Writing on Wednesday: First Look

Every Wednesday from now until release date, I’ll be posting an exclusive scene from Aphrodite! Like what you read? Preorder today!
Aphrodite

An hour later, the storm raged on but our energy waned. Adonis dragged the two lounge chairs as close to the suite door as possible to protect them from any stray droplets, then tossed a couple of towels onto them.

I took the opportunity to flip on the light switch.

That’s better,” Adonis cried as light illuminated the drenched balcony. He glanced toward the hot tub built into the corner. “Shall we?” he yelled, over a thunderclap.

“Maybe after the lightning stops.” I laughed. I could survive a lightning strike, but Adonis might get crispy.

“Oh yeah. Good point.” He collapsed into a lounge chair. “Okay then, your turn. You say ‘Never have I ever’ and—”

“And then say something I’ve never done.” I’d gotten the gist of the game the first ten rounds, but Adonis still seemed flabbergasted I hadn’t heard of this game before tonight, so he kept going over the rules.

“Yeah. And if I’ve done it—”

“You have to take a shot. Got it.” I swiped a puddle off the watertight surface and maneuvered a towel beneath me before perching on the edge of my seat. “Never have I ever . . . lied.”

“Aw, come on.” Adonis was forced to take another drink straight from the bottle. We’d long since forgone the shot glasses in this game. “Well, I’ve never charmed my way out of a speeding ticket.”

I swallowed a mouthful of rum as I tried to think of something else I’d never done before but was pretty sure he had.

Adonis smirked. “Come on, Aphrodite, you’ve only been alive two years. This shouldn’t be hard.

“Three.” But the man had a point. “I . . . never heard this song before today.”

Adonis took a drink. “This is a great song. I’ve never stolen a car.”

I scowled at him. I’d taken a shot almost every turn. “I’ve never hit a girl.”

Adonis swore and took another drink. “I never apologized for that.”

“I’ll never ask you to.” I laughed.

“I never . . .” His lips twisted in a knowing grin. “Shoplifted.”

Okay, seriously? “You are cheating,” I said, giving his shoulder a playful smack with the back of my hand. “You can’t get all of your ‘I nevers’ from stuff you already know I’ve done thanks to Melissa’s big mouth.”

Adonis snickered. “Oh please, Miss ‘I’ve never hit a girl?’ Knowledge is ammunition, no matter the source.” He tapped my bottle with his. “Drink up.”

“Okay, okay.” I took another shot and made a face. “Geeze, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to get me drunk.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s my endgame. You caught me.” He dismissed my accusation with a snort. “Can you even get drunk?”

“Not with this.” I swished the rum around in the bottle. “Gods can get drunk off divine drinks, but run-of-the-mill human stuff won’t do the job.”

“Oh, run of the mill, huh?” He shook his head. “Gods, talking to you is mind-bending. I’ve known my entire life that I’m a demigod. I mean, finding out I’m one of Zeus’s crazy science experiments was news to me. But my day-to-day stuff is grounded in the normal. You don’t even know where normal lives.”

“Oh, I do,” I joked. “Far beneath me.”

“No, I’m serious. We’ve got to like . . . educate you or something. Everyone alive knows this song. Who knows what else you’ve missed? We could—” He broke off. “What are you doing?”

I bounced up and down, brimming with impatience. “I have a good one!”

“Go on then.” He laughed.

“I never . . . “My voice sounded thick with self-satisfaction. “Kissed a demi-deity.”

Adonis grinned. “I can fix that.”

I waited a beat for him to remember his ex-girlfriend, whom he’d surely at least kissed. “Elise,” I prodded when he leaned toward me.

“Holy—” Adonis exclaimed, lurching forward as if the memory had slugged him. “How did I—Augh. Fine,” he groaned, taking a shot.

I laughed. “Maybe we should call it a night.”

“Uh-uh, my turn.” Adonis stood, taking the liquor with him. “Never have I ever”—he frowned as though articulating his thought took effort—“been arrested.” His frown deepened. “I think.”

“Okay, you’ve had enough.” I rose to my feet, reaching for his bottle, but finding only air when Adonis held the tequila over his head.

Thunder rumbled, shaking the balcony. Adonis and I hollered back at it as the boat skipped over the choppy water. He lowered the bottle for a fraction of a second when he yelled, and I snatched the tequila from him, giggling at the startled look on his face.

“Give it back.” Adonis reached for the bottle, but I danced backward, out of his reach, laughing.

“Make me.”

He snickered and started to reply, then stopped, his mouth going slack as the ship emerged from the storm clouds, revealing a clear night sky. I turned to see what could possibly render the demigod speechless and gasped.

Quicksilver lined the midnight blue sea, shimmering like magic. The moon rose from the waves in a slow ascent, sending light scattering through the water in a way that could only be described as ethereal. We watched in utter silence as the light gathered into a ball of white-hot, molten silver and rose above the tide, casting a gleaming path in the water leading straight to us.

The ocean went dark as the ship plunged into another set of clouds. Spell broken, Adonis cleared his throat. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

“I wouldn’t have either, if not for you.” Swallowing hard, I set the tequila down on the deck and studied the way the moonlight hit his skin and the rain dripped off the contours of his face, committing every feature of the man who’d saved me to memory.

“What?” He shifted under the intensity of my gaze.

“I never thanked you,” I realized.

Adonis looked down at me, his golden eyes darkening with an emotion I didn’t recognize. “I’ll never ask you to.”

 

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