy, dark blond hair. Arresting green eyes. A tall, perfectly built body. A sensual face with full lips, although they were currently taut, giving him a serious expression. He was drop-dead gorgeous, and had the wardrobe to match. His suit was dark and elegant, cut from an expensive cloth, and his pale green tie accentuated the unique color of his eyes. Everything about him was smooth and calm and seemed calculated to make you trust him.

Or fear him. The perfect executive.

He looked so slick. Even with his hands clenched into fists, so tightly she could see the whites of his knuckles. Even with flared nostrils, almost as if he were breathing her in.

She felt her eyelids flutter as he drew close. She could already smell him. He smelled like ... heaven. Like her dreams.

He stopped in front of her and stared down at her for a moment before speaking. “Miss Douglas?"

Maia's heart was pounding. She had trouble breathing. And when she tried to respond, the only thing which came out of her mouth was a loud, “Holy crap!"

She listened to her cuss reverberate through the marbled foyer.

Mortified, she clapped her hand over her mouth. She hadn't meant to have such an outburst. But his voice sounded like the voice of Eryx. Deep and resonant, like the voice she'd heard in the Greek gallery. Like the voice haunting her dreams.

The man paused. Someone snickered. She thought she saw the director's eyes light up with sudden amusement, but she wasn't sure. He was frowning so hard at her.

"Permit me to introduce myself. I'm Eric Lord. May I steal you away from your colleagues for a moment?” He began to walk away, expecting her to follow.

"Don't you mean ex-colleagues?” Maia whispered the comment, but realized too late Lord had heard her. She didn't think it possible, but he looked even sterner as he turned back to glance at her. His brows were so knit together, he might have been creating an afghan up there.

Maybe Eric Lord just didn't get enough fiber in his diet.

The man inclined his head with impatience. “Let's take a walk to the Greek gallery, Miss Douglas."

She shot a parting look at Sheila and Dino and walked away with Lord. Her face colored bright red as she heard Dino say in a not-so-quiet voice, “Did you see the man's ass?"

Embarrassed, she snuck a peek at the director. A faint light of amusement seemed to be back in his eyes. He was biting his bottom lip, as if trying not to smile.

As his teeth released their hold on his full lip, she felt a queer little quiver run through her.

God, he looked just like Eryx. It was all there. Even the honeyed stubble dotting his strong jaw. The stubble which had been rasping against her inner thighs in her recent dream.

Maia gulped as he turned to her. “So,” he said. “I hear you're our resident Greek expert."

She held her head up. Uncanny resemblance notwithstanding, sexy, god-like features notwithstanding, she wouldn't let this man intimidate her. He'd fired Mark! Okay, so Mark hadn't done any real work in about fifteen years and was coasting on his dated reputation, but he had a wife and kids. “Yes. I know the Greek exhibit better than anyone working here presently."

He raised a perfect manly eyebrow at her. “No false modesty, I see."

"No need. It's the truth. Ask anyone."

They turned a corner and headed toward the Gallery of Greece, still hidden beneath its coverings. “Good. I'll be paying a lot of attention to the new gallery. As it happens, I'm a bit of an expert in ancient Greece myself."