Home > Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels #3.5)(5)

Magic Mourns (Kate Daniels #3.5)(5)
Ilona Andrews

“Hardy har har,” I growled. “We’re completely fine on our own, thank you very much. If you want to help, tell me more about Cerberus.”

“He belongs to Hades, god of the Greek underworld, where souls spend their afterlife. His primary function is to guard the front entrance. Also Hades occasionally sends him on an errand, according to myths. He’s supposed to hate sunlight.”

“This one had no trouble with the sun. Can you think of any possible reason he would manifest?”

“Well, a defilement of Hades’ shrine might do it. But Hades didn’t exactly have shrines. The ancient Greeks were scared to death of him. They averted their faces when sacrificing to Hades. They refused to even say his name. So I’m not sure.”

“Thanks.”

“You sure you don’t need me to come?”

“Positive.”

“Call me if anything.”

I hung up and looked at Raphael. “Your mother’s mate, what was his name?”

“Alex Doulos.”

“Was he a Greek pagan?”

A frown twisted Raphael’s face. “I have no idea. It didn’t come up. We had a careful relationship. He didn’t try to be my dad and I didn’t try to be his son. We met at holiday dinners and talked about sports mostly. It was a safe topic. What are you thinking?”

I shook my head. “I’m trying very hard not to think anything. I’m just collecting data at this point. Did you see the way Fido fell?”

“Like he was on a leash and it ran out.” Raphael drummed a quick rhythm on the dashboard.

“It probably means he’s somehow bound to a specific area. I think we should go and look at it.”

“I’m game.” Raphael shivered. “I don’t suppose you have any spare clothes?”

“You should’ve thought of clothes before you decided to go human.”

The sinful smile was back. “I always dreamt of being naked with you. Couldn’t pass up the chance.”

I started the Jeep. “Could you get any more full of yourself?”

“I’m mostly interested in getting you full of me.”

The vision of being full of Raphael zinged through my brain, short-circuiting rational thought. “Come to think of it, there is something on your lips. Why don’t you use that side mirror over there to check it out?”

He glanced into the side mirror and stared, slack-jawed. His lips were solid black. A thick black line of guy liner outlined his deep-set eyes and a little black tear dripped down his left cheek-bone. He touched his cheek, stretching the skin to better examine the tear, his face a flat mask, glanced at me, and exploded with laughter.

I stood atop the Jeep’s hood and slowly swept the vast network of ravines with binoculars. The Jeep itself sat on the edge of a shallow gap, just beyond the spot where Cerberus almost took a bite out of our backseat. Raphael, still gloriously naked, sat in the passenger seat and plucked random Hades-related trivia from the book.

“A fun guy, this Hades. Apparently he bridenapped his wife.”

“Things were much simpler in ancient Greece if you were a god. I’m sure he got himself a harem of mistresses, too.” The wind swirled with Raphael’s scents: the light musk of his sweat, the delicious redolence of his skin . . . I was having trouble concentrating.

“No,” Raphael said, flipping a page. “Actually, Hades didn’t screw around. His wife was the daughter of Demeter, goddess of youth, fertility, and harvest. After Hades stole Persephone, Demeter refused to let the plants grow, starving everyone, and they had to reach a compromise: Persephone spends half of the year with him and half with her mother. The guy only had her for six months out of the year, and he still remained faithful. That must be some sweet sex right there.”

I took the binoculars down so I could roll my eyes. “Do you ever think of anything but sex?”

“Yes, I do. Sometimes I think of waking up next to you. Or making you laugh.”

I was beginning to regret this.

“Of course, I do occasionally get hungry . . .” he added. “And cold.”

A white speck caught my eye. I adjusted the binoculars. A house. A two-story colonial, seemingly intact, sitting in the bottom of a ravine. I could only see the roof and a small slice of the upper story.

Interesting.

“Kate was right: the Greeks lived in fear of this guy. Instead of speaking his name, they called him the Rich One, the Notorious One, the Ruler of Many, and so on. Despite his sour disposition, he was considered to be a just god. The one sure way to piss Hades off was to steal one of the shades—souls—from his realm or to somehow avoid death. This dude Sisyphus apparently finagled a way out of death a couple of times, and Hades had it and made him drag an enormous boulder up a mountain. Every time Sisyphus almost gets to the top, the boulder rolls down and he has to do it all over. Thus the term ‘Sisyphean task.’ Huh. I never knew that’s where it came from.”

He showed me a page. On it a man and a woman sat side by side on simple thrones. To one side of the pair stood Cerberus. To the other an angel with black wings and a flaming sword.

“Who is that?”

“Thanatos. Angel of death.”

“Didn’t know the Greeks had angels.” I turned back to watching the house. And just in time, too. Cerberus trotted out of the ravine to the left of the house. I could barely see his back. He passed by the building and began to circle it.

“I see a house,” I said.

Raphael landed next to me with inhuman agility. I passed the binoculars to him and he straightened, almost a foot taller than me. Standing next to him was a trial: his scents sang through me, the warmth of his body seeped through my clothes, and his skin practically glowed. Everything about him said “mate” to me. It wasn’t rational. It was the animal me, and I had to be better than that.

“I’ll be damned,” he said softly. “Here is Fido. Going round and round. I wonder what’s in that house?”

“I wonder why he doesn’t just go in and get whatever it is.”

“I think we should find out. Andrea?”

“Yes?” I wished he would stop saying my name.

“Why are your eyes closed?”

Because you’re standing next to me. “It helps me think.”

I felt the heat wash over me and knew he had leaned to me. His voice was a soft masculine rasp, entirely too intimate. “I thought you were trying not to think.”

I opened my eyes and found the deep smoldering blue of his irises right next to me. I lifted my index finger and pushed his chest. He slid on the Jeep’s hood, distorted by the charged-water engine underneath, and had to jump off, landing with the grace of a gymnast on the ground.

“Personal space,” I told him. “I protect mine.”

He simply smiled.

“How do we get to the house with the dog making shark circles around it?” I asked.

“Fido doesn’t see that well,” Raphael said. “It took him a while to find the crevice where I was hiding before, and he had to sniff me out. We fool his nose by masking our scent, we can probably get close enough.”

“And how do you propose to do that?”

“The old-fashioned way.”

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