Ares' Temptation
chariot , and a light wind blew through his hair. Surveying the coast, he watched a white sailboat meander a trail parallel to the golden beaches. The tangy smell of salty air and ocean turf surrounded him. “This is beautiful.”
    “Only the best for my mom. She’d rather die than host a party in a place less than four stars.”
    What significance did stars have? If he judged by the view, then a lot.
    They unpacked the bags as a mortal took the chariot . Another offered to help with the luggage, but Kaye waved him back, heaving all of her bags on her back as if they were made of thin air—an attribute from his stolen powers. It made her sexy as all hell.
    Ares took his own bag, trying not to be too impressed. She had to care for him, but he could not, under any circumstances, feel for her.
    Two glass doors opened, and they walked inside.
    “KayKay, my dearest! I’ve been waiting for you all morning.” An older woman who had Kaye’s black curls with a touch of gray waltzed toward them from the couches in the lounge. Her features were shrewder than Kaye’s, her nose a little more pointed with narrower eyes, but the family resemblance was striking.
    “Mom.” Kaye hugged her. She didn’t waste one heartbeat with pleasantries. “There’s someone I want you to meet.”
    Her mother’s gaze traveled to Ares. Her eyes widened, and a look of shock, followed by disbelief and confusion crossed her face. “That can’t possibly be…”
    He extended his hand as Kaye had done at the wedding. “Armin Warhammer. Nice to meet you.”
    She took his hand and shook it in slow motion, gaping at his chest and the width of his arms. In the background, Kaye clapped silently.
    Ares had an overwhelming urge to smile, but he held it in check. “You are as gorgeous as your daughter, Mrs.Underhill.”
    “Oh my. Thank you.” She fumbled with her golden necklace. Charms clunked together between her fingertips. “My apologies. I’m usually quite the talker, but you’ve caught me off guard.”
    “Have I?” He glanced at Kaye, and she winked.
    Her mother shook her head. “It’s just…somehow I pictured you differently…shorter perhaps?”
    A young man came down the steps two at a time. “Well, if it isn’t Clumsy Kaye?” He had the same head of curls, although his were cropped around his ears. His features were blunter, his nose broader than Kaye’s.
    Clumsy Kaye? Was she going to ignore such mockery?
    Her brother’s easy overconfidence reminded Ares of his own brother, Apollo. Not his favorite sibling. A sudden urge to stand up for Kaye swelled through him, and he clenched his fist. Better not start a war just yet.
    The young man punched Kaye in the arm, before noticing Ares and sizing him up. “This is your date?”
    Kaye stepped between them. “Bradley, meet Armin. Armin—Bradley.”
    Ares stood a good three inches taller and bulkier. Take that, mortal. If Kaye wanted to make an impression, then surely he was doing the job. Powers not included.
    Her brother straightened as tall as he could and extended his hand. “Armin, is it? I knew an Armin once, a small, geeky kind of guy.” He smirked and rolled on his heels, seeing if Ares took the bait.
    But Ares had a lot of practice ignoring taunts until the battle began. He put on his normal, stoic face. “Alas, I have never met another Bradley.”
    Bradley grinned. “That’s because no one’s like me.”
    “Come, Bradley, let them get settled.” Mrs. Underhill ushered him up the stairs. She turned to her daughter. “Once you have your room, come down and meet us in the Blue Dolphin Lounge for a few drinks. Grammy’s already here, and she can’t wait to see you.”
    “And don’t forget about our volleyball tradition,” Bradley called down as he shuffled up the stairs. “You and your new boyfriend are going down.”
    Ares turned to Kaye. “Volleyball?”
    Kaye sighed and directed him to the registration desk. “I’ll explain later.”
    Ares followed her.

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