Heart of Fire (Blood of Zeus #2) by Meredith Wild

Chapter One


“Here begins a new life.”

My rough whisper is absorbed by the still air of Kara’s bedroom, which has become a perfect haven for the last twenty-four hours.

It didn’t feel right, let alone safe, to hang out at my place downtown after the man claiming to be my long-lost father—and, oh yeah, the allfather of Olympus and every immortal being in it—came for a casual drop-in last night. Not long after, the paparazzi were spreading like an oil spill along my street, making the view of the Hollywood Hills a pastoral scene by comparison.

The stars over the sleepy slopes are slowly consumed by the approaching dawn as I repeat the line once more. Dante’s words have always felt like those of a soulmate, but not once in the hundreds of times I’ve read from La Vita Nuova has the sentiment resonated so strongly. Or inspired such a yearning to fight it.

But fight what? I’m where I’ve begged fate to bring me, for days and months and years. But I was never specific about those pleas. Maybe that was my slip. I never said the truth had to be sane. Or logical. Or believable.

Because it’s absolutely none of those.

I blink hard, expecting to wake up and laugh off this bizarre fever dream. When I do, it’ll still be yesterday morning at my place, when my naked body was warmly wrapped around the woman who’s taken over so much of my heart, mind, and soul. No stranger will knock at my apartment door, saunter in, and make a claim so wacky I should be wondering what flophouse he’s wandered in from and how much crap he’s pumped into his bloodstream before doing so. Because that’s the logical thing to think when a guy tells you he’s the king of the gods. Worse, that you and he have twenty-seven years of Father’s Days to catch up on.

Then Z had to drop his third bomb—a smaller explosion by comparison but a stunner all the same. Even now. Perhaps even more so, considering how small, innocent, and soft Kara seems in the big bed behind me. That peaceful tilt of her lips. The sprawl of her dark, thick waves against the luxurious white linens. The wistful way she curls her hands. Even the symmetrical, slender ovals of her fingernails.

She looks like an angel.

But she’s my perfect little demon.

And I’m beginning to truly believe that she’s all mine.

I turn back to the window, my mind wrestling with the possibility. It’s bad enough that the claim is so dominant in my senses and my blood…the blood that shouldn’t want her. Thanks to my DNA, I crave nothing but her.

And there’s fate, toying with me again. Because any second now, I could lose her because of the DNA that’s her curse and the destiny to which it’s bound her. Spitting on that covenant hasn’t won us any favors, despite how my father—or whoever the hell he is—has offered to intervene on our behalf. Yesterday morning, I was desperate enough to trust the man. I didn’t have any other choice. I still don’t. Unless…I do. Unless all of this really isn’t happening. Unless Z really is just a tweaker in a Skid Row trash bin right now instead of negotiating with Hades like he promised.

But do I really want to test that theory?

“Maximus Kane, please tell me you aren’t awake before the birds.”

There’s the answer to my query. Right here on the air, in all the sweet edges of Kara’s sleepy rasp. In the sight of her, filling my hungry gaze, silky and curvy beneath the sheet as she stretches. Most of all, in every exquisite angle of her inquisitive stare, conveying that she’s missed nothing about my brooding silence.

Beneath the track pants I slid into a few hours ago, things start to stir. Needless to say, I don’t feel like brooding anymore. Not by a long shot, now that she’s awake and focusing on me again. That expression makes yesterday’s rushed escape all worth it. True, as safe houses go, I could ask for a lot worse, considering the sprawling patio, good-sized library, every conceivable modern amenity, and this killer view. But at this moment I’m not referring to the trees, the hills, or the Hollywood sign.

Being here, with this breathtaking beauty, is like a dream. Right down to this very second, in which I’m as excited as the first time she ever touched me, then changed me.

I shrug, attempting a show of casual charm. “More worms for me. I’ll even share.”

Kara sits up, curling her knees into her chest. “Trade you the worms for what’s going on in that beautiful head of yours.”

Another shrug, making up for more flustered vibes. I can lecture to hundreds of students at a time, but this sole female can undo me with one damn look. “Sleep and I have never been best friends,” I finally say. “Few hours a night, and I’m good to go.”