For the Love of a God

By: Rosanna Leo

And when his lips opened upon hers, she didn't resist. She moaned.

Gods, she was moaning, and he'd barely touched her! He was on thin ice here.

Slowly, slowly, he let his tongue slide against hers. As their tongues danced, he reached one hand up and buried it in her hair. His other hand trailed down to her throat, resting near her pulse. It was beating out of control, as if she were a rabbit being hunted by dogs. Her hand came to rest on his arm, and he realized she was shaking.

What was he doing? He'd give her cardiac arrest at this rate.

With trouble, he jerked away, hating himself more than ever. He'd sworn he wouldn't become involved. He was a god! Why couldn't he control himself around her? He wasn't even sure he liked her!

Maia stared at him, her dark eyes haunted. Eric watched as she forced herself to close her mouth. And then she closed her eyes.

"Maia,” he whispered. “I'm sorry. That was a mistake."

He reached into his wallet and tossed a twenty down on the table. And before he was unmanned completely by the torn look on her face, he elbowed his way out of the busy pub.Chapter Six

Two days later, Eric sat in his spacious office on the top floor of the museum, head in hands.

He should be happy.

Things were going smoothly with the project. He had the board of directors eating out of his hand, completely aligned with his vision. He'd reorganized other staff, and several departments were already functioning better, despite some grumbling. He had a superb young assistant named Sarah, fresh out of school, who ensured he had everything he needed.

In fact, from the idolizing way she looked at him, he suspected pretty Sarah would be willing to give him a whole lot more if he asked.

However, because he was focused on the work, he was not tempted by his nubile assistant.

If only he could get that ridiculous Douglas woman out of his head now.

Like a lion awaiting feeding time at the zoo, he paced his office. What was wrong with him?

Even though their work invariably threw them together often, he'd tried to avoid Maia for two days. But ever since the kiss at the pub, he couldn't stop thinking of her. The kiss had surprised him as much as her. Surprised him with its sheer innocence and lustful intensity. He'd known right away he was capable of seriously damaging that girl if he wasn't careful. What he hadn't expected was to be so gripped by hunger as well.

It was just a kiss. He'd stolen thousands of them over the years, usually when he was on a bender with Dionysus. None of them had ever meant anything to him.

So, why did this one?

Perhaps because he hadn't needed to steal this kiss. She'd wanted it as much as he had, and it excited him. Made him wonder if a second kiss, gods forbid he lose his self-control again, would drive him as wild with lust.

Perhaps because it reminded him of another woman whose kisses had driven him mad. His Chloe. His first love.

He could still see her now. A maiden in his temple. The gentle priestess who always waited for him, who always ministered to him after his debaucheries. He'd loved her innocence, her all-consuming adoration of him. That, more than anything, made him feel like a god. And when he thrust his engorged member into her soft, slick flesh, he'd always felt strangely human. At one with her. He'd loved her ability to tame the beast in him. Loved her gentle touch driving him to dizzying heights of ecstasy.

Eric's jaw clenched at the memory. How stupid he was then! How foolish. He'd been a degenerate god who'd never had the foresight to imagine his love could so enrage another.

"Damn you, Nemesis,” he whispered. “Damn you to hell."

Nemesis, his spiteful cousin. As goddess of retribution, her powers were unique. Yes, Eryx could do many incredible things, but Nemesis was different. She took pleasure in torturing others, leading them to their inevitable destruction for the sake of vengeance. And she had the power to spin vile curses that were binding, even on other gods.

Why, he'd once seen her curse Dionysus with a hundred years of impotence. And anyone who knew the god of wine and debauchery knew how dreadfully frustrating such a curse would have been.

Eryx never dreamed she would turn her hateful eyes toward Chloe and him.

"I should have just bedded Nemesis,” he said.

He'd always known she was keen on him. He was the god of love, the son of Aphrodite and Ares. He was accustomed to women falling for him. But when Nemesis came to him, five hundred years before the Christian Messiah was even a blip on the radar, he just hadn't been interested. Though she had been glorious in her nakedness and begging for his love, he simply couldn't stomach fucking the spiteful witch.

She'd made him pay for his indifference. He and Chloe both paid the steepest price. Nemesis had killed Chloe. And Eryx had been sentenced to his own personal torment, an eternity of feeling guilty for having loved.

For the god of love, it was sheer hell.

He still recalled Nemesis's words so clearly. “I will slaughter any woman you ever try to love. I will find them, Eryx, and make you regret your ill-thought passion. You could have had me, a goddess, yet you chose a worthless mortal. I will make it so you can never love again. Do you hear me?” Nemesis had crowed. “They will all die."

And so, they had.

Over the years, Eryx had been tempted a few times to give his heart to pretty girls who captivated him. Surely, he'd thought each time, Nemesis had forgotten him by then.

But the goddess had found each one before he could even dream of bedding them and had destroyed them. Just as she'd done with poor Chloe.

Those women had never even seen Nemesis coming, her retribution had been so swift.

And as he'd mourned each one, Nemesis had taunted him. “Now, now, my pretty god,” she had mocked. “You didn't think I'd make it easy for you, did you? I know your emotions run deep, Eryx. Women may fall into your bed, but you will never be able to love again, not as long as I live."

"You are a witch."

"And you are a fool,” she'd retorted, trailing her slim fingers across his back, taunting. “If I find you've made any woman love you, I shall drag her to hell by her hair and leave her there. And you will suffer her loss for all eternity."

"Just because I would not bed you?” he'd seethed.

"Because you would not love me."

How he hated her. No mortal could ever hate someone so much, but as a god, he hated Nemesis with a power of tidal proportions.

He should have hidden Chloe away, protected her and the others better.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Eric banished the memory of his priestess and the degenerate Nemesis.

But as one memory vanished, another took its place before his eyes. Maia Douglas and her very soft lips. Opening for him. Sighing as he licked and sucked at her tongue.

"No,” he whispered, his mind raging. “I can't want her.” In wanting her, he would only hurt her. And he'd vowed he'd never hurt another innocent woman.

"God of love,” he muttered. “God of hell, more like it."

He glanced at the many open documents on his laptop. He had reporters clamoring to interview the reclusive Eric Lord. There were press conferences to appear at and gala fundraisers to promote. And because he valued his control and authority more than anything, nothing would be complete without his say-so. Sarah had already provided him with a list of people who needed to be e-mailed back. He was a busy man.

But tortured by the memory of Maia's kiss, the busy man dropped everything and headed for the door.

"Maybe you should just fuck him."

Maia looked up from her work and stared at Dino.

From her desk, Sheila laughed. “He's got a point."

Maia exhaled. “I knew I never should have told you guys."

"Oh, come on,” Dino replied, nibbling on an apple as daintily as a six-foot man could. “Eric Lord is crazy hot.” He shrugged between bites. “Besides, you know you need it. You haven't had sex since you were on that dig in Greece and lost your virginity to that skinny sand dweller."

"That skinny sand dweller happens to be a respected archaeologist.” Maia felt her face turn as red as Dino's apple as she glared at him. It was true. Maia had been flattered when George, her father's protege, had professed his desire for her. He'd been gentle and kind and considerate for her first time ... and left her feeling hollow, wondering if there ought to be more to this sex thing. She wasn't even sure George had made her come. God only knew he'd never made her pant the way Eric did, just by glancing at her.