Julian gaped as she handed it to him. "You’re giving me custody of Priapus?"
Aphrodite shrugged. "He killed you. I can’t very well let him get away without some form of punishment. He’ll get out eventually. If he’s a good boy."
Grace almost felt sorry for poor Priapus.
Aphrodite leaned forward and kissed Julian on the cheek. "I always loved you. I just didn’t know how to show it."
Julian nodded. "I guess it’s what happens when your mother is a goddess. You can’t very well expect birthday parties and home-cooked meals."
"True, but I gave you a lot of other gifts that your girlfriend seems to treasure."
"Speaking of," Grace said as a thought struck her. "Can we curb the one that draws other women like a magnet?"
Aphrodite gave her a droll stare. "Child, look at the man. What woman in her right mind wouldn’t want him in her bed? I’d have to blind them all, or make him fat and bald."
"Never mind. I’ll just learn to cope."
"Thought so." Aphrodite vanished.
Julian wrapped his arm around Grace’s shoulders and pulled her back against him. "Are you sore?"
"Because I intend to spend the rest of the day making love to you."
She nipped his chin with her teeth. "Ooo, I like the sound of that."
He kissed her.
"Oh, wait," he said, pulling back.
Grace frowned as he got out of bed, grabbed the book, then tossed it out into the hallway and shut the door.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
Julian sauntered back to bed with that slow, loose-limbed walk that made her breathless and hot. He crawled up on the bed like a sleek, nak*d beast and ran a hot, lustful stare all over her body. "He can hear everything we say. And I personally don’t want him in here when I do this."
She gasped as he flipped her on her side.
"Or this," he said, sliding his hand between her thighs and teasing her mercilessly with his touch.
He curled himself against her spine.
"And most of all, I don’t want him to hear this."
He buried his lips against her neck as he moved his hand down her inner thigh to spread her legs, then he plunged himself deep inside her.
Grace moaned in pleasure.
"I waited two thousand years for you, Grace Alexander," he whispered in her ear. "And you were worth every second of it."
ONE YEAR LATER
Julian opened the door to the hospital room. With his mother and Selena in tow, he stepped quietly into the room, not wanting to disturb Grace if she was resting.
Fear gripped him as he saw her lying on the bed. She looked so pale and weak that it terrified him. He couldn’t stand seeing her like this.
She was his strength. His heart. His soul. Everything in his life that was good.
The thought of losing her was more than he could bear.
Grace opened her eyes and smiled at them. "Hi," she whispered.
"Hey, girl!" Selena said. "How are you feeling?"
"I’m exhausted, but feeling pretty good."
Julian leaned over and kissed her. "Do you need anything?"
"I have everything I could ever need," Grace said, her face glowing.
"So, where are my grandchildren?" his mother demanded.
"They took them to be weighed," Grace said.
As if on cue, the nurses wheeled the cradles in. They checked Grace’s bracelet against the babies’, then made a quiet exit.
Julian left Grace’s side only long enough to gently pick up his son. Joy spread through him as he cradled the tiny infant in his arms. Grace had given him so much more than he had ever expected to have. And much more than he deserved.
"This is Niklos James Alexander," he said, handing the baby to his mother. He picked up his daughter next. "And this is Vanessa Anne Alexander." He placed her in his mother’s other arm.
His mother’s lips trembled as she looked at her granddaughter. "You named her after me?"
"We both wanted to," Grace said.
Tears fell down her face as Aphrodite looked back and forth between the children. "Oh, the gifts I have for you two."
"Mom!" Julian said sharply, interrupting her. "Please, no gifts. Just give them your love."
Aphrodite sniffed back her tears and laughed. "Very well. But if you change your mind, let me know."
Grace watched Julian as he brushed his hand over Niklos’s bald head. She wouldn’t have thought it possible, but at the moment she loved him even more than she had before.
Every day they had been together had been a blessing.
"Oh, hey," Selena said as she took Vanessa from Aphrodite. "I went by the bookstore yesterday and Priapus was gone. There was a full moon a few days ago. Anyone want to bet he’s making wild monkey love with someone right now?"
All except Julian.
"Something wrong?" Grace asked.
"I guess I’m just feeling a little guilty over him."
"Guilty?" Selena asked in disbelief. "Over Priapus?"
Julian indicated the children and Grace. "How can I bear him animosity? Without his curse, I would never have all of you. It was a pain in the ass. But I have to say in the end, it was more than worth it."
They looked expectantly at Aphrodite. "What?" she asked innocently. "Don’t tell me you want him free now? I told you, when he learns his lesson…"
Selena shook her head. "Poor old Uncle Priapus," she cooed to Vanessa. "But he was a bad, bad boy."
A nurse opened the door and hesitated on the threshold. "Um, Dr. Alexander," she said to Julian, "there’s a couple out here who say they’re related to you. They… um…" She dropped her voice to a low whisper. "They’re biker people."
"Hey, Julian," Eros said from behind the nurse. "Tell Attila the Hun here that we’re okay so we can come and ooh and aah over the babies."
Julian laughed. "It’s okay, Trish," he said to the nurse. "He’s my brother."
Eros made a face at Trish as he and Psyche swept inside. "Someone remind me to shoot her with a whammy on the way out," he said as Trish closed the door.
Julian arched a brow at him. "Do I have to confiscate your bow again?"
Eros blew a raspberry at him as he moved to Selena and took Vanessa out of her hands. "Ooh, what a little heart-breaker you’re going to be. I bet you’ll have little boys running after you in droves."
Julian’s face paled. He turned back to his mother. "Mom, there is one gift I would like."
Aphrodite looked up hopefully.
"Would you speak to Hephaestus about a chastity belt for Vanessa?"
"Julian!" Grace gasped with a laugh.
"She won’t have to wear it long. Just thirty or forty years."
Grace rolled her eyes. "It’s a good thing you have your mommy," she said to the baby in Eros’s arms. " ‘Cause Daddy is no fun at all."
Julian cocked an arrogant brow at her. "No fun at all?" he repeated. "Funny, that’s not what you said the day you conceived these two."
"Julian!" Grace snapped, her face burning. But then she’d learned a long time ago that he was incorrigible.
And she loved him that way.
The Dark-Hunters are coming. They’re ancient warriors-Vikings, Celts, Aztecs, Vandals, Goths, Greeks, and Romans-set loose on the modern world to protect humans from the dark evil that preys upon us. They’re mad, bad, and immortal, and they love every minute of the danger. Possessed with take-no-prisoners attitudes, their only way to salvation is through the love of a pure heart that can lead them back into the light.
So the next time you feel something watching you in the night, ask yourself: Is it something evil, or someone wicked?