Dream-Hunter (Page 11)

Dream-Hunter (Dark-Hunter #11)(11)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

"Ignore Solin," Arik said quietly. "I told you he’s demented."

"Yes, but I taught Arik well. Didn’t I, Brother?"

Geary didn’t miss the fleeting glimmer of rage in Arik’s eyes. It was subtle but unmistakable.

The car slowed down and turned a corner that Geary knew better than the street where her flat was.

She’d walked this way so many times over the last five years that she could do it blindfolded.

They were almost there.

Frustrated doom settled like a lump in her chest as the driver parked on the street in the same exact location the taxi had used earlier that day.

It’s just getting better and better.

The driver opened the door to let her out on the sidewalk. Arik came out behind her and then Solin, who left the car with a masculine flourish. Several women on the street practically swooned.

"Greetings, my lovelies," Solin said flirtatiously as he gave them a seductive grin.

They whispered among themselves as they continued on their way while glancing back to look at him.

Arik passed a droll look to Geary. "Strange how women can’t help staring at a train wreck, eh?"

Solin rolled his eyes at Arik’s remark. "Like you would know."

"True. I’m never a train wreck myself. I merely admire the way you skid from the tracks and burn."

As they approached the government building, a uniformed guardsman opened the door to admit them.

Geary started for the stairs only to have Solin divert her. "We don’t go up there with the average people.

Our man is this way."

She frowned at Arik before she followed Solin into an elegant office that was filled with Greek antiquities. The anthropologist in her was instantly fascinated by the perfectly preserved black figure vase in a glass trophy case. She’d never seen a more preserved piece. It was absolutely exquisite.

She splayed her hand against the glass as she stared in awe of the piece. "It’s from the first century."

She sensed Arik standing behind her. "The battle of Troy. You can see Achilles dragging Hector around the walls."

Geary nodded as she saw them. "There’s not a chip on it."

"Which is why it’s in the case."

She turned at the perturbed voice to find a portly gentleman in his early sixties. She’d seen him here a time or two when she’d come in the past, but she had no idea of his name or job title.

He rocked back and forth on his heels as he sized her up. "Dr. Kafieri, I presume?"

"Yes."

He narrowed a look on her that said he didn’t think much of her before he let out a suffering sigh. He turned toward Solin. "I hope you won’t forget this favor."

"Believe me, I won’t."

The portly man gave a curt nod before he took them into a small office with a black desk that was scattered with papers.

Geary’s heart stopped as she saw the very things she’d been craving.

The permits.

She wanted to run to them, snatch them up, and cradle them to her chest. But without a signature and seal, they were worthless. Still, this was the closest she’d been to one. Her breath caught anxiously in her throat.

Without a word, he picked the permits up as if they didn’t mean the world to her and sat behind his desk before he signed them and stamped them.

She reached for the permits without thinking, only to have him pull them away.

Again he narrowed those penetrating eyes on her. "You do understand that any artifact you find is Greek property? I expect full records to be delivered to me on a weekly basis, along with any findings you uncover."

"I understand."

He held the papers a moment longer before he finally extended them to her.

Her hand actually shook as she finally touched the permits. Honestly, she felt like crying. This was the closest she’d been to fulfilling her promise since Cosmo had given her her father’s belongings. "Thank you," she said, her voice cracking from the raw emotions inside her.

"Don’t thank me, Dr. Kafieri. Just respect your word to me and the favor I’ve done today. If I regret this moment, I assure you what I feel will be a trifle to what I’ll put you through."

"I understand, sir. Believe me, you won’t regret this at all."

"Then see to it that I don’t."

Nodding, she held the permits to her chest and turned to offer Arik a tenuous smile.

Arik couldn’t breathe as foreign emotions seized him. Her eyes were filled with unshed tears, but it was the gratitude in them that touched him most. He’d never felt anything like this. Her pleasure was so great that he could feel it himself.

"Thank you," she breathed.

All he could do was nod his head at her as he struggled to understand these strange emotions in him that made no sense. His throat was tight. His heart pounding. He wanted to laugh and to cry and he didn’t know why. He’d never known such confusion. No wonder Hades had profaned emotions.

They were baffling.

Solin inclined his head toward the door. "Why don’t the two of you go on to the car. I’ll be out momentarily."

Arik opened the door for Megeara.

He’d barely closed it when she turned on him with a giddy laugh. She threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek as she jumped up and down against him.

Heat scorched him as her br**sts pressed against his chest and her soft lips brushed his skin before she pulled away. "I can’t thank you enough for this." She let out a strange noise before she twirled around.

"Oh my God, I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I’m finally holding my permits! Legal ones, too, and I didn’t have to kill anyone to get them!" She made a strange "yee"-like noise before she hugged him again.

Unable to stand the onslaught to his body, he pulled her to him and kissed her.

Geary melted at that taste of Arik’s lips. She was so excited and happy, she’d have done anything for him at the moment. Anything!

Or so she thought.

The moment he started lifting the hem of her dress up, she jerked back with an indignant squeak. Her jubilation snapped straight to anger. "What do you think you’re doing?"

He looked completely baffled by her anger. "I thought…"

"What? That you could lift my dress and screw me in an open hallway? Are you insane?"

Solin froze in the doorway as he heard her words. "What did I just miss?"

She turned on him. "Your brother is an absolute jerk. He just picked my dress up. Here. In public." And still Arik looked confused by her anger.

Disgusted with them both, Geary turned and stalked back toward the car.

Solin gaped at Arik. "What did you do?"

Arik held his hands up in frustration. "She kissed me. It turned me on, so I-"

"No, you didn’t," Solin snapped, interrupting him. "Arik, are you an idiot? You could have exposed us all."

Rage flamed inside him at the insult. "It’s what we’ve done before when she’s gotten the permits in her dreams. She likes the way I touch her."

"Yes. In dreams . This isn’t a dream. You’re in the human world and people don’t behave like that here.

Now, Brother, you understand why I venture into the dream realm. There are certain behaviors and rituals you have to practice in this world. You don’t just eye a woman here and then jump her. Damn.

You’re lucky she didn’t slap you, or have you arrested."

Arik raked his hand through his hair as he understood her anger, but it didn’t do anything to sate the fire in his groin. "I came here to be with her."

"And you keep that up and you’ll spend your time here behind bars. Damn, Arik, damn."

"I told you I needed your help."

Solin ground his teeth at those words. It wasn’t in his nature to help anyone. Unlike Arik, he wasn’t a full god. He’d been tossed out into the world of man and left here to suffer while the rest of his kind lived on Olympus or the Vanishing Isle, far away from the prejudice and fear of humans. And if that wasn’t enough, the gods themselves had come after him to punish him over a birth defect he’d never wanted.

He’d barely survived their relentless attacks.

Now one of them expected him to offer a help that had never been extended to him. It was almost enough to make him laugh.

He wasn’t even sure why he’d come here today. Arik’s threat of invading his sleep meant nothing to a man who’d had assassins after him in that realm. He’d earned his reputation for ruthlessness and he was proud of it.

Yet in all these centuries he’d never heard of a god trading his sanctity to be human. The only gods on this plane had been cursed or stripped. No one lived in this realm voluntarily.

No one.

Except Arik. "Why are you here? Really?"

Arik looked away without comment.

"Answer my question or I walk." He saw the anguish in Arik’s eyes before he spoke in a low tone.

"You’ve always been human. You’ve always had feelings. You don’t know what it’s like to have them and then feel them leave you. The numbness is tolerable most of the time. But with Megeara…"

"You love her?"

Arik gave him a peeved glare. "How could I ever love anyone?"

He had a point. Self-sacrifice and such were alien concepts to Dream-Hunters.

Arik let out a deep breath. "I just want to understand where her passion comes from. Why something as simple as a drink of lemonade can make her laugh. Why her eyes light up when she dances in the waves.

And why the thought of her father makes her cry, even in dreams."

Solin shook his head. Unlike his brother, Solin understood all of that. Emotions weren’t a gift. They were the ultimate curse of the gods. What Arik didn’t realize was that Zeus had done them a favor by demanding they be stripped of all their feelings.

It was why Solin had unleashed the human on Arik all those centuries ago. He’d been jealous of the emptiness the Oneroi lived in and he’d wanted them to suffer the way he had. He wanted them to crave things they couldn’t touch.

To know what they were missing.

What he’d done had been cruel and he knew it. But the sad thing was he felt no regret over it. How could he? Even now the Oneroi sought him in his sleep. He never had rest. No respite. They were evil bastards, all of them.

And yet as he stood here with a brother he didn’t want to claim, something foreign tickled in Solin’s chest. It was pity. Compassion. Two things he’d sworn he’d never feel again for anyone.

He hated Arik for that.

"Will you help me?" Arik asked.

Solin nodded. He’d help Arik all right, but not for the reasons he thought. Solin was going to do everything in his power to let Arik be human. To know Megeara to the fullest extent that was possible, so that when she died because of him Arik would truly understand exactly what it meant to be human.

He was going to suffer as no god had ever suffered.

CHAPTER 7

GEARY SAT IN THE CAR, STARING AT HER PERMITS AS IF they were the mythical Holy Grail that had miraculously dropped into her lap while George politely ignored her. She didn’t know what was keeping the men. Maybe Arik had found some other woman to molest…

That bizarre thought triggered an odd jealous twinge-which really made no sense. At the moment, she’d gladly pay someone to take Arik off her hands. "George?"

He met her gaze in the rearview mirror. "Yes, miss?"

"How long have you worked for Solin?"

"Long enough, miss. Long enough."

Boy, wasn’t he the font of all information? Before she could continue her questioning, the guys finally left the building.

They were much more subdued as they joined her in the car.

Solin offered her a tight-lipped smile. "Are you happy now, Dr. Kafieri?"

"Thrilled beyond belief."

"Good." He cleared his throat. "By the way, I would like to apologize for my brother’s unconscionable behavior."

"I don’t need you to apologize for me, Solin. I’m quite capable of doing it myself."

If George hadn’t picked that exact second to pull into traffic, she’d have swung the door open and left.

"And just out of curiosity, what made you think that that behavior was appropriate?"

Arik sighed. "I wasn’t thinking at all. The truth is you surprised me and I reacted poorly. For that I’m truly sorry. I would never have insulted you in any way."

Okay, so the guy could be charming when he put forth the effort…

But she still wasn’t quite ready to let him off the hook. "Do you always make it a habit of groping a woman’s private places in public?"

Arik narrowed his gaze as he returned her question with one of his own. "Do you make it a habit of throwing yourself against men and kissing them in public?"

Her face flushed as a feeling of dread consumed him. He’d offended her. Again. Damn, being human was hard.

"No, I don’t," she snapped, her eyes blazing. "And I can assure you that I will never do such a thing again. Especially not to you and not in public, private, or anywhere else."

" Good going, Arik," Solin said snidely in his head. " Any more brilliant apologies and you’ll be able to sell icicles on the equator."

He glared at Solin. " Have you a better one?"

"Tell her that you couldn’t help yourself, you were overwhelmed by her beauty. That she is the most desirable woman you’ve ever kissed and because of that your emotions ran away with you."